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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:57 am

In the last few days I've finished up a couple of books I've been reading:

In the Peanut Gallery with Mystery Science Theater 3000: Essays on Film, Fandom, Technology, and the Culture of Riffing eds. Robert Weiner and Shelley Barba - This was fun. I loves me some MST and you could tell the people who wrote these essays do too. The book covered a huge range of territory, from transcripts of interviews to in depth analyses of specific shorts to overviews of the whole pomo-ness of the MST concept. Also, one of the essays spends several paragraphs discussing a certain Ms. Cleolinda Jones!

Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America by Chas Clifton - The 'Triumph of the Moon' for America! Clifton states right off that he wants to chronicle the establishment of Wicca (with a short look at other related Pagan religions) in America much like Hutton did in 'Triumph' and I think he does a good job. It's really interesting to see how things we take for granted as aspects of Wicca, such as characterizing it as a nature religion and women's prominence, weren't necessarily part of it to begin with but became so when it interacted with certain social trends and movements going on in particular times in America's past. This book relies much more on written documents, unlike Hutton's which focused much more on interviews and personal correspondences with people, just because Wicca was brought to America in writing and was disseminated far more often that way than it had been in Britain at the time. Another thing I liked about this book is that while it is a serious, objective (as much as that's ever possible in any kind of writing) academic study, the author is a Pagan himself and has been in the community for over 30 years. Although there are a few notable exceptions (like Hutton), I've just seen such unbelievable crap from academic outsiders that I frankly wouldn't have bothered to read this if I didn't know Clifton was One Of Us. Unfair perhaps, but I just have no patience for that bullshit anymore.

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano - This was an excellent book! She very clearly (and using plain language!) lays out the issues and problems faced by trans women in our society and shows how they may seem specific to trans women, but once you scratch the surface they really stem directly from traditional sexism and our societal devaluing of femininity in general. Also, I will love her forever for clearly articulating some of the problems I had with the hardcore pomo deconstructionists when I was in grad school. Back then I could never seem to put everything that was bothering me together and we were never taught any kind of critique of those pomo and/or gender performativity theories AT ALL because pretty much everyone there worships at the Altar Of Butler. Fuck that, I'm with Julia.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  naughty zoot on Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:24 am

You guys. I just finished the best thriller I've read since Room. It's Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. A woman wakes up in a strange room, next to a man she doesn't know. Figuring it must have been a hell of a party she heads to the bathroom only to confront a true horror. She looks in the mirror and sees she's 20 years older than she remembers. She is suffering from a form of amnesia which erases her memories every time she goes to sleep. She wakes every morning with no memory of where she is, who she is with, or pretty much anything of her life. And, of course, some things are not as they would seem. I started it Sunday afternoon and finished it last night. I was anxious to get out of work yesterday so I could get back to the book. Like Room, it takes very constrained circumstances and makes them suspenseful. It's another one of those "I can't believe this is a debut novel" books.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  inversed on Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:31 pm

choubetcha wrote:inversed, are you still reading My Mother She Killed Me? I was thinking of picking it up since it seems like such a murderer's row of authors. Do you recommend?

I am. Because it's short stories I can put it down and read other things in between. I really like probably 35% of the stories, 40% of the stories are enjoyable but not great, and 25% are annoyingly pretentious. I am very, very picky about that kind of thing though - if there's not a discernible plot, I am going to give a story the side-eye. I'd say pick it up for sure, but at the library.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Instant Monkeys on Tue Nov 15, 2011 12:38 pm

naughty zoot wrote:You guys. I just finished the best thriller I've read since Room. It's Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. A woman wakes up in a strange room, next to a man she doesn't know. Figuring it must have been a hell of a party she heads to the bathroom only to confront a true horror. She looks in the mirror and sees she's 20 years older than she remembers. She is suffering from a form of amnesia which erases her memories every time she goes to sleep. She wakes every morning with no memory of where she is, who she is with, or pretty much anything of her life. And, of course, some things are not as they would seem. I started it Sunday afternoon and finished it last night. I was anxious to get out of work yesterday so I could get back to the book. Like Room, it takes very constrained circumstances and makes them suspenseful. It's another one of those "I can't believe this is a debut novel" books.
Boo, checked out at both my libraries. That sounds awesome! I'm putting myself on the waiting list.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  puddingcup on Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:06 pm

After this I'm going to knock out Cinderella Ate My Daughter, the second time I've had it out from the library, shamefully.

Tell us if you like it, LoS. I did the same thing: checked it out of my library and had to return it without reading any of it because there was so much other stuff that I wanted to read then. In the meantime, my daughter's princess obsession continues to grow.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  tothemax on Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:48 pm

Who wrote Room?

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Kiran on Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:26 pm

Emma Donoghue.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:15 am

naughty zoot, I mentioned Before I Go To Sleep at the SF 3.0 thread a short while before it went down, and I was so disappointed that no one else had read it. So glad to have a fellow enthusiast now! That movie sorta reminded me of Memento in written form with the anterograde amnesia stuff. The ending disappointed me just a tad, but the whole ride was so thrilling and freaky that I could forgive what I saw as a flawed conclusion.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:23 am

naughty zoot wrote:You guys. I just finished the best thriller I've read since Room. It's Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. A woman wakes up in a strange room, next to a man she doesn't know. Figuring it must have been a hell of a party she heads to the bathroom only to confront a true horror. She looks in the mirror and sees she's 20 years older than she remembers. She is suffering from a form of amnesia which erases her memories every time she goes to sleep. She wakes every morning with no memory of where she is, who she is with, or pretty much anything of her life. And, of course, some things are not as they would seem. I started it Sunday afternoon and finished it last night. I was anxious to get out of work yesterday so I could get back to the book. Like Room, it takes very constrained circumstances and makes them suspenseful. It's another one of those "I can't believe this is a debut novel" books.

Dang, that sounds awesome. That's going on my Paperback Swap wish list!
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Re: Current Reads

Post  tothemax on Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:45 pm

Thanks, Kiran!

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Kiran on Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:19 pm

Its good if totally disturbing. You will like it.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:29 am

Completely absorbed and immersed in The Mysterious Benedict Society! The characters are so offbeat without being twee or aggravating, and I love the idea of young kids on a secret mission!

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Re: Current Reads

Post  mokey75 on Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:14 pm

I'm 86% through with A Discovery of Witches, and I really want it to be over. Also, I may have said this here before, but why the hell is every book a series now? It leads to about 200 pages of nothing in a 600 page book. Maybe if you cut the extra shit out of all three, you'd have one solid novel. But I guess then you wouldn't get people to buy three books, would you? Bah.

I also read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? the other day. It was seriously delightful, and I would very much like to hang out with her.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  Matinee on Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:08 pm

mokey75 wrote:
I also read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? the other day. It was seriously delightful, and I would very much like to hang out with her.

I loved her book and had this exact feeling after finishing it. Be my friend, Mindy!!!

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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:27 pm

I was so psyched for A Discovery of Witches, but I had to surrender after 120 pages. I honestly don't remember much about what I read, probably because my brain is traumatized from the utter boredom.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  mokey75 on Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:09 pm

whatthedeuce wrote:I was so psyched for A Discovery of Witches, but I had to surrender after 120 pages. I honestly don't remember much about what I read, probably because my brain is traumatized from the utter boredom.

I finished it, but I can't tell you what happened, really. Other than I have no interest in reading any of the sequels.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  The Lady of Shalott on Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:09 pm

I finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter this week, which was interesting--I liked her take on Disney, and it was interesting to hear about some of the business behind the Princesses thing, and she also talked quite a bit about the Disney Channel stars, like Miley, and American Girl, and a bit about Barbie/Bratz/etc. fashion dolls. It was interesting and very readable, not scholarly, so it was interesting and fun. I'd vote it as a library book, but not something to buy, I think. I also might pick up Schoolgirls, Peggy Orenstein's book about middle school girls.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  VodouDoll on Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:51 pm

I liked Mindy Kaling's book a lot too. It was funny and charming and exactly the distraction I wanted this weekend. Now that I've finished it I've picked Wolf Hall up again. I'm about halfway through and think it's great. But I'm starting to think to myself, "Come on, Henry! Just get divorced already! You still have five more wives to get through! Get a move on!"

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Re: Current Reads

Post  particle_person on Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:57 pm

Honestly, I thought Discovery of Witches was cracky goodness, although it goes on for much much too long. I'm looking forward to the next one because I adore time travel shenanigans.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Swarley on Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:13 am

I finally finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I'm pleased that I finished but even more pleased that I enjoyed it. I was worried I wouldn't because so many of y'all had hyped it so much. And honestly, I found it a bit slow until I was about half way in. Then I kind of fell in love with teenage Francie. I wish we had gotten more of Neeley or something from his point of view. I bet his was an interesting story as well.

I'm trying to catch up on my "read a book a week" resolution. I have read 36 books so far this year. I am painfully behind. But I have until January 14th to catch up (because I was late making my resolution). Wish me luck.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  eventide82 on Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:36 am

I finally got a copy of Tina Fey's Bossypants from the library and I'm looking forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon reading most, if not all of it. Yay!
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Re: Current Reads

Post  Gallifrey Girl on Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:20 pm

Bossypants is a quick, enjoyable read. I finished it off in an afternoon. I just checked online, and my copy of Mindy Kaling's new book is in transit to my local branch for me. Yay!

My book club just did Olive Kitteridge. I was the only person who didn't like it.

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Raksha on Wed Nov 23, 2011 3:29 am

I've finished several books in the last few days:

'Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV' by Jennifer Pozner - It’s a hilariously snarky, but serious academic take down of reality TV and it’s regressive, offensive ideas about women, people of color, and the poor. It’s putting into words many of the things that have pissed me off for years. It also has lots of suggestions about what to do about this mess and lots of resources for learning more or making your own media. Good book!

'Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America' by Ward Churchill - This basically reviews the history of armed resistence in relation to things like MLK's civil right movement and Gandhi's Indian independence movement as well as making the case for the inclusion of strategic violence as one tool for social change. I don't agree with everything this says, but it's pretty damn hard to make a case that strict non-violence ever brought about a revolution.

'The Protector's War' by S.M. Stirling - This is the second book in the series after 'Dies the Fire' about the survivors of the Change (when all the electrical stuff stopped working, as well as gunpowder and steam-powered engines). The world building in this book is awesome. It follows the societies that had just started to form in the last book and fast forwards 8 years. You can see how things have solidified and a new web of local politics has developed. Plus, you get a look at what happened in other parts of the world, as one new storyline follows some Englishmen in exile travelling on a Tasmanian ship. Can't wait for the next book in the series!

'The Trouble With Magic' by Madelyn Alt - The more I think about this book, the more pissed off I get. It's a fast, light read (I read it in, like, 4 and a half hours) and has a tone that could have made it some fun fluff, if not for some seriously objectionable characters and a useless protagonist. Maggie gets a new job at an antique store run by Felicity, a Wiccan, which blows her small-town-Indiana mind a bit, but she gets over it quick enough. Shortly thereafter, Felicity's sister is murdered and Felicity becomes the main suspect. Maggie's convinced of her innocence and tries to go about proving it (turns out Maggie is something of an empath and can kind of sense ghosts). The cop who's running the investigation ends up with a crush on Maggie and asks her out. He then admits to suspecting Felicity simply because of her religion, and he badgers Maggie to get another job and even goes so far as to quote that "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" bit of the Bible. But Maggie keeps going on and on about what a "good guy" he is and salivating over his good looks. Um, no, he's not a good guy! He's a total bigot and just 2 minutes before, he was declaring it his religious duty to murder her friend! What the fuck is wrong with her? The worst part of the book, though, is how useless Maggie is. She doesn't figure out who the killer is and is in no way responsible for that person being arrested! I'll spoil this in case someone actually wants to read the book, though I don't know why you would.
Spoiler:
At the end, the killer ends up confronting Maggie, but only because she became overconfident because of something the police did. The only reason she didn't kill Maggie dead is because she ends up incapacitated completely by accident (she fell down the stairs). Maggie is knocked out and when she wakes up, the police are already there taking the killer into custody because a tertiary character sensed something was wrong (there's a minor story thread about psychic phenomena in the area) and called the police and told them to go to the store where Maggie was.
Then there's Maggie's vile mother, an overbearing shrew of an uber-Catholic who thinks her daughter is worthless without a husband and children, and Maggie's smug sister. Feh. So stupid.
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Re: Current Reads

Post  whatthedeuce on Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:28 am

I just finished Matt Haig's The Radleys, which is about a small family of vampires living in a quiet English town. The parents have kept their vampire roots a secret from the kids so they can grow up "normally" and then the teenaged daughter gets into a scary incident so that the parents have to confess. Not at all whimsical or lighthearted vamp fare, and I found myself really absorbed in the novel. I think the funniest and most unexpected thing about the whole story was that Christian Bale gets a shoutout from the family's neighbor, a young bully who looks up to Bale because he sees him as very strong and masculine. (This kid is also mentioned as having CB and Megan Fox posters on his wall, which amused me since I have rather big celeb crushes on those two.)

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Re: Current Reads

Post  Menshevixen on Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:13 pm

I finished my last volume (though not THE last volume) of 100 Bullets and I haven't gotten a library card in my new city yet, so I'm rereading everything in sight. Finished zooming through The Hunger Games last night, starting Deathly Hallows today. Must get a library card on Monday!
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