this week in books

This Week in Books: October 27-November 2

THEN: The Answer, by Rebecca Sugar

The only book I’ve read since last week’s slump was the Steven Universe tie-in picture book, The Answer. (I reviewed it here.)

NOW: The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. by Jessica Valenti

I’ve been meaning to read The Purity Myth more-or-less since it came out in 2007 and somehow, I never got around to it until now. (I love library ebooks.) I’m glad her memoir, Sex Object, didn’t turn me off from her writing. If I hadn’t meant to read this for so long, would I have picked it up after that? I don’t know.

This has been a good read. I’m back on my “women’s studies 101” kick.

NEXT: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien; Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed

Both of these came in from on hold a little too late, but I think I’ll read them anyway.

I have a lot of sewing to do if I’m going to get these Christmas presents finished on time, so The Lord of the Rings audiobook will be good for that – though I doubt I can get through the whole thing in the two week borrowing limit.

Tiny Beautiful Things is a re-read. I wanted some self-help to read over my autumn vacation, but since Radical Self-Love was such a let-down, I decided to go back to an oldie but goodie that I knew wouldn’t disappoint.

This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.

judging a book by its cover

Judging a Book by Its Cover: Etiquette & Espionage

(This post was originally published at my old blog.)

When I bought a copy of Etiquette & Espionage to carry to the international librarians’ meeting, my co-worker was surprised by the cover. She had read the Japanese translation, which looks nothing like the American/English cover I ordered.

Like Among Others, the American/English cover looks a lot “older” and fancier than the Japanese translation. I think it looks more “girly,” too. Sophronia looks a lot older than her fourteen years in the American/English cover, more like sixteen, seventeen years old. It looks like the higher end of young adult; I think the actual age range is somewhere between the two covers. (I found the same thing with Castle of Shadows.)

I wonder about the students – girls and boys – who might miss out on this book. I’m not sure I would have read this book in high school without a librarian to reassure me that it’s about steampunk spies. Which I guess is why we have librarians.

EDIT: I finally figured out the Japanese title with help from a friend: ソフロニア嬢、空賊の秘宝を探る, Miss Sophronia and the Treasure of the Sky Pirates.

link list

Sunday Morning Paper: feeling lost at sea

 

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Two Women on ‘The Bachelor’ Started Dating and I am Finally VindicatedAutostraddle (October 26, 2016)

It only took 20 seasons of The Bachelor spanning 14 years, four spin-offs and two international franchises for two women from the show to start dating each other, but it finally happened. Twenty seasons spanning 14 years, four spin-offs and two international franchises for two women on the show to look around and realize they could just date each other. Not this man from a J.C. Penney catalogue.

Words We’re Watching: ShipMerriam-Webster Blog (undated)

Shipping is the act of creating a romantic pairing between two people or characters who are not otherwise romantically linked. Shippers are the people who ship these characters; the pairing itself is called a ship.

If you’re feeling lost at sea, it may help to know that all these terms find their ultimate origin in the word relationship.

The Nitty-Gritty on Reduplication: So Good, You Have to Say it TwiceJSTOR Daily (October 26, 2016)

In the salad-salad paper, the type of reduplication found in the English examples above is called “contrastive focus reduplication,” which is a bit of a mouthful, even before you’ve had any salad to speak of. Essentially, in each of these examples, which could involve nouns, adjectives, verbs and sometimes longer expressions, the phenomenon of reduplication is being used to contrast a concept (often emphatically so), with its more prototypical self. So obviously a tuna salad isn’t as “salad” a salad as a salad-salad (you know, the kind with green leaves and a vague sense of health waved over it). Indeed, this is the stereotypical version of salad we’d all have to share in our cultural memory in order to understand this kind of wordplay, no matter what you fancy in your salads.

Why Doesn’t Spending Time with Women Make Men Less Sexist?The Science of Us (October 24, 2016)

[Lawrence University professor Peter] Glick explained that the overarching theory here is that benevolent sexism evolved culturally as a way to maintain the gender hierarchy while also allowing men to enjoy close companionship with women, consensual sex, and so on. In other words: If you adopt the stance that part of your role is to protect your wife or girlfriend and to be made better by her goodness, then you get those aforementioned perks, without losing your place in the gender hierarchy.

Fiction pick of the week
The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe

You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it—oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly—very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this?

Poetry pick of the week
The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
irregular review

Irregular Review: The Answer

29957941 The Answer
Rebecca Sugar
★★★☆☆ (I liked it.)

You already are the answer.”

The Good
I should start this review by stating, for the record, that I adore Steven Universe. I made a point to buy this book new, because I want Cartoon Network to see that shows like Steven Universe – quirky, heartfelt, optimistic, and very queer – make money. There is a market for something like this, and they should keep making it, and more things like it.

The Answer did not disappoint. It’s a TV show spin-off, so admittedly, my hopes were not high. Although ever since I read Frozen: A Sister More Like Me, I’ve had more respect for these tie-in books. The quality has gone way ( wayyyyy) up since I was a kid.

I was especially impressed that the meta/postmodern picture book trend has trickled down to the movie/TV show tie-in – right around the time when School Library Journal declared the death of the meta picture book.

The Bad
I don’t think The Answer can stand alone. Maybe it’s not supposed to; it isSteven Universe tie-in, after all. But I won’t get it for my library; we have a “no tie-ins/spin-offs” rule, unless like (e.g., Jedi Academy) they can stand alone without the reader knowing the source material.

Judging a Book by Its Cover
GAY.

I like it. BookRiot had an article recently(ish) about the history and evolution of cover design for YA books with LGBT+ content, from “hiding in plain sight” to “out and proud.” The Answer is a kids’ book, and it’s definitely on the “out and proud” end of the spectrum; then again, so is all of Steven Universe.

Right after The Answer (the TV ep) aired, there were some fans (“”fans””) who insisted that Ruby must be a boy. They were wrong. Anyone who knows anything about the show (i.e., probably anyone buying this book) knows that the gems are genderless/single gender, but use feminine pronouns.

… so it’s not technically lesbians, but it’s basically lesbians.

tl;dr

I actually said this about Not Your Sidekick, but I was thinking about Steven Universe and everything else out there, too.

diversity spotlight

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: October 27, 2016

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5394086Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution, by Ji-ji Jiang

Goodreads summaryIn 1966 Ji–li Jiang turned twelve. An outstanding student and leader, she had everything: brains, the admiration of her peers, and a bright future in China’s Communist Party. But that year China’s leader, Mao Ze-dong, launched the Cultural Revolution, and everything changed. Over the next few years Ji–li and her family were humiliated and scorned by former friends, neighbors, and co–workers. They lived in constant terror of arrest. Finally, with the detention of her father, Ji–li faced the most difficult choice of her life.

Told with simplicity and grace, this is the true story of one family’s courage and determination during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century.

I’ve read Red Scarf Girl three times: for the first time, in sixth grade, when I’m not really sure how I got my hands on it; for the second time, in my sophomore year of college, when I reread it for my undergrad thesis* on who gets to tell the stories of the Cultural Revolution in the U.S.; and a third time, last year, when a fourth grade teacher asked me to review it and help decide whether or not it was acceptable for her advanced fourth graders to read during their unit on governments.
(*Don’t write your undergrad thesis as a sophomore.)

tbr1

27134953What is Obscenity? The Story of a Good for Nothing Artist and her Pussy, by Rokudenashiko

Goodreads summaryA graphic memoir of a good-for-nothing Japanese artist who has been jailed twice for so-called acts of obscenity and the distribution of pornographic materials yet continues to champion the art of pussy. In a society where one can be censored, pixelated, and punished, Rokudenashiko asks what makes pussy so problematic?

The trials and tribulations of Rokudenashiko have always fascinated me. Her vagina kayak was “obscene,” but the barely pixelated pornography in every convenience store is totally A-OK?
(Books like this are also why I don’t blog under my real name. I’m a grown-up; I read grow-up books, but I don’t really need my students searching for my name and finding this.)

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly book blogging meme hosted by Bookshelves & Paperbacks.

this week in books

This Week in Books: October 20-26, 2016

It’s been a slow week in books. Nothing has really grabbed me.

THEN: (nothing, oops)

I haven’t finished reading anything since last week. I guess I can’t read at a breakneck pace forever. I’m having a hard time getting into anything.

NOW: Brightwood, by Tania Unsworth; Radical Self Love, by Gala Darling

I’m still reading Brightwood. It’s not what I hoped for, but I figure, I got this far, might as well keep going?

Since I was feeling a bit stuck, and I’m on vacation, I decided to go for something different: my beach/airport guilty pleasure genre, self help. I love a good/trashy self-help book, especially if it comes with some kind of “homework.” (Looking at The Artist’s Way.) Too bad this is flimsy and shallow and the homework involves zero actual worksheets. I wanted worksheets. I signed up for her Radical Self Love Companion and I never got it.

NEXT: ???

I’m just hoping I find something I can sink my teeth into, because this “not really excited about any of the books I’m reading” thing is pants, I tell you. I just keep reading articles I’ve saved to Pocket, which is usually a sign that the book(s) I’m reading is (are) boring.

I’m open to suggestions. Maybe one of these ten tips to get out of a reading slump will do the trick…

This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.

DNF'd

A Disappointment of DNFs: Grim

In her review of Mars One, Pamela asked what’s the collective noun for DNF’d books – you know, like a flock of sheep, a murder of crows, or a misbelief of painters. I suggested “a disappointment of DNFs,” and I’m sticking to it.

This won’t be a regular feature; I’m not here to make fun of books. I pick things up, they don’t work for me, and I put them down. A Disappointment of DNFs will be for books that I didn’t just not care for, but I actively disliked.

16115038Our first featured title is Grim, a collection of short story retellings edited by Christine Johnson.

Goodreads summary:

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.


Grim
is not the first Harlequin Teen book that hasn’t worked for me. Maybe because I’m not the audience for Harlequin’s main imprint, either?

Grim deserves the dubious honor of being the first book featured because it was so boring, so utterly forgettable, that I actually picked it up twice. I was halfway through the Blackbeard retelling before I was like “… wait, this sounds familiar.”

The Blackbeard retelling is pretty boring. Puss in Boots was… fine. Malinda Lo did a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses that took place at a boarding school or a university dorm? but that’s all I remember. C’mon, how bad does it have to be for me to be like “there was a story by Malinda Lo and … I barely remember it ’cause the whole collection bored me to tears”?

Some of my favorite books in high school were fantasy (or SFF) short story collections, too: Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction, and The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm. So I don’t think this is a genre thing, or a format thing.

Sorry, Grim. It’s not me. It’s you.