A book about a topic you already love

This was meant as a sort of “gimme”. Readers got to read more of what they already read, rather than trying to broaden their reading. That said, since it was rare for anyone to clarify what topic they loved, I’ve decided to use my questionable judgment to choose a topic for each book. You’ll probably be able to tell which were notes from readers, and which were my commentary.

You Are A Badass
by Jen Sincero
Topic: me, myself, and I
This book is not for those dealing with: disability, systemic racism, virulent misogyny, catastrophically bad luck, an abusive relationship, addiction, generational poverty… essentially, it’s for at least middle class, straight, able-bodied, neurotypical white people.

Possible Other Categories
A book with a subtitle
A book with a yellow spine
A book you can read in a day

Wax Tablets of the Mind
by Jocelyn Penny Small
Topic: cognition, text tech, classics
Oh grad student, how you torment me. As it is, I will not spend $10 to read a review of a book I can’t afford, thank you very much University of Chicago Press. The topic does remind me, however, of an argument some college pals were having on social media over whether listening to an audiobook counted as “reading”. As one person pointed out, most people “read” by being read aloud to by someone else until like… the 1900s (exact timing varied).

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book with water in the cover art

The Whisperer in Darkness
by H. P. Lovecraft
Topic: Horror
Drinking game I cannot recommend for health and safety reasons: this one. At the very least, you’ll be hammered after just one of the short stories.

Possible Other Categories
A book with an adaptation you enjoyed (or not) first (board games included!)
A book about mental health (one wonders if Lovecraft’s work was partly him trying to deal with the fact that both his parents died mad as hatters)
An allegorical book (and not in a good way)
A book involving a mythical creature
A book set in the city (some)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Topic: bisexual Cuban women
This book gets points for its main character, and loses points for that awful title and terrible cover. Please note a pile of possible content warnings should be attached before reading. It might look like light fare, but there’s definitely some upsetting stuff in there.

Possible Other Categories
A book with a queer/lgbt+/quiltbag protagonist
A book with a character’s name in the title
A book set in the city

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
by Elif Batuman
Topic: Tolstoy-obsessed grad students
Okay, let’s get this out of the way: do not blame the author for misleading jacket copy. Well, actually, you can if it’s self-published, which this is not. Apparently a lot of white bread dudes need to write novels of their own decrying that this is not, in fact, academic analysis of Russian literature and/or its fans. They are far more tedious than anything Batuman has to say about Samarkand. Give it your one or two stars, say “I thought this would be more about Russian literature, but it’s really more of a memoir, so I was disappointed”, and move the hell on. My stance is that star ratings are personal, reviews are public. Rate however you want, but your review had better not be a waste of bandwidth.

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book with a two word title
A book with a subtitle
A book with a yellow spine
A book set in the city (sometimes)
A book of or about poetry or poets (some)

The Martian
by Andy Weir
Topic: duct tape
I have bad news. This is not the last time this book will show up on the blog. And I likely still won’t have anything new to say about it, unless Andy Weir does something stupid and gets in the news (please don’t do anything stupid, Andy).

Possible Other Categories
The book with an adaptation you enjoyed (or not) first
A book with a two word title
A book set on a different planet
A book mentioned in a movie or TV show
A book featuring a profession you are unfamiliar with (astronaut)
A book recommended by someone else in the guild

The Invisible Orientation
by Julie Sondra Decker
Topic: for once, not sex
A book about asexuality! YES! I am as delighted to have this here on the blog as I am every time someone lists a bodice ripper. Equal opportunity delight here. I’d be even happier if this were a fictional asexual romance (which yes, is a thing, read this dang book, okay?) Especially given that there’s so many YA novels in the reading lists, which seem determined to have some kind of sexual (usually hetero) romance in their plots.

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book with a queer/lgbt+/quiltbag protagonist (slight stretch, but see, this is where the “+” and the “a” come from. A does not mean “ally”.)
A book you can read in a day

The Elements of Eloquence
by Mark Forsyth
Topic: the sound of your own voice
Technically, this is more a discussion of rhetoric, that approach to argument developed by the Greeks. Who, by the way, should probably not be our models for a lot of things (cue Mary Beard’s Women and Power). Forsyth’s favorite structural approach of starting the next essay from wherever the previous one left off doesn’t work as well as in The Etymologican, which reads like a sugar-fueled anglophone shiritori.

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book you can read in a day

The Deadly Dinner Party
by Jonathan Edlow
Topic: real-life medical detective stories
Despite the title, this book is not mostly about murders or even deaths. It’s basically House: The Book, only with less assholery all around.

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book based on real scientific knowledge
A book set in the city (often enough)
A microhistory (more like 15 of them!)

The Book of Lost Things
by John Connolly
Topic: Grimm-dark stories
This book is dark. It is just waiting for Guillermo del Toro to come along and film it. Failing that, Tim Burton might not do a terrible job, although he’s kind of hit and miss with too much nutty. And technicolor. Give it to a young teen to read if you thought The Brave Little Toaster wasn’t at all traumatizing to children.

Possible Other Categories
A book about mental health
A book about death or grief
A book involving a mythical creature
A book set in the city

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
by Douglas Adams
Topic: dolphins
If you read and did not like the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, please stop there. You will not find that any book in the series will change your opinion very much, and this might be the least like the others. Oddly, it’s not my lowest ranked of the 5 books. I always found an undercurrent of nihilism in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe nagged at me, taking away my enjoyment of the otherwise zany, fast paced story.

Possible Other Categories
The next book in a series
A book with an animal in the title

Small Wonders
by almost anyone
Topic: almost anything
No author was listed, so I went looking for options. And there are so many! There’s an M/M romance with a lovely watercolor cover. A F/F erotica for a male audience with a not great cover. A hetero romance with an uninspired cover Innumerable books on children’s education. A pop science book on microbiology. A children’s book about Jean-Henri Fabre. Numerous short story collections, not all of them about, ugh, babies. A book about chihuahuas. Lots of nature books for kids. The weirdest one is not that earlier erotica about shrinking women in a toy shop, but the book of sermons for kids. Really?!

Possible Other Categories
A book with a two word title (only guaranteed one)

Philosophy in The Twilight Zone
by Noël Carroll (Editor) & Lester H. Hunt (Editor)
Topic: …philosphy
My ex had a degree in philosophy. Nothing can ever save the field for me now. Not even The Twilight Zone.

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book with a time of day in the title
A book by two authors
A book you can read in a day

Ablutions
by Patrick deWitt
Topic: alcoholism
<checks author photo> Yup, still looks insufferable.

Possible Other Categories
A book with an ugly cover
A book about a villain or anti-hero
A book you can read in a day
A book about a difficult topic (alcoholism)
A book set in the city

Murderous Methods
by Mark Benecke
Topic: Murder investigations and pathology
Okay, now we have a medical detective book that’s actually about murder. Benecke wasn’t one of the pathologists involved in the cases he discusses, so I don’t know how accurate his analysis or speculation might be, given there’s sometimes sealed or missing records, and such. So many content warnings for this book. So many.

Possible Other Categories
A book about a difficult topic
A book you can read in a day
A book involving real scientific knowledge
A book about true crime
A book based on a real person
A book with a two word title
A book with pictures
A book set in the city (some cases)

Lords and Ladies
by Terry Pratchett
Topic: bad, bad elves
The Habitican didn’t actually include the author name, so technically this could have been any number of romances, ranging from Elizabeth Gaskell to something billed as a “medieval spanking novella”. Nanny Ogg would get a kick out of that one.

Possible Other Categories
A book that is also performed on stage
The next book in a series
A book about or set on a holiday in June (well, the Disc’s equivalent, anyway)
A book involving a mythical creature

How Games Move Us
by Katherine Isbister
Topic: video gaaaaaaaames
Introductory text about how games get you in the feels. It’s written by a woman, so I strongly recommend not reading the comments anywhere it turns up on your internet journeys.

Possible Other Categories
A book with a subtitle
A book with pictures
A book involving real scientific knowledge
A book you can read in a day

Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh
by Joyce Tyldesley
Topic: Ancient Egypt and/or crossdressers
I don’t know how anyone could write such a dry book about my favorite Pharaoh, but here we are. There’s also the trouble that the book is now outdated and in need of revision in light of new research and discoveries, so I was annoyed at its failings without realizing it was way older than the information I already knew. Based on what was known when it was originally published, though, Tylde

Possible Other Categories
A book based on a real person
A book with a character’s name in the title
A book with a subtitle
A book with pictures
A book with a yellow spine
A book set in the city (some)

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog: The Book
by Joss Whedon & Jane Watkins
Topic: endearingly inept villains
Warning to musicians: when they set this up with the sheet music, they forgot you might actually want to use the sheet music. Anyway, now that I’ve actually worked in film, I have really complicated feelings about this show, especially as Whedon had the money during filming that he could have paid the crew right away, instead of on spec. Fellow technical crew: never work on spec for someone who is Actually Rich. It’s one thing when my aspiring director work pal puts together an indie on shoelaces and gum and I work on spec, and another entirely when Joss goddamn Whedon does it during a writer’s strike (for the record, he was pro-strikers, and since it didn’t actually go to camera during the strike, he didn’t technically cross the picket line as a writer).

Possible Other Categories
A book about a villain or anti-hero
A book involving a heist or theft
A book by two authors
A book you can read in a day
A book with pictures
A book set in the city

Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park
by F. H. Hinsley & Alan Stripp
Topic: incredibly tedious math
This is not an introductory book. It’s not even a narrative non-fiction. It’s recollections of codebreaking at Bletchley from WWII, and therefore you need to already be a WWII buff (both theaters, mind now), even with a handy glossary. You may go cross-eyed even so.

Possible Other Categories
A book involving real scientific knowledge
A book by two authors (or editors, as it may be)
A book featuring a profession you are unfamiliar with (cryptanalyst)

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Topic: NDT
Dear Men (and it seems to always be men) stop telling women how to review books on GoodReads. The book bills itself as an accessible, breezy entry to astrophysics as a topic. If someone finds this not to be so, and gives it one star because, as the GR guidelines themselves say, “[they] did not like it”, get the hell over it. Shut up. Your regulation of women’s thoughts and speech is not needed. Go under your bridge and stay there.

Possible Other Categories
A book involving real scientific knowledge
A book about a difficult topic

Evil in Amsterdam
by Carolyn Keene
Topic: questionable teenage hijinks
This is a Nancy Drew (and Hardy Boys) book from the 90s. So we don’t know who ghost wrote it, and it’s probably less problematic than some of the originals. Not the most popular reading on social reading sites, but it’s kind of neat people are still reading these adventure mysteries.

Possible Other Categories
A book set in the city
The next book in a series
A book you can read in a day (that’s kind of the point of pulp novels)

Honorable Mention
В погоне за рейтингом
I honestly couldn’t find this one at all.

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