frayadjacent: Buffy with a goofy look on her face, text says "dork" (BtVS: Buffy dork)
[personal profile] frayadjacent
What did you just finish reading?

The Golem and the Djinni, by Helene Wecker. I loved it. The ending was fantastic. And there will be a sequel! Coming out in 2018! Set during WWI! I'M SO PLEASED.

I want to say more about this book but I'm having trouble coming up with the words. Why is it so much harder to say why I liked something than why I disliked it? OK: all of the characters were really compelling, the story was interesting, the pacing was excellent, and the prose had this warmth and authenticity that I enjoyed. I'm so glad I get to spend more time with these characters. Next year.

Paper Girls, Vol 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson. Mr. Adjacent has been telling me to read this for about six months, and I finally did as a palette cleanser after finishing The Golem and the Djinni, before starting my next novel. I liked it! Once I read the rest of my TBR comics I'll buy the next volume.

Yes Please, audiobook, written and read by Amy Poehler. Meh, it was OK. It made me laugh sometimes, but didn't inspire me or motivate me or make me think very much. I was almost finished with this when I posted about it last week, so I won't add much. I listened to the last chapter walking home from work while Trump was inaugurated. She was complaining about the internet and smartphones.

What are you reading now?

An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows. This is my introduction to Meadows. I've still only read a little bit, but so far I am liking it well enough to keep on but not loving it. The story is holding my attention, but I haven't been really grabbed by it or the characters. And I find the prose a bit wordy.

I'm also having a reaction that I think is unfair and I'm trying to unpack: the two (thus far) POV characters have a much stronger sense of social justice than I'm used to in a character. In some ways they have worldviews a lot more like my own than what I typically read. And when a character says or thinks something social justicey, my brain immediately goes, "stilted language! Nobody talks like that!". Except, um, I talk like that. Sort of anyway. So, I haven't quite parsed what of it is that I find the prose awkward overall, and what of it is some unpacked baggage I didn't even know I had. I'll keep reading and see how I go. I thought about giving up once already, then remembered Kate Elliott's praise on the back cover, and kept reading.

Also, I am pleased that the author and one of the main characters are Australian and that there have been specific references to Australian flora. I miss me some gum trees.

Ms Marvel, Vol 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona. I purchased the first four volumes a year ago, read the first two, and then got distracted. So now I'm starting over! Still like it.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold Story of English audiobook, written and read by John McWhorter. I'm liking this as much as his podcast, Lexicon Valley, which inspired me to buy this. I'm about midway through chapter 1, where he presents evidence for the considerable influence of Celtic languages on English grammar. This influence at least partly explains why English grammar is so different from that of other Germanic languages. And apparently the magnitude of this Celtic influence is dismissed by many linguistic historians of English, who say things like, "oh the Angles etc just killed them all and it's totally a coincidence that English, Welsh and Cornish share traits that are unheard of in most other languages". o_O (To be fair, McWhorter acknowledges that historians of English who said that didn't realise how rare those shared traits are. But that's because they didn't bother looking.)

What will you read next?

I'm not sure. I haven't decided how much I want to devote to reading Hugo-eligible books for this year, so I can nominate, or just focus on books I currently want to read + Hugo-eligible books for next year. I'm a slow reader so a head start doesn't hurt. For my walking-to-work audiobook, I'll probably get one of the Great Courses books -- either the one on culinary history or the ordinary people's history of the ancient world one (that one seems to use the same definition of "ancient world" as my 10th grade history class did, mostly focusing on Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, etc). The books are expensive but you can get them on audible for a regular monthly credit. Or I'll just keep listening to back episodes of "Stuff You Missed in History Class", which I'm enjoying tremendously.

One of my goals is to read all my currently-owned comics, which includes Saga Vol 6. Like with Ms Marvel, it's been so long I feel like I have to start from the beginning, or at least one or two TPB's back. The way I'm going I can probably wait till Vol 7 is out in late March. /o\

Free book-shaped space

I'm so bummed I can't go to Worldcon in this year. I was hoping it would be my first Worldcon, but alas. Fuckin August.

Date: 2017-01-25 13:15 (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (emily hanna)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Golem and the Djinni!

I'm also having a reaction that I think is unfair and I'm trying to unpack: the two (thus far) POV characters have a much stronger sense of social justice than I'm used to in a character. In some ways they have worldviews a lot more like my own than what I typically read. And when a character says or thinks something social justicey, my brain immediately goes, "stilted language! Nobody talks like that!". Except, um, I talk like that. Sort of anyway. So, I haven't quite parsed what of it is that I find the prose awkward overall, and what of it is some unpacked baggage I didn't even know I had.

This is the exact reaction I had to the book (right down to internal dialogue running through my head about the social justicey language used by the characters), and I was starting to feel like there was something wrong with me, because nobody else seemed to have the same reaction. Obviously the characters' use of this kind of language is deliberate, and I wonder if it's a choice to make explicit the sorts of callouts, microaggressions and moves from clueless privilege to greater understanding of injustice that are often implicit in YA fiction (which is thus often criticised as not going far enough, not condemning harmful attitudes enough, and so on). I hope that makes sense.

Another thing I found difficult/offputting about the book - and which, again, I think says more about my own baggage than any inherent flaws in Meadows' writing - is the absolutely unrelenting criticism of, and bleakness about, being a teenager in general, and the Australian public high school system in particular. I'll freely admit that I had a pretty blissful adolescence, and generally loved being a teenager in Australian public high schools, and my experience isn't going to be universal, but as a result I find it really hard to relate to any work of fiction that paints secondary school as being unremittingly bleak, stifling of intellectual curiosity, incompatible with the development of a sense of social justice, and so on. For me, that was the time and the environment most encouraging of all those things!

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear what you think about An Accident of Stars when you're done. The Kate Elliott blurb didn't surprise me (the two are friends, or at least friendly), but I have to say I would probably rate An Accident of Stars a solid, but not mindblowing book. I could see what it was trying to do - but the work was shown a bit too obviously, if that makes sense.
Edited Date: 2017-01-25 13:43 (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-01 11:43 (UTC)
dolorosa_12: (matilda)
From: [personal profile] dolorosa_12
Yeah, life is too short to read books that you aren't enjoying, particularly if you are a slowish reader.

(Sorry for the extremely slow reply.)

Date: 2017-01-25 15:31 (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Extreme closeup of dark red blood cells (Blood makes noise)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Thanks for the news of the Wecker sequel -- I also loved the first book. It is hard to articulate reasons, but for me it was the awesome symmetry as well as difference in the Ashkenazi and Arab mythologies. Both provided support for immigrants in a very strange land; both exemplified the strategies immigrants use to cope with that strangeness.

Date: 2017-01-25 15:48 (UTC)
hannah: (On the pier - fooish_icons)
From: [personal profile] hannah
The Golem and the Djinni practically made me roll around on the floor in happiness. I think what I liked most was the philosophy of it - that it has an approach to magic that's almost impossible to find in any fantasy series set in the 'real world', where magic is present, and a force that can be used, without it coming in from somewhere else. Nobody needs to go to find it. Not everyone has the tools to use it, but it's here. Like giant boulders. There's no arguing with their presence and there's no ambiguity to their existence. But there's rarely any direct interaction with them. The book treats magic like that.

Date: 2017-01-26 06:45 (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (Default)
From: [personal profile] calvinahobbes
It is way past time I read The Golem and the Jinni! By now I'm slightly afraid it won't live up the hype.

I really enjoyed Paper Girls vol 1, and now that vol 2 is finally out I really should get a hold of it. And I, too, need to catch up on Saga...

The McWhorter book sounds interesting - did you learn about it through the podcast you mention?

Date: 2017-01-27 18:33 (UTC)
calvinahobbes: Calvin holding a cardboard tv-shape up in front of himself (Default)
From: [personal profile] calvinahobbes
I will check it out! Thanks :) (But next in line is the Making Oprah podcast that I've heard good things about.)

Date: 2017-01-29 13:03 (UTC)
tinny: SPN Kevin holding a pencil (spn_kevin pencil textless)
From: [personal profile] tinny
considerable influence of Celtic languages on English grammar

Oh, interesting! I'd never heard of that before. I'm going to have to look into that. (If you have any links... I'd love to check them out.)

Date: 2017-01-29 21:35 (UTC)
goodbyebird: Mad Men: Joan with To Do list, "Pwn.(checked) Lunch. Pwn more." (Mad Men Joan pwn)
From: [personal profile] goodbyebird
I didn't know there was going to be a sequel to The Golem and the Djinni. That is most excellent news!

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