This book pulled me into its world of trees and gutted me. I loved the richly drawn human characters and the stories they and the author tell about and learn from trees. I didn’t love the whiteness of the book, but also the relationship Powers describes between people and trees is a particularly white western one—some sense of indigenous stewardship before the end would have made that less irksome. But the book is beautiful and devastating to read, and I can’t stop thinking about trees.
dorking around with old books for work and reading new books for fun; you can find me anywhere as wykenhimself; she/her
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I’m pretty taken with these women, important rare book dealers and a tightly bound pair of friends. They’re the ones who dug about Louisa Alcott’s sensational pieces! Leona traveled to Strasberg by herself in 1936 to study books after Columbia refused to grant her a PhD! Their accounts of book rummaging and feminist takes on history are fun. Their family stories and their devoted friendship are delightful. Apparently they have a number of other co-written books that cover similar terrain. Good for book nerds and for asexual (and maybe aro?) companionship.
Ok I made fun of the glitches but also I had fun reading the book, and that’s the big thing. Details into conservation work! A faux Huntington Library! A commune that sells wine! Ridiculously handsome and gorgeous people! Next up she goes to Scotland so I am of course reading that.
I’m still wrestling with this! She writes so sensitively and often affectingly obliquely about the tragedy that was forced on these women and their efforts to work through agency and safety and faith and love. I would not recommend this for anyone who has suffered sexual abuse without a great deal of preparation ahead of time
Which is to say, wow this book is cramming too much into too little space, and wow is it ever a white western perspective on it all. I suspect folks who are not book historians, librarians, or archivists might enjoy this book more than I did or my book club. There are some great parts about the ways in which knowledge gets destroyed (John Leland and the English Reformation!! YIVO and the Holocaust!!). But, see above re a very western perspective on all of this. (Apologies to all the dads out there who deserve a better book on the topic.)
Read this in Teixcalaan recovery mode and loved it. I think I was supposed to find it optimistic and cozy etc etc and I did. But I also found deep sorrows hiding in its slant looks at how we live now. So: it's about stopping to rest but it's also about getting the purpose to do better.
I love the first half of this book as a primer on what mutual aid is and how it’s different from the world of charity (although as an intro to the concept it will play better for lefty readers who already have some inkling of those problems). And I love the second half as a really practical guide to leadership and management, which is key for mutual aid group dynamics but also full of good material to use for reflecting on this in all sorts of dynamics. The book is short, sweet, and I now have a habit of giving it away to mutual aid friends
I don’t have to like the characters in the books I read (and actually as a former EngLit prof, find that way of reading for likeability or relatedness to be super limiting). But having said that, with every single Rooney novel, I struggle with frustration and wanting to shake the characters, especially the young women. I think this is probably the point of it all? This is gorgeously written, especially the third-person chapters describing the characters’ actions etc and the cinematic looking-at-ness of those sections (she tells you insistently what it looks like the characters are feeling from their actions rather than telling you how they feel). But I still wondered the whole time, as I have with Normal and Conversations, why I was reading it.
I somehow missed that this was going to have a paranormal element—the protagonist’s love interest really is stuck on the Q—and I didn’t love that element. But I liked the characters and the sex scenes were good and I would definitely date a 1970s punk dyke
I don’t think I really grasped all of this when I read it as a 18yo when it was first published. The long histories of trauma and the grip of the past. It’s just a tremendous book and even now I feel like I am barely grasping its glimmers.