[sticky entry] Sticky: Introduction Post!

Sep. 19th, 2010 07:27 am
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Hi there! I'm Sophia, and this is my journal. If you want to know more about me and about what you can find on my journal, this is the place! )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Yesterday I saw a happy gifset from an old season of New Who and had positive feelings. That's the first time I've been able to do that in YEARS.

I am not exaggerating when I say that for two years after I broke up with Doctor Who, I couldn't think about the show without crying. I eventually got over that (...mostly) and entered a stage of aggressive apathy that lasted for several more years. I guess I might be finally moving on from that into whatever might be the next stage in my... grieving process, or whatever this is.

I don't really talk much about my breakup with Doctor Who because it feels embarrassing. Spending two years crying at every mention of a tv show does not feel very mature or reasonable. Even now if I think about Doctor Who in certain ways I get teary-eyed; writing this post got me a bit misty around the edges.

And I don't even really understand why this breakup hurt me so deeply. I mean, I felt that the show had betrayed my trust in it, yes, but I've been let down by narratives before and since, and never had a reaction anywhere even close to this.

I dunno. I guess Doctor Who has always had a special place in my heart. I still miss it, or at least miss what I loved about it when I still loved it.

That gifset I saw yesterday, the one that made me smile to see, was nothing but Nine and Rose grinning infectiously at each other. Characters who loved each other and the whole weird brilliant universe was what I loved best about that show, and the expressions on their faces just captured that feeling of joy.

I don't think I'm yet at a place of being able to rewatch any of the episodes I used to love, without breaking down in tears. But for the first time I feel like maybe someday in the future I might.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I need to decide what to do about my livejournal. I haven't accepted the new TOS yet, which means apparently my latest few posts on dreamwidth have not crossposted to lj. I don't know if I still have anyone reading me solely on lj who I'd need to warn if I do just stop posting there ever, but if so I can't just keep ignoring the issue. But I don't know how to find out without accepting the TOS in order to post to lj!

I'm really not thrilled about the idea of accepting the TOS and continuing to use LJ the way I always have, and I'm also not thrilled about the idea of just abandoning my LJ without further notice, or accepting the TOS in order to post notice to my LJ that I'm abandoning it and then leaving it there, or deleting my LJ permanently. No good options here. Sigh. The end of an era, but a very awkward end.

If anyone has opinions as to what I should do about my LJ, please do let me know.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
The thing about Paul is that his writing is pretty confusingly written and complicated to understand sometimes and also in places is very easy to interpret as pretty harsh towards, like, women and gay people and slaves and a variety of other marginalized populations. AND there's lots of letters in the bible that claim to be by Paul but aren't, and those letters contain the worst of the bigotry, which doesn't help with the general public perception of Paul.

Way back in university I took a course about Paul, which was very educational. Prior to that course I was totally ready to throw Paul out entirely. The course made me feel very differently.

The thing about Paul (like the thing about MOST of the bible tbh) is that a lot of people forget to look at the social context in which the writing was happening, and/or don't have the detailed knowledge needed to appropriately contextualize. The world Paul lived in is very different than the world we live in! So you can't understand what he means by various injunctions unless you understand the particular social pressures he was reacting to.

That's what this book is doing, in a somewhat different way than my university course did. This book talks about Paul in the context of popular works of ancient Greek & Roman literature and what those things can tell us about the society Paul and his original audience lived in. And in that context, the things he says read very differently. He was actually working really hard to be loving and welcoming and anti-oppression and anti-injustice, and that kind of thing. Not always succeeding perfectly, but the direction he's pointing is clear.

So this book was full of interpretations that were not exactly news to me, but with greater attention to the specifics of the context than I've gotten before. So it was an enjoyable read but I didn't really learn anything new.

Also, although the book is overall pretty good, I feel like the author didn't always manage to actually....come to a coherent conclusion in all her chapters, and wrap up the various stuff she was saying into an actual point. The chapter on Paul and the state was the worst for this. It felt like she was building towards something with her discussion of the public perception of the military and how that connected with a passage from Paul's letters, but then the end of the chapter turned into some sort of confusing personal reflection and never actually concluded that thought. I was able to make inferences forward to where she was probably going with things, but she didn't actually say it. So that was annoying.

But my overall conclusion from reading this book was to be reminded of how many feelings I have about Paul himself. Like, he's just so much more of a person than anyone else in the entire Bible. Biblical narratives tend towards the short and spare, so you don't get really well-rounded looks at lots of characters. Paul feels like that too when we get third-person discussion of him in Acts. But in his letters, he talks in "I" statements a lot, he says stuff about himself, and his personality just really shines through.

I mean, sometimes the personality that shines through is kinda asshole, but like....even in his vast flaws he's so clearly real and so clearly trying that I can't help but care about him. I don't know what to do with these feelings because like, what even, but the feelings are THERE and STRONG and Paul-the-person really matters to me and I don't even know why.

At any rate, because apparently this is where I'm dumping all my latent Paul feelings, I just want to at least briefly mention the fact of his massively outsized influence on the direction of Christianity and Christian theology in the time after Jesus' death (like....Christianity could have gone in a LOT of directions. There were massive conflicts about this! Paul won, to the degree that we have trouble even imagining what Christianity would have been like without at least some Pauline interpretation because it's so thoroughly ingrained.) And I'm not sure whether Paul's influence was all a good thing, and over the years he has definitely been used in very bad ways, so like, as a piece of Christian history I'm still really not thrilled about the dude.

But as a person I care about him A LOT.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly

As is the case for many people, I'm sure, I read this book because I'd seen the recent movie based on it, thought the movie was wonderful, and wanted to know more. And this book was definitely worth seeking out! I was gonna explain the premise of the story for people who aren't familiar, but the book does it for you in its expansive subtitle so there you go.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Robin McKinley has written two books set in the fantasy land of Damar, and this is one of them. Apparently she always intended to write more, but has never quite gotten around to it.

Of the two extant Damar books, I always liked The Blue Sword better, I think because it feels more grounded in some sort of reality instead of being mythic. (...not that "grounded" is a thing that can really be used to describe the feel of any McKinley books. She's great at including details that seem like they OUGHT to be grounding, and yet her books always feel dreamy and distant. It's weird.)

So I've reread The Blue Sword a lot more often, and tbh I think this may only be the second or third time I've ever read The Hero and the Crown. ("Only", they say. There are some people who never reread books! Apparently. Baffling.)

I felt that this book has a bit of a slow start to it, possibly because it starts with the ridiculous cliche of clumsy outcast king's daughter with red hair who wants to be a warrior. Eventually we get beyond the cliches into actually interesting territory but it takes a bit. (Though - it's possible this was less of a cliche when this book was written? It is more than three decades old at this point!)

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Okay I've finally admitted that there's no point to continuing to try to read through this series in order, given that I've been freely reading fanfic from throughout the entire timeline of the saga. So I felt like giving this book a try and so I read it even though I am skipping over a number of books to do so. At some point I'll come back to at least some of the books I skipped. Probably. *

It was particularly interesting to approach this book after having read a novel-length fanfic that covers the events of the book from Byerly's side of things (A Bit Too Much Good Work by a_t_rain, very good, highly recommended). So I went in knowing basically what to expect from the plot, but Ivan and Tej make for very different pov characters that Byerly and Rish. It was great, but in a very different way than that fic is great.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
As a whole I really enjoyed this book! Good-hearted and interesting, with great worldbuilding and characters.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Sixth in the Confederation series. Not bad! Less Craig content than the last book, which automatically gives it a step up in my opinion. Craig is a lot more palatable when he's just one of the team and sort of background emotional support for Torin, instead of being an integral part of the plot.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
An impromptu reread decision, and I'm reminded that although this is an enjoyable book it's not one my favourites of Pratchett's. I think I only ever read it the once as a kid, and didn't reread it a million times like I did some others in the series. cut for brief spoilers ) Death is great though. I do love Death.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A middle-grade novel. I don't love it as much as the Ryan North Squirrel Girl comic series but it's still pretty charming.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
Fifth in the Confederation series. My main problem with this book is that I just don't care about Craig, Torin's love interest. I'm so bored by him! And his role in this book is the biggest it's been so far, since this book is about Torin having left behind her military career to join Craig as a civilian salvage operator. SIGH.

Read more... )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
You know, it's very disheartening as a person who genuinely loves winter to live in an environment where it feels like everyone complains about winter weather, and everyone is pleased when there's unseasonably warm weather.

This winter and last winter were both...distressingly full of unseasonably warm weather. The snow hardly stayed on the ground. There's been more freezing rain than I think I've seen in my whole life before. I've barely worn my heavy winter coat. This February was literally the warmest February ever on record in my region.

People around me are all "wow what warm weather we've been having, this is great!" and meanwhile I'm just like I WANT SNOW DAMMIT. I do not live far enough south for this to be acceptable!

(Now that it's March it's getting more acceptable, but...still! I can't appreciate spring if it doesn't have a proper winter to lead out from!)
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A good book, since Terry Pratchett is a good writer*, but this was not one of the books that ever spoke to me most out of his oeuvre. Probably has something to do with the fact that I didn't actually grow up with Santa Claus as a thing, so this doesn't tap into my own childhood at all.

I do love Susan a lot though, and the wizardly academia jokes are so much more comprehensible to me as an adult, and I appreciate how Pratchett understands that children can be strange and alarming and bloodthirsty.

And of course there's the oft-quoted bit from near the end of the book where Death and Susan are talking about believing in things that aren't real, that believing in the Hogfather is practice for believing in justice and mercy and things like that. That's a really good bit.

*reading him as an adult is full of me going "HOW DOES HE DO THAT??". As a kid I just found him compulsively readable and funny.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
I think my main take-away is that spending 2.5 months slowly reading through a book about the history of money makes money start to feel really really fake. I mean I already knew it's a human construct that we all collectively agree to give meaning to, and which would otherwise have no objective worth, but the whole thing is just feeling a little more ridiculous now.

Anyway: this is a good book! And very interesting! Does a good job of challenging some assumptions that the field of economy is based on, which tend to ignore the complicatedness of human relationships in favour of equations based on rational self-interest. Also the myth of barter.

It was fascinating to read the anthropology/history about the ways various groups of humans throughout time and space have approached concepts of debt, trade, cash money or lack thereof, etc. A good reminder that our current understanding of these things is by no means obvious, universal, or the best way to do things.

I wasn't expecting this book to come out nearly so strongly in critique of modern capitalism at the end as it did. I remember this being a popular book when it came out, and North America as a whole is pretty pro-capitalism! So that was a bit of a surprise. Though maybe it shouldn't have been given that the 2008 financial crisis formed the impetus for the author to write this book.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
An interesting book, though not quite what I was expecting it to be! I put a hold on the ebook at my library on a whim, based on nothing more than the cover and title which I saw when browsing Overdrive. I was expecting something more in the line of a memoir/autobiography. What this book actually is: a collection of writings from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the years, with bits of introductory material contextualizing the pieces.

So it was still very interesting, even if not what I was expecting. It's much more about US law than it is about Ginsburg herself. So I now know a lot more about how the Supreme Court works. Ginsburg comes across very well in this book though - intelligent, articulate, caring. (Also she's REALLY REALLY SHORT oh my gosh, those pictures at the end, she is always by far the smallest person in any given photograph.)

The last section of the book shares a number of her recent dissents, which is a rather depressing note to end on. She argues forcefully for what I would agree is the correct decision on issues like women's reproductive rights, and it's so sad to know that these pieces are the dissent and not the opinion of the court.

It was weird to read her praise of Scalia throughout the book. He's the Justice she refers to most often, and it seems she genuinely liked him as a person. It feels weird to hold that knowledge alongside the knowledge that he vociferously fought for the exact opposite side on a lot of issues she clearly thinks are of dire importance in the lives of many people. I don't know if I could be friends with someone who so actively worked for so much of what I would consider to be harm in the world as Scalia did.

It's also depressing to read this book in the context of knowing that Scalia's seat is gonna be filled by a Donald Trump nominee. Auuuggghhhhhhhhhh. I just hope he doesn't get the chance to replace any other Justices as well. Ginsburg seems to be in good health for an 83 year old and I HOPE SHE STAYS THAT WAY. FOR AS MANY YEARS AS NECESSARY.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
All my 2016 reads are finally posted! I'm so bad at posting my book thoughts in a timely manner. But now I can do my 2016 roundup!

List of books read )

Analysis and stats )
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
This is the last of my read-in-2016 books to post!

Ursula Vernon (under her penname T. Kingfisher) released this story as an online serial over the last several months, and it ended on December 29. It was wonderful following it as a serial, with new updates to look forward to twice a week! And when I read the last part it was weird to think that was actually over.

It's a portal fantasy, and stars a girl named Summer who gets sent to the magical world of Orcus by Baba Yaga in search of her heart's desire. She meets friends, but she also meets awful things happening. The whole thing is done with Vernon's usual depth and soul, as well as her usual delightful quirkiness, and the combination of these things makes for a wonderful book. In the early stages of release, Vernon seemed to be somewhat nervous about presenting this book to the world, thinking it maybe too odd to really work for people, but: it works. It really works. It's wonderful.

It's hard to know how to talk about this book in more detail though, because I was reading it for months, so a lot of the details were already fuzzy by the time I got to the end. But I highly recommend it, and you can read the whole thing here.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A journal housekeeping note: I have disabled anonymous commenting on the LJ side of my blog, since I've been getting so many spam comments on old posts on LJ. But anon commenting is still available on the DW side for anyone who wants/needs it.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)
A really charming middle-grade novel about a trans girl who wants to play Charlotte in the school play about Charlotte's Web and is told she can't because she's a boy. I'm going to call the main character Melissa in this review, because that's her chosen name, even though for most of the book she goes by her birth name of George.

Read more... )

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