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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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My books, let me show you them
Let me show you them, my books.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis

The Road to Mayerling: The Life and Death of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, Richard Barkeley

A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, John Kerr

A Long Fatal Love Chase, Louisa May Alcott

The Magicians, Lev Grossman

The Victorians, A.N. Wilson

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, David King

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, Erik Larson

Eiffel's Tower: And the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count, Jill Jonnes

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Cleopatra: A Life, Stacy Schiff

Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, Alison Weir

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, Alison Weir

The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition, Nicholas Frankel

So that's my combined haul from my birthday and Christmas. I immediately read the two Boleyn biographies because I love the Tudorbethan (heh) period in general and Alison Weir in particular; I think I love the soap operaish nature of all the scandals and dramas. (Never got into The Tudors, somehow, but ought to give that a try; I think we have the first season on DVD around here somewhere.) It's not so much that I fangirl or identify with any particular historical personage--I just love imagining what it must have been like to be a lady-in-waiting and be like, Oh my God, what is happening, we are so screwed. As one of them cried during Katherine Howard's extramarital shenanigans, "Jesus! Is not the Queen abed yet?" I mean, can you imagine what it must have been like to be courtiers during Anne Boleyn's imprisonment, wandering around whichever palace while Henry was off with Jane Seymour, whispering to each other, "Uh... what do we do now?" Which I think is why I love The Other Boleyn Girl as a good trashy read, as WILDLY historically inaccurate as it refuses to admit it is, because it gets across what an observer's experience could have been like. (I haven't read all of Gregory's Wildly Inaccurate Novels, but doesn't she have one about Katherine Howard? I should totally read that.) And meanwhile, you have Weir in the new Mary Boleyn bio duly invoking The Other Boleyn Girl and The Tudors and being like, "So that is KIND OF NOT WHAT HAPPENED AT ALL, okay." Of course, fair play, she also says, "And [XYZ] is a myth I repeated in my own books. So. Um. Sorry about that."

So, to answer the unspoken question, that's where I've been: wallowing in books. I'm about halfway through the annotated/uncensored Dorian Gray, then put it down for a bit once I got to the Really Symbolic and Kind of Boring Chapter Where Dorian, Like, Collects Gems or Something, but it is--I won't say "super gay," because I don't mean the FAA~AAABULOUS stereotype we have today. I mean that, for the Victorian era, once Frankel decodes some of the wording for you (like "sterile" specifically being understood by a Victorian audience to mean "gay"), the original version is really, really transgressive. And not just in coded wording; Original Basil is really, really (relatively) open about how much he loves Dorian. I haven't gotten to the second half where Frankel will presumably discuss what Dorian's "crimes" (which included more than just "being gay in the 1800s") were meant to be, but I imagine that'll be interesting.

Currently, I'm reading the Mayerling book,



@cleolinda: LET ALL LOOK UPON ITS GLORY #bookmas #unbearablecapslockofbeing

which is stuck a little bit more in dry politics than the slice-of-life details I like, but then, 1) I did want to know about the politics and 2) I also haven't gotten to the actual death/scandal yet, and what I wanted was to hear about the conspiracy theories (double suicide? murder-suicide? political murder? why?) and what Barkeley thinks actually happened. Not because I'm into conspiracies, but because I want to know what people in 1889 would have thought and how they would have talked about it. I want to know what they thought they knew.

(This is also why I got clappy during the Sherlock Holmes sequel when I saw it the other week--the whole "European sociopolitical situation of circa 1889-1891, now with 100% more anarchists" thing was incredibly relevant to my interests:)

I don't know what I'll read next, after I finish Dorian Gray; I'll probably--gleefully, greedily--continue working through the nonfiction.

Meanwhile, I will be watching the Twilight Zone marathon (OH CRAP IS IT ALREADY ON?) as usual, which has gone from "sad because I have nowhere loud and flashy to go" to "venerable homebody tradition, I do what I want." I would like to cheerfully drink my way through it, but I'll probably end up asleep by 10 pm if I do that, so.  

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I loved In the Garden of Beasts, though not quite as much as The Devil in the White City. Then again, I love the latter more than some pets I've had.

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TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG is one of my top five favourite books of all time. It's sheer delight.

This. I have read it three times now (VERY rare for me).

I haven't read any of those yet (although I believe Night Circus is on my ridiculously-long To-Buy list), so I'll just say: Yay, Books!

And Happy New Year!

To Say Nothing of the Dog!!!! Connie Willis is my favourite. I highly recommend Blackout/All Clear after that book if you haven't read them yet and are willing to sacrifice a significant portion of your life.

Re: Dorian Gray: given how much Wilde was responsible for the FAA~AABULOUS stereotype (even in a legal context), "super-gay" really is appropriate. Maybe "proto-gay" is more accurate, but still.

I haven't read all of Gregory's Wildly Inaccurate Novels, but doesn't she have one about Katherine Howard?

Yup, The Boleyn Inheritance. Cheesy fun. Oh, Katherine. I guess I can't blame you for acting like a stupid little girl, since you really were a stupid little girl.

I'm reading "The Other Boleyn Girl" right now. Here's to wildly inaccurate fluff! :-) Enjoy your haul. I'll be interested to hear what you think of "The Night Circus"; I was surprised by how much I liked it!

Thanks for the "Twilight Zone" reminder!

I adore Erik Larson. Adore. I read Isaac's Storm when I must have been about 12 and just fell in love with his way of telling stories. The Weir Boleyn book looks like one I'll need to pick up next time I have extra book money- that period in history has always fascinated me, too.

The Gregory wildly-inaccurate-books are so much fun! I love them, even if I have to suspend all my historical knowledge to read them.

Isaac's Storm is one of my favorites too, but it has done absolutely nothing to convince me to move to an area that gets hurricanes.

My brother got that Larson book for Christmas and I hadn't even been aware he had a new one. Bad fangirl!

The first season of The Tudors is also Wildly Inaccurate, but if I recall correctly it gets sort of eerily accurate in later seasons (with the occasional dramatic liberty), to where people are even shouting Historical Quotes at each other.

Other people in the comments have mentioned it but Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog is pure delight. I was having a particularly bad day when I started it, and I laughed all the way through. Echoing other recommendations to pick up Blackout and All Clear if you end up liking her stuff, as well as Doomsday Book, which is so heartbreaking but very, very good.

For a second, I thought you were going to do a Twilight-Twilight marathon, and my heart bled for you. I always think New Year's Eve should be about whatever the hell you want. I've done it out, I've done it at home as a romantic thing, I've marathoned Futurama, and mostly it's all been good.

The Katherine Howard one is *The Boleyn Inheritance.* I like it a lot better than *The Other Boleyn Girl,* and it does capture some of the hysteria of being a courtier and trying to guess where the wind is blowing. On the other hand, I tried to read *The Constant Princess*, and put it down. I do prefer Alison Weir, and I have a soft spot for Jean Plaidy.

Have a Happy New Year!

The Boleyn Inheritance kind of made me anxious the entire time I read it, because there is just so much "STOP stop you guys, stop doing that, no, don't do that, someone else is going to die/be divorced/narrowly be sentenced with treason again, aahhhh" going on there.

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Definitely. One of my favorite books of the year.

I was completely absorbed by Death in the City of Lights. The detail in that book is amazing.

& The Night Circus: I think possibly my favourite novel of 2011.

My mom and I were on vacation in Austria last year and the Mayerling suicide hunting shack was one of the places we visited. I have this pet theory that should Rudolf have lived to become king, the entirety of WWI and the Russian Revolution would have gone very differently. I should put that book on my to-read list.

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If you care for the opinion of a random internet denizen, if you liked the first one you will probably like the second one. Game of Shadows takes everything about the first one (explosions! disguises! homosexual subtext!) and turns it up to 11. It's great fun but it is somewhat unsubtle. Also, Stephen Fry, squee.