Wade Davis

Wednesday reading — wars of various kinds

What I've been reading

I read The War that Saved My Life, which was a Newbery Honor book, among other honors. Although it was extremely accomplished in many respects, I thought it felt very anachronistic and very American, and it seems really lazy to keep going back to the WWII well for award bait, especially when the setting feels so unconvincing. I mean, I wouldn't be so annoyed if it wasn't so good otherwise!

I read The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player, a book which my dad bought for himself but which I stole and read first because it looked interesting. It was interesting, although since it mostly covered things like how hitters physically recognize and react to pitches and how outfielders track balls I have to imagine there's been more recent/technologically advanced research since 2007 that would be pertinent.

I read The Shadow Hero, the origin story for a Chinese-American superhero that Gene Luen Yang invented based on a real character from some off-brand golden age comics who showed up in five issues and then vanished forever. Which is a really cool idea, even though I think, tonally, the execution is a little all over the place.

I read Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero. Apparently, before baseball gloves were invented catchers used to catch barehanded, which was all very well and good until pitchers started trying to actually get batters out with their pitches, instead of just sort of lobbing the ball out there to get things started. The good catchers apparently had a knack for sort of using the fingers of both hands to absorb the speed of the ball, but even then their fingers were constantly broken or split open or both. In spite of this, lots of boys apparently wanted to be catchers for some reason—this is where the author's thesis about folk heroes comes in—but even with this large potential talent pool it got to the point that there were only a handful of major-league calibre catchers who were uninjured enough to play at all, which put a hard limit on the number of competitive teams that could be fielded. Then the mask, chest protector and glove were invented, in that order, and the catcher bottleneck disappeared, although in spite of the fact that catching is still so arduous that I think you have to be a little crazy to even consider doing it, people stopped idolizing or even respecting catchers.

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Junie B.

Wednesday reading — bicoastal

What I've been reading

I finished Chernow's Washington: A Life, which is a pretty good complement to his Hamilton biography. Fun fact: in June of 1790, Washington took Hamilton and Jefferson on a three-day fishing trip. You know you want to write fic about this.

I read The Porcupine of Truth, which won a Stonewall Book Award. I enjoyed it and thought it made a pretty decent attempt at capturing what it's like when you find a friend who's on your wavelength. I have to say, though, I think it might potentially. have been more interesting if the other main character was the POV character.

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Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — revisions and histories

What I've been reading

I read Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History, which is a cute picture book with really good timing! The author is kind of a Burr stan, though.

I read Take Me Out, the script of a 2002 play that my friend Bev thought would be relevant to my interests since I subject her to all my baseball feelings on a regular basis. I find it really interesting that a play about a professional baseball player coming out premiered in London, of all places, although supposedly MLB wants to schedule a game there in 2017. It's a really interesting play, although I wasn't really impressed or convinced by the character of Shane Mungitt, the racist, homophobic prodigy closer, who felt more like a plot device to set events in motion for the other, more interesting characters. I would love to have seen it staged, but sadly will have to make do with great stage directions like (Guys do victory stuff.)

I read Jane, a modern YA retelling of Jane Eyre. I thought the main conceit, making Mr. Rochester a rock star, was promising—well, obviously, or I wouldn't have read it—but I found it underadapted in a lot of ways. I just flatly didn't buy spoilersCollapse ) So yeah, even though there were parts I liked, those were significant sticking points. Re Jane was a much better, more interesting retelling of Jane Eyre.

I read Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance That Forged America, because no one has published a book called Washington/Hamilton: The Hottest Pairing in America and it was the next closest thing. It was readable and enjoyable.

I read From the Guys Who Were There: The Kansas City Royals, which is a really delightful collection of interviews with/about the 2014 and 2015 Royals. It gave me a lot of feelings. Is it 3 April yet?

I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which won a William C. Morris award for a debut YA book. I really liked it—it's funny, and fresh while mostly avoiding try-hard, and I thought it did a good job of depicting a realistic high school social circle with a lot of moving pieces to it.

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Matilda

Wednesday reading — award winners

What I've been reading

I read Last Stop on Market Street, the 2016 Newbery Award winner and Caldecott Honor book. I was…underwhelmed, I guess. I recognize that picture books are technically eligible to be recognized for their writing with the Newbery Award, but it's difficult to compare picture books with even very short novels, and even for a picture book I wanted to be more impressed with the quality of the writing than I was, honestly. The bit with the blind man felt incredibly cheesy and cliché, for instance. On the other hand, I felt like it was pretty okay as a Caldecott Honor selection; the illustrations do feel really fresh and on point throughout.

I read Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear, the Caldecott Medal winner. I feel like the subtitle is kind of misleading about the chain of events, which turns out to be delightful: Winnie (the Pooh, the one you're actually familiar with) was named after a real bear who lived in the London Zoo after the author's great-great-grandfather, a Canadian veterinarian on his way to fight in WWI, bought a bear cub from a trapper at a train station and brought it with him to England. You know, as one does. The illustrations are nice.

I read Roller Girl, a Newbery Honor book, and I really liked it. It reminds me a lot of Raina Telgemeier's work.

I read Summerland, because I remembered that it existed and I was annoyed because Michael Chabon wrote a children's fantasy book but it was about baseball. Whereas now I'm more like, yay, a book about baseball and it's a children's fantasy book by Michael Chabon!

What I'm reading now

Ron Chernow's Washington biography

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how the milk got into the coco-nut, how the milk got into the coconut

Wednesday reading — brothers and others

What I've been reading

I read Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery. It's an enjoyable, true crime-y recounting of the murder, the attempted railroading of Levi Weeks, and his all-star defense team. The "duel" reference in the title is strained but you're not going to publish a book about Hamilton and Burr without something about duels in the title so I'll allow it. Levi Weeks was super lucky that his brother was a contractor and the two best lawyers in New York both owed him a bunch of money for the work he'd done on their respective stately homes.

I read Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Holmes fanfiction. The mystery/adventure plot is pretty good, but what I really liked was the relationship he created between the young Mycroft and his sole friend, an immigrant from Trinidad. They are fiercely devoted to each other (actually, it's pretty shippy) and they come up with creative ways to negotiate period-appropriate racism together. It's kind of wish-fulfillment/self-insert-y, but I don't mean that as a criticism at all.

I reread The Blue Castle, because I had a craving. It's one of those books that I know pretty well by heart, but it's just so perfectly constructed that it just works every time.

I read Founding Brothers, something I'd been sort of vaguely interested in doing since back when it came out, and it was entertaining. My primary takeaway is that Ellis is a huge Jefferson/Adams shipper. Jefferson/Madison is too boring for him and lacks the spice of Jefferson/Adams.

I reread Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, both because I wanted to read it and because I wanted to do a full reread and it was actually the first Lord Peter book I read. I distinctly remember that someone on the late 90s internet recommended it as a good entry point to the series, which I would cosign…up until a point. "The Haunted Policeman" and "Talboys" certainly surprised me and thoroughly spoiled me for the Peter-Harriet sequence, which, okay, I doubt I would have really believed that it would ever have ended any other way anyway, but still. And then "Talboys" was also my favorite story and I am eternally disappointed that there are no novels or other stories or anything set during that period.

I read The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story and it was so delightful and fun and perfect.

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yule log

FIC: Yuletide reveals

An Ass's Headgear (1335 words) by mayhap
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Inspector Alleyn Mysteries - Ngaio Marsh
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Roderick Alleyn
Additional Tags: Stealth Crossover, Humor, Backstory
Summary:

Police Constable Alleyn runs into difficulties on Boat Race Night.



This was my main assignment! It may be the least stealthy crossover with the Stealth Crossover tag, but I really enjoyed writing it and I'm so glad that people enjoyed reading it.

The Artist's Model (2475 words) by mayhap
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Jack and Jill - Louisa May Alcott
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Underage
Relationships: Jack Minot/Ralph Evans
Characters: Jack Minot, Ralph Evans
Additional Tags: Hand Jobs, Frottage, Yuleporn, Yuletide Treat, Age Difference
Summary:

Jack is always eager to lend a friend a hand any way he can.



I also wrote a treat, because I could not resist the siren song of debauching extremely wholesome children's literature! Jack and Jill is more of a deep cut from Louisa May Alcott's œuvre, but I loved it when I was a kid and I thought it held up well on reread, too.

Also I can now thank [archiveofourown.org profile] mattador by name for writing for me!

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Mike/Psmith

Wednesday reading — shoes and ships (but no sealing wax particularly)

What I've been reading

I finished reading Alexander Hamilton, which I read kind of slowly because I was enjoying it and I didn't want it to end. Especially since, you know. I know how it ends.

I read The Marvels, Brian Selznick's newest book, and I was kind of disappointed by the execution. It's kind of the opposite of Wonderstruck, where the visual story and the verbal story counterpoint each other perfectly and it all comes together at the end; the first half is the visual story and the second half is the verbal story and it's really clunky and the pacing is weird. Which is too bad, because I feel like the story has a lot of potential.

I read The Art of Fielding, because everyone recommends it in book recommendation threads on r/baseball, although none of them mentioned the gay romance. I would have picked it up a lot sooner if someone had mentioned the gay romance. Actually the entire book turned out to be constructed of iddy catnip for me and I could not have been more pleased.

I read A Little House Sampler, which is a nice enough anthology of pieces by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, although the introductions to each piece are of questionable veracity. Like, one of them says that Laura and Almanzo liked the Rock House that Rose had built for them when they very plainly did not and moved back to their original custom-built house as soon as they possibly could. I mean, honestly.

I reread Ballet Shoes because of this Yuletide fic and also this one I had almost completely forgotten it and/or conflated it with another one of Noel Streatfeild's books, so it was very nearly a fresh read! (My library didn't own any of them or I would have reread them more often as a kid.)

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Socrates/Alcibiades

Happy Yuletide!

I got Socrates/Alcibiades fic this year and it just nails the dynamic I love:

Xafniká (1140 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Classical Greece and Rome History & Literature RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Alcibiades/Socrates
Characters: Socrates (c. 469-399 BC), Alcibiades (c. 450-404 BC)
Summary:

Alcibiades reflects on the object of his affections, and resolves on a course of action.



I just checked and I've been requesting Socrates/Alcibiades since 2009 and this is the first year anyone's officially taken me up on it! I'm glad that I persisted.

Downloading approximately a zillion other things to read now.

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Junie B.

Wednesday reading — duels and demons

It's Yuletide Eve, otherwise known as Christmas Eve Eve. (Christmas Eve Eve is totally a thing when all your significant holiday observances take place on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is just lazing around eating leftovers and playing with your new stuff.)

That means most of the rest of the year I'll be reading Yuletide fic instead of real books. (I realize that "real books" is often a charitable assessment of my choices of reading material.)

What I've been reading

I read War of Two: The Dark Mystery of the Duel Between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and Its Legacy for America, which I snagged from the display of ARCs that they have for the taking at my library. The author, John Sedgwick, originally got interested in the subject because he is descended from the guy that Hamilton wrote an unrelated letter to the night before the duel and then really lucked out on when the book ended up being published. It's wittily written and I really like how well it fleshed out Burr, generally and in relation to Hamilton.

I read The Affinities, which I enjoyed. Robert Charles Wilson's writing has this very readable quality to me and the premise is fun.

I read Penric's Demon, the novella that Lois McMaster Bujold wrote recently set in the Five Gods universe. It was lightweight and fun. Actually, if it weren't set in a shared universe with adult novels it feels pretty close to being a kid's book to me. Some pretty mild sauciness would have to be pruned, but other than that…

I read The Babe Didn't Point: And Other Stories about Iowans and Sports by Bill Bryson, Sr., because when I was reading Bill Bryson, Jr.'s latest book (the one that I didn't particularly take to) I distinctly recalled him mentioning in his other books that his father was a sportswriter. This selection of his writing is heavy on Iowegians, which is not a specialization that interests me as much as it does the Iowa State University Press that published it, for obvious reasons, but it was still very entertaining reading. The funny thing is he writes exactly like I would imagine based on the familial connection, aside from the generation gap and choice of subeject matter.

What I'm reading now

I'm about halfway through the Chernow Hamilton biography.

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