An absolutely beautiful and lush book. Sharp witty essays and provocative de trop illustrations that led me to ponder the narrowing of my visual field and reminded me of my love of being puzzled for puzzlement's sake. The only thing I found bothersome is that she talks a whole lot about the importance of presenting information in way that is as rich visually as it is textually, and yet doesn't ONCE mention the artists/writers coming out of a comics background??? Speaking of narrowing...
A Tale of Two Castles, by Gail Carson Levine (advance reading copy)
This was a lovely fairy tale: brave heroine, complex villains, not everything is laid out at the start of the story, etc. I *ADORED* the dragon of unknown gender, and the child-protagonist's ambition and drive and doubts. Also, it was funny. Also, it was morally upright without being didactic. Those latter two being things I always want from middle-grade novels. (PS I didn't count this toward my "books owned" total since they really only lent it to me - it will disappear in sixty days, I think. Which is all good for ARCs, but would make me really cranky if I had, say, PAID for it. )
Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson
I have come to rely on Brandon Sanderson when I want my epic fantasy itch scratched. Loads of characters that are each enough themselves that I can keep track, intense action, thoughtful world-building, inventive magic systems, witty banter, and enough ambiguity to feel honest while still having heroism and coming-into-one's-own be a big part of the story - this novel has all those things, just as I expected. It is also Creative Commons licensed, by-nc-nd, which means I was originally going to just offer to email a PDF to anyone who wanted it. But! Then I was reminded of the WONDERFUL site manybooks.net, which offers many different ebook formats, so I linked to its page there instead. If you're interested in seeing the 313 books they currently host and redistribute under Creative Commons license terms, you can go to http://manybooks.net/categories/CCL . How nifty is that? Pretty nifty!
Freud's Blind Spot, edited by Elisa Albert
This is a collection of essays mostly about siblinghood (including one or two essays about how it is to WISH you had a sibling). Mostly the essays were very good. Some of them hit rather close to home and were difficult to read, but no less excellent for that. Also, there was a stealth comics contribution! Which was one of the best stories in the whole book! Yay for flexible editors!
Flying Cups and Saucers, edited by Debbie Notkin and the Secret Feminist Cabal
This is the first book that was ever put out to honor winners of the Tiptree Award, which is given to work that is "thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating", to authors "who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society" (http://tiptree.org/?see=front_page#TiptreeAward). Those of you who know me, or who have been reading these posts for a while, will be flatly unsurprised to hear that I'd already read almost every story in this anthology, since it was published in 1998. So rather than being infuriated, I mostly felt nostalgic and sort of "huh, we've come a long way, so many of these stories are classics now". But my lack of provokedness was not because the stories aren't brilliant! They are! And I am glad I reread them. And incredibly glad all these people keep doing their good work of saying "LOOK AT THIS AMAZING STUFF." The Tiptree is the award I find most reliable as an indicator of stuff-maribous-like-to-read, not just in SF, but of all the awards I've encountered.
Child of Fire, by Harry Connolly
Hm. This was good. It held together, it was interesting, the characters were engaging, the ideas were provocative. But it was REALLY noir. You know how a lot of urban fantasy and dark fantasy plays with monsters, but in a way that doesn't feel horrific, per se? Because there are still characters one cares deeply about, even when they are anti-heroes, and well, just something about the tone is different? Less creepy somehow? Yeah, this doesn't do that. This is a magic-laden horror novel and I just .... it was too intense for me at the moment, I guess. No fault of the book, and in a different, peppier mood, I might try the next one. Because it really *was* good.
Program or Be Programmed, by Douglas Rushkoff
I have decided to make a deliberate effort to at least occasionally read books that I know in advance will piss me off. I used to do that ALL THE TIME before there was an Internet available at any moment to piss me off, and being irritated with a long-form text is useful for my brain. Also probably good practice for grad school next year. So, uh, I haven't quite figured out how to write reviews of said books yet. I can say that I wish that this book had been more about *how* to seize hold of the programming reins, where to start, pitfalls to not let stop you, &c - or even about the concrete lessons that coding teaches you - instead of focusing so much on the metaphysics of code and/or Internet Ethics For Dummies. Even though a couple of the Internet Ethics For Dummies chapters (for eg Do Not Sell Your Friends) were awfully good. As Douglas Rushkoff goes. Which is to say, he's been driving me nuts but also offering insight since I was SEVENTEEN, so why would today be any different? Yeah. Like I said, haven't quite figured out yet how to review stuff that I knew would irritate me before I started reading it. But you get the idea.