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!
IT’S ELECTION DAY! Today is the runoff in the congressional election in Georgia’s 6th District. I care quite a bit about the election outcome, but no matter what happens I’m ready to celebrate two things: (1) no more political ads! (at least for a little while), and (2) I can park at my library again now that early voting is finished!
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion, is back with a novel, set in a not-so-great near-future, about a time travel machine, or as the physicists involved would put it, a ‘causality violation device.’ (Which still sounds pretty cool and/or terrifying, in my opinion.) It’s also about relationships and family and tragedy, and how we cope with all of the above. I don’t want to spill any spoilers because it’s good and you should go read it, but I will say that a major plot point involves an accident caused by self-driving cars and user error and now I’m totally freaked out about self-driving cars so thanks a lot, Mr. Palmer.
(LC Score: +1)
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
In this retelling of Tam Lin, two sisters, a ballerina and a writer, attend a prestigious artists’ retreat (in part to escape their abusive mother) and soon discover that All Is Not As It Seems. They have to decide exactly what they are willing to give up for their art, or for each other. (As a bonus, this reminded me that it’s time for one of my periodic re-readings of Pamela Dean’s awesome Tam Lin, set on a college campus in the 1970’s.)
(LC Score: +1)
The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen, translated by Lola M. Rogers
Have you been thinking to yourself that you really don’t read enough Finnish novels? And that you’d especially like to read one about a mysterious writers’ group created by a world-renowned children’s author who may or may not be entirely human and who has definitely disappeared under bizarre circumstances? OF COURSE YOU WOULD. This novel, by an award-winning Finnish science fiction and fantasy author, has been described as Twin Peaks meets The Secret History meets the Moomins, and if you can resist that you’re made of stronger stuff than I. My only complaint is that this appears to be the only one of Jaaskelainen’s works available in English--and Duolingo doesn’t have a Finnish option.
(LC Score: +1)
Dial H Vol. 1: Into You written by China Mieville, art by Mateus Santolouco
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 5: Like I’m the Only Squirrel in the World written by Ryan North, art by Erica Henderson
This Week in Comics: One of the great things about modern comics is the crossover of authors from the literary world to the comics world and vice versa. In Dial H, weird and wonderful fantasy author China Mieville reboots an obscure DC title about a magical phone dial that can temporarily turn the user into a random superhero—sometimes not so “super” and not so much “hero”. The resulting book is definitely weird—perhaps not one of my favorites, but worth a read just to encounter “heroes” like Captain Lachrymose, Iron Snail, and Boy Chimney. Plus: the Lumberjanes learn more about their camp history and rock out with mermaids, and Squirrel Girl vacations in Canada!
(LC Score: +2, Lumberjanes borrowed from daughter)
Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity by James C. Cobb
Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South by James C. Cobb
The Brown Decision, Jim Crow & Southern Identity by James C. Cobb
Even though I’ve lived in metro Atlanta since I was 17, I’m married to a (mostly) Southerner, and my children are all native Southerners, I’ve never felt much like a Southerner myself. What does being a Southerner even mean in the 21st century? Professor Cobb’s books and essays go a long way toward explaining what “being a Southerner” has meant over the years and how it’s changed now that the South is no longer defined only by white supremacy and opposing anything deemed “Yankee”. Away Down South (an expansion of the essays collected in Redefining Southern Culture) is a fascinating read that does a good job of walking the line between dense scholarly tome and pop-history for non-academics. The Brown Decision, a lecture published for the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, revisits the legacy of that decision, illuminating some of the arguments that have arisen in academia (that I was unaware of) over whether segregation would have ultimately faded away even without intervention and the possible negative effects of Brown. (Professor Cobb is definitely in the pro-Brown camp.)
(LC Score: +3)
Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
Okay, so after reading The Three-Body Problem I put the second and third books in the trilogy on the hold list, but I didn’t know that the third book, Death’s End, was still a two-week no-renewals check-out and really there’s no way I could get to it in time so it’s totally not my fault. RETURNED UNREAD.
(LC Score: -1)
Library Chicken Score for 6/20/17: 7
Running Score: 57
On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week:
Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (Amy says that if I’m going to read about Southern stuff I have to read some Faulkner so <sigh> okay here I go I guess)
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott (why, yes, this is relevant to my interests)