Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 Reading, Books 112-114

112) The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane by Alex Irvine

Sleepy Hollow is my latest obsession (though I was not happy with this Monday's episode!), and this book is a quick, pleasant companion read to the first season. I thought the voice and writing were quite strong. That said, it was like episode commentary--Ichabod's thoughts on the battles and monsters we saw him face on the show and his musings on Katrina and Jeremy--where I was hoping for more of a deleted scenes approach. My favorite parts of the show are Ichabod's sometimes baffled and reliably snarky commentary on 21st century life and his relationship with Abbie, so I wanted more of that. If anything, the book had less. Ah, well. That's what fanfic is for!

113) Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert

This isn't the book I'd recommend if you're looking for something happy and hopeful. It's about the mistakes America has been making as a nation for almost my whole life, and certainly for as long as I've been politically active and aware. Growing income inequality. Aging infrastructure. Endless wars going on below most Americans' radar. Education "reform" that does more harm than good and doesn't address the true problem--namely that we have the highest child poverty rate of any advanced nation.

I see all this. I know all this. Mr Fraser and I are doing well, in the big scheme of things. We're far from the 1%, but we're well above the median income for our city, which is above the U.S. median. I don't worry about money on a day-to-day basis. We've never been hungry. And yet I don't feel truly secure, since we've arrived at this comfortable position fairly recently, and I know both of our industries could suffer greatly in another downturn. And Seattle is a rich city, and we live in a good if not especially tony neighborhood--yet I still see decaying infrastructure all around me, from tire-eating potholes to bridges that probably should've been replaced a decade or two ago, but we'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope the maintenance crews know what they're doing, given that we live in earthquake country.

When the Great Recession first started, I had hopes that people would look back to the 30's and see an opportunity to revive the WPA or something like it. Rebuild those bridges. Shore up the levees. Reinvest in the basic science that will save lives 20 or 40 years down the line or see our great-grandchildren colonizing Mars. Acknowledge that Keynes was right and deficit-spend now to see the dividends in a more prosperous future. I don't know why I was so naive. I'd like to hope things will change--and Herbert tries to end on a hopeful note, calling for citizen action--but I don't think enough people are listening.

114) Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare

And on a much lighter note, this Christmas novella is a quick, engaging read about lovers reunited. It isn't a history geek historical romance--I don't think anyone was all that worried about the French invading England by 1813. If it'd been 1803, sure. But it's fun and well-written, and I always enjoy a good holiday novella at this time of year. When you're busy with your own end-of-year responsibilities, the short reads hit the spot.

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