What I'm Reading: April 19-June 28, 2021

Here are six books that I read between April 19 and June 28, 2021, in the order that I completed them:

Maurice by E. M. Forster

232 pages

Unfortunately it's now been a while and I don't quite remember where my hankering to read some E. M. Forster came from this year. Was I mentioning him to someone? Did I see the cover of the movie version of Maurice? Was I just reading about Forster for some reason on Wikipedia? I know that all of those things happened this year, but I'm not sure whether they happened before or after I decided to finally pick up this book.

Maurice is E. M. Forster's novel in which he tackles the subject of gay love. He was gay, but he didn't write about it in the novels that were published during his lifetime. This one was written around 1913-4, and published after his death in 1971.

I don't know if I'd call it Forster at his finest. He writes about Maurice, who is a young man who is kind of an ass, but strong and good looking, who just happens to be gay, from his days as a schoolboy until after he takes a degree and becomes something boring like a stockbroker. What this does have is Forster's characteristic surprisingly vivid depictions of feelings between people, and not just romantic relationships. I found the book really interesting and really good.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

after 216 pages

I did seriously try to read this dense economic text, and I was also finding it fascinating. However, after spending over a month crawling through it at a rate of less than six pages per day, I finally admitted to myself that spring 2021 was just not the right time for me to tackle a book like this. Will there ever be such a time? We'll see.

Unfortunately I didn't really get far enough into the book to really tell you what Piketty had to say, because he was still explaining the basic economic principles that he was going to be basing his analysis on. Yes after over 200 pages.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

276 pages

Many, many, many years ago, I'm pretty sure that my mom recommended this book to me. I'm also pretty sure that I read it back then. What I remember is that my mom recommended a book to me, and the book ended with a character visiting a family on a farm and letting them know that (spoiler alert) Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. At the time, I'd heard of Abraham Lincoln but was unaware that any such thing had happened to him, and thus this was a huge surprise.

So, this is an old children's book, which of course I love. Caddie Woodlawn is one of a large number of Woodlawn children, and she's a tomboy who runs wild with two of her brothers. This has been arranged as a scheme of her father's to try to keep her healthy instead of frail like a sister of hers who died. Caddie's family is more well-off and her world more developed than that of the Little House books, and she's a great character. The book itself, like most old children's books, is what I can only call "problematic." The treatment of indigenous people is cringy (although Caddie is friendly toward them) and so is the eventual resolution of the issue of Caddie being too much of a tomboy.

I got this book from the library and it still had its library checkout card, revealing that that particular copy of the book circulated like gangbusters all through its acquisition in the 1970s until the mid '90s. However, I don't think it's well-known in Canada anymore.

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

422 pages

What can I say? These Bridgerton books are tickling me in just the right way. I don't find them particularly smart but I guess they're a comfort, and certainly go down easier than big economics texts. This second book in the series tells the story of oldest brother and holder of the Viscount title, Anthony Bridgerton, and his love Kate. Anthony has anxiety about dying young like his father (who died of an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting, which is, to my shock, depicted accurately). Kate is afraid of thunderstorms, which I didn't realize were so common in England.

Castle Waiting, Vol. 2 by Linda Medley

375 pages

Turns out there is indeed a second volume of Castle Waiting, although Linda Medley must've made someone mad because her name is barely on it for some reason. I think the first book featuring Sister Peace's story is better, but honestly this second volume is really good as well. It's mostly just about people spending time together having a good time, being really loving and welcoming and agreeable. I dunno how much of this sort of thing can be found in comics generally but I really enjoyed it. It's too bad there isn't more.

Why Good Sex Matters by Nan Wise

after 46 pages

The subtitle of this book is "Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life." I had to abandon it in the early going because I was getting a complex about it. Wise's proposal that seeking and feeling pleasure are good things that can help with regulating mood and stress and allowing a person to just feel anything about anything is a strong one, but a book about functional and dysfunctional sex is just not something I need in my life right now for various reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment