thanate: (bluehair)
I just updated my website! (er, to include the story that came out two months ago...) But this means that after more than a year, I finally have an FTP program that works on my computer again, so theoretically I can post pictures here as well as on twitter. (For those who are looking for Megatherium pictures & effluvia, it's here) I also rediscovered a set of notes for a thinky post I was going to post months ago, which I might even still be able to reconstruct. (This is still not that post.)

We have achieved potty trained!!! I eventually had to resort to saying that children who pooped in their underwear didn't get read books, which lasted for about three days and then once she actually used the potty I could do the positive reinforcement thing. (And then we had three days of peeing where she stood before I managed to get across that this was not ok either, but we got there, thank goodness.) She's rocking the boy underwear-- we got two day-of-the-week sets with tools on them, which are grand, fit pretty well, and are sturdy enough that she can pull them up by herself. We have our toddler-included preschool orientation night next week, and then jump on in the day after Labor Day. Other people keep expecting the Megatherium to be nervous about it for some reason, but she is quite excited. Other children!! Yay!! One of them lives right down the street from us and was born 4 days after she was, but we haven't caught them at home since we got the class list.

We weathered Pennsic-- first week mainly, as grauwulf's amazing moving work trip to Germany finally settled on the week we were supposed to be on vacation. Her Megatheriosity had a blast after she figured out about tent pegs the hard way and had her eyebrow glued back together. (Fortunately we were camped two blocks from the EMS station, & she's a very good patient-- she spent the rest of the war reminding us that "there's where the water is, and the misting tent, and that's where we went to get my boo-boo fixed." (She named it her boo-boo; the terminology was not adult imposed)) The new camp (Ravenstreet) is full of cooks, which confuses me; I am used to wandering about & buying snacky things or ice cream for lunch, and they have 3 meals a day in camp, but no firepit. Anyway, we're already planning on going for both weeks next year. Though, there was also talk about the Helsinki Worldcon, so we'll see.

We have been escaping the heat (kind of) by visiting mall playgrounds so the Megatherium has something to climb on that isn't me-- she bonded with a slightly-larger boy last week & they played self-initiated hide-and-seek and some run around & jumping games before his adults took him elsewhere; we came out of the mall & she announced that she "wants a boyfriend who lives right down the street from us." (I mentioned child-in-her-preschool-class, but we still haven't met him yet.)

Meanwhile I have been reading Greta Eagan's Wear No Evil-- in the mall, no less, for extra irony. On the whole I like the concept of eco-fashion, but like so many of these things I am not quite the target audience. About half her fashion needs just don't apply to my life, and her basic wardrobe evaluation techniques don't take into account the possibility of making one's own. So my closet is about 90% "eco-fashionable" already, since that's how much of it is either secondhand or made by me (or both, or in a few cases made for me as a gift, or made in USA by independent crafters.) My dresser is mostly split between thrifted and 100% problematic cotton things. So, I guess less buying cheap t-shirts is about where I go from here. Or investigating organic or low-impact dyestuff sewing fabrics. (tho, mostly not buying more fabric for the next year is on my goal list. Gotta sew some of it first!)

I also tore through rereading Rose Daughter the other day and am now wishing that McKinley would write something pastoral with sisters in. All this beast and ancient sorcerer's battles nonsense was getting in the way of the family gossip! (Also, did anyone else find the marriage bit kind of tacked on? I don't think it's explained why this solves anything...) And then I started reading Binti which was very much Not That. Yeah.

Green fashion leads to green beauty stuff, & I've been poking at where to find what (and what beauty products I'm actually interested in, which is mostly not a lot, but it's in the interesting kitchen chemistry sort of field, and maybe when the Megatherium & friends grow into starting to experiment we can do make & take parties?) and also fancy mocktail drinks. Toddler cocktail parties!! (I mean, this is really for me, since I don't like alcohol, but hey, excuses to dress up and stab appetizers with tiny forks! What's not to love?) I got vanilla stevia on someone's pinterest recommendation and while I like having a liquid sweetener where I can dose a whole giant mug of limeade with about 5 drops, I then go and add a teaspoon of vanilla as well. Plus usually using the chilled sun tea in the fridge instead of water. And I'm squeezing my own limes, very glamorous, and nobody else in the family is actually that interested. Whatever. I also got Republic of Tea's vanilla dandelion tea which I quite like.

So, things, as advertised.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
I just updated my website! (er, to include the story that came out two months ago...) But this means that after more than a year, I finally have an FTP program that works on my computer again, so theoretically I can post pictures here as well as on twitter. (For those who are looking for Megatherium pictures & effluvia, it's here) I also rediscovered a set of notes for a thinky post I was going to post months ago, which I might even still be able to reconstruct. (This is still not that post.)

We have achieved potty trained!!! I eventually had to resort to saying that children who pooped in their underwear didn't get read books, which lasted for about three days and then once she actually used the potty I could do the positive reinforcement thing. (And then we had three days of peeing where she stood before I managed to get across that this was not ok either, but we got there, thank goodness.) She's rocking the boy underwear-- we got two day-of-the-week sets with tools on them, which are grand, fit pretty well, and are sturdy enough that she can pull them up by herself. We have our toddler-included preschool orientation night next week, and then jump on in the day after Labor Day. Other people keep expecting the Megatherium to be nervous about it for some reason, but she is quite excited. Other children!! Yay!! One of them lives right down the street from us and was born 4 days after she was, but we haven't caught them at home since we got the class list.

We weathered Pennsic-- first week mainly, as grauwulf's amazing moving work trip to Germany finally settled on the week we were supposed to be on vacation. Her Megatheriosity had a blast after she figured out about tent pegs the hard way and had her eyebrow glued back together. (Fortunately we were camped two blocks from the EMS station, & she's a very good patient-- she spent the rest of the war reminding us that "there's where the water is, and the misting tent, and that's where we went to get my boo-boo fixed." (She named it her boo-boo; the terminology was not adult imposed)) The new camp (Ravenstreet) is full of cooks, which confuses me; I am used to wandering about & buying snacky things or ice cream for lunch, and they have 3 meals a day in camp, but no firepit. Anyway, we're already planning on going for both weeks next year. Though, there was also talk about the Helsinki Worldcon, so we'll see.

We have been escaping the heat (kind of) by visiting mall playgrounds so the Megatherium has something to climb on that isn't me-- she bonded with a slightly-larger boy last week & they played self-initiated hide-and-seek and some run around & jumping games before his adults took him elsewhere; we came out of the mall & she announced that she "wants a boyfriend who lives right down the street from us." (I mentioned child-in-her-preschool-class, but we still haven't met him yet.)

Meanwhile I have been reading Greta Eagan's Wear No Evil-- in the mall, no less, for extra irony. On the whole I like the concept of eco-fashion, but like so many of these things I am not quite the target audience. About half her fashion needs just don't apply to my life, and her basic wardrobe evaluation techniques don't take into account the possibility of making one's own. So my closet is about 90% "eco-fashionable" already, since that's how much of it is either secondhand or made by me (or both, or in a few cases made for me as a gift, or made in USA by independent crafters.) My dresser is mostly split between thrifted and 100% problematic cotton things. So, I guess less buying cheap t-shirts is about where I go from here. Or investigating organic or low-impact dyestuff sewing fabrics. (tho, mostly not buying more fabric for the next year is on my goal list. Gotta sew some of it first!)

I also tore through rereading Rose Daughter the other day and am now wishing that McKinley would write something pastoral with sisters in. All this beast and ancient sorcerer's battles nonsense was getting in the way of the family gossip! (Also, did anyone else find the marriage bit kind of tacked on? I don't think it's explained why this solves anything...) And then I started reading Binti which was very much Not That. Yeah.

Green fashion leads to green beauty stuff, & I've been poking at where to find what (and what beauty products I'm actually interested in, which is mostly not a lot, but it's in the interesting kitchen chemistry sort of field, and maybe when the Megatherium & friends grow into starting to experiment we can do make & take parties?) and also fancy mocktail drinks. Toddler cocktail parties!! (I mean, this is really for me, since I don't like alcohol, but hey, excuses to dress up and stab appetizers with tiny forks! What's not to love?) I got vanilla stevia on someone's pinterest recommendation and while I like having a liquid sweetener where I can dose a whole giant mug of limeade with about 5 drops, I then go and add a teaspoon of vanilla as well. Plus usually using the chilled sun tea in the fridge instead of water. And I'm squeezing my own limes, very glamorous, and nobody else in the family is actually that interested. Whatever. I also got Republic of Tea's vanilla dandelion tea which I quite like.

So, things, as advertised.
thanate: (bluehair)
I wandered Balticon on Saturday, and do not approve of the new venue (not that anyone asked me...) It's beautifully convenient for me in that I can take the light rail & walk over, but somewhat appalling in terms of parking, and (since I know the inner harbor decently well) I hopped over to the super secret crepe place in the Harborplace mall for lunch (and then they put canned mushrooms in my crepe, eew!, so yeah.) But the venue was slightly smaller than the old hotel, with no lounge space in the con public areas, so if you wanted to mingle either you had to go to the bar or stand around in the hallways, which made for ridiculous crowding. There *were* stairs, but they were super secret service stairs that were hard to find and very narrow between the two floors the con was on, so passing people on them was awkward to problematic, and there was a constant line for the elevators. So while I did get to chat with some people I wanted to see, there were a couple others I waved to once as they rushed by, and some I didn't manage to see at all, and the whole thing was overcrowded, poorly lit, and too loud. Woe.

Anyway, aside from sitting crossly in a hallway & penning some more of my break-up letter from the Bog Goddess to humanity (until my pen ran out of ink), it also occurred to me that I want to read more SF with xenobotany and/or terraforming. I've been doing all this naturalist stuff and learning the weird and still-new or still-being-discovered things about my biome! I'm interested in what other people do with imagined ones.

Things I've read and liked so far include Bujold-- particularly the recent bits with Sergyaran fauna; I loved the concept of investigating entirely unstudied ecosystems-- or the crazy terraforming from the second Steerswoman book. (The third one didn't work for me as well, but partly b/c the whole plot was tangential to the series plot.) I prefer non-awful main characters and to avoid horror/grimdark/dystopia and all that crap.

So far on my radar:
*Janet Kagen's Hellspark (presently sitting next to me!)
*MCA Hogarth, probably starting with Mindtouch

and suggestions from twitter today:
*Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population
*Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
*Planetfall
*Carol Ives Gilman, Dark Orbit
*Julie Czerneda
*Joan Slonczewski

(Partly recorded here so I have a list to refer back to) Anyone else have recs that spring to mind? A little "this book (or story!) is cool/related because it has X" is also appreciated!

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
I wandered Balticon on Saturday, and do not approve of the new venue (not that anyone asked me...) It's beautifully convenient for me in that I can take the light rail & walk over, but somewhat appalling in terms of parking, and (since I know the inner harbor decently well) I hopped over to the super secret crepe place in the Harborplace mall for lunch (and then they put canned mushrooms in my crepe, eew!, so yeah.) But the venue was slightly smaller than the old hotel, with no lounge space in the con public areas, so if you wanted to mingle either you had to go to the bar or stand around in the hallways, which made for ridiculous crowding. There *were* stairs, but they were super secret service stairs that were hard to find and very narrow between the two floors the con was on, so passing people on them was awkward to problematic, and there was a constant line for the elevators. So while I did get to chat with some people I wanted to see, there were a couple others I waved to once as they rushed by, and some I didn't manage to see at all, and the whole thing was overcrowded, poorly lit, and too loud. Woe.

Anyway, aside from sitting crossly in a hallway & penning some more of my break-up letter from the Bog Goddess to humanity (until my pen ran out of ink), it also occurred to me that I want to read more SF with xenobotany and/or terraforming. I've been doing all this naturalist stuff and learning the weird and still-new or still-being-discovered things about my biome! I'm interested in what other people do with imagined ones.

Things I've read and liked so far include Bujold-- particularly the recent bits with Sergyaran fauna; I loved the concept of investigating entirely unstudied ecosystems-- or the crazy terraforming from the second Steerswoman book. (The third one didn't work for me as well, but partly b/c the whole plot was tangential to the series plot.) I prefer non-awful main characters and to avoid horror/grimdark/dystopia and all that crap.

So far on my radar:
*Janet Kagen's Hellspark (presently sitting next to me!)
*MCA Hogarth, probably starting with Mindtouch

and suggestions from twitter today:
*Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population
*Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
*Planetfall
*Carol Ives Gilman, Dark Orbit
*Julie Czerneda
*Joan Slonczewski

(Partly recorded here so I have a list to refer back to) Anyone else have recs that spring to mind? A little "this book (or story!) is cool/related because it has X" is also appreciated!
thanate: (Default)
I just finished rereading Diana Wynne Jones's Enchanted Glass, and continue to be a little bit "Wow, how did she get away with that?" about a couple things. It's a kid's book, with two POV protagonists, and the first one we meet is 30. The 12-year-old doesn't even get introduced for a few chapters.

I've been thinking about this for a while, partly because we go through so many picture books at the moment, and a bunch of the early-reader levels in between full-sized picture books and real no-illustrations chapter books. There are a lot of picture books about kids, or animate toys, or animals both anthropomorphized and not, but there's also a reasonable subset that's about adults. Some of it is expectation setting (here are ways to be when you grow up), some of it is adults doing silly things so the kids can feel superior, some of it is folklore retellings. But it's there; you have books where the identification character is all grown up.

The early reader books that we've had so far are a little more kid-skewed (Cowgirl Kate's parents are referred to a few times, but portrayed in one flashback illustration), but there are preschool-friendly versions of adult franchises (so far we have avoided easy reader Avengers and Star Wars, and also the girl-target equivalents, though the most grown-up of those is Barbie.) And there's Cynthia Rylant/Arthur Howard's lovely Mr Putter & Tabby series, full of mundane adventures about a stodgy old guy and his cat, and their enthusiastic new-thing-loving old lady neighbor Mrs Teaberry & her "good" dog Zeke. Also some folklore.

And then we get to mid-grade, and I can't think of anything else with adult POV. A bunch of proto-YA (Mercedes Lackey, some earlier Robin McKinley, the stuff we read in the 80s/early 90s) has teen-to-adult transitions or 20-somethings. I can think of a couple technicalities (a character who starts off identified as 15, but it turns out to be more complicated...), some older love-interests, and there's a lot I haven't read. Am I missing anything? Is this a marketing category thing, or assumed kid disinterest thing, or what? Do you have to be DWJ to get away with having a full adult main character in a kids' book?

Now I'm curious.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (Default)
I just finished rereading Diana Wynne Jones's Enchanted Glass, and continue to be a little bit "Wow, how did she get away with that?" about a couple things. It's a kid's book, with two POV protagonists, and the first one we meet is 30. The 12-year-old doesn't even get introduced for a few chapters.

I've been thinking about this for a while, partly because we go through so many picture books at the moment, and a bunch of the early-reader levels in between full-sized picture books and real no-illustrations chapter books. There are a lot of picture books about kids, or animate toys, or animals both anthropomorphized and not, but there's also a reasonable subset that's about adults. Some of it is expectation setting (here are ways to be when you grow up), some of it is adults doing silly things so the kids can feel superior, some of it is folklore retellings. But it's there; you have books where the identification character is all grown up.

The early reader books that we've had so far are a little more kid-skewed (Cowgirl Kate's parents are referred to a few times, but portrayed in one flashback illustration), but there are preschool-friendly versions of adult franchises (so far we have avoided easy reader Avengers and Star Wars, and also the girl-target equivalents, though the most grown-up of those is Barbie.) And there's Cynthia Rylant/Arthur Howard's lovely Mr Putter & Tabby series, full of mundane adventures about a stodgy old guy and his cat, and their enthusiastic new-thing-loving old lady neighbor Mrs Teaberry & her "good" dog Zeke. Also some folklore.

And then we get to mid-grade, and I can't think of anything else with adult POV. A bunch of proto-YA (Mercedes Lackey, some earlier Robin McKinley, the stuff we read in the 80s/early 90s) has teen-to-adult transitions or 20-somethings. I can think of a couple technicalities (a character who starts off identified as 15, but it turns out to be more complicated...), some older love-interests, and there's a lot I haven't read. Am I missing anything? Is this a marketing category thing, or assumed kid disinterest thing, or what? Do you have to be DWJ to get away with having a full adult main character in a kids' book?

Now I'm curious.
thanate: (bluehair)
So the Megatherium spent most of a month insisting that she was Cowgirl Kate (from the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books-- very generic modern cow herding, ranch, & horse care things, plus a talking horse that's part mustang & part little brother) and I got her 5 of the books for Christmas, and she insisted we check out the 6th one from the library (Horse in the House, which I like the least, hence why I didn't buy it) and then after having it read to her five times a day for a couple days she's moved on to the Princess in Black.

There are two Princess in Black books so far (the second subtitled "and the Perfect Princess Party") which are basically the Zorro myth recast for 21st century little girls. Perfect pink-garbed Princess Magnolia runs to the broom cupboard and dons a black costume and mask when called upon to fight potentially goat-eating monsters. No attempt is made to explain *why* secrecy is necessary except that "Princesses don't wear black," but they're cute and fun, very light-hearted and neither prose nor illustrations take themselves at all seriously, and the second book includes a lovely cast of global princesses. These are also the very politest goat-denied monsters you will ever meet.

After three days of reading these over and over, the Megatherium has announced that she will be the Cowgirl in Pink and assist with fighting monsters. Jesse Bear (from Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?) can come too, she says.

(Meanwhile, I am secretly wishing for an alternate ending on the second book where Princess Sneezwort-- a charming & slightly dusky everygirl with glasses and pink chucks-- discovers Magnolia's secret and says, "Oh, we had one of those doors to Monster Land. I boarded it up ages ago." and we subsequently discover that *all* the other princesses have been secretly fighting crime and not telling anyone because this didn't occur to anyone else.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
So the Megatherium spent most of a month insisting that she was Cowgirl Kate (from the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books-- very generic modern cow herding, ranch, & horse care things, plus a talking horse that's part mustang & part little brother) and I got her 5 of the books for Christmas, and she insisted we check out the 6th one from the library (Horse in the House, which I like the least, hence why I didn't buy it) and then after having it read to her five times a day for a couple days she's moved on to the Princess in Black.

There are two Princess in Black books so far (the second subtitled "and the Perfect Princess Party") which are basically the Zorro myth recast for 21st century little girls. Perfect pink-garbed Princess Magnolia runs to the broom cupboard and dons a black costume and mask when called upon to fight potentially goat-eating monsters. No attempt is made to explain *why* secrecy is necessary except that "Princesses don't wear black," but they're cute and fun, very light-hearted and neither prose nor illustrations take themselves at all seriously, and the second book includes a lovely cast of global princesses. These are also the very politest goat-denied monsters you will ever meet.

After three days of reading these over and over, the Megatherium has announced that she will be the Cowgirl in Pink and assist with fighting monsters. Jesse Bear (from Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?) can come too, she says.

(Meanwhile, I am secretly wishing for an alternate ending on the second book where Princess Sneezwort-- a charming & slightly dusky everygirl with glasses and pink chucks-- discovers Magnolia's secret and says, "Oh, we had one of those doors to Monster Land. I boarded it up ages ago." and we subsequently discover that *all* the other princesses have been secretly fighting crime and not telling anyone because this didn't occur to anyone else.)
thanate: (whirlpool)
Voting for the Hugo awards just closed last night, and for the first time I bought in to the voting process.* Awards are not something I pay a lot of attention to, or rather that I only pay attention to now that they show up in my twitter feed. (I feel like award juries often exercise... different kinds of elitism than I do.) But I enjoyed that the Hugos specifically state you should rank things in order of what you liked best. And there were a couple categories where I picked my first choice because it was just *nicer* than the others, or secondary world fantasy instead of SF, because between otherwise good things, that's where my allegiances lie. There were also a couple categories I just didn't vote, because I don't like podcasts much and don't watch tv. And there were things I didn't finish reading, because it was obvious already that I didn't *like* them.

One of the conversations that I see fairly often is about weighted demographics in reading-- white guys tend to get various sorts of better visibility, and are more read by other white guys who then get defensive when this is pointed out to them. And, you know, societal problems being what they are, and the internet being what it is, there are also rounds where people suggest "Let's try [interval] of reading [minimized/none of] X demographic!" and then other people get up in arms about being dictated to. (For values of dictated that include essays from strangers on the internet...) You probably know how it goes.

Everyone looks for slightly different things when they read and therefore has idiosyncratic values of "try something new" that are awesome and mind-broadening as well as ones that are terrible and time-wasting, and that's as it should be. The problems come in when people try to be elitist or prescriptivist about reading habits, whether other people's or their own, and when it's so very much harder to *find* the things that don't fit in particular demographic or marketing niches. And occasionally trying something new that you're not sure whether you're going to like is a good thing; there are several thousand ways to micro-describe a book, and maybe the jacket copy and/or the person who mentioned it to you didn't hit on the reason you'd enjoy it. (Or even wildly disagreed with you on what the book is about!)

But the thing is, every time there's another round of "not/only books by straight white men" I squirm a little. Because if I wanted to expand my reading demographically, I ought to read *more* straight white guys. If I were to engage in a year of mind-broadening by cutting one authorial demographic, it would be white women. And I'm just as "um, no" about that as the people yelling on the internet about their straight white guy books, except that I feel no need to yell at people about it. I'm also pretty "um, no" about a lot of the big name male writers, and vintage science fiction, and the moral superiority of having awful things happen to your characters. There may be some correlations that could be drawn here. I am aware that I'm just as elitist as anybody; I just draw my lines in different places.

My reading log is a bit skewed at the moment because of the Megatherium, but so far this year I've finished 30 longer-than-picture-books.** Of those, there are 2 plant books by 4 white guys, 4 longer kid books by 2 white guys, and 3 by non-white authors (2M, 1F). (co-authors and series make the statistics a bit weird...) The rest is all white women. And I *do* have a pretty good network that signal-boosts a variety of books, and I do a lot of ordering up library books based on those recommendations. It is very easy to be insular, even when you are paying attention.

(I'm not really trying to draw big overarching conclusions here; it's just one of those things where the finger-wagging is not pointed at me because I don't align with the cultural norms, and yet I feel like I do my own version of the same thing. I partly mention it because I'm vaguely curious if other people do this, too.)

---related/not related:

Our library has a big shelf of summer reading club recommendations sorted by grade level just outside the children's area, and after pulling a bunch of potential read-alouds (we're good with up to about 3rd grade labeling, so long as the picture/word ratio is high enough) I picked up Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent on a whim. (Her A Hidden Magic was a semi-formative influence around 6th grade, but I hadn't read anything else by her.) It's a light read, YA with a couple chapters of frame story to set up a virtual reality game and then add urgency to it, and then she's free to spend nearly all the book running successive iterations of a portal fantasy, complete with many and various ways to get killed and have to start all over. Utterly brilliant in a writer-geeky kind of way.

------(footnotes!)

*Hugos are distributed by Worldcon, and for those not going to the con a $40 "supporting membership" gets you award voting rights. This year there was Drama caused by a few loud and awful people successfully ballot-stacking a bunch of the nominations, and a whole lot of other people deciding that $40 was worth getting in on the argument.

**plus 5 comics for the hugo ballot, which I'm not counting because I wouldn't have known they existed otherwise.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Voting for the Hugo awards just closed last night, and for the first time I bought in to the voting process.* Awards are not something I pay a lot of attention to, or rather that I only pay attention to now that they show up in my twitter feed. (I feel like award juries often exercise... different kinds of elitism than I do.) But I enjoyed that the Hugos specifically state you should rank things in order of what you liked best. And there were a couple categories where I picked my first choice because it was just *nicer* than the others, or secondary world fantasy instead of SF, because between otherwise good things, that's where my allegiances lie. There were also a couple categories I just didn't vote, because I don't like podcasts much and don't watch tv. And there were things I didn't finish reading, because it was obvious already that I didn't *like* them.

One of the conversations that I see fairly often is about weighted demographics in reading-- white guys tend to get various sorts of better visibility, and are more read by other white guys who then get defensive when this is pointed out to them. And, you know, societal problems being what they are, and the internet being what it is, there are also rounds where people suggest "Let's try [interval] of reading [minimized/none of] X demographic!" and then other people get up in arms about being dictated to. (For values of dictated that include essays from strangers on the internet...) You probably know how it goes.

Everyone looks for slightly different things when they read and therefore has idiosyncratic values of "try something new" that are awesome and mind-broadening as well as ones that are terrible and time-wasting, and that's as it should be. The problems come in when people try to be elitist or prescriptivist about reading habits, whether other people's or their own, and when it's so very much harder to *find* the things that don't fit in particular demographic or marketing niches. And occasionally trying something new that you're not sure whether you're going to like is a good thing; there are several thousand ways to micro-describe a book, and maybe the jacket copy and/or the person who mentioned it to you didn't hit on the reason you'd enjoy it. (Or even wildly disagreed with you on what the book is about!)

But the thing is, every time there's another round of "not/only books by straight white men" I squirm a little. Because if I wanted to expand my reading demographically, I ought to read *more* straight white guys. If I were to engage in a year of mind-broadening by cutting one authorial demographic, it would be white women. And I'm just as "um, no" about that as the people yelling on the internet about their straight white guy books, except that I feel no need to yell at people about it. I'm also pretty "um, no" about a lot of the big name male writers, and vintage science fiction, and the moral superiority of having awful things happen to your characters. There may be some correlations that could be drawn here. I am aware that I'm just as elitist as anybody; I just draw my lines in different places.

My reading log is a bit skewed at the moment because of the Megatherium, but so far this year I've finished 30 longer-than-picture-books.** Of those, there are 2 plant books by 4 white guys, 4 longer kid books by 2 white guys, and 3 by non-white authors (2M, 1F). (co-authors and series make the statistics a bit weird...) The rest is all white women. And I *do* have a pretty good network that signal-boosts a variety of books, and I do a lot of ordering up library books based on those recommendations. It is very easy to be insular, even when you are paying attention.

(I'm not really trying to draw big overarching conclusions here; it's just one of those things where the finger-wagging is not pointed at me because I don't align with the cultural norms, and yet I feel like I do my own version of the same thing. I partly mention it because I'm vaguely curious if other people do this, too.)

---related/not related:

Our library has a big shelf of summer reading club recommendations sorted by grade level just outside the children's area, and after pulling a bunch of potential read-alouds (we're good with up to about 3rd grade labeling, so long as the picture/word ratio is high enough) I picked up Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent on a whim. (Her A Hidden Magic was a semi-formative influence around 6th grade, but I hadn't read anything else by her.) It's a light read, YA with a couple chapters of frame story to set up a virtual reality game and then add urgency to it, and then she's free to spend nearly all the book running successive iterations of a portal fantasy, complete with many and various ways to get killed and have to start all over. Utterly brilliant in a writer-geeky kind of way.

------(footnotes!)

*Hugos are distributed by Worldcon, and for those not going to the con a $40 "supporting membership" gets you award voting rights. This year there was Drama caused by a few loud and awful people successfully ballot-stacking a bunch of the nominations, and a whole lot of other people deciding that $40 was worth getting in on the argument.

**plus 5 comics for the hugo ballot, which I'm not counting because I wouldn't have known they existed otherwise.
thanate: (Default)
Miss posting. Miss having time/brain to post. Working on re-organizing life so that maybe some day I will, tho we still have about 3 weeks of grauwulf on business trips to get through. (and that's two and a half of it all at once, ugh.)

Meanwhile, here are some of the picture books we've been enjoying. Many of them are even new!

Books!! Each of which I've read at least five times, and mostly more, which might be part of why my reading log for me contains six books finished all summer... )


Also, Sandra Boynton! Has music CDs! Parodies of pick-your-music-genre with silly animals and songbooks. I'm not sure there was ever a time I didn't need a love song to the chocolate cookies that are stuck in the jar out of reach. ("Faraway Cookies" from Philadelphia Chickens). Attn [livejournal.com profile] heuchera if you haven't heard of these; at least you & your dad need to look them up.

---
And a dis-recommendation: the Musk Ox (A is for Musk Ox and there's a counting one) series is stereotypical frat-boy humor packaged for toddlers, and both Grauwulf and I found them appalling. (Which should tell you something, as we often have pretty divergent takes on mainstream humor.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (Default)
Miss posting. Miss having time/brain to post. Working on re-organizing life so that maybe some day I will, tho we still have about 3 weeks of grauwulf on business trips to get through. (and that's two and a half of it all at once, ugh.)

Meanwhile, here are some of the picture books we've been enjoying. Many of them are even new!

Books!! Each of which I've read at least five times, and mostly more, which might be part of why my reading log for me contains six books finished all summer... )


Also, Sandra Boynton! Has music CDs! Parodies of pick-your-music-genre with silly animals and songbooks. I'm not sure there was ever a time I didn't need a love song to the chocolate cookies that are stuck in the jar out of reach. ("Faraway Cookies" from Philadelphia Chickens). Attn [livejournal.com profile] heuchera if you haven't heard of these; at least you & your dad need to look them up.

---
And a dis-recommendation: the Musk Ox (A is for Musk Ox and there's a counting one) series is stereotypical frat-boy humor packaged for toddlers, and both Grauwulf and I found them appalling. (Which should tell you something, as we often have pretty divergent takes on mainstream humor.)
thanate: (bluehair)
*not dead, just chasing the baby. (or being chased by her... We have a bad case of "Mommy is the best person, accept no substitutes!" that kicks in most when she's tired, so an hour or two after grauwulf gets home from work.)

*I have much less oak tree, or rather a big jaggy-topped oak pillar, a bunch of giant limbs all over the back yard, and big pile of chip mulch. They didn't manage to fix their lift truck, so they had to have someone climb up and cut everything, which was rather impressive to watch. There is a lot of applied physics involved in coaxing large tree bits down in a not-large suburban backyard without hitting the house. Also a lot of ropes.

*I have also acquired a reputedly blight-resistant American chestnut which I shall plant beside my oak pillar. Reputedly the parent trees made it to 40 ft in about twelve years, so there may one day be shade to the bedroom windows.

*Just finished reading Sex at Dawn which purports to be a book about prehistoric sex adaptations and maybe some thoughts on what we do about that legacy, but is possibly even more about hunter/gatherer culture and things like alloparenting and leisure in a society where there's minimal wealth and everything you can eat counts as food. And like all good anthropology (tho possibly my concept of anthropology is somewhat skewed by having started with Elaine Morgan) bits of it jump out and connect up with all the things you already know or were just discussing and you suddenly realize that the early childhood iron deficiency thing the Megatherium's doctor was talking about is actually because we (unlike the birds) no longer start our children off on tasty, nutrient rich insects as their first solid food.

*EXCEPT, here I am going to have a pet peeve moment, that the book's authors seem to be convinced that breasts are about sex rather than food, with an off-hand comment about pendulous breasts not being necessary to feed people and a brief speculation about substitute genital swellings. Only the whole breasts=sex thing is a very western culture taboo.(scroll down to "acceptance of public breast feeding") Them what do not think pendulous breasts (and I mean the pre-supportive-garment version, as the modern silhouette is a very neotenous affectation for most of us) are related to food are invited to examine the amount of nursing advice that involves supportive pillows and contemplate the generally helpless state of the newborn human and exactly what, in a hairless biped, said infant is supposed to hold onto to stay in position if its mother gets distracted by something else. (My small 7-month-old gets quite cranky when I move about too much while she's eating, and I have chairs and books to read for purposes of holding still, and pillows to stuff under my elbow which *usually* fix the ergonomics, until she falls asleep in the crook of my elbow & cuts off the circulation to my fingers. Just saying.) You don't have to take my word for it! You can construct your own floppy fragile thing of about 10 lbs and try holding it up to your nipple for half an hour to see how sore your shoulders get! Boys can play too!

*But, anyway, alloparenting! So much sense! Particularly in a close-knit group where females spend most of their fertile life lactating, so alternate mommies *can* just step in for care whenever, and as there are always babies around the first kid "no, this is *my* baby" thing is liable to be a lot less dramatic. Also prevents most extremes of accept-no-substitutes mommy fixation. Unfortunately, in the world I live in, this impulse is reduced to occasional baby gifts from older relatives and friends of my mother, and creepy strangers [usually older, mostly female] who feel that it's appropriate to cross-question me about my baby in public. (It's the ones who ask what her name is that bother me.)

*The Megatherium is *my* baby, but she's also grauwulf's baby, and her grandma's baby, and her other grandma is terribly jealous because *we* got a girl and she didn't but she still can't be bothered to come visit for a weekend, and she (M) really needs more family who's within daytrip distance. Preferably who don't smoke. (Not necessarily relatives, just family: models for how to be a human.) The newest set of neighbors have some kind of mad multi-age babysitting co-op going on next door which I am not sociable (brave?) enough to try to break into, and then there was the thing with the cat and while they seem perfectly nice as neighbors, I'm not sure if we'd get on in much closer contact. This is the sort of suspicion I have about unvetted people after too many years of blank looks when I try to say things to strangers.

*I have recently discovered the existence of prius hatchbacks. Now I cannot leave the house without seeing at least one. In fact, I even saw one *in* the house by way of a football commercial, which claims they're called "liftbacks." Silly, Toyota. But I drive a white toyota 4-door hatchback ('86 corolla, '03 matrix.) It's a thing. Not that I intend to replace Camilla before she hits 200k, and at this rate it'll be a while.

*Also-also, has anybody done a post-apocalyptic utopia? Because that is the obvious writer-brain conclusion from a book that's on about how much better the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was...

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
*not dead, just chasing the baby. (or being chased by her... We have a bad case of "Mommy is the best person, accept no substitutes!" that kicks in most when she's tired, so an hour or two after grauwulf gets home from work.)

*I have much less oak tree, or rather a big jaggy-topped oak pillar, a bunch of giant limbs all over the back yard, and big pile of chip mulch. They didn't manage to fix their lift truck, so they had to have someone climb up and cut everything, which was rather impressive to watch. There is a lot of applied physics involved in coaxing large tree bits down in a not-large suburban backyard without hitting the house. Also a lot of ropes.

*I have also acquired a reputedly blight-resistant American chestnut which I shall plant beside my oak pillar. Reputedly the parent trees made it to 40 ft in about twelve years, so there may one day be shade to the bedroom windows.

*Just finished reading Sex at Dawn which purports to be a book about prehistoric sex adaptations and maybe some thoughts on what we do about that legacy, but is possibly even more about hunter/gatherer culture and things like alloparenting and leisure in a society where there's minimal wealth and everything you can eat counts as food. And like all good anthropology (tho possibly my concept of anthropology is somewhat skewed by having started with Elaine Morgan) bits of it jump out and connect up with all the things you already know or were just discussing and you suddenly realize that the early childhood iron deficiency thing the Megatherium's doctor was talking about is actually because we (unlike the birds) no longer start our children off on tasty, nutrient rich insects as their first solid food.

*EXCEPT, here I am going to have a pet peeve moment, that the book's authors seem to be convinced that breasts are about sex rather than food, with an off-hand comment about pendulous breasts not being necessary to feed people and a brief speculation about substitute genital swellings. Only the whole breasts=sex thing is a very western culture taboo.(scroll down to "acceptance of public breast feeding") Them what do not think pendulous breasts (and I mean the pre-supportive-garment version, as the modern silhouette is a very neotenous affectation for most of us) are related to food are invited to examine the amount of nursing advice that involves supportive pillows and contemplate the generally helpless state of the newborn human and exactly what, in a hairless biped, said infant is supposed to hold onto to stay in position if its mother gets distracted by something else. (My small 7-month-old gets quite cranky when I move about too much while she's eating, and I have chairs and books to read for purposes of holding still, and pillows to stuff under my elbow which *usually* fix the ergonomics, until she falls asleep in the crook of my elbow & cuts off the circulation to my fingers. Just saying.) You don't have to take my word for it! You can construct your own floppy fragile thing of about 10 lbs and try holding it up to your nipple for half an hour to see how sore your shoulders get! Boys can play too!

*But, anyway, alloparenting! So much sense! Particularly in a close-knit group where females spend most of their fertile life lactating, so alternate mommies *can* just step in for care whenever, and as there are always babies around the first kid "no, this is *my* baby" thing is liable to be a lot less dramatic. Also prevents most extremes of accept-no-substitutes mommy fixation. Unfortunately, in the world I live in, this impulse is reduced to occasional baby gifts from older relatives and friends of my mother, and creepy strangers [usually older, mostly female] who feel that it's appropriate to cross-question me about my baby in public. (It's the ones who ask what her name is that bother me.)

*The Megatherium is *my* baby, but she's also grauwulf's baby, and her grandma's baby, and her other grandma is terribly jealous because *we* got a girl and she didn't but she still can't be bothered to come visit for a weekend, and she (M) really needs more family who's within daytrip distance. Preferably who don't smoke. (Not necessarily relatives, just family: models for how to be a human.) The newest set of neighbors have some kind of mad multi-age babysitting co-op going on next door which I am not sociable (brave?) enough to try to break into, and then there was the thing with the cat and while they seem perfectly nice as neighbors, I'm not sure if we'd get on in much closer contact. This is the sort of suspicion I have about unvetted people after too many years of blank looks when I try to say things to strangers.

*I have recently discovered the existence of prius hatchbacks. Now I cannot leave the house without seeing at least one. In fact, I even saw one *in* the house by way of a football commercial, which claims they're called "liftbacks." Silly, Toyota. But I drive a white toyota 4-door hatchback ('86 corolla, '03 matrix.) It's a thing. Not that I intend to replace Camilla before she hits 200k, and at this rate it'll be a while.

*Also-also, has anybody done a post-apocalyptic utopia? Because that is the obvious writer-brain conclusion from a book that's on about how much better the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was...

Books!

Sep. 10th, 2013 09:23 pm
thanate: (bluehair)
I read some.

July )

August )

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
Downstairs has been taken over by large hardbacks and I keep vaguely wondering if I'd get farther in them if I invested in a sturdy music stand, since most of my reading time is while nursing, which makes larger books logistically difficult.

Also not listed are probably about ten or fifteen picture & board books (with may repetitions.)

books, June )

Also in book news, I'm confused that the only person I've seen mention this was not from among my writer-friends; maybe it's just too far out to get excited about a new (mostly) DWJones book?

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (bluehair)
Downstairs has been taken over by large hardbacks and I keep vaguely wondering if I'd get farther in them if I invested in a sturdy music stand, since most of my reading time is while nursing, which makes larger books logistically difficult.

Also not listed are probably about ten or fifteen picture & board books (with may repetitions.)

books, June )

Also in book news, I'm confused that the only person I've seen mention this was not from among my writer-friends; maybe it's just too far out to get excited about a new (mostly) DWJones book?

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