Reading project, week ending 10 Jan 2021

What have I read this week? Just one.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

This is a nonfiction book about mass incarceration in the US, and how it functions to keep black and brown people, particularly black men, in an underclass of people with fewer rights and opportunities than other Americans. I found the book interesting, and also depressing, because I hadn’t realised the true scale of this issue.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 3 Jan 2021

What have I read this week? This one’s pretty late, sorry.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

This is a novel about Monty, a young aristocrat about to embark on his Grand Tour of Europe with his sister and his best friend. I really enjoyed this, although there are definitely some harrowing sections. The characters are great, and the plot is fun. I’d definitely read more in this series.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

This is a novel about Felicity, a young woman who wants to become a doctor. It follows The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and similarly is a lot of fun with great characters and a fun plot. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and would read more in the series.

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

This is a Chinese fantasy novel about Wei WuXian, a young cultivator who turns to dark methods, and Lan WangJi, his extremely moral friend. I enjoyed this; the characters are interesting and so is the story. And the relationship between the two main characters is adorable.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 27 Dec 2020

What have I read this week?

Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy and Network Effect by Martha Wells

These are books 2, 3, 4 and 5 in The Murderbot Diaries series, which are science fiction novels about Murderbot, a security bot which manages to free itself from its programming. I really enjoyed these; Murderbot is a great character and I loved seeing it develop throughout the series. I would definitely read more of these.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 20 Dec 2020

What have I read this week?

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

This is a novella about a wajinru named Yetu who holds all the memories of her people. I liked this; although it’s quite dark in places, I really believed in Yetu, and I got a good sense of the world she lives in. I would definitely read more by this author.

Dealing With Dragons, Searching For Dragons, Calling On Dragons and Talking To Dragons by Patricia Wrede

These are the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, a series of books about people and dragons living in or near the Enchanted Forest. They feature the princess Cimorene, the witch Morwen, King Mendanbar of the Enchanted Forest and Daystar, Cimorene’s son. I really enjoyed these; they are a fun read and I liked the characters. I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 13 Dec 2020

What have I read this week?

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

This is a YA novel about a young woman named Angel and a young man named Jimmy. Jimmy is in a band that Angel is a huge fan of, and she is going to see them in concert for the first time. I really liked this. The characters are interesting and believable, and I found the story interesting. I’d definitely read more by the same author.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 6 Dec 2020

What have I read this week?

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

This is a novel about a young woman named Alice who is asexual and meets a young man who gives her some very confusing feelings. I quite liked this. I found Alice a bit self-indulgent, but it was good to read something with an ace protagonist.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge: A Novel of Magic and Mixology by Paul Krueger

This is a contemporary fantasy novel about a young woman named Bailey who is working in a bar and gets involved with magic. I liked this; the world and the magical system are interesting, and I liked the characters. It was a fun read, and I would definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 29 Nov 2020

What have I read this week? Just one.

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber

This is a nonfiction book about useless jobs, and the proliferation thereof, and why, and what that has done to our society. I found it really interesting, and felt like I learned a lot from it.

Most economists nowadays see the labor theory of value as a curiosity from the formative days of the discipline; and it’s probably true that, if one’s primary interest is to understand patterns of price formation, there are better tools available. But for the worker’s movement—and arguably, for revolutionaries like Karl Marx—that was never the real point. The real point is philosophical. It is a recognition that the world we inhabit is something we made, collectively, as a society, and therefore, that we could also have made differently. This is true of almost any physical object likely to be within reach of us at any given moment. Every one was grown or manufactured by someone on the basis of what someone imagined we might be like, and what they thought we might want or need. It’s even more true of abstractions like “capitalism,” “society,” or “the government.” They only exist because we produce them every day. John Holloway, perhaps the most poetic of contemporary Marxists, once proposed to write a book entitled Stop Making Capitalism. After all, he noted, even though we all act as if capitalism is some kind of behemoth towering over us, it’s really just something we produce. Every morning we wake up and re-create capitalism. If one morning we woke up and all decided to create something else, then there wouldn’t be capitalism anymore. There would be something else.


One might even say that this is the core question—perhaps ultimately the only question—of all social theory and all revolutionary thought. Together we create the world we inhabit. Yet if any one of us tried to imagine a world we’d like to live in, who would come up with one exactly like the one that currently exists? We can all imagine a better world. Why can’t we just create one? Why does it seem so inconceivable to just stop making capitalism? Or government? Or at the very least bad service providers and annoying bureaucratic red tape?

Ch. 6

Be this as it may, however, it opens the way to my second and final point. The first objection typically raised when someone suggests guaranteeing everyone a livelihood regardless of work is that if you do so, people simply won’t work. This is just obviously false and at this point I think we can dismiss it out of hand. The second, more serious objection is that most will work, but many will choose work that’s of interest only to themselves. The streets would fill up with bad poets, annoying street mimes, and promoters of crank scientific theories, and nothing would get done. What the phenomenon of bullshit jobs really brings home is the foolishness of such assumptions. No doubt a certain proportion of the population of a free society would spend their lives on projects most others would consider to be silly or pointless; but it’s hard to imagine how it would go much over 10 or 20 percent. But already right now, 37 to 40 percent of workers in rich countries already feel their jobs are pointless. Roughly half the economy consists of, or exists in support of, bullshit. And it’s not even particularly interesting bullshit! If we let everyone decide for themselves how they were best fit to benefit humanity, with no restrictions at all, how could they possibly end up with a distribution of labor more inefficient than the one we already have?

Ch. 7
© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 15 Nov 2020

What have I read this week? A bit late again, sorry!

Because everything I read this week is by the same author, rather than repeat the same things over and over I’ll just do a brief overall review of all of them up here. Anything specific to a particular book will go under its name.

I really enjoyed all of these. The worlds are fascinating, the characters are compelling and the plots are interesting. They avoid the pitfalls of a lot of fantasy where the characters don’t act like real people; I really believed in these characters as people. I also liked the way the main characters handle sex, as just another part of life and not something taboo or dirty. I would definitely read more by this author.

Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher

This is a fantasy novella about a group of goblins who end up in enemy territory during a war.

A Wizard’s Guide To Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

This is a fantasy novel about a young girl named Mona who is a wizard who works in the medium of bread.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

This is a horror novel about a woman named Melissa who is clearing out her late grandmother’s house. It is a bit creepy though, but then it’s meant to be.

The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

This is a fantasy novel about a teenage girl named Rhea who becomes engaged to a local lord. I really liked the hedgehog.

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher

This is a retelling of the Snow Queen about a girl named Gerta who goes in search of her childhood friend who has been taken by the Snow Queen.

Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher

This is a fantasy novel about a man named Stephen who is a paladin whose god has died and a woman named Grace, who is a perfumer.

Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

This is a fantasy novel about a young girl named Summer who travels to the land of Orcus. My favourite character is probably Reginald the Regency hoopoe and the valet-birds.

Toad Words by T. Kingfisher

This is a collection of short stories and poetry which are retold fairy tales.

Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, about a woman named Bryony.

© bardofupton 2020