July 2023 books read

  • The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1974. Another re-read (since April 2022), this time for Calmgrove’s #LoveHain.
  • Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie, 1981. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • The Colony – Audrey Magee, 2022. For Second Monday – good discussion, but I didn’t love it and didn’t flag a single passage.
  • In Spite of All Terror – Hester Burton, 1968. A comfort re-read of an old favorite that holds up very well. Burton was prolific – Castors Away! is probably the most well-known of her books – but this is the only one I’ve read. I should try more!
  • Permaculture Promise: What Permaculture Is and How It Can Help Us Reverse Climate Change, Build a More Resilient Future on Earth, and Revitalize Our Communities – Jono Neiger, 2016. Read for the Massachusetts Center for the Book July challenge, “A book borrowed from your local library.” It was also the Nature & Environment selection for the month, so there are quotes TBD, but here’s my one sentence review for now: “With brief text and lots of color illustrations, this book gives a high-level overview of dozens of ways the principles of permaculture design can help address climate change, strengthen communities, and build resilience into systems from water to energy to finance.”
  • Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection – A. J. Jacobs, 2012. Very entertaining, like all of Jacobs’ self-experimentation books, and I learned a few things. His wife, Julie, sounds awesome.
  • Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress – Charles Dickens, 1838. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation – Alexandra Horowitz, 2013. I’ve been meaning to read Horowitz’s book on smelling, specifically (she is a dog researcher), but didn’t realize she’d written this – I loved it! It’s a wonderful exploration of noticing all kinds of input, through the senses but also learning how to understand what’s going on. The intro is a description of a brief walk in New York City, and each chapter revisits aspects of that walk alongside an expert in a relevant field (e.g. sound design, typography, geology). I gasped out loud and grinned like a maniac when a chapter on insect signs introduced my acquaintance / local hero Charley Eiseman. Plus she’s describing where I grew up, so my enjoyment was overdetermined.
  • A Closed and Common Orbit – Becky Chambers, 2016. This, #2 in the Wayfarers series that I discovered in May, stands on its own, barely overlapping with the characters of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but it’s equally delightful.
  • The Eye of the Heron – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1978. Re-read for Calmgrove’s #LoveHain.
  • Footfall – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, 1985. An old favorite I picked up again because of seeing Oppenheimer – there’s an equivalent to the Manhattan Project I wanted to revisit. I finally assembled a list of the roman-a-clef science fiction writers who appear here (what wish-fulfillment: SF authors are brought in by NASA to help deal with an alien race, and they are the key to victory!), thanks to this discussion:
    • Robert & Virginia Anson: the Heinleins (this one I knew)
    • Wade Curtis & Nat Reynolds: Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven (this one I guessed)
    • Sherry Atkinson: presumably C. J. Cherryh
    • Joe Ransom (“he had a gaudy mustache”): probably Joe Haldeman based on commenter dlc1119 saying “you ‘Hold a Man’ for Ransom”
    • Bob Burnam: either Greg Benford or Robert Forward

2 thoughts on “July 2023 books read

  1. Isn’t it something special when a respected author describes somewhere you know and particularly love or haunted in earlier times? It represents a connection that feels personal and almost magical too!

    And how wonderful to feel able to recognise who’s being alluded to in a roman à clef, particularly if they’re themselves authors you’re familiar with. You remind me, I want to reread the novels Niven and Pournelle collaborated on, The Legacy of Heorot and it’s sequel – I reviewed the first a decade or more ago but never the second.

  2. Now I’m trying to remember if I’ve read The Legacy of Heorot – I don’t think I have! I very much enjoy The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer, but didn’t care for Inferno (and hated The Gripping Hand, so I’ve written off anything they did after the 90s, which is alas my opinion on a number of other SF writers).

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