Alchemical Thoughts

Items about books I want to read, #41

Posted on: October 25, 2013

We continue with this semi-regular (as in when I get around to putting a post together) series of things I would like to read someday. As the old saying goes, so many books and so little time. But I will strive on to read as much as I can. I also find that looking over these reviews often allows me to comment a bit on some of the issues the reviews bring up, so these posts serve me as a small reflective exercise as well. Anyhow, here we go for this week.

Items about books I want to read:

  • IDW has started compiling the Popeye comic strip from the 1940s and 1950s (story via Boing Boing). I will admit that I am not really a Popeye fan. In fact, my mother hated the comic, seeing it as too profane and violent, and I never saw that much appeal in it when compared to other comics of its time. But I would not mind taking a look at this compilation. For me, this would likely be a book to borrow rather than buy. The book is Popeye Classics, Vol. 1. It does look like a good library item, so I may order it to add it to our comics and graphic novels collection after I’ve had a chance to look it over.
  • Also via Boing Boing, a mention of a new science fiction anthology edited by David Hartwell. I’ve always found his anthologies to be good products overall, so I will probably take a look at this one. The Better Half loves science fiction short story collections, so I know she would definitely be interested in this. The book is Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, and it is supposed to deal with writers and works “who came to prominence since the turn of the century.”
  • Via the Chronicle Books blog, they are promoting a book of theirs on the art of making books out of books. You know, taking old books no longer useful and recycling them to make art. The book is Art Made from Books.
  • Via AlterNet, excerpts of a new book on American poverty and inequality. I honestly wonder about books like these given that the people who probably should be reading them never will, but in my case, I have to keep up as well as I care about the issue. The book is The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives. I think the title is very appropriate. The U.S. does have a uniquely cruel and vicious way of poverty, and those better off sneering at the poor has pretty much become a national pastime.
  • Diane Ravitch has yet another book out on American education. Common Dreams has an excerpt of it. An educator myself, I try to keep up with the field, but Ravitch just does not strike me as all that, as they say. She was basically a pretty passionate supporter and architect of No Child Left Behind who apparently has “seen the light” and the “error of her ways” and now preaches against it and related ills. I don’t usually trust converts very much, and given how much damage NCLB has done and continues to do, as a former teacher and now librarian, I am skeptical. Plus, I did not particularly like her previous door stopper, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, which I did read (here is my review of that book). Odds are good I may order the new book for our library’s education collection, which means I may at least glance at it, but I am keeping my expectations low.  Anyhow, the book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, and a reign of error and terror it has been. I do find it a big amazing, though not surprising, she is all of a sudden hailed as some heroic “whistleblower” (a label used by The Wall Street Journal) given her role in causing the mess in the first place. It’s kind of like the Republicans protesting the government shutdown they caused. In the end, I don’t know how much penance the woman should do for the damage things like NCLB have done. On a side note, this article from The Atlantic discussing the two sides of Professor Ravitch explains some of how I feel about her.
  • Now on to a woman who certainly deserves accolades and a label of hero. Peter Bagge has written a graphic novel biography of Margaret Sanger. The book is Woman Rebel: the Margaret Sanger Story. You can find it reviewed in The Stranger blog.
  • And speaking of sexual education, there is a graphic novel for that. Via Bitch Magazine, a review of a new sex ed comic book. The book Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf.
  • Via The Advocate, excerpt of Julia Serrano’s book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. This may be one I have to order for the library, but I may give it a look myself. One of the arguments of the book is that gender is more than performance, going against what is often conventional wisdom, not to mention argument hammered in gender studies courses (of which I have taken one or two, but I will try not to be snooty about it as Ms. Serrano says some folks do).
  • Also via The Advocate, they highlight Crawford Barton’s 1976 book Beautiful Men, which looks at the gay men in San Francisco in what is considered a gay golden age. Why is this book of interest. According to the article, among other things, “Barton documented some of the first Pride parades, photographed Harvey Milk campaigning, and he captured gay city life as no other photographer had done before.” I do like reading photography books, and when they are historical photos even more so, thus I will have to look this up.
  • Via AlterNet, excerpt of the book Perv: the Sexual Deviant in All of Us. C’mon folks, admit it: we all have a little pervert lurking inside. I know I do, and I am perfectly fine with that. OK, you got me; it may be more than just a little in my case.
  • On a different track, via The Well-Appointed Desk, a highlight of the book A Collection a Day. This sounds like a nice, adorable little book.
  • Via Bookgasm, a short review of Guy Delisle’s book Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. I enjoyed the opening sentence of the review because it does convey so much truth: “Because of his wife’s work with Doctors Without Borders, illustrator Guy Delisle has been essentially leading readers on a tour of Countries Where People Are Dicks to Each Other.” Yes, there are a lot of countries where people are dicks to each other. On that basis, Delisle should do a graphic novel about the United States where being dicks to each other is a national pastime. For the record, I did read Delisle’s book on North Korea, Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea (here is my brief review of it).
  • I am not a huge romance reader (I read one here or there to keep the readers’ advisory cred), but the premise of this one, a reporter and a genetically modified soldier who turn out to be genetic matches, sounded intriguing enough to get my attention. The book is Heated Match by Lynne Silver, and it was briefly highlighted and excerpted at Bending the Bookshelf.

Lists and bibliographies:


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