Monday Musings: On the Hugos

If you pay any attention to bookish news, you’ve probably seen the kerfluffle over the recent Hugo finalist list.  If you haven’t seen anything, a quick rundown: there is a group out there, apparently started by author Larry Correia, who calls themselves the Sad Puppies.  They took umbrage at last year’s Hugo winners, saying that they believed the winners were chosen based on criteria other than literary merit.  Specifically, they derided people called “Social Justice Warriors” (or SJW) and said they skewed the voting to lean heavily towards authors who are non-white or non-traditionally gendered and so on.  In retaliation, they decided to take advantage of the Hugo voting rules to skew this year’s ballot towards their own picks.  One of the most heavily represented authors this year, therefore, is John C. Wright, a man who thinks gay people should be exterminated.  The contention of the SPs is that Wright would never have gotten on the ballot because of his personal views.

They’re probably right.  Recent years have seen a tremendous backlash against authors/actors/public figures who openly espouse those kind of views.  For example, Theodore Beale (aka Vox Dei) was booted out as president of the SFWA for similar issues.  I’m not sure how I feel about excluding author’s works based on their personal views, but that’s a topic for a different post.

I fully admit that when I saw the finalist list over the weekend, before any of the internet rage started, my first thought was “Oh boy, this is going to get ugly, because I bet I know what happened.”  After having some time to sit on it, read a few articles by others, and really ponder things, here are my thoughts:

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Monday Musings: March 16

Today’s random question comes from MizB at A Daily Rhythm: How often do you use your local library?  Are you happy with their availability?

I use my local library all the time.  In fact, I currently have eight books checked out!  For me, my luck at getting my holds comes in streaks–that’s why I have eight books checked out.  Everything seems to come in at the same time!  But I’m generally there at least once every couple of weeks, if not more often.

I am usually happy with the availability of books these days.  I wasn’t originally, but they’ve gotten much better over the past few years, and I can easily place holds and check when something has come in for me.  I get the chance to read a lot of books this way, books that I might not have put out the money for as a purchase.

Monday Musings: March 9

So, today’s question comes from Jenn at A Daily Rhythm: Who (or what) influences your reading most?

Wow, that’s a tough one.  There are a lot of things that influence my reading habits.  Unfortunately, the one that probably reigns supreme more often than it should is whim.  As a reviewer, I request review copies from the publisher and really need to focus on those and get them done, and yet my brain all too often sees something else and says “OOH!  SPARKLY!!!” and I’m off and running.  I do get done with things that need doing, but it can be a struggle.

Otherwise, my reading is influenced by what is current at any given time.  Regular review copies show up on my doorstep about two weeks or so in advance of the publication date, so they get slotted into my pile at that time.

Monday Musings: February 23

Today’s musing comes from the random question on MizB’s Should Be Reading blog: Do you enjoy debating / discussing the books that others are currently reading? Why, or why not?

If it’s something that I have read and am familiar with, then sure!  Some of the best conversations that I’ve had have been about the meaty aspects of a good book.  This may come from the fact that I’m an English major, and debating the printed word is second nature to someone in that field.

What I really love to do is recommend a book to someone and then discuss it with them after they’ve read it.  It’s always interesting to get another person’s point of view on a book that I’ve read and enjoyed.  I also find it a personal challenge to recommend a book that I think a particular person will love.  Bonus points if I can do so for someone who isn’t normally a reader.

How about you, fellow readers?  Do you like discussing books?

Monday Musings: February 16

Today’s Monday Musings was inspired by last week’s random question on Miz B’s Should Be Reading blog: Do you have people in your life (face-to-face) that are readers like you?  Or, do you find that you have to reach out to those online in order to find like-minded folk?

For me, this is an interesting question, because at various times in my life, it has been both!  I think that my preference nowadays is to talk to people in person rather than online; however, there are people who would not be in my life if I hadn’t reached out to folks online.

For real, in-depth, meaty book talk, there are a few people I turn to:

The first one is my husband, Scott.  He’s into much of the same stuff that I am, and I’ve put him onto so many good books that he calls me his “dealer”.  We often sit and read together and read little bits to each other that are funny or clever.  I also read out loud to him while he’s driving us on a road trip.  We’ve read so many of the same things that book references have turned into a kind of shorthand language.

The second person is one of my oldest friends, Kyle.  He’s even more of an avid reader than me (which is astonishing), and a faster reader than me (which is frightening).  He and I have the kind of deep, detailed discussions that make other people’s eyes glaze over.  That book shorthand language works with him too.

The third person is a co-worker, Karl.  He’s the trade book buyer for our store, and he gets lots of comps and shares them with me, and I sometimes share my comps with him.  His reading has been more broad than mine has, so I get lots of good recommendations from him.  He’s also one of the only people I know who is also into young adult fiction.

There are some people online with whom I bounce around book recs, neat quotes, and stuff like that, but it’s much less frequent.  As I mentioned above, though, online interactions have brought some wonderful people into my life… including my husband!  He and I met online in a book discussion group while he was still living in Texas.  See, books can bring you other precious things besides entertainment!

Monday Musings: February 9

You’ve probably heard by now that Harper Lee is publishing a new book–only the second in her career–in July, called Go Set a Watchman.  It is being billed as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and it features an adult Scout as the main character.  Of course, Lee has famously declared that she would never publish another book, so it’s no surprise that within hours of the book’s announcement, posts began popping up questioning everything to do with it.

I’ve seen theories floated that Lee is too old and ill to have truly consented to the publication.  I’ve seen speculation that her new lawyer is making Lee sign things that she doesn’t actually understand.  I’ve heard talk that it has to be a stunt only for money–either for Lee or for the publishing house.

I find it sad that all of these questions have arisen.  Not that I’m saying that there shouldn’t be questions, but it seems like there’s an excessive amount of attention being paid to the thought that Lee can’t have wanted this.  Who are we to judge?  Maybe she didn’t want it but has to for monetary reasons.  Perhaps all that talk of not wanting to publish was actually the influence of her former lawyer (and sister) and not her true feelings.  Perhaps it is none of our damn business how this book came to be published.

It seems to me that this may just be another invasion into the life of an intensely private person–one being committed by the public as controversy rages on.  I guess people aren’t allowed to change their minds.  It’s certainly possible that this book is being put out there without her knowledge, consent or blessing, but without any clues as to the true story, focusing on that scenario to the exclusion of all others is disingenuous at best.

Monday Musings: February 2

First, Happy Groundhog Day!  Don’t get caught in an infinite loop if you can help it.

I was thinking about library books.  Specifically, the main (for me) upside and downside of getting books from the library.

The main upside?… FREE BOOKS!  With as much as I read, you have no idea what a plus that is.  True, I’m not exactly hurting for the money to buy books, but I’m frugal as a rule (some would call me a tightwad), so free books are awesome.

The main downside?… what if a book comes in and I’m not in the mood to read it right then?  Or I’m not in the mood to read that particular type of book right then?  I may not get to it right away, and if it’s a popular book, I can’t renew it and keep it for longer.  I have in the past had to return books that I didn’t get to.

That’s the beauty of an e-reader: whatever I’m in the mood for is right there at my fingertips.  But oh, my aching budget… and oh, the length of my to-read list… and oh, how seductive is that “buy now” button…

Monday Musings, October 6

I’m currently reading Mercedes Lackey’s newest Valdemar book, Closer to Home.  It’s the first book in the Herald Spy series, and the sixth book featuring Mags, a mine slave turned Herald.

I haven’t been very thrilled with the Valdemar books in recent years, and I think I’ve finally figured out why.  In the earlier series, there was always a main character (usually one with challenges of some sort), and that character’s story was always important; however, their personal story always served to tell a larger story about Valdemar as a whole.  For example, in the original series, Talia has to learn how to control her strong Gift while learning to be Queen’s Own, but her experience tied in with the issue of finding the traitor working to bring down the country.

Mags’s story was supposed to have been part and parcel of the founding of the Herald’s Collegium, but that never really materialized.  Instead, readers got five books of the “magical orphan” story, and there wasn’t much about changes at the Collegium.

And yet, I’m still reading Valdemar books.  There’s something comforting about reading a series that I’ve been following for more than two decades.  I just wish that Lackey would get back to the Valdemar tales that I know and love.

Monday Musings, September 29

I’ve recently begun to branch out and read fiction based in other real-life cultures.  What nudged me in this direction was the publication of two young adult books that are in the “forbidden romance” genre.

The first one, which I borrowed from the library and am reading right now, is The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi.  It’s a story set in Afghanistan and concerns a Hazara girl and a Pashtun boy.  The author is of Afghani descent and has spent several years living there, so she was able to base her novel on personal experience of customs and social mores.

The other one, which I bought and haven’t read yet, is Like No Other by Una LaMarche.  This one takes place in New York and features a love story between a Hasidic Jewish girl and a black boy.

Has anybody else stepped out of their comfort zones and read books dealing with cultures radically different from your own?  Discuss!

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