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Books read, late February. - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Books read, late February. [Mar. 1st, 2011|05:46 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. For something like the last four years, every time I go to a convention, someone has said to me, "Have you read 1491? Oh, you should!" So I decided to read it before Minicon so I could have a different conversation. Sometimes it's incredibly depressing to read something being debunked and think, "People had to debunk that? Because anybody ever thought it? Really? Uff da." But y'know, needed stuff. And some of the tidbits were particularly interesting, about how they figure out who lived where when and like that. There was more post-Columbian stuff than I'd hoped for, though.

Sarah Monette (truepenny), Unnatural Creatures. More Booth stories! I found The Bone Key engrossing, and this is more in the same series. Hooray!

E. Nesbit, Oswald Bastable and Others. First Kindle read of someone else's work (I have some of my own manuscripts on my Kindle). This is a bunch of minor Nesbit stories. Fun but not fabulous; you can tell why other things are more famous, for sure. It's also fascinating to watch the shift in what is notoriously progressive and non-preachy over time, because this had some appalling gender stuff in it (that was still better than most of the gender stuff of the time, I know!).

Reading it on the Kindle was fine. I found, for example, that when I had a headache, reading on the Kindle in a dark room with just the Kindle cover light on was better than reading in an ordinary lit room. It's very useful to take with on various errands and appointments. I still like books better and trust books more. But this is a useful word-related gadget.

I'm not sure how to keep track of things, because a lot of things aren't clear on how long the item is, and I don't put every short story I read in my book posts, so I'm not sure whether I should treat Kindle items as each an item to report or try to guess how long they are. Organization! Anal-retentiveness! They are harsh mistresses.

John Scalzi (scalzi), Zoe's Tale. This is the other thing that's my Minicon prep reading so far. (Depending on what panels I get put on, there might be more.) The advantage to my library list is that I can keep track of all sorts of things I want to read that the library has available. The disadvantage is that it saps a lot of motivation to read any particular thing I want to read, because it'll always be there and not even cluttering up my grandpa's desk (where the "to read" pile lives). So I figured that if having Scalzi for GoH at Minicon was not motivation to read Zoe's Tale, I wasn't sure what would be. It was fun. Most of the plot is coming-of-age story if you've already read The Last Colony and know about stuff from that direction, but there's a reason coming-of-age stories keep coming out in various forms.

Takaya Natsuki, Fruits Basket 6-23. Another first: my first manga. I skipped the first five volumes because alecaustin said they were overwhelmingly material that overlapped with the anime. And I didn't read these because I feel I want to start reading a lot of manga, I read these because the anime stopped and there was clearly more story there, and this is how I could get it. I am not at all a visual person in some regards, so a lot of the art was wasted on me. I was fascinated to see one of the things about switching from an anime to a manga with the same characters: I discovered that I was using color coding to tell characters apart a lot. This was particularly startling because I generally think of myself as less color-coding-based than other people when watching non-animated TV: I almost never have the "I don't know, there are four blondes, I can't tell them apart" problem that some people describe having (in Veronica Mars, for example, with blondes, or in The Wire with African-American men of a certain age and style of dress, or etc.). But a lot of the things I usually use to distinguish characters are flattened out in an anime of this type, and so I suppose the color-coding thing was reasonable.

Anyway, even with that problem to adjust to early on, I had no trouble telling who was saying what, because the character voices were all very distinct for me. This confirms what I've said about comics in English: I am not the least bit opposed to them, but they're not going to be a primary source of fiction for me, and if I'm going to read them, I need a source to dump a huge pile on me all at once, because each volume is not quite enough to be satisfying. (Happily, alecaustin was that source.)

So anyway: the story itself? The very very ending was in some ways quite alarming, and you could tell the target demographic even if it didn't say so on the cover, because of how many of the characters ended up officially paired off at the very end. It almost felt to me like, "Who have we got left? Okay, we'll go with that," but that may be because I like Hanajima best and wanted her to go off and do something interestingly Hanajima-ish. Oh! That's another technical-ish thing: I liked that they left honorifics and suffixes for the names in Japanese. I see why some people would have wanted to translate Honda-san as Miss Honda, but...the attempts I've seen at approximating the different levels of intimacy, affection, formality, etc. into English just don't work. We rarely have enough of the right terms. In the anime, they translated onee-chan as Sissy, and...no. Just no. We don't have an equivalent term for older sisters, and admitting that we don't and just having Kisa call Tohru onee-chan is definitely the way to go. Still not enough about the story itself? Oh the angst! Ohhhh the crack crack crack angst! (But not as much focus on the ridiculousness of the premise as I had feared, which I knew from the anime.) Also, in addition to Hana-chan, I like Uo-chan, and also Hatori and Kyo.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: aedifica
2011-03-02 01:02 am (UTC)
I too read a Scalzi book in preparation for Minicon, but in my case it was Old Man's War, because I hadn't read any of his books yet at all and ckd said that would be a good one to start with. And it was.
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[User Picture]From: umadoshi
2011-03-02 04:27 am (UTC)
Fruits Basket is an awesome choice for a first manga. (I'm biased, because it's my Favorite Thing Ever.)

The honorifics debate is a constant thing. I'm overwhelmingly in favor of keeping them, so the only time I don't keep them is if I take over a series that already doesn't use them or if the editor specifically tells me not to. Then I gnash my teeth and do what they ask. (One series I work on began being translated long enough ago that they not only dropped the honorifics but had the characters all refer to each other by their given names whether they did in the original or not. That gets deeply awkward when, say, there's a plot point or bit of character development that depends on someone beginning to address someone else in a different way.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-02 12:51 pm (UTC)
Icon loff.

Uff da, I can see how that's a very weird thing to have to cope with. It's more nuanced than tutoyer-ing somebody in French. I was trying to think whether I had enough names to cover the possibilities--Ms. Lingen, Miss Marissa, Marissa, Mris, Rissy--my variations might cover it. But I'm still not sure that works, and then to have been using Marissa for Ms. Lingen and having somebody switching to Marissa as a thing...oh, that's no good at all. My translational sympathies.

Doug Hofstadter ought to study Japanese and then write an addendum to Le Ton Beau de Marot, because holy crud.
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[User Picture]From: umadoshi
2011-03-02 03:12 pm (UTC)
I have very few FB icons that aren't Haru or Rin, but that one's a favorite. A friend made me a bunch of custom icons a while ago, and they're so much fun!

I kind of feel as if it might be possible to "translate" all of the honorifics decently if one could read the entire story first (and I still wouldn't like it!), but it boggles me in manga because usually the story isn't finished yet. You just never know when something like that will suddenly be important, and then you really have to scramble and it's just bad all around. (I adapted a series--Takaya's first, actually--where a character referred to herself in third person, which is really annoying in English and almost never matters in practice, so we changed it a bit. Naturally, that was the series where someone later asked her straight out why she did that.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-02 03:37 pm (UTC)
Aaaagh, that's even more frustrating than reading serials for pleasure.
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[User Picture]From: auriaephiala
2011-03-02 05:39 am (UTC)
So, was 1491 worth reading? Is its research and writing style OK?

Edited at 2011-03-02 05:39 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-02 12:52 pm (UTC)
I think so. It was written briskly, it seemed to be debunking rather than going along with some hideously racist notions, and it was very clear in several points where things were somewhat speculative or at least disputed.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2011-03-02 07:42 am (UTC)
I'm thinking that I might switch back to buying mostly paper books, one day when I'm settled back in the US - that is, once that's a feasible choice. I want to be able to read my books forty years from now and I don't trust Amazon, its gadgets and its descendents to be around then. (On the other hand, in a world where it's possible to google up Usenet posts I wrote 20 years ago, who knows?) But for now Kindle books are so much more practical for me that I get annoyed at paper-only books.

But I've just realized the flip side of that: if a lot of middle-aged books (say, 10-30 years old) are only available in paper, maybe even more older books are only easily available in e-book. I've certainly never seen a hard copy of Oswald Bastable and Others, though I have it on my Kindle too. (A quick check at Alibris does show some copies; apparently it was re-released in trade paperback 2009 - and there's an original 1906 copy for $450.) If I want to read, say, A Lady's Travels in the Hebrides from circa 1726 (I just made that title up, but there are lots like it) I'd have a much better chance of finding an e-book version. So I guess I'll always be using an ebook for at least some stuff.

Plus, it is easier to use while knitting.

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-02 12:53 pm (UTC)
Yah, the stuff I have on my Kindle overlaps with the stuff I have in paper, but I'm not sure I could find it all in paper. But in your position you may be actually buying books for yours, and the actually bought books are more likely to be around at least in used bookstores when you get back.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2011-03-02 03:27 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you're equating "e-books" with "books with Digital Rights Management (DRM)". While the books Amazon sells for Kindle have DRM, the Baen books for example do not (even in their Kindle versions). And, if you care to, there are articles to be Googled up on how to break the DRM on Kindle e-books so you can save them yourself, and not be dependent on Amazon in the future. More trouble now, but it overcomes the DRM problem.

For old books, Project Gutenberg is the ultimate source for a huge percentage of what other places also distribute. Available in Kindle and Epub and other formats (including text and html). (Sorry if this is so obvious you just didn't mention it; it'd be a shame for somebody not to know it.) And Distributed Proofreaders always needs volunteers who can take the time to proofread (or format, or whatever) a few pages of what they're working on right now....
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[User Picture]From: columbina
2011-03-02 02:33 pm (UTC)
... if I'm going to read them, I need a source to dump a huge pile on me all at once, because each volume is not quite enough to be satisfying.

Yup. This.

I have to wait until the whole run of a particular story or arc is bound together and sold as a big volume. The dosage is otherwise too small. Even running through the recent manga I loved very much (Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service - it's sort of X-Files meets Bones, and normally I'd recommend it, but I don't know what your gruesome tolerance is, and it can get mighty gruesome), I could do two or three of the books a night, which is an unfortunate thing that leaves one with a tall stack of volumes on one's table and a bad desire for another dose that big that won't happen again.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-03-02 02:46 pm (UTC)
I have a pretty high gruesome tolerance, and the library has six volumes of that; presumably I could request multiples at once.
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[User Picture]From: umadoshi
2011-03-02 03:13 pm (UTC)
I second that rec. Kurosagi is great stuff.
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