Wednesday reading — mysteries and not

What I've been reading

I finished The Annotated Anne of Green Gables, which I would recommend. It has a decent set of annotations, and I thought the introduction and appendices were very good.

I read Frankly, My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited. I was hoping for something a little more critical—in the scholarly sense, I mean. In spite of being published by an academic press, it seemed more like a personal account by someone who happened to be an academic. She thinks the movie is much better than the book, so already we disagree. Her account of the writing of the book and filming of the movie is more readable although less extensive than some of the more amateurish GWTW stuff I've read.

I read The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. I was a chorus member in a community theatre production of Damn Yankees once and until I got sucked into following the Royals last October that was where I learned most of what I knew about baseball. My mom gave me a copy of the book as a closing night present, but I hadn't gotten around to reading it until now. (I think this was a bad idea. The Royals had previously won two out of three games they played against the Yankees this season, and then they got curbstomped at Yankee Stadium.) It is essentially the same narrative as the musical that was adapted from it, told in an unadorned manner, and with no songs.

I read The Franchise Affair. I loved the mystery in this one; it's positively fiendish and a good example of how much scope there can be in a mystery that doesn't have a murder. I also love the lawyer who gets sucked into leading the investigation, even though it means that Inspector Grant recedes into the background and I miss him.

I read A Shilling for Candles, which comes chronologically before The Franchise Affair, but I had initially grabbed the wrong book and I got sucked into it. More of a classic murder mystery, although I loved how Erica handled her sidequest with the coat.

I read Miss Pym Disposes. I loved it as a portrait of the setting and the characters who inhabit it and almost hated for the mystery to eventually intrude. And I also kind of wanted to shout at the book at the very ending.

I read The Singing Sands, which along with the preceding A Daughter of Time is my favorite of the Alan Grant books, I think. I think the recuperation plotline is even better in this one, although A Daughter in Time still has the best version of the Grant-falls-a-bit-in-love-with-a-dead-man plot.

I read P.S. I Still Love You, the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and resisted the urge to get into shipwars with teenagers on Goodreads because they seem to all be firmly Team Peter and I'm definitely on Team John, or at least Team Peter was disappointing as a boyfriend, no, don't get back together with him, at least give John a chance. I had feelings about this, okay. I know the first book was originally supposed to be a standalone title and now I really want it to bud out into a trilogy because I am so unsatisifed with Peter's behavior.

I read the middle volume of March, John Lewis's graphic memoir. This book covers from the Freedom Rides through to the I have a dream speech and the violence is practically unrelenting. I also think these books do a good job depicting the planning and discussion behind the movement, when pages of people talking could easily be boring and static.

What I'm reading next

My library doesn't have The Man in the Queue or To Love and Be Wise, not even in (boo! hiss!) large print, so I've placed interlibrary loans. (Incidentally, the large print Teys were riddled with typographical errors, but earlier readers had corrected nearly all of them. This is the one kind of writing in library books that I approve of.)

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pages do it by the books

Wednesday reading — traumas and fix-its

What I've been reading

I read Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully. I'd previously read a novel by the author, The Grand Complication, which is notable to me for being perhaps the only book that involves a competitive cataloguing scene, although I have forgotten the actual main plot. When he was young he spent a year at a Swiss boarding school, where he crossed paths with the aforementioned bully. After years of obsessing about this guy and what happened to him, he lucks out, as he turns out to have been convicted for his involvement in a particularly glitzy ring of fraudulent bankers, who make for fairly entertaining reading.

I read Lock and Key because I was going back to see which of Sarah Dessen's books I hadn't read.

I reread Jane of Lantern Hill, because it was mentioned in the introduction to The Annotated Anne of Green Gables and I realized that I didn't really remember it (and on rereading, what I thought I remembered was a different book or just wrong). spoilersCollapse )

I read The Price of Salt because of the buzz about the movie version with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, which looks like it is going to be, at minimum, absolutely gorgeous, although I think The Price of Salt is a more evocative title than Carol. spoilersCollapse )

I read A Garland for Girls, a collection of Louisa May Alcott's short stories for children, which are generally much preachier than her novels for children. I'd always wanted to read this particular collection though because my library had a copy of it but it was noncirculating and I never read it.

I read How to Write a Thesis, which is roughly the MLA Handbook as written by Umberto Eco, available for the first time in an English translation. Even though it contains a lot of material that is quite specific to its original time (it was written in 1977) and place (until quite recently all Italian undergraduates had to write theses that were closer to what is elsewhere masters-level work to get degrees), I still would have found it more useful in high school and college than the MLA Handbook. It's very engaging, empathetic and funny.

I read Seveneves, Neal Stephenson's latest book, which my brother and I have been taking turns getting each other excited about for a while now. I really enjoyed it, although I expect the people who get annoyed about Stephenson being unable to end a book will have more or less the same complaint. (I tend to feel like they are all basically acceptable endings, so what do I know?) spoilersCollapse )

What I'm reading now

I'm still reading The Annotated Anne of Green Gables.

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like dragons

Wednesday reading — dragons and carousel horses

What I've been reading

I read Saint Anything, Sarah Dessen's new book. spoilersCollapse )

I read A Tale of Two Castles, which didn't make an impression on me like Ella Enchanted but is cute and fun and has a sequel that just came out, which I also intend to read. Also it includes a dragon who is basically Sherlock Holmes.

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Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading — impostors, kidnappers and other criminals

What I've been reading

I read The Borrower, a book I wound up relating to deeply as it is about a woman working in a library in a small town in Missouri in spite of not having a library science degree who frequently references and even pastiches children's books. I never kidnapped any children to try to save them from their bigoted parents, but I can certainly understand the impulse.

I read Brat Farrar, which I would have done a lot sooner if it had been clearer from the title that it was about impostors and horses, both of which are like catnip to me.

I read The Daugher of Time, which was also utterly delightful. mildest of spoilersCollapse )

I read Through the Woods, five nicely creepy stories with excellent art.

What I'm reading next

Ugh, my library system only has large print copies of the other Alan Grant books and I don't enjoy reading large print. I have placed holds on them anyway, of course.

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speaking of Jane Austen

My Austen-loving former teachers on Facebook shared some positive reviews of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: a Musical, which has Jane herself a character, revising her manuscript of First Impressions into its published form.

Although I am thousands of miles from being able to check out the show itself, they have a large selection of demo recordings on their Soundcloud page that I've been really enjoying. My favorites are Not Romantic (Charlotte Lucas's song), Miss Bennet (the Lizzie vs. Lady Catherine showdown) and When I Fall in Love.

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Liv Tyler

Wednesday reading — happy endings

What I've been reading

I read Ancient Lives: The Story of the Pharaoh's Tombmakers. I read several other excellent books about the Deir el-Bahri workers when I was researching my NaNoWriMo project but somehow missed this one, and wish I hadn't, because it's really vivid. In addition to painting pictures of daily life, it also works its way chronologically through the succession of chief workmen at the tombs the way you would expect to read about the succession of kings.

I read The Professor, which was published posthumously after Charlotte Brontë had already cannibalized it for Villette, so unsurprisingly it reads like a first draft of Villette in many ways. Now, I found Villette intensely frustrating in that I really enjoy Charlotte's writing but hated nearly everything about the actual story, so another book that is basically Villette but with a male protagonist and also less assured as a piece of writing did not seem like a great prospect, but it's not like there are so many books by Charlotte Brontë to choose from.

Anyway, I perservered through what seemed like a million pages about how stupid people, primarily girls, of Flemish extraction are, and how you can tell by their faces, the shapes of their heads, and even their figures. (It's actually not a particularly long book, but it felt like it.) The romance between William Crimsworth, the male version of Lucy Snowe, and his colleague is creepier than the one in Villette, because Frances is his pupil, trying to improve her English so she can get a better job. You might think that the student-teacher thing might be sexy, but mostly William is just incredibly cold and withholding for whatever reason. But then, surprise! Things got interesting at the very end!

spoilers for the end of The Professor, more comparisons with VilletteCollapse )

I love their dynamic so much, briefly as it is sketched here, that I'm seriously tempted to ask for The Professor fic for Yuletide, except it feels dickish to request a canon when you don't actually like most of it.

I reread, or just read, Persuasion. I can't remember if I actually put it down or just read the last two-thirds without properly connecting with them back when I was fourteen or possibly fifteen, but I more or less effectively saved it until now, when I am much closer to Anne Elliot's age, and in fact older than her. spoilersCollapse )

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thrift store score

I found a hardcover copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog at the thrift store today. Not only is the dustjacket in tolerable condition, I found a folded To Say Nothing of the Dog poster from the Science Fiction Book Club tucked in the back.

Why did they print a To Say Nothing of the Dog poster in the first place? I don't know, but now I have one.

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shoulder reading

Wednesday reading — choices of words

What I've been reading

I read The Galaxy Game, which follows and is set in the same universe as The Best of All Possible Worlds. I adored that setting, and even though I had some problems with this book—I feel like it's trying to do some of the things in that book that shouldn't have worked and did, and here they just don't work—in many other ways it delighted me.

I read Studies in Words, another sort of popular-academic book by C. S. Lewis that I enjoyed very much. It is all about tracing the history of words, specifically words whose meanings have shifted such that they become false friends to later readers.

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Mai Yamani

Wednesday reading —reception

What I've been reading

I read The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature. In spite of adoring the Narnia books, I haven't really read any of C. S. Lewis's other books. Out of next-most-readily-availble titles, I'm not really interested in his apologetics, and I was spoiled for the enraging end of the Space trilogy and haven't ever really been at a point where I thought my blood pressure was too low and I should do something about that, and The Screwtape Letters was okay, I guess. I had higher hopes for this one, though, and I found it really delightful. Like the subtitle says, it's pitched at an introductory level, but specifically it focuses on a common mental model of the universe with shared sources and imagery.

I read The Afterlife of Little Women, which is not uniformly delightful and occasionally bogs down in what seem to me like unproductive tangents—just how much material should you expect to get out of a handful of stills. a few lines of advertising copy and scant and cursory reviews of a lost silent film? does it actually occupy more pages of the book than the three extant films, or does it just feel that way?—but it is interesting enough if you are interested in the history of the reception of Little Women.

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