Blurt!Sben

books

Finished reading Middlemarch by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). This was long, and there wasn’t quite a plot (or at least not a single one), but I’m glad I stuck it out. (“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”)

Sun., Jan. 16, 2022, 8:41:32pm PDT

Finished rereading Treason’s Harbour by Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey–Maturin series, book 9). Still in the sweet spot, with the Kim Philby–esque traitor revealed to the reader in the first couple chapters, but not to Maturin (or Aubrey) in the whole book.

Wed., Jan. 5, 2022, 7:08:42am PDT

Posted my 2021 reading list.

Fri., Dec. 31, 2021, 3:05:54pm PDT

I squeezed in one more book before the end of the year: Finished reading A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Emma Southon, a fun and chatty look at Roman law and society through the lens of homicide. Southon uses a good chunk of her page count pointing out how little we know about the lives of Romans other than the richest men, and showing us a bit we can infer about the rest.

Wed., Dec. 29, 2021, 8:14:35pm PDT

My Christmas gift to myself was not reading the book on the 24th or 25th.

Mon., Dec. 27, 2021, 9:57:40am PDT

Finished reading Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt. Reporting on the show trial of the bureaucrat who kept the trains running to Auschwitz, Arendt uses it as a narrow lens to look at the Holocaust. Her discussions of then-modern Germany and Israel are not generally relevant today, but the question that will keep coming back to me is how to resist from within such a system.

Mon., Dec. 27, 2021, 9:55:40am PDT

Finished rereading The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey–Maturin series, book 8). We’ve kind of settled into the sweet spot of the series, if memory serves, and in any case this book is its own sweet spot, a pretty balance of sailing, spycraft, politics, and interpersonal drama, along with a return to the beloved H.M.S. Surprise.

Dec. 17, 2021, 11:00pm

Finished reading The Citadel of the Autarch (as the second half of the Sword & Citadel compilation). This was far and away my favorite of the four books, with a narrator who finally seems human, and something of an explanation for some of the seemingly-irrational events of the earlier books. Was the payoff worth it? Yes; I’m still not a fan of the semi-inscrutability of the earlier books, but they had their own compensating virtues.

Dec. 11, 2021, 9:03pm

Finished reading The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe (as the first half of the Sword & Citadel compilation). The narrator seemed even more of a character, and less a pawn of the author, than in book two. Not coincidentally I enjoyed this book more than the previous two.

Dec. 5, 2021, 12:59pm (edited)

Finished reading Light Chaser, a novella by Peter F. Hamilton and Gareth L. Powell. A fun, short, fairly simple story about a woman traveling a route through colonized space at near–light speed.

Nov. 28, 2021, 10:49pm (edited)

Finished rereading The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian, book seven of the Aubrey/Maturin series. As usual, the book is split between sea and land, and on land, as with the previous book, Maturin’s spycraft is more foregrounded than had been typical of the series.

Nov. 27, 2021, 10:18am

Finished reading The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker, the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni. I wasn’t sure it actually needed a sequel, and on the one hand, sure, it stood perfectly on its own, but on the other, it was great to spend a little more time with these characters, even if they made some bad choices. I think the rough edges of the first story were filed off, and the stakes were even more personal this time.

Nov. 24, 2021, 7:12am

Finished reading Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer, the fourth and final book in the series.

A fitting end, perhaps a little more neatly tied off than I’d like, but perhaps that’s appropriate for a story of this length and intensity. I do sincerely appreciate that it barely hints at an answer to one of my big questions I’ve had since the first book — I don’t think an answer would have improved the books one bit.

The series is a little too weird for me to recommend whole-heartedly to just anybody, but I loved it, and will probably reread it one of these days.

Nov. 18, 2021, 11:05pm

Finished reading Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme by Arika Okrent. Full of charming, bite-sized little pieces about why English is the way it is. I already knew much of it, but there was plenty I didn’t know, and a couple times it ventured deeper into linguistics than my dilettante self could quite follow. You know whether or not you would enjoy the book from the title.

Nov. 11, 2021, 9:26pm

Finished reading Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, a delightful story (or, really, three stories) of crime and family, set in late ’50s and early ’60s Harlem. Highly recommended.

Nov. 4, 2021, 9:16pm