I haven’t read quite so much stuff all in one month since August— so it goes, it’s autumn, my brain wants to hibernate — but I did pass 52 books, which is an absurd and unbelievable number of books for one human to read in a year, if the human is me. I don’t know what brought my reading juice back this year; the move to another country? the 8 years that have now passed since I was last a student? but I am very glad about it.
While I’m screenshoting my goodreads stats, by the way, I want to show you my favourite graph, amusingly stretched out by the claim that the Penguin Classics translation of the Volsungsaga was first published in 1275.
I understand and approve of the reasoning behind it, but that doesn’t make it any less funny. Also makes the rest of the graph mostly useless.
Alright, I’m not going to do articles this time becaaaause: I don’t feel like it, but here are some brief (I swear! brief!) notes on all the gay shit I read in September and October:
(the tl;dr of which, btw, is please read This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone. Please, it’s so good.)
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy
I don’t remember what gave me the idea to read this again, for the first time since high school, but it was a good no-brains-required audiobook to have on at work. It’s mostly just as enjoyably stupid as I expected, with some absolutely beautiful romance melodrama. I mean:
He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her light footsteps had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand had rested last.
The action and resolution of the incredibly obvious mystery for the last quarter of the book are absolutely dull and grinding and turns entirely on an extremely unnecessary antisemitic disguise, though.
Willkommen in Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood
I figured this would be a thematically appropriate read for my Berlin holiday and it lasted me exactly the week I was there! It was pretty entertaining but I’m truly tired of hearing about fancy British artists who have to go find young working class foreigners to fuck because they’re uncomfortable around their peers, just, as a trope of human being, now.
Orlando, by Virginia Woolf
I tried to read this book once before years ago and tried to be much too serious about it. The curse of Classical Literature. This time I realised how absolutely hilarious it is. I went to see a theatre production of it last week which was incredibly disappointingly minimalist and now I kind of want to do a series of paintings of the incredibly good sets I imagined in my head the entire time instead.
Nach der Flut das Feuer: The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
I enjoyed this a lot and it was powerful, but I want to get it in the original English sometime, because I think some of the poetry of the language was lost. The translator’s note at the end about how to deal with the N-word in translation was v interesting too.
Timeworn Literary Journal: Issue 1
It’s so nice to be on holiday and have time to actually read a literary journal instead of hoarding them forever. These stories all have really excellent concepts and magic. In one or two the execution of the concepts doesn’t grab me as much as I wish it would—the pacing’s a little off or the prose just doesn’t do it for me. But overall: 😚👌 a v good time
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Ever want to read a book that’s a stupid action-rpg video game? I enjoyed this a lot but the clear Homestuck fandom influences did put me in a surreal dimension of hilarious suffering the entire time. Seems it’s Homestuck’s time to have a bunch of BNFs publish books now, this is the world we live in.
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
It’s beautiful, full of vicious vulnerability, an epistolary romance between rivals through time… I was literally blushing and feeling warm all over because the prose was so gorgeous and gay.
please read it.
Swordspoint & The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
I did actually read Privilege in November, but it seems silly to not put them together. God do I love me some gay disasters with terrible emotional self-awareness. Also swordfights. Also novels and plays within novels and plays. Absolutely delightful. Everyone who recommended this to me when I asked about historical queer romance was right and I should have listened to you much earlier. Truly my only disappointment is that the second book includes a bisexual awakening that ends in het, after all.