May 12, 2015

Reading Log - Second Week in May 2015

My 11 year old daughter hates to read. This is a great pity and sadness to me. I know she is reluctant about reading and struggles with it some. I also feel a slight rebellion or defiance in her. She enjoys saying she doesn't like to read because I own a bookstore. She cherishes that irony. On one hand I appreciate her understanding of irony. On the other hand I always think that if I present her with the RIGHT book that I can change her into a reader!

Recently she listened to the audiobook for The Inventor's Secret. It grabbed her RIGHT AWAY. Like I said, she is reluctant to read. I can get her to listen to audiobooks occasionally, but she usually tells me she is bored. I want her to read with her eyes, but I also like that she can enjoy stories outside of the struggles she might feel with reading. I know those struggles well. I am not now, nor have I ever been a particularly good reader. It is interesting how something that you aren't good at can become the thing you are really passionate about. Big books still feel daunting to me, small print and lack of white space will keep me from reading.

I decided to encourage my daughter in her reading (she has continued with the series) that I would give the book a try. I guess I miss judged her tasted because I was honestly SHOCKED at how good The Inventor's Secret was. It has everything I love in a children's book. Decent writing, interesting connections with history and art, and an addictive story line.  I finished the audio this weekend and am excited to read more books in the series. I have to admit I am hoping these books are THE ONES. The ones that turn her into more of a reader. On the other hand, I don't want to force reading on her and have her hate it for the rest of forever.

I am still working on reading Huntress by Malindo Lo. I am on page 177. I am reading slowly to pace my friend and we discuss it frequently. I am enjoying it a lot more than Ash, which I did not dislike, just found myself wanting more out of.

I am continuing to succeed at starting books and jumping from story to story. I am a little under halfway through Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee. I keep telling people that it is zero gravity MMA fighting on the moon. They are underwhelmed by the concept. I am enjoying it well enough. I enjoy MMA and whenever I read the book I get in the mood to watch a match. The writing is a little lack luster and the romance bores me. I am not sure if it feels forced or just not the type of storytelling I am in the mood for. Romance is fine, even welcomed. But there is a certain amount of sex appeal that is off putting to me. The idea that the main reason these characters exist is to be sexually attracted to each other.

I also recently started The Wrath and the Dawn. It only came out today. I have yet to decide if I love or hate the language. And I don't feel very motivated to stick with it, but I will read a little more of it before I put it aside.

I have pushed most of my research aside for the time being. I just haven't been in the mood to put effort or thought into it, since it takes a little extra brain power to really get the most out of it. Brain power has been majorly lacking the past few weeks,

Though I am listening to the audio of Gifts from the Sea and really enjoying it. I don't feel like I am really giving it the time it deserves, but I can't help feeling like I will go back to it again later. And I also hate the narration on the audiobook. But it is short and I am already halfway through it.

I was super excited for An Ember in the Ashes to come out, but now I think I am scared to read it.

Here is my real problem...

It may have been so good that it has ruined me for all books. I want other books to catch me in the same way it did and they won't. But maybe I get points because I keep trying.

Soon to be read is also Bone Gap.

That is it for tonight! I made a second post. I am proud of myself. Here's to seeing me around her more often.

Apr 22, 2015

Reading Log - Fourth Week in April

One of the reason I miss updating my blog is that I enjoy going back and seeing what I was reading and if I liked it. Some of the books I have blogged about I still haven't finished. Some I never will.

Lately I have been working on really interesting mix of reading, especially driven by my personal research in dystopian literature and communal living.

Today I finished Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock and it was basically amazing. It lost me in the last little bit, the moments just before the end. I am a little bummed out about this, but I think I will get over it soon and just go on loving the book. Hoping to try more books by this author soon. I "read" Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock via audiobook, and I just loved the narrator for it. I found out he is also the narrator for the audio of Perks of Being a Wallflower. Perks is one of those books I have been reading in a REALLY long time, this will be a good excuse to get back to it.

I am extremely good at starting books. Probably too good. I am not sure I ever felt any particular tie to a book I have started reading, the tie or obligation comes later. I switch from book to book until something sticks.

Earlier this week I also finished Girl on a Wire in audio format. It reminded me of how I hoped Like Water for Elephants would be, except I hated Like Water for Elephants and I didn't hate Girl on a Wire.

I am reading Huntress by Malinda Lo with my friend David. I talked him into reading Ash, which I found slightly disappointing. He felt similarly and we decided to read Huntress together. I am on page 22 and he somewhere in the mid 40s. We both think the writing and story is significantly better. I remember when I read Silver Phoenix and I wanted to read more books like it Cindy Pon suggested I read Huntress. I wanted to read Ash before though, and it took me over two and a half years to get to it.

Also on audio I have been intermittently listening to Area X. Area X is actually three books in one collection. I am enjoying it, but when I started reading it I was surprised, for some reason, that it had a female narrator. It is a pretty interesting book, and even though I like its use of flashbacks and backstory, I think it might move slightly too slowly for my taste. (Flashbacks are also really well done and enjoyable in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.)

This weekend I started a new research book even though I am in the middle of at least 7 already. It makes me happy that I am not actively going to school and just working on this research as a sort of personal project. I just started Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity by Phillip Wegner and it is basically everything I have ever wanted in a text. Some of the other research titles I have been working on are Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary. Scraps of the Untainted Sky, and The Palgrave Companion to North American Utopias. I have been working really hard to build my background knowledge on both actual communes and utopia projects and well known utopian fiction. I am not as well versed in these topics as I might like to be. Though even this small start I have made has been very helpful.

I have also been research children's literature. I am interested in both the general history of children's literature and how it is used in education. I have be working on Should We Burn Babar? as part of my exploration on this subject. I haven't finished the first essay yet, which discusses various issues that lie within the text of Babar. I mostly disagree with the author on the points they are making, but I am also extremely uniformed as it occurred to me I had never read Babar. Hope to fix that soon!

For several months I have been reading A Circle of Quiet in hopes of getting a little insight into L'Engle's writing and specifically any tidbits about A Wrinkle in Time. It is considered to be the first young adult dystopian novel. Recently an article came out about pages that were edited out of the text that have been of particular interest to me. A Circle of Quiet had less insight about A Wrinkle in Time than I had hope, but is overall very worthwhile and interesting.

Finally, tonight I started the audiobook of The Martian. I am enjoying it quiet a bit, but find that if I am not careful I will zone out when reading it.

It is so hard to pick books that I want to read or decide which books in my endless list deserve to be moved to the top of the list. It is not often that the deserving title is moved to the top. Usually I am driven more by convenience and mood than I am by quality. I can't help feeling a little like as I have gotten older I have settled for less artful books out of a desire for more mindless entertainment.

I hope that I can keep writing these general logs about what I have been reading and I what I want to be reading, they are part of what I miss the most when it comes to looking back on the content of this digital place.

Apr 16, 2015

Dystopian Wanderings

Dystopia has been defined and redefined as every generation discovers and rediscovers the power it can have as a fiction, as an informative device, as a life changing event. There are many simple way to understand dystopia, but none of them help to understand the scope of dystopia.

I pick up and put down dystopian research throughout my life. When I was 16 I read 1984 and Thomas More's Utopia and these two books changed my life. They sparked in me interest and excitement. I have been chasing that desire ever since.

I have also left and returned to blogging over the years. I have been stricken by the pressure to produce, but also by life getting in the way of things.

The way that life gets in the way is essential to many dystopian narrative, especially the real life ones we see more and more often on the news. We used to fear Big Brother, and now we know he is there, yet somehow fall under the illusion that we are safe because we are too busy to deal with it. Dystopian narratives have taught us the fallacy of safety. When one believes they have nothing to hide they have forgotten how the system works. They have forgotten the century of warnings.

I am attempting to return to my research and do a better job of keeping myself accountable. I have many online and paper notebooks filled with scrawled out half ideas. I want to give those ideas a home, without the pressure of perfection. I am going to allow my half formed ideas to surface into the light from now on. (I hope.) (I have made such declarations before.)

One thing I am hoping to accomplish is returning to young adult dystopian novels I have enjoyed in the past and reflecting on what I liked and why I might recommend them. Since my interest in this subject area started the market has only grown. It is easy to become disconnected with the quality titles that existed before The Hunger Games. Or the gems that released within the noise of the subsequent sub-genre boom. The issue of definition has always been a problem, but thanks to The Hunger Games, everyone has an idea of what a dystopia is. It may just be as simple as calling it a bad place.

With the growth in the popularity of this type of fiction the distinction between dystopian literature and novel with dystopian themes is essential. In the past, when there were limited texts and resources we often identified books with dystopian themes as examples of dystopian literature, but as the market has been flooded with more and more examples of books with dystopian themes it becomes mandatory to make the distinction.

Like all science fiction, dystopia is about the fear of the current political climate.  We think of dystopia as a warning of the future that may come, but it is really about the future that is already here. Memory is often a theme in dystopian literature, in part because we fear what will happen if we forget what has happened in the past. There are so many lessons to be learned by past mistakes. Without the ability to access them we will easily repeat them. 

Reality is always changing and so are things that we think of as immutable. Facts are what we call the theories of our age and while we can be quick to point out the mistakes of the past, we aren't willing to accept that we may be making some on our own.
Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Food & Community | Utopian Projects