Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Snow and books read

Yesterday it snowed.

I don't know if you can fit enough happy into that word, just from reading it over the internet. Use a mallet. There should be a lot of happy. Because, I mean: snow. Intellectually I recognize that snow is just like everything else in the world: not a universal taste. Emotionally, I have great difficulty understanding that anyone wouldn't find snow just plain wonderful. Sometimes inconvenient. But still wonderful. I've heard the explanations, and I nod along with all of them: makes things slippery, yes, cold, yes, reflects lots of light so that you have to squint, yes. But if I get distracted and look out the window in the middle of this list, I will squeal, Ooooh, snow!

I read rather little in late November. Other things kept demanding my attention. I seem to be back in more of a groove at the moment despite all the Christmas things on my to-do list. So there was:

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Alternate history of a Jewish sort of sub-state homeland in Alaska. I liked it far better than I expected to like it from the beginning, I think because I like several other characters better than the main character, Landsman. Still not my favorite Chabon book, but one does attempt to move on.

Mary Gentle, Ilario: The Stone Golem. If I was British, this would not need a separate entry, because Ilario was published as one book there, not split in two at an arbitrary and stupid cliffhanger. I was even less pleased with the cliffhanger after having read the whole story -- it pulled that whole event off balance. This book was -- I don't know, it was fine, but it felt to me like a minor event in the Ash world rather than a book that could stand all by itself. Possibly because I didn't find a hermaphroditic main character particularly interesting as an element in itself. I was a great deal more interested in Ilario's painting, which got much shorter shrift, I'm afraid.

Mark Kurlansky, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry. What an extremely intense book. As one might expect given the topic: while it officially is about the aftermath of WWII, up into the mid-1990s, he has to deal with a great deal of the WWII stuff for context. The difference in tone between this and Kurlansky's other books is both sensible and astonishing: the man who wrote Cod can be so very angry. But in the right places angry, taking you along with him because, wow, that really sucked angry. I continue to recommend Kurlansky's nonfiction in general.

Jane Robins, The Trial of Queen Caroline: The Scandalous Affair that Nearly Ended a Monarchy. This was no less trashy gossip for being nearly 200 years old. And I knew it would be trashy gossip when I bought it, and I knew that after some fairly intense reading, my own equivalent of a tabloid would be welcome. And it was. If I'd been having the book written to order, I'd have wanted a great deal more about the radical politics of the time, since Robins did talk a fair amount about the queen's involvement in them. But I can look elsewhere for more of that stuff -- and in a more detailed and scholarly format, probably. This book was fairly strongly skewed away from George IV, but I'm hard-pressed to see how someone could come out strongly in favor of him under the circumstances. I may see if I can find a biographer who actually came to like him. But I won't spend a lot of energy on it.

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia. This is standard Sacks format: lots of interesting stuff about the brain in sort of episodic chapters. The episodic nature was a bit stronger in this one because there were things he wanted to say about music that didn't take long, so it was on to the next chapter fairly immediately. But lots of good neurotidbits. Very fond of Oliver Sacks books.
Tags: bookses precious, summer is a foreign country
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