liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I'm really enjoying the meme that's going round mostly short-form social media where people pick three fictional characters that represent them, or describe themselves using three fictional characters. who I'm not )

So in the end I went with the following:
  • Pippin from LotR, even though he's way more heroic than I am. I've always thought of him as like me, because he's curious and impulsive and loyal, and I do like that all the hobbits are basically ordinary grown-ups who fall into an adventure in order to support their friend Frodo, rather than the destined chosen heroes of many Tolkien imitators or the adolescents of a lot of pre-Tolkien quest stories.

  • Harriet Vane from the Dorothy L Sayers detective series. Perhaps too obvious or too wish fulfilment-y a pick, she's really such a great character and people like me always want to be her. Because she's intelligent and believably intelligent, and she's a middle-aged woman with a somewhat unconventional (for her society) love life. And she's intensely romantic but still retains her identity and independence when she falls in love.

  • Lynne de Lisle Christie from Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle. She's generally competent without being an amazing genius, and she gets into a position where she can use her intelligence through a mix of native ability, hard work and family connections. She's not quite a scientist but definitely intellectually curious. She is a bit naive and impulsive and loves easily and is deeply loyal to those she commits to.

And it's Bi Visibility day but I've basically given up on trying to find any bi characters to pick. Certainly not anyone who's poly in anything like the way I am. Christie is alllllmost bi in that she has a strong romantic friendship with an alien who is mostly female (though the aliens do gender differently from humans, that's a big plot point), and sexual-romantic relationships with men and male-ish aliens.
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
So the medical school is having a drive to encourage students to engage more with arts and humanities, so we don't end up with a lot of future doctors who haven't read a novel since they finished GCSE English. And they're asking for suggestions for books worth recommending to the students.

This seems like an interesting question, so I'm throwing it open to you: if you could recommend one book you'd like your doctor to have read, what would it be? They specify that it doesn't have to be about a directly medical topic, but just something that could help very science-specialized people to understand more about being human. Non-fiction is ok but they want literary non-fiction, things like biographies, rather than textbooks.

My thinking about this is that there's no point recommending the obvious nineteenth century Dead White Men classics, because even if the students were funnelled out of anything to do with literature in their mid teens they're all high achievers, they've almost certainly all "done" Dickens for GCSE and got As for their essays. And even the ones who don't read have read The man who mistook his wife for a hat because various how to get into medical school guides push it as something to mention at interview.

So, suggestions?

Book meme

Feb. 18th, 2015 10:46 am
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
I haven't got much new to add for Reading Wednesday, so I'll pick up a book meme that [ profile] ghoti posted, since it contains at least some questions I haven't answered before.

read more )
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Recently read: No new fiction this week. So have some links:
  • Cute personal account Jews and Muslims in France. I picked it up from Making Light, and it's nothing exceptional as journalism goes, just one person talking about her experiences. But it's a counter to the agitprop trying to turn Jews and Muslims against eachother, and valuable for that reason. It also very much reflects my own experience of interacting with Muslims, though mine is either in Britain rather than France, or more than 10 years ago.

  • Talking of positivity, I really enjoyed [ profile] illusive_shelle's verse response to the horrendous anti-Muslim propaganda on American TV: #FoxNewsFact. And a bonus sweetly scathing response in prose from [ profile] mrissa.

  • My Dad sent me this human interest story, which is rather cripspiration-ish, the thrust of the article is Deaf-blind guy marries and has a child, isn't that amazing?! But the thing is that I have a distant connection to this guy, because he was in the same ward as my brother when the latter had a serious accident in 2002. I've always been kind of haunted by the image of this young man waking up in hospital with no sight or hearing and no idea where he was and just screaming constantly. So I'm pleased to learn that things have worked out well for him, sometimes you just by chance get to the find out the epilogue of someone's story.

  • On a completely different topic, I really appreciated [ profile] papersky's musings on mortality: Everything alive and dead to weep as one. It's not exactly fiction, but it's a lovely piece of prose, and to make it vaguely relevant to the Wednesday theme, the post and discussion contain various recs for historical biographies and collected correspondence available on Gutenberg and elsewhere.

    Currently reading: Still in the early part of Imajica.

    Also still following [personal profile] rmc28's Watership Down readthrough, which I forgot to mention last week. I was away at the weekend and I don't have a copy of the book here, so I'm a little bit behind. But there's some really fun discussion developing, and the book is holding up well not only as an adult reader but as something to savour and delve into in detail, we're doing one chapter a week and each chapter is only a couple of pages.

    Up next: I still don't really have a specific plan. I've been chatting to [personal profile] cjwatson about some of the classic science fiction we both read, and thinking about new stuff to recommend eachother. Asimov, and how he's often better at shorter length due to having a lot more skill in exploring interesting ideas than in conventional novel techniques like plotting and characterization. Other people who do very ideas-heavy hard SF: Greg Egan, of course, and I have a ghost of a thought about Ted Chiang which I didn't quite get round to talking about.

    I'm realizing there are quite a few books I really liked 5–10 years ago which I now can't quite remember well enough to recommend without rereading. And I generally don't reread very much because I'm always seeking out new stuff, but books that have stuck in my mind enough that I'm excited to share them but where I no longer remember the details seem good candidates. So possibly Geoff Ryman's The Child Garden, possibly Emma Bull's War for the oaks. (Gosh, I'm glad that I used to keep up with reviewing better than I do now, I should really get back into that habit!) Or else I should make at least a note of the examples that came up in conversation that I'm not familiar with: Stephen Baxter's Xeelee stories; Poul Anderson's Tau Zero.

    Also I haven't posted to DW since last Wednesday, which does suggest that the Wednesday reading meme is good for me. I do have quite a few posts I want to make, but sometimes having an imposed structure helps with getting started.
  • liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I said when I was looking ahead to 2015 I might try a new way of talking about books here, so I'm going to have a go at reading Wednesday, which seems a really nice tradition anyway.

    read more )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I know I had a big stash of topics I wanted to talk about once I got past the intense festival period, but I can't remember what they all were now. So have a meme about books, via [ profile] ghoti:

    26 questions )

    Anyone else want to have a go?
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I think maybe starting from the shortest categories and working upwards was a mistake, but anyway. Thoughts:

    brief reviews and voting intentions )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I'm really enjoying this thing with the Hugo voting where lots of people are reading the same stuff and talking about it. A lot of the time I'm jealous of people who are fans of TV series, because they have a much better chance than book fans of all their friends consuming the same media as them at the same time and wanting to talk about it. So with Worldcon coming to England, I'm getting a little taste of that.

    It's especially fun to see excitement about Ancillary Justice spreading like contagion through my circles. I don't think it's the Greatest Book Evar!!! but it's really innovative and I think it's very well worthy of an award. I particularly enjoyed [personal profile] legionseagle's analysis; yes, it has something to say about gender, but it's really exciting in what it's doing with class and empire and real, solid politics. Also, I found this interview with Leckie immensely endearing.

    Anyway, I'm working my way through the Hugo packet, so here I am joining in the conversation with comments on the short story and novellette slates. rankings and comments )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    [personal profile] wychwood asked about books that I wish more people in my circle would read. She originally asked for ten, and I'm not sure I'm going to come up with quite that many, but let's see how far I get.

    bookies )

    [January Journal masterlist]
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    [personal profile] syderia asked me about e-books and paper books. It's possible everything there is to say about this topic has already been said, but let's give it a go.

    yay living in the future )

    [January Journal masterlist. Anyone want the last empty slot?]
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    [personal profile] kerrypolka asked for my three favourite works of fiction (any medium)! I think it's a bit the nature of this daily prompt meme to encourage people to ask for favourite examples of something, but really when it comes to fiction I find that extremely difficult to do. Still, I'll give it a try.

    stories )

    [January Journal masterlist. Anyone want the last empty slot?]
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    [personal profile] jack posted a list of his favourite books, and over on the LJ version of the post, [ profile] daharyn commented: Look at all the (white) dudes on that list! This is a great example of how canon becomes canon--"oh, well, I read stuff I like," [...] ends up cutting out voices that don't fit the mold.

    I am kind of resistant to diversity auditing booklists, especially ones that are just personal taste lists; it makes somewhat more sense with lists that are intended to be representative or recognize merit or significance. But then again, best-of lists are a classic way to get conversations going, so why not follow suit?

    list with slightly snarky commentary )
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    Back in 2010, I celebrated St George's day by setting up a book-recommending meme. I had a lot of fun with it, and discovered some cool new books, and expressed my fluffy-liberal-patriotism in a way that feels comfortable to me. It seems to be in the spirit of [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw since people are making an effort to meet new folk, so I think I'll run it again.

    The idea is that you comment and recommend me a book, and I will rec you one in return. If I don't know you you can give me some clues as to what you like, or you can let me guess based on a snap judgement from scanning your profile. I'll keep trying until I find something you haven't read and like the sound of.

    For my tastes, here's 10 years of booklog, if you're really keen. I read most genres with some preference for science fiction. I want books with good characters, then plot tied about equally with interesting ideas, and I like beautiful prose but I'd rather have a book with merely functional language and interesting characters than the other way round. I don't particularly care for horror or most action / thrillers, especially not if there's graphic violence. But I'm willing to expand my horizons if you suggest something really good! In any case I'm very happy if you just suggest something that you yourself like and you think isn't well known. Oh, and as well as English I read French and can sort of manage Swedish if it's not too dense / old-fashioned.

    Who's on?

    Narnia etc

    Oct. 17th, 2012 09:28 am
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I've been meaning for ages to link to [ profile] ursulav's brilliant Narnia response Elegant and Fine. It's about Susan, but it's not exactly the traditional Problem of Susan from The Last Battle. The definitive response to that issue is probably Neil Gaiman's 2004 short story, which takes a fairly standard third-wave feminist line that it's possible to be interested in makeup and adornment and sex without being a completely frivolous, worthless person. Rather, it's about the weird gap that happens between The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. I've also read a story I can't remember in enough detail to be able to find again, where the Pevensies' readjustment to the real world after they return from Narnia is used as an allegory for mental illness and the experience of perceiving reality in a way that the rest of the world doesn't accept.

    [personal profile] jack has also been posting interesting Narnia discussions. In particular, S. has some good thoughts about reading Narnia as fairy-story rather than realistic novel. Note that S. is notorious for being very belligerent in internet discussions, so that's something to bear in mind if you want to disagree with his take.

    I'm really interested in how much Narnia still gets talked about, both so many decades after the series was published, and among people of all ages, years after having imprinted on Narnia as kids. Lev Grossman's The Magicians completely misreads the actual substance of the Narnia series, in a way that I've only ever seen from Americans with absolutely no knowledge of Christianity, but he's pretty good on the way that the books can become a touchstone within geek social circles. [personal profile] rachelmanija is hosting a cool discussion, unfortunately split between LJ and DW, about the market and appetite for Narnia-style portal fantasy today.

    Meanwhile, [personal profile] marina, who comes from an entirely different background from the typical geeks-on-the-internet, didn't imprint on Narnia but rather on Lolita. Her essay on what that book meant and means to her is absolutely stunning.
    liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
    I'm not really interested in celebrating a saint's day (not being Christian), nor in celebrating Englishness (not being that sort of patriot), nor in dragon-slaying (as I generally find myself on the side of the dragon). However, I kind of like the idea of the Catalan version where people give eachother books.

    So I propose a game: comment and recommend me a book, and I'll rec you something in return. If I don't know anything about you, I'll suggest something that I really like, and which I generally find isn't well known. And I'll keep going until I find something new to you, if necessary. You can give me a hint of the sort of books you prefer if you want to, but it's not required; it might be a more fun game if I have to guess based on my judgement of your character.

    I have a comprehensive list of everything I've read in the last seven years, in case you find it hard to know where to start, but you obviously don't have to read through all that.
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
    I've been planning for ages to take advantage of the weak dollar and top up my dwindling book supply with a shopping spree on Amazon. The postage makes it marginal whether it's cheaper to buy books that way rather than in local shops, but the selection of English language books is obviously much greater in Amazon's catalogue than a typical Swedish bookshop. Then [ profile] hatam_soferet was generous enough to offer to bring my purchases with her when she next visits England, meaning that I can use the free shipping and not even have to pay postage at all.

    I got round to putting this plan into action last night. I'd saved up the part of my budget that I consider pocket money for a week, and I was willing to go a bit over that for a one-off purchase. But between the dollar being practically worthless and books being generally cheaper in America and some handy discounts going on at Amazon, I managed to get everything that I wanted that is available to buy, and added in some random CDs while I was at it... and still spent less than half my not terribly generous weekly friv allowance. Wo0t! Having a kind friend who is willing to carry the books for me means it is actually cheaper to buy brand new books from Amazon than second hand books here or even in the UK.

    the haul )
    Anyway, since I usually read about 3 or 4 books a month, this lot should keep me going until Passover time, when I might well go to Cambridge for a few days and raid charity shops for more. I am so looking forward to getting these; it will be like a fabulous birthday present to myself!
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
    Can't resist lists...

    in which I reveal my ignorance of SF but pontificate anyway )

    The most fun thing to do with a list like this is to note the glaring omissions. I'm going to talk about books that seem like they ought to be on the list rather than books that I think are better, which means books that are a major influence on SF and fantasy and the culture in general. The list really needs HG Wells, say The Time Machine or War of the Worlds (I've only read the latter), and Jules Verne, perhaps 20000 leagues under the sea or Journey to the centre of the earth. Probably HP Lovecraft and ER Burroughs too, even though the latter is a crap writer; they helped to define the basic expectations of what SF means. Leaving out Brave New World pretty much makes the list worthless right there.

    It may be just my prejudice but I would have thought Day of the Triffids ought to get a mention (though personally, I like The Chrysalids and The trouble with lichen better). 1984 and The handmaid's tale I guess are excluded because people argue about whether they're "really" SF, but if On the beach counts then they ought to.

    Gaiman I assume missed out because they're too snobby to include graphic novels, and Sandman is clearly the main reason Gaiman is so important. But even something like Neverwhere would have made a lot of sense.

    And, you know, something published in the last ten years wouldn't be so much to ask! I nominate Accelerando and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but I'm not necessarily up to the minute with recent SF/F.
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
    Today I finally managed to do something I've been planning to do for ages: I joined the local library. I was a bit nervous that I would look ridiculous asking to join the library when I don't speak a word of Swedish, but [ profile] hatam_soferet pointed out to me that the sort of people who become librarians are generally the sort of people who approve of using libraries for their intended purpose of looking for information to educate yourself.

    She was right; the librarian was delighted with my request, and was extremely lovely and helpful. We kept grinning at eachother like two people who have just discovered that their secret crush is mutual. (Actually, she reminded me quite strongly of [ profile] loreid; she's about my age, with dark hair and fair skin, and has the appearance of a goth who is obliged to dress respectably for work.)

    So she helped me to choose some suitable children's books which are simple to read without being dire. Pippi Longstocking yay. My new favourite word is julgransplundringskvällen, which means "the evening of the party celebrating taking down the decorations from the Christmas tree". The nice librarian also mentioned that they have a few English books if I get tired of working hard to learn Swedish and just want something to read. And she explained how the library system here is terribly convenient and mostly online and self-service and I can even order books from other libraries in the city, if I run out of the meager collection of English books in Älvsjö.

    I have something to read. *happy dance*
    liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
    [ profile] j4 is generally brilliant, but she's surpassed even her own standards recently. And I've been meaning to link to her for a while, but have been too busy to collect my own responses together. For a start, her essay entitled She goes on (I'm fond of that song myself) is really lovely.

    But the main point of this post is to link to [ profile] j4's post talking about World book day. Lists of Great Books are always easy blog fodder, but [ profile] j4 has a take on this particular bit of manufactured non-news which is hilariously snarky and makes interesting points at the same time.

    [ profile] j4 ends her post by making a list of books first read while still in full-time education and which I believe significantly changed the way I think. I can't manage a response at the level of her original post, but I can make lists, and this seems an interesting exercise.

    I posted on a similar subject last year, so I'll pick a different set this time round. I'm not sure about picking books that have changed the way I think; to some extent, every book I read changes the way I think, just like all my experiences. As a teenager I made a concerted effort to read through every single title on whatever list of a hundred classics was circulating at the time, and I found some decent stuff that way as well as a lot I might just as well not have bothered with. Also [ profile] rysmiel suggested in the discussion of [ profile] j4's post that the list should exclude books that change one's thinking about books, which seems fair enough, but that is the main effect most books have on my thinking.

    list )There's probably more, but those are the ones that came to mind when I thought of this post.


    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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