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The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders   book icon  
by Stuart Kells (2019)

read: 28 May 2020
rating: [+]
categories: librariana, non-fiction

A great book by an Australian author about some of the great stories in the history of the world’s libraries, some I knew and some I did not know. I’ve read a LOT of these kinds of books, libraries are easy to love. But they can get a little samey in many respects because a lot of them have a lot of the same stories. This one had some new stories (as well as some old ones) and I learned some things and enjoyed reading it the whole way through. The author is a notable rare/old book collector so his interests point in that particular direction.

Tau Zero   book icon  
by Poul Anderson (1970)

read: 24 May 2020
rating: [0]
category: fiction

Finished this sexist/heteronormative book just to figure out which kind of morality play I was reading: one where the awkward jerk guy comes out on top, or winds up getting killed by his shipmates? He winds up with two hot wives so... the former? Pedantic. There’s a lot of really interesting hard science in this book, and then it’s interwoven with the really not-great interpersonal aspect which was just awful. So on balance not the worst? But I couldn’t in good faith suggest that anyone read it. I just sometimes take for granted how mostly-normal even mainstream scifi is today in terms of reflecting the wide range of ways there are to be in love and be a couple and be a good person. This book was awful in that regard.

The Shape-shifters Guide to Time Travel   book icon  
by Mark Budman (2020)

read: 20 May 2020
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I received this book from the author who thought I might enjoy the time-travel aspects. And I did! The general storyline is a good one: there is a totalitarian country somewhere in Eastern Europe which is the only place where shape shifting is possible. And there is a tyrant that many in the population want to overthrow. We are following two older teenagers--one American who is from there but visiting and one who has grown up his whole life there--as they try to deal with the political situation and getting to know each other. The book was marred a bit by some lack of proofreading and also some lack of consistency. The main male teenager seems to both know and not know about American culture in ways that can be confusing. And there’s a lot of chivalrous behavior which doesn’t look terribly different from sexism and so it can be hard to know how to read. Ends on a cliffhanger, I will definitely read the next one.

Network Effect   book icon  
by Martha Wells (2020)

read: 17 May 2020
rating: [+]
category: fiction

What a flat title for what was a great book. This was basically as good if not better than I was expecting. That said, for people who haven’t read the novellas which preceded it, there are a few name checks that might not work. I did get a little confused with all the names and callabcks and I HVAE read them all. Just sad that it’s over. A story of... friendship? And murders, of course. And media watching.

Jews in America: A Cartoon History   book icon  
by David Gantz (2006)

read: 10 May 2020
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

500 years of Judaism! This isn’t all about the United States though it does draw trendlines between what was happening in Europe and then what eventually happened in the US w/r/t Jewish people. Some attention but not overly much about the Holocaust. Not as many woman as I might have liked but that might be history or it might be sexism, so hard to tell. As a graphic novel, it’s not great (a lot of tell-not-show) but I don’t think that was what it was going for, really is more like is says on the cover “cartoon history” and it was good at that.

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