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Midland, Texas, United States
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Friday, February 15, 2013

What We're Reading

How weird: I didn't realize until just this minute that the last WWR post was exactly a month ago. It doesn't seem that long, but it was. If you joined us, you might remember ArtL8dy's recommendation of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan.

I have a weakness for books about books. Sometimes I'm disappointed, but sometimes the author really gets it, and you know s/he is One of Us. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked the narrator, even though he did irritate me mightily at one point when, after describing some geeky computer-code-ish thing, he said something like, "And if you think that's impressive, you're over 35." That alwaysalwaysalways drives me nuts, that assumption that Old People (whoa: over 35 = old) are techno-phobes (plus just stupid, apparently) and Young People are all hip and savvy and write code in their sleep. Maybe it holds up for all the people the narrator (and, I'm extrapolating, the author) knows, but still: I hate perpetuating stereotypes like this. I've done an interview and a podcast with an 81-year-old artist who was in the middle of a series of iPad drawing app reviews on her blog, and I know a bunch of 20-somethings who know nothing about audio or video editing, who don't have websites or blogs and who basically see technology as a delivery system for gossip--I know this because, when I was trying to figure out podcasting hardware and software, I asked them. The Young People I know know all about YouTube and Facebook, texting and downloading music, but they're not technically savvy when it comes to producing content. So, sure: if you're a total geek and know no one other than other 20-something geeks, you may think that all Young People are geeks. And if you don't know anyone like some of the Old People I know, the ones who use iPhones and iPads constantly and know all about the latest apps and what they can do, then, sure, you're going to think Old People still use rotary phones and get most of their important communications via telegram.

But it disappoints me, especially in a book I like, one in which the title character is an Old Person and that could just skip the stereotypes entirely.

OK, so only one minor gripe. The rest of it was just fun. I liked the characters--I especially enjoyed trying to visualize Matropolis--that guy's someone with whom I'd LOVE to do a podcast, if only he were, you know, real.

I've skimmed a couple other books:
(Sorry, but I can't find who rec. these. I ordered them cheap from

 This one irritated me (and why is nobody surprised? something always irritates me, even when I love the book) because it had tips for "extroverting,"( never mind that I loathe most verbifications (mostly if they're not *mine*)) and had a bunch of stuff about relationships and parenting--chapters that I just skipped. And it used "innie" and "outie," which is just too cutesy for words.  What I like from books like these isn't advice, but self-assessment tests (I love those, never mind that I don't believe them and figure they were created by some editorial assistant on her lunch hour) and, mostly, anecdotes about real people and their personalities. And if the subtitle is "Making the Most of Your Hidden Strengths," why is there a broken eggshell on the cover beside it?  I wish that, rather than telling people how to fake being an extrovert in social situations, it would help promote the truth that everyone can't be an extrovert because then there would be nobody to listen. You don't have to be outgoing; asking questions and really listening to the answers can get you through almost anything: people love to talk about themselves and hardly ever have someone really interested in what they have to say. I know this  from experience.
Then this one seemed intent on proving that the HSP is not an introvert and is not shy and is something brand-spanking new discovered by the author. I don't know--I'm not a big fan of self-help books, mostly for the same reasons I hate online forum discussions about things: everything is geared to the people who are least able to cope (of course) and make a personality trait seem like A Big Whopping Deal, when it's just one more strand of what makes us us. I like reading stories about other people who exhibit the trait--the kinds of things that make you nod and go, "Oh, yeah, I know how that goes," but then I have no interest in lists of coping tips that include things like "take deep breaths" and "drink a glass of water." Holy moly: if you're an adult in the world and don't know those coping strategies for just about everything from preparing for a test to going in to perform brain surgery, then please: just stay at home, OK? You'll frighten the horses.

But there were snippets in both books that were illuminating--because I've never had therapy (I see you out there slapping your foreheads and going, "Well, *that* explains a lot") and don't read a lot of self-help books and don't sit around with a bunch of girlfriends talking about what Dr. Oz said on Oprah this week (although, actually, WWSF did recently have just such a conversation about Dr. Oz, although I don't remember what it was, exactly, and know only that his hair makes me crazy), most of these concepts--HSP, introversion vs. shyness--are new to me, and some parts were really enlightening. It explains why I get tired in social situations that energize The EGE, for example. So I'm glad I got them even though I can't give them glowing recommendations--you might want to check your library, rather than order them.

OK--your turn again! What are you loving right now? And what should we maybe avoid?


jinxxxygirl said...

Hi Rice!!

Okay i finished the 4 book cycle of Eragon by Christopher Paolini....I LOVED it.... Dragons and elves and dwarves good and evil....I love the fact that he took the time to tie up all the loose ends in the last book...and not leave you wondering...very , very pleased with many books fail me there....I did not care for HOW he tied up some of those loose story threads but alas i have come to terms with the fact that i cannot WRITE the story for some of these authors......

I'am now in the middle of rereading The Green Rider series by Kristin this series too...The fourth installment is out and its been awhile and i wanted to make sure i remembered everything so i'm rereading the first three....Theres kings and queens...good and you seeing a pattern here???lol Both series are totally worth your time.....Hugs! deb

Ricë said...

Thanks, Deb--I'm so glad you've got series to sink into. That's just the best. Wish my mother were still alive and reading--I'd rec. these to her. She never found anything she liked as well as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Well, maybe Harry Potter.

Anonymous said...

Reading Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. Science-fiction writer. I've been reading his books and stories, including the Valis Trilogy. Movies are based on his books, such as Total Recall. I like the time and reality themes. -- Julie

kerin rose said...

I just finished wading through an older biography of Georgia O'keeffe by Roxana painted such a detailed picture of her life, how she was an early proponent of feminism (in its earliest incarnations) and was often torn between what she saw as her feeling of responsibility as a wife to Stieglitz ( and there is much in this book regarding his role in the arts in this country, pretty much helping photography become an art form) and her work.
It was not exciting, but still an interesting portrait of a life lived with particular determination....

drchstudio said...

I finished the fourth Flavia de Luce book last night, Speaking From Among the Bones. The plots have all been fairly similar-- they are murder mysteries set in post WWII England and the protagonist is an 11-year-old girl. They aren't kid stories, however, like Harry Potter. Cleverly written and an easy read. I love a strong female character of any age, especially one who can make me laugh.

Chris F said...

I can say skip the new Barbara Kinsolver, Flight Behavior. Not bad, just "meh".
I'm about to sit down for the first time with my copy of "An Illustrated Journey". Looking forward to that.
Haven't read any fiction lately you might like. I tend toward mysteries and read lots of things I can dip into while waiting to do other things.

Sandi said...

Hi Rice! I LOVED Mr. Penumbra!!! I also love books about books, and that one brought together so many of my favorite themes. Right now I'm re-reading "The Night Circus" which is one of my all time favorites! Recently finished "Girl Reading" by Katie Ward, "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, "The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (read all three in this series, they're terrific!!!). Don't bother with J.K. Rowling's(Harry Potter) "The Casual Vacancy", it was 503 pages of boring!! Just picked up a whole new stack, so I'll let you know how they are next time!

Kathy said...

My favorite posts! I just finished "Arcadia" by Lauren Groff - I liked it very much. Am now reading "The Holy and the Broken" about the song "Hallelujah". It's actually very interesting.
I'm looking forward to Mr. Penumbra and the new Karen Russell collection of short stories. I've loved her other books.

Anonymous said...

Love Pip Granger's Soho series, starting with "Not All Tarts are Apple."

Marilyn the Art Appreciator

Michele said...

I just started "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins. It's been on my want-to-read list for a while, and I ran across a copy in the thrift store on Monday.

ArtL8dY said...

Glad you liked the book. I know what you mean about those of us "of a certain age" who remember life before the digital age. I teach at a community college and it makes me sad that my students never read books. I force them to go to the library! Their entire universe is "googled" to them!

ArtL8dY said...

Glad you liked the book. I know what you mean about those of us "of a certain age" who remember life before the digital age. I teach at a community college and it makes me sad that my students never read books. I force them to go to the library! Their entire universe is "googled" to them!

Ricë said...

Chris, I love good mysteries, esp. a series. I don't care for the food ones or the silly ones, but a well-written mystery is The Best. My mother and I used to share series.

Ricë said...

Thanks, y'all--I've just ordered cheapo used copies of "The Woman in White" and the first of the Soho series. They aren't available through our library, but there are used ones that, w/shipping, are less than $5. Cheaper than a latte; what a great deal for a book!

Michele said...

Just checking that you've read these mystery series (fabulous ones):
- Margery Allingham's novels
- P.D. James' Dalgleish
- Dorothy L. Sayers' Wimsey
- Colin Dexter's Morse novels
- Ngaio Marsh's Alleyn
And the Wonderful Husband got me a book called "The Fourth Crow" for Christmas by Pat McIntintosh that's part of a series - set in 15th century Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Love Michele's list. Anyone else like Robin McKinley's redone fairy tales and modern myths? Most of them are in the YA section of the library. Right now I'm reading "Pegasus."

Marilyn the Art Appreciator

see you there! said...

Like mysteries, like Michelle's list. My favorite mystery writer is/was Robert B. Parker. I lately discovered the Swedish author Henning Mankell though. Series features Inspector Kurt Wallendar. Someone said these may have been made into a tv series or movies. I like the books a lotl.


Ricë said...

Thanks, Darla--I'll pick up the first one in the series at the library! I love good mysteries. Not silly ones, but good ones.

The Dog River Cat House Studio said...

Oo, thanks, Michelle for mentioning the Pat MacIntosh series! Not sure how I've missed this as I love historical mysteries and anything Scots. Just ordered Book 1 for the Kindle!