Kat: I’ve been distracted by the news, as usual, plus my work, but I did manage to read a couple of books in the last two weeks. K.J. Parker’s How to Rule and Empire and Get Away With It was a sequel of sorts to his (better) Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City. After the U.S. election I read Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, which was enlightening. Basically, research shows that (1) liberals are more “Open” than conservatives are and (2), world-wide, liberals’ morality contains three domains (Harm/Care, Fairness, Liberty) while conservatives’ morality has six (the three that liberals have plus Authority/Respect, Loyalty, and Sanctity/Purity). Also, liberals’ ideas of Fairness involve equality while conservatives’ value proportionality. (Which is why liberals and conservatives view “pay their fair share” very differently.) This Moral Foundations Theory explains most, if not all, of the differences in liberal and conservative views and behaviors. It is very helpful to understand this. Haidt argues that we need both types working together for a well-functioning society. Here’s a TED talk that summarizes these findings. Haidt’s research group has a website where you can contribute to their research while exploring your own moral values
Bill: This week I only read one book, because it was Brandon Sanderson’s 1200+ page tome, Rhythm of War. But because I can grade with the TV on, I did get in some genre video: I was greatly annoyed by the latest Discoveryepisode, mildly entertained by the most recent The Mandalorian, and really liked the first two episodes of The Umbrella Academy (and its soundtrack). And genre-adjacent, I quite enjoyed Werner Herzog’s documentary about meteors, Fireball, on Apple TV+
Kelly: I’m reading Chloe Gong’s upcoming YA novel These Violent Delights, a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai with monsters, and also the thriller When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole, which may or may not have a speculative element, I’m not sure yet.
Marion: I read Karen Russell’s novella Sleep Donation after reading Kat’s review of it, and I finished T. Kingfisher’s creepy folk-horror novel The Hollow Places. After browsing the current issue of Locus which has a wonderful interview with Victor del Valle, I started an old mystery by Nicholas Freeling, Flanders Sky. It’s midway through a series, the style is intentionally eccentric, it deals with world events that I have to brush up on, and the suspect character is malignantly misogynistic and racist, while our detective character (male) shrugs and says, “Well, but he’s brilliant, so what can you do?” Not sure I’m going to make it to the end.
Sandy: Moi? Having recently finished a very fine horror novel from 1927, J. B. Priestley’s Benighted, I have dived into another horror novel from that very same year. The book in question is Leonard Cline’s The Dark Chamber, which was a favorite of no less a figure than H. P. Lovecraft himself. I am enjoying the book very much, but am finding that some of the vocabulary and references are making for a challenging reading experience. I hope to have some thoughts on this one for you very shortly….
Tim: This week I read the second novel in Evan Winter’s THE BURNING series, Fires of Vengeance. Despite a somewhat easier-going plot this time around, I found it as gripping as the first one.