Wednesday reading

• What are you reading?

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls, by Mona Eltahawy, for Sirens book group.
I wrote this book with enough rage to fuel a rocket. I knew I had to write it while I was still high on the glory of beating up a man who had sexually assaulted me. Who was this woman I had become, who looks men in the eye, seizing their gaze with my fury until their fear tells me they understand not to fuck with me? I wanted to figure her out. For years I had been shedding shame and gaining fury. For years I had been thumping away at patriarchy, like a piñata hanging tantalizingly just out of reach. It was stubborn, but my tenacity and ferocity became my ladder. this book is my instruction manual for smashing that piñata.

• What did you recently finish reading?

The Line Tender, by Kate Allen. This book, like The Thing About Jellyfish, understands how weird grief is, and how weird kids are. Lucy, the protagonist, does get some good advice about grief from the other characters, but her story doesn't get its weird bits trimmed off to make it a better illustration for the good advice. And none of the characters is there just to teach a lesson: we see Lucy working to make her drawings more lifelike, and we can see that Kate Allen has done that work for her characters.

The Line Tender reminded me of this quote, and now I want to reread The Once and Future King
The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Outside, by Ada Hoffmann, for SF book group.
The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter, for Tawanda book group.

• What are you watching?

Mare of Easttown. I have a question that I don't think was answered in the show: Who took Erin's clothes off, when, and why? If the Doyleist answer is, "Because we wanted to put a beautiful mostly-naked dead teenager's body on screen, even though we forgot to make it make narrative sense," that's going to downgrade my evaluation of the show.

the kids next door

On Valentine's Day they left two valentines on my front porch, one from each of them, with two chocolates, shaped like a heart and a bee. The nine-year-old wrote "Happy Valentines Day!" in a starburst, and drew a butterfly and a bee. The five-year-old drew two hearts, and wrote "I LOVE" twice, and drew a stick figure holding one of the hearts on a string. I think the stick figure is wearing a mask maybe? There is another circle drawn over the stick figure's face, with six tiny hearts inside it.

This morning another valentine appeared on my front porch. "For your dog, Susan" is written on the envelope in their mother's handwriting. Inside is a tiny pink paper heart, on which the five-year-old has written LOVE FROM FINN.

But which dog is it for?

The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben

Half of the life of trees takes place underground, and almost all of it happens too slowly to catch our attention. Trees communicate with each other and with other species through chemical signals and soundwaves that we need instruments to detect.

Wohlleben draws on the scientific literature and his life's work as a forester to talk about what's going on with trees. Trying to take the tree's point of view of those facts does lead him to anthropomorphize, but that mostly shows up in adjectives: he'll call a tree's behavior "loutish" or describe salt spray as "painful".

The 36 short chapters are perfect for reading at bedtime, then turning out the lights and imagining what it is like to be a tree.

I saw comet!

I went up to Masonville to watch "A Band Called Death", a movie about a Black proto-punk band in 1970's Detroit. (At the dark of the moon, Neal projects a movie onto the side of the barn. A few friends come to watch and be social, six feet apart.) I thought the movie's ratio of talk to music was way off. But we all got to see the comet! I looked for it again when I got home but there was too much light pollution.

reading wednesday

My reading brain seems to be coming out of lockdown. I'm reading The Breath of the Sun by Isaac Fellman for SF book group. I managed to read This is how you lose the time war by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone for last month's SF book group. One nice thing about having book group online is that someone I really like who has moved away has been joining us, and both my kids, who are not in the book group but loved This is how you lose joined us last month.

Next I will read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben for Tawanda book group. I was thinking of choosing The Overstory Richard Powers for my month, but it isn't out in paperback! It would go so well with this book and with Braiding Sweetgrass, which I chose last year.

Movies I watched from the library in the time of coronavirus:

The Sisters Brothers
The Milagro Beanfield War
The Muppets
Jumnaji: the Next Level
Jojo Rabbit
Queen & Slim
The Chi, season 1
If Beale Street Could Talk

I watched things on Kanopy and Netflix too, but I don't know how to see my history there.

not-reading wednesday

I am just not reading! I hope I get my reading brain back before Network Effect comes to my mailbox.

I lent some books to the neighbor kids today. Ursula Vernon's Nurk and Kelly Jones's Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer for the nine-year-old. Nova's Ark, by David Kirk, I Spy Treasure Hunt: A Book of Picture Riddles, a pop-up book about bees, and the DK Insect for the five-year-old.

I'm doing okay as long as I tire myself out every day. Fortunately I have a young healthy dog who chews things that should not be chewed if she doesn't get enough exercise, and also I ordered way too many plants, including three lilacs and three buddleias, and I have to finish digging out the old dead hedge before they get here.

The Horticulture department's plant sale is happening online this year. It opens to non-members tomorrow at 7:00. I do not wake up at 7:00, but I will get my shopping list ready tonight.

easy one this time

• What are you reading?

Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells

• What did you recently finish reading?

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

• What do you think you’ll read next?

Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells.

Also this essay by Rebecca Solnit:
There’s another analogy that comes to mind. When a caterpillar enters its chrysalis, it dissolves itself, quite literally, into liquid. In this state, what was a caterpillar and will be a butterfly is neither one nor the other, it’s a sort of living soup. Within this living soup are the imaginal cells that will catalyse its transformation into winged maturity. May the best among us, the most visionary, the most inclusive, be the imaginal cells – for now we are in the soup. The outcome of disasters is not foreordained. It’s a conflict, one that takes place while things that were frozen, solid and locked up have become open and fluid – full of both the best and worst possibilities. We are both becalmed and in a state of profound change.
I think that is the quintessential Rebecca Solnit metaphor.

reading wednesday

• What are you reading?

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson, for SF book group. I am loving it.

• What did you recently finish reading?

A Right To Die, by Rex Stout, from one of the Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson, for SF book group. (We're reading two short books this month.)

• What are you watching?

Still watching Dispatches From Elsewhere and still loving it.

Started Everything's Gonna Be Okay on a recommendation from [personal profile] jesse_the_k. The main cast is two teenagers and Josh Thomas, who has made a career of awkward, so there is a lot of potential for vicarious embarrassment humor, but it is always handled gently and realistically. Autistic character played by autistic actor is excellent.

And #Hometasking