forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
2017 is halfway done. So I thought I'd check in with my reading goals and see how that was going. I don’t set a yearly goal for how many books to read in a year because I don’t enjoy that. But this year I did set two other goals, so I thought I’d do a midyear check in.

Scholarly books
Goal for 2017:12
Books Read:
1. Queer: A Graphic History
2.The Most Defiant Devil: William Temple Hornaday and His Controversial Crusade to Save American Wildlife by Gregory J. Dehler
3.Camembert: A National Myth by Pierre Boisard
4.S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard
5.Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America by Steven Stoll
6.Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
7.Seeking Refuge: Birds and Landscapes of the Pacific Flyway by Robert M. Wilson
8. Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman
Thoughts: Originally this goal was to read 10 academic monographs but I had some books that I wanted to read that didn’t qualify so I modified the goal. Anyway this goal is going great! I’m ahead. I think I’ll take a break from reading scholarly books for a bit and read some memoirs.

Books by new to me non-white authors
Goal: 24
Books read:
1. Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah
2.Runtime by S.B. Divya
3. Everfair by Nisi Shawl
4.The Accidental Alchemistby Gigi Pandian
5. Honey and Clover, Vol. 1 by Chica Umino
6. Little White Duck : A Childhood in China by Na Liu
7. Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
8. Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening
9. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
10. Black Panther #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates
11.Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older
12. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
I’m on target with this goal too! Though I feel guilty that such high percentage of these are comics or novellas. The idea behind this goal was that I’d find new to me authors and want to read all their books. So far that hasn’t worked out – I’ve either not wanted to read more or the authors haven’t had much back list. Also I read a lot of these for Hugo consideration either things I was considering nominating, or finalist I read to decide where to rank.

On the other hand I’ve read 17 books by non-white authors so for this year which more than in all of 2016. I’m currently at 22% of book read this year are by non-white authors.

Did you set yourself reading goals for 2017? If so how is that going?
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I've decide to modify my non-fiction reading goal for 2017. My original goal was to read 10 academic monographs in 2017. However I was struggling to define academic monograph and also had some books I didn't think counted that I wanted to read on my shelf. So after talking it over with some friends I've decided to change the goal to 12 scholarly books, where scholarly is defined as written by a scholar not a journalist.* I upped the number of books to 12 (or one a month) since I'll be including some less dense books.

Having made this decision I've started reading Mary Beard's SPQR, which has been really interesting so far. The introduction promised some discussion of food and trade which I'm really looking forward to.

*Who is a scholar is not clear cut. For example I have book about planning written by practicing planner is he a scholar? I'm going to say yes for proposes of this book challenge. Because he is an expert in the field and not a journalist. Anyways I think "who is a scholar?" is an easier question to answer than "what is an academic monograph"
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So Hugo nomination season is open. I've been ordering holds from the library and even bought a couple of books so I can read lots of 2016 work before nominations close in March. Anyways during this process I've also decided to not read a couple of things that are probably really good and well done, but aren't what I want to be reading.

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (Novella) This a retelling of a Lovecraft story that a bunch of my friends loved. I'm not reading it because I don't like Lovecraft, and I find retelling generally lose a lot if you are not familiar with the original.

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw (Novella) I've really enjoyed a bunch of Khaw's short fiction, but this one is described as dark, lovecraftan and noir and none of those things are for me.

The Obelisk Gate by by N.K. Jemisin (Novel) This the second book in Jemisin's new trilogy, and I've had a copy of the 1st book since it came out. However I've been told that there is some really awful child injury in that book, and I can't bring myself to read it, so I won't be reading the second either.

Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction by André M. Carrington (best related work) This sounds awesome! It's academic history/criticism about race and science fiction. But I want to finish watching DS9 before I read this and I've been watching it pretty slowly and doubt I will finish before March.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (best related work)I really admire Kameron Hurley, but every time I read one of her pep talks I feel bad about myself for not working hard enough. I'm really good at beating myself up without any extra help so I'm going to skip this book, and try to work on self compassion instead.

Anyways if you are not me these might be great books that you will love. Consider checking them out.
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Goodreads tells me I read 105 books in 2016. This imperfect especially as I was a bit inconstant about how I counted manga a graphic novels. I also seem to have counted one book I abandoned in disgust. Anyways this many fewer books than I've read in any other year where I have full goodreads count. I'm going to blame this on baby N as this was my 1st full year being a parent. I also think that as N has gotten older I've been finding more time to read so I expect this number to be higher next year.

Fiction: 85
Non fiction: 18

Of the non-fiction 11 where academic monographs, in keeping with my goal of reading 10 of those (Though one I skimmed.) I feel pretty good about having achieved that goal though I still miss my grad history seminars and having discussions about the history I've been reading.

13 Novellas
22 comics/graphic novels/manga

I still count these even if they are shorter to read then full novels.

I'm not currently keeping track of the gender of authors because I'm happy with the stasis quo here. (Ie I read lots and lots of books by women.) I'm think thinking of keeping track of books by queer/trans authors going forward though. I could use some more data on this to see if it something I should address.

I read 14 books by non-white authors or 16% which is below my goal of 20%

Oldest book: Anne of Green Gables
Youngest book: Hurricane Heels by Isabel Yap

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by by Marie Brennan
Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century by D. Graham Burnett

Next year I want to read 10 more academic books and also read 24 books by new to me not white authors. These need to be novella or longer, but I'll also count graphic novels and manga. I'm going to count authors I've read one or two short fiction pieces by as new, but not authors where I've read a lot of their short fiction.

I've been saying for few years that I want to read more books by POC but I haven't been doing that. So to push myself I'm going to try reading a bunch of new authors. I went with 24 because that is 2 a month an seemed doable.

On a vaguely related note I'm working on finishing up my 2015 short fiction reading. Is there anything I should be sure not to miss?
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I just finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik and I have lots of thoughts about how nature is portrayed in the book. I think these are a bit spolier-y so I'm going to put them under a cut. (ETA: Having written this it is really very spoiler-y)

My thoughts )
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So the book I’m reading has a moor and also some trees. I was confused for a while because moors shouldn’t have trees on them, but I eventually figured out that there is forest next to the moor. I’m still ecologically skeptical about this arrangement but at least there aren’t trees on the moor.

My ecological skepticism comes from my understanding of the concept of succession. Put it its most simple form succession means that plant communities are always in flux and that larger species will invade areas of smaller species. So grassland will become scrubland and scrubland will become woodland. Unless there is some reason why it can’t. Reasons include climate, grazing animals, fire, and soil conditions. For example before Europeans arrived the great plains of North America remained grassland because the plans were regularly burned by Native Americans and grazed by bison.

So when my book has moor next to the forest I wonder why the trees don’t take over the moor. I mean I could come up with several plausible reasons, but I’m finding myself distracted form the story by wondering about the ecology.
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
When I need to cheer myself up about life I sometimes post a list of good things. This last week the online SFF community has needed some cheering up so here are some things I'm enjoying about SFF and the communty right now.

1) Zen Cho has new story out! “Monkey King, Faerie Queen” I loved it!

2) I'm very excited about this new quarterly short fiction servery being run by Renay, Jodie, Cecily, and Jonah.

3) Fantasy Cafe is hosting women in SF&F month.

4) Some of my favorite short fiction writers Ken Liu, Zen Cho, and Aliette de Bodard all have novels coming out this year.

5) Lots of other excellent authors have novels coming out too including Kate Elliot and N.K. Jemisin.

6) Remember how I joined Twitter and few months ago? I like it way more than I thought I would. Cool fandom people and authors sometimes interact with me. Also I get links to lots of interesting stuff I wouldn't find otherwise.

7) I have been reading fun stuff lately including Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan, Kate Elliot's Crossroads Trilogy, and the 1st volume of Rat Queens.

8) Another short story I read recently and enjoyed was "The Shape of My Name" by Nino Cipri I might have skipped it but several people recommended it to me and I'm glad they did.

9) My library has been pretty good to me. I have Karen Memory out now, and I'm up to third in line for Station Eleven.

10) Have I mentioned lately that I'm impressed with the range of ebook reprints available from Open Road Media? Some authors their that I would recommend: Samel R Delany, Lisa Goldstein, and Barbara Hambly

On Reviews

Jan. 7th, 2015 08:01 am
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I don’t read many reviews and even when I do read reviews I don’t use them to help me decide what books to read. This is probably atypical behavior in the online book world. Reviews seem to be a staple of the book blogging world, but I rarely find them helpful, though I do sometimes find them interesting.

What mean by reviews are long critical essays about a book. Generally on a blog they’ll have a picture of the book’s cover on the top and maybe some stats and then the rest of the post will be about what the author thought of the book. There are lots of book related posts that I do read, some of them might even be considers reviews. For example short reactions to serval books read, like people who post about what they have read on monthly or weekly basis with a few lines about each book. Or people in the middle of books who talk about their emotional reactions (e.g. “I’m reading book X and I’m having all the feels!”). But long reviews featuring a single book are not my thing and even if I do read then from time to time I don’t use them to pick books. I’d like to talk a bit about why.

For purposes of this article I’m going to divide all the books in existence into four categories: Books I want to read, books I don’t want to read, books I don’t know if want to read and books I’ve read. Then all talk about how I approach reviews for each of these categories.

Books I haven’t decided if I’m going to read or not: This the category where reviews would be most helpful in deciding whether or not to read the book. However if might read the book I don’t want to be spoiled for it, and it really hard to tell in advance how spoilery and review is going to be. Some reviews have lot of plot summary.

Books I want to read: These I don’t want have spoiled even more! I don’t even want to know general impressions because I want form my own first impression and I want know as little about the plot as possible. When I’m excited about a book but haven’t been able to read it yet I find reviews frustrating, because other people are talking about the book and I can’t join in yet.

Books I don’t want to read: If I’ve already decided not to read a book, I rarely want to read a review of it. On the other hand I don’t care if I get spoiled for the book, because I’m not going to read it. So I sometimes read reviews in this category if I like the reviewer or the review has something to say about social issues.

Books I’ve read: This may be the category where I’m most likely to read a review. I’ve already formed my own first impression of the book and I want to see what other people think about it. Sometimes I even save reviews by favorite blogger to read after the book. Often a good review helps me see thing the book in a new light. However, clearly in this case I’m not reading the review to help me decide if I want to read the book or not.

So I do sometimes read reviews, but they don’t play a large part in my decision to read a book. I don’t seek out reviews, and tend to avoid sites that post mostly reviews. Instead of reviews my favorite parts of the online book discussion are broader articles, things about trends in publishing, supporting under-represented people, how people fit reading into their lives, and especially stuff about why books and stories matter to us.
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I've been giving up on books a lot lately. It's not something I generally do, but I just returned 3 books to the library that I had started and then decided not to finish. And I've been ruthlessly culling my to-read list on Goodreads. I've been trying to get rid of things which I think would be nice to have read but don't really think I would enjoy reading. It's down to 263, which is still a lot, but for most of the year it was over 300. (And that's after I added a bunch thing form peoples end of the year lists.)

I don't really know what up with all this deciding not read things. I guess it is nice to feel less overwhelmed by my to-read list, but I've also been feeling frustrated that I'm not enjoying books that I hoped I would enjoy.

In other book news I'm pretty excited about 2015 books. Lady Business recently posted an amazing list of book they are excited about. And just today Zen Cho, who is one of my favorite short story writers, announced that she has sold a novel. It's going to be regency fantasy with dragons and bossy aunts. I'm squeeing with fanish glee!
forestofglory: Glasses and books (books)
I bought a copy of Ancillary Sword at the airport. I was very excited (it doesn't even officially come out until next week) but my traveling companions didn't get it. I doubt I will read it for a bit as I'm not having lot brain space of complex books, but I am enjoying the anticipation.

I think my list of books to-read published this year is getting longer not shorter. I've also been letting the short fiction pile up due to my brain being eaten by my thesis.

I just went a put in lots of holds for more books at the library, which is another lovely burst of anticipation.

I'm way behind on my goal to read 40 books by POC this year. (That would be 20% of 200 book, and I read 192 last year.) Goodreads says I'm at 28, but 10 of those are one Manga, so it is really 19. So I'm less than half way there and there are only 3 months left this year. So any recs? I'd especially like recs for middle-grade fiction and completed Manga.
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Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue (This is big enough to count as a book.)

My Real Children by Jo Walton

Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest by Jen Doll

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal (The forth book in the Glamourist Histories)

Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3by Elizabeth Bear (The final book in The Eternal Sky trilogy)

While We Run by Karen Healey

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirstin Chen

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

And on my to-read List:
Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

The Time Roads by Beth Bernobich

Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance by Ada Palmer (who blogs at Ex Urbe)

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Clariel by Garth Nix (Need to do a re-read of other books in the series 1st)

Upgraded ed. Neil Clarke

An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer (The latest Elfhome book)

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction ed Ian Whates (This has new stories by many authors I enjoy)

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories ed. Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios

Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Novella, will upload next time I connect my ereader to the internet.)

One Night in Sixes by Arianne "Tex" Thompson

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad Through the Wild by Novella Carpenter

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (On hold at local Library)

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History ed. Rose Fox and Daniel José Older (I have this on my ereader.)

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan (On hold at local Library)

Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote, Rae Spoon

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall

Drama Queens in the House by Julie Williams ( I have this out form the Library now)

Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (I have yet to read volume 2)

Laura's Wolf by Lia Silver (waiting for this to be available not on Amazon)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Delicious!by Ruth Reichl

Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho (Three new stories!)

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Honor's Knight by Rachel Bach

Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by A.K. Summers

That to-read list is a bit overwhelming. I doubt I will get through it by the end of the year.

So have you read any of these? What did you think? Is there anything here you want to read? Is there anything I should add to the to-read list?
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So yesterday R was feeling much better so I was able to go to Jo Walton's signing at Boarderlands Book store in the city. I got there a bit early and was able to browse in the store for bit. I'm not sure I find it helpful when bookstores organize books by hardback/trade vs paperback, thought I can see the advantages in shelf space. However I did buy a couple books.

Anyways the signing was fun. Jo reading the 1st chapter of My Real Children made me want to read more. (I've had a copy for a bit, but I need to be braced for book that will make me cry.) Ada Palmer (who blogs at Ex Urbe) sang before and afterwards.

I got My Real Children, Lifelode (my personal favorite of her books) and What Makes This Book So Great signed.

After the signing I hung around a chatted with people. I got to briefly meet Lisa Goldstein, and tell her than I enjoyed her books. (I could have enthused more, but it might have been creepy.) Then I went out to dinner with the crowd. Dinner was bit noisy and I was an I was seated at one end of long table, but it was still nice to sit and talk with people. I should hang out with book people more often.
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I've been doing a lot Hugo reading lately and I feel like telling people about it.

I've read all the novels I'm going to read. Only two of them, unless you count the fact that I did read a two three volumes of the Wheel of Time when they 1st came out. Ancillary Justice is my clear favorite.

I've read all the novellas as well. (Well except for The Butcher of Khardov, which I started but couldn't finish, because ick.) I don't think I like this years finalist as much as last year. “Equoid” by Charles Stross was surprisingly good considering it was full of things I dislike. (H. P. Lovecraft, secret government agencies dealing with magic, British in-jokes.) I think "Wakulla Springs" was my favorite though.

I have not finished reading in the other short fiction categories. I read a few before the finalist were announced, but haven't gone back and read the rest yet.

I'm currently working on best related work, and reading Queers Dig Time Lords. I just finished Speculative Fiction 2012 which was like reading the internet on my e-reader.

Not reading but I've also been working my way through the Best Fancast. Most of the podcast are some people rambling about things they like for for a long time. I'm not really a fan of the format. So my favorite Fancast so far is Tea and Jeopardy which has different and very cool format. Each episode is only half an hour, and Emma Newman interview a different person each time, in an ever changing tea lair. She has Butler and a different kind of cake to serve every episode.
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I should probably be napping like a responsible sick person. Instead I'm online looking at the Hugo Awards Finalists which were announced today.

I have lots of feelings:

Very happy to see both Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Sofia Samatar on the Campbell ballot. The best fan writer ballot is amazing 4 women and 1 queer man of color. (They are all also great writers!) Also this may be the 1st year that best professional artist has gender parity. All three women on the ballot are great!

In fiction land I'm sad very few of my favorite short fiction pieces were nominated. Oh well, the I've read few of the other things and they are also good. “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” is just far too dark for my tastes. (Oh well, the voters tend to like things grimmer than I do.)

Some people who have behaved in disgusting ways online* had their fiction nominated. No way I could read it and give a fair judgment. Lots of other people seem to feel the same way. I suspect that the No Award rules are going to get a work out. (These are complex, but I think if more people rank No Award higher than a finalist then that finalist won't win. I tried reading the WSFS constitution, but I'm sick and it was confusing. I believe articulates 3.11.3 and 6.5 are the ones that mater here.)

I'm not sure how I feel about the Wheel of Time being nominated as a novel. Not sure it is really fair to compare with a shorter work. (To either WoT or the other novels.) Sets an interesting precedent anyways.

*This is an understatement, but I don't want to get into it.
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There has been some talk in the SFF community recently about the value of reading the work of Robert A. Heinlein. Now I happen to have read some Heinlein, because when I was in high school I went through a phase of reading science fiction classics, and I read Heinlein, and Asimov and Niven, and Dune, and all the Darkover books, and I don't remember what else. Anyways I don't think it did me any harm thought I did get into some stupid arguments about sexism that I would have rather avoided.

At some point I decided reading the classics was all very well, but I wasn't going to read things because they were good for me, or helped me understand history I was only going to read things because I enjoyed them. Which doesn't mean I've stopped reading older books, I've just have stopped reading them because of their place in the cannon.

I have no intention of reading any more Heinlein because his treatment of women makes me angry, and I don't enjoy reading books that make me angry. I wouldn't recommend his work, unless you have high tolerance for that type of thing.

Still I'm annoyed at his place in the cannon. Why was it easy for high school me to find Heinlein, but I only discovered Delany, Slonczewski, Hambly, and Russ recently? When Alex Dally MacFarlane started talking about non-gender binary SF, many people had only read The Left Hand of Darkness? Why has no review of I've read of Ancillary Justice talked about how it is simlar to Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand? Why is that book only in print as an e-book?

If there is any value in reading to get historical perspective than surely there is value in reading more than just the few canonized authors. Though of course I think the authors I mentioned in the last paragraph are worth reading simply because they are good.

The tendency to canonize Heinlein and few of his contemporaries is not only unwelcoming to new fans but it robs us of the full richness of our own history.
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I'm reading one of Aliette de Bodard's Acatl novel's. The story definitely isn't as emotionally compelling as her more recent short fiction, but it still has some of the world building with a focus on food that I enjoy. Thought most of the food sounds gross. (Like frogs with chili peppers.)

I've been enjoying having access to easy to use online inter-library loan. I've finally been able to read some things that have been on my to-read list for a long time. On other hand I'm frustrated with my local library because there are two books which were returned weeks ago which I have holds on that have not yet been given to me.

I'm finally having a desire to read some of the short stories published this year that I have been book marking. After my push to finish my 2013 recs I needed a break. I've been seeing other people's awards ballots which short fiction I've never heard of. Which is cool, because it is sign of how much excellent short fiction is out there, but I haven't wanted to go read any of it for my own nominations process which I feel a bit guilty about.
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Please tell me about a book you love and hot beverage you enjoy.

Sunday I was over at my parents house and I brought back my copy of Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild (aka White Boots). Her shoes books are comfort reading for me. I first read most of them as a child, borrowing them form the public library. I can still picture were on the shelf they were in the old library building. I have been collecting them, since they go in and out a print and I think I currently own all of them. It is nice to have this one back living with me. (I've been wanting to re-read for a bit since [profile] qain talked about it a few months ago.)

My go to hot drink is peppermint tea. It goes well with all kind of things and is good hot or cold. (I am sometimes bad a let my tea get cold, most tea's aren't drinkable in this state but peppermint is.)
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
I finished reading all the short stories form 2013 I had bookmarked. The I went on to read We see a Different Frontier which was really good. (figure out which stories are Novelettes and which are Short Stories is a pain. It must have been even more of pain before the internet.)

I just started Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer, it has map of the 1915 worlds fair in San Fransisco in the front, which is very exciting. I hope the main character visits Julia Morgan's building there, but I'm prepared to be disappointed in this.

Samuel R. Delany is not appreciated enough. But Open Road Media is publishing a bunch of his titles as e-books so more people should be able to read his work.
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I keep thinking a want to bookish post and then hesitating because I want to do some type of 2013 reading in review post early next year and I'm not quite sure what to write about it the meantime. I've been enjoying reading others best books of the year, but I want to wait until the year is done.

I'm going to have more time to read once I finish my course work, and more importantly more focused attention. I have some complex books waiting to be read.

Next month I'm going to a one day seminar on The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi (for fun), so I've been trying to do some background reading. I've gotten all the books on my to-read list about enclosure out form the university library and hope to at least skim them. I also just finished Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber, which I'd been wanting to read for ages, but couldn't quite justify with all the thesis reading I ought do.

I recently read Drama by Raina Telgemeier, YA graphic novel about a stage hand and middle school musical. She has purple hair! I was super pleased to read something about a stage hand that was well done, as there are way more books about school plays form the actors point to view. I did tech crew for my high schools plays and musicals and loved it so I feel especially close to this type of story.
forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)
Yesterday a class mate mentioned that I read a lot. This is true, but I never know what to say when people bring it up.

In our culture reading has a special virtue that other forms of entertainment don't. But I don't read to to be virtuous, I just read because I like reading. I am frequently asked "How do you find time to read?" I make time to read because it is one of my favorite things to do, and because it helps to maintain my mental health. My first year of grad school I read way less and was unhappy.

When people comment on my reading it feels like they are complementing me, there is cultural subtext of virtue there. It is awkward. It is not a direct complement, so I can't just say thank you and move on.


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