May 2015 Reading

For nearly a decade, I blogged about the books I read, first on LiveJournal, then on a couple of blogs. But I tired of it and stopped. Lately I’ve been missing it and I’ve started forgetting what I’ve read again (if I write about what I read, I remember it better), so I’m going to attempt to do a monthly reading roundup here.

What I tried to read in May 2015:

Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

This was a did-not-finish book. I’ll try this one again some day, as I think I just wasn’t in the right head space. I couldn’t keep track of who was who when my mind has been on other things.

Tambora by Gillen D’Arcy Wood

Cover of Tambora

Basically each chapter is devoted to a disaster that was probably caused by the Tambora eruption, framed by stories about Mary Shelley’s literary circle. For example, a chapter about crop failures in a Chinese province leading to farmers picking up opium production to survive and thus starting the international drug trade is introduced by the story of Mary Shelley’s brother dying of an opium addiction. The crop failures in question being the result of the three-year-long global cooling from Tambora’s eruption. A lot of interesting stuff, and I like disaster porn particularly when it’s several hundred years old so I don’t feel too much like a ghoul.

This reminded me that I had never read Frankenstein, so …

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Victor Frankenstein is a tedious, negative asshole. He spends years learning how to create life, and as soon as he’s done so decides the creation is an abomination and sets about abandoning it. Also, at the slightest thing gone wrong, he manages to spend months sick and feeling sorry for himself.

A Stranger In Olondria by Sofia Samatar

This was also did-not-finish. Eight chapters in, I hated the protagonist and nothing happened. The writing is beautiful, but it was just slow.

The Girls Of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

I thought this would be a Rosie The Riveter story of what women were doing on the home front for the Manhattan Project. It may have eventually gotten to that, but I gave up on the audiobook well before then. Just too much of everyone’s back story before it ever got to what people did at Oak Ridge.

The Big Bang Theory by Karen Fox

A really enjoyable dive into cosmology and details of various versions of the Big Bang theory, but I felt somewhat duped by Audible, as it slapped a publication date of 2010 on it, when the book was published in 2002 (the audiobook came out in 2010). There were numerous references to experiments due to be completed in the 2002-2007 time frame that by now have been completed. A lot of the discussion of dark matter didn’t incorporate news I’ve read about dark matter and had hoped to get an understanding of. The book was just too dated for 2015.

Coyote Rising by Allen Steele

Fun story, but man oh man did this seem to fetishize an American-style frontier, the antebellum American South (Robert E. Lee was fighting for freedom or something), and really rags on a straw-man version of socialism that the book calls social collectivism. Story-wise this was escapist fun. With regard to the themes and politics, it was one-dimensional.

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