highlights

Two thumbs up for A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. Writing.

With the exception of two or three SFF authors, I don’t enjoy reading short stories, which means I don’t write them with any confidence, either. I am always suspicious that they are merely vignettes rather than stories.… >> Read more

Two thumbs up for Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation) by Mo Xiang Tongxiu. Fantasy.

This review contains spoilers, but you’ll thank me. Context first: my roommate and I watched The Untamed on Netflix over the course of something like five days. It’s 50 hour-long episodes – my eyes stopped being able to focus and I was learning Mandarin by osmosis by episode 40.… >> Read more

Two thumbs up for Moby-Dick: Or, The Whale by Herman Melville. Literature.

I’m not going to review Moby-Dick; you already know if you are the kind of person who will read Moby-Dick or not. If you are interested, but perhaps a little intimidated, I will recommend the free audio version performed by Stewart Wills on LibriVox. I do not enjoy audio books, but Moby-Dick is secretly poetry rather than prose, so I found that it suited walking home from work, as if some elder were recounting an epic in my ear to speed up a necessary expedition.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris.

A portrait of a place – the Dakotas – interwoven with the changing religious life of the author. I am tempted to say that I can’t write a review of this book because too long has passed between my reading and my writing. Which is true. However, the time passed because I didn’t know how to review it right after I read the last page, either.… >> Read more

 

Thumbs up for Offshore and The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald. Literature.

Two short masterpieces, but I think I am unequal to describing either of them; to begin with, they were so easy to read I vanquished each in a few gulps. The Blue Flower is based on the life of a real German Romantic poet and philosopher, Fritz von Hardenberg, later known as Novalis.… >> Read more

I don’t habitually read romances, but last year I read a lot of them. Instead of posting my reviews as I read each book, I saved them all up for a massive Romance Review post. Even if you don’t want to read any romances you might, I hope, enjoy the reviews: I had a lot of fun writing them.

Contained within are lady scientists; death by carnivorous crab; questions about buttons; and every denomination of raciness from completely chaste to very very explicit. … >> Read more

    

Two thumbs up for Johannes Cabal (series) by Jonathan L. Howard. Fantasy.

The adventures of Johannes Cabal, antisocial necromancer, as he seeks the cure for death (occasionally assisted by his brother Horst, the unwilling vampire–who got all the charm in that family). My friend Alex has been bugging me to read these for years now. When I finally got there, I ended up binging all five books and all available short stories in 12 days.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. Literature. Thumbs up for Mr. Bridge by Evan S. Connell. Literature.

Mrs. Bridge was one of the first works of Literature-with-a-capital-L I ever read, and it quietly blew my mind. I’ve read perhaps a thousand books since then—and it still does. The two books follow the marriage, in vignette form, of a deeply conventional upper-middle-class couple in Kansas City in the 1930’s and 1940’s.… >> Read more