notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
books books books

Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson
I really liked Them: Adventures with Extremists in high school, but then he wrote that book The Psychopath Test that seemed really icky and reeked of ~but what if psychiatry is a fraud you guys~, which, no thank you. But then this was on sale at Barnes and Noble for like $5 and I had a giftcard and here we are now. This is good. It is not great. It is a collection of shorter pieces he did for various magazines and newspapers. Highlights are the really sweet piece about juggalos (yes, you read that correctly) and the one about disappearances on cruise ships which kind of freaked me out.

Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet by John Turner
This book mostly just made me want a Tudors-style HBO series about Brigham Young's Utah household. Think about it. It would be amazing.

Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation by Dale B. Martin
I read this because someone on tumblr recommended it to me and also because every time I think of the title I giggle. By "read this" I mean "looked through like two chapters after holding onto it for like three months without even looking at it, because it was due back really soon and I am scared of what the theology library will do to me if I bring something back late". I liked what I saw? I will probably re-check it out at some point.

soon I will be reading:
class stuff
lots of things about the LDS church in Japan
lots of things about Catherine of Siena
lots of things about the history of fasting in Christianity

also you should all listen to this because I forgot it existed until today and I am just listening to it over and over and over again. (i tried to embed it and DW laughed in my face. idk.)

notthemarimba: Mark Gatiss in LoG looking fab (suspiciousladygatiss)
you thought you would never have to hear my mundane thoughts about what I am reading again, BUT YOU WERE WRONG. I read a bunch of stuff over the semester for class but am way too lazy to try to reconstruct any of it so I'll just start fresh from the beginning of winter break.

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell
crabby old lady thoughts )

From Feminist Theology to Indecent Theology by Marcella Althaus-Reid
crabby old lady thoughts ii: the revenge of the crabby old lady thoughts )
notthemarimba: Kirk with communicator (kirk)
Hello, kindly writer! Nice of you to stop by. Sorry I'm so late in posting. But anyway.

yuletide stuff: Pitch Perfect, Ring Cycle, Secret History )
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
Homo Economics- edited by Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed
Things this book has a lot of: Marxist feminist analysis of sexuality. Things I am tired of reading: Marxist feminist analysis of sexuality. Also, there's a chapter asking "do gay men have a stake in male privilege?" If you even have to ASK that, let alone answer it with anything other than "well obviously", we can't be friends.

Ann the Word: The Story of Ann Lee, Female Messiah, Mother of the Shakers- Richard Francis
This isn't my favorite biography of Ann Lee, but it's alright. It's a tad shallow for my liking, and Francis seems to have a hard time refraining from performing armchair psychiatry on Lee.

The Remarkable Life of John Murray Spear: Agitator for the Spirit Land- John Benedict Buescher
I was led to this book by my new favorite wikipedia page from a "creepy wikipedia articles!" post that was going around tumblr. It's awesome. Don't pretend you don't want to read the biography of an abolitionist, anti-death penalty Unitarian preacher-turned-spiritualist who tried to create a machine he believed would deliver humanity from darkness that was created to physically resemble a person and was ritualistically "birthed" by a woman who had a hysterical pregnancy and had to be given energy by people having sex in the same room as it. I mean, really.

Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah- edited by Claudia L. Bushman
This is such a nice general overview of women in early Utah and anyone even vaguely interested in the topic should definitely read it.

No Turning Back: Two Nuns' Battle With the Vatican over Women's Right to Choose- Barbara Ferraro and Patricia Hussey
I don't have anything witty or intelligent to say about this book beyond "I FELT SO SAD THE WHOLE TIME WOW" so I'm just going to link to this .gif from Bob's Burgers as a representation of how it made me feeeeeel.

Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance- Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini
This is mostly good? I like the chapter where they break down the idea of America as a Judeo-Christian nation (that "Judeo" is just tacked on there to obscure the fact that Christianity is still all up in our government like woah, y'all), but feel it falls apart a bit in some of the later chapters where they want to talk about the idea of sex being as much of a non-controversial personal and public choice as food but somehow don't explore what this would mean deeply enough while still weirdly idealizing it.
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
The Trouble With Normal- Michael Warner
Oh book, I have complex feelings about you. The first part of the book talks about hierarchies of sexual shame and critiques marriage as the way the state controls sexuality, which I agree with, but he fails to recognize that as long as marriage DOES convey benefits unavailable to people who aren't married then there are going to be people (including queer people, and even queer people who may disagree with marriage as an institution) who want or even need to get married for various legal reasons.  Throughout the book he also indulges heavily in the assumption that anyone who's queer must live in San Francisco or New York City, which is one of my pet peeves. (Also he kept using the word "tranny" throughout the book, which made me whisper "how about no, dude" on the bus.)

The Yacoubian Building- Alaa Al Aswani
I bought this book in its original Arabic when I was in Egypt with the intention of reading it, but I'm lazy, so it was nice to be able to read it without having to reach for a dictionary every 30 seconds. It's a wonderfully crafted novel following the lives of the residents of a building in Cairo and touches on abortion, homosexuality, murder, religion, and corruption in Egypt.

Still, the Small Voice: Narrative, Personal Revelation, and the Mormon Folk Tradition- Tom Mould
This was okay, but the organization was a bit wonky, and it occasionally felt like he was going out of his way to make folklore seem boring. Also, needs moar Three Nephites stories.

The Laughing Corpse- Laurell K Hamilton
I'm just going to link to wrabbit's post on this, because she explains the ridiculousness and glory of Anita Blake far better than I ever could.

Secularisms- edited by Janet R Jakobsen and Ann Pelligrini
Worth reading for a few of the essays on Turkey and Laura Levitt's chapter on Jewish secularism, but overall a bit lackluster.

Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family- edited by Brent Corcoran
I wish this book had some kind of overall organizing principle. It can't seem to decide whether it's a collection of candid essays by practicing Mormons about their thoughts on sex and family, or something with a much more academic bent. Lawrence Foster's essay on the history of Mormon theology of the family is great, as is Levi Peterson's awesomely titled "In Defense of a Mormon Erotica", while Rocky O'Donovan's "Brief History of Homosexuality in Mormonism" seems to be based largely on conjecture and indulges in the misconception that all wives in a polygynous marriage were at least "kind of" lesbian. (It's one of my least favorite misconceptions, for those keeping score at home, and he uses it to claim a queer Mormon history, but he could have done it by talking about, idk, actual queer Mormons.)
notthemarimba: badass swordfighting interspecies lesbians solving crime in victorian london (interspecies swordfighting lesbians)
Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith- Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery
Ffff this book is so great. Growing up Mormon, you're taught about Emma as this wonderfully inspirational figure, but then nobody ever mentions what happened after Joseph died, so it was really cool to learn more about her and specifically about her strong misgivings about polygamy, which I didn't know more than the bare minimum about.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men- David Foster Wallace
[personal profile] wrabbit saw the movie of this before me, so I thought I'd try to beat her to reading the book. It was good, I'm not really sure that I preferred the book or the movie, but it made me actually like the movie more, since they did a very thorough job adapting it.

Women and Redemption- Rosemary Radford Ruether
Like everything else Rosemary Radford Ruether writes, this book makes me want to roll on the floor It's a really good survey of theological thought on women and redemption (as you may have gathered from the title) and it's just so well-written and organized.

Use of Weapons- Iain M. Banks
A [personal profile] wrabbit  recommendation. Good, although I kind of just wanted the entire book to be Skaffen-Amtiskaw having snarky android adventures.

Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling- Richard Bushman
This is a really good cultural history of Joseph Smith, but I would probably recommend reading it after reading something more specifically about just Smith himself, like No Man Knows My History. It does a great job surveying the events happening around Smith but occasionally gets to the point where I'm like "okay so it's really great that that's what the governor of Missouri was up to, wtf was Joseph Smith actually doing".

The Italian Secretary- Caleb Carr
Borrowed from [personal profile] wrabbit . Recommended for Mycroft being great and Watson being distressed, if those are things you're into, which I totally am.
notthemarimba: Mark Gatiss in LoG looking fab (suspiciousladygatiss)

Women of Covenant: The Story of Relief Society- Jill Derr, Janath Cannon, Maureen Beecher
This book is mostly great. Up until about page 350, it's a nice, evenhanded, concise history of the Relief Society. After page 350 it suddenly turns into a book with a definite agenda. (seriously. page 366: "At a time when abortion was attractively labeled 'reproductive freedom' and so-called 'gay rights' were championed by civil liberties advocates, the threat to traditional moral values was real." I MEAN REALLY.) I would recommend it highly up until about that stage in the book, because it's otherwise pretty good.

A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance- Zev Chafets
Oh book, I wanted to love you. I thought I did when you were just about a dude talking about evangelical Christians and hanging out with rabbis. But then you got weird and threw in too many unconnected asides about your childhood and your feelings and I lost interest. I'm sorry. You're going in my bookmooch inventory.

Same Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example- D. Michael Quinn
This is the best book, you guys. You don't even know. Besides the general awesomeness of the subject matter and the way it's handled, I found this book very... comforting? In the same way that Women and Authority: Re-Emerging Mormon Feminism told me that women in the church who went before me weren't comfortable with their position either and were frequently quite vocal about it, this book told me that queer Mormons have always been there in some capacity. Sometimes it's nice, even if you kind of already know that, to have it reaffirmed.

The End of Mr. Y- Scarlett Thomas
Stay with me when I tell you this book is about a woman who gains the ability to teleport into other people's minds. If you are currently rolling your eyes and/or making a dismissive face, I implore you to reconsider. This is a really weird and smart and well-crafted book and you should read it. Really.

Catholic Does Not Equal the Vatican: a Vision for Progressive Catholicism- Rosemary Radford Ruether
I would highly recommend this as a primer for people who don't already know how awesome Rosemary Radford Ruether is. Because really? She's awesome, and everything she says about Catholicism can apply to any other religious institution. Also she is not afraid to get the Righteous Feminist Anger out, which I enjoy. 

Guilty Pleasures- Laurell K. Hamilton
This is completely [personal profile] wrabbit 's fault. I really liked it. I was kind of expecting to enjoy it in a "oh wow this is so cheesy" way, but I really, genuinely liked it. Damn you, [personal profile] wrabbit .

notthemarimba: Mark Gatiss in LoG looking fab (suspiciousladygatiss)
Moral Monopoly: The Catholic Church in Modern Irish Society- Tom Inglis
This book is so delightfully concise and good and I would recommend it very highly to anyone interested in learning about how the Catholic church came to be so powerful in Ireland.

Mormons and Muslims- edited by Spencer J. Palmer
When I saw the title of this book I clutched my face in glee and thought to myself that life is beautiful and someone had done a book on one of my favorite things to talk about. However, this does not do what it says on the tin. There's a few navel-gaze-y "all religions have stuff in common!" addresses from Mormons, a few pieces on Islam and Muslim-majority countries written by Mormons, and only one essay that really discusses similarities between Muslims and Mormons.

The Left At War- Michael Bérubé
Bérubé is an incredibly good writer, which is probably the best reason to read this. If you like it when people get angry about Chomsky, that's a nice bonus as well. Arguably, the best part of reading this was all the internet wank[personal profile] wrabbit  sent me to read afterward, which also led to me doing this.

Beyond God the Father- Mary Daly
I am not really sure why I decided to read this. I originally had some kind of mental process that involved reading it to get a better background in feminist theology before I start grad school, even if it's books and authors I don't agree with, but god, this was an incredibly slow and painful read. Daly buys in heavily to Margaret Murray's "Old Religion" nonsense, which I thought was something anyone with any credibility had moved past by about 1950, and tries to make Joan of Arc out to be a pagan martyr (wtf). Women of color are only brought up twice in the book and purely for the purpose of Daly chastising them for "putting their race before their sex" (I wish I was kidding).

Unleashing Feminism: Critiquing Lesbian Sadomasochism in the Gay Nineties- edited by Irene Reti
Lent to me by [personal profile] wrabbit , as she knows I love to hate-read. I basically read it while going "oh woooow" out loud to myself every 30 seconds at how terrible it was. I read it at the same time as Beyond God the Father, so I basically had a weeklong festival of being irritated with radical feminists, although it led to[personal profile] dorianisms  and I coming up with the brilliant idea of writing a radfem-to-English dictionary.
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
 Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community- Lawrence Foster
I was going to write something nice about what interesting contrasts these three groups make to each other, but instead I will just leave you the only thing I had written in my draft folder on this book: THE ONEIDA COMMUNITY, YOU GUISE, HOW INCREDIBLY WEIRD WERE THEY

Class and Schools- Richard Rothstein
Read after having it recommended to me by everyone else I know who works in education. It was alright, although a lot of it was stuff that is plainly evident to anyone who's set foot in a public school in the last ten years. 

Our Tragic Universe- Scarlett Thomas
I usually go "wtf does that even mean" when somebody says that a book is perfect for reading while wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day, but this book is perfect for reading while wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day. It has this weird, sleepy quality to it and low-grade magical realism that really works quite nicely. 

666 Mark of the Beast Seat of America: the Apostle John's Revelation Unfolded and The Sealed Portion parts I and II- Christopher Nemelka
These were lent to me by [personal profile] wrabbit , who is entirely too supportive of my desire to read as much weird Mormon-offshoot-sect stuff as possible. 666 Mark of the Unreasonably Long Title is basically "if we would just do what Jesus told us to none of this crap would happen" for 400 pages. The Sealed Portion is essentially really epic Book of Mormon fanfic, complete with ships (Barnabas/John, I'm not even kidding) and revisions of canon (a small sampling: heavenly mothers (plural); Eve slept with Satan; Jesus had three wives and controls evolution; the Renaissance, the American revolution, universities, and plastic surgery were all personally engineered by Satan). 

The Invisible Circus- Jennifer Egan
This book is so odd, because I spent most of the first half of it waiting for it to fall into cliches (the main character goes to Europe to retrace her dead sister's last days), and it didn't, but then the second half just kind of fell into this weird hole and I stopped loving it. Bummer. 

In Heaven as it is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death- Samuel Brown
Abandoned halfway through. I just couldn't get into it. The writing is weirdly cumbersome, and I think the subject has been covered much better in other places.
notthemarimba: Mark Gatiss in LoG looking fab (suspiciousladygatiss)
 Strangers in Paradox: Explorations in Mormon Theology- Margaret and Paul Toscano
I think this technically should have gone on my last post but somehow it got left off. I have Lots of Feelings about this book. Out of most of the liberal-Mormon-theology (I reserve the right to hyphenate with a vengeance, okay) that I've read, I feel that this is the book that most acknowledges current mainstream Mormon ideology and practice and engages with it effectively, and has one of the most thoughtfully-argued cases for women holding the priesthood I've ever read. My one wish would have been for some discussion of homosexuality in the church, but it's a small complaint in a book I otherwise loved.
 
 
The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 - John L. Brooke
A history of the ideological roots of the early LDS church, specifically its roots in earlier religious sects and associations with folk magic, freemasonry, and counterfeiting. It also explores how well the regional culture was situated to receive the church at the time. This book is freaking fantastic. Like, I finished it and immediately was looking it up online to see if it was reasonable for me to purchase so I would never have to have it too far from me. It's just so incredibly thorough and well-researched and concisely compiles information I've seen scattered across so many different places into one well-organized location. 
 
The Honourable Schoolboy- John Le Carre
It was nice to read this at the same time as [personal profile] wrabbit , even though I think I hated it more than she did. I did warm up to it toward the middle, when Jerry Westerby briefly becomes the least awful character we're interacting with (before he snaps). Overall though I much preffered the parts of the book devoted to Guillam being annoyed with everyone and Fawn punching people.

The New Kings of Nonfiction- edited by Ira Glass
Read in the middle of The Honourable Schoolboy to take a break from being annoyed by Jerry. This book is such a mixed bag. Chuck Klosterman's piece on Val Kilmer remains one of the weirdest, most delightful things I've ever read, and Michael Lewis's piece on a 15-year-old in trouble with the stock market was really interesting, but most of the other pieces just kind of seemed pointless (oh, you were a hostess at a nice restaurant for a year? Please, regale us with anecdotes that go nowhere!). Also, I still think Malcolm Gladwell is an incredibly boring writer whose conclusions are often dubious. So there. 
 
Caramelo- Sandra Cisneros
Lent to me by my roommate after he figured out I hadn't read anything by her since The House on Mango Street in middle school English. It was good bus-reading, and there were no characters I wanted to punch in the neck, which was a nice change from The Honourable Schoolboy. 
 
The Sanctity of Dissent- Paul Toscano
Collection of addresses given at BYU events and Sunstone symposiums, including the specific address that got him excommunicated. Highly recommended, especially "Silver and Gold Have I None" (on the principle of tithing and his misgivings on the topic, which is a topic I feel is rarely addressed in Mormon discourse) and "Dealing With Spiritual Abuse". 
notthemarimba: a cassette tape with the words "ipod, yo soy tu padre" (cassette tape)
 Guardian of the Dead- Karen Healey
Read after Dorian would not stop bothering me about it. I'm glad he didn't, because this is actually really great. YA fiction that draws on Maori mythology, has a non-annoying protagonist, several queer and non-white characters, and is just generally an engrossing read. Highly recommended. 
 
Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish- Supervert
Lent to me by wrabbit, who wrote a paper on it last semester. It's the literary equivalent of a movie that's brilliantly made but almost too gruesome to watch. I liked it, but I'm not sure I was supposed to. 
 
Unmanageable Revolutionaries: Women and Irish Nationalism- Margaret Ward
This is a great resource on women in Irish nationalism from 1881 to about 1920, but doesn't really go past there. It's a fascinating era so I'm glad I read it, but the book's information implied that it covered events into the present day, and so I kind of kept reading it going "okay but when are we going to get past 1918" only to find that this would never happen. This is a very well-put-together book and it does not deserve my minor criticisms. 
 
A History of Utah Radicalism- John S. McCormick and John R. Sillito
In an alternate universe where this book is maybe half as long and actually adopted a workable organizational principle for itself, I would recommend it heartily to almost everyone as a nice, interesting nonfiction book for people who are into that kind of thing. As it stands, it's far too long and I was annoyed by the way it's organized. Glad I read it, but not sure I would tell anyone else to. 
 
A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman: the Complete Short Stories- Margaret Drabble
A birthday present from my dad. Everyone in these stories is English and unhappy and in an unhappy marriage and having an affair that also makes them unhappy. For me, this is like someone sat down and said "hey, I'm going to write you some stuff you're going to be super into and sigh a lot while reading and you'll get unexpectedly emotionally involved in it" and I'm like "hells yes, where do I sign?" So I guess if short stories about sad English women are your cup of tea, then clamber aboard. 
 
Irish Women's Studies Reader- Ailbhe Smyth
Blurgh, I was going to write about this when I still had my copy of it but then I gave it back to my stepmom without thinking about it, so I can't remember the titles of any of the articles. It was mostly good, I remember having Issues with an essay that started with the premise that feminism and Irish nationalism are incompatible and then just kind of went on from there without giving any reasoning or evidence for that viewpoint. 
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
 We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle For the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People- Peter Van Buren
This is a magnificently depressing book. I think it's fairly common knowledge how badly the military side of things has been managed in Iraq, but this takes a scathing look at the State Department's role. I really liked it, although it does occasionally get overly memoir-y. 
 
Hunger Games Trilogy- Suzanne Collins
Oh Hunger Games trilogy, I have so many feelings about you. Mostly, that I find your fictional universe super interesting and kind of just want lots of fic about your politics and everyday life, but until the last half of the third book, Katniss Everdeen is mostly just a collection of YA female protagonist stereotypes. We're given a heaping dose of "but I'm not LIKE those OTHER girls" (or as wrabbit termed it, "Taylor Swift song syndrome"). All said, though, I'm way too excited for the movie. I'm really interested in seeing what they do with it.
 
A Visit From the Goon Squad- Jennifer Egan
This book is so sharp and cleverly executed. Egan starts with the stories of an aging, impotent musician-turned record executive and his assistant, a 35-year-old woman with a penchant for stealing things from people, and spirals out back and forth in time and between all the other characters who link them. The last chapter felt like a weird shift of tone to me, but it's a small problem in something I otherwise really enjoyed. Recommended overall. 
 
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy- John Le Carre
Read after I saw the movie. I think most of the adaptation choices from the book to the movie were good ones, but reading it did help the end of the movie to make a bit more sense. 
notthemarimba: badass swordfighting interspecies lesbians solving crime in victorian london (interspecies swordfighting lesbians)
 The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government- David K. Johnson
This book nicely collects the history of the anti-gay panic that went along with the Red Scare, but it is mostly worth reading because it contains some of the more wonderfully bizarre sentences I've ever had the privilege of reading in a non-fiction book. I already gave it back to the library (woe) so can't get up to too much direct quoting but rest assured there were references to "men gaining weight on a diet of semen", "lavender lads", and homosexuality somehow leading to Communism. 
 
The Hakawati- Rabih Alameddine
The Hakawati interweaves the story of a young man coming back to Lebanon to visit his dying father, the story of his grandparents, the story of how his parents met, stories from his childhood, and two different invented myths/legends. It occasionally gets a bit too "yo dawg I heard you like stories so I put a story in your story in your story" for my taste, but overall I would recommend it, although I do think Koolaids: The Art of War was much better, if you haven't read anything by Alameddine yet. 
 
The Gift of Fear- Gavin de Becker
 
Parley P. Pratt and the Making of Mormonism- edited by Gregory K. Armstrong, Matthew J. Grow, Dennis J. Siler
This whole book felt like a smarter version of when my seminary teacher would have a class where he didn't have a lesson planned and would just tell us weird early LDS history stories instead. By which I mean, it's fantastic. Pratt really is kind of neglected in histories of Mormonism and this book is a nice summation of his importance.
 
Lipstick Traces- Greil Marcus
This book carries a weird weight in my life. My dad has owned it since I was really young, and I remembered the cover shot of Johnny Rotten scaring the shit out of me when I would see it on the bookshelf (I mean, look at it). At 13, having gotten me into Patti Smith and Television and the Velvet Underground and the Clash, my dad handed me his copy of it with the solemnity of a religious ritual. It's been at least 5 years since I've read it, so I borrowed it from my dad again to occupy myself during the road trip we recently took. It was a pleasant surprise to find that it's still great. I had forgotten that, while my dad got me into the Clash and the Sex Pistols, Lipstick Traces was what introduced me to the Slits and X-Ray Spex. My one quibble with it is Marcus's unending love affair with the Sex Pistols. I would argue that there are only four Sex Pistols songs anyone should actually care about: "Anarchy in the UK", "God Save The Queen", "Holiday in the Sun" and "No Feelings". "Bodies" doesn't deserve as much ink as has been spilled about it. 
 
Between Pulpit and Pew: The Supernatural World in Mormon History and Folklore- edited by W. Paul Reeve and Michael Scott Van Wagenen
Lent to me by my dad. Favorite chapters were on the Bear Lake monster (invented by one of my ancestors!) and Mormon interpretations of UFO sightings. A good collection, although it would have been cool to see more of an emphasis on modern Mormon folklore, especially how email forwards contribute to weird doctrinal misunderstandings (totally not speaking from my own experience here or anything, cough cough).
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
Koolaids: The Art of War- Rabih Alameddine
SO GOOD. It's a novel about AIDS and the Lebanese civil war told through journal entries, letters, news articles, and dialogue. It is better than I can possibly convey. Go read it. Now.
 
Prisoners: A Jew and a Muslim Across the Middle East Divide- Jeffrey Goldberg
I wanted to like this. I really did. I think my problem is that it starts out strong but eventually just kind of withers. In the beginning Goldberg does a really good job expressing his inner conflict about his own Zionism versus his discomfort with how he saw Palestinians treated while he was a member of the IDF, and it makes for compelling reading. However, during the course of the book, he spends more and more time talking about a specific man who was a prisoner at the prison he worked at during his stint in the IDF, who he has somehow become friends with, and at the end of the book seems to conclude that because this particular man holds political ideas that he disagrees with he is somehow representative of all Palestinians and Muslims and that he has had too much faith in this man, and by extension all Palestinians and Muslims. Overall, kind of disappointing, especially given the strong start.
 
For Bread Alone- Mohamed Choukri
This was... okay? I wonder if a few of my problems with it were translation-related. One that I think would have existed in any language was the fact that he seriously spends a third of the book talking about his penis, which, y'know, if you're into that, great, but it just got to a point where it was egregious. He also wins the prize for Worst Penis Euphemism I Have Ever Read: "bald, blind dragon". 
 
Sexism and God-Talk- Rosemary Radford Ruether
Please ignore the awkward title and believe me when I say this is actually really good. It gets bogged down in repeating itself a bit from time to time but overall it's pretty great.
 
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist- Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Recommended to me by the super-awesome Isabel on tumblr once she ascertained that I am not averse to reading YA. I liked Norah in the book much better than I did in the movie, and the writing was pretty good. I was kind of shocked (prude alert, I guess) by how sexual it was, but Dorian pointed out to me that most teenagers are sexual, so. Yes! Recommended, overall.  
 
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks- E. Lockhart
Another Isabel recommendation. SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. SOOOOOOO GOOD. There is not enough capslock or Os in "sooooo" to convey how good it is. If I recall correctly Isabel initially described it as "like if F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a feminist YA novel set in a boarding school", and I found it to be as advertised. I'm getting this for my younger sister, for sure.
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
 Hello, Yuletide author!

Ring Cycle, Hanna, Secret History )
notthemarimba: Kirk with communicator (kirk)
 Habibi- Craig Thompson
When this came in the mail I hugged it for a solid twenty minutes. I loved Blankets so I had high hopes for Habibi. It was good? I mean, it's rather pretty and shiny and the Arabic calligraphy that he incorporates is gorgeous, don't get me wrong. I did, however, drive myself up a wall trying to figure out what era/place he was shooting for, only to do some googling and find out it's supposed to be a "mythical Middle East-inspired landscape". Which... feels like a bit of a copout to me? I just really think he could have done something interesting with a specific time and place. tl;dr Habibi is pretty and shiny and I am just kind of a whiner.
 
The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq- Derek Gregory
Freaking fantastic analysis of media portrayals of Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq and how they relate to colonialism. I seriously think this will eventually be seen as a classic on the level of Orientalism. It's that good. 
 
All Abraham's Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage- Armand L. Mauss
This was pretty solid on Mormon historical and current conceptions of race, focusing on African Americans, indigenous peoples of the Americas, and Judaism. The chapters on African Americans were a bit apologetic for the church for my liking, but the chapters on historical Mormon views of Judaism were really interesting. 
 
Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers- Barbara Victor
This book pissed me off on several levels. You can take your pick from the bizarrely awful Arabic transliterations (nobody writes "Allahu Akhbar", they write "Akbar" because اكبر is spelled with a freaking ك not a خ, also "shahide" is a completely asinine transliteration of شهيد), the way she repeatedly proclaims her intent to not romanticize these women but then proceeds to romanticize how tragic she feels they are, the instance in which she lists martyrdom as one of the five pillars of Islam (page 184, for those playing along at home), or her final thesis that women are becoming suicide bombers in Palestine because they are oppressed by male Palestinians (not, y'know because they live under an occupation or anything like that). 
 
Gender Politics in Sudan: Islamism, Socialism and the State- Sondra Hale 
Mainly worth reading for the first chapter on anthropological fieldwork and feminism. The rest is also good, focusing on (surprise) Islamism and socialism among (mostly middle-class) women in Sudan. 
 
American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon- edited by Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe
Obtained at the library used book sale. It was pretty decent, although a lot of the essays were a bit "look, I made a list of stuff that doesn't make sense about the Book of Mormon" for my liking. Dan Vogel's chapter on anti-Masonry in the Book of Mormon is definitely worth a read, though. 
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
 The Irish Border: History, Politics, Culture- edited by Malcolm Anderson and Eberhard Bort
Part of what has somehow become me reading All The Things about Northern Ireland. This focuses more on loyalists than other stuff I've read, and talks rather specifically about the immediate and longterm effects of partitioning. 

Gender Trouble- Judith Butler
Things about this book: it led to me mouthing "the fuuuuuck?" on the bus a lot, and I feel like I had to read every sentence three times. Also, I originally started reading it while I still had a fever, which I don't recommend, as it made me feel like I was high on something. I'm glad I read it? But am not really looking forward to any future instance where I have to again.

Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice- Janet Malcolm
Received because the paper bothered [personal profile] wrabbit  aesthetically after it was obtained when we went thrift store shopping. It's alright, although it doesn't really do what it says on the tin. It primarily focuses on Stein's work, specifically The Making of Americans, and then spends a good deal of time discussing academic infighting about Stein. Toklas is mentioned anywhere only as an afterthought, and usually in the context of academics sniping at each other after Stein's death. 

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius- Dave Eggers
Borrowed from [personal profile] wrabbit  and read as a brain break after Gender Trouble. It was alright, but we both reached the conclusion that while it's clear that we as readers are supposed to think Dave Eggers is an asshole, it seems like we think he is more of an asshole than we are supposed to think he is. It did, however, give me a moment to think about how grateful I am that there are roughly half a dozen people who would need to die before I would be considered the most responsible possible guardian for my siblings, so there's that, I guess.

Lost At Sea- Bryan Lee O'Malley
I really wanted to like this, given that I loved Scott Pilgrim so much, but I just didn't. None of the characters really grabbed me, and the way the story is told didn't do much for me either. 

Feminism and War: Confronting U.S. Imperialism- edited by Robin L. Riley, Chandra Mohanty, Minnie Bruce Pratt
Good collection, largely focusing on US presence in the Middle East. I was going to list the stuff I especially liked, but then I got distracted earlier and turned it in while I was at the library. 
notthemarimba: Auntie Val from League of Gentlemen (Default)
 Islamic Homosexualities- edited by Stephen O. Murray
This book can't seem to decide what it wants to be. Part academic writing, part pop-sociology, and in one instance part bizarre article about gay life in Karachi containing needlessly explicit accounts of sexual encounters (I don't need to know who got an erection when and how it was resolved, please and thanks). Most interesting article was probably Mildred Dickemann's "The Balkan Sworn Virgin". All around, I found the whole thing somewhat disappointing. 

Shattering Silence: Women, Nationalism and Political Subjectivity in Northern Ireland- Begona Aretxaga
A followup to my reading Armed Struggle. Quite well-done, particularly interesting for its discussion of the Armagh women's prison hunger and dirty protests and how they were received both by the public at large and by the IRA leadership. 

The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman- Bruce Robinson
You guys! I made it all the way through a novel! It's a Christmas miracle! I do feel obligated to inform you that it was not that it was particularly great or anything. It is mostly about a teenage boy seeking out his grandfather's pornography collection. And morse code. These are not generally things that are relevant to my interests, but the writing was mildly entertaining enough to get me to the end.

The View From Saturday and From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler- E.L. Konsigsburg
I spend roughly twenty hours a week in an elementary school library and when things are slow I indulge myself in reading things I read in elementary school. After a rather disappointing reread of the Wrinkle in Time series a few weeks ago I thought I'd give these two a go. They're still delightful, especially Mixed Up Files. I still kind of want to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 
notthemarimba: Kirk with communicator (kirk)
 Super Sad True Love Story- Gary Shteyngart
Abandoned at page 48 because I was so sick of how clever this book thinks it is (let's pretend that was grammatical, shall we?). Three separate people recommended this book to me. I no longer trust them. 

Sylvia Plath: A Biography- Linda W. Wagner-Martin
I wanted to like this more? I feel like the author took what could have been a really interesting subject and went to great pains to make it as dull as possible, focusing too much on things like what Sylvia Plath spent her lunch money on the summer she went to camp in elementary school (I wish I was joking) and leaving other things behind. 

Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA- Richard English
This got added to my reading list after a discussion about the blanket protests with [personal profile] wrabbit awhile back wherein I realized I did not really know anything about the IRA. I felt like this book was a decent overview, although it does assume that you have a pretty good knowledge of Irish history (which I don't, so there was much consulting of wikipedia). 

Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East- edited by Mai Ghoussoub and Emma Sinclair-Webb
Found while browsing the Middle East studies section. Best parts: "Male Gender and Rituals of Resistance in the Palestinian Intifada: A Cultural Politics of Violence" by Julie Peteet and "Male Homosexuality in Modern Arabic Literature" by Frédéric Lagrange. Best possible essay title that has maybe happened in anything ever: "Those Two Heavy Wings of Manhood: On Moustaches" by Hassan Daoud. 

All The Stops: The Glorious Pipe Organ and Its American Masters- Craig R. Whitney
I read this on a whim. I think my grandma (who is an organist) had the right take on it. When I asked if she'd read it, she said "Yeah. It was pretty interesting but there were too many parts where I was thinking 'do I really need to know this damn much about organs?'"
notthemarimba: Kirk with communicator (kirk)
 [personal profile] wrabbit  prompted: "John Watson in ugly/absurd knitwear that Sherlock knitted him and he feels obligated to wear."

idk why my scanner insisted on scanning it as two different pictures in different sizes. *shrug*

[personal profile] dorianisms  prompted: "YOU SHOULD DOODLE RED/PURPLE

and have us looking on"



(just pretend it doesn't say "flip vertical" up there please and thank you)
for those desiring context for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZnFQvlb2OA

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