plotbunnies

Wednesday reading meme

What I've been reading

I reread Dave Barry Slept Here because I found a paperback copy at the thrift store, which, as a bonus, tacks on a few pages at the end that bring it up to 1997, which IIRC made it more up to date than the actual textbook we used for AP American History in 2000-2001. Even though I have it semi-memorized, it never fails to make me LOL.

I read Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, which was a pretty mixed bag. Some highlights, both good and bad,
  • I really liked Delia Sherman's titular "Queen Victoria's Book of Spells", which was both an interesting story and a magical world that I would enjoy reading more of.

  • "Phosphorus" made a deep impression on me as both an explicitly didactic story about Lucifer matches, "phossy jaw" and the match factory workers' strike and a creepy story about love, magic and sacrifice.

  • Cat Valente's story about the young Brontë siblings, "Without Us Were Shadows", is clever and bittersweet, and I especially like the relationship between Charlotte and Branwell.

  • "Estella Saves the Village" is a delightful story by Theodora Goss about rescuing beleaguered characters with a massive crossover fix-it fic that takes on an existence of its own.

  • I was super disappointed by Ellen Kushner and Caroline Stevermer's collaborative effort, "The Vital Importance of the Superficial". They wrote it by exchanging letters because Kushner was looking to break some writer's block, and I think it should have been rewritten after they figured out what it was going to be about or just stuck in a drawer as a writing exercise.

  • Elizabeth Wein's "For the Briar Rose" is exquisitely researched and footnoted, but basically nothing happens in it.

  • Geoffrey Maguire has written some of the most bizarre A Christmas Carol fanfiction I have ever encountered. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Scrooge had had children whom he neglected because he was too busy distributing charity? Probably not, and "A Few Twigs He Left Behind" is unlikely to increase your level of interest in the matter.


I read Invisible Romans: Prostitutes, Outlaws, Slaves, Gladiators, Ordinary Men and Women … the Romans That History Forgot. It's an enjoyable and readable book, although forced into a somewhat contorted shape by the author's choice to leave all texts produced by the Roman elites strictly alone, which leaves him with a very constrained selection of 'inscriptions and papyri, and [...] admittedly problematic insights from fiction, fable, Christian sources, fortune-telling and magic', not to mention the chapter where he just straight-up talks about 17th century pirates because there are good sources and he thinks they were pretty similar to Roman pirates as far as we know and come on, pirates, who doesn't want to read about pirates? I have to admit, I did enjoy the pirates.

I finished my reread of The Hobbit that I started, um, last December and accidentally put aside because something about this book is like Teflon and my eyes keep sliding off it. I had technically read it once, after I finished my very first LOTR read, but hadn't retained very much of it. It's just so episodic and wonkily plotted and weirdly narrated and possibly if I had read it when I was young enough I might have loved it, but if so that window of opportunity had closed when I did, so. Sorry, Hobbit-the-book lovers!

I read All-Star Superman, because it is one of the answers commonly given to the question 'What Superman comics are actually good?' I, uh, disagree. Vigorously. Also, I completely hate the art; the scribbly little lines in all the wrong places remind me of nothing so much as Rob Liefeld (although admittedly with a much firmer grasp of how objects occupy space and no footphobia or pouchphilia) and the digital coloring costs big money to print but looks cheap and unreal with the stupid plastic-y gradients everywhere. Everyone's clothes look like they are sewn from thick rubber sheets that flop and bulge everywhere and it's distractingly bad.

What I'm reading next

Going to reread As You Like It before Shakespeare in the Park this Saturday with [personal profile] wisdomeagle et al.! Also I have a biography of Marcus Aurelius for more research around the Gladiator AU dysfunctional bisexual incestuous threesome plotbunny that will not leave me alone, and I'm strongly tempted to go on and do yet another LOTR reread and maybe even pick up my old book-based Gandalf/Pippin story.

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