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Books read in 2011

Discovery of the year was Sarah Monette. I finally read her stories of Kyle Murchison Booth, which were exquisite and delightful and unsettling and sad and often very funny -- as, it turns out, are most of the rest of her stories. I can't wait to read her novels, both the old Doctrine of Labyrinths series and her new novel (written pseudonymously as Katherine Addison), this year.

Some of the other fictions that most tickled my fancy this year include:
The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories (2008) by Brian J. Showers
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti (2011) by Genevieve Valentine
Sensation (2011) by Nick Mamatas
Pym (2011) by Mat Johnson

As far as series stuff, I tore through the first six or seven of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga books at the end of 2010, and made it through the next six or seven at the beginning of 2011. Very enjoyable romps; I'll probably read the most recent couple this year. Also read the first four of George C. Chesbro's Mongo Mysteries. I started off enjoying them immensely but am quickly losing interest; I may or may not continue with them this year. I read more trilogies than I'd have expected this year, of which I particularly enjoyed Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces books, which are among the very few nouveau-urban fantasy series I've been able to get into; N. K. Jemisin's intimately epic Inheritance Trilogy; and D. M. Cornish's extremely imaginative Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy, recently repackaged with generic covers as The Foundling's Tale.

The nonfiction books that've most stuck in my head this year include Ryan and Jethá's Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality (2010), Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) and Bourke's What It Means to Be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present (2011). I only read one volume of essays in 2011, Thomas Glave's Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (2005), and I liked it a lot. I plan to check out his fiction this year.

Didn't read many comics of interest. Read a few good ones at the beginning of the year, and caught up on a bunch of X-Men stuff toward the end. By far the most memorable was been Gerry Alanguilan's ELMER, which, come to think of it, would make an interesting pairing with Joseph D'Lacey's novel MEAT.

And behind the cut, the list:Collapse )
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Books read, March 2011

41. A Civil Campaign (1999) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Courtship and romance, Vorkosigan style. Featuring pretty much every character in the series who isn't a mercenary. A delightful whirlwind of whoops, and post-whoops salvage. Plus some Barrayaran politics. The butter bug subplot was a bit on the goofy side, but everything else was great fun. [Amazon]

40. Komarr (1998) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Another enjoyable Vorkosigan novel -- though not as good as the Barrayar, Mirror Dance, Memory trifecta -- features some satisfactory, but not excellent, detective work, but more importantly introduces the love of Miles' life, and establishes her as an actual character rather than just the object of Miles' lust. Also, Bujold's thematic concerns seem to have shifted from identity to personal growth. [Amazon]

39. Dreamweaver's Dilemma: Short Stories and Essays (1996) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- This book collects all of Bujold's published short stories, which are generally, um, kinda cute but not that good, plus a couple even earlier unpublished novelettes, one a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, the other an early Vorkosigan-verse piece, and the popular Miles novella "The Mountains of Mourning". Also a few interviews and essays, better than the stories for their insights into why and how Bujold writes. One of those for-completists-only sorts of things. [Amazon]

38. The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins -- A fun, fast read. Some wrenching scenes. Didn't blow me away as I'd expected it to, given all the acclaim from, well, everyone ever, it sometimes seems. I'm going to wait to discuss this one until I've finished the trilogy. [Amazon]

37. A Companion to Wolves (2007) by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear -- This is a book I've been meaning to read since it came out, but, well, I kept judging it by its cover, which does nothing to make me want to see what's behind it. I'm glad I finally pulled it off the shelf, though, because it's great fun. I understand that it's meant to subvert animal companion tropes, but as I'm quite unfamiliar with the telepathic animal subgenre that level was essentially lost on me. Fortunately, it stands on its own aside from that, with fun characters, fine worldbuilding, and a thoughtful story. I've seen some reviewers complain about the number of characters and the difficulty of the names; I hope none of those people ever becomes a teacher. Anyway. Recommended. And I can't wait to read the sequel later this year. [Amazon]

36. A Game of Thrones (Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire) (1996) by George R. R. Martin -- I don't think I've read any of these novels since Book Three came out about a decade ago, though I'd read this one at least twice before then. I was surprised at how many scenes I remembered, some of them almost verbatim. (Maybe it was more than twice?) I was also surprised at how addictive I found the novel; my tastes have drifted away from the fat fantasies I so enjoyed in high school, so I wasn't sure I'd still enjoy this now, but Martin does a masterful job moving the story forward between multiple characters, rather than getting bogged down with POV characters as some authors have done. Anyway. I tore through this in two days. No longer as mind-blowingly awesome as it once was, but still very readable. [Amazon]

35. The Hedge Knight II: Sworn Sword (2007-2008) adapted by Ben Avery (script) and Mike S. Miller (pencils) from "The Sworn Sword" (2003) by George R. R. Martin -- Better than its predecessor. Fewer characters to keep track of, and better adapted to comics. Enjoyable. [Amazon]

34. The Hedge Knight (2003-2004) adapted by Ben Avery (script) and Mike S. Miller (pencils) from the "The Hedge Knight" (1998) by George R. R. Martin -- I remember enjoying the novella on which this comic is based, but, despite some beautiful art, this didn't really work for me. I haven't read any of Martin's novels in a decade or so, so the parade of names and characters was a bit overwhelming, and the Avery could have done a better job letting the artist carry the story instead of giving us non-stop text boxes. Not bad, but not too impressive, either. [Amazon]

33. The Brains of Rats (1990) by Michael Blumlein -- A powerful collection of stories. Several of them are cold, hard masterpieces. A few others have, um, not aged very well. Blumlein's got a distinctive, precise voice, and he carves away at the frozen sea with a scalpel, not an ax. I look forward to finding more of his stories. [Amazon]

32. Memory (1996) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- And Bujold tops Mirror Dance, making this her best book yet. Plus someone deals with trauma without developing multiple personalities! I think I prefer the Miles mysteries to the Miles space operas, though it's hard to say whether that's a function of the genre or of Bujold growing as a writer. [Amazon]

31. Cetaganda (1995) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Originally serialized in Analog. A young Miles mystery. Fun read, good worldbuilding -- it's nice that the Cetagandans aren't just vague villains anymore -- but pretty lightweight compared to the last couple Vorkosigan novels. [Amazon]

30. Mirror Dance (1994) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Back to Bujold after a month away. I was a little wary of this book, as I didn't love Brothers in Arms or the character of Mark, but I was wrong to doubt. Bujold's just keeps getting better. While her continued exploration of themes of identity through often literally fragmented and partitioned minds sometimes doesn't feel quite right to me, her stories remain fun, fast and almost impossible to put down, and her command of them keeps improving. [Amazon]

29. Bet Me (2004) by Jennifer Crusie -- I'd never read a romance novel. I was curious. I've seen this book recommended several times in different places -- even more often than Georgette Heyer's Venetia -- so I gave it a try. It was a cute, fast read. Occasionally obnoxious, occasionally charming. Didn't leave much of an impression. May check out Heyer before checking out of this genre. [Amazon]

Books read, January-February 2011Collapse )
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Book meme is going around

The book I am currently reading: Only one? I'm reading Bujold's Cetaganda, Death's Acre by Bass & Jefferson, Evolution's Rainbow by Roughgarden, The Voyage of Night Shining White by Roberson, Terminus by Howse, and several others.

The book I am currently writing: Not happening right now.

The book I love most: When it comes to books I am a serial lover. There are some that will forever hold a place in my mind's heart, but the book I love most is usually the book I'm loving to read at any given time.

The last book I received as a gift: Common Sense on Mutual Funds by Bogle. I'm even making myself read it! Haven't learned anything yet except that no one seems to have proofread the "10 Years Later" updated sections.

The last book I gave as a gift: A Small Furry Prayer by Kotler, or A Field Guide to Surreal Botany from Two Cranes Press. Probably the former.

The nearest book on my desk: I'm about the same distance from The Brains of Rats by Blumlein and Reinventing the Bazaar by McMillan.
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Books read, February 2011

28. Air (2008-2010) by G. Willow Wilson (words) and M.K. Perker (pictures) -- This comic suffered a problem fairly common to graphic novels canceled after only a year or two: it reads like most of an opening act suddenly shunted into a conclusion. But this book has problems beyond that. For one, Wilson seems to find her ideas a lot more exciting and interesting than she ever succeeds in convincing me they are. For another, her characters often feel less like people driving the action than like tools for advancing the plot. They hit the beats, but they don't feel real, and the dialogue is often quite bad. Poignancies, paradoxes and events just happen without ever resonating with me, and the Vertigo-style magic-beneath-the-real-world story never really felt plausible. Also, this book is Wilson's first long-form comics story, and by the time she begins to get a handle on the pacing, it's disrupted again by the book's cancellation. So it's a story that had potential, but ultimately was boring enough to get canceled before that potential could be realized. [Vol. 1: Letters from Lost Countries | Vol. 2: Flying Machine | Vol. 3: Pureland | Vol. 4: A History of the Future]

27. Scorch Atlas (2009) by Blake Butler -- This brief collection of stories of people coping (or not) during the collapse of society on alternate earths whimpered and gibbered into the handkerchief of my soul. (My biggest problem with this book was its design: the grayed-and-wrinkled effect of the pages was printed at insufficient dpi, so I had to hold the book uncomfortably far from my face unless I wanted the effect to resolve into headache-inducing dots.) [Amazon]

26. The Bone Key (2007) by Sarah Monette -- Delightful collection of stories about introverted museum archivist Kyle Murchison Booth. Of course no sooner had I read it than I learned a new edition was forthcoming. In any event, these stories are delicious and fun and often slightly disturbing, and highly recommended. [Amazon]

25. Star Wars: Knight Errant (2011) by John Jackson Miller -- Garbage. Why do I keep doing this to myself? [Amazon]

24. Deep State (2011) by Walter Jon Williams -- Follow-up to TINAG in which some of the same characters end up facing off against an authoritarian regime. Larger in scale but less focused than its predecessor, it's fun but ultimately less satisfying than TINAG. Almost as fun as reading the book was seeing how closely it hewed to the situation in Egypt. [Amazon]

23. This Is Not a Game (2009) by Walter Jon Williams -- Thriller in which ARG network is used to deal with real world situations. A fun book, a page-turner read in practically one sitting. [Amazon]

22. Above/Below (2011) by Stephanie Campisi and Ben Peek -- Paired novellas that are much better together than individually. Because I'm boring I started with Above. Literal social division and class warfare: the rich live in floating cities, literally above the poor who supply their fuel in exchange for food. And then a city falls from the sky. . . [Twelfth Planet Press]

21. Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools (2002) by Jonathan Zimmerman -- This book untangles two histories that are often jumbled together. The first part deals with the history of the textbook wars over the last century; the second part looks at the conflicts over religious education and religion in education over the same time period. Fascinating stuff, if occasionally a bit dry. [Amazon]

20. The Elements of Investing (2010) by Burton G. Malkiel and Charles D. Ellis -- I read this because it was a gift. Didn't really learn anything from it, but it's a decent introductory primer on investment. [Amazon]

19. ELMER (2006-2008) by Gerry Alanguilan -- A beautiful comic. What happens to the world when chickens suddenly achieve sentience and intelligence? It sounds silly, but it's handled deftly and occasionally surprisingly. Highly recommended. [Amazon]

Books read, January 2011Collapse )
Me!

Books read, December 2010

104. Horse, Flower, Bird (2010) by Kate Bernheimer -- A short collection -- one paragraph per page, with even more white space than the Comeau novella -- of dark, sad fairy tales about girls and women. [Amazon]

103. One Bloody Thing After Another (2010) by Joey Comeau -- A novella from the writer of the A Softer World webcomic. Lots of white space make this a very quick read. A lot of fun -- if you enjoy the offbeat humor and sensibility of A Softer World you'll probably enjoy this. [Amazon]

102. The Vor Game (1990) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Another Vorkosigan novel, another night up past my bedtime to finish it. Addictive space opera. I wouldn't have thought of it as Hugo material, but what do I know? [Amazon]

101. Holiday (2010) by M. Rickert -- A mixed short collection of stories, with a couple I liked a great deal, a couple that didn't do anything for me, and a handful that I enjoyed but did not love. I'm not sure that the chronological/thematic arrangement did the book any favors. A decent enough collection but I expected more from the follow-up to Map of Dreams [Amazon]

100. The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) by Rachel Hildebrandt and the Old York Road Historical Society -- Read because I have a bizarre compulsion to read books written by people I know. Given that I know virtually nothing of architecture, it was nice to learn a bit about the architectural history around where I live. [Amazon]

99. People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy (עם הספר) (2010) edited by Rachel Swirsky and Sean Wallace -- A delightful anthology. The title is slightly imprecise, since the earliest story is from early 2000 and the most recent original to the volume, and the lion's share of the stories are fantasy with only two or three works of science fiction plausible-fabulism, but it's a very strong, well-balanced collection of stories from both big names and newcomers. Probably my favorite anthology I read this year. [Amazon]

98. Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas (2008) by David Cortright -- What it says on the package: a history of peace movements and the ideas behind them. A very good reference, as far as it goes, although his analysis of more recent trends seems limited: his discussion of the changing role of national militaries feels incomplete, for instance, with no consideration of PMCs. Still, a readable overview of the last several centuries of peacemaking efforts. [Amazon]

97. Borders of Infinity (1989) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- Collection of three Miles Vorkosigan novellas, loosely linked by a mostly irrelevant frame story. All three stories were good fun. [Amazon]

96. The Uncommon Reader (2007) by Alan Bennett -- An amusing novella dealing with the consequences of Queen Elizabeth II becoming a reader. [Amazon]

95. Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays (2009) by Eula Biss -- Fantastic collection of essays dealing with race in America. [Amazon]

94. On the Banks of the River of Heaven (2010) by Richard Parks -- I almost always enjoy Parks' stories, but this is probably the weakest of his three collections. It starts off strong, but the three stories I liked least were clustered near the end, leaving the collection feeling unbalanced. [Amazon]

93. The Quantum Thief (2010) by Hannu Rajaniemi -- An Arsène Lupin-inspired caper in a quantum tech world. Fun, dense with fun technologies and ideas, but after all the glowing praise I expected more than was delivered. [Amazon]

92. Ex Machina (2004-2010) by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris -- This political thriller-cum-superhero tragedy is less consistent than Vaughan's Y: The Last Man; a number of the stories feel like what political hot topic does Vaughan want to teach himself about this month, and his tendency to drop factoids feels more forced here than in Y. But it's enjoyable regardless, and he gets it under control and manages to bring it all together successfully in the end, with a powerful coda. [Book 1: The First Hundred Days | Book 2: Tag | Book 3: Fact v. Fiction | Book 4: March to War | Book 5: Smoke Smoke | Book 6: Power Down | Book 7: Ex Cathedra | Book 8: Dirty Tricks | Book 9: Ring Out the Old | Book 10: Term Limits]

91. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (2010) by Barry Deutsch -- Adapted and expanded by Deutsch from his webcomic published 2007-2008. A fun, funny story of a young Orthodox Jewish girl with heroic ambitions. [Amazon]

Books read, January through NovemberCollapse )
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Books read, November 2010

90. The Silent Land (2010) by Graham Joyce -- A middling effort from Joyce, whom I usually love. I put it down in the middle and almost forgot to pick it back up. I'm glad I did, as the second half is much better than the first -- including a couple chapters that could stand alone as fine short stories -- and the ending, though basically predictable, packs a wallop. The pace -- very slow at first, then rapidly accelerating as the novel moves on -- is deliberate and necessary, but I was barely invested enough in the characters to want to follow their early attempts to figure out what was going on. Ultimately I was glad I'd stuck with the book, but if you haven't read Joyce before this might not be the place to start, I think. [Amazon]

89. The Boy Who Set the Fire & Other Stories (1974) translated by Paul Bowles from the Moghrebi by Mohammed Mrabet -- Bowles taped and translated these stories from Moroccan storyteller Mrabet. This is a storytelling tradition with which I'm unfamiliar. I enjoyed these stories -- often involving generational conflict, youth rebelling against its conservative elders, and almost always involving copious smoking of kif -- a great deal in small doses but lost interest if I tried to read more than one or two at a time. [Amazon]

88. Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America (2010) by Matt Taibbi -- I really enjoy Taibbi's writing. I like that, politically, he's perfectly happy to stroll down the aisle calling bullshit on both sides, and that he's got the ability to look past the popular, simplistic, red v blue culture war narrative when the facts don't fit and investigate what's actually going on. And I like that he's a strong enough writer to render complex and depressing situations understandable and amusing. In this book he explores some of the causes of the financial crisis, the commodities bubble, the way America is selling off its infrastructure, and how and why health care reform was so effectively screwed up. A perfect holiday gift for your disaffected American friends. [Amazon]

87. Brothers in Arms (1989) by Lois McMaster Bujold -- It seems like everyone loves Bujold, but those ugly Baen covers have been putting me off reading her books for years. I finally forced myself to ignore the cover of the first book of the series, and a couple weeks later found that I'd punched through the first five of them. Addictive stuff. Fun, solidly written, smart space opera. Not as much depth as I'd expected, although I hear later novels in the series offer more of that, but I like how each novel stands alone; for all I've heard of what a great character Miles is, I've enjoyed all the non-Miles books just as much as those featuring him. [Amazon]

86. Falling Free (1987-88) by Lois McMaster Bujold [Amazon]

85. Ethan of Athos (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold [Amazon]

84. The Warrior's Apprentice (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold [Amazon]

83. Shards of Honor (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold [Amazon]

82. Tripwire (A Jack Reacher Novel) (1999) by Lee Child -- I wanted something simple but not too stupid, and remembered that Child's first two novels fit that bill, so I moved onto his third, still featuring plainclothes superhero Jack Reacher. This is the stupidest and least satisfying to date. I doubt I will move on to number four. [Amazon]

81. The Palm-Wine Drinkard and his dead Palm-Wine Tapster in the Deads' Town (1952) by Amos Tutuola -- This was going to be my Halloween read this year, but I was a couple days late. Tutuola gives us Yoruba folklore by way of deceptively simple English prose; it often reads more like a transcript of a storyteller's tale than like, well, anything you're used to reading. A quick read, often humorous, often scary, it offers a glimpse into a world of different values and beliefs than those informing most Western fantasy. I look forward to reading more from Tutuola. [Amazon]

80. Blush: Faces of Shame (2005) by Elspeth Probyn -- Earlier this year I read a lot about Restorative Justice and restorative practices, so read a lot about the concept of reintegrative shaming from John Braithwaite and his crew and critics, about shaming as affect from Tomkins and Nathanson, so this slim volume, a broader exploration of and inquiry into shame, caught my eye. An interesting, introspective look at the values and uses of shame. [Amazon]

And I don't usually comment on books I only dip into rather than read in their entirety, but this one was pretty awesome:

Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion (2007) compiled and edited by Ania Loomba and Jonathan Burton -- Not only is there a lot of great stuff in here, but this book also marks one of those fun instances of reading synchronicity: I was introduced to blemmyes and various other inhabitants of ancient travel writings shortly before starting catvalente's new novel, and was reacquainted with Linnæus just as he came up in another book I was dipping into. In any event, definitely worth checking out if you're interested in the history of the concept of race. [Amazon]

Books read, January through OctoberCollapse )
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Books read, October 2010

I'll probably edit in some comments later, when I have time, but for now I'll just list them:

79. Birdbrain (2010) translated by David Hackston from Linnunaivot (2008) by Johanna Sinisalo [Amazon]

78. Rethinking the 21st Century: 'New' Problems, 'Old' Solutions (2009) edited by Amy Eckert and Laura Sjoberg [Amazon]

77. Africans: The History of a Continent (second edition; 1995, 2007) by John Iliffe [Amazon]

76. Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks (revised edition; 2008, 2010) by Ben Goldacre [Amazon]

75. The Red Tree (2009) by Caitlín R. Kiernan [Amazon]

74. Test of Metal (Magic: The Gathering – A Planeswalker Novel) (2010) by Matthew Stover [Amazon]

73. At the Queen's Command (The First Book of The Crown Colonies) (2010) by Michael A. Stackpole [Amazon]

72. I.O.U.: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay (2010) by John Lanchester [Amazon]

71. The Convalescent (2009) by Jessica Anthony [Amazon]

70. Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery (2010) by Steve Nicholls [Amazon]

Books read, January through SeptemberCollapse )
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Books read, September 2010

Offered with brief commentary because I've got places to be!

68. The Old Knowledge & Other Strange Tales (2010) by Rosalie Parker -- A slim collection of quiet tales that makes a good rainy afternoon read. (It was originally to be published by Ex Occidente; I don't know what happened, but I'm glad Brian J. Showers ended up with it instead, as I'm still waiting for some EO titles from more than a year ago.) The stories that were simply unsettling generally worked better than the stories that attempted a twist at the end. A good collection, but I'm not sure it'll stick with me. [The Swan River Press | Amazon]

67. Redemption in Indigo (2010) by Karen Lord -- I think Small Beer Press may be unique among publishers in having yet to offer a title I've read and not enjoyed. This is a charming and delightful little novel that inspired more laughs and smiles than anything else I've read in some time. [Amazon]

66. Haunted Legends (2010) edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas -- A slightly above-average anthology that didn't have any duds, but also didn't get me in the gut or down the spine as often as I'd expected or hoped for. Still, a majority of strong stories from a nice mix of writers make this worth checking out. [Amazon]

65. The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion (2008) by Matt Taibbi -- Taibbi gets American politics. He's also very funny. Unfortunately, lack of footnotes combined with several lazy errors (the period from August 29 - September 26 is not "just over three weeks" but is, in fact, four whole weeks, and Aaron is renamed Joe for a paragraph) have me wondering what factual mistakes may have been made. Still, a very enjoyable (and quite scary) book. [Amazon]

64. Star Wars: Legacy (2006-2010) by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, et al. -- Midrange work from Ostrander. The politics and battles were good, but the ongoing saga of Cade "I'm not a Jedi" Skywalker got old fast. Still, the best of the Star Wars comics published over the last few years. Major drawback: Dark Horse has decided to restructure their Star Wars line, so decided, to the surprise of readers and creative team alike, to cancel the solidly-selling book at a point when the end was nowhere in sight. So this book ended at the end of a story arc but not at the end of the story. Then they announced that there would be a miniseries in a few months to actually let the story end. As it stands, this is a decent book without an end. Next year we'll see if six more issues can bring this to a proper close. [Volume 1: Broken | Volume 2: Shards | Volume 3: Claws of the Dragon | Volume 4: Alliance | Volume 5: The Hidden Temple | Volume 6: Vector | Volume 7: Storms | Volume 8: Tatooine | Volume 9: Monster | Volume 10: Extremes]

63. Sourdough and Other Stories (2010) by Angela Slatter -- Loved it. Gorgeous, enthralling book of linked short stories. The stories were great on their own and better together. [Tartarus Press | Amazon]

62. One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth (2007) by Dani Rodrik -- A series of essays that, together, reinforce the idea that different places with different situations need different, localized approaches to development. Familiar ideas, but with more math and specific examples and policy suggestions than in more popular books in the genre. [Amazon]

61. Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (2009) by Robert Shearman -- This book co-won the Shirley Jackson award for best collection. I mostly picked it up because I loved the title. The stories were sharp, occasionally painful, and quite clever, but they were also mostly written in a single voice, a very British conversational style that reads kind of like Neil Gaiman at his most twee, which I ultimately found more annoying than endearing, diminishing my appreciation for the book a bit. [Big Finish | Amazon]

Books read, January through AugustCollapse )
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Books read, August 2010

A slow reading month. Made a little progress in a number of books but finished few. Pretty sure I've given up on Boris Vian's 1947 L'Écume des jours/Froth on the Daydream (tr. Stanley Chapman), which I enjoyed whenever I was reading it but never felt particularly compelled to return to after setting it down.

57. Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing (2009) edited by Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak -- I enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology quite a lot, even if I'm still not sure how these "interstitial" stories differ from the more generically bounded short fiction I read in other literary fantasy anthologies. Did these stories cross boundaries? Break rules? Has this antho been shelved anywhere but in the sff section of any bookstore? I don't know. But with only one story that really didn't work for me and a number that were excellent, it's certainly a strong collection of stories that I'm happy to recommend. [Amazon]

58. When the Hands Are Many: Community Organization and Social Change in Rural Haiti (2001) by Jennie M. Smith -- An ethnography that delves into what poverty, democracy and development mean to some of the poorest people on earth, from their point of view rather than the more common academic or foreign aid official perspective. Occasionally a bit dry, but full of great insight. Might make a good companion piece to James Scott's Weapons of the Weak. [Amazon]

59. The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010) by Ted Chiang -- Good science fiction from Chiang? You don't say! A sad and beautiful character-based novella dealing with the ethics of artificially constructed intelligence. Not Chiang's best work but still a lovely, thoughtful, very readable piece. [Amazon]

Short stuff: I read "MetaPhysics" by Elizabeth M. Glover, "A Reversal of Fortune" by Holly Black, "Mike's Place" by David J. Schwartz and "Non-Disclosure Agreement" by Scott Westerfeld from Tim Pratt's Sympathy for the Devil anthology. Also read "No Need of Wings" by Tia V. Travis, "Empty Dreams" by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy and "Dead" by Haddayr Copley-Woods.

Books read January through April, May, June, July