What Makes This Book So Great is a compendium of blog posts about Jo Walton’s rereads of books, not necessarily all science fiction and fantasy. These are blog posts originally published on Tor.com, so they are short, breezy, and quick to read. Walton is such a prodigious reader, averaging a book or more a day (I wonder that she finds time to write!). She shares many interesting insights into the whole act of reading, as well as the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Particularly enlightening for me was the idea that people who grow up reading science fiction and fantasy have internalized over time the special rules of the genre, while primarily mainstream writers may feel at sea when they try these genres; the flip side is authors who try writing genre who haven’t read a lot of it, and fail miserably. All of this content is available free online if you want to hunt it down, but it’s handy to have it in book form, and it’s of special interest to anyone who loves reading, whatever they may read. She’s certainly convinced me that rereading your favorites (and not-so-favorites) is worthwhile.
Yes, I’ve started a new blog project called Noir Femme. This one is kind of a sister project to Sci Femme, about women writing horror and dark fiction, as opposed to science fiction. But before I could get started on the reading, I had to identify (for myself, anyway) exactly what horror is. Here’s my stab at it.
Originally posted on Noir Femme:
Horror has one goal: to disturb. To remind us that we don’t have all the answers. To explode our illusions of being in control.
There may be monsters or the supernatural, but there doesn’t have to be.
There may be blood, gore, and guts, but there doesn’t have to be.
There may be psycho killers running around with axes, but again, it’s not necessary.
Horror can be, and often is, scary, but more important is a lingering feeling of unease, a delicious sensation of being unsettled.
The best horror takes place in our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. The best horror shatters the comfortable little worlds we’ve constructed for ourselves. It pulls back the veil and reveal the things in the shadows. Horror helps us understand exactly how insignificant we are in a vast, unknowable universe.
It reminds us that we are animals, and sometimes we are monsters. It reminds us…
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It seems fitting to highlight this great piece about Harper Lee by Roy Hoffman in the New York Times now that Go Set a Watchman has come out and blown up the Internet.
When I find it (which is not as often as I’d like), I like to feature thoughtful, thought-provoking writing from the Web. I hope this piece has the same effect on you as it did on me: making me rethink my complicity in racism in America: I, Racist by John Metta — Medium.
I’ve resurrected an old idea of mine, which is to read science fiction about women and blog about it. I call the blog Sci Femme, and I hope to use it as a forum for longer-form essays about themes and trends in science fiction written by women. I’ll be looking at both new and classic books. I’ll also post news and other resources there as I discover them. There’s not much there at present, just a few older pieces to seed the garden, so to speak, but I hope you’ll visit and follow. I plan to blog regularly there for at least the next year of reading, perhaps longer if this project takes hold. I’ll also post updates here when I make them.
Some interesting links I’ve stumbled across lately:
- On annotating books (BookRiot): I personally cannot mark up a paper book, which is another reason why I like my Kindle–it makes highlighting painless.
- More marginalia (New York Review of Books).
- A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another (Brain Pickings).
- What’s reading for? by Jo Walton (Tor).
- Why our future depends on reading by Neil Gaiman (The Guardian).