April & May Reading Catchup

At the beginning of the year, I set some reading goals in broad categories and said I’d blog about my reading generally.

Here’s my progress on my categories:

To recap my goals list:

  • one book in French (0/1)
  • five books about horses (2/5)
  • five books about Vermont (2/5)
  • five books from the “to be read” pile (3/5)
  • one book of poetry (0/1)
  • one play (0/1)
  • five books by authors of color (10/5)
  • three books about museums (2/3)
  • five award nominees (Hugo, Nebula, Dragon, Pulitzer, etc.) (6/5)
  • two books about science (1/2)
  • three classics (0/3)
  • three books about organizing/politics (4/3)
  • three memoirs or biographies (1/3)

Some highlights:

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians out of Existence in New England by Jean M. O’Brien. This had been on my TBR list for years, and I bought myself a copy in January with the goal of grounding myself better in Indian history writ large and Abenaki history more specifically. Firsting and Lasting is incredibly dense, incredibly thinky, and incredibly brilliant. O’Brien uses sources nimbly, thoughtfully, and creatively, digging deeply into local histories that have long been handwaved as not useful. She puts together a compelling argument that is both simple and nuanced: that local histories in New England (she focuses specifically on southern New England but the same narrative applies to north) constructed a shared lie about Indian habitation in order to support European-centric colonization goals. The lie went “Indians were here, and now they’re gone; our civilization is the one that matters, and is therefore first in all the ways that count.” A truly superb work of history, worth the slow, careful, long read.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. Zippy, charming, smart, fun read; magic boarding school constantly tries to kill its students. Our narrator is destined to become a supervillain, but is actually a decent person, and somewhat accidentally befriends the school’s destined hero. The characters were all keenly drawn and immensely likeable.

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery. For a local book club on building better communities, and to background my work on our city’s planning commission. I absolutely devoured this; it was the perfect combination of thinky, inspiring, and readable. It’s totally changed the way I think about even my small city.

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Along with sequels A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire and Crown of Gilded Bones. These hit my quota for smutty, compulsively readable, intensely plotted fantasy for the month. Do you like your brain? Do you think it’s kind of fun when it’s melting out your ears from all the plot twists and the character reveals and the sexytimes? Definitely check these out. Then hit me up because I’m probably organizing an online book group for the new one coming out this fall.

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