Origin Story: the why, the what, and the wherefore

  • Finished since last post:

    Dracula, Bram Stoker

    The Last Graduate, Naomi Novik

    Mansfield Park, Jane Austen

    Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, Juno Dawson

    Blame it on the Brontes, Annie Serano

    Shipwrecked, Olivia Dade

    Infamous Bodies, Sam Pinto

    Dracula and Mansfield Park were rereads, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven was amazing, thorougly enjoyed Blame it on the Brontes, Dade was a few more jalepenos than I remembered from her previous, and I need to reread Infamous Bodies a few times to get everything, but wow.

    Plans for the remainder of the year:

    *need to read Making Matters

  • This month is going to be nuts, but a plan gives me a bit of stability.

    Finish Sam Pinto’s Infamous Bodies. (Loving this so so much.)

    Continue The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens. I’ve been reading a chapter before bed, will be done around Christmas.

    Continue with Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary. Reading a bit every morning, will likely take me the rest of the year.

    I want to add in some poetry in the morning.

    (Probably) Reread North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell. That’s the chapter that’s on the docket this month, it usually requires a reread.

    Would like to read at least 3 more academic books, some fun fiction, some literary fiction.

    I’m wanting to read another George Eliot (Romola) or Virginia Woolf (The Voyage Out). I don’t think I have time or mental space, but it’s possible.

  • Last post here was September 3, book 121) The Starless Sea. Now (November 1), I’m at 133. Most of these were in October (I don’t remember what happened in September, probably Netflix.) But here’s what happened since then.

    122) Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel. Definitely 5 stars, but, like her others, I need to reread it because the web of connections (thinking George Eliot) gets confusing.

    123) The Woman Who Died A Lot, Jasper Fforde. I picked this up because I loved the series but hadn’t finished it. Enjoyed this.

    124) One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde. Same as above. I read them in order– they might be out of order here.

    125) A Deadly Education, Naomi Novik, reread, enjoyed

    126) Cackle, Rachel Harrison. I was a little turned off by the first chapter of this, so put it away for a few months. And then I loved it. So happy with the conclusion, and didn’t think it was going to go that way.

    127) Payback’s a Witch, Lana Harper. So good. Queer romance, warring witch families. All the stars.

    128) The Orphan Witch, Paige Crutcher. Also, so so good. More witches, doomed romance, so much loneliness and all the feels. Reminded me of Erin Morgenstern in the best possible way.

    129) How to Go Mad Without Losing Your Mind, LaMarr Jurelle Bruce. Holy crap was this amazing. Read it for my crip/queer book club, got to hear him lecture as I was reading. I need to integrate more indepth responses to academic work– something to think about as I reconceptualize this space.

    130) The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels, India Holton

    131) The League of Gentlewomen Witches, India Holton– eh. These should be my favorite things. I love that kind of slapstick ahistorical comedy with a little steampunk (Pirates! Gideon Defoe; The Gentleman, Forrest Leo) that is so drenched in knowledge of the period– and her sentences absolutely echo Austen, which I should love…. but I kind of felt smirky, less than overwhelmed, by it. Liked Gentlewomen Witches more than Lady Scoundrels. Maybe it was the cast of aunts/witches– I don’t know. I’ll probably keep reading this series. Romances reminded me of Evie Dunmore.

    132) The Uninvited Guests, Sadie Jones. This was a reread, but I did not remember it. In teaching my haunted houses class this October, a bunch of students had Mother! on their mind. This was available through Libby, so I listened to a bit, and was caught by the way the intrusive guests relate to the intrusions of that movie. Very drawing room comedy, reminded me of my Georgette Heyer mystery marathon at the beginning of the year, but with some really chilling moments. Hounds and hinds. Yikes. The facade of sanity, the slip to out of control and the threat that offers.

    133) Dracula, Bram Stoker. I’ve been reading this since May, following along (mostly) with the day the events happen in the novel. Got a little ahead this morning– it ends on November 6 or 7, but I couldn’t possibly stop in the middle of the final chase. Was focused (this time through) on the New Woman of it all– Mina’s traits: her typing, her train timetables, all the things.

    134) Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… and Maybe The World, William H. McRaven. Super short, self-help-y, audible from library. Definitely not my usual, but enjoyed although I was/am resistant to military complex type thinking.

  • Loved this– so much that I read it in two days, and it was maybe too long to read it that fast. Had trouble turning off my predictor brain, trying to make all the connections. I think that’s the point– that there are too many variations to predict, you just have to enjoy. About stories and the role they play in life– reminded me of Arcadia, and Enchantress from the Stars (is magic just technology); of The Overstory (I haven’t read much about games, but they feature in both); and all of the various fantasy books that they reference– Narnias and Harry Potter and The Magician books. Enjoyed it immensely.

  • Picked this up after an email from the Folger about their bookclub, which is happening next week. Yay! Loved this. Echoes of Matrix. Lauren Groff, which also about a noblewoman in a convent. Need to reread King Lear, because it’s been a while– Finished it in a great gulp, started yesterday, up at 5 to finish it today. (I keep doing that.) Theoretical underpinnings that came to mind: beginning of Women and Madness, where Phyllis Chesler talks about the way the patriarchy constructs tensions between mothers and daughters (as mothers are required to train their daughters into the restrictions); and (stay with me here) Saidiya Hartman’s Venus in Two Acts, primarily the concept of critical fabulation– I think I’m broadening her term out too much, in losing specificity it may lose power, but I’m thinking about the way these alternate narratives of originally men’s stories (Desdemona, Penelopiad, Learwife, Circe, and etc and etc and etc) devalue or complicate the offical narrative. I want to teach this, in a class of revisions. Maybe called critical fabulations? That’s a good title. I need to firm up my understanding of that concept, and the purposes thereof– I refered in class to Audre Lorde’s Poetry is not a Luxury, the purpose of poetry and imagination is to plot the way to liberty…

    Anyway, such a good book.

  • Enjoyed this. Heavy debt in thought to Wanderlust (or to the logics of Wanderlust)– moving, and stitching, at the speed of thought. Meandering, in an intentional way. Read this on my Kindle, should have moved to ipad– so many pictures, and Kindle is black and white. But still, the textures and the detail were beautiful and meditative.

  • So good I got up at 5 to finish it.

    A ship departs from 17th c Batavia (Jakarta) for Amsterdam, carrying some colonists, soldiers, sailors, a very clever detective in chains and his assistant/bodyguard, a witchhunter and maybe a demon. The ship is cursed, with first a demonic sign on the sail, then various other dark miracles as they progress. The assistant–a smarter Watson to a detective more Poirot than Sherlock– works to figure out what’s going on.

    Love the way Turton nods to classic mysteries in the relationship between the assistant and the detective; his depiction of 17th c world is rich and complex (histories of wars and colonial abuses and witchhunts); and I really had no idea what was going on until very close to the end– and even then, I missed so much. So well done. Funny and a little scary and just so good.

    Reminded me of all the mysteries, as referenced above, and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger (complicated ship story) and Melmouth, Sarah Perry.

  • I’ve read this before but I DID NOT REMEMBER IT. Felt like it took forever to read, it was a periodic pick-up during July and August; primarily revisiting it because a scholar I’ve been reading talks about the Victorian storage of paper/archival crisis in all the cubbyholes here. Such a rich area– so many scraps of paper in Victorian literature. Middlemarch, The Moonstone, this, obviously… like ALL of Dickens… so smart, I’m jealous.

    Enjoyed reading. Made me want to reread East Lynne (the next text on the long-ago and much beloved Victorian Sensation Fiction syllabus)– maybe I will.

    And reading it with My Cousin Rachel in mind was astonishing! How did I not put that together like a decade ago? Daphne was paying some serious homage.

  • Started this yesterday afternoon, didn’t come up for air until it was done last night. One of my favorite ways to read– a big gulp, faster and faster, nothing else important.

    Loved this. Reminded me of Iain Pears The Dream of Scipio in scope and structure, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered (and maybe Richard Powers’ The Overstory) in arc and catharsis. Beautiful. The desolation of climate devastation (that is hard to read) but with a seed of hope.

  • I started this list a few days before the new month, and then finished three of my choices early: Learwife, The Devil and the Dark Water, and Slow Stitch. So, updated September list, all tentative, no real requirements, just a direction.

    Literary fiction: Sea of Tranquility, Learwife, King Lear, The Starless Sea

    Fun fiction: Cackle; The Devil and the Dark Water, The Emma Project, homicide and Halo-Halo,

    Nonfiction: A Farewell to Alms (digital), The Body in Pain (digital), Entangled Life

    Poetry: A Thousand Mornings, Dearly

    Memoir: Slow Stitch, What My Bones Know, Crying in H Mart

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