Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Read in December 2020

1. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker (2017) 

Does a good job of being a science book that is accessible and enjoyable without being fluffy. I came away with a fresh passion for sleep (and lots of it). I highly recommend this for your health and self-appreciation! I've never felt so good about getting in bed.

2. How Reading Changed My Life, by Anna Quindlen (1998)

Quick and sympathetic little read.

3. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University, by Kevin Roose (2009)

As someone who went to an evangelical college as a then-evangelical, I couldn't resist checking this out. This author enrolled undercover at Liberty University to have a "travel abroad" type of experience in the heart of religious right country. It was easy to read and interesting to take in some of the cultural notes on a very conservative Christian university from a secular, liberal, but genuinely curious perspective. As he himself points out, his demographic qualifiers (male, white, straight, culturally Christian) narrowed what experiences he could really report on. Speaking for myself, an alumna of a different type of school but an equally religious one, my experiences there were radically shaped by being a woman (and also by being a then-closeted lesbian). So I sort of mourn the lack of a female counterpart to this book. But nonetheless definitely interesting, both in what was new to me and in what I saw in a new way through his perspective.

4. Bitter Greens, by Kate Forsyth (2012)

A meticulous historical novel that swirls through three women's stories in Renaissance-era Venice, 17th-century France, and a Rapunzel retelling. Both lush and grim, distinctly adult in content, and thick but always interesting.

5. Up to This Pointe, by Jennifer Longo (2016)

Glory be, it's a young adult novel about ballet, San Francisco, and Antarctica (was this designed specifically for me?). Credible, quirky, and lovely.

6. First Position, by Melissa Brayden (2016)

Little bit of lesbian romance fluff about two ballet dancers falling for each other, but when I say "fluff" I mean it in a good way here. Although: why does that trope of the technically fabulous but artistically stiff ballet dancer (who just needs to open up and let her hair down) persist and persist and persist? It's a bit odd. I want a technically fabulous control freak ballet dancer character who's also a moving performer.

7. Fire, by Kristen Cashore (2009)

Reread in a day. Such an enjoyable fantasy novel! And it stands alone fine without reading (or rereading) Graceling first.

8. Empress of the World, by Sara Ryan (2001)

Eh, meh. This really is a pretty early entry in the YA coming-out genre, and it was interesting to see the stylistic differences ten or fifteen years make. The teenagers' dialogue and behavior seemed rather more realistic than I am accustomed to, which perhaps was what was a little dull for me, a woman in her thirties. I just wasn't that fond of the love interest or the narrator.

9. Karl the Fog: San Francisco's Most Mysterious Resident, by Karl the Fog (2019)

Lovely foggy San Francisco photos paired with good fog jokes.

10. For Lesbians Only: A Separatist Anthology, edited by Sarah Lucia Hoagland and Julia Penelope (1988)

Whew! It's tiring reading this many essays on a limited number of variations of one topic! I feel quite accomplished and satisfied to have made it through finally. Some brilliance in here, some meh-ness, some repetitiveness and aside from its intellectual contributions, it definitely felt like a time capsule in many ways.

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