Archive for ‘Books read in 2015’

April 2, 2015

March Reading

I’ve been bad at reading this last few months but March wasn’t so bad.

 

Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad: I’m reviewing this elsewhere and will post the piece here when it’s out, but the important revelation that I had about Zen Cho (other than that her work is brilliant comfort reading) is that she reminds me of Joan Aiken. I’m not sure there’s a higher compliment.

Deji Bryce Olukotun, Nigerians in Space: For a review. I will not be counting this in my stats for the year because it’s a reread; it’s worth reminding the world that it’s great, though.

Kavitha Mandana, Nayantara Surendranath, A Pair of Twins: I’ll have a piece on this up in a couple of weeks. Feminism and elephants and excellent art.

Shobha Viswanath, Sadhvi Jawa, An Elephant in My Backyard: I also liked this very much, for reasons that will remain mysterious until next week’s column is republished on the blog.

Danez Smith, [insert] boy: I discovered Danez Smith’s work a few months ago, when Sridala linked me to “Not an Elegy for Mike Brown” (at Split This Rock, but I’m linking to Buzzfeed because that way you also get  “alternate names for black boys”) and was broken by it in the best way. I read this collection in bits over the month and it may not have been the wisest choice for a fragile time, and I’m still trying to work out how to talk about it because I’m quite sure I need to. But you should read it.

Alan Garner, Red Shift: For a Strange Horizons book club discussion (with some of my favourite people) which you can find here.

Haruki Murakami, The Strange Library: I wrote about this here.

Gail Carriger, Prudence (The Custard Protocol): I’m going to have to write something longer on this because it’s set in steampunk-supernatural colonial India and almost does some clever things and then … does so many other things which are not so much “clever” as “terrible”.

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant: I’m discussing this elsewhere and will be posting a link when that’s up, but rarely have I seen so many critics so confused by something that doesn’t fit an expected shape. And yet it’s not that strange.

March 5, 2015

February Reading

A slightly better month than January, anyway.

 

Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium: I’ve been writing a longer piece about post-catastrophe fiction and my feelings around it and I’m hoping to unpack my thoughts on Elysium as part of this at some point in the near future. But it is very, very good, and also you should read this brilliant review by Niall Harrison (I am biased because I edited it, but it really is.)

 

Robin Stevens, Arsenic for Tea: Stevens’ first book, Murder Most Unladylike, might have been written for me. School stories? Murder mystery? Queerness? General inter-war-ness? Non-white readers of English popular fiction? Come on. Arsenic for Tea is not set in a school and is almost entirely heterosexual (or is it? I know who I was shipping) but despite these flaws it is wonderful–it continues that uncomfortable, strong relationship between Daisy and Hazel, will never allow you a comfortable ending, will make its most loved characters as monstrous as it needs them to be. It’s a funny, cosy crime story, but it’s ruthless in places that are crucial to it.

 

Julia Quinn, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy: I feel like the whole Smith-Smythe series has been a bit of a letdown after the glorious heights of What Happens in London and Ten Things I Love About You. I’m aware that the form requires some terrible thing to come in between our main characters, but in this case I think it may have been too big a thing, and the fallout felt rather phoned in. Meh. (Edit: I managed to mistitle this and strip Sir Richard of his title. Clearly it did not make a big impact upon me)

 

Leela Gandhi, Affective Communities: I don’t plan to list books read for the PhD here, but Affective Communities turned out to be all but irrelevant to my thesis, and very relevant to everything else. People who have spent this time with me will probably find it hard to believe that I’ve spent the last few months feeling very grateful for community and the sort of allyship that is born of ethics, and people who see imbalance without having to be talked around to it, and for all those reasons Affective Communities ended up being important and moving–and this sounds trite, but it wasn’t. Also there’s the thing where Gandhi is just very enjoyable to read.

 

Sheila Ray and Stella Waring, Island to Abbey: Survival and Sanctuary in the Works of Elsie J. Oxenham: Really interesting overview of Oxenham’s books, grouping them chronologically and tracing particular unifying themes in each distinct period. I think it may be time for a new critical study of Oxenham though–it feels like Auchmuty has said everything that needs saying about communities of women but maybe not?

 

Mahesh Rao, The Smoke is Rising: I have a column about this that will be posted once it has been published, but three things: 1. Rao’s prose is gorgeous. 2. Sambhar is ruined forever. 3. I want the sequel to this book that is set in Heritageland and is outrightly SFF or horror.

 

Samita Aiyer and Garima Gupta, The Last Bargain: I’m a bit biased here because Garima Gupta illustrated one of my work projects from a few years ago, but she really is brilliant. This is a short children’s book about a rat named Chooheram who makes one bargain too many and it would be an ordinary morality tale (don’t overreach, kids) if not for the fact that the rat is just mildly downcast after his adventure; the princess (there’s a princess) just goes home and is like I married a rat, it was weird, meh; and the art is gorgeous and features many cows.

Gupta Chooheram

(Many cows.)

February 4, 2015

January Reading

As I said in my post about my reading in 2014, I’m not counting rereads (unless they’re for writing-about or mark a big shift in how I’ve read them) this year, and I’m interested in seeing what that does for my reading stats.

Unfortunately, by these criteria I read all of two new books in January. I was travelling, attending a funeral, attending a wedding, marking papers, writing half a draft chapter, and crime rereads were all I could manage. I read some Sarah Caudwell, some Edmund Crispin (including the title below, which I hadn’t read before), I started and did not finish Jill Paton Walsh’s Dorothy Sayers continuation (it did not work for me at all) and Jennifer Cruisie’s Faking it; started and plan to finish Perumal Murugan’s One Part Woman.

 

What I did read:

Edmund Crispin, Beware the Trains: Collection of short stories, feat. Fen or Humbleby. I’d read a couple before, in other places. All quite good, but I don’t find detective fiction satisfying in short story form.

Shandana Minhas, Survival Tips for Lunatics: I read this on Sridala’s recommendation and because there were extinct and fantastical creatures on the cover. Changez and Timmy are camping with their parents, things go horribly wrong and suddenly they’re walking across a Balochistan that is suddenly peopled by velociraptors and literary-critic dragons, and trying to get home. It’s very silly and funny and just thoroughly endearing.