March Reading -- mainly DWJ!

I had a nice time reading DWJ, and I read some other things too.  On the whole March was not a big reading month, which is a shame, but I got lots of other great stuff done.

The Merlin Conspiracy: such a good one.  I paid a lot of attention this time to how intense Roddy is.  She knows she's got hold of something really important, and so she is intense about it -- which turns a lot of people off.  Some are inclined to dismiss her because she's so worked up, which isn't fair; but also Roddy in her turn dismisses anything she doesn't already understand, which also isn't fair.  The whole thing is a masterclass in how not to communicate.

The Homeward Bounders:  I took this along on our trip!  So funny, and so tragic.

The Crown of Dalemark: one of my favorites, so I read it more often than the other Dalemark books, but Spellcoats is another favorite.

Minor Arcana, by Diana Wynne Jones: I mostly read this one for "The Master" -- one of the stranger short stories ever written -- and the novella "The True State of Affairs."  DWJ seems to have had an early thing for courtly intrigue, which got turned into the workings of power in more obviously fantasy settings.

The Fall of Gondolin, by J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien: I like these individual editions of stories that Tolkien worked over for decades, that belong to the Silmarillion.  Christopher Tolkien presents all the versions -- early, late, fragments, etc. -- and includes some notes and comparisons.  I will admit to skimming those, and mostly reading the actual tales.  The Fall of Gondolin started very early, in 1916 when Tolkien was on sick leave.  This early version is told in a very high style indeed, and covers the entire story; the last version dates from 1951 and is more developed in background, but ends upon Tuor's entrance into the city.

The story, if you are not familiar and want to know, is about the Hidden City of Gondolin, which is inhabited by the Noldoli -- a type of elf, though Tolkien often calls them Gnomes which really does not work.  Tuor, a man, is told to find Gondolin and deliver a message from Ulmo, (one of the Valar) Lord of Waters.  Gondolin must prepare to go up in battle against Melko (Melkor/Morgoth).  The time is ripe to defeat him before he gains full strength and ravages the world.  The king of Gondolin says no, he won't risk his beautiful city and people.  Tuor lives in Gondolin, marries the princess, and they spend years enjoying life but also trying to prepare for the attack that will come one day, which it does.

The Art of Insubordination: How to Dissent and Defy Effectively,
by Todd B. Kashdan: This is a must-read.  We've got rebels who see something that needs changing, but who tend to believe that screaming and insults are the way to go, and we've got the rest of us, who don't like change and are not inclined to listen to screaming and insults.  This book is all about how to rebel effectively, and how to listen with an open mind to non-conformists.  Since we all play both of those roles at times, and the best way to go to work is to welcome alternate viewpoints and let everyone contribute ideas, this is a great book for everyone.  Kashdan talks about non-conformity and effecting change not only in a political sense, but also for school, work, and just everyday life.

The cover shows the Balloon of Effective Insubordination carrying the Boat of Positive Change across the Abyss of Lost Ideas.  Or something like that.  I made that up.

Rivers of London graphic novels 7-10, by Ben Aaronovitch and Co.: The Fey and the Furious --Monday, Monday -- Action at a Distance -- Deadly Every After:  These are so fun.  "The Fey and the Furious" features faeries who are into illegal street racing for the excitement, but who are also using it to smuggle unicorn horns into the human world.  Peter gets trapped in their world, and a while ago he made the Queen of the Faeries really, really mad....  "Monday, Monday" is a whole bundle of plotlines taking place simultaneously without the characters noticing each other.  This works nicely in a graphic format where you can see things happening in the background and then see them again in the foreground during another chapter.  There's a werewolf, the goblin market, all sorts of things.  "Action at a Distance" brings us a story of Nightingale's past.  He's on the track of a serial killer....who is also a German scientist being recruited by various great powers who want his technical knowledge, and they don't care much about his hobbies.  "Deadly Ever After" features Beverly's younger twin sisters Olympia and Chelsea.  When they find a magically-hidden mulberry tree in a park, they accidentally set free an artist who was taken by the tree nymphs over a hundred years ago -- and he is definitely not sane.  He attaches to a descendant and proceeds to make her friends into the fairy tales his daughter loved: one girl eats an apple her (totally normal!) stepmother gives her and falls into a coma, and a fish scientist is breeding giant eels and demanding that Olympia give up her are they going to fix this one?


  1. I love the books I've read by Diana Wynne Jones and need to read more by her. I didn't think there were many of them in my digital library but I just checked and they have a huge selection. I'll have to get started!

    Rivers of London sounds like something I would enjoy. The title of "The Fey and the Furious" made me laugh.

    I hope April is even better for you!

  2. Seems you've had a wonderful reading month!
    The Art of Insubordination is interesting; a skill we never properly learn, but turns out very important.
    I've had fun readings too this month. Hopefully our April will get even better!


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