Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge discussion

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2020 Weekly Checkins > Week 39 9/17 - 9/24

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message 1: by Nadine in NY (last edited Sep 24, 2020 08:43AM) (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6426 comments Mod
Happy Thursday!   The skies have cleared here in NY and we've had a few lovely crisp and sunny days.  We had a few frosts overnight, but I covered my tomato plant & pots of cosmos with a sheet, so they are fine, but I stupidly forgot to cover the basil, so most of that is crispy.  This has been SUCH a long week, I think because we've been so busy with school activities, and I've had nighttime meetings for work (since we are global, blah blah blah, meetings with China are at awkward hours).


Admin stuff:  Next week starts OCTOBER!!  Time to buy pumpkins!  Also, time to start a new monthly read: Daisy Jones & The Six, and we DO NOT HAVE A DISCUSSION LEADER YET!!  So, if anyone is interested in reading that book and wants to try out the discussion leader role, send me or Lynn a message.  Don't be nervous, it's not difficult, readers love to talk about what they are reading so discussions can lead themselves (which we are going to see happen if no one steps up hahah).

Is anyone interested in a Fall Reading Challenge? Lauren posted a really tempting list of categories in the FB group - this should link directly to it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/42747...

Lynn and I were wondering if we should create folders here for the categories. Honestly, the more I look at Lauren's categories, the more I just want to do it!




I finished 1 book this week, not for this Challenge: 
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea - this was part of my Latinx Heritage reading, and it was a fantastic choice!  It was slow and took a long time to get going, but it ended up surprising me and becoming a five star read.




Question of the Week
This is a hot issue right now, and I'm a little hesitant to set a match to the fuel, but it's getting a lot of discussion over on the Popsugar Facebook page, and then Theresa sent me this question suggestion, so here goes.  I know this is emotional for many.  No personal attacks!

Are there authors you just will not read on principle - however you define that?



My principles are apparently very wishy-washy. But I have a lot to say! Probably too much! wayyyy too much, my goodness I wrote a book! I didn't expect to type so much here! I guess I DO pay a lot of attention to authors and what they say.

If there are allegations that the author is a terrible person, but I don't notice it in their writing, I'll probably try to keep reading them, but eventually lose heart and drop them. I counted, and I mention twelve authors below that have allegations against them, and three of them I'm still trying to read. If I pick up on it in their writing, then the bloom is off that rose, and I'm done with the author. There are A LOT of problematic authors out there. And there is a lot of criticism out there that is unfounded, and sometimes it's hard to figure out which is which.

Justina Ireland & L.L. McKinney have been labelled toxic because they keep calling out racism in other books. But none of that should stop anyone from reading their books, these accusations are just backlash against their criticisms of other books and authors for racism. Jasmine Guillory has been criticized for acting like she's the first popular black woman writing romance - the author who criticized her, Alyssa Cole, is one of my favorites, and this entire thing confuses me. 

But there are LOTS of authors who are most definitely problematic.

Orson Scott Card is an author that I'm never going to read again. He's vile, racist, homophobic, and he is against basic human rights for gay people. Also, I hated Ender's Game, so it was easy to decide to stop reading him.

Brandon Sanderson is another homophobic SFF writer, he believes gay people "can and should" resist their "impulses of attraction," but he's smart enough to keep most of his views private. I guess he learned from OSC. I read the first three books in his Mistborn trilogy (before I knew about his views), and I found them to be glaringly empty of women. (Yeah, I know: "what about Vin?" ... Vin is not enough. The world is not One Woman + Thousands of Men.) I decided his books were dick lit, and THEN I learned he was anti-gay, so it was easy to decide to stop reading his books.

Sherman Alexie has also been accused of sexual harassment and predation. I picked up his well known book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, anyway, and I didn't like it, the entire time I read it, I couldn't get away from the knowledge that the author had been accused of harassment. It definitely came through in his writing, for me.

James Dashner has also been accused of sexual harassment & abuse, which I only just learned, and perhaps his attitude bled through into his writing, and is why I didn't like his book The Maze Runner.

Isaac Asimov is one of my childhood favorites, and I decided a few years ago to re-read his complete Robot/Empire/Foundation books in series. This was a mistake, because adult-me picked up on allllll the sexist claptrap that child-me didn't notice. Then I read some more about Asimov, and he was a womanizing asshole. So. I set that re-read project aside, and I'll probably never get back to it. (I haven't completely given up on that one yet, though.)

Elizabeth Bear - whose books I have enjoyed - and her husband, Scott Lynch - whose books I have not read - recently came under fire - mostly her husband, for grooming young women and engaging in inappropriate relationships with them, and at first I believed their replies were sincere, and they were actually the victims - but I've found I'm really reluctant to read anything by either of them now. The Lies of Locke Lamora gets SO MANY rave reviews, and it's still on my TBR, but ... I just sort of feel icky now when I think about reading it.

Meredith Russo has been accused of domestic abuse by her ex-wife (and her ex brought receipts). Her debut novel, If I Was Your Girl, gets so many rave reviews, I feel like I should still read it, but I can't seem to bring myself to do it.

And I think everyone knows that A.J. Finn is a lying sociopath, but I actually read his book BECAUSE of his batshit crazy backstory - I figured if he could come up with a lie like that, he must be a great writer! Nope. I hated The Woman in the Window. I won't read him again, but it's not principles, it's because his book sucked.

Rebecca Walker is estranged from her mother, Alice Walker, and claims a childhood filled with neglect, but that didn't stop me from reading The Color Purple. But I'm not sure if I want to read any more by Walker. I really don't know what to do here.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's children accused her of years of sexual abuse, rape, and enabling her pedophile husband, which is, well, vile. I haven't picked up one MZB's books in a long time. But I had already read The Mists of Avalon & the next two books in that series ... and the next two books weren't all that great, so it was easy to just ... stop reading her books.

And on to the most recent problematic authors:
Warren Ellis has been accused of sexual harassment (along with several other comic book writers), the details were vague, but the way he just brushed it off was gross and I can't bring myself to read any more of his books. But I really really liked the books I have read by him, so I might pick him up again. I don't know.

Mark Lawrence was also accused of harassment, and I hated Red Sister, so that's an easy one to drop.

And then there is the Author of the Hour: J.K. Rowling / Robert Galbraith. I wish she would just shut up and stay off of Twitter, because she just keeps digging that hole deeper. I've read all her comments, and I feel like some of what she said is being taken out of context from the rest of her posts, which I suppose happens to everyone in the public eye, but a lot of what she's saying is just ick. The backlash against Rowling feels more severe than most, because she is so beloved, people feel betrayed. Harry Potter happened after I was an adult, so I don't have that same relationship with her books. But I happen to LOVE her Cormoran Strike series. A big part of my love is due to Robert Glenister, who reads all of the audiobooks, and he's fabulous, and I really hope it doesn't come out that he's also problematic. I'm feeling really guilty about planning to read the next book in the series, but I can't quit him. I'll be putting Troubled Blood on hold as soon as my library gets the audiobook in.


message 2: by Katy (new)

Katy M | 748 comments I finished The Starless Sea as my book with a person with a vision impairment. It was weird and not necessarily in a good way.

I read Brave New World as my banned book. I read it more or less in one sitting as I was stuck at the garage for four hours. Because of that I probably won't remember it beyond this week, but I liked it.

I am now reading The Two Towers as my book published in the 20th century.

QOTW: I will only not read a writer if they have actually done something heinous. So, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Before I knew about any of that, though, I DNF'd the Mists of Avalon, so I don't know that I would have anyway. Otherwise, I will only not read a writer because I don't like his/her work. I won't not read because of things they say or their personal relationships, their religion, their views, etc. Unless, of course, any of that spills over onto the page making me not like it.


message 3: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (patchworkbunny) | 1192 comments Autumn has arrived, it's gloomy and wet today. Dog got soaked on her morning walk and I've spent all morning catching her trying to sneak on the sofa. I've given in now and she's currently wrapped up in a blanket, snoring her heart out.

Finished:
Afterlandfor ATY, yup back to reading about pandemics and I think it was interesting to see a book that starts their outbreak this year. I do wonder if there were some last minute edits to echo some of the behaviour we have seen. Anyway, the virus causes an aggressive prostate cancer, so most the people left behind are women. I kinda of liked the take on a post-apocalyptic road trip novel, that wasn't in a world full of absolute chaos/violence. There was some concern about the trans rep in this book, and I think it could be taken two ways. (view spoiler) I get this will not be for everyone right now.

Finna also for ATY. This reminded me of Horrorstor, I liked the whole inter-dimensional-portals-in-IKEA thing but the characters grated on me. Quick read though and I finally found a book with geometry on the cover!

So not much progress on Popsugar. Currently reading Ninth House and listening to The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires.

PS: 37/50 | ATY: 39/52 | GR: 81/100

QOTW:
MZB and OSC are on my do not read list, but I may have felt differently if I had read (and liked) their work before knowing about them, but now it just feels icky and like it would bleed through to my interpretation, if it wasn't already there in the pages. There are some people widely known for being terrible and I'd avoid them, but sometimes something personal gets made public and gets distorted and I also like to give people the benefit of the doubt if they otherwise seem OK.

It's easy for me to not buy any more of JKR's books, I was done at the end of Harry Potter. I just can't see why she wouldn't apologise for her earlier comments if she is not a transphobe, but she keeps on and on, and this latest book sounds like the final straw for so many people. It would not feel right for me to give her more of my money.

I probably have more tolerance for sexist writers from the past, like it was so prevalent, I would have to avoid certain time periods altogether. But also I don't read many classics so maybe these things are connected!

Anyway, I prefer to support writers who seem like decent human beings, but that's not to say I never read books by people who have some controversy surrounding them. There are so many books to read, it's good to have some filters.


message 4: by Chandie (new)

Chandie (chandies) | 264 comments I think the absurdly hot temperatures in Oklahoma are finally gone but I’m ready for some true fall weather.

The One by John Marrs. Contemporary thriller? about a company that DNA matches you to your soulmate. It followed a number of different people and their stories. Some were better than others. It was okay. It’s being made into a Netflix series and that may be really good.

A Song of Wraith and Ruins by Roseanne A Brown. YA fantasy. Great world-building. Kind of a slow burn. I really enjoyed it. It’s also been optioned to a TV series.

Great First Line

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. Contemporary novel about addiction and religion and it was really quite lovely. This is another book of the month that I decided to get at the last minute and I’m glad I did. She has a way with words. Highly recommend.

QOTW:

I had pre-ordered the new Cormoran Strike book way back in January/February before she doubled and tripled down on her trans women hate. And then I found out that her pen name was a guy who was into gay conversion therapy. The book showed up and I sent it back.

There are way too many books in this world to read. I don’t need to put money in the pocket of people who are putting negative energy into the world.


message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara | 122 comments This week was interesting because it really started to feel like fall, but only in the mornings. I keep wearing a jacket to work, and then forgetting it at the end of the day. So I was building up a little pile of jackets. This seems to be something that happens to me every year at the beginning of fall and I think it's really funny.

I finished two books this week. One for the challenge. First, I finished The Looking Glass War by John Le Carre. I'm really enjoying reading his books right now and this one was no exception.

I also finished Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. I really loved her first book, so I wanted to read this one. I didn't love it as much, but I think it was just a subject matter that doesn't interest me, because the writing was lovely and I liked the characters a lot. Honestly, I wish it had been a little longer. I used this as a book with a pink cover. It also could be for a woman in STEM, book by WOC, four-star rating on goodreads, published in 2020.

QOTW: I will stop reading an author because of their views. I love Orson Scott Card's books, but I had to stop because his views are just too horrible and, once you know about his views, you start seeing them in his writing. Same with Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The J.K. Rowling situation is just sad and horrible. I don't think she's a bad person, I don't think she intends to be so anti-trans. But she clearly does not understand what it is to be transgender and she's so firmly entrenched in her views that she can't hear what she's saying. Now that the new book is out and it includes a cross-dressing serial killer, it just adds insult to injury, and I won't be reading any more of her books.


message 6: by Nadine in NY (new)

Nadine in NY Jones | 6426 comments Mod
Ellie wrote: "Afterlandfor ATY, yup back to reading about pandemics and I think it was interesting to see a book that starts their outbreak this year. I do wonder if there were some last minute edits to echo some of the behaviour we have seen. ..."


WOW this book starts in 2020? with an epidemic??!! I love Beukes so I've been super excited to read this, but now I'm even MORE excited and also scared!!!


message 7: by Tania (new)

Tania | 545 comments Hello - I walked outside this morning and the air was deliciously-fall-like, so that was amazing. I've been celebrating fall for a month, though, because that's when the fall treats and decorations started in my area - it's nice the weather seems finally prepared to catch up with us, as was the calendar. :-)

This week I read:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld -on my TBR for a long time, I thought it started out rather sluggish but by halfway through I was really into this alternate reality. Not sure if I'll continue the series, but I did end up liking the book.

The Out of Line Collection on Amazon/Kindle (available on Prime), most of these stories were really intense:
This Telling by Cheryl Strayed
Graceful Burdens by Roxane Gay
Sweet Virginia by Caroline Kepnes
The Contractors by Lisa Ko
Halfway to Free by Emma Donoghue

I have two more to go in this collection.

QOTW: The short answer is mostly no. I don't go out of my way to read books by serial killers or pedophiles, etc. but I don't follow most authors closely enough to know about their personal beliefs, scandals, etc. I only know about J.K. Rowling because it blew up Twitter, most of the rest of the issues you mentioned I had no awareness of (I think I did see something on the OSC news on Goodreads in the last week).

I respect everyone's right to read or not read whomever they like, I wouldn't hold it against someone to read an author I didn't agree with, nor would I want that done to me. I'm also not a huge fan of cancel culture, since it seems to get out of hand really fast and honestly feels a lot like censorship. I do have to say, though, that these challenges already push us to read authors we wouldn't have otherwise, and topics too, and I'm not sure that only reading authors who align with your values and beliefs is compatible with that concept.

All that is to say that while I support anyone's right not to read someone on principle, I don't support the idea that we should tell everyone else that they have to do the same. I'm unlikely to enjoy books where the content of the book is sexist, racist, etc. without redemption for or consequence to the character(s) that offend, and that can put me off an author's work, but most of the time I'm not going to make my decisions to read or not to read solely based on the author's views outside of their writing.


message 8: by Delia (new)

Delia (dc1984) Good morning everyone (or at least it will be when I finish my coffee!). It seems the weeks have been getting busier and busier. Work and school, school and work, and trying to balance that with spending quality time with my husband and 3 needy cats. I'm taking a mini break this weekend to visit my family in southern California.

I finished two books since last check-in: Ninth House and Red Glass. Two VERY different books but I really enjoyed both of them.

I also started reading Massacre in Mexico about the massacre of protesters (many of them students) in Mexico City on October 2, 1968. I've had this book for so long and while I started it many times, something would come up and I'd never get around to finishing it.

QOTW: I'm just not going to touch this one. I've discussed this with so many people and other readers so many times that I'm just burned out on the subject.


message 9: by Brandy (last edited Sep 24, 2020 06:17AM) (new)

Brandy B (bybrandy) | 260 comments Troubled Bloodwill be my first bow out for JKR. Her TERF rhetoric has become too much for me and the review I read last night made me think I wasn't much interested in the book even without the political issues.

Orson Scott Card is one I haven't been able to read for a while.

And Piers Anthony who I loved as a tween/teen. Xanth was a bonding experience with my big brothers and their way to get me interested in fantasy which is a genre they loved and I hadn't really experienced. I was through my fourth book when I decided I didn't like how he talked about women and chucked the series. But I still had warm memories about sharing this world with my brothers for a bit.

But somebody recommended him on a page i was on a couple of years ago, and I hadn't thought of him in YEARS but my first thought was, "I wonder if anybody else found him problematic" 22 seconds on google showed me I was not alone and had examples that were way, way worse than what I'd encountered on my brief experience in his world. Ick.

In general I don't think an author has to have the same world view as me. But there are some cases... JKR whose rhetoric is the stuff used to keep trans women out of safe spaces an henceforth endangers people I love... I just can't.

Or things that are downright SQUICK!!!!!

Alternately, sometimes if there is controversy I dig in because I want to evaluate it myself. See Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek and Giver of Stars. Unpopular opinion but I think the things that these two books share? Are like really, really popular tropes that you find in lots and lots and lots of books.


message 10: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Weber | 264 comments Happy Thursday all! I can't remember the last time I did a check-in but it has been a long, long time. I won't bore all of you with an update of what I've read though. I am behind though. I lost a lot of motivation last spring and it carried through the summer. My life (like so many others) was really up in the air. But now I'm settled in my new jobs (I had no job over the summer and now I have 2!) so I'm doing my best to get back on track.

Currently reading:
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You - I'm listening to this on audio and it's read by Jason Reynolds. He is amazing and it's only 4 hours. I'm not reading this for the challenge but for some professional development (I'm a school librarian).
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories - for an anthology
Akata Witch - for a book by a Woman of Color

I can't remember what my book count is, but I know I'm four behind so I need to get a move on.

QOTW: Wow, what a question to come back to! I'm always so torn on this topic. I believe in every book a reader and every reader their book. There are definitely authors that I'm more willing to let their comments or actions slide than others. Or at least I want to better understand their views or whether it's been taken out of context. J.K. Rowling is one of those that I let slide and I don't know if that's right or wrong. Some things she's said have been taken out of context but plenty of other things haven't. It's hard for me to let go of her work though because it's so entrenched in my life at this point.

The same is true when I look at classic authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love Little House on the Prairie. I was obsessed as a kid but looking at it through a 2020 lens, it's problematic and definitely racist. My school is maybe half Indigenous kids, so how can I, in good conscience, hand them a book where it is repeated that "Ma hates Indians"? How can I tell them how much I love this series and then expect them to trust me? What if they think, by extension, that I also hate them? Does the good in the book outweigh the bad and am I ready to have those tough conversations with these kids?

Then there's authors like James Dashner and Sherman Alexie who's work I enjoyed and respected but now I can't look at the same way because of the allegations. But the flipside is, Jay Asher also had similar allegations but his response seemed more sincere, like he acknowledged his faults and wanted to learn. So maybe I'm just a hypocrite.

Overall, I like to separate the work from the author as often as possible. There is no right or wrong answer, really, because we all come to books with our own beliefs, preconceived notions, and traumas that affect the way we read them or respond to them. Something I'm willing to let slide is someone else's hard stop and vice versa.


message 11: by Brandy (new)

Brandy B (bybrandy) | 260 comments Unpopular opiionon alert:

I hate The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I was unaware about her daughter's accusations against her. But the book is great up until like 90 percent through the book... and then it turns into really, really, really bad wish fulfillment fanfiction in a really eye rolling unbelievable way. I men one of those things happening at the end? Maybe. Two... Okay..... All of them? Get away from me with that crap. DONE.

I am an island of two on this.


message 12: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Harris | 464 comments Hi all & good grief. I just typed out this in depth comment on my reading & was answering the QOTW. I touched something somewhere & it’s gone. Hate that.
I finished 3 books for the week.
In the Country of Women by Susan Straight. 5 stars. Nonfiction. I loved this book. She writes about the geology of women on her side & her husbands side. She writes about her life & her daughters. She writes with such love. I feel like as an author she’s under the radar. When I talk about this book everyone says, never heard of her. The cover of the book drew me in which I normally don’t read a book for the cover.
Open Season (Joe Pickett#1)byCJ Box. For Joe Pickett fans you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve wanted to start this series for awhile but the book always had a waiting list. I caught it between waiting list. I will read more in the series.
Party of Two(The Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory. 3 stars. I read the synopsis & thought it was cute. I’ve never read the other books in the series. This seemed to stand alone.
QOTW: Are there authors you just will not read on principle? Yes. My problem is I don’t know about the authors problems until I have finished their book. I don’t read them after I know but I feel it too late then.


message 13: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (patchworkbunny) | 1192 comments Nadine wrote: "WOW this book starts in 2020? with an epidemic??!! I love Beukes so I've been super excited to read this, but now I'm even MORE excited and also scared!!!..."

I think the bulk of it is set in 2023, but yeah the outbreak starts this year, with flu like symptoms. The timing of publication must have been very weird for her!


message 14: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 771 comments Hi all,

This is my first full week at work since before labor day, man does it feel long. Also just having a rough emotional week due to *gestures broadly at everything*.

At least the weather is staying nice, been able to go for walks and run still.

This week I finished:

Neverwhere- finished audio re-read, hadn't ever read how the Marquis Got His Coat Back, so that was a nice bonus. He also indicated he was planning on revisiting London Underground for a longer visit! Excited if that's still happening.

Once Broken Faith - still haven't caught up on the series, picked up a couple earlier this year when i was making an order to support Powells. Still enjoy the series, which can sometimes get tricky with these longer ones.

The Brightest Fell - liked this one although it felt a little "set up for a bigger arc". Still completed an arc of it's own though.

Sing, Unburied, Sing - October read for Books & brew. Had great writing and a moving story, although kind of upsetting to read. But it's upsetting because while it's fiction, it's pretty representational of stuff that goes on in our country, even now.

Currently reading:

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - I only have on prompt left for read harder, and I'm finished with popusgar so out of curiosity I filled out ATY's prompt list with stuff I read this year. turned out I was only 4 prompts short so decided to low-key try to finish. This is the 20th book (of my kindle unreads, sorted newest to oldest). Only a couple essays in, but I like her writing style.

Artificial Condition - woke up in the middle of the night and couldnt' get back to sleep, needed something to read that I didn't have to think too much about.

QOTW:

I don't always follow literary controversy, so I've read or have authors on my TBR that Nadine listed that I hadn't heard of any controversy over. Or in the case of Sherman Alexie, I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for my banned book back in February and didn't hear about the allegations until after.

I think I read Enders Game even though I new OSC wasn't great, because it was "classic" sci fi but I didn't bother with any of his other work.

I heard about Marion Zimmer Bradley before I'd read any of her work so easy enough to just not read it.

Lovecraft is super racist, I won't read his actual work but I've certainly read/played games that uses the mythos, it's so prevalent.

JK Rowling I'm sort of in a limbo because I was SUCH a Harry Potter fan its' hard to just...flip that off. I'm in fact in the middle of a huge harry potter cross stitch stitchalong that started last year before the first of all this really escalated. However that is fan created and I've decided to finish it in support of the artist who worked so ridiculously hard on it, and because I put a lot of time and money into supplies and working on it. I haven't packed away all my merch, but I'm not buying anything new. Not planning on watching the movies or reading the books again any time soon, but haven't removed them from my house. Etc.


message 15: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 771 comments Also, Nadine, I saw her prompt list and it's a good one! Might do it too, wouldn't mind threads to see what others are doing for it!


message 16: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 159 comments Morning,

I really didn't feel like reading last weekend, I just wasn't in the mood. I ended up finishing my re-watch of The Haunting of Hill House and then binged Julie and the Phantoms (BTW this show is adorable).

Finished:

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot - I listened to this on audio and learn so much. I've been trying to pick non-fiction books that will help me learn. I highly recommend this one.

Currently Reading:

Piranesi - I should have this finished tonight or tomorrow. I'm just over half way through and I finally feel like I'm starting to understand what is going on but then again, I'm probably wrong about it. I'm enjoying this. I like the main character and the world he's living in. I'm really interested in finding out where this is going.

DNF:

Bird Box and When We Were Vikings I had tried to read both of these twice before and they just didn't grab me. I tried the audio of both of these this week and wasn't really enjoying them. I DNF'd and then removed them from my TBR. Too many other books out there I want to get through.

QOTW:

I've never read anything other than Potter from JK Rowling, none of her other work appealed to me. And now I'm even less inclined to read it. I have my copies of Potter and I'm sure I'll re-read them some day but it wont be anytime soon.

I don't read any of those other authors mentioned in the first comment. I am a John Boyne fan and I read recently (after I bought his new book) that he has said a few questionable things over the last year or so and put his support behind JK earlier this summer. That really disappoints me. The Heart's Invisible Furies is one of my favorite books. I still plan on reading the book I just bought of his but I have to reevaluate future purchases/reading of his books.


message 17: by Alex (new)

Alex of Yoe (alexandraofyoe) | 159 comments I can't believe September is almost through. It's crazy how time is flying!

Finished 36/50

In God's Hands: A mother's journey through her infant's critical illness for "book for a past challenge prompt (2016: first book you see in a bookstore". This was definitely not a book I would've picked for myself, but it was really good and encouraging to read this mom's day-by-day struggles watching her infant suffer from liver failure and then transplant recovery. She was really honest and a great example of steadfastness in difficult times. Definitely preaches the benefits of organ donation, which I support!

A Farewell to Arms for "read a banned book during banned book week". Apparently this was banned for A) detailing an Italian retreat that they'd rather pretend didn't happen and B) being "pornographic" which is HYSTERICAL to me because it is so non-descriptive about the romance. I've read MANY more books this year that are WAY more sexually explicit than this one. XD However, the writing style drove me nuts. I think I learned I'm not a Hemingway fan.

Currently Reading

A Tale of Two Cities for "book with a great first line". This is a reread for me, and I'm loving it even more the second time!

The Wilderness Journal: 365 Days with the Philokalia for "book whose title caught your attention". I almost forgot to mention this one. That's how over it I am.

QotW

My answer would probably be no. I'm not one to shy away from controversy or the ideas of someone who thinks differently than I do (I read Mein Kampf for goodness sake. Everyone should read it imho. It's astounding how many of his ideas and arguments are still in vogue, and it's important for us to recognize that if we're to keep history from repeating itself). I might shy away from a genre or type of book because of my preferences, but not typically because of an author (though I'd probably shy away from anything any of my abusers wrote, if they ever did write anything, if only to spare myself from having to deal with their crap any more than I already have). Usually I don't know much about authors anyway. I let a book speak for itself. I'm also not a fan of cancel culture because people are complex and are neither all-good nor all-bad, and they change and grow throughout their lives, so it's hard to judge anyone as needing a lifelong ban (I mean, I just think of myself and all the stupid things I've done and ideas I've written that I'd never hold to now. I'd hate to be judged all my life for that). But I understand too that it doesn't excuse the vile things some authors believe or write about. For me, it's more about the content of their work. If I find an author that consistently writes about things I find disturbing or harmful, I'll start avoiding them. Or if their writing just sucks. Like I probably won't pick up any more Ernest Hemingway because I hate his writing style (and I've given him two tries!) nor J. R. R. Martin because of the extremely detailed and violent rape scenes that continue to pop-up and get worse as his books go along (I got through 4 or 5 of GoT before I realized this was going to be a theme, which is a shame because I loved the plot and characters). No thank you. We don't need that sort of thing normalized in our brains. I don't need an author to be perfect or exactly like me in their thoughts and views to enjoy them, but I do need their work to be good and worthwhile, not triggering, harmful, or sloppy.


message 18: by Heather (last edited Sep 24, 2020 08:04AM) (new)

Heather (heatherbowman) | 722 comments No finishes again this week, but I’m making good progress on all the books I’m reading. Maybe I’ll have something to report next week. I’ve been using reading to escape from some stressful, yet beyond my control, situations at work. I’ve been reading all weekend, before dinner, after dinner, and before bed. I’m glad I’m reading an Outlander book right now. It’s definitely an immersive reading experience.

Reading
An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer

QOTW
I've thought about this topic a lot and discussed it with several people. We each had our own way of drawing lines, and I don't think any one of our methods is absolutely right.

I won't read books by living authors who are horrible people or who have bigoted opinions. Not buying their books (or checking out and encouraging the library to buy their books) is my small way to reject who they are and what they stand for. Whether or not their views come through in their writing, I don't want to support them financially or reputationally. I don't paint with a broad brush, though, and it's situational. I won't read Orson Scott Card, but I might re-read Harry Potter. Criticism between authors like Nadine's example of Jasmine Guillory and Alyssa Cole doesn't have an impact on my reading choices.

If an author is deceased, I may or may not read their books. It partially depends on if they were a product of their time, how vile their crimes/opinions, and how much of it shows up in their writing. There is sometimes racism and antisemitism in Agatha Christie's books. I still read her books, and I point out that content in my reviews. But my memories of Oz are tainted by L Frank Baum's opinions about Native people. I tried to read The Mists of Avalon, but knowing what I did about how Marion Zimmer Bradley abused her children, the content was too disturbing and I DNFed.


message 19: by Kenya (last edited Sep 24, 2020 08:12AM) (new)

Kenya Starflight | 668 comments Happy Thursday, y’all.

Not much to report, so just diving into what I read and the QOTW here. Wow, what a doozy of a question...

Books read this week:

Magic for Liars -- I wish I’d read this before reading River of Teeth, because it was MUCH better than I was expecting! I enjoyed seeing a different take on the well-worn “magic school” trope, and the main character, though flawed and occasionally unlikable, was complex and fascinating.

A Cat Called Cupid -- Short and kinda predictable, but cute rom-com novella.

Meddling Kids -- A deconstruction of/homage to Scooby-Doo, with nods to other teen-detective stories along the way (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, etc.). The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, as the author will occasionally slip into a script format, but I highly enjoyed it.

Strange Planet -- Comic collection. I love these verbose aliens and the way they call attention to the absurdity of modern life in cute and silly ways.

DNF:

A Diamond In My Pocket -- Once the teenage protagonist begins to monologue the reader about how they’re plain-looking but still manage to attract boys and that they’re so much smarter and more mature than other kids their age, I’m bailing. Show, don’t tell, and don’t Mary Sue me please.

Currently Reading:

The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories
Alive?
Piranesi
Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

QOTW:

Man, this is a tough question. I feel that whether one is able to separate the art from the artist is a highly individual thing, and it's not always something I'm able to do effectively. And for me it seems to be on a case-by-case basis -- I refuse to watch any more of the Nostalgia Critic (an online movie reviewer) after the allegations against him, but I still listen to music by Michael Jackson and R Kelly despite the allegations against them. (Maybe it helps that I pirated their songs and didn't actually give them money for them?)

As for writers -- I refuse to read anything by Marion Zimmer Bradley after hearing about what her children accuse her of, and after reading an online review/rant against one of her books (Hawkmistress!) and learning about her toxic interpretation of feminism in said book.

I've only ever read one Orson Scott Card book, but that one book -- Hamlet's Father -- was enough for me. Don't you dare rewrite one of Shakespeare's most famous plays into a homophobic screed, Orson... I saw the film version of Ender's Game and found it very "meh," so no desire to actually pick up the book.

I used to really love Piers Anthony, but drifted away from his work after awhile. Then I learned about the pedophiliac content in some of his non-Xanth books (Tathum Mound and Firefly specifically), and I swore to never go back.

As for Rowling herself... I was only ever a casual Harry Potter fan and never read her adult novels, so it's easy enough to decide I'm not going back, I suppose. I have a gay co-worker who's also a RABID Potterhead, and I asked him what his opinion on the matter was... and he said that while he's disappointed in Rowling and won't support any of her new work, he's able to separate her from her work and continue to love HP regardless. That's his decision, and I respect it.

(On another note, I actually wrote some HP and Xanth fanfic many years ago, before I learned how garbage Piers Anthony is and before Rowling dug her own grave on Twitter. Should I take these down, given that looking back at them now makes me cringe?)


message 20: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 539 comments I've been binge reading quite a bit lately and it's felt really great! The weather here in North Texas has been really nice (rainy but cool--I've been able to have all my windows open for days now!). It's supposed to go back to the 90s here soon, though. :(

Finished:
The Imaginary - A book with an upside down image on the cover. It was weird and I think it could have been really intriguing, but the writing was really descriptive in some sections and incredibly sparse in others, so it felt like an unfinished manuscript.

SHOUT - A book that won an award in 2019. Absolutely incredible. I love her so much--she has given a voice to so many just through telling her own stories.

The Impossible Knife of Memory - A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins (wrath, pride). Shout made me want to go back and read some more Laurie Halse Anderson. This one wasn't a disappointment--it deals with PTSD and how it can be passed down from parent to child. I'll forever be impressed at her ability to handle such complicated, weighty topics without them feeling like a depression-fest, or being overly optimistic about it all. She just captures reality so well.

Three Dashes Bitters - A book with a three-word title. I wanted to like this--I met the author at a writer's event and got a signed copy, and now I'd like to remove this book from my collection (but I feel bad doing so because he wrote a nice note to me and everything). I won't go into all of it, but I think he meant it to be satirical and it didn't work. When you give your main character thoughts like "At eighteen, a girl still has that new-car smell" and have him so distracted by his friend's cleavage that he can't pay attention to what she's saying? I'm not going to enjoy your book, even if you meant it to be funny. The guy never learns that that thinking isn't okay, so if the author was trying to critique it, he didn't do a very good job.

Currently Reading:
Mechanica - This will be my book with a robot or AI character. I'm only a chapter in, and the writing isn't the best, but I think I'll enjoy the story.

Victorian Fairy Tales - finally back to reading this to my cats at night (they're less excited about that than I am).

QOTW:
My philosophy with problematic artists is all about context. Were their views historically typical? Meaning, was it a pretty common view for the time? Then I probably won't avoid them, simply because that would be avoiding a real part of history, I'll just make sure I recognize those things that are problematic.

Another thing I look at is "will this author/artist benefit from me partaking in their art?" If it's someone who can make money off of me and I really do think they're problematic, I'm much more likely to avoid them. If it's someone who is no longer here, I'm less likely to actively avoid their work because they don't receive a direct benefit from it.

The last thing I look at is "how prevalent are these views shown in their work?" If I feel like I'm supporting those views simply by enjoy the works, then I'll probably not keep reading/partaking. But I also do like challenging myself with some controversial works--I read The Golden Compass partially because I knew the author's beliefs were completely different from my own (and there was controversy because of his views and how he incorporated them into that series). I ended up really hating the book, not because of the views, but because I hated all the characters so much that I genuinely didn't care if anyone was successful in their plans.

I suppose that's different from being problematic, but I suppose it just depends on who you're talking to as to what counts as "problematic."

All that being said, I would never condemn someone for choosing to avoid an author's work based on these issues. Honestly, I can't think of an author I avoid because of their views--most of the ones listed write in genres I don't really read anyway. And I've had issues with JK Rowling since Harry Potter because her marketing off of how many characters she was killing off (I saw her on a talk show discussing one of the books and she gleefully talked about the number of characters who die in it, and was like "so y'all need to read it to find out who dies!" I'm so not into that kind of advertising.)


message 21: by Shannon (new)

Shannon | 539 comments Charlotte wrote: "The same is true when I look at classic authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love Little House on the Prairie. I was obsessed as a kid but looking at it through a 2020 lens, it's problematic and definitely racist. My school is maybe half Indigenous kids, so how can I, in good conscience, hand them a book where it is repeated that "Ma hates Indians"? How can I tell them how much I love this series and then expect them to trust me? What if they think, by extension, that I also hate them? Does the good in the book outweigh the bad and am I ready to have those tough conversations with these kids?
"


That right there is a very valid and difficult issue. I get annoyed when a parent doesn't want their kid to read something because it'll bring up difficult conversations that the parents just don't want to have, but in this context, as a teacher, that is definitely a tough decision to make.


message 22: by Drakeryn (new)

Drakeryn | 708 comments How is it nearly October?? I swear September has been, like, two days long.

Finished reading:

The 48 Laws of Power (banned book, published in the 20th century) - Finally finished this villain handbook! It was an entertaining read - loved all the stories of con artists and underdog military victories - but I also thought it was way longer than it needed to be. I've been chipping at it for weeks, and now, having emerged on the other side, I realize it's only the second book I've read this month.


QotW: In general I don't take into account authors' private lives or their viewpoints when choosing which books to read. Obviously if it bleeds into their work and impacts my enjoyment (e.g., homophobia, treatment of women) then I would avoid that.

However, JK Rowling strikes me as particularly egregious because it's not just her personal/private life; she's chosen to preach anti-trans rhetoric using her huge public platform and following, and she's consistently doubled down on her statements. I would not buy another JKR book.

(But I don't feel bad for reading and enjoying the HP books in the past, and if I wanted to do a re-read of the books I already own, I would do it without guilt. I don't see that as supporting her. It's not like I can un-buy the books.)


message 23: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sezziy) | 873 comments Hi everyone. No news on the job front but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for one that I applied for yesterday.

This week I finished The Swiss Family Robinson. There were so many things which confused me about this book, like I can not for the life of me understand why they had to shoot everything that moved on the island. There was one, maybe two instances where they were in danger. All of the other animals were just going about their business, like a turtle laying her eggs or a monkey with her baby. Why shoot them? They weren't for food.

Currently reading: Wuthering Heights as a re-read. Cathy and Heath are still vile and I love reading about them!

QOTW: Apart from JKR (I think someone here has brought it up before) I literally had zero idea about any of these people's opinions/actions tbh. Unless it bleeds into their work, I probably wouldn't have a clue.


message 24: by Katelyn (new)

Katelyn | 200 comments It is dumping rain in the pacific northwest, but after all the fires at the beginning of September the rain is a nice change to reset everything.

Finished

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This book deserves all the high ratings it has received so far. Beautifully written story - the ending is a little abrupt but still 5 stars.

QOTW / Currently Reading:

This question is so timely due to what I am currently reading. I will preface by saying that I am probably one of the few people on the planet who hasn't read any Harry Potter (yes, I admit it - but has nothing to do with her terrible comments). However, I absolutely LOVE the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling. I read the first one before I even knew it was her writing them.

I am currently reading Troubled Blood as I had pre-ordered it once I found out it was to be released this year. I am trying to separate the art from the artist on this one and am about 150 pages into it (with over 700 pages left to go). I will admit that so far it is not her best work but I enjoy the characters and the detective mindset.

I am not sure what her future as a writer holds and definitely do NOT agree with her comments in the slightest, but I do love this series and will continue to read it as long as she continues with it.


message 25: by Drakeryn (new)

Drakeryn | 708 comments Kenya wrote: "(On another note, I actually wrote some HP and Xanth fanfic many years ago, before I learned how garbage Piers Anthony is and before Rowling dug her own grave on Twitter. Should I take these down, given that looking back at them now makes me cringe?)"

My personal take: You don't have to feel bad about writing fanfics, because YOU wrote those and YOU are not problematic. But if you have them posted online and want to take them down so that people don't mistakenly think you support the authors, that seems reasonable.


message 26: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Starflight | 668 comments Drakeryn wrote: My personal take: You don't have to feel bad about writing fanfics, because YOU wrote those and YOU are not problematic. But if you have them posted online and want to take them down so that people don't mistakenly think you support the authors, that seems reasonable.

That is true. At this point those fics are old enough (over ten years old, actually) that I may just edit them with a disclaimer -- my views are not the same as JKR's views or something similar.


message 27: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 468 comments Happy Thursday!

I rearranged a bit of my PS challenge so that The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness counted toward A topic you know nothing about from last week. This week, I finished two books:
A Blade So Black - 3 stars. A good first book, and I'm looking forward to the sequels.
Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 1: A Sea of Troubles - 2 stars. I wanted to love this comic so much and it ended up being such a clunky dud. Whomp whomp.

46/50
I only need four more books to finish the challenge, so theoretically I still have plenty of time. I'm planning on grabbing Beloved for BBW next week!

Currently reading:
Rebecca - still taking my sweet time with this reread. The writing is so lyrical and flows beautifully. I may only read a few pages a week (thanks to other distractions), but I'm fully immersed when I do.
The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio - this was an impulse read that I grabbed off the shelf and it's really got my attention - I think it attracts my own obsessive personality traits, which may or may not be a good thing (my eBay watchlist has ballooned in the last few days). But it's a fantastic story either way!
The Sword of Summer - finally picking this up after years of meaning to, and I missed Uncle Rick's sense of humor so much. Naturally derivative of Percy, but I'm enjoying myself nonetheless.

QOTW: Are there authors you just will not read on principle - however you define that?
The only OSC book I've ever read was Seventh Son, mainly to humor my husband bc he's a massive Iron Maiden geek (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son being one of their albums) and he had the book solely for the title.
I had a deep love of Harry Potter, with multiple editions on my shelves at home, but I've packed several of them away - they don't all need to be there taking up space that could go to other books.
Same goes for Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and Sam Sykes - Lynch in particular. I love the Gentleman Bastards books but... why is it so hard for people to just... be decent? So I still have the books, but I get squicked out just looking at them. Maybe with time things will get better.
I did get rid of the Galbraith books though, bc JKR's terfyness comes through particularly in book 2 and again in this new volume, from what I've heard of synopses. Hard pass on all that.
I've heard the argument about "separating art from artist" countless times and while, yes, it's something that some of us may be able to do, we need to be able to respect those who cannot, those who are actively harmed by awful rhetoric and other behaviors. My sister just bought a new Deathly Hallows purse and sent me a pic bc she thought I'd like it, and it took everything I had to sidestep in my response.


message 28: by Lilith (new)

Lilith (lilithp) | 819 comments Happy Autumn Equinox, Mabon, Rosh Hashanah – a little late!

PS Regular Challenge – DONE! ( I’ll re-read my Banned Book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, on Sunday , during Banned Book Week)

PS Summer Challenge – DONE!
Two IRL Challenges - DONE!
120 books read – DONE!

My last prompt was: Book you choose from a shelf with your eyes closed.

Now, I know my home book shelves too well, and wanted to use a random number generator for my Goodreads shelf. But … I live with a black cat who has convinced everyone he knows that he is a shamanic magic practitioner. He LOVES Tarot cards!



So, I dealt him 3 suits, numbers 1 through 10.
Ten was the stand in for 0.
Y’know, just in case the magus wanted to pull a single digit, like 007, or a double digit, like 042, or, I dunno, 900. He picked 100 which was…..

An Anonymous Girl. Such a great book and glad I finished (except for Banned Book reread) on a good thriller/ suspense read. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are a great partnership. I was jonesing for something gritty, and this was close.

Officially in challenge hangover, but have some dark and gritty books lined up!

I’ll answer the QOTW in another post.


message 29: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Harbeke | 372 comments Finished:

Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn
Crisis of Consciousness by Dave Galanter

Fans of the series will find something to like in each book. There was nothing too impressive in either one, though.

Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray

This was my second time reading this one, and it was even better since seeing The Last Jedi. Gray makes Leia feel like a real teenager who tries her best to always do the right thing but does not have all the experience and information she needs yet.

QotW:

There are very few authors that I have opted out of completely due to their real-life actions. Orson Scott Card is one of them.

Usually, I can separate the artist from the art. A good book is a good book, and I am sure that I have supported plenty of terrible people financially in a variety of lines of work without even knowing it.

If I do learn something that an author has done is heinous, then I probably won't seek out their material or publicize it. If they put out something I am curious about, though, it does not have to prevent me from learning more and possibly reading it.

It's a complicated question with a whole spectrum of possible approaches. Having the discussion is good, and so is being mindful of our actions and critical of what we read from any source.


message 30: by Doni (new)

Doni | 254 comments Fall Reading Challenge: I'm theoretically interested, but I'd have to see what the categories are. Maybe you could cut and paste? I requested to join the facebook book club, which is where your link sent me, but atm, I don't have access.

Finished: A Tale of Magic... We read this together as a family and really enjoyed it. It was highly political.

Started: Words with Music: Creating the Broadway Musical Libretto I'm about halfway through. So far, I don't like nor agree with what the author has to say, nor does the book accomplish what it claims. It's not so much a how-to on how to write a libretto as it is random musings about musicals. I liked How Musicals Work: And How To Write Your Own better.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World about halfway through this one as well and so far it is just mediocre. I like it better than Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience because Flow starts off so pessimistically, despite being a seminal work that everything refers to, including Deep Work.

QotW: I've already read some by her, but if anyone leaves Ayn Rand books in our Little Free Library, I usually pull them. Her philosophy is just so self-centered and destructive! I'll also usually pull Book of Mormons too, just because that is the dominant culture and so easy to get a copy if there is interest.


message 31: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 1779 comments Greetings from a NYC with perfect weather! Days of it! I'm hoping we have a long lovely fall just as we had an extended spring this year. It's been one of the few bright spots of 2020 -- gorgeous weather, even the summer here in NYC was bearable.

Nadine - thanks for posting link to the unofficial Fall Challenge - intriguing - I might try to do it! Would love to see at least a thread with reading suggestions for it as some of the prompts are tricky.

I was thinking I'm in a reading slump right now and then looked at all the finishes I had this past week!

Finished:

She Walks These Hills - ghost story/mystery set in Appalachia -- fabulous! 5 stars.
The Daredevil Snared - pandemic audio re-read of a favorite -- Steve West the reader was superb.
Emeralds and Espionage - Nancy Drew for adults -- it's first in a 10 book series, the heroine is borderline too stupid to love and it is everything heist/thriller including the kitchen sink -- has me wondering what the rest of the series can possibly offer? Fun light read.
Lord of the Privateers - another pandemic re-read in audio.

Currently reading: Not a thing. Have too many choices and can't settle. Oh wait, I am in the middle of 2:

A Brief History of Time - just too non-fiction to keep my attention this week.
Holidays on Ice - pandemic audio reread - I needed some snark.

QOTW: My question! And it was triggered by the discussion a couple weeks ago about books you hated and why. When I proposed it to Nadine, I mentioned 2 authors I will not read on principle - one is going to surprise everyone and be for reasons no one has discussed, and one has been heavily discussed here already. I've since thought of a couple more for different reasons -- and a couple I'm on the fence about. And just fyi - the reason I couched 'on principle' the way I did - 'however you define it' was to make it as broad as possible and not just be because of politics or behavior or questionable beliefs. Oh and many of the authors you mention here - I did not know any of that! But many are fantasy/SciFi writers which is a genre I read minimally and don't follow authors at all.

Marion Zimmerman Bradley -- 2 things: it was her open, aggressive and continued support of her own and her husband's abuse and pedophilia, the total lack of remorse or seeing any of it as just morally wrong, that just totally appalled me. I still have a copy of The Mists of Avalon sitting on my bookshelf that I have never read and never will - bought before I knew about her but left unread once I learned that. Just can't bring myself to read it.

Frederik Backman -- I know I know you are all reeling in your seats! It's not because of any horrific behavior. This is purely a reaction to the overwhelming raves his books have garnered --- and I just don't get it. I've not read one -- when Ove became the hot read a couple of years ago, all I could think was how the synopsis had so turned me off I didn't even bother. Then months later as EVERYONE was raving, against my instincts (most of the time when I ignore my instincts on a book (looking at Gone Girl here) I regret it) I decided to give it a shot and went to NYPL looking for the ebook to read. They have never obtained it in ebook! Only in audio which I loathe for first readng (I can only do audio if I've already read the book). No way was I going to buy it. At this point, NYPL still has never obtained it in ebook and I am just never going to read it or any of his books. On principle.

James Patterson -- I know you are all gasping! I love mysteries, but never really read much Patterson. Then I began to notice that while his name was on the cover, the actual writing was by someone else whose name was buried. Hmmm, what was going on there? After reading the NYTimes article a few years ago about his industrial ghost writing empire, I have added him to my list. It's fine to create a brand, but give the actual writers equal billing, not treat them as a stable of ghostwriters. And of course, I get on my soapbox every time he makes the most prolific author lists (he does not deserve it as he's NOT written the books! Stephen King has written all of his and deserves being on the lists). Confession: I did read the Bill Clinton - and loved it. Would read another in a heartbeat. But Bill got equal billing as author....

Tom Clancy - I read a whole slew of the Jack Ryan books -- starting with the submarine one - enjoying them immensely. Red Storm Rising was an atmospheric read on a vacation in the south of France where I found myself checking out the window to make sure there were no tanks rolling down the street. BUT, at some point, Clancy's macho ultra right wing conservative politics were just shining through his writing too much for me. And I cut him out.

I also want to mention TS Eliot -- I've read a lot of his poetry over the years, mostly in academic situations. Somehow I never picked up on the fact that he's a raging racist asshole until I read Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. I was clueless. Will I continue to read TS Eliot? I think so but with different eyes.

So for me 'on principle' includes:

Objectionable behavior or views
Bandwagon popularity
False claim of authoring it
Politics or beliefs which bother me and overwhelm the story

In truth, there are very few authors I won't read. I also rarely refuse to read a book simply because the cast of characters is not diverse enough or certain groups are poorly or thinly portrayed. You know, Little Women has been severely criticized for its weak portrayal of men, and lack of strong male presence. My answer to that: It's about the sisters, the Little Women, and the men in the story are peripheral, so that's an unjust criticism in my opinion. John Grisham has an irritating tendency to make all young lawyer from disadvantaged and financially strapped backgrounds as easy targets to be corrupted and do stupid unethical things. This irritates me to no end but it's his plot device for the deeper story and I can live with it as he is a vocal supporter of tort reform in the courts among other things.

I could go on and on - there are those who will not read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn because of the racism and racist language even though Twain's intention was to show the racism and racist language of the times. I might not have read Memoirs of a Geisha if I'd known before reading it about how the author abused the confidentiality of his source. I would certainly think hard about reading any other book written by that author.


message 32: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 255 comments Hello! This week was calmer than the previous. It's turned to fall here in Minnesota. My neighbor's tree outside my home office's window has fully turned red and orange and dropped half its leaves in the past week. Most of those leaves are staying in my neighbor's yard, thankfully. I went on a bit of reading tear, though.

Finished: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. This was for a Title That Caught Your Attention, because I love the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. This is a play, retelling the story from Eury's point of view, but also set in the 1950s. (I guess? That's the direction for their clothes.) I was very disappointed, because it wasn't about Eury, it was about her relationship with her father. It also, for some reason, includes a set of directions that lead through my hometown.

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger by Rebecca Traister. For Seven Deadly Sins prompt, since there's a lot of wrath. I enjoyed it, even if it focused almost exclusively on 2017 and 2018 and I didn't need another retelling of those years.

Recursion by Blake Crouch. One of my favorite genres is the "doing it all over" version of time travel. I used this for the ATY prompt of geometric shape on the cover. I liked how they dealt with the memories of the other life. I was surprised by the final third of the book and the narrative choice the author made on how to convey that.

Rogue Protocol/Exit Strategy by Martha Wells. Books 3 and 4 in the Murderbot series. Love this series.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon. I had tried to pick this up at the library last Thursday, but couldn't find it on the shelves. When I got home, I put it on hold. Friday morning, the librarians found it and reserved it for me. I picked it up Saturday morning. Oddly timed, to say the least. There's quite a hold list behind me now.

Riptide by Catherine Coulter. Anyone remember In Living Color, when they'd have a sketch of two guys reviewing movies? A line from that comes to mind with this book. Hated it. The characters, the plot, the writing, all of it.

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley. I needed a Graphic Memoir for Read Harder, and Persepolis was taking too long. So I picked up this, an account of a comic writer's struggles to get pregnant, then her pregnancy and birth of her son. I quite enjoyed it.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I was so angry at Riptide that my husband told me to give up on it and read something else published in 2000 (I hate finished it just to see who the bad guy was). I found that On Writing was published then, and I knew I'd never finished reading my copy. Plus with NaNo just over a month away, it was good to get back in the writing mindset.

Progress: PS 43/50, RHC 17/24, RW 22/26, ATY 48/52

Currently Reading:
Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes I'm about halfway through this, currently in meats.

Beloved/Fahrenheit 451 Waiting for banned books week for these two, although I may just read Fahrenheit next and save Beloved for next week.

QOTW: I always struggle with how to react with these. I've seen multiple threads on social media from my favorite authors talking about how hard it is to reckon with a problematic author and a work you adored. Most of the advice is that your reaction to the work isn't negated by the author being a terrible person. The work can stand alone, and your reaction to it is still valid. For example, I loved The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley, because it's a retelling of the Trojan War focusing on Cassandra, and I still reread it. But I won't read anything else by her.

There was a thread just last week from someone recommending how to play the new Hogwarts PS5 game without giving JKR any royalties (Buy it used). The Buy It Used (or make sure the author doesn't benefit) mindset is where I mostly end up. If it's a new property from a problematic person, is there a (legal) way I can still enjoy the work without the author benefiting? Can I even still enjoy the work? I've had Cursed Child on my shelves since it came out and haven't been able to read it. I won't even try any of JKR's adult stuff.

I have most of the Ender series and all of the Ender's Shadow series by Orson Scott Card, plus the Alvin Maker series, which he still hasn't finished. I haven't read any of those books in ages, but I enjoyed them when I was fresh out of college. Knowing what I do about him now, will I even be able to read the last Alvin book when it's finally done? I don't know. Probably not.


message 33: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sezziy) | 873 comments Theresa wrote: "Greetings from a NYC with perfect weather! Days of it! I'm hoping we have a long lovely fall just as we had an extended spring this year. It's been one of the few bright spots of 2020 -- gorgeous w..."

I've never heard that criticism of Little Women before. It's literally the point of the book that the girls are growing up whilst their father is away, right?


message 34: by Brandy (new)

Brandy B (bybrandy) | 260 comments Sarah wrote: "Theresa wrote: "Greetings from a NYC with perfect weather! Days of it! I'm hoping we have a long lovely fall just as we had an extended spring this year. It's been one of the few bright spots of 20..."

Seriously, seriously, seriously, people complain about the lack of strong men in a story about 4 sisters? SERIOUSLY? Like you can't find strong male protagonists in like every other book ever written to that point?


message 35: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 468 comments Theresa wrote: "You know, Little Women has been severely criticized for its weak portrayal of men, and lack of strong male presence. My answer to that: It's about the sisters, the Little Women, and the men in the story are peripheral, so that's an unjust criticism in my opinion."

I've heard criticism of Louisa May Alcott (particularly her anti-Irish sentiments), but this one is laughable.

Melissa wrote: "The Buy It Used (or make sure the author doesn't benefit) mindset is where I mostly end up."

This works for me too.


message 36: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Chandie wrote: "A Song of Wraith and Ruins by Roseanne A Brown. YA fantasy. Great world-building. Kind of a slow burn. I really enjoyed it. It’s also been optioned to a TV series."

This looks like one I would appreciate! Thanks for the recommendation!


message 37: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 1779 comments Sarah wrote: "Theresa wrote: "Greetings from a NYC with perfect weather! Days of it! I'm hoping we have a long lovely fall just as we had an extended spring this year. It's been one of the few bright spots of 20..."

That is what I say, but they point to Laurie and his father...

I swear sometimes these literary criticisms get started by those who are just being contrary.


message 38: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Sherri wrote: "In the Country of Women by Susan Straight. 5 stars. Nonfiction. I loved this book. She writes about the geology of women on her side & her husbands side. She writes about her life & her daughters. She writes with such love. I feel like as an author she’s under the radar. When I talk about this book everyone says, never heard of her."

This looks to be very interesting! Added it to my towering TBR listing! Thanks!


message 39: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Alex wrote: "My answer would probably be no. I'm not one to shy away from controversy or the ideas of someone who thinks differently than I do (I read Mein Kampf for goodness sake. Everyone should read it imho. It's astounding how many of his ideas and arguments are still in vogue, and it's important for us to recognize that if we're to keep history from repeating itself). I might shy away from a genre or type of book because of my preferences, but not typically because of an author..."

I totally agree with you regarding Mein Kampf! We need to be mindful of such harmful history...so we can protect ourselves from allowing it to be repeated!


message 40: by Harmke (new)

Harmke | 241 comments Katelyn wrote: "II will preface by saying that I am probably one of the few people on the planet who hasn't read any Harry Potter (yes, I admit it - but has nothing to do with her terrible comments). "

I am one of those few people too *smile*. I've planned to finally read Harry Potter next week as my banned book.


message 41: by Lilith (new)

Lilith (lilithp) | 819 comments QOTW:

This is such a good question! A number of years ago, Stephen Fry did an interview on this dilemma. While he loved Wagner’s compositions, he had a hard time with Wagner’s Nazi leaning, made all the pertinent by Fry’s Jewish heritage. Can you separate the product from the creator?

In 1968, of all years, we were assigned to read theLaura Ingalls Wilder series. Between “Ma hates Indians”, the d word, the s word, I hated it.
My dad helped me write a “book report” and told me to be specific with examples. Good advice for life. I presented to my teacher, and then the principal, and ....

never had to read Laura Ingalls Wilder again! Thereafter I read Paul Gallico and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. And at home, Shirley Jackson. Not racists and not a**holes.

So, yes, the author's behavior influences whether I'll read them or not. Generally being an ass won't stop me from reading them.

I'm not inflexible. If I book was written in the 19th century or earlier, I will take into account the context and prevailing attitudes of the dominant class at the time.

If a book is written to demonstrate the reprehensible nature of an ism, a la Mark Twain, I'll read it.

But, if the author racist, heterosexist, ableist, misogynistic, abusive, support rape or clearly have psychopathic leanings, then no, I'm not buying or reading.

I have a chronic illness with no cure, I'm not super young, and I'm not going to finish every book in the world. Thus, I have no interest in reading a book, no matter how technically wondrous or popular, by a person who disgusts me. Too many good authors who are decent people out there to read.

YMMV.


message 42: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 255 comments Theresa wrote: "So for me 'on principle' includes: Bandwagon popularity"

Theresa, you reminded me of one of the other reasons I don't read authors. I also exclude authors because they're too popular. I won't read Jim Butcher for exactly that reason. He has enough fans, and there are plenty of other authors that could use my time and dollars.


message 43: by Christy (new)

Christy | 351 comments Fall has not commenced in a weather sense here yet, but mentally I am ALL the way into fall! I want to bake everything cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin-related, and tonight I am cooking a hearty chili, sunny warm days be damned! I have a container of beautiful fresh strawberries in my kitchen and I'm like sweet summer child, what do I even DO with you?? (Never fear, I will use them)

Finished this week:
Mexican Gothic: I didn't love the twist, but I did enjoy the book. Maybe my expectations were lower after so many people didn't like it?
Unnatural Death: I figured out the mystery long before the end of the book, which was a bit annoying, but overall a solid Dorothy Sayers.

Currently reading:
Love Medicine: Loving this one more and more as I get further along.
A Visit from the Goon Squad: I'm starting this audiobook tonight. I was very underwhelmed by Manhattan Beach, so I'm hope to like this one better.

QOTW:
I'm pretty affected by hearing terrible things about an author! Particularly in 2020, there is so much overwhelming awfulness that I can't bear the idea of giving my attention, much less my funds, to something contributing to that awfulness. The idea makes me feel pretty stressed out and overwhelmed, honestly. I'm not worried about people judging me; it's more that I feel I'm putting my finger on the scales of justice in the wrong direction. However, that doesn't mean I think it's an issue without nuance, or that it isn't ok for people to draw different lines. How can we have a fully informed discussion of these things if nobody is reading the texts? How can I draw my own conclusions if I don't? I know that I'm not in a place emotionally to read texts by contemporary problematic authors right now, but I do think those questions are important and I'm open to drawing a different line about it later.

For historical (deceased) problematic authors, I'm able to be more philosophical and read the text while bearing in mind the difficulty of that author. Their views cannot be changed, but we can inform ourselves about their views and writings to build a more complete understanding of the past. I'm firmly of the view that the more we know and understand, the better equipped we are to build something positive in our society. Solzhenitsyn is one of my favorites in many ways, but his antisemitism should not be forgotten or dismissed. I choose to read, but with my eyes (metaphorically as well as literally) open.

I kind of just argued both sides of the issue, didn't I? I guess the only thing I actively dislike is ignoring or dismissing the problem; that doesn't get us anywhere.


message 44: by Harmke (new)

Harmke | 241 comments Uh oh, my nose becomes blocked. Just a little bit. Normally I would blame allergies or all the dust because of the draught and all the plaughing of the farmes. Guess that’s just what it is. I stayed at home today and hope it will be over soon.

Finished
Watership Down - I didn’t expect much of this book. Fantasy is not a genre I tend to like. But oh, how I got to love those rabbits!! I couldn’t wait until I could read more of the adventures of my little rabbit friends Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig (I loved the Dutch translation!), Blackberry and of course Dandelion because of his excellent storytelling. I even started to look different to the rabbits hoppin' in the meadow across the street. A very pleasant surprise. That’s the beauty of Popsugar: discovering books you normally wouldn’t have.
Prompt: a book with a made-up language

Currently reading
Anne of Green Gables

Qotw
Wow, what a question! And such a variety of answers.
For me, it’s about the content of a book. I usually have no idea of the personal opinions of an author. I can understand if you ‘ban’ an author because you feel really offended by some of his or her opinions. Imho, it is very valuable that everyone can decide this for themselves.


message 45: by Lilith (new)

Lilith (lilithp) | 819 comments Harmke wrote: "Katelyn wrote: "II will preface by saying that I am probably one of the few people on the planet who hasn't read any Harry Potter (yes, I admit it - but has nothing to do with her terrible comments..."

Harmke and Katelyn, I am the third person lol.

Not interested. Never will be.


message 46: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Shannon wrote: "I've been binge reading quite a bit lately and it's felt really great! The weather here in North Texas has been really nice (rainy but cool--I've been able to have all my windows open for days now!..."

My hairdresser recommended Laurie Halse Anderson so highly and I've never been attracted to her books because I could only assume they would definitely be downers! I'm glad to see your reaction. I may just have to give her a try after all!

I can empathize with you regarding Three Dashes Bitters! I have a book that I purchased at an author's event that I started reading, rather disliked, and have never picked it up after at least a year. Thankfully, I told the author I doubted I would enjoy it, but I allowed her to talk me into giving it a try. I keep looking at it and thinking I really should give it a chance and continue reading...but... ;)

I agree with virtually everything in your answer to the Question of the Week. I actually read all of Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy simply because they were free to me and I was so curious since the Harry Potter series was getting so much grief from "Christians," as was this series. (I do not believe in any organized religion, so this criticism was negligible to me personally.) I just wondered what was similar about the two series and also what others were finding so offensive. I just disliked Pullman's writing overall in so many ways. I rated the first book with 2 stars and the other two with only 1 star each, which means I basically despised them! :) Since I tend to give rather high ratings compared to other readers.

But as you and others have also mentioned, these are such personal and subjective determinations that each individual must decide for themselves what is acceptable and not acceptable to them. :)


message 47: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Shannon wrote: "Charlotte wrote: "The same is true when I look at classic authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love Little House on the Prairie. I was obsessed as a kid but looking at it through a 2020 lens, it's problematic and definitely racist. My school is maybe half Indigenous kids, so how can I, in good conscience, hand them a book where it is repeated that "Ma hates Indians"? How can I tell them how much I love this series and then expect them to trust me? What if they think, by extension, that I also hate them? Does the good in the book outweigh the bad and am I ready to have those tough conversations with these kids?"

"That right there is a very valid and difficult issue. I get annoyed when a parent doesn't want their kid to read something because it'll bring up difficult conversations that the parents just don't want to have, but in this context, as a teacher, that is definitely a tough decision to make."


As a classroom teacher I always delighted in such controversial subjects. This is a perfect opportunity to help children realize each individual has a right to their own opinion. I personally believe we deny our children so many opportunities to develop critical thinking skills by ignoring and/or avoiding controversy. As a parent I always encouraged my children to consider why they liked/disliked and/or agreed/disagreed with something, whatever that was. In my opinion, this is what children need to learn--how to determined what they desire and why, or what they reject and why. That's just me...


message 48: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Hi everyone. No news on the job front but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for one that I applied for yesterday."

Oh, Sarah! I so hope this works out for the best! My fingers are crossed as well! :)


message 49: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Katelyn wrote: "The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. This book deserves all the high ratings it has received so far. Beautifully written story - the ending is a little abrupt but still 5 stars."

Ooohhhh...this is the December monthly group read. I am looking forward to reading it then. :)


message 50: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (book_music_lvr) | 3574 comments Mod
Lilith wrote: "Happy Autumn Equinox, Mabon, Rosh Hashanah – a little late!

PS Regular Challenge – DONE! ( I’ll re-read my Banned Book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, on Sunday , d..."


Congratulations for all your finishes, Lilith! :)


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