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2015 in Review

To put things into perspective, at the beginning of this year, I hadn't even read Carmilla. CARMILLA.


Insanity.

Counting the two books I will assuredly finish New Year's Eve, I read 73 books this year, which is probably my highest ever, except that's kind of negated by the sheer number of comics. 2013 still beats me out in pages by a couple hundred.

A shockingly low 24 out of 73 were written by women. That's an all-time low. Has to be. Unsurprisingly, I also read very few feminist histories this year. I think we can all blame this on the sad state of female representation in comics.

How many were comics!
30

Were any of those comic collections over a thousand pages long!
Yes.

Does that kind of negate your guilt about also counting volumes that comprised only about 6 issues?
Obvs.

Some Things:

1. At the beginning of this year, no Carmilla, no Aquarium, no Sandman, no comics at all, no King Mob, no Robbie Kaplan book that led to me speaking with her on the phone, thereby fulfillin…

Hamilton Readalong

Did you too perhaps receive a copy of Ron Chernow's extremely long with tiny font biography of Alexander Hamilton for Christmas? Do you worry about having the follow-through to finish it? I know I do. So we are having -- A WINTER HAMILTON READALONG.


IT'S GONNA BE SO GOOD.

It's gonna be January/February, first post is Thursday, January 7th, and will be chapters 1-5. We will power through and open the gates and seize the day, and -- sorry, wrong musical.

Don't throw away this shot....to read the whole Chernow Hamilton.

Schedule:
January 7th: Chapters 1-5
January 14th: Chapters 6-9
January 21st: Chapters 10-14
January 28th: Chapters 15-19
February 4th: Chapters 20-26
February 11th: Chapters 27-31
February 18th: Chapters 32-38
February 25th: Chapters 39-End


The Fox and the Star

Penguin asked if I wanted to review The Fox and the Star, and I said yes because it is so. damn. pretty. My tiny tiny wonderful nieces are appx 1000x more artistic than I ever was, and all I could think while reading through it was how beautiful the pages were and how much time you could spend on one of them.

If you're into loops and whorls and a more natural-style aesthetic, this is very much for you. Lots of repeated patterns and a mix of dense and stark illustrations. I could see it being good for a meditation book since you can use the patterns as a sort of "walk the labyrinth" for your mind.

I'm not gonna say the story was super-compelling to me. The story's not really the point as far as I can tell. There's a fox. It likes looking at a star. The star goes away and the fox goes looking for it. Yeah, there's symbolism, but I think if we take a quick review of my preferred authors, we will quickly see that symbolism is not a favorite of mine.

For that s…

Is Gone-Away Lake THE best book or only like in the top 2?

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. A girl and her cousin go exploring on their summer vacation and find a ghost town of summer houses from the turn of the century, as well as two elderly people who grew up there and are the last holdouts. They mainly tell the girl and the cousin (whose name might be Julian?) stories about growing up there.

I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I love Gone-Away Lake. I loved it when I was ten and I love it now.


Tales of the past! Backstory! All that stuff! And they explore old houses! I grew up in the country, and while we weren't so isolated that we could potentially find a whole group of hidden houses, there was a lot of creek-exploring and thicket-roaming, so we could imagine we were so isolated we could potentially find a whole group of hidden houses. The two main characters' wandering about without parents was very familiar, since everyone knew everyone in my community. (and told us to stop going in their creek because it was dangerous, but it was a CREEK, …

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials is the second in the Maze Runner series by James Dashner. It's your standard YA, post-apocalyptic, Possibly Evil Government Is Manipulating Teens situation. CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE. 


After the first book, the hero (Thomas) is out of the maze. As perhaps indicated by the title, there is another trial, and it involves things being very hot. Namely, an extremely hot desert to cross. 

Now, I'm probably going to read this whole series. I want to make that clear. I like mysterious trials and I really want to know what the hell is going on and how Dashner is going to justify what the characters are going through (there're a lot of scenes with government officials giving vague hints and it's maddening). 

But I still have a LOT to complain about, because it's a YA dystopian series and I am a 30 year old woman who will not just put up with shit.

1. Again? Again we have one girl? ONE GIRL. It's not even the same girl! Original Only Girl disappears at the beg…

Probably Great Unread Books

I have pounding sinuses, I am on meds for menstrual cramps, and it's 2 AM, but let's dive into what looks good on my ever-expanding Goodreads to-read shelf, currently listing at 431 items.

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Do I have any interest in Russian lit? Y'know what, not really. They are a depressing people. But my junior year Russian TA that I had a massive crush on said it was great, so I've been meaning to read it for nine years.

The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda by Andrew Rice. I added this in 2010. What? What? Does this sound like something I'd read? I mean, it has a 3.92 on the Goodreads rating scale, but what on earth induced me to add this? The only thing I can think is that I'd just watched The Last King of Scotland.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I own this by now. Still never read it. But I'm like 90% sure I'm really going to enjoy it. Apparently it's about an outsider girl who observes…

American Authors and Their Manly Manliness

American authors. How about we talk about American authors. Guess what I didn't study in college? Ok, lots of things, but those especially. I did 19th century British and French lit, and when I asked if I could take one American lit class and have it count for my major, the head of the Comparative Lit department said "NO ENGLAND AND AMERICA ARE DIFFERENT CULTURES YOU STAY AWAY; MORE BALZAC FOR YOU." 
Add to that my high school's horrible English Department, and I've read pretty much nothing of what I'm supposed to read. Here are the authors I think of when I hear about American authors:
Ernest Hemingway William Faulkner John Updike John Irving Jack London
And...others. I guess. I've read at least one book by most of the American ladies, because I'm a ladyist, and I've read enough Steinbeck (although is there ever really enough, people?), and probably enough James, Twain, and Hawthorne. But American literature is SO DOMINATED BY DUDES. Partic…

Book Riot Linkage!

Did you all know I write for Book Riot? Probably. I don't really mention it on here though. But it's Thursday! And I'm sleepy! So here're some posts I've written for them that I like:

What to Read After Seeing Suffragette. I want to read all of these. I have read none of them. BUT! I did a thorough investigation of whether they sucked or not before adding them to the list.

6 Books You Can Discuss At Thanksgiving, By Wine Glass. I wanted to do something topical. The wine glass addition was my brilliant oldest brother's idea. All these books should probs be read though.

8 Classic Novels Retitled As Clickbait. ONE OF MY MORE POPULAR POSTS is that ironic or not; I'm too scared to use that word.

Gifts for the Charlotte Bronte Fan in Your Life. I'm legit a big fan of this post and will go to my grave thinking it did not achieve the recognition it deserved. THERE ARE SO MANY WEIRDASS CHARLOTTE BRONTE GIFTS OUT THERE.

Where We All Cry About the Library of Alexandria

December: The Last Scrabble for Reading Stats

How's your reading for the year coming? I hope well, because tomorrow is December and the holiday rush means THERE'S NO TIME, PEOPLE.


Hahaha jk stats don't mean anything just enjoy what you're reading. 

I feel like this year, I've focused a lot on non-fiction and graphic novels/comics, and I'm extremely happy about that choice. I'd never read any Sandman before this year! It was out of my life! The sheer insanity of that. Although, if I'd read it when I was a teenager, I probably would've been horrified by discussions of sex, drugs, lesbians, etc, so maybe this is coming at just the right time. 

True to form, I'm in the middle of a bunch of books. Right now we've got:

Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example. DON'T JUDGE ME.



Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time.This is for church book group and it's the easiest Karen Armstrong I've ever read.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Should probably finish this. It'…

books I'm thankful for this year

Thanksgiving, aka The Best Holiday of All of Our Holidays, is almost upon us. Let's all take this moment to remember that Jimmy Kimmel sketch where Meghan Trainor hawked a fake Thanksgiving album:


But also! Also -- let's remember books read this year for which we are thankful. The following are my favorites for 2015 (so far). All these books have stuck with me in some positive way, and I'm glad I read all of them.

Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Slayings Behind Our Romance with the Macabre

I haven't written a review of this yet, but IMAGINE A BOOK that talks about Regency murders and links them up with how the culture around them reacted and it all culminates in the much-later Ripper murders and it all gives you a greater appreciation for the Romantics who you maybe have made fun of a lot in the past. I like this book.

Sandman
I AM SO THANKFUL FOR SANDMAN. I'm on volume 8 in the series, and despite being in a state of decluttering my life and getting rid of what boo…

Old Movies You Should Probably Just Watch Right Now

You know how sometimes you look at the You of 5, 10, 15 years ago and can sometimes barely recognize yourself? Or you think how the people who've met you in the years since that time have no idea that certain things used to be The Most Important to you?



From about ages 10 to 20, I was very, very into old movies. It started with PBS showing them when I lived out in the country and we only got seven channels because of some malarkey about satellite dishes not working out there.

They'd show them late, and that's how I first saw Bringing Up Baby, the classic Katharine Hepburn/Cary Grant comedy, and arguably their best. I also caught The Philadelphia Story that way, and both of these spawned a Katharine Hepburn obsession that culminated in my friend and me starting this community.

I STILL LOVE THESE MOVIES. But our culture has switched to Netflix, so I basically never see them. I am, however, reading a book about 19th century murders, and it reminded me of my brief but intense ob…

How Books Can Save Us

As we have now seen for millennia, literature can be the sane voice of reason at times when anxiety, fear, and panic threaten to lead us into actions we might someday regret.

I have great amounts of love for also known as middle grade fiction. This genre has a special knack for stating an idea both succinctly and clearly. 
The recent tragedy in France made me think of a specific middle grade book series: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. For those unfamiliar, it's semi-gothic, has a very particular and excellent prose style, and consists of 13 books, all about the three Baudelaire orphans.
The thing I remembered from the series is that in one of the later books, the Baudelaire siblings are met with a difficult decision: they can use underhanded tactics to capture one of the many villains out to get them, or...they can choose to not. Every. Other. Children's book I've read would have had no problem with them capturing a villain and using them as leverage to …

The Time Fetch: Time is stolen! And also the world might end.

The Time Fetch is a delightful romp through ponderings of atoms, time, and Christmas cookies. 

I snatched it from someone's table at Book Expo America last year (me: "Can I take this?" guy: "um...maybe?" me: "ok cool" *takes it*) and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. UNTIL NOW, when I read it and loved it.

So there are these little time-gnat/fairy things and they steal tiny bits of time. Not so you'd really notice. It's just that when time seems to go faster than normal and you are shocked it is already 2 o'clock, and how did that happen so quickly?--time-gnats. (note: they are not called time-gnats in the book, but it how they are best described)


At a certain time of year, namely, the solstice, they go back into their home (the time fetch), which is a little rock/walnut-type thing, and they wait to be picked up. But if someone disturbs the time fetch, like an idiot teenage boy named Edward who didn't do his homework assignm…

Suffragette: "War is the only language men listen to."

I wasn't going to see Suffragette. When it was first announced, I was leap-in-the-air excited, and then as time passed and disappointing reports kept trickling in, that enthusiasm waned and waned until my only motivation for going was a friend asking + a dull desire to learn more about the British women's suffrage movement.

I'm extremely glad I saw it.

My expectations were The Lowest because most of the articles I've seen about Suffragette either commented on the whitewashing involved, or on the hideous PR debacle surrounding the Pankhurst quote "I'd rather be a rebel than a slave" t-shirts the cast was photographed wearing. (Does Pankhurst say this quote in the movie? Yes, but it's in context, and therefore not horrifying)

I have to do more reading to verify how accurate this portrayal of the situation was, but Suffragette gives an on-the-ground view of what the actions and consequences were for the everyday women involved in the suffrage movement in En…

The Creation of Patriarchy, Part II: Leslie Knope GIF Edition

Continuing on with Gerda Lerner's The Creation of Patriarchy, her 1986 attempt to discover how we arrived at the current patriarchal system that OPPRESSES OUR VERY SOULS and does things like make the default character on Grand Theft Auto a dude with no lady option unless you log into your online account, which is bullshit. It also does a lot of other things, most of which are very important. The Grand Theft Auto one was maybe not the most important. But it came up this weekend. So there we are.




Lerner's book is really hard and I am here to read it for you and give you nice quotey bits that make you feel like you've learned something.

Chapter 2 is "A Working Hypothesis." This begins with:

The basic assumption with which we must start any theorizing about the past is that men and women built civilization jointly.


She basically says that yes, man probably hunted, and woman was "the inventor of clay and woven vessels, by means of which the tribe's surpluses cou…

Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest: Ladies lovin' ladies

We don't talk about lesbian literature enough. Because in the grand scheme of things, there isn't a lot of it. But Curious Wine, originally published in 1983 by Naiad Press, was one of the bigger 1980s lesbian novels.



Katherine V. Forrest is mainly known for her lesbian detective series, starring policewoman Kate Delafield, but Curious Wine and An Emergence of Green are her big standalone novels.

This book is the gayest. A bunch of ladies sitting around a cabin, talking about Emily Dickinson. Then two of them lez out. Theeee end.



But for reals though, Forrest's books are very much of their time, and you've gotta take this book for what it is if you're going to enjoy it. If you read it in 2015, it comes off extremely dated and very reactionary to the culture of the time. Suffice it to say, in both of Forrest's standalone novels, there's an evil male and a rape scene that reaffirms one of the women's decision to be with another woman.


Reading LGBT books from …