Feb 28, 2013

Catching up with the Internet results in lots of shareable links

Hello everyone! I’m all moved into my new flat, and today is my last day of visiting my family. Going back to work and resuming normal life is always a little bittersweet, but at least I have this to look forward to when I head back to the UK tomorrow, so I can’t really complain. During my time away I completely failed to write a backlog of posts like I’d hoped, but I did manage to finish a couple of books I’m really excited to tell you about – Cory Doctorow’s Homeland, A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre – so hopefully normal blogging service will resume soon.

Also, once I get back I’ll take pictures of my new bookshelves like I promised, and hopefully post them at some point over the weekend. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a couple of interesting links I came across as I was catching up over the past few days:
  • Cory Doctorow on Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution. If Homeland weren’t enough to remind me of my brain crush on Doctorow, there would be this.

  • And while we’re on the topic of cool authors talking about libraries, here’s John Scalzi’s A Personal History of Libraries:
    I don’t use my local library like I used libraries when I was younger. But I want my local library, in no small part because I recognize that I am fortunate not to need my local library — but others do, and my connection with humanity extends beyond the front door of my house. My life was indisputably improved because those before me decided to put those libraries there. It would be stupid and selfish and shortsighted [link mine] of me to declare, after having wrung all I could from them, that they serve no further purpose, or that the times have changed so much that they are obsolete. My library is used every single day that it is open, by the people who live here, children to senior citizens. They use the building, they use the Internet, they use the books. This is, as it happens, the exact opposite of what “obsolete” means. I am glad my library is here and I am glad to support it.
  • Here’s a post that perfectly sums up why I’m such a fan of Novel Readings - Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?:
    This is the reason I think debating “literary merit,” or ranking or rating books, quickly becomes an exercise in either folly, futility, or bullying. If you’re going to ask “but is it any good?” you need to flesh out the question: good at what? for what? for whom? There are myriad ways a novel can be. A much more interesting discussion will come from asking “what does McCarthy’s prose do?” or “what are the connections between McCarthy’s literary strategies and the central ideas of The Road?” then from asking if he is a good or a bad writer. Why would you even ask those questions, though, if you didn’t think the work was worth spending that kind of time and thought on? By assigning The Road to my class, I’ve implicitly endorsed it as good writing, haven’t I? And, to return to where I began, I think it is good writing. Good at what? Good for what? Well, one of the things it is unequivocally good at, or good for, is provoking discussions about good (or bad) writing.
  • On Jodie’s recommendation I’ve started watching the Why Poverty? series of documentaries and now I want to share them with the whole world. They’re thoughtful, insightful, and available to watch for free online. I know several of you are interested in structural inequality, so I thought I’d put them on your radar in case you missed them. (Jill and Aarti, once again I’m thinking of you.)

  • During my hiatus I read The Secret Life of William Shakespeare (terrible title, by the way) by the always wonderful Jude Morgan. I liked it a lot – Morgan’s prose alone made it worthwhile – but I don’t think I’ll get around to reviewing it because I read it in fits and starts over a period of almost a month - a period when I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, which wasn’t very conductive to close, thoughtful reading or note-taking. Luckily, I came across a review that does a good job of expressing how I felt about it – and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to think of the Sandman connection.

  • Finally, thanks to Jenny I’ve become aware of the existence of these gorgeous new matching editions of Hilary McKay’s brilliant Casson Family books – finally, cover art that I like for these books! For now I’m going to resist the temptation to get myself a set, but I thought I’d use this as yet another opportunity to push this series on people. If you don’t want to take my word for it, I’ll just innocently point out that Ana at The Book Smugglers is a recent Hilary McKay convert.

One last thing: this probably goes without saying, but catching up with the Internet is always an unfinished task, so if you wrote or came across anything interesting while I was away, I’d be more than grateful if you send the links my way. Thanks in advance!


  1. I'm sure it'll feel great to be in your new space even though you'll miss your family.

  2. Yes, I'm sure it will! I flew here only a week after the move, so I spent all my free time at the new house frantically unpacking and haven't really had the chance to enjoy it yet. It'll be nice to be able to do that. Plus my parents are visiting next month - if only they could bring the animals too :P

  3. Enjoy settling into your new place, what an exciting time!

  4. Safe traveling, Ana! And have fun tomorrow night! :D

  5. I MISS YOU SO MUCH WHEN YOU ARE GONE. Hi, Ana! I'm happy you made it safely to your new digs, and am looking forward to hearing what you thought about the Marie Brennan book.

  6. Welcome back. And I love what you had to say about the good writing vrs bad writing argument in the Cormac McCarthy section of your post!
    YES! Yes! You nailed it!

  7. Joanna: I will! I'm taking back a bag full of stuff for the house that my family kindly gave me and it will be nice to decorate :)

    Debi: Thank you :D

    Jenny: Aww, I missed everyone too. I really enjoyed the Marie Brennan - more details soon!

    Charlie: Thank you!

    Celine: Not me - it's a quote from the original post at Novel Insights, so the credit belongs to Rohan Maitzen. But that's why her blog is one of my must reads. Thank you for the warm welcome! It's good to be back.

  8. Welcome back tomorrow, Ana! I'm so happy everything went well, the move and the visit with your family. I'm not sure any of us expected you to blog, it's much better to hear that you were able to read :-) although you were missed, too.

    I'm looking forward to your review of The History of Dragons, I just heard about this book and it's on my list of ones to get asap.

  9. Moving is a sucky thing, even if you DO have Gaiman to look forward to! I really look forward to having you around again :)

  10. I posed a question for Americans in my review of Homeland and would love to hear some of your European perspective on it when you write your review. necromancyneverpays.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/homeland-choosing-safety-over-freedom/

  11. Thank you for the links, Ana. I am glad you will finally get a chance to settle in.

  12. Thanks for the generous shout-out, Ana! I have learned so much from the discussion that followed that post. Isn't it great when blogging repays your efforts with that kind of discussion? I've just bought No Country for Old Men - but I'm still afraid of Blood Meridian.

  13. *crushes on John Scalzi's brain*

    That is all. Thanks for bringing that to my attention! I usually read Whatever but have been so out of the loop that I'm scared to get back in it.

  14. Welcome back! I hope you are feeling comfortable in your new home :-)

    I am definitely going to watch those Why Poverty videos - thanks again for thinking of me!

  15. Enjoy the new place! And welcome back. :)

  16. The new Casson family covers do look pretty cool, but I found a set that I thought were lovlier so here's the link in case you haven't seen them yet :) - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/caddy-ever-after-hilary-mckay/1102789887


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.