Combatting Book Shame and Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

As a person who grew up reading books with elves, vampires, wizards, and scantily clad ladies on the cover, I am well versed in book shame. I read voraciously and well above my level as a child, according to whatever arcane and mysterious forces that decide such things as reading levels. You would think that would be enough to make adults happy, but it never was, for some. Sure, I read, but I wasn’t reading the “right sort” of books. The funny fact was that the “right sort” differed wildly depending on the person doing the judging. I feel like all of you out there in Whimsy Land have probably found yourselves on the receiving end of this sentence:

“Sure, you read, but _____ isn’t real literature.”

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Reading The Wheel of Time: Darkfriends Clash in Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven (Part 12)

This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, I’m going to do that thing I like to do, where I jump around within a few chapters and group my responses thematically rather than chronologically. This week is covering Chapters 18 and 19, but we’re only going to be talking about the Darkfriend stuff, about Liandrin and Moghedien and Padan Fain and Alviarin. Then next week we’ll cover the bulk of Chapter 19, which is everything that happens to Morgase.

I’m tackling the read this way because I have too many things to say about the Queen of Andor, and I just couldn’t fit it all into one post! But that’s not what we’re doing today, so let’s move on to the recap and check in with the remaining members of Liandrin’s company. They’re… not doing so great.

[The heavens above Shayol Ghul are black at noon with his breath.]

Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

A Brief History of Dragons Throughout Western Literature

In 1504, a copper globe was built somewhere in Europe. It stood only 4.4 inches in diameter and 13.6 inches in circumference, so it was nothing terribly overwhelming. Tiny ships and monsters adorned its seas—also commonplace at the time. But there was a small inscription, near the eastern coast of Asia, that made this particular globe one of a kind: it became the only documented ancient map to quietly go on record saying, Hic sunt dracones. Here be dragons.

Like a siren, the promise and danger of that single phrase called out to Western storytellers. Yet the dragons found on that globe, and the dragons found in literature today, are enormously different creatures. We should know: we’re the ones who re-wrote this mythical beast time and again. So just where be Western dragons at the beginning of their story? And how did they grow into the icons we know now?

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Living the Arizona Dream in Andre Norton’s Ten Mile Treasure

First of all, apologies for not giving my usual heads-up at the end of the last Norton Reread post. It’s been a uniquely distracted few weeks on all levels, from the personal on up.

In any case, I felt I needed something light, something bright and simple and escapist, and Ten Mile Treasure seemed like just the thing. It’s a middle-grade book as we call such books now, published in 1981, and it’s set more or less in my backyard. The setup is classic: Four kids move with their parents to an old ranch. They deal with a family crisis. They find hidden treasure. They face off against a bad man and his nasty daughter. They solve a century-old mystery, and save the day.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Prey”

Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Eastman
Season 4, Episode 16
Production episode 184
Original air date: February 18, 1998
Stardate: 51652.3

Captain’s log. A Hirogen ship is chasing a bioship belonging to Species 8472. The two Hirogen track the lone creature to an asteroid where they finally corner it and shoot it to smithereens.

[You should know I’m a hologram, and can’t be bent, spindled, or mutilated, so don’t bother trying.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

The Full Spoiler Review of Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War

Welcome to the all-in spoiler review for Rhythm of War, in which Paige and Alice express all the excitement over the thrills in this book… and maybe certain other emotions, as well. (DIE MOASH DIE!™) If you haven’t finished the book yet, do not click that link, because, well, All The Spoilers! (You can find the non-spoiler review of the book here).

Fair warning, we both loved the book, so if you’re looking for someone to tear it down, this is not the review you’re looking for.

[You. Cannot. Have. My. SACRIFICE!]

Twelve Animated Series Worth Marathoning

Welcome to Time Enough at Last: The Home Edition, when we all discover what our true heart’s desire is when we’re stuck with nothing much else to do. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that not many of us are eager to be alphabetizing our book collections, dusting the upper shelves, or cleaning out the back of the fridge like we promised three months ago (sorry, B).

In my case, top priority has been given to the arduous task of sitting around and watching cartoons. And yes, while that can be as infantile as it sounds—as the bowl of Cap’n Crunch next to me attests—it’s also a fact that animated series, even the ones purportedly aimed at kids, have grown more nuanced and sophisticated since the days of Yogi Bear, Transformers, and Smurfs (or whatever you gazed goggle-eyed at from the living room carpet when you were a kid). And adult stuff? No surprise, everything’s on the table there (sometimes literally).

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Hopepunk and Revolutionary Acts of Kindness

When I first saw encountered the term “hopepunk,” I felt an immediate sense of recognition. To me, it described the state of joyful protest I aspire to: Knowing enough about the world to be absolutely furious, but choosing optimism anyway.

The connective tissue between the various x-punk subgenres—steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, solarpunk, etc—is the idea of social disruption, usually related to major technological shifts. But when we look at pure, unadulterated social disruption, that’s where hopepunk truly shines. Hope as resistance, hope as the antidote to apathy, hope as a motivating force to inspire action in the face of overwhelming odds.

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