Reading

2016

Annotated Sandman Vol. 1, by Leslie S. Klinger, and Neil Gaiman. Amazing, making the abstract walk among us as human-like actors.  NOT for children.  :)   No, seriously.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo.  Wonderful.  It is hard to embrace the difficulties of life, but it’s so much better when we do.  Holy bagumba!

Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea (Mulberry Books), by Vera B. Williams and Jennifer Williams.  Interesting book about a boy taking a trip with his older brother.  Depicted through postcards sent back home.  Very normal feeling story, though very cool that the authors captured the “very normal” sense of the gentle transformative effect a summer vacation can have.

The Cricket Winter, by Felice Holman.  I like crickets, and this one talks via Morse code to a boy, and they make a tough decision together.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Kingkiller Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss.  I love this so much. The perspective I’ll highlight is that it is a story of someone able to listen to & respond to her connection to the entirety of the universe, acting on a level society has no easy place for.

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 1: Friends manga.  I think I’ll have to read many volumes of this before it makes sense.

2015

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories) is a clever work of historical fantasy AND science fiction. It’s a fun and rich depiction of people bound by and dancing within the thousand rules of early 19th century society, while some of them practice magic. Magic – called Glamour – is not practiced by most people, and is maddeningly under-appreciated by this society. This under-appreciation serves to keep the status of these practitioners under control in a society with well-formed rules that favor an upper-class that doesn’t seem versed in glamour.

I really liked glimpsing a world where something clearly awesome is so powerfully checked by the societal rules of an already established order.

The parallels of glamour to early science are interesting, as the import of glamour is not grasped, just as the impact of science was not grasped, and its status thereby kept in control. However in Shades of Milk and Honey, the flavor of glamour is less of science and more related to music and art. The existing societal structure “entertains” the use of glamour as an art form that a patron might commission for a party.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s work shapes the fabric of real-world creative arts, plus fantasy’s magic, into the pattern of the pace of scientific exploration’s adoption in history. She then plays this pattern out real time like a Jane Austin novel. It’s wonderful.

I suspect she’s also pointing at the awesomeness of creative works in general, and how that magic is under-appreciated and kept in check by existing societies rules. So now I’ll have to read the rest of the series to see where she takes this. Go read this book!

2014

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel (as an audio book). The author wields boring Victorian unconsiousness as a punctuation device. It’s excellent.

How the screw came to be. An adventure in uncovering the origin of the essential screw. One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw is a fascinating read that sees our mechanical tools as poetic leaps of creation.  I started reading this when my family took a trip to Chicago this winter. I just picked it up again a few days ago, and was pulled along by the end chapters that made a final pass at determining how far back we can trace the screw. It was fun that the Antikythera Mechanism came into the story, especially because I had just gotten a CD from a Nathaniel Johnstone CD fundraiser by that name.

I liked this book for reminding me sometimes one thing needs to be made to make another thing, and that looking at something in a new way can allow it to be applied to a new design space, possibly in a new form.

A Wrinkle in Time audio version w Wendy and the kids. Wendy resonated w this hugely when she was a kid.

 

As I think more about making liqueurs, I find I’m not able to shake the concern about making more ways for alcohol to wind its way in the world.

My concern made me curious about the prohibition, and at the library I got out Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

2013

Ender’s Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition (audio version) was good to listen to w 9yr old Tobin, 12 yr old Julianne & the very protective Wendy (46yr old) makes me think of the Neil Gaiman comment about fiction providing weapons & armor.

Listened to Neil Gaiman read his The Graveyard Book while we drove around during this summer. I love listening to Neil read his stuff.

I just had the pleasure of reading Saladin Ahmed’s first novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms)

It was a basic fantasy action adventure, but was especially fun that…

  • it had an Arabian Nights type setting
  • 3 of the 5 main characters were old adventurers/friends, and they were all getting ready to retire, but were still main characters! Loved that.
  • it brought back memories of what I liked about the pace of D&D

I was well-hooked mid-way through, and appreciated how much of the movement and plot were predictable in a comfortable and enjoyable way with enough surprises to keep me reading. I finished the book already waiting for his next in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms series.

In preparation for ConFusion 2013 (which was excellent), I read my first Charles Stross book, Glasshouse. I’ve found myself talking about various concepts from this book with 6 or 7 people since I finished this a couple weeks ago. Very fun.


The kids, Wendy & I finished a Redwall book on CD – Mariel of Redwall. We’d been listening to it in the car, in bits & pieces when we went on trips, but finally we couldn’t take the suspense & one afternoon we brought it in the house and finished it off. It was fun to hear the author’s rich accent narrate the book. The rest of the voices were excellent as well.

I am perpetually playing catch up with what my kids are reading, and have taken to only trying to read things that they mention a couple times, or that I know they really enjoyed.


The Hunger Games was a good read. I had an extra vacation day and I sped through it. I was engaged.

It sure ended in a way to make me curious about what’s next. I wonder if – given that the premise of this story was they were forced to fight in the game – if they will go on fighting when they are not in the game (if the next one is not set in a game)? Will all the problems be solved w violence? I mean, they had to with the way the game was set up, but will all the rest of the books be like that?

My daughter is pushing the next book on my, so I guess I’ll find out.

Earlier this year, my family (at the time my son was 9yrs & my daughter 11yrs) enjoyed listening to: Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1)

I think we especially enjoyed the narration performance, and we were swept into the characters. This was great for a couple car trips we took, and the time passed in pleasure. Highly recommended if you have kids. Fun images & situations to imagine.

A couple weeks later, we tried to follow this up with listening to Flyte, the 2nd book in this series, but unfortunately the narrator was different and we just couldn’t get behind how they read the story, so we stopped listening a couple chapters in.

Last year my son read Hatchet, by Gary Paulson.

And given that he had gone to a summer wilderness survival camp, this set the survival bug in him (in a good way, I think). He went on to read a number of other Gary Paulson books, and gather equipment and skills for the wilderness.

It was great for me to finally read this, and get a glimpse of some of the context for what he was imagining he might need such skills for.

 

 


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