tsarina: (peppermints)
[personal profile] tsarina
I joined the Book of the Month club, in large part because Sarah did. And who am I kidding, I'm going to buy books anyway. I'm so much more likely to read them if they're sitting around in my space. The kindle mostly gets used for trips away. I have a dozen books on there I haven't even cracked. Technology wise it is great, but I am just too used to reading paper I guess. One of my goals for the year is to write reviews for everything as I read it, because I know that amazon review count can mean a lot for some authors.

(if you are on the fence on the book of the month club thing, I have can email you a referral thing where the first month is a dollar.)

I picked up American War by Omar El Akkad and Startup by Doree Shafrir. I don't think I could have gotten two things more opposite in tone. Startup is a frothy, quick little jaunt through the absurdity and grossness of startup culture life, as seen by two women neck deep in it. It's good. It's not revolutionary or going to tell you stuff you don't know. I think my only real complaint is that I wish there was more to it - the end feels like it cuts off in the middle without telling me what happens to any of these people. But it is a fast, chipper read and just escapist enough.

American War is much darker. It's interesting to look at the idea of radicalization and what our 21st century wars would look like on American ground. Timely and grim and sort of despairing that we're ever going to be better than this. The only strange note for me is that the characters don't seem to deal with race as a thing. In this 2075 American civil war, I sincerely doubt the good old boys of Georgia and the South are going to truck much with black Americans. But aside from this odd omission, the book is pretty damn good.

I'm already champing at the bit to pick out next month's books. If nothing else, I think this pushes me slightly out of my comfort zone (Russians, vampires, scifi epics) and will make me read some contemporary stuff.

Currently I'm reading Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s by Sheila Fitzpatrick. You can tell it is meant to be a textbook by the absurdly small font which makes reading sometimes slow. It's also hard to eat an orange and read it at the same. Still, it is fascinating. It mostly focuses on urban life. (The author has another book about the rural life of the time.) This is one of my favorite periods of history, because between the Revolution in 1917 and the end of World War II, Russia achieved probably a century's worth of progress at substantial cost to the people of the country. What makes this all so unsettling is seeing parallels with the current situation. I think the part that struck me the hardest was the idea that many higher level Communists suffered from this shared delusion that they were not privileged despite having significant privileges over the rank and file. Communists who had access to special stores, received better quality goods distributed to Party members, or had access to dachas and even just bread obviously had more and better things than many workers. It's a weird and complicated situation I'm loathe to try and summarize. But mostly it made me think about many of my fellow white middle class people crying about how they're not privileged, how their suffering matters so much and they need someone like that rotting papaya shitgoblin in the White House...
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