Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Books read, early November

(typed a bit at a time over the whole day, basically: shoulder/neck healing but not yet well)B

Annie Bergeret and Marie Tenaille, Tales from China. Children's book lent to me by a friend, beginning of Chinese mythology research. Not the end. Seemed reasonable to read aloud in small chunks.

Dave Bidini, The Best Game You Can Name. Hockey book. This one is not trying to be a Comprehensive History Of This or a Complete Compendium Of That. It is a love letter to hockey. Bidini interviewed some professional hockey players, but he also played amateur hockey himself and coached it. So there's a variety of perspective from him, none of it sugar-coated. Fun stuff. Better than the average of hockey writing I've read while working on The True Tale of Carter Hall.

Liza Campbell, Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle. I don't even remember how this wound up on my library list. It was timely, because reading about the Mitfords was making me think how bizarre it is that there is some guy somewhere right now who is running around being the Duke of Gloucester, say. There is some dude who, if you ask him, "Who are you? What do you do?", will answer, "I'm the Earl of Essex." This is not news to me, and yet it suddenly seemed just inconceivably strange. Well, Liza Campbell is the sister of the current Thane of Cawdor. Thane of Cawdor, people. And part of this book is about the weird way it affects modern people to be in essentially medieval roles. Part of it...well. I think one of the dangers of writing a book wherein you tell people why you wrote it is that they can decide that you didn't succeed at that part. And I'm not sure she did. But the modern person/long weird heritage thing was done beautifully.

Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby. Oh no. Nonononono. Dessen writes smoothly--she has an engaging voice--but she has once again done That Thing. You know: the thing where the teenage girl is Broken and it's okay that her boyfriend is being a complete jerk with no consideration or respect for her personal boundaries, because he is Fixing Her. And if only she wasn't so Broken, she would appreciate it, so by the end of the book she does appreciate it. Bullshit.

For the record: when people say that a romantic partner should make you a better person, they don't mean by riding roughshod all over you. They mean that you should choose to make yourself a better person because this other person is in your life. It is not romantic to have someone trying to make you feel like your basic self is bad and wrong. Really it's not. A good romantic partner gives you support while you improve yourself, and may speak some home truths if you need to hear them, albeit gently. A good romantic partner does not use your uncertainty about yourself and your life as a free pass to tear you down while making no effort to deal with any of his/her own personality issues, all of which are "charming quirks" compared to your essential suckitude.

This was just so bad.

Henry Gee, ed., Futures from Nature. Discussed elsewhere.

Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. Fairly comprehensive for what it was trying to do. Also geographically limited. And this is an older book, so the attempts at not being racist are done kind of oddly. (Interesting in themselves, actually.)

Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: the Home Front in World War II. This had repetitive bits and was focused on exactly the part of the Roosevelt presidency I didn't care about. But the latter part was obvious from the subtitle--I knew going in. And it was still interesting and worth my time, even if it took awhile. It's one of those books where if you don't already want to know about it, this book won't change your mind, but if you do, dive in. (Two other caveats: I found out about Goodwin's plagiarism issue halfway through reading it, and it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Also I think she was a little odd on the subject of the Roosevelts' and other figures' romantic relationships. She went way out of her way to assume that relationships could not possibly be sexual or provide arguments that they weren't when...those arguments and assumptions looked pretty thin and unconvincing to me, frankly, and with all the principals dead and gone I hardly see where the harm would be in reporting something like that dispassionately and as accurately as one could manage.)

Terry Pratchett, Johnny and the Dead and Johnny and the Bomb. I think Johnny and the Dead is my favorite of this series, but they all had fun bits. Not going to become my new favorite Pratchett, but definitely worth my time.

Ruth Rendell, Simisola and Road Rage. Two more of the Inspector Wexford series. We are now into the time when I not only theoretically remember those years, I remember them as similar to the way Rendell is portraying them. She tends to have Social Issues in her books, but I don't find it unbearable because she doesn't seem to think she's found the last word or even necessarily a definite word on those issues in the space of one mystery novel. Wexford himself is often conflicted. I'm nearing the end of the series, and from there I'll go to the rest of the Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine books more or less at random, but I'm very glad I've read them in order where possible. I think they rewarded that reading even though they haven't required it.

Sara Ryan, The Rules for Hearts. This was so refreshing after the Dessen debacle. I read it deliberately, because while I have only read one Sara Ryan book, I trusted her not to pull that kind of crap on me, which indeed she did not. Battle is not a girl who will be Fixed externally. Battle is finding her own path, and if someone else got in her space to tell her what exactly is wrong with her, Battle would not be having that. Go Battle. She is awkward and frustrated and not always sure what to do. But she is not latching onto anyone, of any age or sex, to Fix Her. (Also there is a good dog.)

Kate Wilhelm, Cold Case. Like the other recent books in the Barbara Holloway series, I feel like this one has strayed from what made them really good in the beginning. Sigh. I also felt that here were a few logical/psychological holes right in the middle of some of the plot, and it confirmed what Numb3rs and Criminal Minds teaches us, which is: if you must kill, only kill once. It's the second or third (or, in the case of some CM episodes, seventy-third or so) corpse that lets them catch you.
Tags: bookses precious
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