What I Just Finished Reading

Japan and Korea – Frank Carpenter
The last chapters of this volume are simultaneously some of the most interesting and most horrible to read. Carpenter first traveled to Korea in the late 19th century and met some of the final Joseon kings while they were still on the throne. His descriptions of the yangban's treatment of the peasantry, and men's treatment of women, and the overall state of human development put lie to the notion that things were just hunky dory for everyone before the Japanese occupation. That said, Koreans rank even below the Japanese on Carpenter's sliding scale of racism, and some of the statements he makes are breathtakingly abhorrent. (Buddhist nuns, he tells us, “made me think of the idiots I have seen in some of our state asylums.”) There's a snarling viciousness to modern day racists, for whom trolling is as integral a part of their identity as are their odious beliefs. But Carpenter is all benevolence. After all, he just thinks he's stating objective facts.

Transmetropolitan: Tales of Human Waste – Warren Ellis et al.
This series entertained me when I first read it 20 years ago; it's probably best I had no idea back then that Ellis was actually foretelling the future. Should you wish to know precisely how frighteningly prescient he was, you don't even need to read Transmetropolitan proper. (Although you should.) Just get your hands on a copy of this book.

Thor: Siege Aftermath – Kieron Gillen et al.
In addition to the Siege epilogue issues, this volume has been padded out with three golden-age Thor comics that, to me at least, always feel like more of an obligation read than anything. Luckily, Gillen's contributions focus on the Dìsir, whom I unapologetically love. I want them to have their own title.

What I Am Currently Reading

The Infidel Stain – MJ Carter
Does Carter even realise she's writing shmoop? Because these novels contain so many schmoop tropes from the dawn of online fandom it's unreal, and I think that is why I like them as much as I do.

The Fool's Pilgrimage – Stephan A. Hoeller
To the library patron who stole the accompanying CD and marked up all of the diagrams in thick, blue pen: I hope you get what's coming to you.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet – Charlie Holmberg
I have been enjoying this one, even though it was surprisingly dark for Holmberg. But then, 19 percent of the way in I realised what was going on (I am pretty sure) and o. m. G.

Tarot 101 – Kim Huggens
I've got about 80 pages left to go, which is appropriate, because this book has turned out to be 80 percent filler, 20 percent content.

The Souls of China – Ian Johnson
Still truckin'.

Tarot Beyond the Basics – Anthony Louis
I got this book under the impression that it was an explication of the Golden Dawn interpretations for people who don't want to wade through Crowley or Regardie (which sometimes I just don't). But lo and behold, here's Louis saying in the prologue that he's going to ignore the Golden Dawn stuff in favor of astrology. Oh, well. At least it looks like he's going to discuss some sort of systematic interpretation versus the “intuitive” Tarot nonsense that seems to be the thing these days.

The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry
I'm really enjoying this one, which strikes just the right tone of Victorian-weird for me, although it's set a little bit later in the era than I favor. That said, while Michaels or Pulley can make me forget where I am, thus far with The Essex Serpent I'm always conscious that I'm reading a novel.

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom – John Pomfret
Still truckin'.

What I'm Reading Next
The scene: I've walked to the library because I'm bored. I'm idly scanning eye-level spines in the fiction section. The name Susann Cokal jumps out at me. “That's an odd spelling and an unusual last name,” I think. “Just like the odd spelling and unusual last name of the Susann Cokal who wrote Mirabilis...


Is this the Susann Cokal who wrote Mirabilis!?"

It is.

I now have the book.

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