Mount TBR 2015 discussion

Level 1: Pike's Peak (12 Books) > Kathleen's Pike's Peak Climb

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message 1: by Kathleen (last edited Jan 22, 2015 01:07PM) (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments Like last year, I think I'll tackle this in ongoing groups of twelve (hopefully w/ more success getting up Mount Blanc). And so, here's my first read (one of a few less-than-half-finished's from 2014):

1. The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

Still processing this one.

Started reading it last year, shortly after it was released, but didn't get past the first hundred pages until this week when pulled me in, didn't let go, and left me quietly crying in the on-campus Starbucks.

At some point, I'll write something about this book, its author, and the ten years I've spent listening to her music, but it's going to take some time to wrap my head around.

Anywho, to wrap up, looking forward to giving Mount TBR another valiant attempt (grin)!

message 2: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 2. The Sleeper and the Spindle

Quite enjoyed this one--fits in quite well with my still-treasured stack of beautifully illustrated princesses-being-princesses-but-still-doing-exciting-things picture books from my childhood (including Young Guinevere, The Paper Bag Princess, Women of Camelot: Queens and Enchantresses at the Court of King Arthur, and Saint George and the Dragon, to name a few).

message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 3. Cloak and Silence

Forgot to add this one here once I'd finished it--wasn't in love with this book--which is a shame, since generally, I've really enjoyed Sherrilyn Kenyon's The League series.

Would recommend skipping this one. Not sure if it was the characterization of gay characters--which was strangely limited and stereotypical, considering her range as far as heterosexual couples go--or that she fridged a female character, but my liberal gender and sexuality politics couldn't let some of this slide, as I usually tend to (with the occasional eyeroll).

But I guess I'm up to 3? Which, considering I'm in the middle of term is always good.

message 4: by Kathleen (last edited Mar 05, 2015 05:52PM) (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 4. Theft of Life

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant novel. I quite like all of Imogen Robertson's books because I think her prose lets the reader fall into her historical settings (very like Alice into Wonderland). Here, with her exploration of British attitudes towards their own slave trade in the later 18th century there is certainly something unsettling in how exactly the tone parallels modern discussions, in spite of being set in the supposedly since-transformed world of a bygone age.

message 5: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 5. Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions

This book has haunted my bookshelf for some time--at least since 2006 or 2007. I think I picked it up at Half Price shortly after reading the Sandman comics and Coraline while I was in the midst of American Gods. Perhaps not being particularly thrilled with that novel is why I put off reading this so long? Not entirely sure.

I enjoy short stories, though. They're particularly good for reading in the midst of the school term when there just isn't time to consistently lose three days to a novel.

Some of these were familiar--I've read them other places first. "Chivalry", "The Price", "Troll Bridge", "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar", "The Sweeper of Dreams", and "Snow, Glass, Apples" were probably my favorites. But whatever the story, it was delightfully easy to open my secondhand, slightly bent/tattered paperback copy, and retreat from the daily grind for a few minutes each day.

message 6: by Jessika (new)

Jessika (jessika_56) I didn't love American Gods either, but really enjoyed Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Have you read either of those? Maybe someday I'll get around to Sandman... I have issues 1-20 in a compendium but haven't wanted to start such a big undertaking just yet!

message 7: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments Jessika wrote: "I didn't love American Gods either, but really enjoyed Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Have you read either of those? Maybe someday I'll get around to ..."

Yes, I have read those--another part of why this one sitting on the shelf for as many years as it did was a little bit strange. But we're agreed. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was absolutely lovely.

message 8: by Kathleen (last edited Apr 18, 2015 08:05AM) (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 6. Bad Feminist: Essays

Perhaps inevitably, I'll begin with my own relation to the 'feminist' label:

I've never hesitated to claim feminism as part of my identity, but then, it was never a question. I grew up with my mother's stories--Dad being lucky enough to marry one of three women in his chemical engineering class, being the only woman on the rig when she worked as a petroleum engineer, and people expecting her to be a man--surprised to meet Patricia rather than Patrick. I'm also an engineer, and though it's not what it once was, there are definitely still frequent everyday sexisms I put up with as part of working in my field (and perhaps I am demanding more than my mother used to--but why shouldn't I?).

I know that in spite of my efforts otherwise, my feminism frequently remains too narrow, all-too-contradictory, and fails to adequately consider women who differ from me whether by race, culture, education, income, or ambition--a bad feminist. In spite of that, perhaps, as Roxane Gay asserts, bad feminism is still an improvement on no feminism.

I found this book following a few lucky turns in the social media maze. Following classmates led to following The Toast led to following Mallory Ortberg led to following Roxane Gay led to venturing outside my usual realm of fictional narratives and reading this volume of essays.

Personally, I found this collection of essays--ranging from serious (often tear-jerking or horrifying) consideration and discussion of more serious issues like race, income inequality, and rape to giggle-inducing recounts of scrabble tournaments and watching film adaptations of favorite books--resonant and engaging. Roxane Gay is frank and to-the-point about communicating her thoughts and experiences. Her prose engages the reader and prompts them to consider our own similar--or different--experiences.

I don't think she's prompting us to agree with absolutely everything she says (so many of the one and two star reviews begin with 'I don't agree with any of this!') so much as she's hoping we'll think a little more often in a little more detail about some of our thoughts, practices, and behaviors that have become routine. I think she's really suggesting more than anything that active participation-- taking time to consider, engaging in moments of reflection, and continuing to learn--is actually what is most essential to being a feminist.

message 9: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments Afraid I must resort to my usual assortment of excuses--school, travel, the library, etc. but here's a couple more steps taken towards the top of my TBR-pile:

7. Storm Front

Finally finished this audiobook--which I've owned for maybe 3 or 4 years now. Counting the number of fairly impassioned recommendations I've received from numerous friends, I found it the slightest bit underwhelming. Wasn't in love with Harry Dresden or this book--not sure if it was the sexism, grating stereotypes, or long periods of waiting for the plot to just move already, but it took me a little bit to work my way through this, even with James Marsters narrating. Overall, though, I found it diverting enough to plan on continuing w/ the series as the audiobooks become available through my library.

8. Seeing a Large Cat

This novel was the usual fantastic adventure and intrigue that always accompany the recounted expeditions of the Peabody/Emerson clan. More than a little Indiana Jones-esque (had Professor Jones been a polite and proper, yet also unfailingly direct and assertive English lady). Highly recommend this series for anyone who thinks they might enjoy the Mummy movies in book-form.

message 10: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 11, 2015 02:15PM) (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments I read another book of the TBR-pile (though I did just get two more from the library, so I still haven't learned)!

9. Widdershins

Widdershins is set in an eponymous New England town (a fairly sinister locale populated w/ gratuitous horrors in homage to Lovecraft), and details a love affair between a local scholar of esoteric languages and a visiting ex-Pinkerton detective. A fairly quick, melodramatic read, but also really funny since the over-the-top gruesome monsters are even more over-the-top in context of the romance genre. Some of the love-scene descriptions made me giggle as well; e.g. 'limp as cooked noodles' to describe post-coital posture (hopefully a purposefully comic turn of phrase).

Caveat lector: reading this novel may trigger a burning desire for a SyFy channel tv-film adaptation of this book.

message 11: by Bev (new)

Bev | 601 comments Mod
Yay! Look how close you are to the top!

message 12: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 10.The Europeans

Perhaps it's that my first experience reading James was The Turn of the Screw, but this novel struck me as surprisingly light--almost insipidly so. In this book, the titular Europeans, Eugenia Munster, morganatic spouse to a German baron, and her lighthearted, bohemian brother, Felix, visit their distant American cousins, the Wentworths, with whom, to Felix's utter delight and Eugenia's growing distaste, they have nothing in common. Comic misunderstandings and romantic entanglements abound; however, the characters weren't especially engaging, meaning I wasn't especially invested in the plot's twists and turns.

message 13: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 11. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume I: The Short Stories

Had this one sitting on my shelf for a while--slowly worked my way through it, story by story. It's the first time for six-ish years since I've read through Conan Doyle's Canon. This annotated edition provided an enjoyable revisit, complete w/ original illustrations (both Paget's and others) and interesting notes about all sorts of Victorian minutiae from dress, habits, drugs, and train schedules to conflicting interpretations of the different stories.

message 14: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments 12. Once Upon a Spring Morn

This one has taken a bit to get through--kind of dry overall, but finally off my TBR pile! And I'm up Pike's Peak! :)

message 15: by Jessika (new)

Jessika (jessika_56) Nice job!

message 16: by Bev (new)

Bev | 601 comments Mod

message 17: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments Jessika wrote: "Nice job!"


message 18: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (towers_kt) | 30 comments Bev wrote: "Congratulations!"


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