Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

27 Aug 2020, 16:53 p.m.

Very Brief Book Reviews

A few quick book reviews from 2017 that I never finished writing up. (Thanks, SimplyE, for making it easy for me to reserve and borrow New York Public Library ebooks and read them on my phone!)

Meredith Willson's great memoir But He Doesn't Know the Territory about the making of The Music Man. Funny and inspiring.

Barbara Hambly's fast-moving, funny fantasy novel Stranger at the Wedding.

The high-concept scifi novel The Power by Naomi Alderman. Memorable, thought-provoking, uneven.

Operating Instructions, a memoir by Anne Lamott. I enjoyed it while I was reading it but remember very little.

Provenance, a scifi novel by Ann Leckie. A super different tone compared to the other Imperial Radch books -- has the feel of a fairy tale in some ways.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. I read this out of completism and didn't particularly care for it.

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries #1, a scifi novel by Martha Wells. Loved it (and I have now read all of the sequels). I recommend it especially for people who enjoyed Breq's alienation in Ancillary Justice and its sequels, and to people who have ever felt incredible apathy regarding their jobs. Extraterrestrial adventure & tradecraft, untrustworthy corporate overlord, competent people trying to be careful of each other's feelings, and gallows humor. Read the first chapter for free online.

Hamilton's Battalion by three authors, including Courtney Milan. Three romance novellas. I have read most of this -- fun fluff.

Partial read: Seeing Like A State, the classic "the map is not the territory" critique of systematizers, by James C. Scott. I will probably need to restart this from scratch if I want to finish it.

Partial read: Zephyr Teachout's Corruption in America which is very edifying, and, ditto.

Partial read: Jeremy Brecher's US labor history Strike! which is also super edifying. From the latter book: a lot of strikes in US history have been started not by established unions, but without them and sometimes against their wishes. I had an assumption that unions make strikes -- often, strikes make unions.