liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read:
  • A couple of striking pieces on people talking about their experiences of living in their bodies:
  • A thorough and informative long read about my brother's poetry book and the political background: Poets Of The Rifle: Cultural Resistance From Saharawi Refugee Camps, by Jen Calleja.

  • [personal profile] commodorified's thinky essay and discussion about how fandom talks about writing about rape. I've been meaning to link to this for ages, it's very complex and nuanced and I don't think I can really summarize it, but if you're at all interested in fandom culture and communities of trauma survivors more broadly it's well worth reading (if you can cope with a meta discussion about rape and trauma, of course).
Currently reading: The first fifteen lives of Harry August, by Claire North. I'm actually most of the way through, I'll probably finish it next time I have half an hour to spare. It's... ok, there's nothing obviously terrible about it, but it just doesn't give me any sense of wanting to read on to find out what happens next. It should be exciting, because it's all about Harry's arch-enemy trying to alter the timeline so that Harry never exists, risking destroying the whole world in the process, so there's plenty of both personal and global peril, but for some reason I'm not emotionally engaged with the plot.

It feels like much of the book is North exploring a cool idea, that rare people are "Ouroborans" who when they die return to their own births with their memories of their lives, now in the relative future, intact. But she never really moves on beyond exploring the implications of this cool idea, tFFLoHA just doesn't quite hang together as a story. I think a lot of my problem is that I don't like Harry August as a character, he's very self-centred and just annoying, and that's preventing me from engaging with the plot.

Up next: Next on my Bringing up Burns challenge list is A book by an author you love. So maybe it's time to read the third in Chris Moriarty's Spin cycle, Ghost spin. Or perhaps The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, which I was really excited about a while back but then didn't read because Brasyl really disappointed me.

Also I'm thinking of reading Das Kapital by Karl Marx, along with a friend who is looking to fill a gap. I love the idea of reading seminal texts collaboratively, but it's possible that this may be a bad idea as said friend is quite a bit to the left of me politically, which might make me an annoying reading partner. And if I do pick up a big scary political tome I will probably read a novel at the same time.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-30 10:42 am (UTC)
damerell: (reading)
From: [personal profile] damerell
The Communist Manifesto is quite a slim volume and might be an interesting start...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-30 12:25 pm (UTC)
chickenfeet: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chickenfeet
I tend to agree that the small works; not just the Manifesto are a better start if your goal is to get some grasp of the whats and whys of Marxist politics. The trouble with Kapital is that it's immensely long; 2500 pages, and not very political. It's essentially an attempt to formulate a comprehensive economic theory on a premise (the Labour Theory of Value) that doesn't hold up very well to more recent developments. 2500 pages of technical exposition on a somewhat flawed premise is pretty hard going. Even if one wanted to understand enough of the theory to grasp what critics of both right and left have said there are much easier ways than reading the source text!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-30 02:01 pm (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
Those are some great links! Thank you.

-J

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-30 03:08 pm (UTC)
cremains: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cremains
I highly recommend reading Capital. I don't think that political identities will be as relevant as one might think -- hard for me to explain why at the moment (not enough coffee) but it's really not a personal reflection type of text at all and even its descriptions/critique of the world are more mountains to be tackled and understood rather than statements with which to agree or disagree. I think you'll have a great time. You can also find free recordings of classes online by someone who read Capital every year for 20 years: http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital/ I greatly enjoyed listening to these as I went through Capital chapter by chapter.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-01 08:54 am (UTC)
fandrogyne: (reading)
From: [personal profile] fandrogyne
I enjoyed the Harry August book. Have you read her other novel, Touch? If explores personal immortality from a different angle, and I liked both of them a lot.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-02 02:36 am (UTC)
fandrogyne: (reading)
From: [personal profile] fandrogyne
I'd say that Touch was a stronger novel than Harry August, but that's just me. Definitely easier to follow since it's far more linear, at the very least!

(I want to say more, but I don't want to accidentally give away spoilers in case you do read it someday!)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-01 06:26 pm (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
This is interesting; I loved both of North's books and part of the reason is that they're not very plotty, but an intense and in depth exploration of an idea and how it would affect people. What would it be like to live this way?

Touch is about a person who can jump bodies, or take over a mind, just by touching someone. The concept I have come across before but always in the context of stories about "how do we conquer the evil?"; never as an in-depth novel-length exploration about what it would be like. I was riveted - books like that are the reason I like science-fiction, and they are all too rare.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-02 02:34 am (UTC)
fandrogyne: (reading)
From: [personal profile] fandrogyne
I liked that they weren't plot-heavy either. I mean, they definitely had plot, but they were more character studies than anything else, and that would fascinate me enough even were it not for the exploration of immortality.

The more I read of SFF, the more I realize that what some people deride as "literary sci-fi" is actually amazing, and I'm more drawn to that aspect of science fiction than the more stereotyped "space marines" variety.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-02 08:10 am (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
I think "literary sci-fi" is often used as code for "sci-fi I didn't understand and didn't like" or "this book tried to make me think".

What's interesting about the North books (another interesting thing) is that they're being sold under general fiction, not the science-fiction / fantasy bookshelves.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-02 08:26 am (UTC)
fandrogyne: (happy)
From: [personal profile] fandrogyne
Haha, YES! I completely agree! Especially given the type of people who tend to disparage it...

I didn't know they were being sold under that category, but that doesn't entirely surprise me. Similar to a lot of Jo Walton's recent stuff (My Real Children, or the Thessaly series); it's definitely SFF, but it's also easily understood and consumed by people who don't tend to read that type of novel.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-04 10:13 am (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
I was interested to see (last trip to Waterstones bookshop) that The Farthing series has been repackaged and is being sold in the main fiction section, not the SF section.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-03 08:38 pm (UTC)
ceb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ceb
I am a dissenting voice about _Touch_; I really quite liked _Harry August_ (though there was something dissatisfying about the plot that I find hard to express) but _Touch_ felt to me like one of those flashy exploding-helicopter thriller films where the plot moves for no reason to whatever location the director thinks would look cool.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-10-04 10:14 am (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
Interesting. Other way round for me - I liked Touch a lot, but was really less enthusiastic about Harry August.

I really liked the travelling in Touch; I got a sense of Europe as a place, small countries all connected, but different places. It was also the opposite of glamorous - lots of grubby train stations. Too often such a book will just be US / UK with maybe one other (exotic) location.
Edited (Hit send before I'd finished) Date: 2015-10-04 10:20 am (UTC)

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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