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Okay, so I didn’t review each one as I read it. I didn’t expect I would, either. Oh well.
I think I forgot to mention that I read Apocalypse Chow (256 pages) by Jon Robertson. At least, I think I read it this month. It was good, anyways. Informative, and vegan to boot! Oh, and entertaining most of the time. I took notes. 4.5/5
At my work I finished Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (256 pages) by Paco Underhill was fascinating. Lots of anecdotes, and I loved the idea of having your job be to follow someone around a store and write down everything they do. It really helped pass the time at work. 4.5/5
Tanglewreck (415 pages) by Jeanette Winterson wasn’t really up to the writing standard I expect of her. I know it’s written for a twelve-year-old level, but it still bugged me. On the other hand, the strange plot and random details (All the Popes end up on the Einstein Line when they die, and eventually they built them a Vatican there) were just what I was hoping for. Overall, 3.5/5 or so.
The Global Warming Survival Kit (251 pages) by Brian Clegg was another one of the books I took notes on, in my peak oil survival notebook. That was a little annoying, having to take notes, but the book itself wasn’t. It was clear, informative, just the sort of things I wanted to know, and with lots of promising references. It did mention some painfully obvious things, but I suppose you have to. (If it’s cold, trying layering clothing to keep warm. Wrap up in blankets.) 4.5/5
Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (236 pages) by John DeGraaf, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor was nothing life-altering, but it did make ponder my spending habits a little (sure, I save half my money for college, and 10% for charity, but is blowing 40% of my money on whatever doesn’t make me feel guilty a good thing?). I didn’t really look forward to reading it, but it wasn’t bad. 3/5
Books read: 9
Pages read: 2,134
Male authors: 8
Female authors: 5
Money spent on books: $0, I think. (Of course, these figures are all not counting the shipping cost of Bookmooch books, which is substantial)
I really should update this after I finish each book, because I keep forgetting what I’ve read. Well, I think this is all I’ve read so far in May…
Spring Fire (160 pages) by Vin Packer is not, as I mistakenly kept telling people, the first ever lesbian pulp fiction novel, but, in fact, the second (the first was Women’s Barracks by Torreska Torres). The author writes in the introduction how she had to sneak it past censors, and how it she’s a little ashamed of the writing now, since she was just starting out when she wrote it. It was okay, kind of badly written, but not so much that it was unreadable. I almost had to laugh at the “morality” that needed to be slipped in, and the punishment that all homosexual characters have to go through in old gay books. Overall, a 3/5, I’d say.
To keep the lesbian theme going, I followed that with a more light-hearted book: So You Want to Be a Lesbian? (202 pages) by Liz Tracey and Sydney Pokorny. Unfortunately, it’s a little out of date now (written 12 years ago), but still funny. 3.5/5.
And one more dyke read: Lucy On the West Coast: And Other Lesbian Short Fiction (143 pages) by Mary Beth Caschetta. This one was a little weird. Most of the stories made it seem like the characters were a little crazy (imagining angels or seeing dead people or being convinced they have an identical twin they’ve never met), but the stories were intriguing… Probably not something I’d re-read, though. 3/5.
And I just finished Bizarre Books: A Compendium of Classic Oddities (215 pages) by Russel Ash and Brian Lake. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but this was a book of lists. There were a few really interesting items, and there were pictures and excerpts, but I read it all the way through in a couple of sittings, which I don’t think it was written for, and it got tedious. 2.5/5.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (167 pages), Mostly Harmless (230 pages), The Salmon of Doubt (280 pages), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts (256 pages), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Radio Scripts: The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases (357 pages) all by/inspired by the incomparable Douglas Adams.
I liked the books better than the radio scripts, but, of course, scripts are meant to be read, and I haven’t heard them. I liked the first one (which I’d probably give 4/5) better than the second (3.5/5), mostly because it has Douglas Adams’s sound effect details in it, which are hilarious, and often involve asking for a sound effect for, say, an alien’s eye colour changing. The two in the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy are 5/5s, of course. Salmon of Doubt was pretty good, for a collection of fragments. 4/5.
The Female Member (196 pages) by Kit Schwartz was a loan from a friend when I expressed interest, but it was highly disappointing. The chapters are written using drawn-out metaphors, which most of the time was just irritating. There were a few times I found things that were interesting, but not very many. And I’m a lesbian, so I don’t see how anyone else would be more interested in the subject matter. Definitely disappointing. 2/5.
Wish You Were Here (352 pages) by Nick Webb is a biography of Douglas Adams, and finished my Douglas Adams reading session. It was exactly what I would expect of it. Well-written, informative. But there were a few references to the books that either he got incorrect or I have. For instance, when they go to see the guy in the shack, Webb says they meet the creator of the universe, but I thought they met the ruler of the universe. Did they ever say that guy created it? 4/5
Bend, Don’t Shatter (120 pages) by T. Cole Rachel is a collection of “coming of age” queer poetry. Some of it was okay, but some was just excellent! It reminded me that I want to read more poetry, and definitely especially lesbian poetry! 4.5/5
And now, a quick recap of how much of a slacker I am. These are the books I have read at work this month while it was slow:
Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg (208 pages) by Gail Carson Levine and its sequel Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand (208 pages) were both excellent. I know they’re for eight-year-olds or something, but I actually enjoyed them a lot, which is a little embarrassing. I just adore Gail Carson Levine’s writing. (Especially Ella Enchanted.) 5/5.
Once Upon a Time in the North (122 pages) by Philip Pullman I read because I read the Golden Compass trilogy this year. It was good, too. I guess I have to face that I like kids’ books. 4.5/5.
Okay, so they’re kids’ books, but still. Three books finished at work, on the clock. Eep.
And the last two I read:
ReGeneration: Telling Stories From Our Twenties (319 pages) collected by Jennifer Karlin and Amelia Borofsky I read because it was the only book in a library in town that has something from Alix Olson (a lesbian poet I’m doing a presentation about in my Writing 12 class) in it, but it turned out to only include a poem I’d already read. Oh well. It was okay, some of the stories were good, but the writing beginning the sections was largely unnecessary. 3/5.
Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook (208 pages) by Norm Feuti, on the other hand, was all kinds of awesome. It’s just perfect, I can say nothing against it. I was laughing out loud lots of times, and it manages to be terribly depressing as well as funny. Really expressed and solidifies what I hate about chain stores/big box stores/retail in general as well as what it’s like working in it. Definitely recommended for anyone who works in retail, has worked in retail, or will work in retail. 5/5.
So, in total this April I read:
Books read: 13
Pages read: 3,023
Male authors: 5
Female authors: 4
Money spent on books: $0
Douglas Adams was responsible for five of those books, Gail Carson Levine for two, and ReGeneration has two editors, which is why the author numbers don’t match up to the books.
The End of Food by Thomas F. Pawlick (221 pages) was my last library book. The first chapter or two were really excellent, then in the middle it got impersonal and boring, but picked up a bit by the end. After the first chapter or so, I wasn’t learning anything new, and there were enough repeats in the book to make me notice. 3/5
So I got The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick M. Lencioni (272 pages) from my work, in the pile of free books (mostly uncorrected proofs). I was planning on putting it on Bookmooch right away, but I ended up reading it, since it’s mostly story. And yes, I thought he was absolutely right. Immeasurability, irrelevance, and anonymity do make a miserable job. And I have at least two if not three of those right now. Hmm. 4/5
A Bookmooch book I requested, Happy Endings are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone (192 pages) was pretty good. About typical for a teenage lesbian romance (if only gay and lesbian romances had less drama!). I probably won’t read it again, but I’ll keep it for my lesbian book collection. 3.5/5
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (288 pages) was a book I read in the slow times at work, as an experiment to see whether I could read fiction at work, and because a co-worker urged me to read it so I could tell her whether Snow Flower seemed like a lesbian or not. This was excellent, very, very well-written and -researched. The descriptions of foot-binding actually made me have to close the book; I thought I was going to be sick. Just a beautiful and achingly sad account of a character’s life. 5/5
Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (159 pages); Restaurant at the End of the Universe (200 pages); and Life, the Universe, and Everything (199 pages) by Douglas Adams were all re-reads, since I’ve been meaning to re-read them since I started this blog. Not long before I get to read the radio scripts! Oh, and 5/5 for them as a whole.
At least, I think that’s all I’ve read. I really ought to be doing this more often. Oh, and I bought The Meaning of Tingo and Magical Thinking through my work, since I got an iRewards coupon and they were in bargain, so they ended up being about $12, minus the $10 iRewards. (Why the “i” in front? I don’t know, but I hate how many businesses are doing it now. I blame you, iPawd!)
Books read: 14
Pages read: 2,653
Male authors: 6
Female authors: 6
Money spent on books: $2
Three of those books were by the same author, that’s why there’s more books than authors.
As I may have mentioned before, the library has a lock-out right now, so I stocked up on books the day before, but I’m reading the final one now… It’s quite sad.
Weight by Jeanette Winterson (151 pages) was a re-telling of the story of Atlas and Heracles. I wasn’t disappointed; Winterson’s prose continues to captivate. As usual, though, with her work, there wasn’t really a sense of a beginning, middle, or end. Like in Lighthousekeeping, it felt like dipping into a story and then surfacing just as unexpectedly. I loved her Heracles character, and the description of Atlas’s devotion to the world he supported and the dog (Laika) was heartbreaking. 4.5/5
I impulsively picked up The Anxiety of Everyday Objects by Aurelie Sheehan (278 pages)
when stocking up on library books The writing was interesting, the plot was pretty good, and one of the characters turned out to be lesbian-ish. It was an okay read, nothing marvelous, but not bad. 3/5
The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook by Albert Bates (197 pages) was something I’d meant to read since I first became more interested in peak oil, and I’ve read some great recommendations for it. Plus, the foreword is by Richard Heinberg. At first I dismissed the recipes, because a lot of the ingredients were only grown in very specific climates (no chiles for me after peak oil!), but after a while I realized most of them were vegan, so that’s handy. The recommendations were good, the instructions were clear, and I loved the quotes. One section confused me, though, since it claimed that very soon all vehicles could be converted so that they were dependent on oil. But the rest of the book is how to deal with these systems collapsing… strange. Overall, quite good, better than Peak Oil Survival. I think I’ll be buying it soon (It’s a library copy).
I’ve been requesting multiple Rita Mae Brown books from Bookmooch.com, as I was telling my mom. I told her it probably wasn’t a good idea since I hadn’t read any of her books yet, and she was aghast that I still hadn’t read Rubyfruit Jungle (she was the first person to recommend it to me, about a year ago, when she heard I hadn’t read it and said “And you call yourself a lesbian.” That comment was what sparked by lesbian reading obsession), so I picked it up (246 pages). It’s great! No wonder everyone raves about it. If I could describe it one word: gutsy. She makes no apologies, tackles not just lesbianism, but also polyamory, even touching on racism and incest as a taboo. Even for these times it’s gutsy, so writing it decades ago is epic. Loved it, I’m looking forward to reading her other ones. 5/5
I also finished a couple more books at work. (Slacking? Me? Never!) Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (192 pages) is a kid’s graphic novel, and it was a quick read. The artwork was amazing, I’ll be looking for the graphic novels Kibuishi has done, and the plot was fabulous, too. Can’t wait ’til volume 2 comes out! 5/5
Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff (240 pages) was another humor collection of essays that L recommended. It was interesting, and I loved reading something from a gay man’s perspective (I’m tired of straight narrators). The bored viewing of a Playboy shooting was particularly amusing. 4/5
I’ve just finished Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg (264 pages) and adored it. I remember at one point thinking “This is clumsily written”, but by the end I’d fallen in love with it. Sigh. It’s so sad, though. The part that really hooked me to the book, though, was when Flannery, the main character, is seeing off the woman she’s secretly-ish in love with, and runs to the train to hand a book of poetry to her through the window that contains her own poem, confessing to her love, and she realizes as the train pulls away that she has powdered sugar from a donut all down her front, and she says aloud to herself “You’re a charmer, Flannery. I don’t see how anyone could resist you.” It made me so sad, though. It was very good. 5/5 Good way to start a month off.
Okay, so I’m a little late posting this, but here we go.
Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (257 pages) was good, but… (Spoiler!) everyone says it was the first lesbian pulp fiction novel with a happy ending, and, well, it didn’t feel that happy. It seemed like they were in a borderline abusive relationship, and she came back.I dunno. Well-written, though. 3.5/5
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (185 pages), which was a re-read, but I just adore this book. It’s a little utopian gay society. I may be re-reading it soon, with all the kind of depressing lesbian fiction I’ve been picking up. 5/5
Stir-Fry by Emma Donoghue (240 pages) I liked. The bantering between the three was something I could relate to, definitely. It was nice. It didn’t really wrap up, though, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. 4/5
Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson (232 pages) turned out not to be a lesbian book, but it was fairly enjoyable. No real plot or wrap-up or anything, but interesting. I love Jeanette Winterson’s writing style. 3.5/5
I also finished Cake or Death: The Excruciating Choices of Everyday Life a collection of essays by Heather Mallick (240 pages) that my former co-worker L recommended. It was, indeed, excellent, and also made numerous references to Stephen Colbert, which I always enjoy. 4.5/5
February I went for the first time to the Times Colonist annual book fair. I loved it! So many books! So cheap! I ended up getting 30 books for $40. I’ll definitely be going again next year.
Books read: 12
Pages read: 2,260
Male authors: 4
Female authors: 7
Money spent on books: $69.40
(Two books were by the same author, which is why there’s more books than authors.)
Looking pretty good! Hope I can keep it up for March!
Well, Lesbian Reading Month is a go, but a bit delayed. I had to finish the Peak Oil Survival guide first, and then during some slow time at the store, I ended up finishing two other books, so there’s more male non-fiction than I was hoping for this month. Oh well!
Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life After Gridcrash by Aric McKay (128 pages)
Well, I did take a lot of notes, but it wasn’t all I was hoping for. It didn’t really say the important things: how to stay warm in the winter, and most of all, how to get food. That’s what was really lacking. It was okay, but not worth buying. 2.5/5
Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped Me edited by Ben Karlin (240 pages)
Great book to pass the time. One of the main reasons I bought it, though, was for Stephen Colbert’s contribution, and his story turned out to be pretty much just the gag of haivng it edited by his wife, with very little remaining, which was disappointing. The stories are entertaining, though, and well-written. 3.5/5
Other People’s Love Letters by Bill Shapiro (192 pages)
I loved this one. In the same vein as Postsecret and Found, this is a collection of love letters, but they’re not all happy ones. I was grinning like an idiot for some of them, but many were quite sad. It also has convinced me I should get a typewriter, because I love the look of those letters. If you like Found and Postsecret, you’ll probably like this. 4.5/5
On to the lesbian reading!
Another Kind of Love and Love is Where You Find It by Paula Christian (304 pages)
This is two books in one volume, but I’m counting them separately. I decided I’d start off Lesbian Reading Month with some lesbian pulp fiction, so I was very happy to see that the library right across the parking lot from my work had this one. I quite enjoyed them, though the obligatory “Being gay is a mental disease!” were tiresome. 3.5/5
Deliver Us From Evie by M.E. Kerr (192 pages)
This one I whipped through in a day. I like little books sometimes. It’s a sweet story about a farm boy whose sister is a lesbian. Light read, nicely written. I really liked the character of Evie. 4/5
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho translated by Anne Carson (~50 pages)
This book is technically 416 pages, but it is a collection of all of the fragments of Sappho’s work in the original Greek and the translation on the next page, so half of it doesn’t really count (I can’t read Greek) and many, if not the majority, of the pages would have only a couple words on it. I’m glad I can now say I read all of Sappho’s remaining works, even if one fragment was just “sinful” and another was “rosy-fingered Dawn” (each with a page of its own). My favorite fragment seems nearly complete on its own. Ann Carson’s translation is this:
He seems to me equal to gods that man
whoever he is who sits opposite you
sits and listens close
to your sweet speaking
and lovely laughing–oh it
puts the heart in my chest on wings
for when I look at you, even a moment, no speaking
is left in me
no: tongue breaks and thin
fire is racing under skin
and in eyes no sight and drumming
and cold sweat holds me and shaking
grips me all, greener than grass
I am and dead–or almost
I seem to me.
And another fragment I love (I’m starting it mid-fragment) (square brackets represent missing bits):
]among mortal women, know this
]from every care
]you could release me
]to last all night long
and just one more:
I treat well are the ones who most of all
and others, too. Ah, Sappho. ❤ 5/5
I also bought a few books from a bookstore on Fort street: Shepherd Books.
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger for $8
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk for $9
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for $11
for a total of $29.40 after tax.
Now I’m reading the Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith and have a stack of library books to get through. (There’s a lock-out starting at the library on Sunday! Damnit, library, when will you realize you should pay fairly? Graaagh.)
I’m falling behind on that New Year’s resolution. Oh well! At least I seem to be getting through a book a week, so that’s good.
I finished Forbidden Fruit by Pearce J.Carefoote, but it was largely uninteresting. I thought it was going to be about more modern day banned books, but it was about books banned centuries ago, which doesn’t interest me nearly as much. 2.5/5
Next up, like I promised, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has been on my list for a while. It was fascinating, and although I’m already pretty careful about the food I buy (I’m vegetarian, going vegan in six months), it solidified some things that I’d only half thought about. Especially that organic does not mean sustainable; there is no easy/lazy way to determine the best food choices. 4.5/5
Now I’m picking up Oliver Twist again. Hopefully I’ll actually finish it this time. Next up is a peak oil survival manual. I will be taking extensive notes. Apparentally the CEO of Shell just admitted that peak oil is likely on its way. Scary, scary stuff.
Well, I’m done two books so far this year: When Elephants Weep by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy, and The Party’s Over by Richard Heinberg.
When Elephants Weep was good in the way that I agreed with the thesis, it was fairly easy to read, and it had a lot of interesting anecdotes, but there wasn’t a whole lot of concrete facts or quality arguments presented. It was pretty neutral to me. Not enough to change your mind, if you’re dead-set against animals having emotion, but a nice enough read if you already believe it. 3/5
I enjoyed The Party’s Over a lot more. The numerous statistics, graphs, knowledgeable sources cited (like scientists who have spent 50 years working with oil) was enough to make me have little doubt of the coming oil peak, not to mention the news that keeps coming up about crude hitting $100 a barrel and gas prices expected to keep going up. What’s scary is the year that kept coming up: 2010. Yes, there were a lot of predictions, but the vast majority were at or near 2010. That is two years from now! Heinberg also details a terrifying picture of what peak oil could, and most likely will, bring: major wars over dwindling resources, even more catastrophic consequences for the environment when people switch to burning wood and coal for fuel, the failure of oil-based agriculture, etc. Definitely scary stuff, but strongly supported by evidence. I’d recommend this to anyone, whether they’re in doubt or are already preparing for the end of oil. Read this book! 5/5
I’m just finishing Forbidden Fruit, and after that I’ll probably be reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, then I’ll be getting into some fiction.