change is hard .. yet useful
I found it difficult to keep track of all the books I’ve completed over the past two weeks. I am learning how to use this discovered time and I expect the change of schedule will require an adjustment period. I thought that with the time I wasn’t spending writing here every day, I’d promptly write out nice reviews of each book and would then be able to put excerpts here.
You can stop rolling on the floor now. I didn’t plan ahead and I found my prior system for tracking completed books failed when it had to span over a week. I’m trying something new now.
I can therefore state that, in author order, I finished the following books recently:
Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City
by Anthony Flint
Over a decade ago I had the pleasure of taking Professor Kenneth Jackson’s great course “History of the City of New York” at Columbia. As a Computer Science undergrad I was a bit scared to take the course, my required reading was generally much different in scale and scope from history courses. I emailed the professor that summer and asked what texts might be included, hoping to both get a head start and to pick up used copies. I received a kind reply and two books listed were The Power Broker and The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I went down to Strand Books and picked them up and read them before the term started. They shaped my understanding of the course and my view of cities, both my own and others I’ve visited.
A different reader read Wrestling with Moses last week than that nervous undergrad all those years ago. I’ve now spent time living, both in New York and as an adult. I’ve traveled more. I recently moved from Brooklyn to Westchester. In the decade that’s passed I’ve not yet reread either seminal book, despite a long desire to do so.
However, I found Flint’s work lacking.
I found the surface merely scratched for both Moses’ and Jacobs’ influence on cities, urban planning, and activism. The organization of the material felt more of a side by side clean comparison than of a wrestling match.
While apparently some aspects of Caro’s lengthy work has recently been called into question for the harsh picture it paints, I still recommend The Power Broker and of course The Death and Life of Great American Cities for a clearer understanding of Robert Moses, Jane Jacobs, and the City of New York.
All the Weyrs of Pern
by Anne McCaffrey
I read through Pern quickly my first time and I didn’t quite make note of what I did and didn’t read. At one point I was very strict about reading each and every title only chronologically. Now, I just want to read them as I find them or as certain topics are relevant to me. I am pretty sure I didn’t come across this story before as it hits all the nails on the head of topics that are of great interest to me summed up simply as “technology and society”. It’s a good read and I’m now looking for a hard copy to call my own so I can reread it and see sides of this challenge from angles I don’t always get a chance to observe.
The Dolphins of Pern
by Anne McCaffrey
I’m dong marathon reviewing and running out of energy so I’ll leave just the following phrases until some time in the future when I’ll be able to write more:
– follow your dream
– remember the stories
by Elizabeth Moon
I found this as a free downloadable ebook on Suvudu. I wish I recall how I found Suvudu, but…
I enjoyed several of Moon’s other works, and was in the mood for something standard so I downloaded and transferred it over to my reader.
I was wrong. Sadly. Since a woman joining a man’s world and kicking complete arse is still fantasy and not overly mundane in the real world.
Yes, if you strip away any reference to gender of the lives that are written or of the lives that you dream up based upon Moon’s detailed painting, there’s not much there. Child runs away. Child joins army. Child is prodigy. Sure, standard fare. Moon’s mastery of words allows this to become a much more detailed and enjoyable story. Her world building and attention to detail is fascinating to me even if this is one of her earlier works.
I’m now smitten enough to try to scout out and read the rest of this series, and that my local library doesn’t seem to have the second book won’t stop me. It’s a fun ride I encourage you to join in.
Ciara’s Song: A Chronicle of the Witch World
by Andre Norton
I’m reading the Witch World books out of any known order. As I find them, as long as they don’t very obviously build upon another volume, I read them. At the moment I seem to be finding and reading about “The Turning” with Ciara’s Song another title in this section.
The Turning books deal with questions regarding who can handle magic power and if it is for good or evil. Ciara is “part of the old blood” and is largely untrained due to an earlier purge that left her grandmother without her mother and teacher. As with other stories in this series gender and traditional roles are questioned as is the other standard fare: good and evil.
I found this story stronger than the other three Turning books I’ve read (The Key of the Keplian, The Magestone, and the Warding of Wtichworld) in demonstrating family and sibling bonds of love and trust. Each book has its strength and minor weaknesses. I really enjoyed this one.
Clear diagrams make this a very useful book for me despite my very low fluency in Japanese.
On my bus home today a man asked if anyone had change for a dollar. Sealed in a very small plastic bag (reused from the bead store) I keep the exact bus fare, just in case my metrocard doesn’t work.