I don’t have a lot of news on the art front, except that my son and I are putting together a body of work for a show in August (!!) which we’re calling “Art With Words”. (August 17-18 on the upstairs porch of the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art, for those interested!) I’ll have more news about that later, but for now, I shouldn’t let the blog moulder â€“ so I’ll talk about reading.
For a while I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut… I don’t get very much reading time, which makes it hard to get into anything. I check a book out of the library, only to let it sit on the shelf for weeks until I finally turn it in unopened. That’s when my library stack ends up full of craft pattern books. But I finally made it through a book, which kick-started my summer reading and I have a few summer reading recommendations!
Here’s what’s on my shelf this summer:
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson: I loved his first novel, Elantris, and I love what he’s done with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. He has met the challenge of writing within someone else’s property admirably. The Way of Kings is, quite simply, fantastic. It is the first in what he calls the Stormlight Archive, which, through this first installment, is shaping up to be quite epic. If you are into fantasy epics with interesting magic systems, and also a bit of political intrigue, then I highly recommend this.
The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester: About the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary. I really enjoy Winchester’s voice when he’s writing about history, and he has a way of tying many little details together to explain the whole. His book on Krakatoa is one of my favorites, and this book is shaping up to be an excellent read as well. (I’m maybe a third of the way into it.)
Making Comics by Scott McCloud: I actually read this some time ago, but was thinking that I wanted to review it again. I bemoaned to my husband that I never seemed to find it checked in at the library, and lo and behold, he gave it to me for my birthday…! So yes, it’s on the top of my To-Read stack, along with Austenland, Finding Everett Ruess and a slew of other books I got for birthday and last year’s Christmas but haven’t gotten to yet.
Emma by Jane Austen: I’ve read this before, too, but since my Kobo app on my iPod has all the Jane Austen books in it now, I’m re-reading them all. I zipped through Pride and Prejudice (my hands-down favorite) and Sense and Sensibility, and have moved on to the books that I don’t care for quite as much. I find Emma an actively unlikable protagonist, being naively vain and self-centered, but it is truly naÃ¯ve â€“ nothing malicious. And she learns through the course of the book, so it’s made better by that. But good golly, some of the things she thinks and does.
I’m following one web serial:
Black Blossom by M.C.A. Hogarth: I love stories that view humans through an alien lens, like C.J. Cherryh’s Chanur series and Cuckoo’s Egg. Hogarth has created a rich world with an ancient culture, and has thrown humans into the mix. What she has built, through vocabulary and discussion, is an image of a gentle, interconnected race where community and family are valued above all else. It’s a fascinating and entirely alien worldview â€“ and then there are humans. The serial itself is wrapping up soon; and I would suggest beginning with The Aphorisms of Kherishdar and The Admonishments of Kherishdar, in that order, for a full understanding of the world.
I have three manga series that I’m following â€“ all three romances; two silly, and one not-so-silly:
Otomen by Kanno Aya: A story about a boy who likes to sew and cook and likes cute things. But he’s captain of the kendo team, and very athletic, and tries to hide his hobbies because it would break his mother if she ever found out he was an “otomen” — a man who likes girly things. Typical shojo manga, with typical shojo manga tropes — romantic and silly… but I’m enjoying it.
The Story of Saiunkoku by Sai Yukino, illustrated by Kairi Yura: A semi-historical drama/romance set in a fictional country, it’s about a girl who aspires to be a public official, a post customarily restricted to men. Again, a shojo manga filled with shojo tropes and drawing style, but a fun (and often funny) story.
A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori: Another historical romance, set in 19th Century Central Asia; it’s a story about love in arranged marriages, with a lot of interesting cultural details about every-day family life in a 19th-Century rural town near the Caspian Sea. I adore Kaoru Mori’s drawing style and attention to detail. Her other series, Emma, is about an English maid, and is similarly filled with historical and cultural detail.
So those are my summer reading recommendations! Enjoy!