Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Summer reading adventure: Pick of the litter!


Sometimes, in the course of events on clerkmanifesto, the project I have come up with is too big for a single blog post. In that case I try to parse it out over multiple posts. This is how, for instance, we got my three-part masterwork on Pontormo's Deposition. Well, maybe not masterwork, but a few people read it and liked it. Well, maybe not a few people, but I found it clever and well explained even if I already knew all that stuff ahead of time.

Unfortunately, when I parse multi-part projects out, I am not great at judging the strength of my interest and commitment, so often I flag out at various stages along the way. My Agua Fria Trail series is an example of this. I think it stalled out at Chapter 32. No one seems to have noticed, so maybe if I just never mention it...

What were we talking about? 

No, I can't remember either.

I am currently in a quite unambitious project talking about my vacation reading list, and though I am only on day two, I am aware that I'd better accelerate the whole thing because it is seriously in danger of falling apart. I was going to discuss three books from the list today, but I figured I'd better fatten the list today to this:

Amari and the Night Brothers

HP and the Chamber of Secrets

HP and the Prisoner blah blah blah



The benefit to you in this list of five is that it includes our favorite book from the trip. So let us dispense with the also rans right away.

Starting with:

Amari and the Night Brothers, by B. B. Alston. This is a perfectly fine magic school story, another progeny of the Harry Potter series. I'm not going to diss this kids' genre, which I am enormously partial to, but all the same tropes are here; super unconventionally gifted hero, persecution related to it, magic world separate from mundane world, and everything changing and falling apart even as we discover it. I've seen it done better (see The Morrigan Crow series) I've seen it done worse. But I've very much seen it all already.

Speaking of Harry Potter we brought books two and three for reading aloud. We had made it through the first book before vacation, but Chamber wasn't working out due to all its unpleasant characters. Naturally this kept us from the best book in the series, Prisoner, which might be best by virtue of being the only book with an entirely sympathetic (dark arts) teacher. Tension has the weird quality in fiction of both driving a novel and degrading it.

Which brings us to my favorite book of the trip, Wilding: Returning Nature to our Farm, by Isabella Tree. The description is in the title. It is lucid, encouraging, interesting, informative, and often vivid and lovely. It is about an English farm/estate being let go to wild and all the complications and wonders in that. I strongly recommend this book.

Feral, by George Montbiot is super interesting, and led me to finding Wilding. I might like Feral as much, which is perhaps a broader overview and exploration of some of the same things in Wilding, and an earlier book, but I had to read Wilding first because I need to return it to the library a lot sooner.

Okay, there you have it for today. We may continue tomorrow, but we could as easily just pretend we're all finished with the list today. The uncertainty of it all is very exciting, or it's the reason I should try to avoid multi-part series around here.

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