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Book Nerd: Library Chicken Weekly Scoreboard (5.16.17)

Reading ListSuzanne RezelmanComment
Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

So you want to know the secret of winning at Library Chicken? I will share it with you, for I am generous of heart: Read a lot and do not do ANYTHING else. I cannot emphasize the ‘not doing of anything else’ part highly enough. Here is a representative but incomplete list of things yours truly has not done at Library Chicken HQ this week: (1) laundry, (2) grocery shopping, (3) successfully remembering the call-time for daughter’s choral performance, (4) any form of exercise, (5) any making of meals, (6) replacing the Jon Ossoff yard sign that was stolen by neighborhood gremlins, (7) returning a friend’s texts about summer plans, (8) clearing away fast food debris (after the not making of meals), (9) planting those hostas we got a month ago that are beginning to look a little sad, and (10) making the kids actually finish their homeschool lessons instead of saying “eh, that seems like enough for today.” Now, I realize that not everyone may have my level of commitment, so consider starting small—skip the laundry, or maybe don’t remember to pick your kids up from class (walking is good for them, right?—and as you progress, you too can become A WINNER. #Goals #LeaveMeAloneI’mReading #Can’tYourFatherParentForTheNextMonthOrSo?

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

This book hit ALL the nerdy sweet spots for me. Valerie, an actress who starred several years ago in an X-Files-ish cult sci-fi show (playing the Agent Scully role), is on a road-trip with her 9-year-old son, Alex, taking him from New York back to California to be with his father (the actor who played Mulder). That’s really all I need right there, but on the way she attends several sf conventions, hanging out with comic book artists who work for not-quite-Marvel and almost-DC. All of this not-quite-but-almost could be a little fanfic-y, but I found it utterly delightful. (When I realized that Alex was reading the in-universe version of Harry Potter on the way to California I may have squeed a teensy bit.) It’s not all superheroes and magic wands, though: we learn that Valerie violated the custody order when she took her son away (following a tragedy linked to her show) and may now lose custody entirely. Aside from all the fangirly awesomeness, this book is sweet and serious and funny and absolutely made my week. Bonus points to Proehl for (1) a lovely portrayal of women in sf/f fandom (including a posse of superheroines), and (2) making Valerie and Alex HOMESCHOOLERS. It’s as if he wrote it just for me—he knew I’d need some cheering up this week(/month/year) and so wrote Agent Dana Scully (one of my personal when-I-grow-up-I-wanna-bes, see also: C.J. Cregg) as a homeschooling mom. Well played, sir, well played.
(LC Score: +1)

The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Dylan, mourning the deaths of his mother and grandmother, leaves the London art house cinema that was both family business and home for a caravan in remote Scotland, where he meets his new neighbors: a survivalist mom and her pre-teen transgender daughter, Stella. Oh yeah, and it’s 2020 and climate change is out of control and the world may very well freeze over in the next month or so. I’ve read a fair amount of impending-apocalypse science fiction—for some reason, climate change-based apocalypses are very hot (heh, sorry) right now—and what sets this one apart is that the approaching (possible) doomsday is only a background for human relationships and people just carrying on, trying to make it from day to day as usual. Stella in particular is wonderful—the book would be worth reading just for her character—and even though things end on an unsettled note, I felt more than satisfied with the journey Fagan had taken me on.
(LC Score: +1)

More Than Petticoats: Remarkable Georgia Women by Sara Hines Martin

Have I mentioned that I’ve been reading Georgia history lately? Unfortunately, this book (one of a state-by-state series) didn’t add much. It’s a compilation of short biographical sketches of 13 Georgians (Juliette Gordon Low, Margaret Mitchell, etc.) and it reads like one of those blurred, soft-focused histories written for kids trying to do a quickie school report.
(LC Score: +1)

The Nix by Nathan Hill

I’m not sure what to say about this book. It’s received a lot of praise and I can see why, but ultimately I think I have to come down in the not for me column. Despite being about an adult son’s relationship with the mother who abandoned him, it felt very much like another white-American-male midlife-crisis book (not inherently a bad thing, but I’ve read a LOT of those), at least until I decided it was more like a white-American-male coming-of-age book, even though the character is at least a decade or two late to the coming-of-age party. I don’t know that I would discourage anyone from reading it if they’re interested, but I would warn them that the book goes to a fairly bleak ‘no truth, no beauty, only ugliness and bitter humor, plus the bad guys always win!’ place, all the while trying to be funny and clever about how awful everything is. Plus, misogyny! Even though I believe the author is condemning rather than sanctioning any of it, I’m just not in the mood. I might try Hill’s next book, though.
(LC Score: +1)

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

In this near-future science fiction novel, Hwa is a bodyguard on a city-sized oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland when she gets mixed up with the family business empire that has just bought the rig and is making some changes. It’s actually a thriller/murder mystery of sorts (that gets fairly dark at times) and though the plot had a few bumps along the way, I enjoyed Hwa’s narrative voice so much that it carried me smoothly through. (Not a huge fan of the romance subplot, though, I have to admit.) Not everything is explained at the end and I confidently expect a sequel, which will then go on my ever-expanding library hold list.
(LC Score: +1)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

You’ve read this, right? If not, please do. I was surprised to find that it was such a slim, undersized book—I almost didn’t see it on the shelf. I am not a newcomer to the idea of white privilege (though I don’t claim to be very far down the path as the process of understanding and changing perspective and learning from others is always ongoing) but I was surprised (and embarrassed) by how challenging I found it at times. It was a wonderful, powerful read—go pick it up. I know I’ll be reading it again.
(LC Score: +1)


Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

I loved Waiting for Daisy, Orenstein’s memoir about dealing with infertility, and I found her recent book, Girls + Sex, about the sexual landscape that teenage girls and young women are currently navigating, to be interesting and thought-provoking, and I AM DETERMINED to read this book, about the “girlie-girl” culture of Disney Princesses and the pink aisle at Toys R Us, but <sigh> it won’t be this week. I’ve already checked it out twice; guess I’ll have to go for three. RETURNED UNREAD.
(LC Score: -1)

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Zinn has been on my haven’t-read-but-really-I’m-going-to-get-right-on-that list for an embarrassingly long time and he got a bump recently when there was yet another conservative Republican attempt to ban his work from being used in schools (looking at you, Arkansas), but sadly I failed again. Soon, though, I mean it! RETURNED UNREAD.
(LC Score: -1)

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

I love Solnit, plus I was hoping that this meditation on the act of walking would motivate me to get out of the house and back into the habit of daily walks, but didn’t quite get there. RETURNED UNREAD.
(LC Score: -1)

Library Chicken Score for 5/16/17: 3
Running Score: 25

On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week:

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger (billed as ‘A Novel of Magic and Mixology’, so I’m on board)

Among Others by Jo Walton (been on my to-read list forever but then Amy went ahead and read it so now I have to catch up with her)

This One Is Mine by Maria Semple (loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette and looking forward to this one, her debut novel)

Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity by James C. Cobb (I’ve really been enjoying Cobb’s writings on Southern history)