Reading List: Late June

Both my children are finally out of school for the summer and I’m celebrating on this (very warm) Saturday by decompressing: I’ve spent most of it reading, sipping iced drinks, and looking for a cool spot. So here is a lazy blog post on what I have been, am, and might be reading and listening to.

Read: 

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint

I read this book by a “tattooed, foul-mouthed” Lutheran woman pastor because Marilyn of Mean Fat Old Bat mentioned it on Twitter. I liked it, though I found it a bit . . . not superficial, exactly, but brisk. A lot of the chapters felt like extended sermons, which is not a bad thing–but sometimes I wanted more development to the reflections. Bolz-Weber has the good preacher’s gift for finding a telling anecdote and drawing meaning out of it. And there were moments in the book that really struck home for me. For example:  Continue reading

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TBR Challenge: The Lotus Palace, by Jeannie Lin

June’s TBR challenge theme is “More than One” (multiple books by this author in your TBR). I was spoilt for choice since I have a bad habit of being caught up on buying an author even when I’m not caught up on reading her.

Given my struggles with last month’s challenge book, I wanted something I’d love, so I narrowed it to two authors: Jeannie Lin and Molly O’Keefe. Here is where I admit, shame-faced, that while I had read and loved one book by each, and then bought a lot more books by each, I had still only read the one. They are both way overdue to be pulled from the TBR. My choice of Lin’s Tang-dynasty historical The Lotus Palace was sparked by reading her blog post on not seeking reviews, because she’s an author I think deserves a much wider audience. (Don’t worry, Molly O’Keefe, I plan to get to one of yours soon).

So how did it go? I loved it.  Continue reading

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Unpopular Opinions

This week saw yet another “what’s wrong with Romance” post. If those posts are written to a script, so is Romanceland’s response, and indeed the predictable cycle followed:

  • tweetstorm erupts
  • critical comments posted on article
  • [optional for online only-publications: half-assed-apology/justification, invitation to Romanceland to write a romance-positive post–for nothing, of course]
  • takedown posts written by one or more bloggers
  • Romance-positive hashtag created; and
  • (Romanceland’s solution to every problem) Books Recommended

It’s not my purpose to criticize these responses, exactly. I’ve done many of them myself (which is why I use the universal “we” in what follows. It might not include you). But I think that Romanceland finds these “what’s wrong” posts useful, so much so that if they didn’t exist, we would have to write them ourselves . . . under a pseudonym.

Because when a post gets some things very, very wrong (Fabio hasn’t been on a cover in decades, and actually it’s quite easy to find a romance novel without a rape in it, and it always was, even in the “bodice-ripper” days), we don’t have to ask ourselves what it might have gotten right. When it makes sweeping generalizations, we can reply with the same. We don’t have to think critically from within the genre about popular tropes or about how we construct the Romance community, because we’re oh-so-busy fending off wrong-headed attacks from outsiders.

Here are some questions we’re not asking: Continue reading

Posted in genre musings, Romancelandia | 36 Comments

Little Reading, Big Dreams

I already complained about how May is so busy at work I’ve had little for reading. But what little I have read, I’ve enjoyed–except for that TBR Challenge struggle. And maybe precisely because I haven’t been doing much actual reading, my reading aspirations have bloomed. Yes, this summer I will read 1000 books, at least half of them over 500 pages. Summer is when I try to commit myself to big reading projects. Serious non-fiction, for instance, is rarely something I can tackle when the intellectual demands of teaching prep and grading are at their height. My beach/back deck reads can be a bit . . . hefty. Although I hope to read plenty of fun stuff, too.

Here’s what I’ve been reading, and some things I’m dreaming about reading in the next couple of months. I’d love to hear about your summer reading plans, too. Is summer a time with long stretches to read, or do you read less because you’re doing other things?  Continue reading

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Challenges, TBR and Otherwise

Obviously I am way behind on the TBR Challenge post, which was due May 20. But it’s still May! And I did Kick it Old School and read (sort of) a romance published more than 10 years ago. More on that in a minute.

I’ve found reading in general a bit of a challenge this month. It’s always a busy one at work, and this year my department had to make a major decision about entry to our first-year courses that took a lot of time and energy. Then I was reading a couple of books to review for our literary magazine. I enjoy doing this (I write one every year or two), but it’s hard. The reading challenges me: I get small press fiction and non-fiction which is often quite different from my usual reading choices, and I have to read more attentively to prepare for a formal review; the writing challenges me: it’s only 1400 words but it’s not it’s less personal and I have less sense of audience than when I’m blogging, so I get writer’s block. It usually involves a lot of procrastination which does not, sadly, involve reading other books (although I am halfway through another go-round of Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time saga on audio and have played a lot of solitaire). I’ve read only a couple of books in May besides the two review ones. And my TBR Challenge book, which took me forever and which I only really read half of.

When I looked at the TBR Challenge schedule back in January and saw that May’s theme was Kickin’ It Old School, I decided it was time to read Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue. I picked this up in a giant Lindsey sale a couple of years ago, on the theory that a) I should read something by this classic author and b) this one sounded not too crazysauce/rapey for my taste. It’s called Gentle Rogue, after all! Shipboard romance and cross-dressing heroine are tropes I’ve enjoyed before. So. Well. This book did indeed not outrage me, but it bored me. I got stuck in the middle forever (I avoided reading it) and finally got through by skimming the second half. Let me explain. Continue reading

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