Reunion Reading, or What I Did Instead of RT

I would have loved to go to the RT convention to meet blogger/Twitter/author friends in real life. But I already had an East Coast trip enshrined in my May calendar: my 25th college reunion, to which I had promised to take my daughter. I’m not sorry about my choice, though I’d love to do a romance conference one day.

Gothic-style dormitory with castle towers.

My daughter outside my favorite dorm. My room, where the arrow is, had French doors onto the roof for drinking and sunbathing. Sadly, it has since been reconfigured.

And actually, I thought a lot about how my reunion was like RT. True, there was less discussion in advance about pedicures and shoes, more about who was bringing her lantern for Step Sing. And we talked about work and parents and children and partners and old times, not books and blogging and genre romance. But it was a few days spent in a community of amazing, smart, accomplished, supportive women (I went to a women’s college), catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. I even managed to meet up with some online pals, Victoria Janssen and Natalie Luhrs. It was a pretty great time.

Of course, it did involve two very long travel days, and hours without internet access mean reading! I am not the best at concentrating while traveling so I read bits of lots of things. Here are the highlights:

My daughter tore through two John Green books and now agrees with the lady in the Calgary airport bookstore that Looking for Alaska is better than The Fault in Our Stars. It’s her new favorite book. She also listened to and loved How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier. She wins at travel reading.

Georgette Heyer, Pistols for Two. Somehow I thought this was one of Heyer’s mysteries (the title, I guess), but it’s actually a short story collection, as I discovered when Sunita mentioned one of the stories in a deals post at Dear Author. I snapped it up, though it was not a deal. This turned out to be perfect airplane/airport reading, because the stories are short and funny; they kept my attention but didn’t need much time to complete. They all have a romance element, but don’t look for deep emotion: the comedy is the main point. There are certain plot elements that recur here, like the elopement that isn’t what it seems and the duel no one really wants to fight, but since I read some on the way out and some on the way back, they never felt too repetitive. Highly entertaining; Heyer really knows how to shape a story for a short word count.

Meljean Brook, The Kraken King Parts III, IV, and part of V. I am enjoying reading this steampunk romance serially, though obviously I’m not reading it as the parts come out (the final one was released on Tuesday). Adventure, like comedy, made for engaging airplane reading. Brook uses the serial form really effectively: each episode has a resolution but also makes you want to read on. The adventure and the romance both have “acts” that fit neatly into an episode. I am loving Zenobia, the writer heroine, who has always had adventures by proxy and is finally getting to have one for real (a somewhat mixed experience, since lots of danger is involved). I loved the introductory novella for the Iron Seas series, and this book has me determined to read more.

Joan Smith, A Highwayman Came Riding. (halfway in) A traditional Regency: short chapters, snappy dialogue, humor and adventure. Can you see a trend in my travel reading? Smith has a lot of fun with the trope of the sexy highwayman who is clearly a gentleman in disguise and the innocent (but not stupid) heroine who not-so-secretly yearns to reform him.

D. L. McDermott, Cold Iron. (just started) Paranormal romance is not my usual fare, but something made me curious about this one–I think a comment the author made somewhere about her interest in power and consent. Plus there’s archaeology and museums. I’m enjoying it so far. The Fae hero is very much Not Human, and in that sense it reminds me a little of Anne Bishop’s Others. The tone is quite different from the other reading I was doing, and I found it hard to concentrate on (plus there’s a lot of lusting, and I was wedged in an airplane seat beside a 12-year-old). I’ll get back to this at a better moment.

Connie Willis, Bellwether, read by Kate Reading. (still listening) I’ve had this in my audio stash for a while, but Kaetrin’s review made me think it would be perfect airplane fare (funny again!). And it was. I especially love the workplace stuff and the idiocy of Management. But since I switched from reading to listening when I was tired, I think I missed a lot and need to go back to the start.

Up Next (besides finishing what I’ve started):

A collection of library holds just came in: Molly Antopol’s début story collection, The UnAmericans (took so long to arrive I can’t remember why I requested it); Anne Bishop’s Murder of Crows (2nd in The Others series); and on audio, Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed (I’ve read some of his journalism; I picked this up thanks to his recent NY Times Magazine cover story “Who Gets to Graduate?” and because I’m making education the new focus of my Academic Writing class).


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17 Responses to Reunion Reading, or What I Did Instead of RT

  1. kaetrin says:

    I’d like to try Pistols for Two. I think it might ease me into Heyer. I’ll have to see if it’s available for me. Maybe from the library…

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      In some ways, they might work less well if you don’t already know and like Heyer. But they are good, witty fun, so if your library has it, give them a try! The story Sunita mentioned is “Hazard” and it’s very good–and quite romantic.

  2. Glad to hear you like Bellweather. I like listening to Willis. I might give that one a try. I’m listening to Brook’s Riveted right now and enjoying it. She’s one of the only people I really fan girl over, and I got to meet her at RT 🙂

  3. sonomalass says:

    I adored The Kraken King. It was serial done right, and especially given Zenobia’s profession, delightfully meta. I have liked all of Meljean’s Iron Seas heroines, and I’ve been waiting for Zenobia’s story, which was worth the wait.

    Connie Willis is one of my all-time favorite authors. I need to re-read Bellweather, as it’s one of the ones I’ve only read once. Hope you enjoy it when you get back to it.

    I have long travel to the UK coming up; I need to follow your example and pick some things that I can read in the sort of unpredictable and frequently interrupted periods of time that air travel today (ugh) permits. Also, your reunion sounds lovely — I’ve never been to one of mine.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      I’ve been on the west coast since college, so the first one I got to was my 20th. I was surprised by how much I loved it–there are old friends I *don’t* get to see, since they graduated in different years, but seeing people I didn’t know well in college turned out to be really great. Yes, people hang with their best pals, but also end up mixing around at meals and events and getting to know people better. For me it’s also college without the hard parts, like comparing myself negatively to others (I suspect this wouldn’t be true in earlier years, but I realized I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with myself and my choices–except when running into my first love while covered in spots).

  4. Laura Vivanco says:

    Why do they have Scottish flags flying?

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Laura, I have no idea. There were a variety of flags on the buildings. But the local place names, and the building names, are mostly Welsh.

  5. merriank says:

    I’ve been reading Meljean’s serial and really enjoying it. I loved Zenobia and Ariq for themselves and loved them together. I was really interested to read Meljean’s imagined Australia – Perth (?) replaced by Kraken Town amused me and the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as masters of their own land rocked. The sense of England as this far away place, small in the scheme of geo-political drama with a language of little account was a lovely inversion of the steampunk neo-Victorian-Empire project. I especially liked Zenobia in the confrontation at the end finding a role for herself that was powerful and full of agency and not ‘kick ass’.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      Yes, I agree, the reimagining of geo-politics is unusual and interesting. That’s one reason I regret not having read more of the series–I find myself confused about how this world works at times. But not too much to enjoy it!

  6. victoriajanssen says:

    Trufax: I heard Connie Willis read from BELLWETHER before it came out. Her funny stuff must be awesome on audtiobook.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      It is very funny. Hearing the author read it must have been great, but Kate Reading is doing it justice, in my opinion. (I sometimes find her a little too . . . emotive? as a narrtor, but she’s excellently wry in this one).

  7. Kathryn says:

    Connie Willis like Heyer has written some great short stories — you might want to pick up one of her collections for your next trip.

  8. Cecilia says:

    The reunion sounds wonderful, and what a great idea to take your daughter. Did she have a good time? Is she starting to think ahead to college now? Tell her An Abundance of Katherines is John Green’s best book. (Also, has she read Fangirl? I’d think that would go near the top of any “If you like John Green…” list. And I just want as many people as possible to read it!)

    What was your ex doing at a reunion for a women’s college? I’m assuming your ex is a guy, but I guess that’s sort of an ignorant assumption.

    • Liz Mc2 says:

      She was bored at times but mostly had fun. She likes the idea of college now, for sure! She has read Abundance of Katherines but begs to differ with you (although she did love Fangirl, which was pressed upon her by a peer in the bookstore; I have her copy waiting for me to get to).

      We have a partner college (once all men, now coed)–we can take classes on each others’ campuses, major at the other college, etc. They have the same reunion weekend we do, and a group of friends came over for a visit.

  9. pamela1740 says:

    I love the photo! I am just now catching up on two weeks of bloggery that I have missed due to my workplace woes. In many cases, it seems irrelevant to comment now that the discussions have basically moved on, but I really wanted to tell you how much I loved following along with your reunion visit when you tweeted, and reading this wonderful recap post that focuses on the friendships and the books. I often wish I had been at BMC as an undergraduate, for the fellowship and community. As a grad student, I was part of a tiny coed minority on the campus and we didn’t really fully engage or immerse in the life of the college in the same way – we occasionally spied on Lantern Night from our claustrophobic sem rooms upstairs in Thomas, but we didn’t participate and we lived in strange places like Glenmede, or quirky apartments over barber shops on Lancaster Avenue (me!), or West Philly. It’s pretty cool that the college has the graduate programs, though — it’s the only one of the Seven Sisters that confers PhDs. I always wondered whether this aspect of the institution made a difference to the undergraduate experience, or not.

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