oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
This is embarrassingly late even for Lunar New Year. I'm hoping "better late than never" still applies.

As with sequential art, I totally sucked at writing things up this year. Grad school: worst time suck ever! Sadly, this means I haven't reviewed almost half of the books on my best-of list. As usual, the list of books here are my favorites read in 2009, not published 2009. And in fact, I have some books on the list that are being published this year, thanks to the wonder of ARCs.

This year, I continued to do , despite completely failing to post at the comm. I think I was doing better in terms of percentages than I was last year, and then I hit November, school started really sucking, and all I could read were historical romances, which are super White. As such, I have roughly the same percentages of women and POC read this year as I did last year. At least there was no backsliding?

I feel like I should say something more intelligent about what I was reading, except I don't think I was a particularly intelligent reader this year.

Anything not linked in the giant list has not been written up; feel free to ask me about anything in the comments.

Also recommended: Swati Avasthi, Split; Mary Balogh, A Summer to Remember; Jacqueline Carey, Naamah's Kiss and Santa Olivia; Kristin Cashore, Fire; Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, The Graveyard Book; Joey W. Hill, A Witch's Beauty; Nisi Shawl, Filter House; Sherri L. Smith, Flygirl; and Drew Hayden Taylor, The Night Wanderer.

Total read: 122 (8 rereads)
45 by women of color, 60 by POC, 101 by women

All books read in 2009 )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
At least this year I'm getting it out before Chinese New Year! Though that's mostly because it's super late this year...

As usual, these are my favorites out of the sequential art I've read this year, as opposed to what came out this year. The "new-to-me" series aren't actually always new to me; some series in particular are on the list because though I started the series earlier, what I read this year was enough to put them on my favorites list.

I was pretty terrible about writing things up this year, thanks to grad school getting increasingly busy every semester. If it's linked, I wrote it up, but feel free to ask in comments about anything!

Overall, I largely paused in my attempt to read more manhua, as there's still not very much being published in Taiwan right now, and the quality isn't so great. I am so sad there has been nothing new by Nan Gong Yu! At least I saw her series running in a magazine, so I'm fairly sure she's still writing. Just... very slowly?

I also read much less new stuff, at least, that's how I feel. I started two massive rereads during the summer (FMA and Fruits Basket), and mostly I was looking for rereading or at least a continuation of a series I knew thanks to my brain being extremely worn out by school. I also went on a brief superhero comics run to find out what happens to Catwoman; unfortunately, aside from Selina's Big Score, which I loved (and which started me on said spree), the rest largely reconfirmed that I'm not much of a superhero comics fan.

Favorite new-to-me series )

Also recommended )

Favorite ending series )

Favorite continuing series )

Total: 236 (74 rereads)

All sequential art read in 2009 )
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
*looks at date*

Er. Better late than never?

Once again, I read fewer books this year. On the other hand, only two books less than last year, so I think that is not bad, considering that I started grad school and all! And I managed to blog every book I read, with the exception of rereads.

The biggest change for me in 2008 was starting the [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc challenge; namely, to read 50 books by POC in a year. I had originally done it from IBARW to IBARW (August 2007 to August 2008), but it's nice to know that I met it for the calendar year of 2008 as well. If anyone's interested about why, I wrote up why I count and how the challenge affected me during IBARW 3. Next year, my goal is to increase the percentage of books by POC so that it's over 50% of all the books I read, total. I'm still trying to make it enough of a habit that I won't have to count, and it's rather embarrassing to see the huge jump in numbers once I started making an effort. The gap between 13 books by POC versus 64 is enormous and indicative of my own aversive racism; it didn't actually take that much effort to find those 51 additional books (although a large part of that is thanks to my local libraries, and aversive racism plays its own role in book selection in libraries as well).

It is nice to see that I do not have to worry much about the percentage of women I'm reading.

As always, feel free to ask about anything here.

Also recommended )

Total read: 129 (6 rereads)
51 by women of color, 64 by POC, 104 by women

Complete list of books read in 2008 )
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
This is embarrassingly late, and my other year-end posts will be even more so. It's so late that it's even late by the Lunar New Year!

OMG people! I actually read less manga this year! I suspect this was less because I was reading actual books and more because I moved to a place where the public library either does not have as much manga, or I have had a harder time finding it via the catalog, since they are never on the shelves.

Some people may also have noticed that I've switched from doing a post for manga to doing a post for sequential art overall. It's getting too annoying to distinguish between which OEL manga is manga and which is comics—some just read more like comics to me, and I cannot say why, except that they do. I'm also changing formats a bit, since having the same series on my best-of list for three years in a row or so feels odd. At least, that would be my reason if I wanted to look good. In actuality, it is merely because I am tired of trying to come up with blurbs that will sound different from last year's.

As with previous years, this is my list of favorites that I read this year, and it has nothing to do with the date published. Unlike previous years, I have each individual volume linked, thanks to my awesome new database! If there's no link, I haven't written it up, but feel free to ask about it in comments. The licensing information is only for the US, many apologies!

Favorite new-to-me series )

Also recommended )

Favorite ending series )

Favorite continuing series )

Total read: 197 (36 reread)

All sequential art read in 2008 )
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
This is for books and Western comics only; manga and manhwa get a separate post.

Thoughts about the year in books )

Amazingly, I managed to blog about every single book I read this year! I didn't link the full list, but you can always look in my tags or memories.

The below are my favorites out of all the books I read this year, not books published this year.

  1. Emily Bernard, Some of My Best Friends )

  2. Emma Donoghue, Kissing the Witch )

  3. Ursula K. Le Guin, Voices )

  4. Megan Lindholm, Harpy's Flight )

  5. Laurie J. Marks, Elemental Logic series )

  6. Susan Beth Pfeffer, Life as We Knew It )

  7. Joann Sfar, The Rabbi's Cat )

  8. Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore )

  9. Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens )

  10. Elizabeth E. Wein, The Sunbird )

Also recommended: Carl Chu, Chinese Food Finder: The Bay Area and San Francisco; Brenda Dixon Gottschild, The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool and Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era; Theodora Goss, In the Forest of Forgetting; Margo Rabb, Cures for Heartbreak; Madeleine E. Robins, Point of Honour; Joanna Russ, What Are We Fighting For?: Sex, Race, Class, and the Future of Feminism; Sarah Smith, The Vanished Child; Beverly Daniel Tatum, Can We Talk about Race?: And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation; Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology; Ysabeau S. Wilce, Flora Segunda; Helen Zia, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People

Total read: 131 (6 rereads)

Complete list of books read in 2007 )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
This is why I don't make New Year's Resolutions to read less manga: the statistics would come out the next year, and I would laugh in my own face. The scary thing is this list doesn't include random scanlations or recent chapters of series I follow, and it's still at 275 volumes!

As usual, these are my favorite things read this year, not published this year. I'm also keeping manga separate from comics; this is an entirely arbitrary distinction and depends not only on the paper size of the book, but also whether or not I feel it's going for the manga feel or not. For 2008, I'm going to stick everything together as "sequential art," but since my spreadsheet from last year was set up to separate manga from everything else, no such luck for now.

Sadly, I have skimpy numbers for manhwa, which I am going to try to remedy this year. I was surprised to see I only have two repeats from last year (Emma and Cain Saga/Godchild), though I have four author repeats (Mori Kaoru, Minekura Kazuya, Mizushiro Setona and Yuki Kaori). I liked my runner ups much more than I liked my runner ups from last year, though that's mainly because I've been reading more manga. I know, what a shocker.

Continuing series Naruto, Fruits Basket and Saiyuki (including Reload and Gaiden) fell off my list this year. I don't even have Naruto on my list of manga read, but that's largely because I read chapters as they came out. Possibly reading individual chapters instead of volumes of manga dampened my enthusiasm, although I think a larger part of it is because we're stuck in another long fighting arc I don't care much about. I'm still waiting for my favorite characters to get back into action and very sick of Sasuke's angst about twenty volumes ago, thankyouverymuch. I just haven't read any Fruits Basket this year, aside from rereads, and while new volumes of Saiyuki Reload came out this year (most notably the exciting volume 7), they're all volumes I read last year in Japanese.

The only reason Honey and Clover isn't on here is because the first three volumes a) aren't out in the US and b) follow the anime so closely that I can't quite figure out what to say.

I have individual volume write ups linked via tags for the top ten and runners up, but I'm too lazy to link the entire list of stuff I read. Anything without an asterisk has been written up before; check my tags or memories. If you're curious about something I haven't written up, feel free to ask!

Series alphabetized by author.

  1. CLAMP, xxxHolic and Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle )

  2. Higuri You, Cantarella )

  3. Minekura Kazuya, Wild Adapter )

  4. Mizushiro Setona, After School Nightmare )

  5. Mori Kaoru, Emma )

  6. Soryo Fuyumi, Eternal Sabbath )

  7. Urasawa Naoki, Monster and 20th Century Boys )

  8. Urushibara Yuki, Mushishi )

  9. Yazawa Ai, Nana and Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai )

  10. Yuki Kaori, Cain Saga/Godchild )

  11. Yumeka Sumomo, The Day I Became a Butterfly )

Also recommended: Arakawa Hiromu, Fullmetal Alchemist; Svetlana Chmakova, Dramacon; Hayakawa Tomoko, The Wallflower; Ogawa Yayoi, Tramps Like Us; Takeuchi Mick, Her Majesty's Dog; Yoshinaga Fumi, Antique Bakery; Yun Mi-Kyung, Bride of the Water God

Notes )

Total read: 275 (40 rereads)

Complete list of manga read in 2007 )
oyceter: (honey and clover - hagu possibility)
After a huge year of anime last year, I think my interest petered out again. I'm not sure why that is -- I'm just not that interested in a lot of series, and it doesn't help that anime companies in Japan tend to focus on shounen more than shoujo. I also tend to be uninterested in anime adaptations of manga I've read; more often than not, the pacing is worse and the art is less detailed.

No spoilers below for any of the series.

Series that I am not really fond of but don't actually dislike

Romeo x Juliet )

Series I am fond of

Gundam Wing )

Mushishi )

Nana )

Favorite series of the year

Haibane Renmei )

Honey and Clover )

2007 TV round up

Wed, Jan. 2nd, 2008 05:54 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
This year was a strange TV year for me. I feel like I mostly stopped being enthusiastic about American dramas; a large part of this was because of my falling out with Heroes. While I did start watching a few new shows this year, I'm not head-over-heels in love with any of them yet, at least not in the same way I have been obsessing about kdramas.

2007 will probably also go down as the year I got sucked into Asian dramas. I managed to resist for about eight years, too, and then that little thing called Coffee Prince came along...

No spoilers in any of the below; please use <span style="color:#333,background:#333">spoiler text</span> for any spoilers in the comments.

Shows that didn't work for me

The Collector )

Ugly Betty )

Dr. Who )

The only reason Heroes isn't on this list is because 2007 included some of the great S1 episodes.

Shows that I'm watching but not excited about

Scrubs )

Dead Like Me )

Heroes )

Life )

Blood Ties )

Fantasy Couple )

Snow Queen )

Shows that I'm very excited about!

Homicide: Life on the Street )

Spooks/MI-5 )

Pushing Daisies )

Avatar: the Last Airbender )

So You Think You Can Dance )

Nobuta wo Produce )

My Name Is Kim Sam Soon )

And now, my very favorite shows of the year! It's cheating a little, because I'm not done with either yet, but I am so filled with squee!

Damo )

Coffee Prince )

Huh, looking at all this, I did watch a lot this year. It just didn't feel like it, because for most of the year, I was hopping from show to show to show. I didn't fall into kdramas until Thanksgiving, but wow, I fell hard.

2007 in review

Mon, Dec. 31st, 2007 04:47 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
I am just so glad that this year was an improvement over 2006. I have working meds again, I like my new job, and I have Plans for the future. It's amazing how much of a weight was lifted off my back with those three things, and it's been wonderful feeling like I can enjoy the little things now that the big things aren't always there, pressing down.

On a somewhat minor note, I am also glad to see that the Absolutely Horrible Travel Karma of 2006 has largely subsided into a Minorly Annoying Travel Karma of 2007. Maybe 2008 will bring me flights that take off on time! I remain optimistic, despite my knowledge of the travel industry.

Year in review meme )
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
I'm blogging books and manga separately this year, just because I read so much manga. I feel like I've read remarkably few books this year; last year my reading had gone down in total, but I didn't separate the books and manga out, so I'm not sure if I read more books this year or last year. I definitely read way more manga this year, which is why the book count is only at 90. It's really weird; not reading many actual books makes me feel like a slacker, particularly since much of what I did read was YA.

Thoughts about the year in books )

I've blogged nearly all of these previously; the ones that haven't been written up yet are asterisked. You should be able to find everything via tags or LJ memories, and if you're curious about one of the unblogged ones, leave a comment and I shall expound upon it.

And now, without further ado, my top ten books of 2006:

  1. Gillian Bradshaw, assorted novels )

  2. Sarah Dessen, Just Listen )

  3. Scott McCloud, Making Comics )

  4. Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua, eds., This Bridge Called My Back )

  5. Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing )

  6. Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night )

  7. Beverley Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations about Race )

  8. Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia )

  9. Jo Walton, Farthing )

  10. Scott Westerfeld, Succession )

Also recommended: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre; Christina Chiu, Troublemaker and Other Saints; Sarah Dessen, Dreamland; Emma Donoghue, Life Mask; Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; Susan Vaught, Stormwitch; Cornel West, Race Matters; Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White; Gene Luen Yang, American Born Chinese

Total read: 90 (3 rereads)

All books read in 2007 )
oyceter: (still ibarw)
I realized that my 2006 in review post didn't really mention the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM or International Blog Against Racism Week even as I was writing it. I wasn't sure how to put them into the meme -- how can I claim finally reading up on racism and race as an accomplishment?

I mean, really. I am glad I did it, and I changed a lot because of it. But I don't feel it is an accomplishment because it feels like something I should have known, something I should have figured out a long time ago. And how can I claim IBARW as an achievement or as something I'm proud of when I feel like I am co-opting the voices of those talking about it for so long, except I just never noticed?

I'd like to clarify that I am not ashamed of doing what I did this year in terms of race or of what I said, that I am not saying IBARW wasn't worth it or didn't help. What I'm ashamed of is not that I did these things or posted on these things, but that I was not posting or thinking about these things a long time ago.

I am ashamed that it took so long, and I am ashamed that for a long time, I was a part of the chorus telling people: "It's not that bad" or "You're overreacting" or "Why must you keep talking about being a person of color?"

On a more practical note, a lot of what I wanted to keep doing in terms of blogging on and thinking about and reading up on race and racism ended up in smoke, thanks to real life exploding in my face around the same time IBARW was going on.

I've been rereading some of the old Great Cultural Appropriation Debate and IBARW posts, and -- I was about to say that I am amazed at how angry they still make me. But I am not amazed by that; I am not surprised anymore by how angry this topic continues to make me. And saying that I am amazed by it implies to me that I think I shouldn't be angry, which is still my knee-jerk reaction and has been for years and years, thanks to a general attempt on my end to not be angry (usually good), compounded by years of being told that being angry about race was being oversensitive (sucky beyond measure).

SO I wanted to say: I am still angry. Rereading these posts makes me furious that so much still has to be explained, that so much is still being handwaved away. It makes me want to scream and yell and cry in frustration, only I don't (at least, not in public) because that means I will be dismissed, and I cannot stand that any longer.

Furthermore, rereading these posts still hurts. Not just the normal sting that I feel when I'm argued with (hey, my ego is very large): when I read some of those comments, especially when they are people I know and respect, it still feels like a punch to the gut, half a year after. It is so visceral, this feeling. Every single one of those comments -- and I haven't even reread the comments because I can't, not even now, so it's just a six-month-old memory of the comments -- makes me want to give up and cry, makes me feel so betrayed and alone, makes me wonder if I should only ever broach the issue with people I trust.

I would like for this to be a "I will continue to post more and read more and think more" resolution, except I am not sure if I'll be able to follow up, since I didn't last year. But I wanted to put this in as an addendum to my year, because even though it was only a few weeks worth of drama on LJ, even though I still feel ashamed of having to say that 2006 was when I really started thinking about race and racism, even though I haven't been keeping up with posting and readings for much of the year, these events -- the cultural appropriation panel at Wiscon and the subsequent LJ debate, the Pirates debate, IBARW -- they changed me more than anything else that happened in the last year.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
I've read so much manga this year that I'm separating it out from my 2006 books post. I'm still a little stunned by the fact that I read 217 volumes of manga this year, and that's after not logging some random scanlations due to user oversight.

Like the books list, this is a list of manga that I read this year, not manga published this year. My favorites are rather capricious and down at seven instead of ten. I'm not sure if it's because I'm feeling a little grumpy today, or if some of the series that I would have put on here ended up losing some of my interest as I started reading volumes as they came out, instead of in one big chunk (Bleach, Tramps Like Us). Other series ended up not being in the favorites group because I haven't read far enough in them to figure out if I do like them long term (Paradise Kiss, Oyayubihime Infinity, Her Majesty's Dog, Eternal Sabbath, Monster). The only reason Nana isn't on here at all is because all I did was reread vol. 1 this year; I mean to one day catch up on the 16 volumes out in Japanese (really!).

I'm not actually going to write up detailed summaries or plot synopses; I've blogged all these series before and will link the titles to the relevant entries and/or tags. Also, I'm way too lazy to link up the entire list of 217 volumes, but rest assured, they are all meticulously memories-ed and tagged because I am obsessive compulsive and should probably find a better hobby that doesn't involve alphabetization. Extreme librarianism! It's almost like a sport! ;)

Listed below are my seven favorite series from this year, in alphabetal order.

  1. Mizushiro Setona, 1999nen 7 no Tsuki Shanghai )

  2. Mori Kaoru, Emma )

  3. Nishi Keiko, Four Shojo Stories )

  4. Takaya Natsuki, Fruits Basket )

  5. Yuki Kaori, Godchild )

  6. Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto )

  7. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki Gaiden and Saiyuki Reload )

Total read: 217 (25 rereads)

Complete list of manga read in 2006 )
oyceter: (bleach parakeet of doom!)
I watched A LOT of anime this year. I largely blame credit [livejournal.com profile] rilina and [livejournal.com profile] umadoshi for this, although [livejournal.com profile] octopedingenue and [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija also deserve incriminating glares praise for their enthusiasm.

It seems a little lopsided to have 5 out of the 10 series I watched in the "favorite series" section, but I watched a lot of good anime this year. Also, it helped that I was getting the cream of the crop; [livejournal.com profile] rilina was doing a lot of the screening for me by watching a whole lot of series and then pimping her favorites to me. I also finally watched some oft-praised series which I've had on the to-watch list for a few years (namely, Princess Tutu and FMA).

This was actually a great way to watch anime, since I got the fun experience of the FMA and Princess Tutu pile up, and I got to squee to other people most of the time.

Unsurprisingly, I watched a whole lot of shoujo. Again, unsurprisingly, most of my favorite series were shoujo.

No spoilers below for any of the series. I'm also including pimping information for my favorite series, since I naturally want people to watch them. If you want more information on the other series, I'd suggest checking out [livejournal.com profile] rilina's giant 2006: the Year in Anime post, since she includes helpful links and info for all the series she watched, which overlap all of my series, with the exception of Gunslinger Girl. Or you can check out the series-specific tags below, or my Memories in the sidebar.

Series that I am not really fond of but don't actually dislike

Bleach )

Last Exile )

Yami no Matsuei )

Series I am fond of

Gunslinger Girl )

Saiunkoku Monogatari )

Favorite series of the year

Honey and Clover )

Ouran High School Host Club )

Princess Tutu )

Samurai Champloo )

And my very favorite series of the year was easy to pick this time:

Fullmetal Alchemist )

2006 TV round up

Mon, Jan. 1st, 2007 09:49 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (spooks fiona)
I didn't end up watching much live-action TV this year; I spent a lot more time watching anime and reading manga. I didn't start the year off with that many live-action shows, and since I'm a lazy person, I usually never watch a show during its first season. I let other people rec stuff. This year, I started off with Scrubs, Veronica Mars, and Good Eats.

No spoilers for any of the shows. The "shows I'm excited about" part will have pimping information (aka, how to access the show, the general plotline, and etc.), as I am trying to get more people to watch.

Shows that didn't work for me

Veronica Mars )

Supernatural )

The Office )

Shows that I'm watching but not excited about

Scrubs )

Good Eats )

Battlestar Galactica )

Avatar: the Last Airbender )

Shows that I'm very excited about!

So You Think You Can Dance )

Heroes )

And I've saved the best for last. My absolute favorite TV show of the year, hands down, is:

Spooks/MI-5 )

2006 in review

Sun, Dec. 31st, 2006 10:35 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
I've been doing this meme every year since 2003; it's fun and neat way to reflect back on my year.

2006 was a pretty rotten year for me. I read my entry for 2005, and I sound so happy and cheerful, full of life. This year wore me down and just kept wearing me down in nearly every manner possible. My much-adored boss left, there was work instability, my Big Project went wrong in nearly every way possible, Fitz-rat and Fool-rat died, my grandfather died, and assorted other little things just kept going wrong.

I'm so glad the year's over and really hoping that 2007 is better.

Year in review meme )

ETA: an addendum

ETA2: Most-commented-upon posts of the year )

New Year's meme

Mon, Jan. 9th, 2006 09:57 pm
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)
I keep doing this one, might as well keep it up...

Read more... )

2005 book round up

Fri, Jan. 6th, 2006 07:03 pm
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
I read less than last year by a bit, probably by a lot volume-wise, because so much of this year was manga, which I read much faster. I am too lazy to separate out my manga read, and so I just count a volume as a book. I also still haven't figured out how to do LJ entries on manga -- sometimes I do entries on a chunk of volumes, sometimes I do overviews after I finish a series, sometimes I just hold off on writing anything until I've completed the whole thing. I dunno. I'll figure something out, I guess.

I didn't get quite as excited over what I read this year as well, which makes doing this difficult. I don't know if it's because I was concentrating on other things, like re-picking up knitting or having a better social life, or if it's just what I read. Last year it was tough just picking ten books out of all the good stuff I had read; this year, I'm sort of struggling to fill it. It's not that what I read wasn't good, it's that not as much hit quite as hard.

Anyhow, here are my ten favorite books of the year, alphabetically by author. I don't pick books written this year, but books read this year. And my definition of favorite is very fuzzy. Basically, it's anything that left a lasting impression on me, or anything that I smile at when I go over the list of books read. While I generally don't include rereads on the list, I also reserve the right to cheat horribly.

I've blogged all of these except some of the manga, for reasons explained above. You can find everything in my books memories. I am too lazy to link all 149 books.

  1. Loretta Chase, Lord of the Scoundrels

    This is a sort of placeholder for all the Loretta Chase books I read this year (Miss Wonderful, Mr. Impossible, and The Last Hellion). I loved all of them, though Lord of the Scoundrels is hands down my favorite. Loretta Chase is very good at taking some fairly boring and standard romance tropes, most of which I dislike, and inserting a proactive heroine, a hero who is completely ok with falling in love, and a plot that generally ends up enabling the heroine. LotS also subverts one of the romance tropes that I most dislike, that of the alpha bastard hero who treats everyone, particularly women, abominably because he had a rotten childhood. Chase writes about people who like each other while they're falling in love, which is all too rare in romance.

  2. Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

    This is a small, unambitious book that nonetheless made me happier than Gaiman's latest books. While the comedy relies on the awkwardness of the protagonist, there's a sense that Gaiman loves and identifies with Fat Nancy; the awkwardness isn't embarrassing, but rather, endearing. And in the end, it is, like Sandman, a story about the stories we tell ourselves and how stories shape our lives.

  3. Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

    Hornbacher's memoir is a stark, no-holds-barred look at the damage that eating disorders can wreak on a life; her descriptions of her ordeal are visceral and stunning. It's a painful read of someone who has dedicated her formidable intellect and willpower to destroying her own body.

  4. Diana Wynne Jones, Howl's Moving Castle

    Technically, this is a reread, but I remember vaguely not getting the book the first time I read it. This time, I loved it to pieces, from the decidedly imperfect characters to the wry narrative voice. The best part is that despite the moving castle and attempts to foil the Witch of the Waste's plans, the book is about the characters growing up and growing into themselves, while remaining crotchety and flawed. Jones never tries to make anyone in the book a straight-up hero, and that's why it works so well for me.

  5. Rosemary Kirstein, Steerswoman series

    Kirstein's Steerswoman series made me realize how much I missed traditional science fiction; her books are about knowledge and the scientific method, discovery and logic. She also does this without making the characters mere talking heads; rather, the process and not the results of uncovering knowledge and analyzing drives the main character. There's also a wonderfully rendered friendship between two women who are very different and yet respect each other.

    The series is yet unfinished and consists of The Steerswoman, The Outskirter's Secret, The Lost Steersman, and The Language of Power.

  6. Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

    Knapp's book is also somewhat biographical, like Marya Hornbacher's, but rather than describing the experience of eating disorders, Knapp attempts to analyze the whys and hows of them. She talks of deprivation of both the body and the mind, of the complex factors that feed into eating disorders and problems with body image. Sympathetic and compassionate, Knapp never loses sight of the human in search of the universal.

  7. Peter D. Kramer, Against Depression

    A deeply compassionate and very compelling argument on the destructiveness of depression. Kramer looks at how depression affects the people who suffer from it and the people in their lives; he gathers data on how much depression costs in terms of physical health and lost productivity. I would give this book to anyone who argued that depression wasn't a serious disease or wasn't a disease at all, as well as to anyone who argues that getting rid of depression would somehow tampers with the human condition.

  8. Minekura Kazuya, Saiyuki (spoilers in second half)

    Minekura's gorgeous art, sharp and sinewy, and the snarky, angsty, fallible characters are hard to resist. Sanzo, Goku, Hakkai and Gojyo are all wonderful, well-rounded characters in their own right; but I love them best as a group. They're all broken people who have found each other; they're all trying to recover from their pasts, and I love how they help each other even while they snark and bitch and moan and look incredibly sexy.

  9. Simon Singh, The Code Book

    One of the fun pieces of non-fiction I read this year. The book is deceptively simple until you realize how difficult some of the concepts that Singh is explaining. The invisible prose and effortless explanation make it an educational experience, but it isn't just a book on hows and whys. Singh never fails to show the reader how exciting he finds cryptography and code-breaking.

  10. Scott Westerfeld, Peeps

  11. This book made me go on a giant Scott Westerfeld binge that has yet to stop. Like the Steerswoman series, Peeps reminds me of why I love science fiction. Much of it lies in how enthusiastic Westerfeld is about parasites and the way they work, so much so that I didn't mind reading about gory deaths and biological details at all. Peeps takes the vampire novel, which I was getting bored of, and turns it into something else all together.

Also recommended: Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses; Rachel Manija Brown, All the Fishes Come Home to Roost; Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls; Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever; Teresa Edgerton, Goblin Moon; Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Laura Kinsale, Seize the Fire; J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; and Tsuda Masami, Kare Kano.

Hrm, looks like there was a lot of non-fiction this year, particularly in the realm of eating disorders and depression. Why is this not a surprise to me? ;)

2004 book round up

Total read: 149 (6 rereads)

All books read )


Fri, Dec. 30th, 2005 10:49 pm
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Lots of stuff this year!

The Personal:
(or, In which I promote all my own LJ entries)

  • My boyfriend of two-and-a-half years broke up with me in February. It was pretty miserable, but not only am I good now, I have a nice life that I am enjoying very much.

  • [livejournal.com profile] fannishly moved in!

  • I was officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder and started therapy and meds this year, though I was pretty much miserable for two and a half years before that.

  • My grandma on my mom's side passed away =(. It was sad, and I worry about my mom. The entire family did manage to get together for the funeral, though, which was nice, because I haven't seen them all for a while.

  • I met [livejournal.com profile] yhlee, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija, [livejournal.com profile] mamculuna, [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink, [livejournal.com profile] geekturnedvamp, and [livejournal.com profile] oracne for the first time! And it was lovely all around, and I can't wait to see everyone again!

  • I went to my first con ever and was terrified by the hordes of people and managed to sort of stalk Patricia A. McKillip and hear a snippet from Solstice Wood

  • I started knitting again, for the first time since middle school! I went slightly overboard in yarn purchasing and made a Really Ugly Scarf, two kerchiefs with giant floppy flowers, a Less Ugly Scarf, My First Sweater (also Really UglyTM), two tank tops, a fuzzy scarf, and a lace shrug. I also experimented with a lace scarf gone horribly awry, thanks to the disastrous frogging inability of mohair, cables (still working on it), and lovely purple yarn that is undergoing its third incarnation as a scarf (I was perpetually unsatisfied with the patterns).

  • I also learned how to crochet, which was quite exciting and round.

  • I made my very first gingerbread house, which has the unfortunate resemblance to a spider.

  • I had my very first real Christmas tree all to myself! Ok, I really shouldn't be counting this because I had one two years ago with the boy, but... this is my first real one as a single person! Also... TREEE!!!!

  • I started cooking and amazingly avoided poisoning myself, my rats, my roommate, my friends and my family (knock on wood).

  • My baby sister graduated from college. She's actually only two years younger than me, but still! Graduated! Working! In New York! On the plus side, this meant I got to visit her for Thanksgiving and eat her tiramisu and buy a cute pink hat and eat [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink's scones and buy more books than was good for me.

  • I started going to the local farmer's market and discovered the joys of fresh peas and heirloom tomatoes.

  • I got my wisdom teeth out and looked like a very sad and pathetic chipmunk for a few days. It was a day of great joy when I could chew enough to eat pizza again.

(no subject)

Fri, Jan. 28th, 2005 10:13 pm
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So... about a month late, but I like doing these yearly things.

I present to you, the New Year's meme, version 2004.

Gratuitous memery )

2004 book round up

Sun, Jan. 9th, 2005 02:11 pm
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Heh, the ability to do this post was the reason behind why I started book blogging last year, and of course, now it's about a week late and I don't have much energy to write it. But write it I will.

I am shamelessly copying [livejournal.com profile] coffee_and_ink's format (I hope you don't mind, Mely), whose posts are the main reason why I started book blogging at all.

This being the inaugural year, I have no idea how this matches up to my reading habits of previous year. Just off the top of my head, I would say that I feel like I've read a great deal of books this year, and most of them good. A big reason for that is because of LJ, because of all the recs that have come in, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I read many things I wouldn't have touched previously because of that. And now, my ten favorite books of the year, out of all the books I have read this year (excluding rereads), not out of all the books published this year. They may not be the best books I've read this year, or the most technically proficient, or the like, but they are books that grabbed me somehow and will most likely end up being reread very often. I'm cheating quite a bit on this list and including multiple books by authors and such, but hey, it's my list ;).

Listed alphabetically by author. I've blogged each book before, which you can find in my book memories section, if you want to read me blather on even more.

  1. Megan Chance, Fall From Grace

    Both romances on this list are ones that push the boundaries of the genre. I love Megan Chance's romances because she doesn't bother to whitewash history; her characters are rarely the rareified nobility that populate most romances. In this book, they are outlaws, and there is no romance at all in the way Chance portrays their lives. She also inverts the trope and makes the hard-living, hard-hearted character the heroine, with a hero painfully in love with her. This is not a fuzzy romance; it's on the smothering of dreams and hopes, on the choices that life gradually takes away.

  2. Michael Dirda, Readings

    Dirda is a kindred spirit in the book world, although I can only sit back and wish that I have read as broadly and as deeply as he has, as well as wish that I could write about the experience of reading and of books so beautifully as he does. But I can't, so I am incredibly glad that he exists in the world and writes the reviews he does. His book reviews are like recommendations from a close friend.

  3. Dorothy Dunnett, The Lymond Chronicles

    If I had to pick just one book of them, it would be Pawn in Frankincense, where all the build-up of the previous three books comes to head in a tense climax that left me breathless. Dunnett is very often manipulative, I still don't like Lymond as a person, and Checkmate is pretty flawed, especially when you look at how Dunnett throws in every single romance cliche in the book, but the series as a whole is so large and epic and grand that they occupied a very sizeable chunk of my head and heart for a very long period of time. And despite the criticism, nothing I've read this year has swallowed me whole the same way this series did -- I read the first book over a few months, the second in a week, and by the time I had gotten to Checkmate, I had spent an entire week reading till 5 in the morning, and was so sleep-deprived that I went home sick from work and finished the last book at home in a frenzied rush.

    Also, it's hard to beat Dunnett for sheer amount of influence on other authors.

    The Lymond books consist of The Game of Kings, Queen's Play, The Disorderly Knights, Pawn in Frankincense, The Ringed Castle, and Checkmate

  4. Kij Johnson, Fudoki

    This book is set in the same universe as Johnson's first book, The Fox Woman, and it has the same delicate touch in bringing Heian Japan to life in a way that feels very authentic to me. Finally, a fantasy set in Asia that doesn't grate on my nerves. The setting, while wonderfully done, is just one of the many beautiful parts of this book. The narrative centered on the dying princess Harueme is elegaic and full of regrets; the one on the cat-turned-warrior-woman is properly sharp around the edges, with charming touches like dreams of rice balls. A very good book that leaves a lingering sense of mono no aware.

  5. Laura Kinsale, Shadowheart

    After I read this, I was nearly incoherent with glee over how it smashes romance genre tropes left and right, with the added bonus of sex scenes that don't just develop the characters, but are also so intrinsic to the plot and the meat of the book that it is unimaginable without them. While the plot in and of itself doesn't make too much sense (though it is much more coherent than many Kinsale plots), the heart of the book is in the character dynamics and the exploration of gender roles and issues of power and control. Also, Kinsale manages to do all this while writing a scorching romance.

  6. Maureen F. McHugh, China Mountain Zhang

    Science fiction set in a world where China has become the one superpower and America has turned socialist. Instead of using the set up to explore overtly political issues in a larger setting, McHugh chooses narrate from the POV of the titular character and a few of the other people in the world whose lives he affects, no matter how obliquely. Because of this, the book has a much more intimate tone, even while it explores the larger issues of race, ethnicity, and cultural authenticity without ever losing sight of its characters, who are always human first.

  7. Patricia A. McKillip, multiple novels

    I discovered Patricia McKillip this year, after many years of never understanding her books, and it has been a joy going through her backlist. It's probably unnecessary praising McKillip to most people who read this LJ, but for anyone who hasn't read her books, the beauty of the prose and the images, the clarity of the visual metaphors and, above all, the underlying humanity in all her characters have completely won me over. My favorite of her books, Winter Rose, is actually a reread, although I don't actually remember my first read of it at all.

    I read her The Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Alphabet of Thorn, The Book of Atrix Wolfe, The Changeling Sea, In the Forests of Serre, Ombria in Shadow, Song for the Basilisk, The Tower at Stony Wood, and Winter Rose this year.

  8. Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

    While I wanted a non-Nafisi POV at times for balance, Nafisi's memoir is still an effective look at not only a woman's life in Iran, but also the importance of reading and imagination. For me, it works better as an investigation into why we read than a chronicle of post-revolution Iran, but that is largely because of the constraints of the memoir format. This book hit some very deep spots in me regarding questions of morality and art and why the great books are always revolutionary in some way. A perfect demonstration of how books at their best can push boundaries and shape the mind.

  9. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

    Like Nafisi's book, Satrapi's Persepolis is a memoir of the Islamic revolution in Iran; however, Persepolis is also a wonderful graphic novel with stark black-and-white art and an often bizarre sense of humor. Satrapi's memoir is much less overtly political than Nafisi's, and it is more effective for me because of that. Satrapi focuses on the commonplace, on the seemingly trifling changes that the revolutions causes, and because of this, the truly horrific things that happen in her country are made that much worse in context of the everyday. Smart, funny, and engaging.

  10. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot

    An epistolary fantasy Regency novel! This is the book that I've been pushing on all of my friends, to the point of buying a copy and bringing it all the way over to Taiwan just so I could make yet another person read it. There's something incredibly joyful about this book -- one can sense how much fun the authors had writing it, and it makes for a delightful reading experience.

Also recommended: Lloyd Alexander, the Westmark trilogy; Connie Brockway, The Bridal Season; Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa; Jennifer Crusie, Bet Me; Judy Cuevas, Bliss and Dance; Karen Cushman, Catherine, Called Birdy; Pamela Dean, the Secret Country trilogy; Patricia MacLachlan, The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt; Margaret Mahy, The Tricksters; Ellen Raskin, The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues; Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America; Elizabeth A. Wein, The Winter Prince

ETA: Added more books to the also recced list, because I am hare-brained and forgot a few.

Total read: 167 (8 rereads)

Books finished in 2004 )


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