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« August, 2017 »

Water for Elephants   book icon  
by Sara Gruen (2006)

read: 31 August 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Liked it! Sometimes it’s easy to see the bones of a book, the inspirational bits that the author formed a story around. In this case Gruen actually shows you some of the photos as she tells a tale of a boy who somewhat unwillingly ran away to join the circus, and what he found there.

"Now Here’s My Plan": A Book of Futilities   book icon  
by Shel Silverstein (1960)

read: 30 August 2017
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

A great collection of cartoons by Silverstein from back in the 60s. While this isn’t a graphic novel per se, Silverstein’s comic use the full page and often tell sequential stories using the space in unique ways. People familiar with his work will see some of his themes emerge. I enjoyed getting to see all new-to-me Silvestein work and was happy I found this.

Artemis   book icon  
by Andy Weir (2017)

read: 25 August 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I love it when non-diverse authors make a serious effort to write a book with a fully diverse cast. And yet, it’s hard because as a member of one of those categories (Weir who is male is writing about a Muslim woman as a lead character) I felt like the character was unfamiliar to me. Which is probably fine, unless it isn’t. And it’s easy to pick nits so I’ll leave that be. Otherwise this is a Weir-ish (i.e. a lot of hard science within an actual story) novel about a colony on the moon and what the politics and practices of that sort of place would look like. Our protagonist is a non-practicing Muslim woman who just happens to also be a genius and a smuggler. And a great cast of other characters who are all on the moon thanks to the Kenyan space program. If you liked the Martian but wish it had some women in it, you’ll probably like this.

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen   book icon  
by Mary Norris (2015)

read: 22 August 2017
rating: [0]
category: non-fiction

Wanted to love this book but struggled with it. Norris is a likeable interesting person who had held a coveted job of copy editor at the New Yorker, a place that actually cares about such things, for a good long time. And she’s learned stuff about herself, the business and language. However this book couldn’t really figure out which of those thigns it was about. Some chapters were fun autobiographical sketches, some talked about office culture and some were borderline polemics about language. Which were not great. The rest was fine. Norris has a transgender sibling and I winced listening to her mangle pronouns talking about her sibling and then defend usage that is nowhere near current or compassionate practice. At the same time she’d go on a tear about things like “Between you and I” (incorrect, but often used. So, mixed feelings. I’m sure I’d like Norris if I met her but this book wasn’t enough of one thing to get me in its corner.

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird   book icon  
by Paula Guran (2011)

read: 15 August 2017
rating: [+]
categories: collection, fiction

So interesting! Authors writing stories that are evocative of Lovecraft, only written in this century. Some of the stories were fairly traditional and/or somewhat derivative (which was sort of the point) and others did really interesting things with the style and content to create all new interesting-in-their-own-right tales. Some of the bits did get a little repetetive and I felt like some authors did a little too much gorey explosition instead of the creepy horror-by-implication which Lovecraft was really famous for. My faves were stories that dealt directly with alienation and some of HPL’s more problematic personality issues at the same time as they wrote great stories.

The Best of the Rejection Collection   book icon  
by Matthew Diffee (2011)

read: 15 August 2017
rating: [+]
category: collection

A great collection of slightly off-kilter cartoons that were too weird to go into the New Yorker. I( like dthe cartoons but, as with many New Yorker stuff, I didn’t always like what was in-between them. In this case it was a lot of “funny” inter5views with cartoonists that were not as good as the cartoons they bookended. Occasionally I’d learn a thing or two but a lot of times it was just weird jokes that didn’t quite land and then some REALLY good cartoons.

Field Notes on Science & Nature   book icon  
by Michael Canfield (2011)

read: 13 August 2017
rating: [+]
categories: collection, non-fiction

A great and beautifully illustrated book on naturalists and their field notes, talking about the how and the why. Canfield has assembled a wide variety if people, most of whom do their note taking in paper format and they discuss what they do and why they think it’s important for them for science and for future generations.

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