Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen
mrissa

Books read, late August

Gretel Ehrlich, The Future of Ice: A Journey Into Cold. A great August book in some ways -- she is lyrical about ice and snow in ways that I desperately need around the time the State Fair starts up. But I really think that anyone who is going to be critical of the technological nature of our culture needs to engage with why we do it and what they're doing within it. I am not generally a great enthusiast for rants about A Simpler Time and The Rhythms of Nature, knowing what they mean about, oh, say, deaths in childbirth and infant mortality. I am even less an enthusiast about such rants coming from someone blithely taking reliable contraception and lifesaving hospital care for granted. If you want to change people's minds and behavior about the environment, grappling honestly with what makes them make the choices they do is going to be necessary. I don't see that in Ehrlich.

Nicola Griffith, Always. Ahhhh. Aud Torvingen. I love these books so much. I may have loved this one as much as The Blue Place. Almost as much, at least. I can't even say why. They short-circuit the saying-why portion of my brain. Tell you what: you read them and you say why, and I'll nod enthusiastically.

John Scalzi (scalzi), The Android's Dream. This is the first non-OMW-universe thing I've read of Scalzi's. I didn't like it as well as the OMW stuff: the pacing didn't do as much for me, and the female characters seemed -- well, it started out with the female characters seeming pretty much nonexistent. So that didn't thrill my soul. There were some eventually, but it still felt unbalanced to me. (Also I discovered that when there is a character who is gender-not-specified in the book, my brain makes them gender-not-specified in personal presentation as well, rather than picking that they "must" be one or the other. The only way I could really parse Sam's gender being none of my business was that Sam was the sort of person who considered Sam's gender none of my business. Which is fine by me. It just doesn't help with the general feeling that there were an awfully lot of men per unit women in this book, being scored as "other.")

Will Shetterly (willshetterly), The Gospel of the Knife. You don't like the second-person. You find that it makes you feel like you're reading a choose-your-own-adventure, and that you have a certain tendency to set your jaw and mutter, "No, I don't!" at various sentences. You understand why someone else might choose this -- for this book in particular -- and you eventually get the jaw-setting part of the brain to shut up and let you read. But you are still jarred by the second person as you're reading, and you hope that there is no equally compelling reason for his next book to be done this way. The fact that you heard Will say that it started semi-autobiographical and diverged from there also makes you distrust the structure of the book: some things that are semi-autobiographical have things in the book for the unfortunate and insufficient reason that they really happened that way. On that point, you find you should have trusted Will from the beginning, and the structure does come around.

Alan Sked, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire, 1815-1918. Sked seems to think that the worst sin a volume of nonfictional history can commit is narrative. So I was fighting with this book in my head all the way through, not just about his interpretation of some parts of the late Habsburgs but also about the way he thought his book should be structured. Possibly this is a better book for someone less ornery. They shouldn't be too hard to find.

Sherwood Smith (sartorias), The Fox. Long-awaited sequel to Inda. Where by "long" I mean "ten months." It felt like a long time. This book will make no sense without Inda, but if you liked Inda, I'm pretty sure you'll love this one. I thought it was an absolutely solid middle book, and I can't wait for the next.

I'm going to try to finish truepenny's The Mirador before markgritter, missista, and I head down to Omaha, so I don't have to haul a mostly-finished book in my bag. Next time I report in on reading, it'll all be travel reading. Eeee.
Tags: bookses precious
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