tree_and_leaf: Purple tinted black and white photo of moody man, caption Church Paramilitant (image from "Ultraviolet") (Church Paramilitant)
Peter Grant fans may be pleased to discover this list of acronyms in use by the Met. I am gratified to discover that HOLMES is real, and that the real Met is as besotted with unhelpful acronyms as the fictional one.

(If you want the IC numbers, though, you have to go to wiki)
tree_and_leaf: Purple tinted black and white photo of moody man, caption Church Paramilitant (image from "Ultraviolet") (Church Paramilitant)
I was thinking - mid washing-up - about Voyage to Venus, specifically about the way in which the plot requires Ransom to kill Weston, or at least to kill his body if we assume that Weston's soul really is gone and not capable of being restored.

Why isn't some kind of exorcism a possible solution, and why doesn't it even occur to Ransom that it might be?

I mean, yes, the series is full of plot holes, even if you prefer to pretend that That Hideous Strength didn't happen, or alternatively that the Director isn't actually Ransom at all given that he isn't actually all that much like him, Symbolic Wounds aside*, and could have benefited from a rigorous beta reader. But that one seems particularly odd.

* In the immortal words of Dorothy L Sayers, "I liked Ransom better before he took to lying on sofas like the Heir of Redclyffe", though I think she was actually being a little unfair to Yonge there.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Anyone else get massive "Always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm" vibes off this (i.e., I am not reminded of Cold Comfort Farm, but of what it's satirising?)

Book meme!

Jan. 4th, 2015 03:34 pm
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in suit imitating Tony Blair, Boyish grin, last-of-the-timelord hand gesture, even shinier teeth (last of the timelords hand gesture)
Books read in 2014 )

Meme Questions
How many books read in 2014?
102, assuming I counted right (and remembered to log everything). That is a bit disappointing. I have read less since I got married and watched more telly (I have also watched more telly since ordination, which I think is down to tiredness, but is still disappointing). Admittedly some of the novels were pretty long, but still...

Fiction/Non-Fiction ratio?
fiction: 60. (I read less fiction and more non-fiction than I thought!)
poetry: 1 (I read more poetry than that implies, though: I have a tendency to pick poetry books up and read a few poems, then put them back).
non-fiction/memoir: 32
(The bulk of this was travel literature, which I read a lot of and may be my favourite genre at the moment. I also read 3 of what might be termed spiritual memoirs. All blokes - two of them very good (Cron and Coles), the other hideously over-written though interesting on Oxford - but perhaps I should look for some by women. If such things get published).
plays: 0

Male/Female authors?
female: 33 and three half books by women. Lower than I would have guessed....

Most books read by one author this year? 7 (Bujold). I also read a fair bit of Raban, Fermor, Lindsey Davies, Elizabeth Peters, and Tony Hillerman.

Any in translation?
Antoine Laurain, "The President's Hat"
Edelgard Abendstein and Jeaninne Fiedler, "Berlin: an architectural guide" (2013).
John Chrysostom, "Six Books on the Priesthood".
Gosciny and Uderzo, "Asterix the Gallus." (translated into Scots!)
Also, I read three books in German.

Favourite? Oh gosh, I can't pick one. The stand-outs were the Catherine Fox novels, Richard Cole's autobiography, and Red Plenty. I also loved Red Mars and felt the rest of the series, though enjoyable, didn't quite live up to it. I enjoyed "Foxglove Summer" a lot, too.

Honourable mention to "The Girl With All The Gifts," because I never thought anyone could make me read and thoroughly enjoy a zombie apocalypse novel. I wasn't entirely convinced by the ending, but it really is very good.

Also, should it be relevant to your interests, "Pastoral Care for the Dying" is superb (and the medical background bits on the end of life would, I should think, be helpful for people who are not involved in pastoral care but want to know something about dying).

Least Favourite? I can't decide whether the Elizabeth Peters novels are "mildly diverting" or "meh," but they're definitely at the bottom of what I finished last year. (I picked them up cheap second hand. Not sure if I will bother to read any more. Possibly, if sufficiently cheap, and then re-Oxfam them, as they don't take much mental energy to read, and sometimes you want that).

In terms of books by a writer I do definitely enjoy, "Sure of You", because I began to get both very impatient with Mary-Ann, and also to suspect that Maupin was Flanderizing her in a way that felt ever so slightly misogynist).

Oldest? John Chrysostom, "Six Books on the Priesthood"

Newest? "Unseen Things Above", which Catherine Fox published as a serial on her blog. (I will buy it when it comes out).

Longest Title? (Funny thing to ask!) Discounting subtitles, either "Dandy MacGilvarray and an unsuitable day for a murder" (does that count as a subtitle?) or "The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark" (which I read to children). My favourite title was also a contender - "Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me."

Shortest Title? Peter Groves, "Grace".

Book that most changed my perspective:. The Rev'd Richard Coles on of dogging (summary: he doesn't any more, but found it surprisingly healing).

Favourite character: Jane, in "Acts and Omissions" and "Unseen Things Above".

Favourite scene: Well the one that remains most vividly with me is the bit in "Fathomless Riches" when he sneaks away from a family Christmas to go and look for casual sex and meets a guy who takes off his coat to reveal that he's naked apart from a piece of tinsel round his cock. But that's more because I can't shake the image...

Favourite Quote: Nothing springs to mind.

What do you want to read in 2015? I want to finally get hold of Least Heat Moon's book on driving around America on small roads (Blue Highways? Lost Highways?). I love his prose style and he writes the sort of thoughtful, history-heavy Americana I really enjoy. I want to read Catherine Fox's "Benefits of Passion" and "Love For the Lost" (I'm less sure about her YA stuff or the judo memoir). And I keep meaning to get hold of "Ancilliary Justice" (and to read more SF in general).
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
I enjoyed the new Ben Aaronovitch, but I am not at all pleased about massive spoiler )
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
Recently Read

The Cambridge Companion to St Paul, which is a useful introduction to the subject.

Currently Reading

Peter Ackroyd on Venice.

Also trying to teach myself some phrases of Spanish from Say it In Spanish, although I cannot concieve of ever needing to say "Can you recommend a good cook?", and I sincerely hope I won't need "I have typhoid fever"...

Reading Next
Heffers had a sale of fiction in translation, so I shall probably read Bulgakov, Diary of a Young Doctor next.
tree_and_leaf: David Tennant in suit imitating Tony Blair, Boyish grin, last-of-the-timelord hand gesture, even shinier teeth (last of the timelords hand gesture)
Books read recently
Finished the Civil War book, also The Line of Beauty, which I enjoyed, but found curiously unsatisfying. Maybe it was just that I didn't like most of the characters.

Currently reading

Peter Ackroyd, Venice.

The Cambridge Companion to St Paul.

Anything on the Camino, or Northern Spain, I can scare up.
tree_and_leaf: Red and white striped lighthouse, being hit by wave (lighthouse)
Read recently

Fred Secombe, How Green Was My Curate

Slender but amusing fictionalised memoir of life as a curate in the Valleys by the older brother of ex-Goon Harry Secombe. Ended rather abruptly on the incumbent's death - which of course meant all kinds of professional and emotional complications for the protagonist, so that was rather frustrating. Though apparently there is at least one sequel, so I suppose it's more of an unexpected cliff-hanger...

Have stalled a bit on The Line of Beauty.
Am enjoying Diane Purkiss' The English Civil War: A people's history, though it is rather grim reading.
tree_and_leaf: Head shot of a weasel in evening light. (Our Lady of the Weasels)
I think this (absolutely safe for work) fandom secret is my favourite ever....


Mar. 12th, 2012 10:21 am
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
That awkward - or, to be accurate, annoying - moment when you realise you've accidentally bought a human (I think; possibly she's part demon)/ angel romance.

Vampire romance is bad enough, but at least you can make that seem semi-plausible. Vampires may not reproduce sexually, but they inhabit bodies that used to be human, and also it makes sense for them to be attractive to humans, because being able to lure humans to their doom is necessary to their survival. Angels don't need to get humans to stick around to be eaten, and they're not actually corporeal, unless you believe Milton.

Indeed, angels as the Christian tradition describes them are not well suited to being protagonists of novels, even if you leave the romance out of it, because they are atemporal - there's a reason why the only author I can think of who more or less gets away with it is Milton, whose angels are not, strictly speaking, quite according to the tradition*. The book of Tobit has it both ways, by revealing at the end that Raphael was just simulating humanity for the purpose of helping Tobiah, which is unsatisfying from a literary point of view, but rescues the theology. Actually I think that if you want to write stories involving angels you can do it more easily in an SF context - Lewis makes a decent fist of it (there are things about the cosmic trilogy I find very problematic, but the Eldila are, I think, really quite good). Deep Space Nine's Prophets can just about be viewed as occupying more or less the same conceptual space and again, I think succeed pretty well. Like the Eldila, they're interesting because they're definitely not humans with wings pasted on, but a different kind of being altogether, and the writers are willing to try and face the challenge of writing about unincarnate, atemporal beings - even when we do get the big revelation about Sisko's origins, it's not the Tragic Doomed Angel-Human Romance, but something more unsettling and inhuman.

Of course, to be fair to the author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, her angels are corporeal, mortal, and reproduce sexually (and have very messed up family structures). This makes a romance more plausible, I admit, though it does raise the very germane question, in what sense are these actually angels?**

You might, at this point, ask, "Why did you buy it?" The answer is (a) because I am a sucker for stories involving doors into other worlds***, and also because while I read the first chapter, I missed the one sentence prologue that would have told me what I was in for.

The sad part is that there are parts of the book I really like - the doors into other worlds are fun; her 'chimera'/ monsters (which turn out to be demons, alas) are quite charming and sinister at the same time, and I like the opening conceit of the heroine living a more or less normal art student existence, while also running dubious errands for the surprisingly likable monster who brought her up. There's also an interesting take on magic.

But I can't be bothered with angel romance; I'm not even sure if I want to finish reading it, although I rarely leave books unread, so I probably will. But unless I experience a sudden epiphanic change of heart, it will go straight to Oxfam.

* Though it's not as glaring a deviation as his Christology, which is flat-out heretical.

** They don't seem to be messengers of God, either, or at least the angelic hero hasn't got a scooby about what the purpose of his life is or why his people are locked in combat with 'the fallen'). Basically I think the problem is that the author wanted some way of doing paranormal Romeo and Juliet that didn't involve vampires vs werewolves, but really, angels?

*** CS LEWIS MADE ME DO IT!!!111!!!
tree_and_leaf: Spcok with one hand on chin, reflective expression (Bemused Spock)
Gosh, How Much For Just The Planet is impressively insane, isn't it?

I loved it.
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
For today it has allowed me to order the Sacra Pagina commentary on the Revelation of John, Culpepper's "Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel", and John M. Ford's "How much for just the planet?" And all for under £10 including postage.
tree_and_leaf: Text icon: "and I'll say again, only slightly louder... HOW?" (I'll say again - how?)
I have been reading William Temple's book on St John's Gospel. It is very good, and I have been considering buying a copy (necessarily second hand, as while it has been reissued in paperback, I believe it is no longer in print).

However, dear person trying to flog a 1980s paperback copy on Amazon for $999.98.... I don't think you are going to find any takers.

Or, alternatively, I could spend £4 on it and get a first edition hardback in fair condition from Abebooks. Decisions, decisions!
tree_and_leaf: Peter Davison in Five's cricket gear, leaning on wall with nose in book, looking a bit like Peter Wimsey. (Books)
Very sad to hear that Reginald Hill has died. Although I didn't talk about them much here, I absolutely loved Dalziel and Pascoe and the rest of the Mid-Yorks crew. Such good detective stories - gripping, well-written, with utterly believable characters, and the ability to explore very dark things without losing a sense of humour - which is, after all, one of the ways of coping with the darkness.
tree_and_leaf: Tardis silhoutted agains night sky, with blinking light. (Tardis)
Am making another attempt at logging my reading for the year (worked two years ago, crashed and burned last year).

Books under the cut )
tree_and_leaf: Lady Catherine de Bourgh, caption "I am most seriously displeased" (most seriously displeased)
If you recommend as one of the best translations into English the work of a translator who not only willfully disregards the sentence structure of the source text (in ways going beyond what the differences between English and German requires), makes positively embarrassing howlers apparently based on unintelligent guesswork (I know "Melone" sounds a lot like "melon", but even if you don't have access to a dictionary to find out it's a bowler, context should at least have given away that it was a hat and not a piece of fruit), misses bits out, makes things up, and writes, at times, remarkably odd sounding English, then I question your judgement quite severely.

I'll admit that Thomas Mann isn't the easiest read on the planet. But he's not unreadable, which is what Lowe-Porter makes him sound.
tree_and_leaf: Anne Shirley sitting at desk, head in hands (essay crisis)
Oh dear. My ability to get things done today is suffering from a total lack of - is it motivation, or merely energy? I'm not sure, although my body-clock is still badly messed up. My own fault for not being brutal enough with alarms, I suspect - result is I can't get to sleep, or at least not until after hours of tossing and turning, or more reading in an effort to stop trying to sleep. I don't suffer as badly from insomnia as some, but I'm mildly prone to trouble sleeping anyway, and it's always miserable.

Anyway, as a result I rather quickly read Paula Byrne's Mad World, which is about Evelyn Waugh's friendship with the Lygon family and the influence it had on Brideshead. An interesting book and a rather more nuanced view of Waugh than merely as the unpleasant climber, though I have to say I still don't think I'd have found him all that likable (too prone to petulance and jealousy of his friends' time). Had, as happens surprisingly often when reading biographies, the experience of being jolted by something which I know is not quite right - the usual difficulty being that while it looks like fairly obvious to me, that may just be my weird ideas about what constitutes widespread knowledge.

(The mistake is that, when discussing ex-pat homosexuals in Venice, Byrne refers to "Baron Corvo, the noted homosexual ex-priest and writer". He was homosexual and a writer, but in fact he was never a priest*, because he was chucked out of both St Mary's Oscott and the Scots College in Rome for not having a vocation (and also neglect of his studies and probably his tendency to fall spectacularly out with people); "Baron Corvo" was not his real name; he was called Frederick Rolfe and came from Cheapside, where, Wikipedia informs me, his father made pianos. Granted, all this is not particularly relevant to the main thrust of the book, but Rolfe, also an English convert and author of a very Catholic novel (albeit one that's largely a Mary-Sue-becomes-Pope story), might bear interesting comparison with Waugh.

It's raining. Sooner or later I will have to splash out to the shops, and I fear that my cunning 'wait till it's stopped raining' plan won't work, because it shows very little sign of doing so...

* You can't be an ex-priest, anyway, but that's a side matter.
tree_and_leaf: Alan Rickman in role of Slope, wearing rochet, scarf, swept back hair, and hostile but smug expression (slope)
The books I am reading: The Theology of the Old Testament, Walter Brueggemann. Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope.

The book I am writing: I am not, at present. I am vaguely meditating writing something about gender, sexuality, and the body of Christ, drawing heavily on mediaeval sources, but informed by modern perspectives, but I'd have to know more about feminist and queer theology than I currently do, and at the moment I don't have time.

The book I love most: Oh goodness, I couldn't possibly just pick one. The Lord of the Rings is up there. So is Gaudy Night, and so is Die Aula (Hermann Kant, an East German Bildungsroman, and I swear it's better than that makes it sound). Right at the moment, Thomas Aquinas and the Summa are rocking my world.

The last book I received as a gift: Umpf. I can't remember. If we're counting books which were bought Christmas Amazon vouchers, Dorothy Lee's Flesh and Glory, a wonderful reading of symbolism in the Gospel of John. Other than that, I have no idea. Which is quite bad.

ETA: technically it was the Book of Common Prayer, a gift from the Prayer Book Society,

The last book I gave as a gift: Andrew Davies et al, Lift Up Your Heart.

The nearest book on my desk: Dead heat between the Brueggemann (which I need to get back to) or the Book of Common Prayer.


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