Books read, late May

Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. Akcam is a Turkish historian who is confronting the Armenian genocide head-on, and from what I can tell he is fairly rare in that. He is doing it in a fairly dry way, examining all sorts of documentation and refuting opposition arguments piece by piece, so if you wanted to know what it was like to be Armenian in this period, this is not the book for you. But that kind of argument can be extremely important to have in meticulous detail.

Jack Berry, West African Folktales. Collected from various sources with more attention to folklore as a field of study than as storytelling, so there’s somewhat repetitive variation. However, sometimes that’s useful to see what’s essential in the culture you’re reading about as compared to your own home culture.

John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century. A giant doorstop of a book, focusing on various men and women who influenced popular and high culture in England in the 18th century. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, go for it, but it was not transcendent enough to recommend more broadly.

Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower. Reread. Vivid post-apocalyptic fiction. Shorter and left more open than I remembered, so I’m glad there’s a sequel, but utterly engrossing while I was reading it.

C.J. Cherryh, Inheritor. Reread. Jase Graham whines and throws fits. Too many HOOMANS. I am deeply glad to know that there is better stuff coming in this series (AND FEWER HOOMANS), because Bren and Jase grating on each other is realistic and well-done and ANNOYING.

Diane Duane, A Wizard Abroad. Reread. My least-favorite of the Young Wizards books due to a fairly genericized Ireland and an equally generic-feeling smoochy subplot. Again: I’m glad to know there is better yet to come.

Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight. Discussed elsewhere.

Gwyneth Jones, Bold as Love. Reread. The thing I like about this book is that its heart is about people taking care of each other. Some of the stuff they do to take care of each other is not at all my mode, but for me that’s what makes the whole thing worthwhile. Not just the central triumvirate, but also the side characters, the way people are and aren’t there for each other in serious crises. It adds to the small-scale bits of futurism I like so well. Despite the horrific abuse early on in the book, despite the awful things some people do to each other and the compromises they make, the warmth of this just made me happy all over again.

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