Redshirts by John Scalzi
So Star Trek Into Darkness broke my heart and not in the fun way. (The fun way involves my usual Sunday night weepings, which I believe the rest of the world calls Once Upon a Time.) With my hold on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (yes, I know it’s painfully slow, but completionism compels me!) remaining in a, well, holding pattern, I knew I had to do something to drum up my waning enthusiasm for the franchise if Project “Watch All Of Star Trek” was ever going to get completed. Luckily, Redshirts was available right off the shelf at my local library when I finally stepped in.
Have your reading habits changed since you were a child? (I mean, I’m assuming you have less time to read now, but …) Did you devour and absorb books when you were 10 and only just lightly read them now? Did you re-read frequently as a child but now only read new books? How about types of books? Do you find yourself still attracted to the kinds of books you read when you were a kid?
I didn’t actually read a lot of books as a child—I compulsively reread old books from my parents’ sea of books, as well as comic strip anthologies. (Public libraries and network televisions: things I didn’t understand as a child or during the Wombat Years.) I read How The Irish Saved Civilization at one point as a child, and got nothing out of it. I wasn’t getting a lot of meat off the bones, because I understood fairly little. Because I could read quickly and parrot back story information, I was identified as a good reader at school, but at home, I was paging through books I already knew over and over again. Looking back at it, it was probably a self-soothing exercise, as much as picking my belly button as a little kid was.
I get much more out of reading now. Not only do I read more, I’m a much better reader (in terms of understanding and get much more out of the books I read. I adore having my commonplace book and reading wildly widely, instead of circling in a weird pool of comic strip anthologies, torn up copies of Asterix, and the wildly outdated and homophobic Understanding Other People. Just thinking about going back to that gives me the creeps.
Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Toye
Oxford Press’ Very Short Introduction series is a godsend for someone like me. I’ve mentioned before that there are massive, gaping holes in my pop cultural education (I have never seen The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music), but there are some in my academic education as well. Lately, I’ve come to tackle my blind spots with equally blind enthusiasm (“I’ve never seen a James Bond film! LET’S WATCH ALL OF THEM!”), but some are easier to tackle than others. And that’s why this series is perfect for me: in a little over one hundred pages, each volume has more depth and focus than a Wikipedia article and allows me to get a feel for the basics without going deeper into the subject than I need to.
Poison Study by Maria V. Synder
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
When Anne McCaffrey passed away in 2011, I was saddened, as many people in the sf community were. I was also seized by a sudden urge to go back and read The Dragonriders of Pern. Well, go back… I distinctly remember reading a Pern novel featuring a tall, dark villainess in middle school, but, looking back, I definitely could have just imagined that. In any case, 2011 was when I determined to read Dragonflight and get a toehold back in the series, to see if I wanted to continue or not. Naturally, it took me two years to finally sit down with it. Yeesh.
I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness on Friday. I was so brutally disappointed that I had to put my face on the Internet about it. Thus, another video rant. I also direct you to Racebending’s comments on the subject. This io9 post is also a good read.
Live and Let Die
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
I was driving home with a few friends in the car, on the way back from something, when “Live and Let Die” came on one of Atlanta’s classic rock stations. I usually play Russian radio roulette while in Atlanta since they took my beloved the Journey away, but I paused. “Hold on,” I said. “I think I recognize it.” “It’s that Bond song Paul McCartney did,” my friend Isobel informed me. “Back up, Paul McCartney did a song for James Bond?” Much riffing (on McCartney, Bond, and my own ignorance) ensued. So, as you can see, between Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, the James Bond franchise is an empty desert dotted by the occasional Grace Jones. I had literally no idea what to expect from Roger Moore, so I went into Live and Let Die utterly blind.
What book(s) do you find yourself going back to? Beloved children’s classics? Favorites from college? Something that touched you and just makes you long to visit?
(Because, doesn’t everybody have at least one book they would like to curl up with, even if they don’t make a habit of rereading books? Even if they maybe don’t even have the time to visit and just think back longingly?)
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not that much of a rereader; I’m like a shark, I have to keep going forward. Nonetheless, every time I come across a copy of The Lord of the Rings, I always open it to a random page, read a few paragraphs, and feel better about my place in the universe. And since I’m back where my collection of out-of-print American editions of The Lord of the Rings is, that’s a lot.
Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly
Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days is a really fantastic piece of nonfiction—the kind that’ll make you gasp out loud, even though you know how this race between two lady journalists in the 1880s is going to turn out. I’d heard of Nellie Bly in passing before (something something asylum something something), but Eighty Days introduced me to her in her entirety, from birth to death. Naturally, despite Goodman’s warnings about Bly’s subpar attempts at writing novels, I was interested in what put Nellie Bly on the map: Ten Days in a Madhouse. While it was originally published as a series of articles in The New York World, it was collected into a book the same year (1887), making it eligible for my establishment.
The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherill