It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.
In keeping with my erratic practice of juggling fiction and non-fiction, I just finished Going Clear, Lawrence Wright’s book on the history and growth of Scientology. It is meticulously documented and footnoted, an entertaining read in a sort of “people are weirder than anything” way. Having been a proof-reader for several of the books in the definitive edition of Robert Heinlein’s letters (including the volume of his letters with John W. Campbell) some of the early-days material was not new to me, but the spin, of course, is interesting. As someone who views other peoples’ faith with a little bit of wonder, reading this book is a little like an anthropological tour of another planet to me.
I also finished The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison’s Hugo-nominated fantasy about a half-elf-half-goblin boy who ascends to the Elven throne when his father (the Emperor) and all the other heirs die in a suspicious airship accident. Terrific world-building, wonderful twisty court intrigue (I wish I could do intrigue like this), thoughtful characterization, good writing. All the building blocks of a terrific book, which it is.
I also got sidetracked by Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility, which is an updating of the Austen book. This one is entertaining enough, but if you want substance with your entertainment, stick with Austen. In Trollope’s version (set in modern bright-young-things England) people say things like “totes” and “amazeballs.” One thing that was underlined for me (in this book) is how insufferable Marianne Dashwood is. Wash a dish, for God’s sake. Help out a little. By the time she finally realizes that Elinor has been carrying all the water for all the family, it’s too little, too late. In Austen the place and time inform what Marianne’s options are; in modern day England her choices are just a little too damned selfish for my tastes.
• What are you reading now?
I’m just at the beginning of On Beulah Height, a thriller by Reginald Hill set in a small Yorkshire town. I’m beginning to think I know who dun at least part of it, but I’m willing to stick around and see if I’m right.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I’ve got Cecelia Holland’s Varenger waiting for me, and a new YA called Harrison Squared, which I picked up at Borderlands the other evening (largely because the protagonist’s name is Harrison Harrison, and I cannot imagine any parent doing that to his/her child). And then there’s always the TBR pile to be mined…