Stretch's reading in 2024

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Stretch's reading in 2024

1stretch
Editado: Fev 22, 8:47 am

Happy New Year everyone! I am Kevin from Indiana and reader of mostly dark things with a little whimsy from Japan. Going into 2024 with the same plan as last year; no plan at all.

Except this year will feature far fewer ewes.



Fiction:
Penance by Eliza Clark ★★★★
The Nature Book by Tom Comitta ★★★★
Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
Into the Sublime by kate A. Boorman ★★★½

Non-Fiction:
Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton ★★★
Reading: A Very Short Introduction by Belinda Jack ★★★
Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Literature by Dan Sinykin ★★★½
Fake Evidence by Ron Milliner
Pencils You Should Know: A History of the Ultimate Writing Utensil in 75 Anecdotes by Caroline Weaver ★★★★★
Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing by John B. Thompson ★★★★

Other:
Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro ★★★
Famine, Affluence, and Morality by Peter Singer ★★★½

Best of Jan.: Penance
Runner Up: Mislaid in Parts Half-Known

Creme de la crème of Feb.:
Runner Up:

Elite of Mar.:
Runner Up:

Boss of Apr.:
Runner Up:

MVB of May:
Runner Up:

Hit of Jun.:
Runner Up:

Top of Jul.:
Runner Up:

Peerless of Aug.:
Runner Up:

Superlative of Sep.:
Runner Up:

Leader of Oct.:
Runner Up:

Champion of Nov.:
Runner Up:

Unparalleled of Dec.:
Runner Up:


2stretch
Editado: Jan 3, 1:41 pm

Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yusuke Nomura



Blue Lock written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Yusuke Nomura, revolves around the Japanese Football Association’s decision to hire the eccentric coach Jinpachi Ego to achieve their dream of winning the World Cup.

While I enjoy sports manga, I as a defensive minded player can not get behind the philosophy of this series. Ego is not going to get you a world cup trophy and even the best strikers in the world work within the context of a team. Maybe it gets better as it goes on, but it's a bit too serious for my soccer fandom.

★★★

Connective Tissue: Giant Killing

3LolaWalser
Jan 2, 4:05 pm

Happy new year! I don't often have things to say but I'm here. *whispers* and I will miss the sheep...

4stretch
Jan 2, 5:12 pm

>3 LolaWalser: Haha, thanks for stopping by, I thought about goats this year but given my predisposition to horror thought it might stare into creepy far too fast.

5dchaikin
Jan 2, 6:19 pm

Have you watched Ted Lasso?

I’ll miss your ewes. Happy New year and new thread, Kevin

6stretch
Jan 2, 8:09 pm

>5 dchaikin: Football is Life! Yeah Ted Lasso is the best, I think I've seen each season at least 3 times. Best soccer property on the screen that isn't an actual game even if there is very little soccer on the show.

Happy New Year Dan!

7dchaikin
Jan 2, 8:35 pm

>6 stretch: I agree. I don’t watch much tv. But i adored Lasso

8labfs39
Jan 2, 10:16 pm

Welcome back and Happy New Year, Kevin. I have to admit that some of the sheep were a bit freaky. :-) All the staring... I'll be following along as always, and look forward to adding a few Japanese books to my wishlist.

9stretch
Editado: Jan 3, 1:41 pm

Looking back on the last reads of 2023 there is only one I want to catch up on:

The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich



The Solace of Open Spaces a collection of essays that describe Ehrlich’s experiences of living and working as a sheepherder in Wyoming. Ehrlich portrays the beauty and harshness of the American West, as well as the people and animals that inhabit it. She also reflects on her own journey of coping with the death of a loved one and finding solace in the open spaces of Wyoming. Exploring themes of nature, grief, healing, and culture through lyrical and evocative prose it is one to remember.

★★★★½

Connective Tissue: The Sand County Almanac, Walden, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

10rocketjk
Jan 3, 12:12 pm

Happy reading in 2024. Another big Ted Lasso household here. I heard a radio interview with the actor who played Roy Kent (I think he was also one of the producers) who talked about how much they all loved working together on that show and how sad he was when they finally wrapped it up.

11stretch
Jan 3, 1:14 pm

>10 rocketjk: In all the cast interviews I have seen they all seem to have a legitimately good time making the show. It is one of the very few shows that I really hope they spin off into something else. The cast was just so much fun and the show was just so feel good happy, there doesn't feel like anything quite like it on TV.

12dchaikin
Jan 3, 1:56 pm

I’ve heard this about Lasso too. I’ve tried a few of Shrinking (same writers? I think)

>9 stretch: I’m having trouble finding nature books i bond with for many years now. This looks very promising. I’m hoping to get to Sand County Almanac this year. (Your connective tissue)

13rocketjk
Jan 3, 5:43 pm

>12 dchaikin: fwiw, my wife and I really liked Shrinking, as well. Harrison Ford is a hoot!

14stretch
Jan 3, 7:51 pm

>12 dchaikin: I've been having the same issues with Nature books, I have started and given up on so many lately, this was the first one I have read all the way through in a long time. Can't put a finger on why exactly, but very few hit for me.

Aldo Leopold is one of my all time favorite nature writer his essays "Thinking Like a Mountain" and "Old Oak" are worth it if you get the chance.

>12 dchaikin: and >13 rocketjk: I started Shrinking, but got sidetracked. I need to finish that series I was liking it quite a lot.

15stretch
Editado: Jan 7, 3:39 pm

Penance by Eliza Clark



Penance explores the aftermath of a brutal murder of a teenage girl by three of her classmates in a small town in England. The story is told through the perspective of a journalist who has written a true crime book about the case, based on his interviews with the killers, the witnesses, and the victim’s family. The novel is a dark and disturbing examination of the motives and consequences of the crime, as well as the role of the media and the public in sensationalizing and exploiting it.

The novel is divided into six parts, each focusing on one of the main characters: the victim; the ringleader of the killers; the other two killees; an innocent gril caught up in the invesigation; ; and finally the journalist that wrote the account. Each part reveals a different aspect of the crime and its impact, as well as the secrets and lies that each character hides. The novel also switches between different formats, such as transcripts, blog posts, podcasts, and letters, to create a sense of realism and immersion.

The story is not a typical whodunit or a thriller, but rather a psychological and sociological study of the characters and their environment. The author does not shy away from depicting the violence and cruelty of the crime, but also shows the complexity and humanity of the perpetrators and the victim. The novel raises questions about the nature of evil, the influence of social media and fandom culture, the ethics of true crime journalism, and the power of narrative and manipulation. Penance is a gripping and unsettling novel that will keep you hooked until the end.

★★★★

Connective Tissue: Penance -- this isn't right I mean the other Penance from Japan, Yellowface

16dchaikin
Jan 7, 3:32 pm

>15 stretch: wow. Terrific review. Interesting connective tissue again. I want to read Yellowface.

17AlisonY
Jan 10, 12:46 pm

Will be following along... Think I've taken a couple of book bullets already!

18stretch
Jan 16, 3:51 pm

The Nature Book by Tom Comitta



I'm not sure how to even describe this book. An experimental collage fragments of fictional writing from other authors describing the aspects of the natural world, cut and pasted together into a rather coherent arc. Not really a story but a series of evocative passages exploring the themes of environmentalism, anthropocentrism, and the intersection of nature and humans. It somehow works, I think. Not typically one to read experimental writing but I think I enjoyed this or at least sufficiently confused enough to consider it worthy art.

Still not sure if this is even legal. How is it fair use to take whole passages of copyrighted material and string it together with other copyrighted material without transforming it in any way and without attribution for each fragment of text. I guess it did it was published after all, but I am highly confused by that.

★★★★

Connective Tissue: None, I've never read anything like it.

19dchaikin
Jan 16, 6:37 pm

>19 dchaikin: unusual idea and interesting read. Glad it works.

20rv1988
Jan 16, 10:25 pm

>18 stretch: Based on your description, it sounds like this could have been a really interesting social media project!

21RidgewayGirl
Jan 17, 11:55 am

>15 stretch: Penance was doing some interesting things, especially its examination of fan culture and how actual murders and murderers have become entertainment.

Another Ted Lasso fan here. This season's Fargo stars Juno Temple in a role that is utterly different and very similar to her role in Ted Lasso.

22stretch
Jan 17, 8:14 pm

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire



This is becoming one of my favorite part of January, the publication of Wayward Children book. This is the ninth iteration of the series that is a continuation of Lost in the Moment and Found.

Like all odd books of this series this one a quest for the kids of the Wayward Children school to return Antsy from the last book to return to the Store. Antsy's ability to find lost things and open doors marks her as a target for exploitation. That as a survivor of child abuse becomes a metaphor throughout the story. Overall this was a great addition even as a non-world book. It felt more like an adventure rather a vehicle to advance the big story arc of the school. A couple of the open threads from previous books and short stories are starting to be closed. With the 19th book being the final currently under contract I'm not sure we will get another world book, there is so much that needs to be wrapped in the big story.

★★★★★

Connective Tissue: Lost in the Moment and Found

23labfs39
Jan 18, 7:04 am

>22 stretch: Thanks to you, I read the first five in the Wayward Children series last year. I particularly liked the Jack and Jill stories. I am up to Across the Green Grass Fields, I think that was one of your favorites? Once I get space in my holds queue, I'll request it.

24stretch
Jan 18, 10:14 am

>23 labfs39: Yeah the Jack and Jill books are the high water mark in the series for me. I did really like the Across the Green Grass Fields, but I also like Beneath the Sugar Sky, which I think is one of the least liked of the series by most people. The last two covering the store story arc are also ranking high my internal order for the series. There is so much added to the overall lore of the doors and even more fun worlds to imagine.

25labfs39
Jan 18, 11:43 am

>24 stretch: I'm one of the readers who didn't care for Beneath the Sugar Sky. The logic worlds are much easier for me to enjoy than the nonsense ones.

26stretch
Jan 18, 3:15 pm

>25 labfs39: I get that nonsense worlds would drive me nuts, but Sumi is one of my favorite characters. She's utter chaos, but totally confident. All the other characters are in need of self confidence being in various stages of damage which makes sense, but it is nice to have one character among the children that is just sure of themselves and not searching for their identity. She's the balance to a Cora or Kade even. Nothing makes sense in Sugarland but I do like how it is probably the most dangerous of the worlds with a sweet coating.

27valkyrdeath
Jan 18, 5:44 pm

>22 stretch: I'd missed that the new Wayward Children book was out, so I know what I'll be reading after my current books. From your review it sounds like a good one. The even numbered books tend to be my favourites but I do generally enjoy them all.

28rv1988
Jan 19, 1:07 am

>22 stretch: This is the second time I've run across a Seanan McGuire recommendation on Club Read in as many days. Great comments, I'm looking forward to starting the series.

29triamtmt
Jan 19, 1:19 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

30stretch
Jan 19, 10:00 am

>27 valkyrdeath: Yeah, the even world books are just better, this last one feels something of a hybrid a bit, a mix of world building and quest. I think with the 10th suppose to be the last one, at least on contract makes me wonder if we will get another World or something that puts a bow on the series.

>28 rv1988: They are definitely young adult, so they are easy to read through. The books are well written just not very complex. I think they are fun with some sad and uplifting twists of underrepresented children finding their place.

31stretch
Jan 27, 8:21 am

Big Fiction: How Conglomeration Changed the Publishing Industry and American Literature by Dan Sinykin



Big Fiction examines how the publishing industry and American literature have changed since the 1960s, when large corporations began to buy out independent publishers. Sinykin argues that this process of conglomeration has influenced the kinds of books and writers that are published, as well as the literary forms and themes that they use. He analyzes four different sectors of the publishing industry: mass-market, trade, nonprofit, and employee-owned, and how they have shaped the works of various authors, such as Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Toni Morrison, and Walter Mosley. Sinykin also explores how women and people of color have navigated the shifts in publishing, and how their experiences are reflected in their fiction.

An insightful study of the relationship between literature and the market, and how it has evolved over the past six decades. Sinykin combines literary criticism, cultural history, and industry analysis to offer a comprehensive perspective on American fiction writing. The book is rich in detail and examples, and covers a wide range of genres and authors, from bestsellers to literary classics, full of portraits of industry figures, such as editors, agents, and publishers, and how they have influenced the literary landscape. Sinykin shows how conglomeration has both enabled and constrained the possibilities of fiction, and how writers have responded to the challenges and opportunities of the market.

★★★½

Connective Tissue: The Book on the Bookshelf, The book : a cover-to-cover exploration of the most powerful object of our time

32dchaikin
Jan 27, 12:42 pm

What an interesting place you’ve been. I’m fascinated at how publishers (and editors!) impact literature. And I’ve wondered what the corporate impacts are on this.

33stretch
Jan 29, 2:40 pm

>32 dchaikin: Yeah my non-fiction reading has started down a weird rabbit hole of the book as an industry as of late. Next couple of reads will be publishing related hopefully I won't find myself in the ugly back alley of wishy washy marketing.

34dchaikin
Jan 29, 8:17 pm

>33 stretch: i’m so curious what you will learn. I’m seriously thinking about Yellowface, apparently a non-subtle satire

35rv1988
Jan 29, 10:57 pm

>31 stretch: Very interesting - and I wonder how much of this is changing with the advent of algorithm-driven sales (such as BookTok favourites).

36AlisonY
Editado: Jan 30, 5:47 am

>31 stretch: Interesting. Does this book get into social media influencing and how that's shaped publishing? I get quite cross about it; it seems if you're any kind of Z list celebrity you will get a publishing deal for either your 'memoirs' or 'expertise', even if you're 20 and know nothing yet, whilst real talent gets overlooked. The Instagram blue tick in particular seems to be a straight line to a book deal. Which saddens me, but I guess that's the economics of any industry.

When my kids were younger I used to feel quite discouraged by the children's authors in the mainstream bookstores. Celebrity names seemed to rule the show.

37stretch
Jan 30, 7:27 am

>34 dchaikin: Yellowface is definitely not subtle in its approach. It's main weakness is that at times it becomes unfocused on the target it is trying to hit. She takes on a lot all at once. Still it is thought provoking in a way I didn't expect even if it has its flaws.

>35 rv1988: Mostly his book covers the big movements within publishing that have long lasting effects. Social media is still too new to see what long-term effect it will have on the publishing world, that is notoriously slow and conservative to move. There are some obvious changes to the industry in the public shaming in higher/pay/quality of life within the industry, the types of authors they give platforms too, and the special edition craze that is driven by the aesthetic forward social media platforms will probably be long standing changes within the industry.

As far as selling books, the publishing industry has no idea how to sell individual books. Their main marketing tool is the fear of missing out (fomo). The book blurb and New York Times bestseller stamps came to fill up space on the backs of books to create an illusion that these are more popular and significant than they actually are. Author tours made some authors household names. Before social media there were the stacks to create the market for the book, not because the demand was unbelievably high. These worked for a while, but the efficacy has faded over time. Social media is just the latest way to create fomo around a title, another shot in the dark to create the next bestseller. Even the publishers of the Fourth Wing, Entangled,fully acknowledge that they have cynically leaned into all the social media trends to launch their house but they won't be able to replicate it with any reliability in the future.

Marketing is not big on number crunching, it's all vibes and feelings. It's a bit of a wonder that publishers exist, they too aren't big on number crunching and figuring out what works.

>36 AlisonY: By and large the industry latches on to what trend is selling at any given time. Sinykin doesn't touch on celebrity memoir or the whole expertize side of non-fiction, sticking mostly to the fiction side of the house. These are books I tend to avoid as a rule, so I find them all very annoying. I think tying it to a known name is just a marketing technique that like many others are beaten into the ground hoping that they catch lightning in a bottle and get that one in a thousand fluke that becomes the book that subsidizes all the others that they can't figure out how to sell.

38stretch
Editado: Fev 11, 1:30 pm

Into the Sublime by Kate A. Boorman



Into the Sublime is a young adult psychological thriller with horror elements that follows 4 teenage girls descending into a dangerous cave system in search of a mythical lake that can fulfill their desire to change. Told through Ameilie, one of the girls, a persuasive and unreliable narrator relaying the sequence of events to a skeptical deputy. Through the labyrinthine of the cave and the unreliable narrator Boorman skillfully creates a claustrophobic, ominous, and disorienting atmosphere that is fast-paced slow burn thriller with what may well be supernatural occurrences.

Boorman's unreliably narrator is one of the best I've encountered. She's perfectly balanced between a convincing story teller and obvious liar that the back and forth is more of a game then just a way to frame a twist. The story us mostly compelling. Still it has all the failures of a young adult book. It's divorced of consequences for our characters, while the suspense it is built to a crescendo, but the tension falls flat when you know that everyone is going to be safe. There's just a general lack of pay off to all the suspense. But it fulfills a BITF prompt so that works.

★★★½

Connective Tissue: Hide, Conjure the Witch

39stretch
Fev 11, 7:45 pm

Pencils You Should Know: A History of the Ultimate Writing Utensil in 75 Anecdotes by Caroline Weaver



This a unique book, designed to emulate a brand new pencil box being longer but less wide then a typical book, allowing for the actual size color pictures of the pencils described makes this a bit of a pocket book hybrid with an history book. Really though it is a pencil history that traces the evolution of pencils over time and across the globe through examples of some of the most iconic pencils ever. This a another great lover letter to the pencil from Weaver and i am here for it.

★★★★★

Connective Tissue: The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, How to Sharpen Pencils, The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon

40dchaikin
Fev 12, 1:30 pm

>39 stretch: oh, pencils! I’m curious what you learned

41stretch
Fev 12, 7:42 pm

>40 dchaikin: Not so much learned but was reminded of all the pencils from outside the US I have yet to try and need to get back onto the review wagon to finish up what I have left.

Did learn why Japanese have the master writing, writing, and drawing pencil labels => they were having a pricing wars with pencils of low quality being priced higher then premium pencils. Government maintained a trier system that the forced pencils into certain pricing brackets. No longer needed today but have stuck around as an eccentricity.

42dchaikin
Fev 12, 9:56 pm

>41 stretch: well, that’s the kind of trivia that creates curiosity

43LolaWalser
Fev 13, 2:02 pm

Hey, Pencilman! I hold you responsible for my Blackwing mania. Not sure where they fall in your scale but for me these are the best pencils I have ever used. So far I got Matte, Pearl, Natural, 602 and 17.

44stretch
Fev 14, 4:36 pm

>43 LolaWalser: The Blackwings are fantastic, even if I only ever really keep the 602s around. The combination of Japanese refined graphite in California cedar is hard to beat. I've never liked the eraser shape but that is mostly a foolish preference.

Some of the California centric editions have been outstanding, the Lake Tahoe and Gold Rush Pencils have been my favorites so far. Really think the editions are cool even if though I have kept from purchasing them, too many pencils as it is not sure I need to keep piling on.

45RidgewayGirl
Fev 14, 5:49 pm

>44 stretch: I have a few boxes of Blackwings that I'm slowly using. Unfortunately, they keep emailing me with pictures of their new editions.

46stretch
Fev 15, 11:07 am

>45 RidgewayGirl: Feel that for sure, I have an embarrassing amount of stockpiles and yet I still so tempted by email newsletters.

47WelshBookworm
Fev 18, 4:06 pm

>43 LolaWalser: Ha. It's colored pencils for me... Black Widow, Castle Arts, Prismacolor, Polychromos, and cheap but I like them Crayola.

48LolaWalser
Fev 19, 2:17 pm

>47 WelshBookworm:

Prismacolor! I still have some sets I bought 30 years ago in the US and they are beautiful. The Verythins a little dry now, but an amazing quality, all things considered.

>44 stretch:, >45 RidgewayGirl:

This is where it "helps" to be a poor Canadian. The selection is limited and a single Blackwing costs @ 9 CAD.

49stretch
Fev 22, 8:46 am

In continuation of the esoteric nonfiction reading this year:

Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing by John B. Thompson



Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing” by John B. Thompson is a comprehensive exploration of the digital transformations that have significantly impacted the book publishing industry over the last 3 decades. The book covers a range of topics including the rise and plateau of the e-reader, the increasing popularity of the audiobook, and the fascination with self-publishing and crowdfunding for writers. One of the key strengths of “Book Wars” is its examination of the power of ‘user data’ owned by technology companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, discussing how the collection of behavioral information about consumer selections and purchases has grown tremendously with the rise of internet book retailers.

An interesting read about the current state of the digitial book and tits future.

★★★★

Connective Tissue: The Book on the Bookshelf, The book : a cover-to-cover exploration of the most powerful object of our time

50stretch
Fev 22, 9:00 am

Mosaic by Catherine McCarthy



A novella that delves into the world of stained glass restoration. The protagonist, Robin, receives a letter offering her the job of restoring a macarbe stained-glass window on a thirteenth-century church. As she embarks on this journey, she battles her inner doubts and fears over whether the job is real or a cover-up.

The narrative is a slow burn, building gothic suspense mixed with more than a little Lovecraftian wyrd. Offering a unique exploration the progatnist psyche, even if the story is laregly predictable. Not really my mix of subgenres but am excited by the Dark Hart imprint that is putting out these novellas. They seem to be picking stories that mix genres in new and unique ways.

★★★½

Connective Tissue: Conjuring the Witch, Church

51dchaikin
Fev 22, 9:05 pm

I’m mostly intrigued by restoring 13th-century stained glass.