Erin Erin's Comments (member since Feb 16, 2012)


Erin's comments from the Laurie R. King Virtual Book Club group.

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13 hours, 21 min ago

64419 Elisabeth wrote: "Non-fiction that reads like fiction works best for me, mostly in science and space-related fields. The Right Stuff and "

I also prefer my non-fiction to be narrative. The first non-fiction to peak my interest was Testament of Youth by Vera Britain, which we read as a VBC pick several years ago. I like when the author is just telling a story, but the story happens to be true.

I really enjoy Bill Bryson's work now. And Mary Roach. I recently picked up Assassination Vacation and The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell on recommendation, but haven't read them yet.

Those books about Nellie Bly sound really interesting. Talk about intrepid reporting!
Jul 30, 2015 08:01AM

64419 A few of us have posted comments on another thread about interesting non-fiction books we've been looking at and I thought it deserved a thread of it's own.

So tell me, have you read any good non-fiction lately? And what do you like best about non-fiction?
Jul 30, 2015 07:58AM

64419 I think I'll start a new thread devoted to non-fiction recs. =)
Jul 29, 2015 02:04PM

64419 Sabrina wrote: "Erin wrote: "but I'd rather read a cultural post-mortem about the people who actually stood up and said... "Hey, this isn't right."

Absolutely! Kind of a tangent, but it relates: One of my reading goals this year is to start reading more non-fiction and this kind of look back on the trail-blazers is the stuff that really grabs my attention. We should search to see if we can find some narrative non-fiction that fits our discussions!
Jul 29, 2015 12:29PM

64419 Sabrina wrote: "Anyway, trying to wrap my head around Atticus being a segregationist is like being told that a lawyer who defended a woman in an unjust trial is a rapist, but it's OK because he's complex and it's just his belief that women have their place."

But I'm not sure if anyone is really trying to say it's OK. Definitely not OK by today's standards, and from what I've heard of the book, not okay by Scout's (and thereby Harper Lee's) standards either. More like an accepting that it is a thing that used to happen and taking the opportunity to do a cultural post-mortem?
64419 John wrote: "All good points, Erin, but you give me one last chance to throw in an old fogie-perspective snarky comment; if one took a survey of today's say pre-teens to 30 somethings of given a choice between ..."

Sure,John...right up until they no longer had the running water or the sanitation. ;-)
Jul 26, 2015 09:16PM

64419 Sabrina wrote: "That way they can keep their racist views and still pat themselves on the back."

Totally agree!
64419 John wrote: "In particular I suspect the axiom of might makes right would rule the day for awhile. I also suspect that except in rare cases many books would become just so much available kindling."

As evidenced by the prophet and his followers raiding the farm near Jeevan and taking over whatever town they wanted.

But look at the small tech that people have apparently figured out without realizing it's something you would have had to figure out.

Archery? Making a bow from scratch is actually pretty tricky, yet every group we see has a bow. Sure, some people probably found some of them (like that guy with the quad crossbow), but everyone? Bows aren't that common these days.

Flour? Yeah, that stuff has to be milled. And whatever you work out to mill grain would likely also work for other things too (like water pumps). But Jeevan is making bread for his family in Year 20.

I totally get being wrapped up in survival, but as humans we have a natural affinity for tools too.

Really, I think this all comes down to perspective, though. I'm fully confident that humans in this post-cataclysmic world are probably working towards these things. Farming and food preservation and woodworking and animal husbandry. All those basic homesteading type stuff.

But we're following traveling musicians and focusing on the craziness of the "In my day..." stories being flipped on their head.

I really liked that interrupted conversation that Jeevan's friends were having about whether or not they should be teaching their children about all the tech they had before the pandemic. Since half the kids couldn't fathom what they meant and the other half were freaked out by the changes.

I keep coming back to the inside cover of my paperback copy that has in big letters "What would you miss?" And I find it funny that none of our focal characters has mentioned stuff like running water or working sewer systems or refrigeration. The do mention air conditioning, but mostly the big nostalgia seems to be around cell phones and the internet. Clearly these people were not big campers, LOL.
64419 Elisabeth wrote: "I imagine the characters' reaction to seeing electric lights in the distance would be similar to a village's reaction to the arrival of the traveling players: here is a symbol of hope for the future of humanity. "

Totally agree. Creation is creation, right? Humanity is ideas. Whether that be science and tech or art.
64419 I was actually boggling through the second half of this book that it took 20 years for someone to get their electric lights to work again. The grid is a totally different thing, but small scale electricity for a few locations? Apparently EVERY engineer in the world died in the pandemic?

I was able to suspend my disbelief for most of the book. It's a dystopia and all dystopias are like this. But I really started to think about it as I finished reading.

Mandel makes the comment about fossil fuels having "expired," but people make fuels out of all kinds of things. Like biodiesel and ethanol. How about repurposing solar panels or wind turbines? Modern homesteaders use small wood-burning steam turbines for power gen (similar to old-skool locomotives). I have such a hard time believing that it would take 20 years for people to remember what's out there. That there wouldn't be at least a few tinkerers working out how to get the more basic technologies back in service on a small scale.

Maybe they did though and our Traveling Symphony just never ran across them in the towns they visited (as evidenced by the lights in the distance).


The thing that this really highlighted for me, though, is how magical technology apparently is for most of the population. Like the guy that Kirsten mentions who is trying to "find" the internet. Somehow convinced that it's just out there waiting to be found rather than a neural-network of hosting computers that have all since stopped running.

We've gotten to this point of technology where the user-interfaces are so smooth that no one actually knows what's going on behind the scenes. No one knows how things work anymore.
Jul 21, 2015 04:37PM

64419 This is a problem I always have with books: the books that are the most enjoyable to read and the books that strike up the best discussion are so rarely the same books. =P
Jul 20, 2015 09:03AM

64419 My Monday morning podcast (Book Riot Podcast) this morning focused on Go Set a Watchman and initial thoughts and reviews...and it does not look good.

"Atticus Finch is a racist" being the major headline that's really grabbing everyone's attention. But since this was written first, it's not character progression. It's not Atticus Finch becomes a racist; it's one version of Atticus Finch was originally written as a racist and then Harper Lee decided to write him differently. And that could be really fascinating from a literary analysis perspective. Why did she write him differently? What different meaning and messages do we get out of one story verses the other?

One of the Book Riot editors pointed out that what's in this story is a lot of ugly reality. That given where and when they live, it was completely reasonable for all of those characters to be what they are portrayed as in this story. And Scout's having to return to this environment and confront those attitudes really resonates with events of today.

The bit that's really setting people off seems to be the takeaway at the end of the story: basically "hating the hater makes you just as bad as them." So much faulty logic there. And I think that's the bit that would get to me too, if I decided to read this.

I feel like this would still be a good discussion book. I'm expecting no one will actually like this book, but the comparisons to TKaM and the discussion could be really great.
64419 I'm only about halfway through right now, so my perspective might change, but...

The main storyline that I keep focusing on is Kirsten's and the Traveling Symphony. That's the story that's happening in the now with all the emotional/scary strings attached. I'm freaked out on their behalf right from the beginning. That unsettling feeling that grows; from the town with the prophet, grave markers with their friends' names on, all their sentries going missing in the night, etc, etc.

This is where the dystopia is. It's a scary world. Even though we get the reprise of flashback segments to before and we get to see the better parts of humanity start to reassert themselves...it's a scary world.

And this is where my attention stays. Yeah, it's interesting reading about Arthur and Miranda and Jeevan and what the were doing before the world ended or while the world was ending, but I've pretty much written them off as having already died and thus being more a philosophical flashback. Again, not quite done so I might totally change my mind, but that's what I'm thinking right now.
64419 Elisabeth wrote: "I can't put my finger on why, but Station Eleven is definitely a different animal from Oryx and Crake or Califia's Daughters."

My initial thought was a time difference (Year 20 in Station Eleven vs. some other time frame for the others), except now I'm remembering that Califia's is about the same amount of time.

So it's got to be focus. They all focus on a different aspect of life having changed after a cataclysmic event. Oryx and Crake stands out as being the most different, since the main character is basically the last human on Earth and he is totally caught up in survival and mourning.

In both Califia's Daughters and Station Eleven, it's like 20 years "after" and people are pretty much just getting on with their lives. But Califia's is an action/suspense type story with kidnapping and rescue mixed in with the personal development where Station Eleven is more a straight character study.

Now I really want to read Califia's Daughters again!
64419 Sara wrote: "(Can we GEEK OUT over her use of "Survival is insufficient" from Star Trek: Voyager?!? What a fantastic way to illustrate her point about art surviving the novel's Plague. Also, STAR TREK.) "

Thank you! I was trying to figure out where that was from. It struck a chord in my memory, but I couldn't pin it down. And oh how perfect for a literary dystopia to reference back to Star Trek!
Jul 13, 2015 02:44PM

64419 I am soooooo torn on this book. It now sounds kind of like this book was basically the crappy first draft that preceded TKaM. Definitely never refined (or even meant to be published) by the author. So who knows what's really in it or what the quality will be like.

I'll be interested to hear what people think of this book, but I'm rather expecting that the hype and community reaction will probably be more interesting that the book itself!

Should I do a poll to see who would be interested in adding this book as a selection later this year? Or would it be better to wait and see how the reviews land? (I'm reminded of all the interest behind The Casual Vacancy a while back, which quickly dissipated after the first round of reviews hit.)
May 22, 2015 02:50PM

64419 Our discussion seems to be petering (no pun intended!) out, but I have a question for you all.

Do you think of this series as more a paranormal/fantasy series or a mystery series? If you were working at a bookstore and had to shelve it with one genre or the other, which would you choose and why?
May 18, 2015 09:32AM

64419 Beverly is a great character, definitely. But the character I loved the most was Leslie (and she gets such a raw deal!!). I just kept thinking, "no, no, no; you can't leave her like that!!"

I know we get a lot more of her in the series, but it occurred to me that we never quite get the full of her perspective of what's happened to her. She kind of reminds me of Mercy Underhill from Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham. Not that Peter puts her on a pedestal, exactly, but he holds her up as the better police officer, and there are definitely expectations that come along with that. I'm getting a little ahead of our current reading of the series with that comment, though.
May 14, 2015 02:11PM

64419 Pamela wrote: "Am I the only one who is rereading the entire series? I ought to finish by the end of the month at this rate, and a road trip to London this fall is awfully tempting."

I probably will end up reading through them all again. I feel like that always happens; if I choose to reread one book in a series, the rest will follow.
May 11, 2015 12:58PM

64419 IDK, Lenore; sounds about right to me. Of course, I'm looking at a class right now for work that costs about $3k for 5 days, so maybe I've become jaded.
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