|Books read, early June
||[Jun. 16th, 2010|10:07 pm]
Matthew Carr, Blood and Faith: the Purging of Muslim Spain. Lots of spots where being religiously bigoted and economically just plain dumb go hand in hand. What a cheerful book. Everybody sing! And yet there were all sorts of things about the texture of Spanish life in the 15th through 17th centuries that I just did not have a handle on until I read this. The number of Spanish peasants who were Muslim after the Reconquista, for example. I had no idea.|
C.J. Cherryh, Deceiver. I so love the atevi. The bits where Cajeiri is figuring out how to handle his staff and be a grown-up atevi and be the specific grown-up he is going to be. I loved those bits. Not enough Jago and Banichi. But still. Moremoremore.
Elizabeth Enright, Gone-Away Lake. Had not read this in decades and was struck by how it was not "hooky" or "elevator pitch-able" or anything like that. It was just itself.
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City. If you want to get more cheerful than the Muslim expulsion from Spain, there's nothing like Henry Ford! And Henry Ford's incompetence in Brazil! Whee! Sign me up! This is one of those books that seemed like it would be really informative, and then when the library actually got it for me I realized how often "informative" and "depressing" work out to be similar.
Sandeep Jauhar, Intern: A Doctor's Initiation. A lukewarm memoir of medical internship. Meh.
George Johnson, Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe. This was extremely non-technical, about one of the Harvard technicians who did measurements on observatory plates and figured out Cepheid variable stars. It didn't overreach its limited source material, although I wish there had been more source material about the subject.
Diana Wynne Jones, Enchanted Glass. This had the DWJ nature. I don't think it was in the top tier of DWJ books, but it was solidly middle tier, I feel. Possibly this may be due to my strong positive feelings for glass. Ancestral, possibly. Or possibly just that it was a fast, fun read.
Michael Lemonick, The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos. Another non-technical read, although in addition to the Johnson book it meant that I had parallax explained to me in layman's terms twice in the span of a few days, which amused me. Also I wish they had been successful in naming Uranus George instead. I really think if I'd had five minutes of time travel on Sunday when I was reading this book, I'd have used it to phone my grandpa when he was still alive and explain to him about Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and George. He would have laughed and laughed.
Kathy Reichs, 206 Bones. I had not read any of the mystery series that inspired the TV series Bones. They're not much alike at all. At all at all. It took me less than five pages to have a completely different mental image/sound/etc. for Temperance Brennan the book character than for Temperance Brennan the TV character. Also, if you wanted more Quebecois swearing than The Game, is this ever the book for you. I'm sorry, what I meant to say is, Tabernac, is this ever the book for you. Calisse, I felt like Jacques Lemaire just reading it. Does anybody know of any better English-language fiction set in Quebec than this? Because I now notice I want some.
Emily Saliers and Don Saliers, A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as a Spiritual Practice. Um. It is awfully nifty to have a daddy who thinks your work is cool. I would know. But I'm not sure why there needed to be a book about all the conversations that result. This Emily Saliers is in fact the Emily Saliers who is half of the Indigo Girls, and she and her dad had a bunch of conversations about her work and his work (he's in church music), and the book that resulted...is worth your time if you are a serious Indigo Girls completist, or seriously sappy about father-daughter relationships (no, like more than Dad and I are, which is seriously a lot), or absolutely mad keen on reading everything anybody might say about the relation of church and secular music even if it doesn't have a lot of insight. Which I'm sorry to say it didn't. But I really am glad that Emily and her dad get along that well, because it's darn nice for both of them.
John Sandford, Rules of Prey and The Fool's Run. Each the first book in a series of thrillers. I will definitely not be going on with the "prey" series, as I think the main character is boring and kind of an ass, which sort of kills the thrill of a thriller series. In both series, I have the distinct feeling that while I read a lot about the 18th century, the strangest period of history is one's own early childhood. Because I kept sitting there going, "Really? People thought like this while I was alive? Really?" The bit, for example, where the use of a condom was supposed by investigators to be indication of a pathological obsession with disease: wwwwow. In my lifetime? When we were drilled in grade school classrooms that thou canst not catch the AIDS from the toilet seat, neither canst thou catch it from the handle of the door? How extremely bizarre.
Carole G. Silver, Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness. Not nearly enough colonialism. Really not enough about the internally colonized peoples. And I have a crazy theory about her conclusion chapter and the crazy thing I would have concluded with instead. But the thing is I read this as a joint reading project with gaaldine, and she's not done yet, so.
Caroline Stevermer (1crowdedhour), Magic Below Stairs. This is the middle-grade book about a servant boy that goes in the interstices of the Sorcery and Cecelia series. For the first half of the book, Frederick (who in fact was a little lad who grew so brave and daring that his father, if he had one, might well have thought to apprentice him to some career seafaring, and even in lieu of a father the cook seems to have given some thought to it, and so I had that problem all day long, which is in no way Caroline's fault but rather Mr. W. S. Gilbert's) seems to have had his own life and his own problems quite separate from the adults and the gentry, and I liked that. Later in the book, they got more intertwined, which also got more exciting and led to the thrilling conclusion, of course, but I had some hopes that Frederick's adventures would stay his own. Maybe when he is 12 he will get to have them without interference. Possibly he will have to wait for some incomprehensibly elderly age like 15. Life is sometimes very hard like that. Anyway I think this is a little old for Rob, or I would be eager to find out what he thought of it without having the adult characters for reference points. Maybe in another year or two we can find out.