Monday, May 09, 2016

What I've Been Reading

The Romani Gypsies Yaron Matras

I was reading a romance novel last spring that made my spidey-sense tingle in relation to stereotypical representation of Romani people. But, I don't know much about the Romani, so I've been doing some research so I can flesh out my thoughts and share them more fully. Matras's book was a great look at the Romani in Europe, historically and today. It can be academic at times, but I found it extremely useful (and horrifying. This whole project has been an exercise in realizing things you thought were bad are even worse than you imagined.)

Unterzakhn Leela Corman

I first heard about this from the wonderful podcast, The Worst Bestsellers (it was not a Worst Bestseller. It was discussed in their readers' advisory section). This comic follows two Jewish twins growing up in Manhattan's tenements at the beginning of the 20th century. One apprentices to a "lady doctor" the other works for madam who runs a theater and brothel. With bold, heavy black-and-white work (it reminded me a bit of Marjane Satrapi in terms of how both artists use line and fill) it's a moving story as their stories diverge and where their separate paths take them.

Get Your Ship Together: How Great Leaders Inspire Leadership from the Keel Up D. Michael Abrashoff

I read a lot about management. Abrasoff is a former naval commander and talks a lot about his experience in running a large ship, but also profiles other leaders he admires in many fields-- yes some military, but also a bakery, and insurance company, and more. Abrashoff's style is really easy to read and engaging, and it said somethings that really sparked some ideas for the library. (Mostly about how it all comes down to making sure our daily operations are flawless because that's what everything else is built on. As he points out, the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. Also, the bigger and fancier the ship, the more tugboats you need to get it in and out of the harbor.) I also appreciated how he, and the leaders he profiles, place a great emphasis on the individual, and take into account their nonwork lives. After reading Superbosses it was reassuring to see very successful people champion a good work/life balance.

Library Wars: Love and War Vol. 15 Kiiro Yumi, based on work by Hiro Arikawa, translated from the Japanese by John Werry

If you haven't yet read this manga series about Japanese libraries who take the Freedom to Read so seriously they literally fight for it, like, with their own armies, you need to start. This was a perfect end to the story and now I'm just a puddle of happy sighs. My one minor quibble is that we don't get as many of the side-bards and mini-comics like we did in the previous volumes but instead the results of fan polls from LaLa magazine, where it was initially serialized in Japan. BUT! The manga is based on a novel series, two books of which were bonus material and Yumi is currently working on those and I really, really, really hope they get translated into English, but I want more of these people!

At the King's Command Susan Wiggs

After witnessing the slaughter of her family, Russian Princess Juliana Romanov flees to England, where she lives among the Romani. Caught stealing a horse, King Henry VIII himself commands her to marry a baron, Stephen de Lacey. A marriage neither of them wants, it will be in name only until the king gets bored and they can get it annulled, but only if they can keep their growing attraction to each other in check. I didn't realize how much Romani content this had until I picked it up, so that was interesting for my project, but that aside, I really liked this one. Juliana is consumed with the need to avenge her family, but no one really believes her story. Stephen has his own issues and things would have been better if he hadn't kept his secrets for so long and just talked to someone and blergh, but I still enjoyed it.

No Place Like Oz Danielle Page

I really like the Dorothy Must Die series. (I reviewed the latest, Yellow Brick War, for RT Reviews.) This is the first in a 6 novella prequel ARC, showing how Oz ended up in the twisted mess it was in at the beginning of the series. This one shows how Dorothy returned to Oz and seized power. I loved seeing Dorothy in Kansas, missing both Oz and the notoriety she had when she returned home, but what I loved most is that Auntie Em and Uncle Henry end up back in Oz with her, and seeing their reactions to Oz. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this arc and the fourth book in the main series.

All Books Provided by... my local library

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