What are we reading? (The sixth of its name)

I also just stayed up WAY too late reading Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman.  I disagree with her on a few points, which I expected (mostly about fatness), and of course I believe that my viewpoint is more right than hers [ed note:  it probably is, unless it’s about breast size].  BUT!  This book is funny and awesome and strident (in the very best complimentary way) and I love how recent and moving it is.  The cover says it’s like a British version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants, but I think it’s better than that book even (and I liked Bossypants a lot!).  Everyone should read this book and see what you think.  Do itte.

#2 just finished Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells and liked it.  Big thanks to #1 for sending it to me!  It’s been hard to brain these days, but a little reading every night keeps me sane.  Current re-read is Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold, which is an omnibus following the early life of the character Miles Vorkosigan.  Fun.

Shadow Magic by Patricia C. Wrede. I’d recently reread The Seven Towers and thought I’d give some of her other earlier work a try.  Plus I’m a big fan of the cover artist on the copy (same person who did the Ace covers for Asprin’s Myth series). This was a pretty lousy book.  There’s promise, but one kind of wonders how it got published and through the editorial process.  I kind of think she should go back and rewrite this one (which is something I hear she has done with other books), only this time spending more time on the character building and less time on the boring stuff and maybe even just sticking to one or two points-of-view to drive the story.  Also more foreshadowing and less deus ex machina (and really, should it end the same way The Blue Sword and many many other books with similar female protagonists do?).  Oh, and if there are three mystery races of legend and they’re all supposed to be in the united kingdom, perhaps she should spend some time with the third race and not just the first two.  From a literary standpoint with the prophecy etc., that would work better.  Hmm, LibraryThing is telling me she re-released this in 2011, so maybe she did rewrite it.  Wish I’d read that version instead!

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett.  A standalone Discworld.  Not one of the best.  But #2 loves the opening part with the Assassins’ Guild testing.  Pretty funny.  The ending is far less satisfying than most other Discworld endings.

The Friday Society— Sadly not worth it.  Great concept, great cover… badly needed editing, or just a better writer.  The flaws probably wouldn’t have bothered me that much when I was 12, but at my age I get titchy when characters switch back and forth from modern prose talk to really poorly written attempting to be 19th-century dialect.  And there are some other problems.

Rereading Fools Errant, because I was going to loan it to a friend who likes spec fic but hadn’t read any Matthew Hughes, but it didn’t have a description on the back so I was all, which one was this?  And then I was hooked again.  In case you’re wondering, it’s like Bertie Wooster (sans Jeeves) was the heir to a kingdom and took a road trip across a futuristic Gulliver’s Travels.


Have you read anything great or mediocre lately, Grumpeteers?

33 Responses to “What are we reading? (The sixth of its name)”

  1. eemusings Says:

    Definitely better than Bossypants, which I also liked a lot though (I recall reading both around the same time). Caitlin fangirl.

  2. Liz Says:

    I’ve started several books I consider to be terrible (Cloud Atlas, and Our Lady of the Forest). Zero stars each.
    Was blown away by Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State. Five stars. The problem is that this is so TRIGGER WARNING that I feel bad recommending it to anyone.
    Recovered from it with several of John Green’s YA novels: Looking for Alaska (four stars), and An Abundance of Katherines (three stars). Now working through Gay’s Bad Feminist, and it is hilariously poignant.
    I listened to Bossypants – Tina Fey reads it to you! – so that’s probably why I preferred it over Moran’s book. But they’re both good reads. 4.5 stars each.
    Something I read earlier this year that is permanently on the Awesome List: Middlesex, by Jefferey Eugenides. Five stars.

  3. Chelsea Says:

    Lots of Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard this year. Neither are going to win any prizes for literature, but they’re consistently enjoyable.

  4. chacha1 Says:

    The last thing I read that was noteworthy was John D. MacDonald’s “Please Write for Details,” a 1959 standalone about a half-assed artists’ retreat in Cuernavaca. I found the paperback in my FIL’s hoard. It took me a little while to fully engage with it, but by the end I was thoroughly invested in all the characters. JDM wrapped up *every* storyline satisfactorily. I recommended it to my Mom and she got it for her Kindle and liked it too. :-)

  5. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Woo hoo! I LOVED How to be a Woman. She has a novel out now! I also really liked Bossypants. I think they are both books every woman should own.

    I’m reading lots of Gail Simone comic books. The library has a LOT of them. So I’ve been reading Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Secret Six… She’s a great author.

    Another recent read was Big Little Lies for book club. Fast-paced book, totally engrossing. It’s about a group of Kindergarten moms and deals a lot with the theme that appearances can be deceiving. We meet next week to discuss it. Looking forward to it!

  6. becca Says:

    Young Miles stands up to a lot of re-reading.

    Must get How to be a Woman. And Bossypants, I suppose.

  7. Rosa Says:

    Reading The New Jim Crow along with Ta-Nehisi Coates commentariat, with lots of intervals to read Pratchett and Crusie and Bujold for mental health along the way. I loved Bossypants so, so much – now I’m going to go read Moran too.

    My husband is reading a whole bunch of 70s & 80s fantasy, right now he’s reading a Janet Morris Thieves World spinoff (that he says is fairly good, but his taste is sort of skewed.) He has a theory that in the pre-internet days and the fantasy publishing boom, there must have been a period when they’d print ANYTHING and it would sell enough copies before word got around about its badness to make money anyway. Some of the Sword & Sorcery collections he’s barely managed to wade through support this theory.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I just could not get into Thieves World. I had a ton of them and DH read them but for me, meh.

      It seems like the good stuff from that time period was edited by Ginjer Buchannan, who just retired (and just got a Hugo for best editor). The Ace paperbacks ALWAYS thank her– she really must have been something special.

      • Rosa Says:

        I read ALL OF THEM. But in my defense, I was 12. Me & my best friend were writing a highly derivative Theives World/Darkover mashup when my family moved away in 7th grade. We promised to finish it by mail but of course never did.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Maybe my problem was that I got the set when I was 15…

      • Rosa Says:

        The edition of Beyond Sanctuary he had features a nearly naked woman on the cover. That may account for people buying it, also.

  8. J Liedl Says:

    My favourite Wrede still remains “Sorcery and Cecelia” which she co-authored with Caroline Stevermer. The conceit of an epistolary novel (with each voice written by one author) involving a Regency world with magic is so wonderful that I forgive all sorts of storytelling weaknesses in the book.

  9. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    We should note: How to be a woman is currently on a $1.99 sale from amazon! #2 is totally picking up a copy right now.

    • Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

      I took advantage of the $1.99 deal and devoured the book in one sitting. I loved all of it, especially since I lived in the UK during her formative years in the early 90s. I pictured my own nightclubbing days in my red steel toed doc martens and charity shop coats. It was also the first book where I had to look up what multiple vocabulary words meant.

      FWIW, I wasn’t offended by her candor and use of language. I thought it was refreshing that she was saying it like it is. However, I also didn’t even know the word Tranny was considered a derogatory term. Does that mean transvestite is also not acceptable and if so, what’s the new jargon? I can’t keep up with what words I can and cannot use. Like, why is the word disabled any less bad than handicapped? Wait. I actually think they’re both currently bad and now you’re supposed to say “a person with disabilities.” The minutia of the word smithing we’re doing to be hyper sensitive to all possible creeds is totally overkill. Maybe I’d feel differently if was in one of these groups. I never did find it that offensive when someone called me a Pollack referring to my Polish heritage…Stupid Pollack on the other hand, was offensive, because the context does matter.

      I personally think that all this walking on eggshells with language actually hurts interaction between groups. There are a lot of people who just fear talking to or even looking at someone that’s different from them because they are afraid of saying/doing something offensive…because what language is considered offensive seems to be a moving target. So instead of talking, you avert your eyes like they don’t exist which in my mind is much worse than interacting with someone even if you happen to use a wrong word here and there. By the way, if you do use the wrong word and are not sure, ask, and you’ll be corrected without malice. Oops. This is obviously pressing a hot button of mine because I have some close friends with disabilities and people are so afraid of saying something offensive to them that they avoid them like the plague, which is 100% safe but pretty isolating for the disabled person. Words are powerful and I can see why some particularly demeaning words are being expunged from our day to day language but some of this is just ridiculous. After all, one’s particular creed, color, orientation, or disability is only one facet of who you are. I don’t think it’s wrong to acknowledge and embrace that part of them.

  10. hush Says:

    I really wanted to love Moran’s book, but instead I found it disturbing. Which is unfortunate, because, my goodness, she is a tremendously gifted writer. I don’t know, y’all. It’s so hard to agree with Moran even when she’s absolutely right and pithy about big picture feminist issues, because she really does seem to relish hating on certain groups, such as trans people, and people of size – and she seems to lack self-awareness about the fact of her offensiveness. In this sense, the media comparisons should not be to Tina Fey, but rather to Sarah Silverman or perhaps Lisa Lampanelli.

    She lost me the moment she threw out the word “tr*nny” in an attempt at humor. When you’re attempting to write authoritatively about systemic social oppression, you lose all credibility when you make a transphobic slur, and then double down by using the n-word — twice. While it appeared she was trying to make a point about subjugation (the Use/Mention distinction applies, possibly), something about the tone struck me as wildly inappropriate. But then again, I’m perhaps overly and unapologetically sensitive about the use of those particular slurs. Oy.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh, that sucks… I just spent $1.99 and everything. :(

      It’s like that insanely catchy all about that bass song that says nasty things about skinny women. Promoting a different body type isn’t the solution.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve met trannies who prefer to be called that. But of course, not everyone does! And the comments about being fat were the ones that bothered me. Still, I think it’s worth a read to see where one agrees with her and where one does not. Your mileage may vary.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The transvestites I’ve met have not wanted to be called trannies by other people (maybe the guys in high school did, but I wasn’t really part of that social circle– I think #1 was more in that circle. I’m not even really sure they considered themselves transvestites. Note that at our high school that was a pretty cool clique to be a part of, and I was never that cool.)

        Thinking hard on it, the XY people I’ve met who have dressed or presented as women or with various amounts of women’s clothing generally haven’t used that kind of language at all. They’re gay with a flair (college– back then it seemed like people were either flamboyant or were closeted in their late teens, early 20s, even at a liberal college in a liberal state. Things have changed so much since then.). Or they’re women who were born as men (transgender, not transvestite) (working as a grad RA and as a professor). Or they just really like kilts. Where I am now, I see more XX in masculine clothing, but they would consider themselves to be Butch, not Transvestite.

  11. Griffin Says:

    Do you have a post on the various retirement savings vehicles of a public state university? I begin work at one in NC soon and am trying to get my head around it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, we have a few of them… look up adventures in retirement saving and then there’s a TIAA-CREF vs. some other company post in an ask the grumpies. I’ll see if I can find links later. If you have a specific question we can ask the grumpies it.

      • Griffin Says:

        Found your posts. Helpful, but I”m going to have to really study up on this to a) make the right decision with this employer and b) make the right decision for this point in our lives. Taking a full day to work on finances isn’t a bad idea.

  12. Current book podcasts | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] There are podcasts about books?  Why yes, there are!  Here’s what I usually listen to these days, all through iTunes: […]

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