Conspicuous Consumption

A rather rambling review of reading in 2011.

(Some of) what I read over the summer

I wrote about reading Ulysses here. And I did finish it, by gum. As you can see, I also had a feminist SF-a-thon over the summer. Joanna Russ’ The Two of Them and We Who Are About To… were probably the most awesome. Monique Wittig’s Les Guérillères inspired some experimentation. The Book of the Night by Rhoda Lerman should be better known. I still have a pile of these to get through, hurray! I loved the Tiptree winner, Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić (not shown on the pile because I read it at the start of the year, and that pile was started in June). Got to the end of the first half of my Virginia Woolf project in March when I finished Between the Acts, but haven’t progressed very far with the essays or short fiction since then.

What I read for last term

Mary Olivier: A Life is probably my pick of the year and certainly the find of the year. I read The Life and Death of Harriet Frean by the same author too, but that was on my Kindle and so difficult to represent pictorially. Beloved was amazing too.

Some more K1ndle reads

  • The Marq’ssan Cycle, L. Timmel Duchamp
  • Drown, Junot Diaz
  • The Kings of Eternity, Eric Brown (lovely!)
  • True Grit, Charles Portis (fab-u-lous, as Craig Revell Horwood might say)
  • The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (yawn)
  • Unless, Carol Shields
  • The True History, Lucian of Samosata
  • How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe, Charles Yu
  • The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sarah Orne Jewett
  • The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
  • Assorted Michael Dibdins
  • Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression, Gene Sharp
  • From Dictatorship to Democracy, Gene Sharp
  • 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang

What I read over the holiday

The third one down is Sally Hayward’s Spring Term, based on Antonia Forest’s characters from her Marlow family stories. I thought it was great. The bottom three are still in progress. Thank you to my friend G. for the Catherine Fishers! I’ll take the opportunity to highly recommend Evelyn Finds Herself by Josephine Elder, which I read back in March: ostensibly a girls’ school story, actually a superb account of adolescence. You can stick your Catchers in the Rye. (The Josephine Elder, Sally Hayward Marlow story, and Leith and Friends are available from Girls Gone By Publishers.)

The fun stuff

I also tried to be a good citizen at the Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards, and not only did I hit my (conservative) target of 25 reviews, I managed to get to 52 – including two novel-length works! They are both highly recommended: Amid the Powers and Chances of the World by Azalais and Lie Down in the Darkness, Rise Up From the Ash by Dwimordene. I also read The Last Ring-Bearer by Kyrill Yeskov, a retelling of LotR from Mordor’s perspective: nowhere near as good as either of those stories (and a lot of Tolkien fanfic that I read), but of course a Man Wrote It and that means it got covered in Salon. I think I also reread The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but that could have been last year or, indeed, any year of my life since I was ten. (Checks LibraryThing…) Yes, this year too.

Summary: I didn’t do much this year except read. Seriously. I didn’t budge from this chair much except to go somewhere else in order to be able to read other things.

Bonus prize for ploughing through this post: I’ll give a three-word review of any book on my lists if you ask.

2 Responses to “Conspicuous Consumption”

  1. Ika says:

    Belatedly: Beloved?

  2. Una McCormack says:

    Brilliant, devastating, necessary.

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