Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
Calendar Girl
kirilaw

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I've fallen behind again

Okay, let's get caught up on my book-tracking.

29. The Obesity Myth (Paul Campos)
Let me be honest: this book was preaching to the choir with me. I've long thought that there was something suspicious about BMI charts and the way we, as a society, talk about "fat". The book is a convincing argument that fat is not nearly as unhealthy as we think -- that it may actually be healthier to be somewhat overweight than to be underweight for example -- and an exploration of society's rather deranged attitudes on the subject. The writing is clear and engaging, and I found it convincing. I'm not sure how well it would work on someone without a pre-inclination to agree, though. ****

30. Astonishing X-Men (Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, et al.): Vol. 1
This is the first collection of Joss Whedon's X-Men run (still ongoing, I believe). There are two story arcs here, starting with the discovery of a cure for mutation (just the first of several elements that seemed strangely echoed in the most recent film, although it's not the same story at all). I'm not a long-term reader of X-Men -- I confess, I read this one mostly because it's Joss and I'm in real danger of becoming a fangirl -- but, although there was certainly lots of back story, it wasn't overwhelming or confusing. The first story arc was very well done indeed, while the second succumbed a little to the eternal challenge of superhero comics: the whiz-bang-epic-battle-of-the-week syndrome. Instead of a paced story, it careens off into disaster after disaster, with no time to think about anything. This is something the genre struggles with. The writing was good, with lots of Whedonesque quips throughout. Very nice art, as well. ***

31. Inkheart (Cornelia Funke)
This is a children's book in which characters from books are drawn into the real world when their books are read aloud. It's a lovely story, and I enjoyed it immensely. Because it's a children's book, there is little on-screen violence, and the villain resorts to a fairly complicated trap rather than just killing people (as I would have expected in a more adult book) -- this was a bit unbelievable, but I can forgive it, given the genre. ****

32. Black Water: The Anthology of Fantastic Literature (ed. Alberto Manguel)
This anthology is HUGE. Nearly 1000 pages of short stories. Many of them are lesser-known stories by established "canon" authors, and many of the stories are themselves classroom classics. It's an odd collection, at least from my perspective, because there's very little by genre authors -- most of it is by authors best known for mainstream work. And, indeed, most of the stories are themselves largely mainstream, of the "elements of the unreal in the real world" variety. None of this is intended in any way to suggest problems with the anthology -- it was quite a good compilation of stuff -- but more to say that it's not the anthology I would have assembled (but then, what would be the fun in that?). ***

33. History of Sexuality (Michel Foucault): Vol. 1: An Introduction
Yeah. I'm reading Foucault. Trying to convince myself that I really am smart enough for academia. I'm not sure reading Foucault was the best idea for a confidence-builder. But anyway. Foucault's a smart guy, and there are a lot of big ideas going on here, most of which have been thoroughly absorbed into the academy. But I confess myself a little uncomfortable with the broad declarations about how things were perceived, without any particular evidence. I know, I know... he's writing philosophy, not history. But that doesn't mean you get to make stuff up... does it? ***

34. Darwinia (Robert Charles Wilson)
One day, the entire continent of Europe disappears, replaced by an exotic, alien landscape. It's an insane premise, but a fascinating one. I found myself being drawn into the alternate history of the world, intrigued by the way politics were shifting and history was reacting. I was actually kind of disappointed when we got the explanation. And the aliens. I would really have preferred to stick to the alternate history and skip the epic battle entirely -- but that's not really Wilson's fault. Great characters, transparent writing. Could easily have been a much longer book (it didn't feel exactly rushed, but... things were skipped that didn't need to be). ****

35. The Meaning of Wife (Anne Kingston)
This is a lovely little examination of how our culture engages with the idea of a "wife". The tone is light and amusing, and the subject matter is interesting. I wouldn't characterize it as a great Work of Scholarship, but it was an enjoyable read, and raised a number of important points. Not a lot of terribly new ideas, but well-presented and accessible. ****

36. Fables (Bill Willingham et al) Vol. 7: Arabian Nights (and Days)
Have I mentioned previously that I love this comic? Well, I do. I'm a little squirmy about the Arabian Nights characters, but so far, they seem to be handling them reasonably well. I miss Bigby, though. ****


1. Freud's Women (Lisa L. Appignanesi) ***
2. Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman) *****
3. What the Body Remembers (Shauna Singh Baldwin) ****
4. Serenity: Those Left Behind (Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, et al) ***
5. Y: the Last Man, vol. 6 -- Girl on Girl (Brian K. Vaughan et al) ***
6. In Her Own Time: A Class Reunion Inspires a Cultural History of Women (Maggie Siggins) ***
7. Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World (Nicholas Ostler) ****
8. V for Vendetta (Alan Moore and David Lloyd) *****
9. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray) ***
10. Put the Book Back on the Shelf: A Belle and Sebastian Anthology (multiple authors) ***
11. Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman) *****
12. Bachelor Girl: 100 Years of Breaking the Rules -- A Social History of Living Single (Betsy Israel) ***
13. The Snow (Adam Roberts) **
14. The Snow Queen (Joan D. Vinge) ****
15. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill) Vol. 1 *****
16. In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challengeing the Cult of Speed (Carl Honore) **
17. Hard Time (Steve Gerber et al.) ***
18. Year's Best SF 2 (ed. David Harwell) ****
19, 20, 21, 22, 23. The First Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zelazny): Nine Princes in Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, The Hand of Oberon, The Courts of Chaos ***
24. A Song for Arbonne (Guy Gavriel Kay) ****
25. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill) Vol. 2 ****
26, 27, 28. The Fionavar Tapestry (Guy Gavriel Kay): The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road ****
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