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« September, 2019 »

Lurking: How a Person Became a User   book icon  
by Joanne McNeill (2020)

read: 29 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I got an advanced readers copy of this book from Joanne and was happy to get it. I was also briefly interviewed for part of it. This is a story about how the old web, where we were just learning how to interact with one another, became the new web where everyone was trying to “sell our eyeballs” to people and just how much that changed the experience of interacting there. Joanne spent a lot of time online and talks about what she found there, both in the early web being a person interacting on Echo or Friendster, and today where she uses Twitter a little and basically ignores Facebook. It’s really nice to read an account of the early web which isn’t just about “The men who built it” There is some of that in this book but it’s useful. What’s more useful is how Joanne talks about the people she interacted with there, the friendships she made, the “there” that was there as a result of the way people had genuine interactions with one another, in a place that many people didn’t even see as real. She has a great way of evoking sense memories for things many of us have only experienced through typing and reading. And for someone who spent a lot of time in some of those same places (and also in other ones) there’s a very real feeling about that which is nice to read about, it feels like a very genuine reflection of how it felt to be there.

The Hearts of Horses   book icon  
by Molly Gloss (2007)

read: 27 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Such a great book about old timey (right around WWI) Oregon and a young woman who goes around offering to break horses for people. A lot of sense of place of the Pac NW which is one of the things Gloss does so well. I really enjoyed reading around with her main character and all the people she meets along the way. I’m not really a horse person, but you don’t have to be to enjoy reading this book. So many neat little local tidbits along with just trivia like “Well what would a farmer EAT back then, and where would they get it”

The Great American Dust Bowl   book icon  
by Don Brown (2013)

read: 27 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

This is a great short graphic novel about the dust bowl which is a little odd in what it omits as well as what it includes. According to the sources in the back of the book, it got a lot of material from Egan’s book The Worst Hard Time. I read that book and I’m pretty sure at least oart of it was an indictment of farming practices (lots of land plowed under, in long straight rows) and that was not in this book and it was noticeable. Now it’s entirely possible the author knows better, but I was left confused at the omission. This is an exceptional graphic novel and does a great job at explaining in a really visceral way just why the Dust Bowl era was so difficult to deal with and why so many people left the Midwest during this period.

Binti: The Complete Trilogy   book icon  
by Nnedi Okorafor (2019)

read: 23 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

A great combination of inter-human and extra-human issues of assimilation and difference and a young female heroine of color who is up to grappling with it. There are a lot of parts of her young life in which she is told she must be a certain way or become a certain thing In some cases these choices are made for her. In some she has agency. Watching her figure out which is which is a fascinating process. I liked all of these different books (and the “bonus story” I guess, in the middle) but felt it was its strongest when she was learning about her talents and powers and skills, less interesting when it was just part of a big war of all against all sort of conflict. Having people of color, and especially women being the heros of their own story is just a great thing to read

Sheets   book icon  
by Brenna Thummler (2018)

read: 23 September 2019
rating: [+]
categories: graphic novel, ya

A nice concise story about the complicated world of death, loss, the afterlife, and the current life we’re in. Relateable. Good teenage angsty story that winds up okay.

Fair Coin   book icon  
by E. C. Myers (2012)

read: 15 September 2019
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, ya

One of those Monkey Paw, “careful what you wish for,” stories, in a YA vein. This was on the scifi shelf at the local college and it reads like a YA book but still interesting enough to be worth reading. There’s a coin, and maybe it grants wishes, but maybe it doesn’t. I read it feeling like it was a standalone and now, hey, there’s another one. OK I will probably read that one too. The author seems interesting and that was part of what drove me to read this.

City of Girls   book icon  
by Elizabeth Gilbert (2019)

read: 14 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I was looking for a long book that would hold my attention and this is one. It’s an interesting coming of age story that is all told in retrospective and I misread some earlier part of it and wound up reading some of it “wrong” (there’s a central issue about it being told to a woman whose father figures in the story and I thought it was about the wrong guy) which was amusing but gave it an odd flavor. In any case, this was fun, long and a very female centered book in mostly the good ways. I appreciated a fun coming-of-age non-romance that had a bit of snazz in it. I am glad I read this. Still haven’t read Eat Pray Love and don’t plan to.

The Ghost Clause   book icon  
by Howard Norman (2019)

read: 7 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Picked it up because of a bookshelf on the cover (apparently not on the cover of another version which has a more Vermont-y farmhouse on it). I liked this simple story of an old house and the two couples that lived in it and the ins and outs of their relationships. I hadn’t read Norman before but I think I’ll try more of his books. This book definitely seems autobiographical in some ways but I don’t know enough about him to be sure of what is and what isn’t from his life. There are some real life people who inhabit this fictional tale, some of whom I know personally. It was neat to see them.

Best American Comics 2009   book icon  
by Charles Burns (2009)

read: 5 September 2019
rating: [+]
categories: collection, graphic novel

There’s some pretty edgy stuff along with some pretty great stuff in this book. More than the last one, I found myself flipping back and forth to the author bios to figure out “Why did they do this?” Sometimes there are good stories, sometimes, there is nothing. Burns has an interesting vision for all of these and I think this issue coheres maybe a little more than last years'.

A Better Man   book icon  
by Louise Penny (2019)

read: 4 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I was a little concerned when I started this that it was going to be a LOT about the flood that happens and not enough about the general central mystery. I was wrong. This is a nice complex story, just like all the others. Some drama about what is going on in the Surete, a mystery involving people in or near the local town, and some stuff about the town itself, especially Clara and what she is up to with her painting. It’s a little odd because they never once mention her dead husband Peter which I thought might be part of this. No one major dies but there are some big changes, as always, and we’ll see how that goes.

A Season on the Wind   book icon  
by Kenn Kaufman (2019)

read: 1 September 2019
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

A great book about birds to read when you’re outside on the porch looking at birds. I liked this book even though it didn’t cohere quite as much as his other book. It’s about migration but also about the love of bird watching and what bird advocacy looks like (there’s a subthread of activism against wind farms that are threatening a spring migration path). Kaufman just seems like a guy who loves birds and loves life and while there was a little too much bird description in this book for me (minor gripe but I skimmed some sections) his love of the whole bird thing is infectious.

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