March + April 2020 Reading Log
Everything (of substance) that I read in March and April, with some annotations.
A ⌛︎ before a title indicates that I have not finished reading it.
- The Masterharper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (novel)
- The Dophins of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (novel)
- All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (novel)
- ⌛︎ Nox Philologiae: Aulus Gellius and the Fantasy of the Roman Library by Erik Gunderson (academic book)
- ⌛︎ The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (novel, reading aloud, first two sections)
- Nerilka's Story by Anne McCaffrey (novella)
- Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey (novel)
- “Catskin” by Kelly Link (short story, published in Lightspeed Magazine)
- “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis” by Annalee Newitz (short story, published in Slate)
- Various manga by syou (4 one-shot manga)
- Various manga by Ikuhana Niiro (11 one-shot manga)
- Run Away with Me, Girl by Battan (manga, chapters 7—12)
- “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer (short story, published in Clarkesworld Magazine)
- The Beginning Place by Ursula K. Le Guin
- ⌛︎ “For your flower shop AU” by Lee Bradford (ongoing short stories, read 12, some rereads)
- Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (novel)
- Beast by Brie Spangler (novel)
- ⌛︎ Homestuck² (ongoing webcomic, chapters 7 & 8)
- All Systems Red by Marth Wells (novella)
- Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (novella)
Total: 7 novels, 3 novellas, 15 short stories, 23 comic/manga chapters
I went on another Pern binge, my first this year. I'm nearly finished with all of the Pern stories that Anne McCaffrey wrote herself. I made the mistake of reading things in a weird order: The Dolphins of Pern spoiled the main plot points of All the Weyrs of Pern, and Nerilka's Story made a lot more sense after reading Moreta. Moreta is the first one that I've noticed explicitly gay characters in, which was a big surprise. My main complaint with her stories is that they're too damn straight, and it's honestly kind of a moodkiller. I prioritized reading Moreta because it's about a pandemic and distributing vaccines, which, you know, current events.
I continue to pick away at this book in bits in pieces; lately I've only read it in doctor's offices. It's wonderfully written and the PDF on my phone is littered with highlights.
The Years of Rice and Salt
This is what my partner and I have decided to read out loud next, which we've been doing sporadically. So far I've very attached to the characters and the book is a delight for its sampling of different settings. It's been odd reading something by Kim Stanley Robinson that isn't sci-fi, and realizing that wow, he's just a great writer, no matter what the genre is.
The Beginning Place
I picked this Le Guin novel up at a used book store months ago because I buy anything of hers that I come across. I'd never heard of this one, and I think it's a shame! It's a fantasy novel about two young adults who find their separate ways to a spooky, solitudinous otherworld in their search for escape from their unbearable daily lives. They have to make choices about how to treat each other, how to share the space, and whether to save the world's inhabitants from an extremely vague and horrifying threat or to remain passive. The book is very much about alienation in capitalist society, trauma, loss, and solidarity. I loved it and think it was an incredibly beautiful story.
Stone Butch Blues
I finally got around to reading this one night when I couldn't sleep and I ended up staying awake for three more hours because I couldn't put it down; I finished it the next day. The story absolutely wrecked me and made me cry and I want everyone to read it.
I tracked this one down because a reading group was starting up and they had selected this as their first book, and I wanted to see if I was interested. It turns out I was, and I finished it in two days, whereas the group has not even started assigning chapters (oops). It's nice if you like YA, the romance is sweet, there's a lot of drama that's hard to read through, and it has a great trans character. The protagonist struggles with really major non-trans dysphoria surrounding his size/hairiness which might be hard for some people to read.
Short Stories & Manga
Robot and Crow and So Much Cooking are both short stories about pandemics that got passed around in March, with very different tones (hopeful and sad, respectively). The former is about a robot who teams up with a crow to identify sick people and get them help; the latter is the recipe blog updates of a housewife who ends up caring for the children of sick people and trying to feed everyone when the supply chain shuts down. Catskin is about a witch's child trying to manage his odd inheritance, and I recommend it to people who like fairy tales. For your flower shop AU is a collection of cleaned-up accounts of the author's daily life working in a flower shop and dealing with ridiculous customers. Run Away with Me, Girl is a really sweet yuri manga done by an excellent scanlator, and I recommend it if yuri is your thing. The other mangaka I mentioned in this month's list do hentai so don't look them up unless that is also your thing.