« August, 2019 »
read: 21 August 2019
A great and weird story, told in chapters that bounce around in the timeline, about a girl who has a father who is, we learn later, a drug smuggler. The family is on the run, at first together and then later apart. It’s told as a weird memoir and we learn early on that people turn out okay (they’re all still alive though the dad does go to jail for a time). Wetherall does a great job at really painting a picture of what it’s like to move around, to feel rootless, to get really attached to some things and totally not attached to others. To be really poor but also kinda rich in other ways. She does a great job of setting up the story and I’m glad I read this.
read: 20 August 2019
category: graphic novel
This fell in my lap. A friend’s company publishes this book and he gave it to me. It’s great, instantly familiar since I was punk-scene-adjacent in about the same timeframe that Nicole was and a lot of the stuff seemed familiar. This story bounced around a little and the central piece is her relationship with her dog. The dog is a problem. The girl is a problem. They learn how to navigate the world together. I wish I knew more about some of the stories told in this book (the car accident, what was up with her parents, what was Tom’s deal) but it felt really real, like it was told the way it felt to her. The dog does die in the end, which I guess I should have expected but did not. But it wasn’t a terrible ending and you felt, a little bit, like this would give her a new chapter to do slightly different things with her life.
read: 13 August 2019
I definitely have the pattern to these down. You think there’s going to be some sort of action, there’s a lot of spycraft setting it up. Then the action happens and something goes wrong. Then there’s the makeup part of it. Then one of the people is captured. Then there’s a vengeance and/or a make-up part of it. I liuke these books, but this one had a dead kid in it which I like less well. I like the art restoration parts and this had none of that (though there is a painting part). Above all, though, this book talks about the various factions in the Middle East and there’s a lot of interplay between Saudi Arabian higher ups and Israeli higher ups (with Russian and British thrown in for good measure). Good reading, same as most of them.
Got this book as a trade for doing some book reviewing for MIT Press which explains how I came to be reading what was basically someone’s PhD thesis on the history of card indexes (not quite card catalogs though they do show up). The author is from Vienna and it was fascinating to see an outsider’s view of Dewey, to see how some of his manias looked from outside the profession and outside the country. I learned a lot of stuff in this book, dense though it was, and grew to appreciate the author’s sense of humor, there is a lot of quirky and interesting wordplay in this book just in terms of what is a book, what is an index, what is a card, that sort of thing. I don’t read much academicky stuff lately and books like these make me think I should get back into it.
read: 10 August 2019
This book wasn’t lost! Other than that, this was an interesting history of one of the 49 (48?) Gutenberg Bibles still in existence. Davis traces the history from the 1800s until today and digs up a lot of interesting information, especially about its last personal owner who was a wealthy woman who bequeathed it to a Catholic Seminary who eventually sold it (probably not in keeping with her wishes). Overall a nice sort of pop history of one of these books.
A really well done graphic novel about being the new kid in a school. But it’s more complicated than that. Jordan Banks is a Black student going to a fancy private school. So not only are some of the kids weird about his race (with sort of micro and macro-aggresions towards him and the other students of color) but also the teachers trot out a lot of the familiar tropes ("Why are you so angry?" etc). Craft does a really good job at teasing out the subtleties of many different types of intersections of race and class, so a lot of these interactions ring true.
The library where I am for the summer does not have a good graphic novel section. However I always check it. This time they had one book by Telgemeier that I hadn’t read before, Sisters. I have a pretty close relationship with my sister but I didn’t always. I thought I could relate to this book. I could not. I found their relationship sort of confusing and a bit of a conflict without resolution. At the end of the book (unless I missed something) we thought the parents might get divorced but we weren’t sure. There was a graphic novel device of having the flashbacks be sort of sepia toned that I found a little confusing. In the past I’ve found Telgemeier’s stuff pretty accessible so maybe this was just a miss for unrelated reasons, but I’ve really liked all the rest of her stuff.
read: 3 August 2019
A Quaker Spacer! This was an interesting book that rambled in sometimes good and sometimes less good ways. The characters are gentle and thoughtful, possibly too gentle. The book meanders. First we’re leaving earth, then we’re on a colony ship, and then we’re around a planet we might move to. And there’s a lot of thinking and you never stay with one character’s viewpoint (or even timeline) for very long. I liked some viewpoints more than others and was more interested in what was going on at some points than others. The writing is very good, but there’s almost no plot, even though some pretty monumentous things happen.
read: 1 August 2019
This book was really fun. I somehow missed that it was specifically for children when I requested it, but it’s enjoyable for all ages. Caitlin Doughty is a known quantity in the “people who write about death” space and I’d really enjoyed her two previous books. This one is even more delightful since she gets to be a little bit more humorous, plus the book has terrific illustrations which accentuated what she was talking about. Kids questions (from actual kids, she notes) range from “Can I get my hamster buried with me?” to “Why was grandma wrapped in plastic wrap under her shirt?” While the topics are tricky, Doughty is knowledgeable but also kind. Her jokes are never at the expense of people mourning a loved one or making fun of people’s beliefs or practices. This is a great educational and fun book and I’m happy I got a chance to see it early.
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