korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
I actually remembered to get in line at the library for the third book of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, and last Friday my hold number came up.  We only get the book for two weeks, so Husband and I are reading it at the same time. 

The Fool is still the best and I want to give him all the hugs.  Robin Hobb is seriously meaner to her characters than I am. (Yes, really.)  : P

Also I love that Fitz is finally, finally over himself enough to not freak out at the Fool's gender fluidity and fluidity of personalities generally.  In the first-person POV, he uses different pronouns and names for the Fool in the same paragraph and I can't stress enough how right this feels.

(I kind of want to write a fanfic of this titled Harlequin Romance but I have no idea what it would be about other than the obvious.)

Parables

Apr. 2nd, 2017 09:10 pm
korafox: wheat field with cypresses (Default)
I finished reading Parable of the Talents yesterday, and while a part of me wishes I had read it much earlier in life--not because the younger me would have enjoyed it more, but because I could have had its messages with me all this time--this is definitely an appropriate time in the history of our country and world to have undertaken it.

I have a nagging curiosity about whether the campaign staff of the asshole sitting in the White House had read this book, because the demagogue who gets voted President in the book literally uses the phrase "make America great again" more than once.  But then I give a bitter laugh because there's no way in hell anyone associated with that campaign has read the work of a black, female science fiction writer.

I really, really like the Earthseed belief system in this book and Parable of the Sower.  While it is not exactly the way I would shape my own energy and efforts, it really does feel true.  And the verses that begin each chapter of the books are lovely and apropos to our times, to wit:

Choose your leaders
with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward
is to be controlled
by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool
is to be led
by the opportunists
who control the fool.
To be led by a thief
is to offer up
your most precious treasures
to be stolen.
To be led by a liar
is to ask
to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant
is to sell yourself
and those you love
into slavery.


I highly recommend both of these books, which do not shy away from bleakness and misery, but have real gems of hope in them regardless. 

Taboo art

Mar. 29th, 2017 08:38 pm
korafox: (melancholia)
I got an email today that said our college library is putting together a display of "transformed" books for National Library Week--books that have been altered by being drawn on, had things pasted on, had the pages cut up to make 3-D effects, etc.  They are asking for loans of any such books people might have.

I just...do not know how to feel about this.  Well, I know how I feel.  It causes an immediate and visceral negative reaction in me.  I cannot imagine taking a knife to a book, even to create art out of it.  I've never been able to even highlight or underline in textbooks, let alone dog ear pages.  I just don't know whether this is a mala prohibita thing that is just my own bibliophilic moralizing, or if it's actually a mala in se offense that goes against the Good and Just order of the universe.

It's not like I have delicate sensibilities when it comes to art.  "Piss Christ" didn't faze me, and I can just shrug at Christo's "let's cover a bridge with tarps" installations (I do worry about the environmental impact, though I think he makes efforts to minimize it).  But I wouldn't break into someone's house to steal their paints, and I wouldn't go into a museum and scribble on paintings someone has already made.  That's what cutting on books feels like to me--these are already works of art, complete, and they belong to everyone in the sense that they are physical records of the human body of knowledge. 

I just think about what would happen if we have a nuclear apocalypse, and how precious that knowledge would be.  Can you imagine being one of the monks from Canticle for Leibowitz, and you come across this treasure trove of "transformed" books?  How devastating it would be to find these texts, chopped to bits and missing half or more of their information. 

So, yes.  I will never be able to bring myself to make art out of books in any way that damages them.  Alas, it is the way of things that there is not a damned thing I can do to keep others from doing so.

korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
Somehow I managed to get to the end of today without doing any art.  So much for that daily task (sorry, Habitica peeps).

What I did do was read the majority of and finish a library book (Dawn, Octavia Butler) that has to go back by Sunday because someone put in a request for it.  Silly people demanding equal access to a public resource!  Considering I've been reading It for the past month and only got about a third of the way through it so far, it's probably not a bad thing to have taken a break to zip through this one.  It was definitely interesting even if there were hella consent issues on the part of the aliens.  Every once in a while it's good to read some SF that tackles the question of relating/adapting to beings that exist in an entirely different mode from our own.  This is one of the things I go to LeGuin novels for.

I'm actually writing this from my brand new (to me) laptop!  My 5 year old netbook was getting reeeeally chuggy and it was becoming much more of an obstacle to getting things done than a tool.  So we ordered a refurbished Acer laptop that is now probably going to be my main computer.  I'm hoping I can get Photoshop to install properly...I spent much of the afternoon transferring all my files and getting the settings how I want, and Photoshop is the next and last big thing I'm tackling.  Then I can connect it to my big monitor and have two screens and internet on my art computer!  *yay*

It is Windows 10, though I've installed that Classic Shell and that helped a lot.  I think I managed to go into the settings and turn off all the spying stuff Microsoft loads into it.  This is my first SSD computer and I'm definitely liking the speed and oomph it has.  It runs very quietly and cool so far; hopefully that will continue to be the case as I put it to more use.  The keyboard feels good and it shouldn't take too long to get used to the little differences in size and positioning of keys between this and my netbook. 

korafox: wheat field with cypresses (Default)
Right now I am (very slowly) reading my way through It for the first time.  Don't judge; I've only been on this planet for twenty-nine years and only twenty-five of those are literate ones.  There's a huge backlog of good books to work through!

So far I like it a lot, and the structure of the narrative is interesting and working for me.  The only problem is that now I'm pretty sure I will be thinking of evil clowns when we go to visit the in-laws who live in teeny tiny town, Wisconsin.  I have definitely gotten the idea from stories told to me that it has its share of Bad Things what happened in the past.  And it has a little river that runs next to downtown.  Bwugh.

In any case, it seems to be making a metaphor for the darknesses that run under the patina of good old fashioned small-town family values, which is timely enough for the current political climate.  It's a reminder to guard against feeling righteous in the appearance of goodness while ignoring the call to actually do good things.
korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
Time once again to empty out the book jar and see how many I read in the last year!

The grand total: 44 books.  Not nearly as many as last year (57), but I had a lot going on what with buying and renovating our house.

The list (re-reads asterisked; there were a lot of these because I was refreshing myself on Hobb for the new trilogy):

List beneath cut )
korafox: (kilian)
Tomorrow I am going for step 1 of Doing My Part for the country, and attending my election judge class.  I am oddly both quite nervous about it and also resigned to it (or perhaps, resigned to the nervousness).  Quite out of practice at putting on that particular people face, but hopefully it'll be mostly or entirely lecture rather than any roleplaying or such.  I can spend four hours learning interesting rules of election play.

In book news, I've picked Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull up again.  I bounced off this one twice but am enjoying it a lot better this time.  The big difference is that I've read some annotated Jane Austen novels in the meantime, so I have a much better appreciation for the genre as well as the background to understand the context and particular vocabulary associated with the British aristocracy of the 19th century.  Alas, I am not going to finish it in time for this year's tally.  Oh, well.

Inktober proceeds, though I am behind.  I should be getting more work in on it.  I'm fairly certain I can finish the Empress before the end of the month, but I may not get a third card done unless it ends up being a reeeeally sparse one. 

korafox: wheat field with cypresses (Default)
I am getting very tired of spending my entire waking hours trying to hold in warmth.  My workplace is cold, outside is cold, and my apartment is cold.  It feels like forever since I last stretched out all my limbs and unhuddled from this ball.  And it's been such an unseasonably warm winter, too, so apparently I just can't handle even a few weeks of cold weather.

Brain = bad, too, but in a way that I have just enough energy to manage being a semi-responsible adult and keep my work face on but not enough to handle looking anyone in the eye who I owe more than that.  One foot in front of the other.

One benefit of being a prisoner to the couch is that I finally got around to reading Dune.  I liked it better than I thought I would; the prose was a lot more accessible than other books from back then.  I found the POV very strange but effectively done; I can't think of any other book I've read that went so deep into the characters' thoughts and hopped around multiple times in the same scene.  Of course there were things in it that could have garnered an eye-roll, but it wasn't too difficult to take those with a grain of salt.  I'm glad I got around to reading a classic and feel absolutely no compulsion to read any of the other books in the series.
korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
It's that time again.  Time to tally up how many books I read in the past year.

I definitely won the race with last year (50) by reading a grand total of 57 books.  Yay, I got past the 1/week mark.  I was also very successful with my goal to read more books by non-white-cis-men. 

The long-form list (re-reads are asterisked, though there were amazingly only two this year):
Read more... )
I keep meaning to actually start participating in that Wednesday reading meme, but if anyone has any questions about books I have read this year, I am happy to answer.

korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
Having just finished reading Pride & Prejudice, I kind of want to write a book where a (pause to clutch pearls) fallen woman, who has been exiled to a farmhouse by her family for her lack of morality, sneaks out and lives a double life as an infamous highway robber.  Because if society is going to be such bastards anyways, well, screw them.  (Seriously, the reaction of one of the characters to a young woman in such a situation was "it would have been better if she had died instead", which sounds like it was a common opinion in those times.)

The book was very good though.  A much truer portrayal of how real love and esteem develop than most other stories I've seen in any medium, in the modern age.  Apparently Austen had no patience for the whole "eyes meeting across a crowded room" trope, which existed back then, too.  I highly recommend the annotated edition for such insights as these.

Willpower

Jan. 3rd, 2015 08:42 am
korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
I am trying very, very hard not to devour Water Logic all in one huge gulp.  Because Air Logic doesn't even have a release date yet, as far as I can tell.

I love these characters and this world so, so much.  I'm pretty sure the queer characters actually outnumber the straight ones, and it's just so matter-of-fact that I sometimes forget how amazing that is.  And the glyph cards resonate so strongly with me (for reasons that should be obvious to TNT folks).

So, yay book, and hopefully the author and her wife will remain in good (recovered) health and secure in house and home. 

korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
It is my birthday, so it is time once again to empty out the Book Vase (I write every book I finish on a slip and put it in the vase over the course of the year).  This year, my goal was to read more female authors/editors and a wider variety, and that was a resounding success.  My totals for the year:

33 for the women (among 25 authors), 16 for the men (and 1 unknown, since I'm not giving Rick Castle credit for writing Heat Wave)---a grand total of 50 BOOKS.  I probably could have gotten to 1/week average, but I've had absolutely no headspace for reading, this month.

Next year, I will probably try to read more non-fiction, since I have never ever been interested in that side of the library and I'm probably missing out.

The list, for posterity, asterisks denoting a re-read:
Read more... )
korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
Yesterday was my birthday, so you know what that means: time to tally my book log for the year!  It's so much fun to dump out the jar with all the little slips of paper on it.  Kinda feels like emptying out my piggy bank when I was a kid.  :)

The grand total: 37 books read this year!  A 50% increase over last year, which makes me really happy.  Also, I massively succeeded at my continued goal of reading more new books than rereads.  I only reread 5 books this year.  That number just boggles me. 

Looking over the sorts of stuff I read, I can definitely see the trend toward reading a lot more science fiction.  Also I've started to get away from traditional fantasy to move toward urban fantasy.  I can remember getting a fair number of fantasy books from the library this year that ended up getting brought back without being read because they just didn't grab me once I got them home.

I'm less happy about the split of male to female authors.  Only 11 books were written by women, and that was across 7 authors.  I think that will be my goal for this year, inasmuch as I actually have time to read (that whole law enforcement thing).

Here's a complete list for posterity:
*snip* )

korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
How can one feel so incredibly stressed out before going to the library, so very at peace while inside, and then so stressed out again after leaving?  Books are magic, clearly.

Aside from grabbing London Falling again for husband's perusal, I had no reading list planned out when I went and pretty much just grabbed whatever looked good off the shelves.  This amounted to a Philip K. Dick novel, Connie Willis' Blackout, a Doctor Who novel apparently based off some scripts written by Douglas Adams (I have no idea which Doctor even, but I'm guessing one of the Old!Who ones that I haven't seen), Cold Magic by Kate Elliott, and the first October Daye novel. 

I think the library was reading my mind on that one, because it looks brand-new and I swear their collection of Seanan Mcguire books doubled since the last time I was there.  Of course, sticking true to form, they have #s 1, 3, and 4 in the series.  I don't even.  I mean, the other library in town has #2.  So it's not like I can't get my hands on a copy.  But why would you go to the trouble of acquiring a new series and leave out one of the ones in the middle?

I think my tastes have been skewing heavily towards urban fantasy/sci-fi lately.  The latter is just me making up for years of being intimidated by the genre, I'm sure.  I blame my dad's collection; walls of Easton Press, leatherbound, gilt-edged books tend to give the impression that science fiction is Serious Business (and perhaps not nearly as serious as the trouble a young girl would be in for damaging said books in the process of reading them).  Some day I'm going to find out that there was a box of trade paperbacks in the attic the whole time.  And I will refrain from getting angry because this will inevitably immediately precede them becoming mine.  :)

korafox: Dahlia holds up a book, a rainbow shooting out of it.  Text: READ ALL THE BOOKS (reading rainbow)
So I just finished a book (technically I finished it about a week ago) that was so appallingly bad, it was only by virtue of mocking it roundly to husband that I was even able to get to the end.  There were many reasons for this--idiot plot violations of the highest caliber, glaring police/legal procedural mistakes about every other page, characters so two-dimensional they'd blow over in a stiff wind--but the worst thing about the book was the dialogue.

(I suppose I should say which book this was.  True Blue by David Baldacci.  For the love of god, don't read it unless you're a masochist of the MST3K variety.)

See, dialogue is one of those areas of writing craft that I have been paying special attention to lately.  Well-written dialogue has all these half-seen markers that keep it flowing properly for the reader.  Your brain should process the he/she saids, the little bits of action before/after/in the middle of a character's lines, and give you a running mental picture of the scene without having to stop to think about it.  Since I don't have formal training in how to construct these things, I'm trying to note how good writers go about it. 

Well, it turns out that bad writing can be just as instructive.  Here's a hint: when I have to go back to the beginning of the conversation and count off every other paragraph to tell who says a particular line, you're doing it wrong.  For gods' sakes, going on for a page and a half without attributing a single line to a character or including any actions does not make for snappy writing.  It makes for writing that I have to re-read three times to get the gist of.  (And if I can't tell who's saying what by nature of the dialogue itself, maybe you should figure out how to make your characters not all sound the same.)

On the plus side, I now have several specific things to look out for when editing my own writing.  Yay that.  Boo the several hours of my life I lost to that piece of utter dreck. 

korafox: (moongazing)
This year's pathetic total: 24 books read.  At least I accomplished my goal of reading more new books than re-reads, by a slim margin of thirteen to eleven.  Hey, I did a lot of writing with my free time this year.  And, you know, that whole getting married thing. 

Plus he got me three books for my birthday, so I think it evens out.  Well played, husband.  Well played.
korafox: (melancholia)
Why is it that I simultaneously really really want to dive into a pile of never-read fantasy novels and at the same time have absolutely no energy with which to do so?  My book count is going to be just gods-awful, this year.  And I'm acquiring quite a backlog of "I really need to get into this author".
korafox: wheat field with cypresses (Default)
One lovely realization during the packing process for our move this Saturday: between the fiance and myself, we have approximately four cubic feet of books.  And that's just the ones we thought essential enough to need at the apartment; I know I have nearly as many tucked away under the stairs at my parents' house.  I'm sure that's not so very many by the standards of an established geek household, but for apartment dwellers it's a goodly amount.

Is it any wonder that a new bookshelf or two is my top priority in furniture after we move?  
korafox: wheat field with cypresses (Default)
Disclaimer: I've never read Interview with the Vampire before, nor did I know anything much about it.  Besides, of course, that it contained vampires, and likely sexy ones at that (based on some rather, *ahem*, interesting fanart that I've run across on the internet).  So in my quest to read new books this year, I picked it up thinking it would be a nice bit of fluff reading (yes, the prominence of the Twilight books currently has me in the mindset of vampires=cheese) to give me a break from the heavier stuff.  (Aside: The last two books I read were a Stephen King novel and Ice Song, which had parts that just stunned me as the sort of thing I'd expect to see written by de Sade.)

So I was surprised, albeit pleasantly, once I actually got into it to find a much darker and gripping story than I had expected.  It's almost Victorian in style, which makes sense given the narrator.  And honestly, I'm glad I didn't get around to reading this before now, because I think teen-me wouldn't have gotten nearly as much out of it.  I'm halfway through it now and completely absorbed in poor Louis' story.

Edit like a year later when I saw this again:
The second half of the book was crap.  *sigh*

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