Aug 3, 2020, 12:09:42 AM
Well, hello there, buddy!
Yikes, you're a big one.
Lately I've been getting back into reading books. I figure, if I want to be writing books then I should be reading books.
Now, I don't want to own books. Books are heavy and when you live in an apartment it becomes cumbersome to box them up and carry them around.
I spent years getting donating books I didn't want to whittle down my collection. I know libraries don't necessary take books to add to their collection but rather sell them to make money so they can run their services, which I think is great. Besides, me owning a book on my shelf deprives someone else the joy of discovering that book, so it's better if it's being sold and passed to someone else who might potentially love it.
To make up for my lack of physical books, I bought a Kindle reader and I'm using my local library's Overdrive service to download titles to read.
Some of the stuff I've been reading lately:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
- The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu
- American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
- Kimi ni Todoke vol. 1-17 by Karuho Shiina
- Soulless by Gail Carriger
It's a very strange set of stuff when you look at it side-by-side.
Book Report Time
Some words about the books, because I feel like I should have some. Also, as I update one goal is to create blog content so Google's SEO machine has something to pickup and chew on. Hence, why the posts are kinda random as I talk about things I'm doing, watching, or reading.
Between the World and Me
After the George Floyd murder, I wanted to read more about the black experience in America. I still have a whole bunch of books on my list, but there's actually a lot of people in line for those books. Between the World and Me are several long letters/essays Ta-Nehisi wrote to his son where he talks about his experiences growing up black. There were two experiences he related about going off to Howard University and later traveling to Paris that I kind of resonated with.
When he talks about Howard University, he talks about entering a space where he's surrounded by black people both American and from abroad, who are unafraid of their identity and it felt like a different world to him. When I first came to Southern California from from small town Pennsylvania, I felt something similar in that I was now in an environment with a lot more Asian people from abroad and from SoCal. It was a really weird experience for me. I'm not sure if I can find the words to process it.
The other experience he talks about is going to Paris and how travel abroad allowed him (and later his family) to see the world differently. Not everyone saw them as black people, but as people -- Europeans saw him as an American citizen over the color of his skin. I really believe travel helps you broaden your sense of inclusion in the world. Although, when I went to Japan, most people thought I was Japanese there until I spoke. When I went to Europe, they were experiencing a huge Chinese tourism boom, so they probably thought I was another one. Anyway, I guess in short, my experience was that I was viewed as Asian over being an American first.
The Bird King
The Bird King was a great fantasy story set during the Inquisition in the Middle East -- the book review says it's set in Muslim Spain, but I don't know much about that history or setting. Even still, I enjoyed the story which is about a sultan's mistress, Fatima, and a mapmaker, Hassan, who escape their royal palace and try to look for a secret island where the King of Birds lives. The story feels like it bends very heavy towards realism but with a fantastical bent at times. I recommend it.
Also speaking of G. Willow Wilson, I read a bunch more from her run of Ms. Marvel, which is also fantastic.
I wanted to read more Chinese sci-fi, so I picked up the Supernova Era. I really want to check out Cixin Liu's other works, like the Three Body Problem, but this one was available first. A supernova occurs somewhere in the local arm of the galaxy during the 17th century and the resulting shockwave takes several centuries before it hits the Earth. When it does hit, it's like the 2010s, and it causes all of the adults to die, but only children under 13 survive. The adults have to hand the world over to the children before they pass away in 10 months.
It's an interesting premise and the story goes past what happens after the adults die. Unfortunately, I didn't find myself relating to any of the characters, but that seems part and parcel with sci-fi. The fascinating concept pulled me through the book.
When I was looking for books to borrow, I thought, who's smart guy I admire and what's he reading? So I looked up President Barak Obama's list of book recommendations. American Spy was on there and it looked interesting, and hey, I like spy thriller stuff. I wouldn't say it was heavy on the actual spy thriller aspect -- that is, it wasn't a thriller at all (lol), but I did enjoy it, and the book ends leaving a major issue unresolved, so I guess there might be a sequel. The main character of the book Marie is an FBI agent and a black single mother with twins. The story is framed as a journal she's writing for her sons to recount the reason why she's in the situation that she is. Anyway, no spoilers, go read it.
Kimi ni Todoke
I'm a huge fan of shoujo and josei manga and anime. So reading 17 volumes of Kimi ni Todoke (From Me to You), makes sense to me. Yes, I did actually chew through 17 volumes of 30 of this story. Plus, I suppose there's a nostalgia factor too. I discovered Kimi ni Todoke as an anime almost a decade ago -- today, you can watch all of it on Hulu. Season 1 is good; Season 2 is not that great, but it follows the manga to a fault.
Yeah, you know how people complain when a TV show/movie doesn't follow the book?
This one is verbatim the comic.
That's why I didn't like Season 2. that season ended up being very emo, plodding, and introspective. Kuronuma Sawako can't make anything happen in her budding relationship. But, the ending of Season 2 finally gets us what we want to see, and I wanted to know what happens after.
I'm used to shoujo anime not getting a resolution, especially since the manga was still being written at the time. But now, a decade later, Kimi ni Todoke is done -- 30 volumes in all! -- so, I can finally read what happened after Season 2, and let me tell you, it picks up! Sawako's relationship picks up. Sawako's friends Ayane and Chizuru also get some meaty parts of the plot and I ended liking them as well as Sawako.
I read Soulless as a manga 5 years ago, but I wanted to check out the original novel series. I should more Gail Carriger, because I started a steampunk fantasy series of my own. Her love of lace, parasols, Alexia Tarabotti's bosom, and the supernatural all fits with my interests. I enjoyed the book, but it felt slow at times -- I think it's because of the Victorian-era style of writing. The end of the book sets up an interesting position for Alexia, and I'm curious what will happen in the second book. So I'll continue reading.
BTW, aside from my coloring book (and some other self-published fiction) being sold on Amazon, I don't have any kind of Amazon affiliate thing. The links above are because I wanted a way to include pictures, but I was to lazy to try and find them online and upload them.
I mean like, why? Especially, when Amazon's already got 'em. And, I guess you can read an excerpt of each story. Then you can decide if you want to read it and support your library or the author.
More pinup art
A post wouldn't be complete without some new non-comic pinup art because this is not a literary blog nor do I mean to turn it into one.
This is you-kn0w-who.
I did this illustration using the digital ink brushes in Procreate. It's a little work-in-progress still, but it was meant to be a quick sketch. Maybe I'll refine it more later.
Anyhow, more later...