Thumbs up for Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. Literature/Humor/Science Fiction (sneakily—watch for it).
It’s always a dangerous business when you search out whichever classic it is that has almost the same plot as what you’re writing. Some authors refuse to read That Book (whatever it is for them), and I’ve sometimes fallen into that camp. This time, though, I don’t really care.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Heathen, Volume 1 by Natasha Alterici. Graphic novel.
Walking through Emerald City Comic Con, I spotted some art that made me stop on a dime and walk backward. The author/artist handed me the first volume saying something like, “it’s about lesbian Vikings who go on a quest to kill Odin.” I said, “Sold.” I read it that night and went back to Alterici’s booth the next day to get an art commission.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. Fantasy.
I went into this knowing three things. First, that it is a fantasy in which the main character is an accountant (this is, for me, a plus). Second, it got great reviews from people whose opinions I trust. Third, not just one but several of the blurbs on the dust jacket include the word “brutal.” When I was early in my first late-night marathon read—that is, before the really brutal stuff started happening—it occurred to me that it might easily lend itself to a humorous plot summary: “Young woman becomes an accountant for the Evil(ish) Empire in order to legalize gay marriage.” At the end, when I have been reduced to a gibbering and yet somehow gleeful wreck, all I can do is wave the hardback twitchingly in your general direction and tell you that if (a) you like zero-magic political fantasy but don’t need Martin’s bazillion characters and (b) you understand how inflation works and (c) you are capable of sufficient ethical complexity to see why someone might do terrible things for a good cause, you should stop reading this blog and get a copy of Traitor RIGHT NOW.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sarah Erdman. Travel.
I picked this up as research for a story and within a few pages realized it was not what I needed. But by that time, I’d been hooked by Erdman’s writing. There are so many ways that a white woman’s memoir of her Peace Corps work in an African village could have been irritating or obnoxious.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism by Jim Krane. History/travel.
Astonishingly good. I would wish that all countries had books this riveting written about them, but I don’t think it’s possible; most places just won’t make your jaw drop this often. If this were a story about oil, I wouldn’t find it very interesting. But oil came late and comparatively little.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. Psychology/business.
If you are interested in, hmm…business, creativity, learning, philosophy, travel, diet, training, or just generally getting shit done while becoming a better human being, you do listen to Tim Ferriss’s podcast, don’t you? Seriously, I hate podcasts and I listen to it.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.
Curse you, Amazon, for knowing my desires before I do. I was so good, wasn’t I, when you recommended this to me, and I ordered it from the library? You just knew that after I read it I would come straight back to your electronic embrace and order a copy for myself, because oh did I need a copy for myself.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Literature.
The unnamed narrator, as he tells us in the first pages, can see two sides to all things. A hard trick to pull off for an author, but it flies. The narrator is a Communist (the story begins just before the fall of Saigon) though he to all appearances works doggedly on behalf of the Southern Vietnamese government-in-exile.… >> Read more