Posted on Leave a comment

Books read, early February

Moniquill Blackgoose, To Shape a Dragon’s Breath. Discussed elsewhere.

Cynthia A. Bouton, The Flour War: Gender, Class, and Community in Late Ancien Regime French Society. Lots of in-depth analysis about the different riots that arose in the mid-18th century over the price and availability of bread in various French cities. Bouton looks into what professions the rioters belonged to, what punishments they received, all kinds of interesting information. I think one of the elements of this book that made me think the most was how thoroughly people believed in natural rights that were in no way covered in any form of any legal code–to the point of ascribing opinions to the king that he had at no point expressed, simply because they were such obvious natural rights to the people in question. This…seems like it might have applications elsewhere in spacetime. Just spitballing here.

Emma Mieko Candon, The Archive Undying. Discussed elsewhere.

Agatha Christie, A Pocket Full of Rye and Murder With Mirrors. Two more books that had passed through the filter of “my friend who is reading a bunch of these said they were reasonably fun and didn’t have an unbearable amount of Christie’s personal bigotries.” Fascinated to watch Christie allow people to be wrong about mental health stuff even by the standards of the time. Quick library reads.

Pamela Dean, The Hidden Land and The Whim of the Dragon. Rereads. I love these so much, particularly The Whim of the Dragon. Oh, particularly that. Because of the way it sticks the landing, and because the landing Pamela chose is not one I recall seeing anywhere else. Love it, love them. Every time I read these they make me happy. I know portal fantasy is not cool right now but…I love it anyway.

M.K. England, The Disasters. Have you been complaining that not enough YA SF is like Heinlein, full of teenagers who want to be space pilots? Well, this is about that. Except uh. Very modern and queer and mental health aware and voice-y. So not really what a lot of people who make that complaint mean–but probably still a fun thing to give them just to see. Me, I’m giving it to a teen in my life for whom “Space Disaster But Make It Gay” will provoke an emoji-like set of heart-eyes. (Note: when I say “gay” I do not mean “sexually explicit.” Should I have to specify that? absolutely I should not, but this is the world we live in, so.)

Julie Flavell, The Howe Dynasty: The Untold Story of a Military Family and the Women Behind Britain’s Wars for America. I am a sucker for the Seven Years’ War, and if you want Howe brothers, boy does it have Howe brothers. Howes as far as the eye can see, that war. But the strength of this book is, so far as I can see, that it treats the Howe sisters as interesting and worthwhile in their own right. This also gets you some different and useful perspective on the brothers. Funny how that works. Flavell is definitely a Howe booster, but not to the point of being obnoxious.

James L. Flexner, Oceania 800-1800 CE. Kindle. Another very short monograph on a very large topic, very much walking the boundaries of archaeology and history here. Mostly good as an introduction to the topic.

Jaymee Goh, ed., Don’t Touch That! A Sci-Fi and Fantasy Parenting Anthology. Really lovely stand-out stories from K.A. Doore, Melissa Caruso, and Karen Osborne. I wish there had been more stories of parents and children having adventures together rather than figuring out that they could/should, but I often want the former, and it doesn’t make the latter bad.

Adam Hochschild, American Midnight: The Great War, A Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis. Want to know how rich white Americans were particularly jerks in 1919? This is your book. Seriously this is useful historical context, and yet also…not a pleasant read.

Ed Bok Lee, Mitochondrial Night. Local poet with some interesting perspectives. Not as sciency as I’d hoped, oh well.

Sally McMillen, Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life. McMillen is clearly passionately interested in Lucy Stone’s life. If you’re also interested–if you want to read a book about social justice movements in 19th century America, or about Stone in particular–this is useful and good. She does not, however, get to the point of being a biographer I would recommend regardless of prior interest in the subject.

Jim Moore, Prognosis. Local poet, from the perspective of an older person who is, and whose friends are, going through a lot. Not going to be my favorite but worth having.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human.

Janika Oza, A History of Burning. Discussed elsewhere.

Claudia Rankine, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. One of the categories listed for booksellers on the back of this book is “lyric essay.” (The other, of course, is poetry.) And I keep thinking about that, lyric essay, sure, yes, why not, let’s do that. I also keep thinking: this is probably a fallacy, but from the reader perspective it looks like this book is doing exactly what Claudia Rankine wanted to do with the material and not what might have been dictated by outside forms. And that’s kind of amazing. It’s about loneliness, of course, and death and race and America and politics and families and all sorts of things. It’s a very weird little book and will not take you very long to get through (but to think about, though…).

Carole Rawcliffe, Leprosy in Medieval England. And how it wasn’t what you think. Specifically the images of the community shunning and isolating lepers mostly come from the 19th century and were very much politically motivated. “Victorians Wrong About Medievals: News At 11” is once again our headline. Welp.

Bernard F. Reilly, The Medieval Spains. All the weird bits of Visigoths becoming Spaniards as we understand them, all the in-betweens and nubbly bits. Still much shorter than I would like for its topic; I’ll keep looking. Very solid on the geographical inputs to the whole thing though.

E. Catherine Tobler, The Deadlands Issue 20. Kindle. Enjoyed reading as I generally do, but this felt like a shorter issue, and I don’t know if that’s a trend or not.

Eugen Weber, Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France 1870-1914. “Exactly how bad was a lot of rural France, and why, and also what were some of their weirder folktales and funnier bits of folk wisdom.” That’s this book. It was staggeringly depressing in spots, when you consider that I not just knew but knew well several people who were alive in the latest section. Really super-interesting for all that, though. I feel like what I want is a sort of…sense of the middle ground? the richer farmlands and the mid-sized towns, what was life like there. Because I have this, and I have a fairly good sense of Paris in this era. So. More to look for. Oh, caveat: he does not translate a lot of the French, and he does not translate a lot of the patois. So if you’re not comfortable in French (which means you’re probably really not comfortable in most 19th century rural French patois) there will be some things where he’s talking past you. If that annoys you a lot, dodge this.

Fran Wilde, The Book of Gems. Discussed elsewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *