Books Are Life

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New COVID Reading, post-Expanse:

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2020 in Books

Self had an unbelievable string of great reads, in the spring. Here were the books she read:

  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

After that run, she stumbled on The Expanse, and has so far read four novels in the series (The ninth is supposed to appear either this year or next. Ha!), all of them super-engaging. Highly recommend!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Reads of Julys Past

Self is still reading Cibola Burn. What can she say? It’s been a busy week. Havelock and Naomi are together (She’s his prisoner; they should hook up). But Holden is still Naomi’s titular boyfriend (though he doesn’t think of her much, not for almost 300 pages)

Self does like Havelock. Which is why, if Naomi were to start developing feelings, self would not mind a bit. Besides which, she loves their conversation while she is Havelock’s prisoner.

Did self say caged? Indeed she did! Naomi is in a cage, and she has to do all her business in that cage, including pee-ing.

Perhaps her affection for Havelock developed from the actor who plays him in the series. (He survives a pole sticking out of his chest! He visits a Belter brothel to learn how to speak Belter! He knew Miller!)

Someone on goodreads has written a thesis in the guise of a review on Cibola Burn, and hundreds of people apparently read it and liked it. So Americans do read! Probably as much as, or more than, POTUS!

This post is about all her favorite reads of Julys past. Herewith:

July 2016:  Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart (Is this ever going to be a movie?)

July 2017:  Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan

July 2018:   Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay

July 2019:   Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table, by Stephen Westaby

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Top World-Building: LEVIATHAN AWAKES

The thing about science fiction is: the worlds couldn’t be more different from each other (She’s read three so far this year: The Goblin Emperor, Children of Time, and this book), yet they each have an intricately detailed universe, and the authors write that world with such conviction. If you’re going to build a world from scratch, you better make sure it’s consistent in every particular. In other words, it takes commitment. And energy. And of course imagination.

Self had started watching The Expanse, that’s why she ordered Leviathan Awakes. After the book arrived in the mail, she decided to stop watching The Expanse because she wanted to form her own ideas about the characters.

Alas, whenever she reads about Miller, the image that immediately pops into her head is Thomas Jane wearing a porkpie hat! Whereas, if she had never watched a single episode, she would have had fun conjuring Miller’s appearance (Not that she has anything against Thomas Jane, who’s a very good actor)

Back to the world-building. On p. 26, Miller eats dinner and has some thoughts:

An hour later, his blood warm with drink, he heated up a bowl of real rice and fake beans — yeast and fungus could mimic anything if you had enough whiskey first — opened the door of his hole, and ate dinner looking out at the traffic gently curving by. The second shift streamed into the tube stations and then out of them. The kids who lived two holes down — a girl of eight and her brother of four — met their father with hugs, squeals, mutual accusations, and tears. The blue ceiling glowed in its reflected light, unchanging, static, reassuring. A sparrow floated down the tunnel, hovering . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Four

Some years, self reads by theme. There was the year she read only women authors. Another year, she read only memoir. She remembers the summer she decided to read everything ever written by Henning Mankell (That was a very fun summer)

Last year, hmm, she doesn’t think she had a theme last year. Looking at her reading list for 2020, it’s clear 2020 is the year for reading fiction. Just straight-up good literary fiction.

Self read twelve books so far 2020.

Here were her top reads (arranged in the order in which she read them):

  • January: Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • February: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • February: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • End of March, beginning of April: Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

She’s currently reading her first Liane Moriarty: Big Little Lies.

She’s hoping to get into the Ruth Galloway detective series. She’s just ordered Book # 1, The Crossing Places.

Even if there were no “shelter in place,” self knows she would still be doing the same things she’s doing right now: reading, writing, watching TV, gardening, cooking, laundry.

Sharing a picture of her Fourth of July rose, just starting to bloom.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

For Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month. These are the women (prose) authors on self’s 2020 Reading List:

  • Liane Moriarty
  • Diane Gabaldon
  • Edwidge Danticat
  • Mathangi Subramanian
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Jung Chang
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Sally Rooney
  • Peg Alford Pursell
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Dacia Maraini
  • Shahrnush Parsipoor
  • E. R. Ramzipoor
  • Elizabeth Tallent
  • Sadie Jones

Also: Caroline Kim-Brown’s short story collection, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, coming this fall: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts. You can read the title story now, in Ms.Aligned Vol. 3.

Women self has read so far 2020:

  • Dodie Smith
  • Katherine Addison
  • Jia Tolentino
  • Kathryn Ferguson

Movement on the 2020 Reading List

Just finished Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and it was glorious.

Now reading The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

Self’s next two books are I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. She found a review in The Economist about great houses in fiction, and those two books came up in the course of. She thinks she read Brideshead Revisited, but so  long ago that all she remembers is a British mini-series of the same name, with an actor with the improbable name of Anthony Andrews playing Sebastian.

Monday is off to an excellent start.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg: Your Pain Is My Pain

The short story self is reading today is Lunch With the Person Who Dumped You.

At the rate self is going, she’ll never finish Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s collection, never! Which is a pity, as she’s got two meaty fantasy reads lined up to read next: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth, and Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor (which was recommended to her by her seatmate on a recent flight to London: a Stanford grad on his way to deliver a paper at a conference in Glasgow)

An excerpt from Bob-Waksberg’s story:

Remember, the one who laughs last laughs longest, so make sure you laugh last and when you do you laugh heartily but with a detached air of none-of-this-really-matters-I-haven’t-been-lying-awake-at-night-staring-at-the-ceiling-regurgitating-all-this-pain coolness.

Which is an attitude that really helps, especially today. Given what’s just gone down in the Senate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Five Best Heroes Self Encountered in 2019 (All Fictional)

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

Frank Guidry, November Road

Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

Niall Delaney, The Parasites

Sunny, Record of a Spaceborn Few

Quite a range of heroes, from a thriller, a romantic comedy, a du Maurier (who is in a class all her own), a fantasy, and a work of science fiction. Three of the five books that gave self her favorite heroes of 2019 were written by women.

Though self ended 2019 far below her Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, she is setting an even higher goal for 2020. Would you believe it if self told you that she used to be able to read 60 books a year?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

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