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Reading check ins 2020 > Week 39 Check In

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 877 comments Mod
Hi everyone,

Hope everyone is hanging in there ok. I know this week has been a stressful news week for me.

This week I finished:

Neverwhere - finished audio re-read, i hadn't read the short story at the end before. Gaiman also said he was working on a longer return to London Underground, hope that's still in the works!

Once Broken Faith & The Brightest Fell continuing on the October Daye series, still enjoying. bought them earlier in the year when supporting Powell's bookstore, just now getting to them.

Sing, Unburied, Sing - my next books & brew read, for October. Good reading, kind of reminded me of Toni Morrison. Kind of depressing, because I initially thought it was historical fiction based on some early descriptions, but then cell phones were mentioned so I realized it was detailing life that's much more modern than I initially thought. Hard to realize how little some things have changed.

Currently Reading:

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America - I only have one prompt left for Read Harder, and i finished popsugar so out of curiosity I filled out the ATY prompt list. I found I was only 4 prompts short, so I'm casually seeing if i can fill them from stuff I was planning on reading anyhow. This is my 20th book in my unread kindle library, sorted by most recent. Pretty timely, in terms of improving my education on Black feminism/intersectionality.

Artificial Condition - had trouble sleeping last night so just needed something easy to read to wear my eyes out, that didn't need thinking about. I finally got the next book in the series so re-reading this one.

QOTW: I'm borrowing from popsugar this week, hopefully doesn't become too contentious. Does controversy over an author affect whether or not you will read them?

I know it's in a lot of peoples thoughts right now with the current issues with JK Rowling, no right or wrong answers here.

For me, I don't really follow the literary world terribly closely, beyond basic stuff like what books are popular/some awards on occasion. So I probably won't know an author is problematic unless it's specifically pointed out, or it totally blows up (like the JK Rowling thing). It also depends on the level of what the scandal is, and to some level the era it was written.

I had never read Marrion Zimmer Bradley, but when I had heard her daughter had come out and described the years of abuse she'd suffered, it made it pretty easy to just not read her even though she's "classic". Lovecraft is horribly racist, I won't read his actual original works but I don't refuse to play games or read stuff that clearly pulls from his mythos, since it's also pretty genre-defining. I do prefer stuff that has taken more thought and care as it references the mythos, aware of its origins.

I know I've been struggling with the JK Rowling stuff because I always considered Harry Potter my biggest fandom. Been kind of in a limbo, because it makes me sad, and it kind of taints my thoughts any time it's brought up. I haven't gotten rid of merch, still working on the Harry Potter stitch along because Stewart worked so hard on it. But it'll probably be a while before I do another re-read or re-watch, if I do, and I'm not buying new HP stuff.

message 2: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 877 comments Mod
Also I forgot to mention, I put up a thread for the next book club selection! https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

message 3: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments Wow, this week went fast! It's been kind of crazy around here with my mom in town again, so I haven't had as much reading time. I'm still reading The Bone Clocks, which is really interesting - I'm just over halfway through, and I really have no idea what the second half will be. There are scifi elements, which I'm guessing will play more into the second half, but the first half was really more about people's relationships over time, and how tiny things can change them. I'm reading it because it's a companion to Slade House, which IRL book club #1 is reading, but I've already finished - I think I see how they are related (again, I expect there will be more on that in the second half), but they are completely different types of books. Slade House is a super quick ghost story, and this one is really immersive, even with the POV shifts and time jumps. I hadn't read anything by David Mitchell before these, but clearly he is very diverse in his writing style!

I did also listen to Sea Wall / A Life, which had been sitting in my Audible account for a long time since it was free earlier this year. If you enjoy listening to white guys who think they're the first people in the history of ever to experience things that are part of the normal human condition (illness, death, birth, etc.), then I suppose this would be for you. It was definitely not for me. The things that happen in each of the two parts are genuinely terrible, but the narrators are so whiny and entitled that it's really hard to feel anything but annoyance at them. At least it was free and short.

QOTW: I'm unfortunately not always aware of controversies about authors until after I've read (or at least started) their books, since I tend to go in fairly uninformed, particularly on book club picks. When I do find out unfortunate things, obviously I can't unread what I've already read, but certain things will deter me from seeking them out in the future.

I don't care too much about things unrelated to their writing - publicized relationship drama (other than committing abuse), money stuff, crimes committed when they were younger, saying or tweeting something that doesn't seem well thought out, etc. Writers are human, and they deserve the same slack I'd cut anyone else.

So by that standard, the same things that would make me unfriend or block someone online will cause me to do the literary equivalent to a writer - blatant and unrepentant racism, sexism, nationalism, homophobia, etc. I'm not talking about little things like some 80 year old white author from the countryside being poorly informed about other ethnicities or someone dredging up a homophobic joke made in middle school 30 years ago - to me, those fall under the umbrella of being correctable and not character-defining.

The recent JKR ridiculousness is really in a class by itself - she not only has said terrible, transphobic, demonstrably untrue things on multiple occasions - she keeps digging in and doubling down. And she brought up the topic in the first place - this wasn't an off the cuff response to an interview question, she actively is using her platform to promote these ideas. And to make it worse, apparently there is some sort of legal debate going on in the UK about trans rights right now, so her bigotry is reaching people in positions of decision making - so there's a real world impact.

I really enjoyed the first three Cormoran Strike books, and had been planning to read the fourth and fifth - but especially in light of having heard that there is a trans or GNC character in the most recent one, I'm out. Like Sheri said, I'm not going to trash all of the Harry Potter stuff I already have - but at this point, I feel like the books (for me, a grownup who read them for the first time as a grownup) are a starting point for fan creations more than something I was going to go back and re-read anyway.

I really can't think of another example that's that egregious - I talked about my dislike of Lovecraft a little while back, and I don't plan to read anything else by him - but since he's dead and not actively being terrible right at this moment, I don't have the same level of anger at him.

message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 297 comments I missed last week so I'm posting early this round. Only a little has changed anyway.

I am still listening to Cibola Burn. Still enjoying it very much. I am probably about 40% of the way through the audiobook. I am pretty sure I'm going to want to re-watch season 4 after I'm done.

I started reading The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. I got this off some save FoE post on books and had no idea about it other than it was recommended by someone. I am enjoying it quite a lot. I've never read this author. I am about 25% of the way through and there have been several times I've chuckled out loud. That pretty much never happens to me! She writes in a way that is realistic and points out the funny day-to-day things I could relate to.

QOTW: I really don't follow the literary world either. Unless it is something as big as the JKR I'm not likely to be aware of it. That said, on the flip side, I am a bit more likely to seek out authors whose writing I like and that I think deserve my support. John Scalzi is one example that comes to mind.

message 5: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
It's been a crazy week, and I haven't had much time and energy to read. All I've managed to get through is half of The End of All Things, the sixth and final book of the Old Man's War series, which we are reading in my other GR group. But I did start a 1500-piece jigsaw puzzle and in the week since school started, I've completed the frame and a few chunks of the picture, so I've still accomplished something :)

QOTW: Sheri, I too am heartbroken over the JKR stuff. I am so torn because my 9-year-old just LOVES Harry... I read the entire series out loud to him 2 years ago before I knew how bad she was...not that we're traveling anywhere anytime soon, but he's been begging to visit the park in Orlando and how do you say no to that?

Like Megan, I've often found out about author controversies after I've read a book. There are so many fabulous books out there that if I were to learn of something in advance, I would just skip it and find something else, but that rarely seems to happen. That said, it is always a huge relief to find out that someone whose work I admire is also a truly good person. To put it in entertainment terms, for every Bill Cosby, there is also a Steve Buscemi. :)

message 6: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 163 comments This was a staycation week, so I wasn't sure whether I'd do more or less reading. It turned out to be about the same, since we did a number of local hiking outings, but also had a rainy day for reading.

My first book was The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature, another from the local wildlife federation list. I was aware of Drew Lanham as a mentor figure to the current generation of Black birders (like those who founded Black Birders Week after this year's Central Park incident). Apparently he is also a poet and writer. This is his lyrical memoir of his childhood in rural South Carolina. I don't think I can describe it well enough to do it justice, but it was a really lovely read.

The other book this week was The Merchant's House, this one a recommendation from the mystery blog. It really read to me like a TV show: it has a main protagonist but switches perspectives between the whole team of police officers, gives glimpses of what the witnesses/suspects do just after the police leave, a subplot about an archaeological dig turns out to parallel the modern case, that sort of thing. I can see returning to this series as a replacement for my beloved show Lewis.

QOTW: As a matter of principle, I draw the line at least at "contributing to active harm", i.e. avoid giving money or attention to people who are currently spewing dangerous nonsense. As a matter of practice, this hasn't really come up for me yet, so I can't say whether I would live up to my principles. I don't have any favorite writers about whom I have learned disturbing facts; I didn't much care for Mists of Avalon as a teen, and I only ever read the first two Harry Potter books. I like some older authors who used racist or sexist language and tropes sometimes, but not greatly outside the norms of their day, or frequently enough to put me off their work. I did read some Lovecraft just to have an understanding of the origins of that genre, but he didn't benefit from it directly, and I didn't promote him or his work in any way, so I felt OK about that; still, I suspect the knowledge of his racism colored my view of the work. I don't know whether I'd read a living, or even recent, author known for reprehensible views, even in a way that didn't support them. Without having "things were different back then" to provide a veneer of excuse, I think I'd have trouble looking past the author to see the work.

message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments Shel wrote: "...for every Bill Cosby, there is also a Steve Buscemi. :)."

That is the best way of summing up humanity that I've heard!

message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen (piratenami) | 220 comments This week was stressful for me, too. Not just because of the news, but also because work was a bit hectic.

I finally finished The Fifth Season! I'm still gathering my thoughts. If anyone's familiar with Mark Oshiro of Mark Reads, he read this not too long ago, and I was getting a chuckle out of reading over his posts.

I want to read the sequels, but I need a bit of a break first. I've got two books going now. I've been listening to Anne of Green Gables on audio while working. Can you believe I somehow missed reading this growing up? I'm sad about that, because little red-haired me probably would have loved Anne when I was her age. It's going to be my Popsugar book set in a country that begins with "C".

I also started Winter Rose, which will be my Popsugar book published in the 20th century. I figured any 80s or 90s fantasy would do, and I love McKillip's language. I'm not far enough in yet to have an opinion, but it seems like it's going to be some variant of a Tam Lin retelling which I usually enjoy.

QOTW: In general, if I've already read and enjoyed a book, I try not to let an author's awfulness detract from that. In the case of something as big as Harry Potter, there's a whole fandom around it that kind of distances it a little bit from JKR, in my opinion. It's grown beyond her into a cultural phenomenon, and because of that, I can still enjoy the characters and movies outside the context of her books. But I will not read or purchase any of her future publications, and I wouldn't buy any more merch or go to events.

I like how Rebecca said it, drawing the line at contributing to active harm. That's how I feel, too. I follow a lot of authors on social media, so sometimes I get wind of things that put me off another author's work. I have a "never" shelf where I put books by authors I won't read anymore, so I remember. And I also try to boost authors who I think are really interesting people who deserve support.

message 9: by Shel (new)

Shel (shel99) | 270 comments Mod
I was not familiar with Mark Reads, so I just googled it and welp, there goes the rest of my evening! LOL

message 10: by Jen (new)

Jen (piratenami) | 220 comments Haha! Sorry, Shel! I really enjoy reading his reactions to stuff. :D

message 11: by Daniele (new)

Daniele Powell (danielepowell) | 165 comments One finish this week: Ecopunk! - speculative tales of radical futures, which I used for the Slytherin/Emerald/green cover prompt. Like most anthologies, my appreciation of the stories was all over the place, but it has definitely put a few new authors on my radar.

That brings me to 55/60 for the One PHRC reading challenge, and 62 books for the year overall. The library has decided that next up will be Trainspotting.

QOTW: Like others have said, until it gets as huge as JKR, I don't follow the literary world closely enough to hear about things beforehand. For example, just last month I borrowed a book whose author was essentially cancelled online earlier this year. I found out about it in the comments on GR, which I only read AFTER finishing the book.

Fortunately, 90%+ of my reading is either library books, free downloads, or used book fair buys, so my financial support is fairly limited. In a lot of cases, I can compartmentalize my feelings between the author and their work (full disclosure: I'm a long-time pro wrestling fan. That world has a wide swath of creeps and otherwise not great people.)

To me, it really boils down to withholding financial support and online attention from those being currently awful. Past awfulness by the dead informs my perception of their work, but doesn't necessarily keep me from reading them.

message 12: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (midwinter) | 54 comments Speaking of Mark Reads - this is possibly my favorite one ever. His sheer incredulity has me in hysterics every time. https://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/06/1...

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