I read 13 books for this month.
I read two Frank Herbert books that touched upon elements expanded and explored in Dune (selection pressure, genetic experimentation in pursuit of immortality, nasty side effects of messing with nature for personal gain) and I will probably continue reading more Frank Herbert some time in the future, though probably not this year or even next.
I read more Alt-Hero, which now reads and looks like an above-average comic. It’s a comic book, turns out it doesn’t take long to get decent when you start with experienced comic book artists. I finished Stalky and Co., a Kipling boarding school book that is absolutely fascinating and charming, but also a bit shocking. I read a reprint that was done in the 1960s explicitly as “We are reprinting this book about young boys subverting authority FOR SCHOOL ASSIGNMENTS”. The irony, very much lost. I also finished Sheila Jeffries’ groundbreaking and extremely useful book about Victorian-era and WW1-era spinsters and their work trying to protect women and children from a rampant climate of abuse and exploitation, including excessively youthful prostitution. Radical feminists have their own major biases, but they tend to be where I have to go for useful historical background on women, particularly when looking at the last 200 years or so, but sometimes they’re the best game in town further back than that, too.
I finally read the Space trilogy by Lewis and it’s still banging around my head, shocking me with its prescience but shocking me even more with how even Lewis could not predict or suspect the sheer eagerness of people to go much further than his own characters. It was a more innocent time, or at least he was more innocent in some real and very beautiful ways.
I also read a book by Janice Holt Giles, an astonishingly depthful and accurate historical fiction writer who did a little memoir-work as well and who has apparently disappeared down the memoryhole, despite being extremely prolific and high-selling in the 1960s and 1970s. There are a bunch of American women writers like this, they were popular essentially until 1980s trash romance took over women’s pop fiction. And they competed ok through a fair bit of the 1980s in some cases.
I read a simply awful Alfred Bester novel he wrote late in life after 20 or so years out of the sci-fi game. It was dated sounding, trashy and weird, missing all the charm he had in his 1940s and 1950s stories.
I read some MFK Fisher, in particular her book about how to get along deliciously during wartime or other instances of rationing. It is a cool little book and many of her tips for how to cook well and enjoy food under extreme deprivation conditions hold up. She had no animus towards things in boxes if it was what you could get.
I read Crazy Rich Asians. It was an extremely useful read, but golly, some of the foreign-language profanity was much more graphic than I was expecting somehow. Since I’ve heard quite a few of those words, having spent much of my life in Asian diasporas or neighborhoods, knowing what they mean will now be…interesting going forward.
And at long last I finished Hippies of the Religious Right. I didn’t think I could get any more militant and radicalized, and then I finished reading this, including the lengthy notes section. Welp.
Anyway, 64 books down, 36 to go.