March 2024 books read

  • The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald, 1872. Comfort re-read after Phantastes, on the plane to Puerto Rico – I forgot my Nook so had to download something at the airport.
  • The Princess and Curdie – George MacDonald, 1883. Continuing to the sequel with its wonderful monsters.
  • This Other Eden – Paul Harding, 2023. Second Monday; quotes pulled, TBD.
  • The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet – Kristin Ohlson, 2014. Nature/Enviro; quotes pulled, TBD.
  • At the Back of the North Wind – George MacDonald, 1871. Of course I was pulled to re-read this one as well. The horses Diamond and Ruby must have inspired Strawberry in Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew.
  • The Warden – Anthony Trollope, 1855. Great Books; quotes pulled, TBD.
  • Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver, 2022. Amherst Book Group, so quotes pulled and TBD, but I also read this for the Mass Center for the Book March challenge, “a book whose protagonist has a different culture or lifestyle from you.” My one-sentence for that was “A compelling novel of Appalachia even if you haven’t read David Copperfield – but extra-fun if you have, to pick up on all the references.”
  • Otto, El Oso de Libro – Katie Cleminson, 2011. I’m studying Spanish with Duolingo and particularly like the bear (Falstaff), so this picture book on a cart at the library drew me right in. I enjoyed reading it aloud to Jonathan.
  • Dune – Frank Herbert, 1965. I re-read this when the first Villeneuve movie came out, and again now after seeing Dune Part 2. It’s a good adaptation but makes me want to go back to the atmosphere I imbibed as a teenager.
    • Words to add to the list of unfamiliar-yet-evocative terms: cherem, farufreluches, kanly.
    • Real words: pan and graben; he took liberties with the German spannungsbogen.
    • A Bene Gesserit saying that doesn’t show up in the lists I googled: ““The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.” – it is in the 3,084 (!!!) Frank Herbert quotes at GoodReads.
    • “It is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection. It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity. In such perfection, all things move towards death.”

Short story

Neighbors” by Zach Williams (The New Yorker, March 18, 2024):

Anna had said once that it fascinated her to have the ocean so near—it was as if infinity were just outside our bedroom windows. I felt something similar in that garage, the perceptual illusion of boundlessness. I no longer needed to announce or explain myself. There was nothing to study or question. And I was too scared to think. In fact, it sometimes seems that I’ve applied conscious thought to that moment only retroactively. I took a breath and held it. A paradoxical calmness came over me. And what I felt, then, was that my life was not in me but diffused across the darkness, which was an unbroken field containing everything. Me and him. Anna, the girls. Bing. Everything. And so, no matter what happened next, there could be no consequence, because I had no identity separate from that field. No one did, nothing did. Everything just was, together, without boundaries or names. This appeared to me as a plain description of reality and not a moral or personal judgment. I had never felt anything like it, nor have I since.