Reading Roundup: February 2019

A short list for a short month. I picked up The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty, the sequel to The City of Brass, and inhaled it. Like The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper conjures a detailed, captivating world based on Middle Eastern legend. The stakes start out very high, with its three main characters each politically compromised and in fear of their lives, and then it twists and turns from there.

And then I did something I rarely do. I went back and reread The City of Brass. And then I re-read The Kingdom of Copper. Revisiting this world reminded me of reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, another doorstop fantasy novel that I’ve re-read multiple times. It’s comforting to spend time in such a complete, deliciously detailed world with characters I’ve come to love despite their flaws, but there’s enough going on in each book that there is still more to discover.

So that was most of my February: preoccupied with the deadly politics and legendary magic of Daevabad. I technically read the next two books on March 1–one from start to finish while waiting for my plane to be de-iced–but I’m including them in this roundup because in my heart (and outside of the icy plane) it was still February.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. Sweet like candy. I gobbled it up.

2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Mary-Helene Bertino. An oddball novel that follows main characters from the Italian Market to Rittenhouse to Fishtown one Christmas Eve, like Philadelphia’s own Ulysses. It’s a charming story–its many narrators include a rebellious 9-year-old and a roving dog, and the author can’t resist loving blazons to key Philadelphia landmarks even though her characters find them quotidien–but there’s just enough of an edge in the plot and prose to keep it from cloying.

Elsewhere on the Internet

You may be tired of Konmari hot takes, but I really appreciated this Nursing Clio recap of the “30 books” controversy and gentle correction of what critics are getting wrong about Marie Kondo.

Vox: “A Novel”: Why do so many book covers still use the phrase for works of fiction?

Also at Vox: One of film’s greatest epics is a 7-hour adaptation of War and Peace. Really. As I said on Twitter, I will try to find a Philly viewing of this extravagant, no-holds-barred, bears-drinking-beer adaptation of an equally no-chill novel, and I will be thinking of my friend who died last year. He used to curate viewings of 3-4 films around a theme, sometimes with themed snacks as well, and I never went I barely have the attention span for a 90-minute film, let alone hours and hours of film. We did watch television adaptations of costume dramas together and had one episode of the BBC adaptation War and Peace left when he died.

Whatever, Oscars.

My friend wrote this article about using the Pomodoro method to write her dissertation (and I am mentioned in it!). I was inspired to download this Pomodoro plugin for my browser, which gives me a little structure when I’m working on longer pieces for work. Now to get in the habit of using it to structure my own writing…


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