We’re settling in for the summer, which should mean that except for a trip in June, blog postings should be more or less normal. Which is good, because I’m finding these Weeknote posts both enjoyable to write and useful.
The semester is officially over, which means I’m only working with graduate students (those are a 12-month responsibility) and doing the off-semester admin that never goes away.
Not much this week, since the first half of the week involved the road trip to get here. But I spent half a day doing necessary administrative work and another few hours unpacking and setting up my home study space. Now I have no excuses, which is good because it’s time to get to work.
I read Spring, the most recent installment in Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. I didn’t find it as enjoyable or satisfying as the previous two, but I’m still not sure I’m being entirely fair to it. My review is in the previous post and Janine’s questions expand on some of the review points in helpful ways.
I also spent a few hours trying to read one of the new It Books in the rom com subgenre, Red, White, and Royal Blue. I tried it because a friend and I were having a long discussion while she was reading it and it was easier to just read parts of it myself. I abandoned it after 4 chapters or so because it was just so dire. It has loads of 5-star reviews at Goodreads, which reinforces my belief that people read books for a wide variety of reasons. I can only conclude that the readers who love this one are reading into the book a great deal that is not there and ignoring what is actually on the page. The characterizations are inconsistent and insubstantial, the setting bears no resemblance to anything in the supposedly real world in which it’s set (it’s an alternate timeline but not an alternate universe setting), and it is clearly supposed to be snarky and witty but for me it failed on almost every attempt. Some of the other negative reviews have described it as Tumblr-type fanfiction, which seems about right to me. The author has written an RPF fanfic of actors in The Social Network and after reading a bit of that story, I can see definite similarities in the approach and writing style.
I’m mostly gobsmacked that this was picked up by a Big 5 publisher and given a huge promotional push. It’s also been optioned by Amazon, which makes more sense to me. I can see a competent scriptwriter and director turning this into a decent timepass TV movie, especially with actors who are warm and sympathetic. In the novel the POV character is (apparently deliberately) hard to spend time with, at least in the early chapters, which violates a basic tenet of romance: you should want the MCs to have happy endings. Maybe the character is redeemed, but nothing in the writing style suggests to me that will happen. But on film an actor can sell a lot that an on-page characterization can’t.
In the Watching department, TheH and I spent some time wallowing in the second John Wick movie. TheH is a fan of the series, and while I am a Keanu fan, the violence in the first one overwhelmed my interpretation of the overall story. But watching John Wick Chapter 2, I realized that there was a real plot and acting in between the ultra-violent set pieces, and given how unbelievable the violence is, I found a way to enjoy the movie a lot. How can you not like a movie with Ian McShane and Franco Nero and Common and Lance Reddick? I doubt we’ll see the newest installment in a theater, but I’m totally up for it when it hits the streaming channels. Go Keanu.
I had end-of-season Premier League hangover. The FA Cup Final was worse even than I’d feared (Man City 6-0 over Watford) and it’s another week to the Champions League Final. I’m cautiously optimistic for Liverpool.
I’m almost caught up on Football Weekly podcasts and behind again on Brexitcasts. Maybe now that footie is winding down I’ll get to all those book-related podcasts sitting in the folder.
Unpacking and organizing files and books counts as productivity, right? I’m claiming it, anyway.
I also spent a fair few hours updating my LibraryThing account so that it now contains all the books and reviews I’ve added to Goodreads since I reactivated my account there in late 2017. I’m dialing back my Goodreads participation to a minimum. Since there are people whose reviews and updates I read who only post there, I’m not going to kill the account, but I’m going to make LibraryThing my main book-cataloguing site. Goodreads is too close to other types of social media, I realized, whereas LT is just books and reviews, at least for me.
TheH said something really helpful to me when we were talking about how sites work: there are sites, like GR, which are designed to keep you there, clicking from one item to another. Twitter and Facebook and Instagram are obviously like that, but I hadn’t thought about how GR does that too. The updates feed, the Like button, the default systems of notifications are all there to make you come back to the site and spend time there. I have my notifications to a minimum but I still go to the site to check. And as a result I wind up with Twitter-like lists of follows and friends, i.e., people I only know there are who I interact with because it’s easier than saying “no, I don’t want to.” I had a strange set of interactions this past week, not my first, and I realized that I do not want to have those on a site that I’m using purely for book talk (this was not book talk). It’s so insidious, the way sites use psychological techniques to keep you coming back to them. Clearly they benefit some users, but not me.
This week is about setting up routines for the summer. Boring in some ways but very satisfying in others. My work, department work, house work.
In the fun department, I get to write my 20 Books of Summer post. I probably won’t select all 20 ahead of time, but I’ve got a few on the list and some categories in mind.