December 16

Reading Diary: to the end of 2016

Well, I’ve been gone for months apparently…

I’ve been experimenting with podcasting a lot, and so I’ve been listening to a lot more podcasts and reading far less, but to round out the year, I’ve finished some wonderful books. A few were reviewed on their own, and for those I’ll just link across.

Autobiography of a Seaman

Someday, someday, maybe

Stories from a Chinese Studio (vol. 1): A great little collection I’ve hammered to death on my personal blog, so I can’t quite gather the energy to review here, but if you like folk stories, it’s certainly worth a try. The Librivox recordings are available.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl: just generally the Harley Quinn series has been excellent this year.  Get up to speed before the Gotham City Sirens movie comes out and spoils you. The Library Service has the whole run.

Hot Water: Early PG Wodehouse, fun in its own quiet way. Available from the Library Service.

Welsh folk talesThe other side of the sun, and Odes and sonnets of Clark Ashton Smith are all in my notes as having been read, but seem to have left no impression on me at all. This is terribly sad, because I love Clark Ashton Smith’s fiction.

Sunstone Volume 5: So, all of the pointless sex scenes I complained about (however gently) in my last review make perfect sense when you read this, final volume in the series. The romantic relationship fails because the way the couple’s sex life is structured puts all of the emotional labor on one partner.  By writing the sex off as just an interruption to the plot, or fan service, I was underestimating what the writer was attempting. As a reviewer, I think it’s important to flag when I’ve just completely failed to grasp the point of something: and that’s this, right here.  The Library Service has the first volume of Sunstone, but the author’s page on DeviantArt has the complete run, as well as the beginning of the sequel series (which is called Mercy).

Cleopatra: a life by Stephanie Schiff: a brilliant, if rather forgiving biography of a character best known from the propaganda of her enemies. We have it in audio or book, plus the author’s newer work on the Salem witch trials.

The View From The Cheap Seats. I’m going to do a solo post for this eventually: but basically it’s the collected non-fiction of Neil Gaiman. It’s an interesting companion piece to his writing, but also to his wife’s biography (The Art of Asking). The Library Service has a few of these about, but I bought it on Audible because I love the way Neil performs his books.

The Kalevala is Scandinavian folklore in an odd metre. I loved recording it for Librivox and have written thousands of words on it for my own page and gaming blog. It’s lovely if you are into the whole “wizards and bards” thing. I helped with one of the Librivox recordings, but there are a couple of translations.

Sesame and Lilies by John Ruskin. I’ve tried Ruskin twice now, and haven’t really been swept up in him either time.  people tell me his work on architecture, The Stones of Venice, is genius, but he’s impenetrable to me.

The Parables by Phaedrus. I didn’t realize this was a metrical retelling of Aesop. I was fine with Aesop in prose, so this wasn’t for me.

Hamilton : The revolution : being the complete libretto of the Broadway musical, with a true account of its creation, and concise remarks on hip-hop, the power of stories, and the new america.

I mean, just go listen to Hamilton, OK?  I come onto this blog and say to people “Listen to Wicked!” and they don’t listen and then “Listen to Matilda!” and they don’t listen…gang, just go listen to Hamilton, alright?  The writer (composer and performer) Lin-Manuel Miranda is such a genius he could have made Attack of the Clones interesting. The Library doesn’t have the CD, for reasons I’m not sure of, but we do have the libretto, which is basically a book of poetry (since lyrics are poems to music) and show notes.  If you like musicals, or poetry, or want to know how someone can possibly win a Tony writing a song about financial sector reform, then give it a read. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry…no, seriously, if you don’t cry during It’s Quiet Uptown, get someone to check the back of your neck to see if your soul has been surgically removed.

I mean, let me make it easy for you. This is “Wait for it”. The singer is playing Aaron Burr, who is the main character (Hamilton’s) friend, rival, and eventual murderer.

We’ll be experimenting with Cardboard VR next year in Nerang Library: more on that later, but in case you are a fan: here’s a 360 VR recording of part of Wait For It, made by the Broadway cast before the Tonys last year.