25 April 2010

What I am reading: April 2010

It seems that I am reading less, yet it also seems that I am reading a lot. I think that I have been concentrating more on catching up and keeping up with current events and with Newsweek, Businessweek, Money, and USNews and World Report. In addition, I am a bit addicted to the Washington Post and the NYT, with a side glance into Der Spiegel.

  1. The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. Every time I read an old classic (increasingly likely, as they are out of copyright and freely downloadable to my Kindle), I reel in wonder at the openly racist writing. Sometimes I can look past it and enjoy the book for itself and sometimes I am just grateful that this type of thought is no longer acceptable to be written. Betty MacDonald led a far more interesting life than I would have gathered from this book alone and I will look for other books by her. As I read the book, I was intrigued by mention of Maw and Paw Kettle and their family, because as I child I saw many films with Maw and Paw, old MGM movies. I was intrigued when I researched MacDonald, to discover that those movies were in fact based on her book, as the characters were extremely popular after first appearing in the movie with Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, which I also remember as charming. (I'm a huge fan of both those actors and I grew up on MGM light-hearted musicals and movies- gave me what I guess is a really American and optimistic view of life which has been slowly degraded by reality over the last few decades). MacDonald wrote several other semi-autobigraphical books as well as the famous Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories. It's worth reading within the context of books from the 1940's, although I think the movie is lighter and more charming, and I think I'll try to get a copy for the children to watch. I'll be interested to discover whether there are things in her other books that also give me pause.
  2. Silver Born by Patricia Briggs: Another welcome addition to an urban fantasy series. The coyote-shifter mechanic protagonist continues leading her life, dealing with a rough world, and forging intricate and realistic relationships (realistic in the between people way, not in the Pack dynamics way, per se:)).
  3. Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison: I recently discovered that Kim Harrison is actually Dawn Cook, who wrote a series of fascinating fantasies about a young woman's coming of age and discovery that she is not entirely human. It's set in a medieval style world and the climax population was originally not human. Fascinating use of genetics too. Those books have recently been re-issued with terribly soppy covers highlighting that Dawn Cook is actually Kim Harrison because the series of books as Harrison have been extremely popular. This is book 8 and I was a bit worried, as I had read mixed reviews. However, I liked it very much. There has also been an interesting running theme in these books of genetic manipulation and changes in species and race as a result of genetic manipulation and control: the similarities in writing between her two names is very strong. This book also showed one of the results of the recent struggle between Amazon and certain publishers: I pre-ordered this book on Kindle and by the time I read it (about a week after release), I could have purchased it in hard cover for about $1- less. That annoys me and it makes me unhappy with the marketing decisions of the publisher in a way that will make me re-consider pre-ordering titles from HarperCollins imprints in the future.
  4. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: Here Amazon has succeeded in it's purpose: by giving me the first book in a series, they have tempted me into purchasing the following books. A modern, or urban fairy tale with a twist. Iliked it very much.

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