November/December Booklog

January 1, 2018

My giant year-in-review post will come along here in a few days, but I want to quickly touch on what I read these last couple of months.

  1. McSweeney’s #50 (5/5) – The did their 50th issue right. I’m not claiming every single element was a home run, but most of the content was. Much better than issue 49.
  2. Spring, A Folio Anthology (3.5/5) – An easy and enjoyable little giveaway from the Folio Society. Nice bits of thematically linked prose and poetry.
  3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (5/5) – Live up to the hype. Reminded me a bit of Garcia-Marquez, which is a high compliment.
  4. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich (4/5) – Good, but not as good as her best work. Another entry in the dystopian genre but, well, she really nails the ending, I think. I won’t spoil it, but it’s exactly right.
  5. Vita Nuova by Louise Gluck (3.5/5) – I’ve been slowly reading my way through Gluck. If this was the first thing of hers I’d read, I think I’d be floored, but as it wasn’t
  6. Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino (3/5) – Some excellent stuff in here, but less unified and somehow more repetitive than her last volume of poetry. I feel like this needed a bit of culling and a little extra material.
  7. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (4/5) – I mostly enjoyed this very much, like all Dickens, it got a bit wordy at times, especially during the last quarter or so. But I’d been meaning to read it for years, and I’m glad I did.

June Book Log

July 8, 2016

Boy, I have been reading across a lot of different genres. I actually did not read an adult novel in June and I can’t remember the last time that happened. I have a delicious stack of new fiction on my desk, though, so that is about to change. I am also pleased to report, that with half the year gone, my goal of making sure 60% of the books I read are by women is chugging along nicely. Currently hanging out at 62.5%.

  1. The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf (3.5/5) – I am told it is a current trend in science biography to spend part of your book discussing the influence of your subject. I can understand why that is relevant, but it is taken too far here. The first 2/3 of the book are brilliant, but after that, the subject – Alexander von Humboldt – disappears completely and it becomes a much lesser work. I recommend getting this from the library and stopping before the last section.
  2. The Sami People by Veli-Pekka Lehtola (4/5) – Part of my sporadic research for a novel-sort-of-in-progress. Very interesting and informative and good to get a perspective about a small indigenous culture from someone who is part of that culture. A little bit of a name-list at times, which is understandable but makes it easy to lose track of things.
  3. The Water and the Wild by K.E. Ormsbee (4.5/5) – Got this for Simone when she was probably a little too young for it, and it sat around for a little more than a year before we started it in earnest. It’s more than 400 pages and there are no illustrations, so I was proud of her for sticking with it once we didĀ get to it. It took us a while to read, but she really enjoyed it and I did, too. A very, very good piece of fiction. Not quite a Hobbit-level children’s classic, but not too far off, either.
  4. Incorrect Merciful Impulses by CamilleĀ Rankine (5/5) – The local bookstore has really upped the quality of their poetry section lately and I’ve been coming across some great stuff just by browsing. This was a stunning collection that explores desire and bad choices and good choices and more bad choices. Highly recommended.
  5. Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen (4/5) – I think I read this at the wrong time. A lot was going on and I was a little distracted. As the writing here is very dense, that means I zoned out in places. When I engaged with the stories, they were excellent and creepy. I’ll have to revisit it one day.
  6. Nurtured by Love by Shin’ichi Suzuki (5/5) – Cringe-inducing title aside, this slim volume by the inventor of the Suzuki method of music instruction is a wonderful book that is about much more than music. A good reminder about the importance of treating others as having value regardless of where their talents may lie.
  7. Fort Red Border by Kiki Peterino (5/5) – Another excellent poetry collection from the local bookstore. Funny and witty and moving. Peterino takes risks that most poets would be afraid of. It is much easier to divulge our failings than it is to divulge the ways we succeed and fail in our own fantasies, something she explores in-depth. I’ll be surprised if this isn’t on my end-of-year list.