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Thoreau at Walden   book icon  
by John Porcellino (2008)

read: 12 February 2017
rating: [+]
category: graphic novel

Surprised I’ve never put anything from John P on this booklist before since I’ve always been a fan of his work. This is a short set of vignettes involving Thoreau taking his words more or less verbatim (and noting where liberties were taken). It takes some of his choice quotations and little bits from his book Walden and illustrates them. As someone who grew up around Concord I liked seeing the settings and just the love of that part of the natural world. Porcellino did a good job not shying away from Thoreau’s relative privilege (and semi-weirdness) while also getting across why people found his words so compelling.

A Lesson in Secrets   book icon  
by Jacqueline Winspear (2012)

read: 7 February 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Another in the series. I enjoyed it since it seemed to “move the plot along” both in terms of Maisie’s development but also in terms of the atmosphere of the world around her in terms of encroaching Nazism and people’s feelings about it. There’s also the subtext about the role of pacifism or dissent in this environment as well. A thoughtful novel.

The Shadow Land   book icon  
by Elizabeth Kostova (2017)

read: 29 January 2017
rating: [0]
category: fiction

I loved The Historian. I never would have picked up this book if I had knows that it had a lengthy multi-chapter explicit concentration camp narrative in the middle of it. The story is otherwise interesting though nowhere near as compelling as The Historian. Kostova reveals in the afterword that this book is more autobiographical which may have something to do with why there are many parts of it that would be interesting-if-true but also make bad fiction. I felt assaulted by the lengthy descriptions of what amounted to torture in the prison camps. I am aware this is true to life and do not want to diminish the suffering of people who were there, but those sort of witness stories are a very specific sort of narrative that I usually avoid. I found myself frequently frustrated reading this book with both the excessive “What I saw when I looked around the town square” sorts of things, the anxious and not-super-compelling main character and the sequence of events that only becomes plausible when you realize how the story ends (an ending that was surprisingly predictable). I don’t mean to be a weird internet person about this, I really like most books but this one was a frustrating read though i did finish it. Not for people who want to avoid torture narratives.

Gate to Women’s Country   book icon  
by Sheri Tepper (1988)

read: 23 January 2017
rating: [-]
categories: fiction, unfinished

I usually like these ecofeminist books. This one was on the free table at the local college and I picked it up and slogged through parts of it and just couldn’t get excited about picking it up again. Too much weird theatrical overlap (you know the kind where the characters are preparing for a play and there are PAGES of play text in there?) and I couldn’t get over it.

Full-Time RVing: A Complete Guide to Life on the Open Road   book icon  
by Bill and Jan Moeller (1993)

read: 23 January 2017
rating: [+]
categories: non-fiction, reference

It’s sort of hard to imagine the usefulness of books like this back in the pre-internet times it was written. I saw when looking it up that there is an updated version and I am curious what it would be like. This guide, which really did give me a great idea of what it would be like to live in an RV, was super meticulous about things that just don’t need to be so detailed now (where to buy thing, notably). I liked the energy of the authors, though some of their priorities did not seem to be mine. At the point at which they were suggesting exactly what ruled graph paper to buy for making lists, I did tune out on some of it. Enjoyable but I’d pick up the new version if I were you.

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