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The Mid-Semester Silence – Part the First

So as per, the semester is well back in (I’m marking, I’m writing lectures, I’m generally making other poor life choices) and so my non-academic writing has fallen by the wayside. I feel guilty for not maintaining a regular writing pattern, I know it would be good for me, but I also struggle to find the time/space/energy once semester kicks in. I’m hardly alone in this, so I think I do just need to exercise a little more discipline. So here I am. Being disciplined. And writing an unfinished blog about unfinished books.

As I’m not teaching literature this semester I hoped it would enable me to read more fiction. Instead I have a pile of half-finished novels and poetry collections and essays, and so, like every reformed Catholic post-Easter, I’m going to confess my sins to you in the hope of forgiveness or refuge.

I’m reading Terra Nullius by Clare Coleman. Its up for the Stella, it’s like War of the Worlds, it implicates White Australia in the Indigenous Dystopia and it’s amazing. I’m half way through. I have been since January. I don’t know whether I’m slow reading because this book asks me to work and I can’t give it the work it deserves right now. I don’t know whether I’m discomforted and need to sit with my discomfort. I am loving it, but I am slow in reading it.

I’m reading The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Benet. One of our members put me onto this read last year and I have been desperate to sink into it. A thriller surrounding the death of My Mate Barthes? Yes. A cast of characters including Kristeva, Foucault, and Deleauze? OMG YES. A crime novel about the great French critical theorists of the twentieth century is precisely my jam. This was only compounded last week with the Bulgarian government’s allegation that Kristeva was an agent for them (the short version of that seems to be they asked her to report back on certain figures and she provided useless and resistant information. MY HEART). BUt even though I am fucking loving it, I just have not had, again, the time or ability to sit down and read it through. Ugh.

I’m reading All the Birds in the Sky by Charli Jane Anders. I had purchased this one because the front cover looked pretty (I judge books by their covers) but then one of my students told me she was reading it and that she thought I would really enjoy it. I respect this student’s taste in books, it’s pretty flawless. And she’s right. I’m loving the gentle literary fantastic element that weaves its way throughout this book. I’m about a quarter of the way through. Sigh.

I’m reading The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I saw a review for this book on Twitter. I am entirely, 100% here for fantasy that is not Eurocentric and this novel take the best of Afro-futurism and High Fantasy and creates an unapologetically political story world. It’s an invaluable lens for creatively writing the Black Lives Matter imperative. I am in love. I am excited for the rest of this series and I am recommending it left, right and centre. I’m about two thirds through. Nearly there.

I’m reading Silly Novels by Lady Novelists by George Eliot. I have been reading this since I bought it in November. 2015. SEND HELP.

I’m reading Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler. In my defense, Butler is dense, yo. I started reading this book at about the time as the offensive in Syria really took off. I have been reading and re-reading it every day since. I am sitting in and with this book, but I have not finished it. The unmournability of ‘collateral damage’ is something that I think we all need to engage with. I think I haven’t finished reading this book because the conversation I’m having with it is a conversation that I don’t want to end. I need to keep talking this through. Perhaps more importantly, I need to mourn it.

I’m reading Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. This is a critical engagement with the comic book form. I’m going to have to go back to the start and read it again. I feel like it should be the sort of book I can read in one day, if I have one day to sit down and read it. That magic “if”, right?

I’m reading The Road to Somewhere by David Goodhart. This was a Christmas present from my BFF and boy howdy does she know me. Although I’m not really on board with Goodhart’s political thrust (see the copies of Salvage in the picture above?) I am really interested in learning how it is I can explain progressive politics to my rather conservative extended family, especially in light of Brexit and what this means for them.

HONESTLY, TEAM, THIS ISN’T EVEN THE HALF OF THE BOOKS I’M MIDWAY THROUGH. In some ways the blog post itself is only half written, because I have to go and give a class right now and I’ll be teaching from 2-7. Don’t be me. On the upside, the next post is going to be a whole bunch more books I’m loving but haven’t fucking finished. Do you have the same problem? What have you been sitting on for ages and why? Give me more books to add to my list.

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