hello Virtually Readers! It has been A WHILE and it will probably continue to be A While between posts. Shar and I have made our peace with this, and for the time being this lovely blog holds years of effort and memories, while we keep reading and finding life in other places. So it goes, and I’m not going to apologise. But I’m currently indoors (because I can’t go outside, because virus), and I’m drinking tea, and it is rainy and I do not have any university work or journalism to do…so I thought I’d review a book I read yesterday.
All Who Live on Islands introduces a bold new voice in New Zealand literature. In these intimate and entertaining essays, Rose Lu takes us through personal history – a shopping trip with her Shanghai-born grandparents, her career in the Wellington tech industry, an epic hike through the Himalayas – to explore friendship, the weight of stories told and not told about diverse cultures, and the reverberations of our parents’ and grandparents’ choices. Frank and compassionate, Rose Lu’s stories illuminate the cultural and linguistic questions that migrants face, as well as what it is to be a young person living in 21st-century Aotearoa New Zealand.
For about five years, I knew what my favourite books were. Each represented a series which I loved, but was my favourite of the series. I haven’t stopped reading but, it’s the end of the year, and I have realised that I can no longer tell you my favourite books, just the books I have read and enjoyed recently, perhaps. I feel like I’ve lost my gauge, that books still ground me, but for the moment it is books in general, and not any books in particular.
hi virtually readers! it has been a long time, and this post is going to explain that a little bit. I miss writing about books. I’m still on Twitter far too often, and I have still been reading, although I seem to have ditched goodreads altogether. I’ve been a book blogger for almost five years, and now starting to wonder if that’s sustainable, or what it looks like in the future. As Shar has intimated, it’s definitely something we are going to keep talking and thinking about. in the meantime, though, we still have this space, and I plan to use it.
We’ll be back in June, we said, confidently, in April. It is now July, and it has been far too long without a Virtually Read blogpost. It took about six weeks for me (Shanti) to feel like writing about books again. I had been in a bit of a book slump, but perhaps slower reading is my new normal. I saw Shar a few weeks ago, and we’ve realised that with what we’re committed to offline at the moment, posting at the same rate we used to is not possible. But we’re still reading, and we still care about reading, and we still want to write about reading. What will this mean for Virtually Read? We’ll break it down a bit here. Continue reading “Books in June and the future of Virtually Read”
Lauren James is very good at surprises, and ultimately that was probably my favourite thing about her new book, The Quiet at the End of the World. The reflections on objects and impermanence were interesting too. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how she engaged with the ethical implications of some of the topics in the book, but that is okay. Also I am sadly going on hiatus, which I’ll write more about at the end of the post
Hi Virtually Readers! Uni has started again for me properly and I am extremely busy and trying to figure out how to keep fitting Virtually Read into my life. I’m also panicked that I’m going to stop loving reading somehow, but that seems stupid, right? Does anyone else ever feel that way? I wrote an article about how to read and study at the same time and feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I’m not very good at following this advice. Anyway, I’ve been thinking lots about the economy because it matters a lot and also needs a total restructure because capitalism really sucks (this is what you learn at university). I like to read economics books because I feel like that helps me to understand the financial system better. So this edition of Fiction-Non-Fiction recommendations is themed around the economy!
Okay, full disclosure: I’m not actually done reading Sacred Economics. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s a book about why the economy is broken, and how it is set up in systems which perpetuates injustice and inequality. Beyond that, Sacred Economics is a book about healing the economy, understanding it enough to actually change it. I don’t know enough about policy to understand how these concepts could translate, but I really appreciate this visionary book. Tess of the Road is on the surface a very different book. But like the global economic system, Tess is shattered in hidden and blatant ways. The novel is about her quest for something larger and more mysterious–something underneath–an embodiment of the principles of the world and the way they exist. I reckon it pairs beautifully with Sacred Economics.
Talking With My Daughter About the Economy is an excellent, readable primer on fundamental principles that govern economics. If you’rs a bit intimidated by learning about the economy, I hightly recommend it. To be honest the ‘talking to my daughter’ aspect of the book was somewhat contrived in a ‘now child listen to my wisdom and I will contextualise it by entioning your iPad’ sort of way. Still, it’s a good idea. The Islands At the End of the World is similarly centred on a father daughter relationship, where a father and daughter are navigating a broen world made more frightening by their inadequacies. Together, with resoucefulness and vision, they can understand why they are so lost. Again, it sort of matches on a deepre level.
Naomi Klein is a bit of a legend, and references to this tome, which I read ages ago but should probably read again, are all over the place in my reading for an Advertising critique paper I’m doing. In this book and This Changes Everything (also a great economics book!) she details some of the ways that the global economy is injust, particularly in the context of large corporations. Their Fractured Light is also about confronting massive corporations, from within and without, and seeking justice. It uses an astonishing range of characters to examine different responses to inequality. It’s also a fabulous adventure story.
I read Naked Economics a few years ago when I was just reading non-fiction for Lent (this year I’m mostly vegan). Now I read HEAPS of non-fiction. I don’t really agree with the premise of Naked Economics; it’s very much a status-quo, liberalism-inspired approach to the economy (does anyone else find it confusing that liberal politicians don’t follow policies of economic liberalisation?). Charles Wheelan places far too much faith in the power of the trickle-down effect, for instance. Nevertheless, it’s important and useful to know how people with different economic opinions than me justify that position. Spinning Silver is a stellar book, and has a character who is venal and money focused. But as a compassionate writer, Naomi Novik gives Miriam the context to explain how she became that way, and the book is all about how money matters and how different people understand it.
Doughnut Economics, like Sacred Economics, is an invitation to reimagine the economy. It goes beyond identifying problems, and is quite data driven (compared to Sacred Economics, which is heavily philosophical). I really enjoyed it–although I don’t really know what I can do as a non-economics student who does not make policy. The principles of Doughnut Economics is that the systems of the world–social and cultural systems, ecological systems, climate systems, and of course financial systems, are deeply intertwined. Station Eleven demonstrates the same thing, by showing how interconnected different aspects of the world are, and what happens when they’re broken (The World Without Us is a non-fictional approach to the same thing). If you long to understand the world as interconnected in fragile and resilient ways, you’ll love both of these books.
do you understand economics? do you want to? and have you read any of these books?
Hi Virtually Readers! The lovely CW @ Read Think Ponder has, along with several other wonderful people, created a reading challenge called Year of the Asian, where you basically try to read more books written by Asians. I’m signing up for the Indian Cobra level, where you have to read 20 books, but hopefully I’ll manage to read more. I actually already did a tweet about this; if you follow me on twitter, that’s great, I do not spend enough time there (because it stresses me out) and it is mostly sporadic inanity so super fun, basically. Anyway, why am I participating in this? (all images created by CW, who is a phenomenally talented human)
I have decided, in my finite knowledge and wisdom, to turn fiction-non-fiction recommendations into a series. This is mostly because I realized that I have been reading some non fiction books which group nicely into categories and non-fiction is AMAZING and somewhat underappreciated, I feel, in my blogging community. So over the next few months there will be a couple of these posts, once I figure out all of the groupings. There’s going to be a post about genetics books, nature writing books, semi-funny memoirs, economics possibly…it’s a series in development (if you have suggestions, please let me know!)
Our Year of Maybe is an astonishingly subtle book. It’s about a toxic, codependent relationship, and what it means to be attached to another person, and the effect that can have on you. I loved Rachel Lynn Solomon’s first book, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, and after reading Marie’s interview with Rachel Lynn Solomon, I knew that I had to read this too. It was just as emotional and deep and clever and authentic.