Archive for November 3rd, 2013

November 3, 2013

October Reading

I don’t know if at some point I’ll be putting my academic reading in these lists as well–it might be nice to have a record, but so much of it is in the form of essays and chapters and parts of books that I have no idea how to list them. Meanwhile, my regular reading lists grow shorter and fluffier.


Shannon Hale, Austenland: This was (mostly) a comfortable evening’s read–and I got a column out of it. But I doubt I’ll be reading more by Hale.

Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor and Park: Apparently a lot of people are very upset about the “obscenity” in this book. If they mean the swearing, I didn’t notice it. If they meant the terrified child who needs someone to stand guard when she’s having a bath in her own house, it was necessary and also viscerally awful. I’m over love stories in which people fall for each other over a shared love of music/literature; despite this I stayed up all night with this, and cried all over it.

Edmund Crispin, Frequent Hearses, Fen Country, Holy Disorders: A sudden need (sudden? a constant need) for smart, cosy crime. I still think Holy Disorders is the weakest of the Gervase Fen mysteries I’ve read. The others were both new to me, and neither struck me as particularly brilliant, but I enjoyed all three books anyway.

Susannah Clapp, A Card From Angela Carter: Inspired a column (here) and an evening of flipping through a collection of Carter’s non-fiction and fangirling quietly.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy: I have a deep love for The Secret Garden, and would probably dislike A Little Princess if it wasn’t such an interesting text with which to think about things like empire and class. Little Lord Fauntleroy is just uninteresting to me, however many awful portraits of children it may have inspired.

Caroline Stevermer, A College of Magics: I liked a lot of things about this-the school setting of the early chapters, the frequent snark, the sense that characters genuinely enjoy language. But plotwise it felt rather unfinished, like none of these elements added up to a unified whole.

Nicholas Blake, Head of a Traveller: A reread, though all I really remembered of the book was that a sculpture of a head had a lot to do with it. What I’d forgotten was how awkward I found the book’s depiction of rape the first time I read it. On a second read I still think it’s badly done, in ways that probably merit a separate blog post with a lot of quotes. But then, besides Georgia Cavendish, this series of books doesn’t have the most spectacular of track records with its women characters.

Colm Toibin, The Testament of Mary: Such a joy just to see a thing done well. Column here.

Rick Riordan, The House of Hades: Hmm. I have a very hazy understanding of the larger plot of this series at this point and the tone can get deeply annoying (as when a character imagines the Fates watching him and going “LOL, NOOB”), but it’s still quite entertaining in a Civilisation-equals-Greek-and-Roman-Gods-and-America sort of way. The element of this particular book that has received most attention seems to be that Riordan has revealed that a particular character is gay and has done an okay job of it. What I really liked (and again, this may need a separate post with quotes) is how it deals with crushes in general and (therefore) with this character’s in particular.

Tina Connolly, Ironskin: I both enjoyed and was annoyed by this urban fantasy-ish, steampunk-ish retelling of Jane Eyre. Column to come soon.