Monday, March 06, 2017

What I read -- February 2017

“Tam Lin” by Pamela Dean. Got it for Christmas. Apparently she is a terribly under-read author. I found this book delightful. It was way more subtle than I expected. I was reading along, wondering when the fairies were going to show up, and, well… This reminded me quite a lot of Jo Walton’s “Among Others”, really more about the sexual revolution on college campuses in the 70’s than anything else.

“Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature – 1888” by Charles W. Bardsley. This one took years to read. I’d started back when I was revising Fairfax the first time, and now I’m revising it again and boy do I need to flesh out my world with some characters with personalities of their own and, you know, names.

Gemma Files had tweeted about this book, something about Tiffany being a puritan name, who knew! Since Fairfax has many puritans in it who need names (and Cotton and Abigail aren’t really clever) and the whole thing is available online! I read it. It’s funny to tell people about a book like this to gauge their reactions. One friend totally got it – the book is a description of more than just words, it’s got elements of how people lived, what their values and priorities were, who were the deciders in their lives. Another friend (who complained that James Patterson sucks because his chapters are too short -- this is so not a relevant criterion for me) asked me if that was my heritage. Kinda, I guess. It’s a window into not just how people named their children, but the way they lived their lives, the influences on them, the power the church had over them. Families would go to a different parish where the registrar would christen with the name they wanted! So fun.

“The Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys, the true story” by Dean King. It was probably recommended by Sarah Monette. It was a quick read, but I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. Maybe the author assumed some previous familiarity with the featured players or something? This book isn’t about the same timeframe as WWS, or the same place, but it did give me some revelations about what I think of as my presentism problem.

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