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Books read, early June - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, early June [Jun. 16th, 2010|10:07 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-17 03:14 am (UTC)
I truly do love your remarks about books.

May I borrow the DWJ next week? (Next week! Eee!)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 03:30 am (UTC)
I don't like to lend books across state lines, but if I get it to you at playreading that should give you some time to read it while you're here even with the busy-ness of con time, yes? Maybe? I'll try to remember. I'll go put it in the basket now.

(The give-it-back basket is one of my innovations in housekeeping. It is a basket near our front door so that there's always a place to put borrowed things once they need to go back to their owners. It also serves for things that are meant to be loaned out, or things that are ready to be given as gifts, or things that are in other ways Not Long For This House. That way there isn't any fuss as to where to put things that don't have their own proper place, and also there's some chance that regulars here will check for their own possessions or we will check for things we meant to give them before they depart. porphyrin's empty canning jars, for example, go in the basket. Library books.)
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-17 03:33 am (UTC)
Yes, obviously, I wouldn't have asked if it had been by Neal Stephenson! But DWJ's not famous for her verbosity, and no one will look askance if I sit in the lobby and ignore the world.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 03:35 am (UTC)
And there are always morning bits or bits of afternoon when you'll enjoy the evening much more if you take a few minutes with a book or what-have-you. At least I have bits of afternoon when I'll enjoy the evening much more if I take a few minutes with a book. It took me a few conventions to learn about them, though.
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[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-17 03:36 am (UTC)
And the bits of evening where I need a book to calm down if I'm to have a hope of sleeping.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2010-06-17 03:53 am (UTC)
Hadn't heard about that Stevermer before this. I should probably just pick up copies of all of her books I don't have, since I really liked When the King Comes Home and A Scholar of Magics, and have gotten over not really loving A College of Magics the first couple of times I read it.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2010-06-17 03:55 am (UTC)
Also, as a random note, it is astonishing to me that Amazon's search function can come back with 30-odd books associated with Caroline Stevermer and while their Bibliography page for her comes back with 5. One of which is The Mislaid Magician, with neither of the earlier books in that line represented.
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[User Picture]From: swan_tower
2010-06-17 04:25 am (UTC)
I know my own Bibliography page reflects the books I've identified as my own, via my author account with Amazon. That might be why.
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[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2010-06-17 05:09 am (UTC)
That would probably do it!
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 12:33 pm (UTC)
While I don't mean to discourage you from buying Caroline's books, you are entirely welcome to read our copy of Magic Below Stairs when you get here. I'm not surprised you hadn't heard of it, though. It's very new.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-06-17 04:24 am (UTC)
I agree completely with your assessment of Enchanted Glass. A middle one, but part of a much greater body of work.

Also: I was just thinking about returning to Gone Away Lake today. Even when I was a girl this story would've been unlikely (the elders would be just too old). Now we are talking about a time more than 100 years ago. This is one of those summer books for me that I always think of during the season.
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[User Picture]From: themagdalen
2010-06-17 05:00 am (UTC)
Quebecois: Diamond Mask series.
Saliers & Saliers: alas. But yes, it is nice, isn't it.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 12:34 pm (UTC)
What, the Julian May Diamond Mask series? Those are Francophone Americans from up in VT, not Quebecois. I do love it, though.
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From: withneedle
2010-06-17 06:07 am (UTC)

English-language fiction set in Quebec

Louise Penny writes a mystery series set in a small village near Montreal that I like. I've heard the books can be read out of order, but I don't believe it. The first book is Still Life.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 12:35 pm (UTC)

Re: English-language fiction set in Quebec

This is very useful to me. Thank you.
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From: evangoer
2010-06-17 03:21 pm (UTC)
For some reason, when I first saw this in my feed reader, I thought, "Ah, another Jo Walton Alphabetical Survey post on Tor! Wow, is she already up to the S's?"
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2010-06-17 07:39 pm (UTC)
Also I wish they had been successful in naming Uranus George instead.

...after who? If I get a hold of a time machine, this definitely goes on the list.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-17 08:37 pm (UTC)
George III.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2010-06-17 11:47 pm (UTC)
That's not nearly as interesting a George as it could have been. Could we name it after George Elliot, or Curious George?
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2010-06-18 02:07 am (UTC)
After Neptune was discovered, the French tried to have Uranus re-named Herschel, in order to retroactively create a precedent for naming the new planet Leverrier.

None of which has much to do with the attempt to name Pluto Constance.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-19 01:15 pm (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, you can name it after your own lit-tul bunny rabbit if you like. But the international astronomy committee is not nearly so lenient.
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