Metatalktail Hour: Something to Read April 15, 2022 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, MetaFilter! This week, I want you to tell me the best thing you've read lately! A book, an article, a website -- anything!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:34 PM (67 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I really liked We’re Not Broken by Eric Michael Garcia. A great summary of the state of play for autistic rights today. I’ve had a small project of reading about autism over the last few years. My introduction to the topic of autism was Neurotribes by MeFi’s own Steve Silberman, which was more of a sweeping history, and this book complements that one very well. Another book on this theme was The Autism Matrix by Gil Eyal — a sociological perspective on the question of why rates of diagnosis are increasing.
posted by eirias at 6:19 PM on April 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm in the middle of Elie Mystal's Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution. Funny, and very readable for non-lawyers.
posted by praemunire at 7:07 PM on April 15, 2022 [8 favorites]

I'm on a big Lavie Tidhar kick right now and just finished By Force Alone which is a retelling of the King Arthur fable. It completely changes the story from something mythical/magical/uplifting to human/base/cynical. It was so much fun!

It's part of a series and the next one is a retelling of the Robin Hood story, with Robin Hood definitely a minor and mostly unimportant character next. Also so much fun!

Oh, and I just finished the latest Stross and Scalzi books. Also so much fun! Thanks guys!

Next up is the newest book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. If you aren't in on how good this series is then you gotta fix that problem right now. So much fun!
posted by ashbury at 7:42 PM on April 15, 2022 [4 favorites]

'Black Sabbath', Mick Wall

'Laughter in Hell', Stephen Marek.

'Double Eagle', Alison Frankel

'A Poetics of Postmodernism', Linda Hutcheon. re-read... 7. Historiographic metafiction:"the past time of past time"
nice little epigraph from Shlovsky. this is like the zucchini bread of postmodernism, Aristotle, porous genres, Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk but I like this paragraph:
"This world of provisionality and interminarcy is made even more complex when a consultation with the Soviet Encyclopedia confirms the actors altered version of the Tunguska expedition. the team decides that their film, to be entitled ( like the novel) Chekhov's Journey, will not be the experimental one they had envisioned, but Cinéma vérité,despite the readers awareness that it was the hypnotic tampering with time that brought on the time warp that blasted the Cherry orchard and mutated the Seagull into a Snow goose. as one of the team:
past events can be altered. history gets rewritten.Well, we've just found this applies to the real world too... maybe the real history of the world is changing constantly? And why? because history is a fiction. it's a dream in the mind of humanity, forever striving.... towards what? Towards perfection"....chaeah, ok.
I guess that's why i haven't finished a novel in 3 years. I've had a bat come up in my apartment 3 days in a row. must be the same bat and we've developed this routine, if he's on the landing, he'll go somewhere and hide until I turn off the lights and open up the door on my deck and he swoops around and finally goes outside it's like a Abbott and Costello routine or something. so he was stuck down the landing and he comes up to the kitchen and it's a small kitchen and I'm sitting my chair and I just hear 'woohf' and you're not supposed to hear the 'woohf' but I swear I heard it. I turn my head and saw him Frozen there and he turns around goes down the landing. And of course you're doing a version of St. Vitus dance the first time and it seems as if the bat understands that as long as you keep distance and I believe they know you know their flight capability that's not right. but he came in kind of low and I think I guide him out. once, I got a little too close and heard him go squeak, just a general reminder squeak so usually it takes about a minute and a half to three after I freak out till the bat gets outside. Batty I know right? so anyways by the third time it's kind of calm it seems like he gets over the initial shock of you going huh. I don't know which requires more nerves, but I'll take a parrot nipping at your ear to getting used to a bat in your apartment. and that's the thing I don't buy that the parrot is grooming or what not I don't know what it's doing when it's going at the ear here but that parrot knows it's with-in' striking distance of the jugular vein. okay, the parrot knows that and there's something to that so it's got to be trust and that's why the parrot wins when it nips ears okay I'll shut up thanks.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

The autistic burnout paper I linked on the blue.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:21 PM on April 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

I’m a real pop fiction reader these days (as opposed to fine literature), but if you are looking for light, fast reads, the Avery Shaw series by Amanda M. Lee are hysterically funny. I’m rereading them now. They seem to get funnier and funnier as they go on.

I really like the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box. They are really human and absorbing.

I also love the time travel series by Jodi Taylor (Chronicles of St. Mary’s); they are quick engaging books and totally absorbing.

Also, I love, love, love the Innkeeper Chronicles series by Ilona Andrews. I’m not sure why.

One of favorite my short stories is Cathedral by Raymond Carver. Twenty or so years ago, I was absolutely delighted to find out that my favorite poet Tess Gallagher was Carver’s girlfriend (and later wife). One of those the-universe-is-so-cool coincidences.
posted by gt2 at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best book so far this year: Jack by Marilynne Robinson. I've really enjoyed all her Gilead novels.
posted by Redstart at 9:35 PM on April 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm about halfway through the very well-written Peak Mind by Amishi Jha, and finding it extremely helpful in understanding what the heck has happened to my attention the past couple of years. It offers some hope for getting it back, too.
posted by rpfields at 9:36 PM on April 15, 2022 [5 favorites]

An enormous lavish birthday present, Interwoven Globe, which is thick with historical precision and detail but understandable as an amateur. It is both a series of historical chapters and the catalog of an exhibition and there are enough photographs.

And the endpapers are two different, very useful maps. And it’s bound in a beautiful fabric that is a reference to the puzzle of the exhibition and feels delightful while you’re reading.

The only thing that could improve it would be more pictures of the reverses of some of these fabrics, where that would illuminate their making.
posted by clew at 9:47 PM on April 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

clavdivs, I would read your book about the bat and the parrott
posted by maggieb at 10:22 PM on April 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

I'm 80% of the way through Olga Tokarczuk's epic The Books of Jacob, which I think is excellent, if also arduously long.

The best of my other recent reading includes Distant Light by Antonio Moresco, a powerfully eerie short novel, and Reversible Monuments, a big bilingual anthology of Mexican poetry in translation.
posted by misteraitch at 10:35 PM on April 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm rereading Honour's Knight by Rachel Bach. It's the sequel to Fortune's Pawn which I did a Fanfare post about.

It's a really fun series. I love the protagonist, a female mercenary who is tough, deadly, emotionally perceptive, and prone to burst into tears when she's frustrated which is so relatable!

It's Sci Fi Romance and really clever about the way it uses Romance tropes.
posted by Zumbador at 10:42 PM on April 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

The best book I’ve read in the last few months was definitely The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois. It’s the author’s first novel, which is stunning to me - it’s so good. Very strong A++ recommendation.
posted by obfuscation at 5:05 AM on April 16, 2022

The most enjoyable book I've read this year, I actually found via this FPP from 2017, Amitav Ghosh's The Great Derangement. "Enjoyable" probably shouldn't be the word you use with a book about climate change, and yet, I found myself absolutely sinking into this book, which is a collection of lectures the author gave regarding the links between global warming, literature, and colonialism. I don't think I've ever highlighted a book quite as much--every page had some line, some connection, that both immediately made sense, and made me have to look up and think for a bit. Very galaxy-brainy yet utterly humane, brilliant and gripping. Much, much too short--it could've easily been twice as long without suffering for it.

Just before that, I finished The Bright Ages (which I think I first heard of from a Brandon Taylor tweet?). It's a fabulously breezy book, very light and undemanding history, a good beach-read while still being real history. What if the Dark Ages...weren't? What if it was actually a period full of deep connections between one culture and the next?

After those two, I then turned to the very-much-recommended-here The Ministry for the Future, and now, just to keep up the cheery fun, Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction. (Coming up, if I can handle it, David Wallace-Wells' The Uninhabitable Earth.)
posted by mittens at 5:46 AM on April 16, 2022

psst. Labs still exists, but it only scrapes Amazon links.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:08 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm 80% of the way through Olga Tokarczuk's epic The Books of Jacob, which I think is excellent, if also arduously long.

I'm about 8% of the way through this book, at most, but so far loving it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:11 AM on April 16, 2022

A card from my elderly mother sent to my long-deceased dog at my address, telling him she looks forward to seeing him in heaven. Yes we are all a bit daft.
posted by HotToddy at 6:31 AM on April 16, 2022 [16 favorites]

Warriors Don't Cry: The Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals

What Melba endured as a high school junior integrating Central High in 1957 can only be described as state sponsored warfare on African-Americans. The internal strength she and the rest of the Little Rock 9 exhibited, to get up and go to school every day, is something I can't even imagine.

I didn't enjoy reading about this shameful time in US history. In fact, I found it difficult to read. The abuse these 9 kids suffered to segregate Central High in Little Rock is really beyond explanation. I knew they had a tough time, but I didn't know it was the National Guard assigned to protect them enabled the abusers level of tough. I didn't know the 101st Airborne were assigned as literal bodyguards for the first couple of weeks of school. They should have been there all year, but I guess President Eisenhower couldn't risk upsetting the delicate sensibilities of white assholes in Little Rock.

The book is basically torture porn. But it's torture porn that should be required reading in every high school in America. Ironically, it's actually illegal in Virginia now, as our Trump-lite Governor has made it illegal to use any book in school that might hurt the feelings of a white person.

The irony of just how much white kids in Virginia need to read this book would clearly be lost on him.

Everything else I've read this year is tracked at
posted by COD at 6:31 AM on April 16, 2022

That's interesting, as the deployment of the National Guard and the Screaming Eagles (and the related photos) is the primary factoid in the textbook history I was first taught in school, and in my mind is the primary historical significance of the event; along with all the photos of the white students harassing the black students or posing with signs and confederate flags or lynching the students in effigy.

Maybe not quite as famous as pictures of the violence at Selma or Birmingham, but nearly so? And mentally filed next to them. Most of the images I recall are collected by Buzzfeed here. [Content warning, obviously.]
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:14 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I finished Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon not long ago, that was a hell of a book. Not my favorite by him, but definitely up there.
posted by bxvr at 7:15 AM on April 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

Red Notice by Bill Browder

That was a good read. Russia’s abuses of Sergei Magnitsky that led to the Magnitsky Act are horrifying. Nevertheless I confess I skimmed the first third of the book covering how Browder grew up. When he began work in Russia the book was interesting. Who knew you’d find street vendors hawking corporate documents next to bootleg DVDs?

Infrastructure: A Field Guide is a coffee table book, but it’s still impressive. 500 glossy pages contain hundreds of the author’s photographs of the inscrutable concrete, steel, etc structures that are part of modern life. The author describes the purpose of these pieces of engineering and throws in fun facts.

For example, there was an undersea cable linking America and England in the middle of the 19th century, yet it couldn’t be used for telephone calls. (Phone calls were too faint and would’ve needed a repeater.) In 1927 an enormous radio transmitter was built in Long Island, and a giant receiver in Maine, to support one call at a time to England. $75 ($1200 today) bought you three minutes of conversation.

Or there’s the fact that the US had 45,000 miles of trolley tracks in 1917. A 500 mile journey from Delaware to Maine was taken by newlyweds in 1904. They made it their honeymoon, hopping aboard a trolley with their luggage in the morning and hopping off at night, then resuming the journey from one town’s trolley network to the next.
posted by Monochrome at 7:23 AM on April 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

snuffleupagus: Due to moving in 11th grade and misrepresenting what my 10th grade history class covered, I never took the 2nd half of US history in high school - been playing catch up ever since. I thought I was really cool, conniving my way out of a year of history. To be fair, if they did a better job of teaching history back then I might have been more interested.
posted by COD at 7:35 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Well, in that case permit me to recommend Zinn's People's History of the United States if you haven't read it.

You might also be interested in Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America, though they're definitely fluffier.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:38 AM on April 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

I have read Zinn! My son was a history enthusiast from about age 7, so enabling him through his teenage years helped me greatly.
posted by COD at 7:41 AM on April 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Thing I just finished that was really good: Michael Schur's 'How to be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question,' a very readable but not dumbed-down book about moral philosophy.

Thing I'm in the middle of that's really good: Jessie Singer's 'There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster-Who Profits and Who Pays the Price,' a bold thesis supported with strong research and writing.
posted by box at 7:44 AM on April 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

in that vein:

Charles Perrow -- Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies [amazon]
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:51 AM on April 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Bizarrely enough, it’s this rather fascinating book about rocks and geologic history in the Great Lakes, called, fittingly enough, Great Lakes Rocks. It is a great pre bed book for an anxious person- deep time is just soothing that way.
posted by rockindata at 7:56 AM on April 16, 2022 [7 favorites]

I am in the middle of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle By Clare Hunter

The Bayern tapestry, Chilean women opposing Pinochet, Mary Queen of Scots, British civilian POWs from WWII, it is all here. Most of them sew or embroider as part of telling their own histories. I see a visit to a textile museum in my future.
posted by soelo at 9:09 AM on April 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

Jennifer Egan's The Candy House was excellent. Lives inside of universes, and universes inside of lives. Nightbitch, by Rachel Yoder, a very good read-once; reminded me of the EL discussion on the bonsai'd life. Likewise, Jessamine Chan's The School for Good Mothers (this one's more broadly dystopian). Next up: John Scalzi's The Kaiju Preservation Society, because something light and fun is decidedly in order.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:14 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've been stocking my library with classic children's literature for my daughter to read someday, and I wind up reading the books myself as I go.

I'm wrapping up the Wizard of Oz series at the moment. Dorothy and Ozma are off to prevent a war between the Flatheads and the Skeezers, I'm riveted.
posted by champers at 9:33 AM on April 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Fortune Men by Nadifa Mohamed just blew me away. It's about a real murder case in Cardiff, Wales, in 1952. Mohamed brings to like both the victim and the man who was blamed for her murder, and their families. It's a really complex story which Mohamed makes completely engrossing from page to page.
posted by BibiRose at 9:57 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just finished Kij Johnson's At the Mouth of the River of Bees, a collection of short stories, including several award nominees/winners. I started reading it in 2018 but never finished it; even so, it still stood out as one of the best books I read that year. Nothing in the latter part of the collection made me rethink that impression. It is excellent spec fic.

I'm not sure what I want to read next. I feel like all the media I've consumed since the start of the pandemic has been through a haze, like there's some interference between me and whatever I'm reading/watching/listening to. I've definitely been opting for cozy vibes more frequently, but I'm also trying to put a dent in the sea of books I've had on my shelves for years.
posted by xenization at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I thought that I might like to get back into reading contemporary horror fiction, so this week I sampled/skimmed the Amazon previews for ~350 horror books published from 2020-2021--all that were promoted on Tor Nightfire's new releases roundups then and a few other sources. Here are the ones I found interesting that don't have a lot of readers at Goodreads, starting with the least well-known: I guess none of these have really found an audience yet: the first seven have fewer than 100 ratings at Goodreads, and only four have more than 200.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:34 AM on April 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

Rhoda Broughton's Cometh Up as a Flower [Volume 1; Volume 2] became a new instant favorite.

I came across it because of Harriet Beecher Stowe talking shit about it in Pink and White Tyranny:
The public has already been circumstantially instructed by such edifying books as “Cometh up as a Flower,” and others of a like turn, in what manner and in what terms married women can abdicate the dignity of their sex, and degrade themselves so far as to offer their whole life, and their whole selves, to some reluctant man, with too much remaining conscience or prudence to accept the sacrifice.
That sounded more interesting than HBS's moralizing, so once I finished her novelistic diatribe I picked it up. And it was a good call; I adore it; there were times I laughed aloud, times I gasped aloud; the whole story wrung my heart.

I loved Nell's surprisingly modern wry sense of humor, her heart completely on her sleeve, how convincingly Broughton has captured all the intensity of late adolescence. Nell's spirited, awkward, unconventional, emotive personality felt delightfully familiar - I could imagine her as a friend; I connected with her as someone who would respond similarly.

I had never heard of Broughton, but she was a popular Victorian sensation novelist, and this book was once quite well known. It really struck me in the heart, and I can understand why it made a splash, and it surprises me that it's so little known now.

(CW: There are anti-Semitic remarks in at least three places in the book.)
posted by jocelmeow at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I recently enjoyed Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy. I read the first book, Fifth Business, fifteen years ago and more or less forgot about it. I don't think I realized it was part of a series. I'm not sure it's profound, but it's really well written.

At the moment I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying di Lampedusa's The Leopard, but I'm not actually sure I can recommend it without so many caveats that it's not really a recommendation. Accepting the world view of the author is a challenge, but it is not a boring book.

In non-fiction, I'm half way through Andreas Malm's How to Blow Up a Pipeline. I frankly went into it expecting to be bored. I have not been bored.
posted by eotvos at 11:05 AM on April 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

I just finished the latest Rivers of London book! I haven't anticipated a book that much in ages. It was fun and rewarding, and feels like it could be the last? (Hopefully not!) I usually only "read" books that I'm super excited about, but I listened to the audible version with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith MBE and I want him to walk beside me and narrate my life.

In looking for stuff in the same vein as the Rivers of London books I've started the Vinyl Detective series which I'd recommend to Aaronovitch fans.

I usually have one or two fluffy Victorian mysteries going, and now it's Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose. It's a pretty good example of the genre. A Marvelous Light was another good recent read along those lines.

Yay books!
posted by kinsey at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2022 [8 favorites]

Skip and Loafer, by Misaki Takamatsu, which will probably be the defining high school rom-com manga of this generation. It's a seinen manga, meaning the target audience is 18 to 40 year old men, so it avoids a lot of the shounen tropes aimed at kids. The characters are well-rounded, complex, and so far this has some of the best trans representation I've seen in a manga series. There is an anime coming at some point.

Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey, is the autobiography, in manga form, of Akiko Higashimura, who is the creator of Princess Jellyfish and Tokyo Tarareba Girls. She's very candid about her life and career, and this is not always happy reading.

Nagata Kabi, whose debut My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness won the Harvey Award in 2018 and was listed by the Advocate as one of the best LGBT graphic novels of 2017. Her work is a no-holds-barred look at mental illness, addiction, and her journey so far. This is not light, happy fun reading, but very much worth reading.

CITY, by Keiichi Arawi who also did Nichijou. CITY is just...completely bonkers. It's hard to explain, honestly. It just is.

Sunshine Sketch (also called Hidamari Sketch) by Ume Aoki is one of my favorite comfort reads, but it has a lot of character growth, setbacks, and struggles amid all the light and easy fun.
posted by ralan at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

Ten Restaurants That Changed America, by Paul Freedman.
It's not the Ten Best, or the Ten Most Famous; the interesting framing is very much historical CHANGE. As in, of their time, or ahead and then of, etc.
The restaurants are: Delmonico's, Antoine's, Schrafft's, Sylvia's, The Mandarin, Mamma Leone's, Howard Johnson's, Le Pavillon, The Four Seasons, and Che Panisse.
As expected, along with most of the rest of US history for the last 200 years, it's very East Coast oriented. But it does a fair little bit towards balancing that, mentioning--among others-- how renowned San Francisco was in the late 1800's (more so than New York) for its fine dining restaurants.
Also, published in 2016, there are parts that feel so very dated in comparison to now.
Still it is a worthy historical take on aspects of food culture that may not be often mentioned when discussing "great restaurants" and "American Food". It makes me want to be able to eat a lot of the items mentioned, so plentiful in 1901, now vanishingly rare.
It does a bit of justice, also, in mentioning how many women, not just Alice Waters, are responsible for major culinary moments in the history of the US.
posted by winesong at 4:23 PM on April 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best thing I read this week:
“Today the Russian Federation announced the Moskva has been promoted to a submersible ship.” —somebody on Reddit, I think?

Actual book: The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers.

Pleasure reading: the Ya Boy, Kongming manga. The anime adaptation of the story (a Three Kingdoms-era General gets reincarnated in our era and immediately becomes a music promoter) has been the surprise breakout hit of the Spring 2022 season. It’s pretty rare for me to go and devour the source material of something currently airing, but the show is just that good.
posted by Ryvar at 7:03 PM on April 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

That is ao Orwellian, talking about a sunken ship, as if it is now a submarine.
posted by Oyéah at 8:23 PM on April 16, 2022

It's Orwellian, but jokingly and more in the Animal Farm way.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:29 PM on April 16, 2022

Farthest South & Other Stories by Ethan Rutherford, wow. Got this for Mr. gudrun for his birthday and we have both been blown away by the stories.
The Middle Ages: A Graphic History by Eleanor Janega. I also recommend exploring Janega's webpage etc.
posted by gudrun at 9:46 PM on April 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Borrowed Lost and Found, by Kathryn Schulz from the library - had to return it as it was reserved by someone else. So looking forward to borrowing it again.
posted by The Patron Saint of Spices at 2:10 AM on April 17, 2022

I read Scalzi's most recent, Kaiju Preservation Society. It was exactly what I expected -- a short, quick, fun romp that left me feeling entertained and smiling.

Still working through these August 2020 recommendations from MeFites on the Green . Finally finished Marcus Aurelius's Meditations which was interesting. It was very repetitive but did contain some profound insight, especially with regards to making peace with the inevitability of death. If others still haven't read it, I do recommend the Gregory Hays translation, it was great. You could also read the first half (books 1-6) and not really miss anything.

Recently tore through every single one of the Murderbot Diaries installments. Excellent.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:44 AM on April 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Roadside Picnic by the Stugatsky Brothers - surprising and suspenseful and … crazy. Gloriously unexpected.
The Anomaly By Hervé le Tellier: the first chapter was like library paste. The next chapter was like flavored Library paste - and by the end it was a pastry. Far better than expected.
Tried to read On the Road Recently and found it, again, not my thing. I think I appreciated the writing more, but that’s not quite enough.
Mein Name sei Gantenbein by Max Frisch. A friend gave it to me and in return I gave them The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster: neither of us are enjoying the other‘s selection, which is kind of hilarious because we both thought/think our selection was a sure-fire hit. Heh heh. Frisch was a fucking great writer though and I might just read it for that - that is to say he’s that much better … enough better to make it worthwhile.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:47 AM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yesterday I read Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms, a slim and charming graphic novel about a brash, assertive lesbian who's forced to become a cheerleader to round out her college application, and her relationship with the trans cheerleader who leads the squad. It does show them dealing with transphobia and sexism but on the whole it felt much more uplifting than traumatizing and I liked it a lot. The book is written by Crystal Frasier; the art kept reminding me of Erica Henderson, who I know from her time on Squirrel Girl (also smart and charming and delightful!), but it's by Val Wise, whose work I don't think I've seen before. At any rate, I'll look for more by them.
posted by johnofjack at 7:01 AM on April 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Neither of these are new but I just finished listening to John Green's "The Anthropocene Reviewed" (audiobook not podcast) which was pretty great, and I was in this weird headspace where I felt like, wow that will be hard to top. Then I queued up "Travels in Siberia" by Ian Frazier [which I think I bought sight unseen based on a recommendation on The Blue a couple of years ago] and my friends, it's FANTASTIC. Like, make me want to chase people down the street and jump on them and shake them bobblebobblebobble while shouting WHY THE FRIP DIPPIN HAVEN'T YOU READ THIS YET. GO FORTH AND REAAAAAAAAAAD.

so anyway. both recommended.
posted by hearthpig at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2022 [6 favorites]

From Bklyn - years ago I picked up On The Road at a Goodwill bookstore, thinking, "This is famous and I've never read it!"

But despite several trys, I found it unreadable. I didn't like the writing style and didn't care about the characters. I think of that book as belonging to the category "needs to be read when it was published."
posted by wittgenstein at 10:00 AM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've got past the biggest drama in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Empire in Black and Gold having hated the opening half for being steampunk-medieval mildly mystic empire warfare. I was sure the story would include trudging across scenery and monologuing*, but they flew and did things, so I only hated the misogyny and racism and was puzzled about how much they'd be human-size bugs or primate-shaped mammals with magic heritage tied to a kind of bug.

(I like a lot of other work by Adrian Tchaikovsky and have, near the head of the queue, the follow-up to The Expert System's Brother.)

I liked a lot of The Galaxy and the Ground Within, and I'm sad to have read that Becky Chambers is going to leave the Wayfarers space for good.

*: what is it with uneventful travel that has authors fill in who characters think they are or the politics they think the story should have? character is shown in the actions they choose, so have actions and explain what and why they choose those actions -- not a philosophy lesson barely hidden under dialogue.
posted by k3ninho at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2022

I read this fun article on Atlas Obscura about how coconut macaroons earned a place at the table for Passover.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:19 PM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

The excellent coming of age memoir Sigh, Gone, well-written, interesting, moving, surprising.
and Pachinko, a good read that I loved all the way through.
posted by theora55 at 12:36 PM on April 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I read Cassandra at the Wedding and liked it enough to start foisting it on friends.
posted by chavenet at 2:40 PM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Whistling Past the Graveyard. I picked it up in a used book store last year, and I truly enjoyed it. Engrossing, emotional, poignant. It's stuck with me long after I finished the book.
posted by annieb at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have fallen down a rabbit hole of queer historical romance. Mostly, I've fallen down a rabbit hole of KJ Charles books, but I'm trying to ration them and alternate with some other stuff, because at some point I'm going to run out. But yeah. KJ Charles writes queer historical romance novels that are like every super-fun piece of mid-19th-to-mid-20th-century British popular fiction I read as a teenager, if those books weren't so relentlessly heteronormative, classist, racist, xenophobic, and antisemitic and also had much more gay sex.

I've got a library hold on the latest Ben Aaronovitch, so at some point I'll take a break from smutty books about dukes to read that.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:08 PM on April 17, 2022

I just read this really fun book called Hench, which is about a woman who does data work for supervillains. It was recommended by a couple friends who have similar data-adjacent jobs. I am not really into superhero comics/movies/etc, but this book was delightful. With everything going on, sometimes you need to read something light and engaging, and this hit thes pot.
posted by radioamy at 6:37 PM on April 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

(Semi-)recent reads that have stood out for me:

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

Nothing But Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy by Eric Foner
posted by eviemath at 8:30 PM on April 17, 2022

Slightly less recently but I’d quite recommend for folks who like graphic novels: LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor
posted by eviemath at 8:34 PM on April 17, 2022

I've just found Joe Navarro's Three Minutes to Doomsday,it's ... lots of things (main topic is espionage around the selling of the US plan for war in Europe), but there's a constant thread of intense body language/advance NLP woven right through the book, so you learn while having a great read.

I've picked up The Bedside Book of Algebra again (first time it did nothing for me), but it's a nice way into the topic that can be taken in easy bites and its quite unlike a text book - which I have no focus left for at the moment due to following the Russian atrocity, growing madness across NZ society from an ongoing US/Russian influence op., the climate....

Thanks rpfields re Peak Mind.
posted by unearthed at 11:57 PM on April 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

I haven't read Mexican Gothic yet, but I did recently finish her book Velvet Was the Night and highly recommend it.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:57 AM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yesterday I read Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms, a slim and charming graphic novel about a brash, assertive lesbian who's forced to become a cheerleader to round out her college application, and her relationship with the trans cheerleader who leads the squad.

Thanks for posting about it! Even if it was a bad idea to read it in public, it's so wholesome it made me cry.
posted by simmering octagon at 8:02 AM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

But despite several trys, I found it unreadable. I didn't like the writing style and didn't care about the characters. I think of that book as belonging to the category "needs to be read when it was published."
I don't want to argue with people who love Kerouac and don't mean to imply that it's unsophisticated or bad. But, as someone who adored Kerouac as a teenager, I've found his writing really frustrating the last few times I've tried to read it. I've more or less given up and prefer to have good memories instead of bad experiences. I think I'm a very different person than I was when I was enthralled by it. But, I'll stan "Brooklyn Bridge Blues" until the day I die. And it's useful that he existed, even if I get bored listening to him.

(Ferlinghetti is the only closely related writer I've discovered whose work seems to get better, rather than worse, each time I read it.)
posted by eotvos at 10:56 AM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

But yeah. KJ Charles writes queer historical romance novels that are like every super-fun piece of mid-19th-to-mid-20th-century British popular fiction I read as a teenager

I just finished the Will Darling series, all on audio from Libby and enjoyed it quite a bit. I was expecting a typical period detective novel, but it was much more!
posted by soelo at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2022

This whole post is dangerous to both my book budget and my library holds list. (In related news, I just read Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms because of this thread, and it was such a good read!)
posted by mixedmetaphors at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Every few years I choose a mystery series and do a re-read of all the books in order. I did all the Spenser novels before I visited Boston, in 2012 or so. The year Sue Grafton died, I re-read all the alphabet novels. I've done Paretsky and the Prey novels as well.

Spenser aged over the course of his series, though not as much as he would have in real life. So did VI Warshawski and Lucas Davenport. Grafton opted to keep her protagonist stuck in the 80s so she could keep up the action, so her last book, published in 2017? is set in the late eighties.

(I swear I'm going somewhere with this.)

This year, I'd managed to collect most of Janet Evanovich's "One for the Money" series, so I've been working on those for the past couple of months. They're light, silly tales of a bumbling bounty hunter and her coworkers. The first was published in 1996 or so. While time has obviously passed in the Burg (there's cell phones and drones and internet), Stephanie Plum hasn't really aged; she's still roughly in her 30s. EXCEPT. In Twisted 26, Stephanie is grousing to Lula:

”And I’m stuck in a rut. I’m fifty-six years old, and I’m still doing the same stupid stuff.”
“Say what? You’re how old? How can you be fifty-six?” I looked over at Lula.
“Did I say I was fifty-six?”
“Yeah, and we know that’s wrong because that would mean I’m a middle-aged lady, and I’m not ready for that… Your mama is fifty-six. Not that fifty-six is so bad since fifty-six is now the new thirty-six.”

I cackled. I like an author with a sense of humor about her characters and her readers.
posted by cinnamonduff at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

cinnamonduff, I grew up near the Burg, and I currently still live close but a bit further from the Burg than where I grew up. It's very weird to see places that were part of the background of my childhood (and that no one not from here knew about then) become more widely known.
posted by mollweide at 8:20 PM on April 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm currently reading The Body Keeps the Score, and while it is not a cheerful read, it is INCREDIBLY soothing to know that some of my experiences are plain ol' neurology and physiology happening and I am not alone. I like...took a picture of one passage so I could have it with me all the time.
posted by wellred at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

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