Half Read

Now that February is more than half over, it seems the theme is finishing books that I started months or years ago. In most cases, the books were not finished because the library disappeared them from my kindle–sometimes as I was reading. Paper addicts would probably see this as a sign of dead tree superiority, after all, librarians don’t have the time to swing by your house and snatch books out of your hands. However, I compared the amount spent on books in 2009 (pre-kindle) and the amount spent in 2014 (kindle + library), and the actual number is too embarrassingly large to post here, even though no one except my future self will read this. Future Self, don’t be too hard on Past Self! She didn’t know. But, to be completely honest, I did know. Every time I move, I lose a library (and I move a lot).

My description of Ready Player One as a collection of pop culture references attempting to be prose, and now that I’ve made it from 20% to 100%, it’s that plus sexist nerd wish-fulfillment. My Cousin Rachel is so good, but it’s the kind of writing that makes me feel bad about being a bad writer, which must be the reason I didn’t finish it before. Playback is definitely the weakest of the Marlowe novels–a first draft written in grief and alcohol.

An elderly woman on the train was offended by The Possibility of an Island–I can be a little oblivious when reading, so I hadn’t noticed that she’d got out her reading glasses and was staring at my screen until she started to complain. Too much pussy for 7 in the morning, so I put it away, and by the afternoon, it had returned to the library. It’s going to take me years to find out how the smug & annoying “comedian” becomes a smug & annoying clone–I started reading it in 2013. A friend had sent it to me because I’d loved The Map and the Territory, but I was too busy studying Japanese and writing about DI Lestrade to read it. And, the real problem is that it was a book. An actual paper book. They’re not only bulky, but it’s far too easy to leave paper books on the train, on the bus, in a taxi, etc. I left it in all those places, and then when it was time to leave Japan, it stayed on the bookshelf next to Nancy Mitford and a volume of Gintama.

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January Reading

The Seventh Function of Language – Laurent Binet

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz (reread)

Cheddar: a journey to the heart of America’s most iconic cheese – David Edgar

The Book of Revelation – Rupert Thomson

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Hunger – Roxane Gay

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series (1-3, 5-9) – Louise Penny

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Anita Loos (reread)

The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler (reread)

The Little Sister – Raymond Chandler (reread)

Eve’s Hollywood – Eve Babitz

Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

A Question of Upbringing – Anthony Powell

Other than rereading A Dance to the Music of Time, one volume a month, I don’t have any definite reading goals this year–fewer rereads? More translated fiction? No translated fiction? (too late for that) More nonfiction? The problem is that the moment I decide on a reading challenge and organize a list of books to read, then it feels like homework, and all I want to do is read Waugh.

Reading goal: this year I’ll read some books I haven’t read before.

This year might be like 2016 when the first book I read ended up being my favourite. In 2016, January started with Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and I ended up rereading it before the year ended. I started The Seventh Function of Language at the end of December, put it down, mildly disappointed because it wasn’t a campus comedy about Barthes solving mysteries, picked it up again on the first, and happily raced through it. It’s basically a violent and trashy airport novel for people who carry their lunches to work in LRB tote bags, and I love it.

So I wasn’t going to get a planner this year and then I spent too much on a planner and it is too heavy to carry around so it won’t get used much, but this is basically how I feel about it.❤️

The last 48 hours were spent in bed—shopping online and watching British detectives do their thing, and revisiting Gundam Wing (GUNDAM WING), and somehow this ended with me ordering a mattress that is probably not better than what I have now and will be annoying to deal with when I move in six months.

In other news, I have written two sentences of my Yuletide fic.

Vatican Miracle Examiners: Lauren

Because the last episode didn’t contain the usual thirty seconds of Lauren looking sulky, a review of his first appearance.

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Lauren brushes his hair and puts on his nicest hoodie so he can Skype with Hiraga.
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Is Roberto making a joke? Hiraga doesn’t really do jokes.

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Lauren (thinks): Hiraga, could you confirm something for me? Is that man as stupid as he looks? I didn’t put on my best hoodie for him.

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Hiraga is concerned about Lauren’s yandere tendencies. Given the way the Vatican operates in this anime, “yandere” is probably written in his arrest report.
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Lauren, your face is going to freeze that way and then the Vatican will never delete “probably a demon” from your records. Just kidding! The Vatican will never let Lauren go because he is the only one who knows how to order things from Amazon and he lets the pope use his Prime account so he can watch Mozart in the Jungle.

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin (autumn is coming)

Every day this week, I’ve been getting Fancy Expensive Coffee because Fancy Expensive Coffee is to Williamsburg what takoyaki is to Osaka: everywhere and delicious. Today, in a budget-minded moment, I stepped into Dunkin Doughnuts and was dismayed by all of the signs promising Pumpkin and Fall. Summer is over and I didn’t… How can summer be over? Did it even begin?

This site was supposed to have two purposes, (1) exchange letters, and (2) reading/watching notes, mostly reading because I don’t watch very many things. The Golden Age is television is passing without much notice from me. I don’t know why tumblr worked better for my reading lists than trying to use this + Goodreads, but it did. Unfortunately, tumblr was such a lonely experience that it wasn’t worth keeping it just to track my books. Now, I’m going to try something different – an actual notebook. It would probably work better if I incorporated it into my planner or writing notebook, but I picked up something cheap and purple at the going-out-of-business sale at a stationery store, and I want to feel like I didn’t waste my money (I did).

What I would like to do is collect some prompts for those times when I don’t particularly feel anything about a book. It’s easy when a book is terrible or brilliant, but there are so many books out there that exist just to keep the reader from having to look at anyone on the train.

the curse of the raven boys

Every time I feel like going online to complain about The Raven Boys, my internet goes out. I got halfway through the book, logged in to wordpress to write about why I wouldn’t be finishing it, and then the internet went out for almost two days. I ended up finishing it, went over to goodreads to give it one star, and then the internet went out for the entire weekend. Earlier, I came here, a crowded Starbucks, logged into goodreads, and got a blank screen. As I hit ctrl-r, I heard waves of discontent roll over the tables. No internet. I picked up my coffee and left.

This post is a bit of a test. If I can get to the end, maybe my internet bad luck will break and I will be able to discuss why The Raven Boys is both incompetently written, baffling, and maybe a little racist..

Who is the coolest cat at Hogwarts?

“If you had read my report you would know that the term is ‘firearms,’” said Mr. Weasley coolly. (p 132)

Fudge looked back down at her, his eyebrows raised. “Very well,” he said coolly. “What is your story?” (p 144)

“Big and wearing cloaks,” repeated Madam Bones coolly, while Fudge snorted derisively. (p 144)

“Well, well, well . . . Patronus Potter,” said Lucius Malfoy coolly. (p 154)

“I’ve supported them since I was six,” said Cho coolly.  (p 231)

“The Tornado-hater?” said Cho rather coolly. (p 283)

“How was practice?” asked Hermione rather coolly half an hour later, as Harry and Ron climbed through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor common room. (p 294)

“Actually, I haven’t,” said Hermione coolly. (p 326)

“So what if I am?” said Hermione coolly, though her face was a little pink. (p 332)

“Of course,” said Hermione coolly. (p 354)

“You tripped,” she repeated coolly. (p 437)

“Where have you been?” asked Umbridge, cutting coolly through Hagrid’s babbling. (p 437)

Fred raised his eyebrows. “Fine,” he said coolly, rummaging in his pockets, “be like that. Don’t tell us anything.” (p 490) [Don’t even get me started on all the characters in The Order of the Phoenix who raise their eyebrows.]

“Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly. (p 500)

“It seems so,” said Snape coolly. (p 533)

“Did you mean to produce a Stinging Hex?” asked Snape coolly. (p 534)

“It’s none of your business if Harry’s been with a hundred girls,” Hermione told Rita coolly. (p 565)

“Either way, he’s still got four legs,” said Hermione coolly. (p 599)

“Not until Montague reappears, and that could take weeks, I dunno where we sent him,” said Fred coolly. (p 627)

“Wait for what?” said Sirius coolly. (p 646)

Lily blinked. “Fine,” she said coolly. (p 648) [Blinking is a nice change from raising eyebrows.]

Ginny raised her eyebrows. “There’s no need to take that tone with me,” she said coolly. (p 735)

“Because in case you hadn’t noticed, you and Hermione are both covered in blood,” she said coolly, “and we know Hagrid lures thestrals with raw meat, so that’s probably why these two turned up in the first place . . .” (p 736)

“Hand over the prophecy and no one need get hurt,” said Malfoy coolly. (p 782)

The answer is Hermione! Hermione is the coolest cat at Hogwarts. In second place is Ginny who says things coolly three times. Fudge, Umbridge, L. Malfoy, Snape, Fred, and Cho are only cool twice.