Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Books Read in September

51. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

I bought this for my boyfriend and we read most of it together. We're both fans of Felicia Day, The Guild, Geek & Sundry etc. I especially enjoyed the chapters on her childhood, which I knew nothing about. I won't spoil it since I think it's the most entertaining part of the book. Day writes exactly how she talks and her writing is interspersed with photos and Internet memes, so if you do get the audiobook, I'd recommend getting the book as well. She also goes behind-the-scenes into her life events leading up to The Guild and in-depth about the making of The Guild. I didn't feel like I needed that, because I think the show itself makes it pretty clear she's a recovering WoW addict, but if you're interested, everything you could want to know is there. A fun celebrity memoir, memorable for Day's unique voice.

52. The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts

I picked this up on a trip to Boston, at a tiny used bookstore in Allston called Bookistan. The owner is a very chatty fellow who turned out to have family ties to my undergraduate school's president. The book itself has ties in Boston because it was discovered and edited by none other than Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. I'm so glad I picked it up because it's both a very engaging novel and a remarkable piece of history in itself. The Bondwoman's Narrative is the only known existing novel written by an African American slave. As far as historians have been able to determine, the novel is a fictionalized account of Crafts' own enslavement and escape. The novel is a 19th century drama made more piquant because it is written by a slave who must have had or observed at least some of the stories described in the book. She also had a very active imagination, probably inspired by books like Jane Eyre, which was among the books in her probable masters' library that she would have had access to. Highly recommended.

53. Oswald: Return of the King by Edoardo Albert

Edoardo Albert's tale of Oswald reads like straightforward history but told in an engaging fictional narrative. As far as I can tell, and confirmed by Albert's historical note at the back, the story is extremely accurate to the history of the actual Oswald, king of Bernicia and Deira during Britain's Middle Ages. Of course, little enough is known about Oswald and so Albert believably fills in the gaps. The culture he creates feels authentic and the characters are believably of their times but also relatable. Albert writes in clear modern English, but he also uses key terms from the Middle English that Oswald and his contemporaries would have spoken. The words, such as "witan" for a group of nobles that select a king, or "scop" for a king's singer and storyteller are crucial to the story and easily understood through context, but there is also a helpful glossary and pronunciation guide in the beginning. I highly recommend Oswald: Return of the King to fans of British history, but expect a lot of battle narrative and not as much interior drama as we'd expect from a modern novel. This is really history in a fictional guise.

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