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« July, 2020 »

The Relentless Moon   book icon  
by Mary Robinette Kowal (2020)

read: 29 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: uncategorized

It’s nice to have a book to look forward to that you are pretty sure you are going to like. This book has almost none of Elma York in it but her husband is in it a little. It mostly follows one of the more minor characters from an earlier book. t definitely had a different vibe than her earlier books in some ways, more thriller-y. More “Wounded protagonist encounters deeper and harder challenges and obstacles but has to keep pushing on to save the day” but I enjoyed being along for the ride.

Delta-v   book icon  
by Daniel Suarez (2019)

read: 21 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I’d found some of Suarez’s earlier books a little too edgy for me, but this one was in a sweet spot. It could get a little wonky talking about the mechanics and economics of asteroid-mining, but the result is a straightforward near-future story that doesn’t seem that dystopian because it seems more plausible (even though, sure, also dystopian). It looks at the shiny-shiny but also the gritty underbelly of what goes into sending people to go be asteroid miners in a future that is more or less like where we are now (i.e. not a lot of huge tech advancements make this possible). Mostly works, occasionally doesn’t.

Winterdance   book icon  
by Gary Paulsen (1995)

read: 19 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This book was an Iditarod version of Bryson’s Walk in the Woods: guy who is in really over his head decided to do a really complicated thing and write about his process. I felt bad for his wife, though I’m not sure if I should have (maybe projecting?). Nice to read a winter book in the dead of summer, good to get to know the dogs and read stories about the remote wilderness of Alaska. Paulsen is a bit of a cipher--not only in this book, but in life in general if Wikipedia is to be believed--and this book ends weirdly and abruptly, though my understanding is that his story doesn’t.

Planetfall   book icon  
by Emma Newman (2015)

read: 13 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I probably need to check before I start a book if it’s one in a series or not, because if it is, I can be sure the ending will have some holes in it. This was a complex pretty good colonizing book with a main character with mental health issues that are part of the overall arc of the plot. It was confusing for a while but unlike some other books I’d read recently, that mostly worked for me. It was one of those gradual-reveal stories that is worth the “I’m not sure what is going on” time spent. Great female protagonist (a bisexual hoarder, of all things) and an interesting take on the role of religion and colonization, in community and in life. Will pick up the next book but hope it’s a little more interesting-tech focused and a little less search-for-god focused.

Fall, or Dodge in Hell   book icon  
by Neal Stephenson (2019)

read: 8 July 2020
rating: [0]
category: fiction

By the end of this book I was very very sick of it. It’s like 1/3 cool story (which is how it starts out), and 2/3 plodding fantasy legend (which is built into the middle and increasingly becomes the major plotline of the book). I have so many questions about why, when you can have a built-it-yourself “uploaded brains” world, it turns into the same old dick-measuring quests and wars. Which are as tiresome to read about in the uploaded-brains world as they are in just the plain old world. I was hate-reading it by the end just to see who won. I think the book may have lost me in the first chapter where I was like “Really a billionaire is going to have a medical procedure done and they tell him not to eat anything and he DOES ANYWAYS and doesn’t tell anyone? Bullshit.”

And Then There’s This   book icon  
by Bill Wasik (2009)

read: 8 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I had started this book at some earlier time and finally picked it backup again. It was fun to read something about viral culture but less fun to read it as a memoir of the guy who maybe invented the flash mob. Because, he talks about virality but in some ways injects his own attempts at making things viral into many of the chapters. And I’m sure he’s fine but I didn’t want to read about his experiments (many of which failed) I wanted to read more about the things that happened, not just him talking to his friend and BuzzFeed founder Jonah Perretti. Read like a long New Yorker article but not one I would necessarily finish.

The Other Side of the Coin   book icon  
by Angela Kelly (2019)

read: 2 July 2020
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

A book about the woman who dresses the queen. More interesting than you’d think, but also a look into the odd fawning environment surrounding the aristocracy. You get to see a lot of great photos of rarely seen outfits and a few behind-the-scenes shot, but it’s also super clear how tightly the Queen’s image is controlled. This is highlighted the most where, in the photo credits at the end, you learn that the cover photo is itself a composite of two other images, and that image itself never actually happened. Kelly herself is a bit of a mystery, eternally grateful for her job, but with the rest of her life pretty unknown.

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