March 2018 Reading Recap

Whew I read a lot this month! And most of it was really amazing. My favorites were Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura series (this was just nominated for a Hugo award, too!), and The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (my review here). My favorite comics were Joyride, which I’m pumped to read more of, and the Library Wars manga series, which is hilarious but also really resonant. Yikes.

What were your favorite reads this month?

Comics/Graphic Novels

Fruits Basket 16-23 by Natsuki Takaya (5/5 stars)

Library Wars 1-15 by Kiiro Yumi (5/5 stars)

Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk (5/5 stars)

March: Book Three by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

Garbage Night by Jen Lee (2/5 stars)

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (4/5 stars)

M.F.K. Book One by Nilah Magruder (4/5 stars)

Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates (3/5 stars)

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Who Is Oracle? by Julie Benson (3/5 stars)

Joyride Volume 1 by Jackson Lanzer (5/5 stars)

The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig (2/5 stars)

Lumberjanes: A Bird’s-Eye View by Shannon Watters (4/5 stars)

The Wicked and The Divine: Imperial Phase 2 by Kieron Gillen (4/5 stars)

Afar by Leila del Duca (4/5 stars)

Poetry

How We Became Human by Joy Harjo (4/5 stars)

Fiction

Opal by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (4/5 stars)

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip (4/5 stars)

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess) by Ursula Vernon (5/5 stars)

Lost Things by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham (5/5 stars)

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip (5/5 stars)

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (5/5 stars)

Nonfiction

Castles by Alan Lee (3/5 stars)

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (5/5 stars)

 

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A Book for the Book Nerds

95979.jpgI recently read a fantastic book detailing the technology of books and bookshelves in the western world called The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski. I recommend reading it if you’re a bookworm or interested in learning about basic things that we take for granted.

The main questions this book answers are: “How and why did we get books in the form they are today? How and why did we get bookshelves in the form they are today?

The Book on the Bookshelf goes through the history of books in the western world, starting with scrolls, tablets, etc and going all the way through 1999 (when it was published), when e-readers were in development. This book is worth it if only for the (sometimes hilarious) speculation and analysis the potential effects of e-readers and e-books. It also goes into how we came to organize the books the way we do, and goes over the different ways of arranging books, which I found fascinating because I am constantly reorganizing my personal library.

However, whether or not you end up reading it, I’m going to share some (BUT NOT ALL) of my favorite facts that I learned from this book:

  • capsae are adorable-looking hat-boxes that one could use to carry one’s scrolls about with them. I want to get some scrolls and then I want to get a capsae and I want to frolic around and whip out my scrolls whenever I need to look up fun facts.

    clark-the_care_of_books-book_box
    Online Source (this image of a capsae is also shown in The Book on the Bookshelf)
  •  Apparently in the 11th century, English Benedictines had really strict rules on using the limited-and-precious books they had. In some monasteries, the librarian would assign ONE book per brother per year to read. At the end of the year, the librarian would gather all the brothers and read off their names and the book they had been assigned. If the brother had NOT read their assigned book, they had to confess their terrible literary sin on their knees to the librarian. I’m not saying we should bring this one back, but….
  • Books were stored in locked chests, but eventually the chests were turned on one end and left open and shelves put in, leading to the first armarium which turned into bookshelves!
  • Monasteries had the biggest collections of books until the Reformation, when they DESTROYED ALL THE MONASTERIES AND BURNED ALL THE BOOKS because no one has any religious chill. The printing press took a while to replace all of those big collections. Boo!
  • Spines were considered ugly for a VERY LONG TIME, like until the 17th/18th centuries. Books were shelved with their spines facing the back, because no one wants to look at that ugly thing. Sometimes librarians used slips of paper sticking out of the pages to mark what book it was, since titles weren’t on the spines and the spines were facing the back.

 

There’s lots more where those came from! I really enjoyed this book, although I’d love to read something similar that looks at book technology around the world. This one didn’t often specify if/what technology we received from or gave to the middle-east, east, etc.

 

February 2018 Reading Recap

Comics/Graphic Novels

Fruits Basket volumes 1-15 by Natsuki Takaya (5/5 stars): I’m rereading this series and it turns out that it’s still one of my top 3 manga of all time.

Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer (4/5 stars): Funny! Adventurous! Romantic! And it’s groovy, too!

The Backstagers: Volume 2 by James Tynion IV (5/5 stars): It’s about highschool stagecrew who explore the magical land of the backstage. I love it.

Nonfiction

Myths and Legends of Japan by F. Hadland Davis (3/5 stars): This was first published in 1913 by British authors and YOU CAN TELL. The narration really annoyed me at times. That being said, this was a pretty comprehensive volume of legends, myths, ghost stories, etc. so it’s a good starting point for newbies like me.

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker (3/5 stars): I love Jen Hatmaker but most of this was aimed exclusively at moms, despite being marketed at all women.

Bitch Magazine #77 (4/5 stars): I finally gave in this year and subscribed. So far, so good!

Fiction

Thief’s War by Hilari Bell (4/5 stars): Hilari Bell is always a good time.

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim (4/5 stars): Sim’s writing/plotting/characterization has improved by leaps and bounds since her first book, Timekeeper (which I also enjoyed). WHEN CAN I GET BOOK 3???

Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells (5/5 stars): THE LEIA NOVEL WE ALL DESERVE.

Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith (3/5 stars): It was okay? But I might be too old for it, as it’s aimed at middle-grade readers.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Sumelis (4/5 stars): This is one of the best fictional treatments of family abuse that I have ever read. Judging by the author’s note it’s at least partially autobiographical. I dropped a star for some rough debut-novel edges, but I will be keeping an eye on this author!

The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang (4/5 stars): Magic, love, and raptors.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (5/5 stars): It’s a classic.

Scripture Sunday (51)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

 “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God.”

——

“Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

-Numbers 22:17-18, 38

Why I chose it:

#BeLikeBalaam2018

 

Scripture Sunday (50)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Why I chose it:

It’s extremely possible that I’ve already used this passage in a previous  post but it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

There are a bunch of things about this passage that crack me up.

  1. I’ve read this a hundred times in the course of my lifetime and somehow? I? Always? Forget? Like, if someone is a jerk to me, I almost always think, “Pcht, yeah, hate that guy, I’m gonna give him the cold shoulder forever now!” instead of thinking “That guy was a jerk, but I love him!”
  2. Jesus? Is? Such? A? Radical?????????????????? We tend to forget that, probably because it’s easier to make Jesus more like us than to remember he is throwing down some REALLY CRAZY MESSAGES like loving your enemies and doing good to those who hate you.
  3. So if your mind isn’t already reeling from this impossible task, Jesus gives you a nice little closing order: “Be perfect, therefore, just like God.” UM OK JESUS.

Fortunately, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

It’s Music You Can To Read To

I don’t love listening to music as much as I love reading books, but fortunately, sometimes I can do both at the same time. Music with vocals is too distracting, but anything else is a great companion to a good book. Listed below are some of my favorite tried-and-true music reading buddies, with some recommendations for what to read while I’m at it. I’m not a musical expert in any way (this will be very clear after reading this post), so I chose these based on 1. my level of enjoyment while listening and 2. its ability to float in the background without demanding center stage.

Sherlock Holmes Score by Hans Zimmer

I’m a big fan of anything Hans Zimmer does, but this score is the one of his that I go back to the most. It’s dramatic, it’s playful, it’s zany. I like all of the strings, including the weird ones like the cimbalom.

Pair it with: a comedy adventure, e.g. The Last Knight by Hilari Bell

Frozen Score by Christophe Beck

Hear me out! If you’re sick of “Let It Go” or don’t care for “Love Is An Open Door”, the singalong songs only comprise the first ten tracks of the thirty-two total on this score. The instrumental tracks are really fun, soothing and adventurous by turns. There are also some nice choral bits. I like the way you feel like you’re being swept away on a fun adventure with only the occasional monster.

Pair it with: A graphic novel or three, e.g. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

Piano Collections: Final Fantasy X by Nobuo Uematsu

I’m not a gamer but I adore video game soundtracks, and I love piano covers of video game soundtracks even more. It has a big range of emotions but a really melancholy undertone throughout. The variety and complexity lets me listen to it over and over without getting bored.

Pair it with: a volume of poetry, e.g. The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe

The Crown Season 1 Score by Rupert Gregson-Williams

This is a really sad and melodramatic score to match the show. I like the swoops and dives. I like how it makes me feel feelings even without anything to associate the music with. This is especially good background music, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s more subtle, without a lot of booms and bangs.

Pair it with: a tearjerker and/or historical fiction, e.g. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

Black Panther Score by Ludwig Göransson

 

This is a new favorite of mine, as you might guess. I love the mix of western and eastern instruments, and the mix of older tribal music with futuristic dubstep nonsense. It has a huge range of emotions too, making me feel the sorrow and joy and foreboding and fear. Plus it’s just plain fun.

Pair it with: An epic scifi or fantasy, e.g. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Let me know about your favorite reading music in the comments!