This is not a professional book review blog. I don’t work for a newspaper or a publisher. I’ve even stopped accepting books for review, because that affected my enjoyment of the whole process. I read, and blog, entirely for pleasure. That said, I still feel compelled to think critically about the books that I read, to consider the quality of the writing and content and not just my own enjoyment. Of course, most of the time, a well-written book will be one I enjoy reading. Even if the content matter is dark, there will be things for me to love in it—beautiful turns of phrase, or superb character development, or unexpected plot twists. (The reverse is not necessarily true—I take huge pleasure in rereading Nancy Drew books, which I am sure only have six plots between all 200+ of them). Continue reading
I wrote a little while ago about my discovery of the Women at Warp podcast. Since then, I’ve been working my way through the back episodes that sounded interesting. I particularly enjoyed this one, in which the hosts talk about which excellent feminist people they would crew the USS Enterprise with given the chance. I enjoyed hearing their choices from fiction, science, politics, military history, and other fields, plus I was stuck on a train at the time, so I decided to entertain myself by making my own list. (I love lists). I did make a rule for myself that I couldn’t have any of the same picks as the hosts, but it turns out that the world is full of fantastic fictional, historical, and political women, so that didn’t really hold me back. My excuse for publishing it here is a) it was really fun to make, and b) some of my choices are characters from books. Please note that the formatting for WordPress was being screwy, so photo credits/sources are listed in the footnotes, rather than in captions. Enjoy. Continue reading
Lord of the Rings holds a place in my heart that will never be taken by any other book. Although I’ve mentioned here and there on this blog that it’s long been one of my favourites, I don’t think I’ve ever unpacked exactly why I love it so much. I thought I’d do so here. Now, in case the title wasn’t sufficiently clear, I am not going to even attempt objectivity here. I am not going to engage with any of the criticisms that could be made of Tolkien. This post is a thank you to Lord of the Rings, and to Tolkien, for having brought so much joy into my life on so many occasions. Continue reading
I’m not going to set goals for my blogging this year, exactly. Last year, my biggest goal was to finish my PhD, and here I am, still doctorate-less, when almost everyone I started with has graduated or will be doing so soon. That’s not a failure (quitting would have been a failure, and it was a pretty close thing sometimes) but looking at that post still makes me feel sad. However, there is a difference between goals and plans, which is that plans can be adapted and discarded as needed. I can lay out my priorities for the year, safe in the knowledge that I can throw them out or completely rewrite them if that is what I need to do. Continue reading
2016 hasn’t been a fantastic reading year for me. I don’t know why. Lots of books I read were just *fine*… not bad, but not remarkably good either. However, I did find a handful of books that stood out amid the ones that didn’t really register, so here we go. None of them were perfect in the same way that I found Gilead, Lonesome Dove, and Gaudy Night perfect last year, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t still great. I didn’t actually review any of these books here, so it’s nice to have an opportunity to bring them up. Continue reading
Podcasts have swallowed a fair amount of my reading time this year, and I’ve found many new ones since I uploaded my last set of mini-reviews. Here are a few of my favourites. In light of 2016’s 2016ishness, most of the podcasts I have been listening to are political or political satire, but there are a few others too.
Title: The Trains Now Departed: Sixteen Excursions into the Lost Delights of Britain’s Railways
Author: Michael Williams
Published: Arrow, 2015 Continue reading
Title: Grief is the Thing with Feathers
Author: Max Porter
Published: Faber & Faber 2015
Caution! This post contains spoilers for all books in the Little Women series, a lot of footnotes containing personal asides, and more extensive use of italics than I intended. Also, I haven’t read Little Women or Little Men since I was a teenager, because Jo’s Boys is my favourite in the series (I know, I know). However, I was really interested by one of the Classic Remarks questions, and I thought I’d give it a shot.