Time now for the fifth instalment of #AYearInBooks, in which I track the non-academic reading I do. Here’s why I’m doing this. This strange pandemic summer went by in a blur. Thank goodness for the books along the way.
Rotherweird (Andrew Caldecott, 2017). What a marvellously indescribable book – urban fantasy, I suppose. It’s the story of a strange town, in but not part of England, populated by eccentrics both evil and good (it takes a while to figure out which are which). There’s a portal to another world, a mysterious threat to that world and to the town, and a generous helping of other oddnesses (for instance, a scientist who pole-vaults across the town’s rooftops at night). There’s a strong flavour of Ghormenghast, somehow leavened with a little Ankh–Morpork, and… well, I did say indescribable, right? But hugely enjoyable, and the two sequels are absolutely on my reading list. Continue reading
Time now for the fourth instalment of #AYearInBooks, in which I track the non-academic reading I do. Here’s why I’m doing this. I’ve got eight books (or series) for you this time. When I started the first, there was snow on the ground; I finished the last on a hot summer day. And yet – a curiosity of Fredericton’s climate – it’s was only six weeks!
The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay, 1984-86). This is actually a trilogy: The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road. I’ve been re-reading old favourites a lot lately and these are very near the top of my list. They’re epic fantasy, à la Tolkien (Kay helped edit some of Tolkien’s posthumously published material) – but with much more humanity, more adult relationships, more lyrical writing, and many more surprises (revealed connections, along the lines of what made N.K. Jemesin’s Broken Earthso astonishing). Now, “better than Tolkien” would be fighting words for many fantasy buffs (a fight best undertaken with an elven sword, of course), but if anything qualifies, to me Fionavar is it. Continue reading
Time now for the second instalment of #AYearInBooks, in which I track the non-academic reading I do. Here’s why I’m doing this.
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (David Sedaris, 2010). Wow, this is a peculiar little book. It’s a set of 16 very short stories, each one a parable featuring some human quirk (usually, a detestable one) bestowed on a heavily anthropomorphized animal that gets an extremely unpleasant comeuppance. (I did say it was peculiar). It took me the first third of the book to decide that this was more than just sophomoric, but once I did I was amused – albeit in a sort of stiffly disapproving way. I’m not sure if the parables got progressively more clever, or if I just adapted to see more cleverness in them. By the last, I was chortling. That last parable, by the way, features a greased-up gerbil sent by an owl to evict leeches from the rectum of a hippopotamus. (I did say it was peculiar.) Continue reading
This year, I promised to log, and share with anyone who’s interested, the non-academic books I read. Wondering why I’d do such a thing? Click here for an explanation.
I’ve been tweeting these books as I finish them using the hashtag #AYearOfBooks, but tweets are constrained to be very short and are inconveniently impermanent. So, I’ll collect them here, with slightly less “mini” minireviews, as occasional blog posts. This is the beginning: seven books in January and early February.* Continue reading