janegodzilla: (fail hero)
The Map of Metal is my current favorite thing. Before I found it, I had no idea that sub-genres like "neo-classical metal," "symphonic black metal," and "folk metal" even existed. But now I know, and it makes me happy. *devil-horns*

(Seriously, though, neo-classical metal is all kinds of amazing. Electric guitars plus harpsichord? YES PLEASE.)

I'm reading a really fantastic book right now called Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, by Jennifer Pozner. It's a critical examination of reality television -- especially the ways in which it portrays women and people of color -- and what I'm really digging about it is that she's taking an intersectional approach and addresses classism, sizeism and ageism as well as sexism and racism, and also looks at the way non-straight and/or non-cisgendered folks are othered or outright erased. She also addresses the way shows that otherwise get these things right (Project Runway is one of the examples she mentions) still emphasize rampant consumerism and spending as both ideal and normal, and how even though most (if not all) reality tv is sold to the audience as "real people doing real things," much of what the audience sees is manipulated or outright manufactured. It's a fascinating, incredibly comprehensive book, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in examining contemporary media narratives.

I do have a few caveats. My one big criticism of this book is that as comprehensive as her research is, Pozner hasn't addressed issues of ableism. She's talked about why it's problematic that women of color are so often framed as "crazy" in reality tv, but doesn't talk about why the "crazy" label is damaging to people with genuine mental illnesses. She also hasn't addressed why the differently abled -- both physically and/or mentally -- are rarely (if ever) present in these shows, nor why it's problematic that their narratives (if they are present) are almost always framed in terms of their differences. I haven't finished the book yet, so it's possible she'll address these things farther along, but the rest of it is just so outstanding that it's really disappointing that she hasn't brought this stuff up yet.

The other thing I'd like to note is that it's a very US-centric book, focusing largely on US shows and audiences. I don't mean this as a criticism, since one of her major arguments is that the way these shows are packaged and sold to people blinds them to a lot of the current economic and social realities, or confuses them about the exact nature of these realities (for example, poverty in reality tv is shown as something that individual people struggle with -- something that can be "fixed" -- and not as a massive systemic issue that intersects with various -isms and the availability of jobs, food, educational opportunities, health care, etc.). Had she tried to look at the reality tv of other countries (and whether it's from those particular countries or imported from places like the US), I think some of her central points about the way certain social issues are sold to audiences might've been diluted. That, or the book would've been enormous, heh. The focus on the US might make it a little less interesting to non-US folks who'd like to explore their home media narratives, but I still think it's worth checking out.
janegodzilla: (bear is driving!)
Day 03 - The best book you've read in the last 12 months

Hmmm. "Best" is sort of subjective, isn't it? Year of the Flood had the best writing of the books I've read in the last few months, while The Omnivore's Dilemma had the greatest impact on my daily life. The World Without Us was the most thought-inspiring, and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was the most FUN. So...those are the best.

I'd normally go on and on quite a bit more, but I'm tuckered out from painting today. Also? It's too damn HOT! I am officially tired of summer. XD

Other days of the book meme! )
janegodzilla: (party party party!)
Hey, so I'm 27 now! Not that 27 is a particularly awesome age or anything. Twenty-six, at least, has the distinction of being the first year post-25, where you start off with, "Okay, NOW I'm a real adult!" before this sort of thing sets in and you realize that you are never ever going to consistently CLEAN ALL THE THINGS or GO TO THE MOTHERFUCKING BANK LIKE AN ADULT until you're, oh, in your mid-forties or so.

Or maybe that's just me.

And 28, well, 28 is when you get to say you're in your late twenties as opposed to your mid-twenties, which...I guess that's noteworthy? How do you even define 27, anyway? Late mid-twenties? Early late-twenties. WHY AM I EVEN WORRYING ABOUT THIS.

Anyway, I think I might treat myself to a Powell's trip after work. Because buying more books is totally what I should be doing when preparing for a move! *facepalm*

See? Motherfucking ADULT!

Book meme!

Day 02 - A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

The Princess series by Jim Hines is really fun, and I want more people to check it out. They're loosely based on classic fairy tales, and they're smart and funny and full of wonderfully written, well-rounded women. There are major characters who aren't straight! And there are major characters who aren't white! And just about all of the active characters, heroes and villains both, are women! I LOVE THAT. Hell, the prince in the first book is pretty much a MacGuffin, and Danielle (otherwise known as Cinderella) has to go to his rescue. The heroines all have different ways of solving problems and they have realistic strengths and faults, which is nice to see when "strong female character" so often translates to "female character who is strong" and not "strong character who is female". The third book in the series just came out recently, and I'm going to try to snag it at Powell's today.

Another book more people need to know about is The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. Holy SHIT, is this book awesome! It's the first in a series, but I think it stands alone beautifully and doesn't have the sort of cliffhanger ending that usually fills me with rage. It's unlike anything I've ever read in SF/F. The imagery is gorgeous, and I could spend AGES geeking out about the worldbuilding and mythology Jemisin has developed. To put this in perspective, I tend to shy away from stories where gods are main characters, because so few authors do it well. But Jemisin? She nails it. Her gods and goddesses are complicated, fascinating creatures that are just human enough to seem familiar and yet alien enough to be utterly horrifying sometimes. And Yeine! Oh, I loved Yeine SO MUCH. She's the best sort of protagonist, one who's smart and capable and interesting, one who gets a lot of things right and sometimes gets things really, really wrong. She's acerbic and engaging, and I really loved reading about her.

I also think it's awesome that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms doesn't go the usual Euro-inspired SF/F route. Yeine and a lot of the other main characters are PoC, and the world they inhabit doesn't feel European in the least. Love love LOVE that.

Other days of the book meme! )
janegodzilla: (books books books!)
[livejournal.com profile] alg wrote up a nifty 30-day book meme (original entry here), and, well...I really like talking about books! I will probably give more than one answer for each question and may include graphic novels here and there, because that is how I roll. Here we go!

Day 01 - A book series you wish had gone on longer and/or a book series you wish would just freaking end already

I'm of the mind that it's far better for something to end early than to drag on and on and ON into awfulness and crap. Whenever I think of a book series that needs to be put out of its misery, I always think of Anne McCaffrey's Pern books. God, I used to love those books so much. I started reading them when I was 10 or so, and for years I just couldn't get enough. I bought the art books! The world guides! The short story collections that contained Pern stories! I don't even know how many dumb little stories I wrote where a shy, nerdy, and awkward preteen girl just like me impressed a gold dragon, SAVED THE WORLD, and was total BFFs with Menolly and Lessa and was also a harper and had a bunch of fire-lizards that were way smarter than other fire-lizards. Please don't judge me. I even liked The Dolphins of Pern, I was that much of a fangirl, and The Dolphins of Pern is really not a very good book. At all.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that's the point when the series started going downhill, although I didn't really notice until All The Weyrs of Pern, which left me grouchy and disappointed. The series lost me entirely with Dragonseye, but apparently Anne and her son Todd are still cranking 'em out. I've read the Wikipedia summaries, and they sound truly awful. JUST LET IT DIE, YOU GUYS.

The Redwall books are kind of like this too, although I'm not sure if I stopped reading them because they were getting shittier, or because I was just getting too old for them. I suspect it's the former because I still enjoy kid!lit and YA!lit, but...*shrugs*.

ALSO! Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta books! You guys, those books made me want to be a forensic pathologist. They hit every single one of my medical and criminology nerdgasm buttons. Kay was smart, tough, and really good at her job. She had a family life and friends of both sexes and hobbies. People underestimated her all the time because she was a blonde lady doing what was traditionally a man's job, and she helped catch serial killers and andjsnfjdbnsjdjskjd they were SO AWESOME...and then the series went to absolute shit and to this day I don't really know what the fuck happened. Cornwell started killing off characters left and right, made other characters utterly unrecognizable, started piling all sorts of truly unbelievable ridiculousness onto her heroine. Point of Origin was a total wallbanger, and I stopped reading after that. Ugh.

As for a series I wish had gone on longer, I'm going to go with Tim Pratt's Marla Mason books. His publisher opted not to pick up the next books in the series, which is a damn shame because the existing books are very, very good. I really hope he's able to find another buyer for them, because Marla kicks ass from here to next Tuesday and she's immensely fun to read about.

I also wish there had been more in the way of Transmetropolitan (graphic novel alert!), but this is one of those rare cases where I know it ended at the right place, and I just wish there was more because it's so well-written/illustrated that I couldn't help but feel bereft when I finally had to leave the story behind.

Other days of the book meme! )


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February 2012

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