What I’ve Read, Q2*

July 12th, 2023Posted by Nancy

*once a business manager, always a business manager!

Another period heavy on the non-fiction, so we’ll start with that.

Fire Weather, John Vaillant. Valliant’s previous book, The Tiger, is one of my favorites so I jumped on this one. It’s a vivid and dramatic recounting of the Fort McMurray fire, a science lesson on the nature of forest fires, and a warning about how much worse they’ll be in the future. The summer of 2023 is so far bearing that out.

How to Be An Artist and Art is Life, Jerry Saltz. This is part of a book chain – I read a book recommended somewhere and the author of that book writes about another author, who writes about another author and on and on. Also part of my continuing reading about artists in an attempt to get some traction on my Glass World novel. Saltz is an artist, critic, and writer and his advice in How to can hold true for any creative endeavor.

Son of the Morning Star, Evan S. Connell. Another book chain book – I think both this and the Saltz books originated in a book by Rebecca Solnit, but I’m not 100% sure. This is an older book about Custer and Little Bighorn so some of it sounds a bit … uncomfortable … to modern ears, but it was a fascinating about a battle I knew very little about.

I Used to Be Charming, Eve Babitz and Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A., Lili Anolik. Babitz was an artist, a writer, hanger-on, muse, lover, and, above all, observer. When she suffered terrible burns in a cigarette incident, her Hollywood friends fundraise to cover her medical bills. Asked why people like Harrison Ford and Steve Martin would support her, she quipped “Blow jobs!” I love the wild world she depicted with a wry and witty style. The Babitz book is a collection of essays so the Anolik is a handy companion, providing more autobiographical details and, perhaps, a bit more honesty about said details. Both are highly recommended.

Nanaimo Girl, Prudence Emery. This made another great companion to the Babitz books. Emery was a Canadian who ended up managing PR for the Savoy Hotel in the 60s, for filmmakers like David Cronenberg, and for numerous bands. I think she and Eve might have enjoyed each other.


Middlegame, Seanan McGuire. A wonderful, twisty fantasy that’s quite funny despite the grim turns. The villains are suitably dark and twisted.

The Night Ship, Jess Kidd. A new book by Jess Kidd is always welcome in our house. This one is about a real shipwreck (the Batavia, a Dutch ship lost off the coast of Australia) and the hard life on the coastal islands that are its graveyard. Beautifully written, of course.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, Sangu Mandanna. A highly enjoyable romp: fun, cozy, and very satisfying.

Our Share of Night, Mariana Enriquez. A story of horrors – both supernatural and political – that haunt a father and son in Argentina in the 1960s and onward. It didn’t entirely work for me, but those parts that did were strange, beautiful, and gripping.

Unraveller, Frances Hardinge. I’m a huge fan of Hardinge’s fantasy and this doesn’t disappoint. Great worldbuilding that works so intuitively that everything just seems right, rich characters, and beautiful prose.

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