hello from a dark and cold place, folks! We had a blizzard here a few days ago and have also been just freezing which I guess is not abnormal for this time fo year but also—brr! I hope if you celebrated a holiday on Friday that it wasn’t too lonely. I have not been doing as much reading as I anticipated this past week because turns out I’d rather just sleep most of the time! Oh to be an animal that hibernates and just emerges in spring.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that I will put away my multicolored lights and stop playing the soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. We usually have a lot more snow coming our way here where I live, and every time we get more I like to pull both out as my weapons against the bitter chill. (And given that my lights hang all year round and are now connected to the reading lamp I use when I sit in my chair, that may just become a year round fixture!) We have to stay cozy however we can through this time, especially because we’ll probably keep having to hunker down for a while yet.
But in this last full week of 2020, I still got in a little reading every day so far (one of my goals for December is to read every day, not always an easy task when you are as lazy as I am!) and a tiny bit of writing, so I guess let’s get to
Books I Wrote About This Week
We are CHUGGING along in the series, my friends, and as I keep going I keep going "holy shit there are some asides in this that are bonkers." This time it was not a bootstraps narrative (thank GOD,) but um more than once Pierce mentions the use of incarcerated labor, including once where Daja, the main character, expresses internally that she has no sympathy for the incarcerated folks who in the book work in freezing conditions. Y'ALL. We don't need copaganda in our books!
I don't know, I thought this one was my favorite book in the series (I'm pretty sure I got it mixed up with the last book I read, as I did not really recall the plot of this AT ALL,) but I think actually it's my least favorite book of all of these books in both series I've read so far! And it is not just because of the weird horrible pro-prisoner labor stances in the book, though that certainly doesn't help it. There's a lot more--I described this in my review as "Criminal Minds for kids" and it does have that narrative of being inside a criminal's mind (lol) as you "see" the world from the guilty party's POV from fairly early on in the book, and it's chilling and also kind of gross (the gross part is really what made me not like the book. LEAVE DAJA ALONE SHE'S LIKE FOURTEEN.)
But as with many things related to "forensic science" there's so much that is just. Bullshit, and yet continues to be used. At one point in the text, they discuss that the mages that investigate crimes can tell how a fire started, which my guess is is loosely based on techniques in the real world--techniques which are under question as to whether or not they work. Am I being nitpicky? Yes in no small part because all of this is (probably unintentionally, on Pierce's part,) basically meant to build up the criminal "justice" system in our world and make it appear reliable and in the service of justice. And as I've said over and over again in this newsletter, and as the experts from whom I've learned this have said, that's just not true. At the end of the book, spoilers, the bad guy is executed fairly brutally in front of a crowd and it's like. What do we gain from that. What does the community gain from it. It doesn't undo the crimes.
Basically now I guess I'm looking for recommendations of YA books that are about alternative justice systems that are not criminal. Please do not recommend Touching Spirit Bear because I have already read it in middle school and um I'm uncomfortable with systems of alternative justice that invite non-Natives into Native spirituality. But oof I'm gonna need it after all of this.
Hey!!! Another Discworld book!!! I feel like how I enjoy Discworld books is based extremely heavily on the Message Sir Terry Is Trying To Tell Me. The books I've read in some ways read kind of like morality plays; he doesn't do much to hide any metaphors, which is fine, but does mean that if there is a part of it that doesn't really fit with how I see and experience the world, I have a harder time getting through it.
This though was a lovely meditation on the power of words (I know, aren't we all kind of suckers about that?) and the potential for freedom. And it was of course funny, and GAY--I think there's a joke that Sir Terry was not smart enough to understand his works were just hugely populated by gay people and folks, Vetinari and Vimes..... that's Gay. And delightful! It's a very fun dynamic to explore intimacy with, Holmesian to some degree maybe if you were uh... into BBC Sherlock's dynamic but less annoying and more funny, maybe. And even then I don't think it fits exactly, but there is so much that is going on between these two and it's. Gay. Also dwarfs are super trans--watching the Cheri character arc in this book, and ESPECIALLY seeing how she spreads femininity amongst the other dwarfs in the Watch (regardless of whether or not it appears they consider themselves women in the context of dwarf culture) is just really fun to see, and her relationship with Angua as she does her initial exploration of femininity is fun even if it's overladen with the other stuff going on there. (And there's like a kind of trans narrative going on there too, in the way that like... werewolves are always queer because they can be 'closeted' and yet walk around with human beings blah blah all monsters are queer and that's great.)
I just really felt those narratives, and enjoyed them and I know they will absolutely not become textual. Though I feel like Lady Sybil has been like. Really shoved aside and maybe she will be more interesting in future books, but she was so fun in the first and has just basically disappeared in the next two, and that is unfortunate but also hey Vimes is gay and married to The City much in the same way, say, Jim Kirk is married to The Enterprise, and that's how being gay works! But also please Sir Terry make Lady Sybil fun again. For me, for giving us um more women to love. GIVE ME WOMEN OR GIVE ME DEATH! I'd die an awful lot in fantasy and sci-fi written by men. Woof.
Resolution Check In
100 books: At the time of this writing, I’m sitting at a nice 107 out of 100 books! and it may be that way until the end of the year, who knows!
10 books of poetry: 5/10!!! not great, but given that I’ve read quite a bit of poetry in these last few months, I feel pretty good about it, and I know I have more coming!
10 books of Discworld: 5/10!!!! We did it!!! by “did it” I mean got halfway to my goal! Which isn’t bad, given that I read 102 OTHER books this year, some of which were fairly long!
Bible: DONE!!! War & Peace: DONE!!! Paradise Lost: DONE!!! Foundations of Christian Faith is still in the works; I have not been as good at reading it this week, with the whole mess of the holidays and mostly me sleeping all the time, but I hope to get back at it.
YOT/S&S/LBC: Right now I’m trying to cram in two Important books, one for lunches and one for afternoon reads. As of right now, when I’m reading very little because I am sleeping all the time, that’s not going particularly well, but I have a feeling when I can readjust my sleep schedule and be awake more regularly, it will get better! I am excited about both books, so that’s fun.
And that’s it for posts from this year (well—I am planning maybe to make a year round up post on New Year’s Eve maybe.) Thank you all so much for sticking with me this year as we all endured the neglect of the state and took care of one another; I hope we can keep doing that in the new year, and that I can keep sharing more about the things I’m reading and the thoughts I’m having with all of you. Please stay safe and keep each other safe as we turn to 2021. Keep fighting the fight to keep us all alive. Take care of yourselves, and each other. <3