What'cha reading?

alright, I finished The Left Hand of Darkness, and hated the ending. currently starting on The Dispossessed. for some reason, I can make it about 5 pages before I fall asleep. any time on staying awake while reading? I try to read during my lunch break at work, I must just be…tired? idk.

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CibbolaBurn

I’m working my way through The Expanse novels right now. I have a fairly long daily commute (1h 20m, one way) so I’ve been flying through the audiobooks. I’m starting new job next month with a 10m commute, so I’ll have to actual read on my Kobo! Ahh!!!

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I stupidly finished Dune and continued to read the series despite knowing that I have to finish something that I’ve started and two months later I’m on book five Heretics of Dune. All I’m going to say is that a Sixties hippy science fiction writer’s views on sex continue to develop in really normal and cool ways!

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I’ve always wanted to read Dune, but the size of the series always scared me off. I think I started the first book in high school once, but it wasn’t the Star Wars EU, so I fell off of it.

The secret with Dune is to know that it’s okay to stop at the end of the first book, or the end of the third - you don’t have to read the last books (although I personally think they’re worth reading, just to see where Herbert’s plot threads went), and you absolutely don’t have to read any of the prequels and sequels by Herbert’s son & Kevin J Anderson (or really, just by KJA, with all the usual issues of this).

The only KJA stuff I have ever read was some of his Star Wars stuff, and it was so awful I haven’t bothered with anything else.

Maybe I’ll give the first book a try again. I think I might have it on Kindle or something.

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So I finished reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, my third book and final chance for Murakami, and I really hated it, especially the ending. I thought the book sets up the characterization of Toru Okada, a depressed and apathetic man who is content not leaving his house and not asserting any form of agency in his life, to create the central introspective journey where he examines trauma in his past (while learning about the side-character’s trauma), realizes this life-style really puts a strain on relationships and can end up pushing people, e.g. his wife, away, and ultimately moves towards asserting agency or begins to take the first steps to asserting some agency.

There is no true introspection or revelation for Okada – we read about past trauma, but there’s no self-revelation that his past trauma has caused his disaffection in life. He doesn’t actually do anything in the novel except continue to be led/follow others. And in the last handful of pages, when the novel finally decides to hurriedly wrap everything up. There’s no accountability for Okada’s actions; it’s his wife who apologizes. She didn’t leave him because he was depressed. She left because she was depressed. The novel concludes with Okada being handed a fortune and having no course of action other than to wait for his wife to come back.

Murakami’s novels continue to put the burden on his women characters, every woman character is remarked on their sexual appeal (the characterization of Kasahara’s character is Lolita-esque, without any of Nabokov’s pith), raped (Creta Kano), or has trauma predicated on a man (Nutmeg’s husband being brutally murdered). His novels continue to be filled with the expository prose of self-assured male narrators who are paradoxically clueless, endless repetition, and heavy-handed explanations of every surreal metaphor he lays out.

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I just finished What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States by Dave Zirin.

I’m in this weird place reading this book, wishing I had read it sooner, but also think I was politically ready for it now (thanks Waypoint and Zizek). It’s astonishing to me reading politics that are critical of liberals and the right, something that I wish I had known sooner, but also seeing that this book was written in 2005. It’s interesting seeing the langauge of social justice and leftism from a world before Twitter, where leftists needed to read and engage with political texts to have the vocabulary and ideas necessary to articulate leftists ideas. It really is fairly radical, and also expects the reader to come to it 1. with an interest in sports, and 2. being vaguely leftist. It also bums me out that since this book has been written things have only gotten worse politically and in sports, and so while I love the ideas it has also made me feel that maybe things can’t and won’t improve.

It also had a few sexist and ■■■■-shaming ideas, such as how women competing in sports don’t need push up bras to attract attention. These are brief, but still rubbed me the wrong way. Hopefully Dave Zirin has improved and changed these thoughts.

The only other critique I have is the book feels a little unorganized. It throws a lot of ideas and situations at the reader without a ton of analysis or time with any individual part. It’s more encyclopedic, and I wish it would delve deeper.

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I’m reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and honestly it’s really hard on me.

cw death

Gawande writes about the social/demographic changes in how we observe old age, and the way that medicalization of terminal illness has fundamentally altered the process of dying. He carefully observes a lot of elderly and ill people, along with their caregivers; a couple times per chapter I’m just crushed to tears by another death. I’m thinking about my own age a lot, but particularly about my parents – dad diagnosed with cancer, mom hanging in there for now – and then on and on to the experience of their parents’ deaths while also imagining ahead to how I’ll impact the people around me and ultimately leave them … and, fuck it’s a lot. I fundamentally believe it’s valuable and healing to think about these things. But… fuck, it’s a lot.

Anyway, I recommend Gawande’s essays about surgery and medicine in general. This one’s tough.

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Every Murakami novel is the Bugposting tweet “male writers are really out here thinking women stare at themselves in the mirror shirtless every morning, noticing their own bra size and remembering that people say they are pretty”.

I really liked the little side-plot in Wind-Up Bird Chronicle with the neighbour who served in the colonial Japanese army and ends up in a Soviet gulag though.

So I’ve made a huge mistake and decided that in The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty I’m gonna get really into Star Wars Legends
continuity novels. I picked up the first couple New Jedi Order books, because from what knowledge I’d sorta picked up tangentially the Yuzhaan Vong always seemed like some of the most interesting shit going on.
I’m a few chapters into Vector Prime, and like, it is what you’d expect from a franchise tie-in novel. It’s a little corny, the writing is very conventional, but honestly? I’m not too good for that, I’m having a good time, and there’s definitely some cool ideas going on.

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Oh man. Get ready for a great time. And I mean that genuinely. Most times the writing never goes above functional, but the more you read the more invested you become.

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Finished this last night. It’s tough but I’m happy that I read it.

Nothing’s graphic but I’m spoiler texting again with cw for death and dying.

Gawande makes a really powerful case that medicine’s approach to decline and death needs to change in order to help people keep dignity, autonomy and happiness. His key to well being is knowing — and being clear, honest about it — what we want in life. What is each “best day” needs a support structure to help enable it, and that structure (decision support around hospice, treatments, etc) must let us express what we understand about our condition, what we fear and what we want. Whew.

i also am reading Star Wars books, due to my brain being destroyed by how bad the latest movie was, though i’m reading the ‘new canon’ ones rather than the Legends ones. So far i’ve read:
From a Certain Point of View (various authors) - this one is a short story collection which retells the first movie but from the perspective of minor characters. Cool idea but very badly let down by a) having every fucking thing be force-sensitive for no reason (for example, the droid that almost gets bought instead of R2D2 and C3PO is secretly a jedi-bot and deliberately kills itself there because it knows R2D2 needs to get bought by Luke for the plot to happen) and 2. the fact that at least a full third of the book is just retellings of the fucking cantina scene from the perspective of every stupid goblin creature in the room, fuck that scene i don’t care who shot first shut the fuck up. HOWEVER the book also contains a version of the scene where Vader force chokes a dude, told as an HR complaint by the dude who got choked, which is truly delightful and makes the whole book worthwhile imho.
Thrawn (Timothy Zahn) - about introducing Thrawn, who i guess was a big deal in the old EU, to new canon. One of the better written of the books i’ve read but having Thrawn be the protagonist seems like a mistake, as the book treats him like an incredibly impressive supergenius when all his plans are stupid as hell. i can see why people would like him as an antagonist though, as you wouldn’t see him explaining things people have just told him back to them and having them be “wow he understands so much just from being told it, what a genius”. Bad.
Master and Apprentice (Claudia Gray) - about Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as master and apprentice being sent to help with the coronation of some backwater princess who has had a Jedi as her regent for the past few years; they arrive and find out that the Jedi is a) an old friend of Qui-Gon and b) an incompetent buffoon who has fucked everything up, so they need to foil a terrorist plot. Decent scholcky adventure novel for the most part but has the baffling element of everyone thinking Qui-Gon is insane for believing he’s having prophetic dreams despite this being a well-known and extremely common power of the Jedi in literally everything else in the franchise.
Ahsoka (EK Johnston) - follows Ahsoka Tano (what a shock) in between the two cartoons Clone Wars and Rebels, trying to help out a group of farmers on some moon as they fight back against the Empire’s recent occupation of their home while also keeping anyone from finding out she’s a former Jedi. Pretty decent stuff, the writing is not great but Ahsoka is the best character in the franchise (apart from Swamp Goblin Yoda) so that carries it a lot, plus it contains i think the only confirmed queer character i’ve seen in the franchise who’s allowed to speak. Bit frustrating that it hints Ahsoka might get together with the queer girl who’s crushing on her before she has to pull back and say “we can never be together, i’m more canon than you”.

pleasse help im dying of the star war