Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Closing tabs

I did something sensible on this trip and only brought five monographs to read out of the diverse heap of books that have come my way for the Studies in English Literature eighteenth-century roundup which I will be writing in another month or two (still waiting for more books to come in - it's much fewer so far than in previous years, more like 40 or 45 rather than 110+, and I need to figure out whether they don't exist or whether, for instance, review copy budgets are down across the board). Four and a half down, half to go (but I have read it before, in manuscript - I saved it for last because I know I like it!).

Brought a few other substantive books as well as part of resolution for 2016 to read more nonfiction and not quite so much "fodder"....

I always bring any agitation I may be experiencing with me when I come to Cayman, which can be a bit of a trial for all concerned (bouncing off walls!), but fortunately on this trip I am experiencing an unusual degree of peace of mind. (One factor: gratitude that this January is so much less stressful than last January. January through March of 2015 were of sufficient dreadfulness that I really hope I'm not going to have another sequence of months like that any time soon - fingers crossed, anyway.)

Will do the aquabike on Sunday out on the East End; have been doing a lot of hot yoga and similar. A few meals with friends, more quiet time at home, minor work obligations that can be aquitted by phone and email (as B. says of his own work, "Can do it anywhere. Might as well do it on a beach!"). Spa week(s)! Feeling optimistic about the spring semester - the load for the tenure committee will be extremely heavy, but I have gotten into good mental and physical shape in preparation....

Closing tabs:

An interview with Tom Stoppard.

National biscuits?

A fascinating long account of an elaborate con.

Doveman covers David Bowie's Lazarus.

Is reheated pasta less fattening? (Via Jane!)

Miscellaneous light reading, including a couple of real standouts:

Asne Seirstad, One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway. I couldn't put this down - the narration is rather melodramatic (the narrative framework is like that of a serial killer novel) but the reporting goes deep and it is an incredibly compelling read. Strongly recommended.

And Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky - I loved this one (it's kind of like The Magicians but completely in reverse!), I had it via Netgalley but will perhaps see if I can get Charlie Jane to do a blog interview bit in publication week

Also (much that I really loved here, but it can't be said that January is the best month for new releases):

Reread of an old favorite, William Boyd's Armadillo (I still think it's very good, but I now have read a lot more other books in this vein, which somewhat lessens the impression).

Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (loved it!).

Linda Nagata, The Red and subsequent installments (brilliant, haunting, wouldn't have minded if it were a bit less unrelentingly military in its episodes - would make great TV series).

Kim Stanley Robinson, Aurora (quite enjoyed it but it caused me to ruminate on why I have such a strong preference for Neal Stephenson even though it can similarly and fairly be charged that his female protagonists might as well be male - but there is something about Stephenson's explanatory and descriptive sentences that is itself compelling to me in a way that Robinson's are not).

Marcus Sakey's Brilliance trilogy (excellent light reading - that's good value for money!).

Pam Brondos, Gateway to Fourline (wasn't sure about this one at first - it reminded me a lot of Charlie Stross's Merchant Princes series, my least favorite of all his books - but decided I was keen, then realized with horror at the end that the next installment isn't out yet! But it is pre-ordered for January 19, which means I can read it in the airport on the way home).

Lila Bowen, Wake of Vultures (at first I found the writing a little too formulaic/polished, but it grew on me - in the end I really liked it - reminded me of the excellent Joan Vinge novelisation of Cowboys and Aliens!).

Sam Hawken, The Night Charter (like a sort of cross between Lou Berney's caper books and Lee Child but with a female Reacher equivalent - I liked it but didn't love it, will definitely seek out more by this author).

Kirsty Eagar, Raw Blue, a very good recommendation from Justine Larbalestier (this is the very best of contemporary YA I think in the non-fantastic vein - really beautifully written and rendered).

Elizabeth Little, Dear Daughter (pretty good, though I never quite bought into the voice - but it is better than Gone Girl!).

Several crime novels by Belinda Bauer (not bad but I am really tired of the serial-killer-close-to-home trope)

Two books about overeating (am on regimen of nutritional soundness which makes me want to read books about people who eat too many doughnuts), Allen Zadoff's Hungry and Lisa Kotin's My Confection: Odyssey of a Sugar Addict. The writing in the latter is very good but it becomes pretty repetitive, I am not sure there was really a whole book in it as opposed to a few very good essays.

That's it for now.

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