When I read a book, it stays read


005) Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack, finished January 13

I'm so sick of this set-up. It was fresh and fun when I first saw it, but no more. Spunky badboy goodguy? Check. (Bonus points if this protag is not yet an adult.) Protag hates school / work / being told what to do? Check. Clean-lined cartoon forms? Check. Lots of action and weird aliens? Check. Protagonist is the subject of some prophecy? Check. Protag has amazing battle skills? Check.

I could go on.

Anyway. I suppose there's gold in them thar hills.
one night


006) Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt, finished January 15

Although not completely unaware of word-level computational analysis of literary texts, I didn't really start thinking about it until an article in an alumni magazine. Then I started reading stuff from Stanford Literary Lab. I've been wanting to introduce these methods to my students, but I haven't really come very close to figuring out how until reading this book. His style is clear,
his questions are simple, his analysis is understandable. And while I don't know that I will be putting together giant corpuses for my students to work with, I do think that reading from this book will help explain to them how this kind of thinking works.

Incidentally. Dumb title.

Among the analyses Blatt does in the book are:
do adverbs actually track with book quality

is there a pattern to fine opening sentences

who uses the most cliches

how few words are needed to predict an author's identity
Definitely worth reading if you love nerdy math in your nerdy lit.
at most two weeks


007) Glister by Andi Watson, finished January 18

I loved this book. Like Neil Gaiman or Orson Scott Card, Watson is taking the rules of fairy tales and creating something new and wonderful and appropriate to our age.
The only similarly accomplished work I can think of off the top of my head in comics is Castle Waiting, but Glister is superior in terms of childlike wonder. I'm not sure how old the title character is, but ten plus or minus seems like a good guess. She is a little girl who is surrounded by the weird. Her home is alive, she grows relatives on trees, she deals with dangerous fae--- But Glister is never fazed---at least not for long---she's smart and resourceful and optimistic. And so she gets just what she deserves.

The book consists of three primary stories, each in a different monochrome and accompanied by shorter accompanying tales. The volume also includes various Glister-themed crafts.

I don't think I can easily express how wonderful this book was. Get it for yourself, but tell your kids its for them.

couple weeks


008) Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, finished January 20

I was reading customer reviews on Amazon following my disappointment with Cleopatra (see above) and someone recommended this series instead. And so the library provided. And the customer was correct. This was much, much better. First, as one example,
there was again a prophecy, but this time it was nonsense. That's so much better. Or at least, a nice change from all the stupid prophecies in all these sorts of books.

Second, something about the writing---the dialogue and interactions---just felt more honest and real. Zita seems more like a real girl. Which is refreshing. Instead of a bunch of marysues, she collects a band of misfits.

I just---I just liked this one.

one day


009) The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by J.R.R. Tolkien, finished January 21

In some ways, this long poem is a clearer look at Tolkein's ideas of myth and language and tapping into ancient forms and thinking than Lord of the Rings.
Here's what the volume consists of:

The long poem of the titles.

Two shorter long poems that also tell tales of corrigans (fae that steal babies or try to get mortal men to, you know, given them babies)

Two inbetween versions that show Tolkein's development from the second corrigan poem to the finished lay.

Plenty of notes and commentary, some from Christopher Tolkien and some from the volume's editor, scholar Verlyn Flieger.

As a work of scholarship aimed at a broad audience, it's a terrific example of how to put together a volume like this. I see it as aspirational, in that respect.

My personal favorite of Tolkien's works in this volume was the first corrigan poem, the one least connected to the other poems (the only one about a changeling).

Anyway! I doubt Tolkien's poetic work will get nortonized anytime soon, but that's more because it's not representative of its era. As poetry, I think it's pretty good.
three noncontiguous days


The other books of 2018

1 – 4
001) Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 3 by Ta-Nehisi Coates &‎ Brian Stelfreeze & al., finished January
002) The Complete Peanuts 1950-2000 by Charles M. Schulz & al., finished January
003) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, finished January 10
004) El Deafo by Cece Bell, finished January 12

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

* the most recent post in this series *

final booky posts of
2007 = 2008 = 2009 = 2010 = 2011 = 2012 = 2013 = 2014 = 2015 = 2016 = 2017

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