Wednesday Reads Round-Up 31st July

I need to stop titling these posts ‘weekly reads’, because goodness knows I cannot update them on a weekly basis. So for now it’s a ‘Wednesday reads round-up’, and since I actually have managed to make time to read this week, I do have stuff to post about.

Firstly, I’m making more effort to read and recommend other blog posts and online essays relevant to this blog. Starting with ‘If You Haven’t Watched X‘, a look at gatekeeping in anime fandom by Karandi at 100 Word Anime. It’s a topic I’ve touched on in a couple of posts here, and I am intrigued by the way other geeks, who have most likely been marginalised in aspects of their offline lives, still end up marginalising and excluding others in fandom settings.

Fellow bloggers may also want to check out A Geeky Gal’s 30 Day Geek Out Challenge if you’re looking for topics to write about in August.

This has also been a good book week for me. After mentioning in my last Reads Round-Up the possibilities of finding great reads in charity shops and second-hand bookshops, I picked up a copy of ‘Solis’ by A.A. Attanasio in a local charity shop, chosen only because the cover had a robot that looked like Moody Blues from JJBA.

This story of a man whose head was cryogenically frozen and who subsequently wakes up to find his brain enslaved in a mining machine opens with the most ridiculous sex-scene – absolutely not what I was expecting from a story about a brain in a jar – and can’t decide if it has to go uphill or downhill from there. It’s some interesting prose, and I didn’t exactly have high hopes for the book, but even so, I’ve honestly read better trashy pulp sci-fi. Still, I got a few good laughs from some of the descriptions, including a pair of breasts which “quivered like rabbits”.

But it did get me thinking about the books I’ve picked up from charity shops (bear in mind that these are donated stock rather than curated collections by serious bookshop owners). Looking at my bookshelves, I actually have a half-decent collection of books about Japanese culture which I’ve stumbled on over the past few years. They range from old dictionaries and tourist guides, to contemporary novels, guides to identifying yokai, and my personal favourite, ‘Hello, Please! Very Helpful Super Kawaii Characters From Japan‘, which is a guide to mascot characters in Japanese advertising. It has hundreds of photographs of the cute, funny and sometimes bizarre mascots assigned to brands, locations, foods, and even to advising citizens on how to keep safe and healthy.

This week’s best find was ‘D!rty Japanese: Everyday Slang From ‘What’s Up?’ to ‘F*%# Off!‘ It’s a plainly written guide to very informal Japanese language (with four whole pages devoted to talking about farts!). Some of the English descriptions and introductions come across as a bit outdated and problematic in places, but there are some gems if you’re a linguistics fan (did you know that the Japanese word for a really terrible pun translates to ‘old man joke’?).

In September, the charity Oxfam starts its ‘Secondhand September’ campaign, aimed at encouraging people to buy secondhand clothing instead of new, to cut down on pollution and waste in the fashion industry. As someone who only buys clothing out of necessity this is wasted on me, but I think I may attempt a ‘secondhand books September’, and see what goodies I can find in my local charity shops.

In the meantime, I did actually splash out on two new books this week, which hopefully I will be covering in the next Wednesday Reads Round-Up. I picked up volume 2 of ‘Heartstopper’ by Alice Oseman, a beautifully nostalgic story about an openly gay teen and his crush on the school rugby captain. And, since Waterstones had an offer on, I also got ‘VOX‘ by Christina Dalcher, a novel with similar themes to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, set in a near-future where women are only permitted to speak 100 words per day. Look out for reviews of those in a couple of week’s time. I’m also looking forward to the upcoming release of ‘Men+Monsters Volume 2‘ by Aero Zero – read my review of the first volume here.

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