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Joined 2 years, 2 months ago

follow me @eminencefont on twitter; I blog at I am a library director/career librarian and huge supporter of libraries and I love books and this is my thingy where I will tell you about the books I am reading okay bye

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callan's books


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Seeing Like a State (Hardcover, 1998, Yale University Press) 4 stars

Examines how (sometimes quasi-) authoritarian high-modernist planning fails to deliver the goods, be they increased …

legibility, high modernism, metis

4 stars

I enjoyed this greatly and I am dyingggg to know about criticisms of big tech and surveillance capitalism that utilize the concepts in this book—particularly around legibility and the mechanization of people/minds. If you see this and you know of any, plz share! Such a good read for those of us in the interstitial spaces between the provably known and the experientially felt, and for those thinking about the pain and problems of objectivity.

Lurking: How a Person Became a User (Hardcover, 2020, MCD) 5 stars

A concise but wide-ranging personal history of the internet from—for the first time—the point of …

Internet sociology at its best

5 stars

Loved this and not just because of all the kind words about libraries. As a contemporary of the author, this sounded a lot like my own experience with growing up online. McNeil does a fantastic job detailing the changes in agency & motivation of online “communities” and doesn’t hold back on her criticism of misdirected tech criticism, which I feel like warrants a book all its own (all of the “no one cares about your breakfast” potshots re: Twitter type stuff) - especially how the thinkpieces mistakenly targeted users vs Silly Valley giants for so long. Anyway, this readily makes my shortlist for my critical tech book club/bibliography.

The Charmed Wife (Hardcover, 2021, G.P. Putnam's Sons) 1 star

A sophisticated literary fairy tale for the twenty-first century, in which Cinderella, thirteen years after …

this uncharming book

1 star

I'm so glad it's over. I can't remember caring less about both a character and story ever before...? I read this in two days but it felt like two weeks. The writing was one literary magazine byline above a neural network. I'm only giving this 1 star instead of 0 because I'm uncertain if leaving the stars blank comes off as "I didn't rate this" or "holy shit, that was fucking unbearable," but seriously, this was one of the worst books I've ever read. Pour one out for garbage. 🥂

Transcendent Kingdom (2020, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) 4 stars

Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, …

not as good as homegoing but still good

4 stars

The juxtaposition of familial trauma and neurosurgery is crystal: sharp and clear. Not an easy read for a number of reasons. My main criticism is that there wasn't much light to break up the dark, but this book is beautifully written and devastating.

The Nickel Boys (2019, Doubleday) 5 stars

Winner of the 2020 Pulizer Prize for Fiction.

As the Civil Rights movement begins to …

this book is phenomenal

5 stars

Go read it, plz. This is some of Whitehead's best writing to date, and the story is hypnotic -- horrific and tragic, but shot through with enough fragile bits of hope to keep you wishing for the best. The twist at the end was impressive and sad. Fuck the carceral system and its offshoots.

Just mercy (Hardcover, 2014, Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House) 5 stars

The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a …

abolish prisons

5 stars

This book is as beautifully written as it is gutwrenchingly awful to read. The injustices described are horrible, but not surprising - the New Jim Crow at work. The author makes a powerful statement towards the end that we lock up people we can't bear to think about (and especially not to empathize with) because it's a mirror into the brokenness of us all. We think it's an easier solution, and in some ways it probably is easier than mercy. But we need more stonecatchers in this world.

Here for It (Hardcover, 2020, Ballantine Books) 4 stars

From the creator of Elle 's "Eric Reads the News," a poignant and hilarious memoir-in-essays …

this was good & made me lol

4 stars

Come for the self-actualization in the midst of social collapse; stay for the extremely beautiful essay about being in friend-love in the library surrounded by the inherent biases of the Dewey Decimal System.

The Death of Vivek Oji (2020, Penguin Random House) 4 stars

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew? …

in between days

4 stars

I love Akwaeke Emezi, and this book is a fine example of why. The dualities and boundary-straddling on so many different levels of this novel are fascinating to think about. I want to expand on that, but there's kind of no good way to do that without spoiling the ending.

The narrative structure of the book is interesting and unique, flipping between a handful of first-person chapters and a third person story that gives a panoptic view of the characters at the heart of the novel. My only complaint about that is it feels like we don't get a chance to know everything we want to know about everyone involved, but it's a short book, so it's understandable.

I did like the story and structure of Freshwater a bit better, but the exploration of assumptions and things that aren't quite what they seem in Vivek Oji were gorgeously crafted and …

The Dispossessed (1994, Eos) 5 stars

The story takes place on the fictional planet Urras and its moon Anarres (since Anarres …

the ambiguous utopia

5 stars

I read The Dispossessed when I was way too young to "get it" and I honestly remembered very little except for the scene at the beginning where Shevek lands on Urras and the guard getting hit in the head and killed by a rock. I'm glad I decided to pick it up this time around - at the end of last week, students were asking me about some positive/utopian sci-fi that wasn't all about battles and/or white dudes, and this one immediately came to mind.

I've been thinking about the relationship of individual to larger collective/org and how that relates to work for a while as I've been trying to navigate some personnel matters that come down to trying to get staff to stop thinking about their individual fulfillment/sense of purpose and start thinking about the collective fulfillment/purpose of the library+college. MPOW is also going through an organizational restructuring right …

Year of the Witching (Hardcover, 2020, Ace) 4 stars

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in …

"blood. blight. darkness. slaughter."

4 stars

Ooh, this was good and spooky, perfect reading for New England in January. I wish we'd gotten a more complete view of the witches... at least a little bit. I understand the point was to disentangle the extra-normal entities/forces in the book from their influence on humans vs humans' influence on themselves, though. Anyway, Immanuelle is an excellent protagonist and her relationships with her family and Ezra are well-drawn and compelling. It might have been a teeny bit longer than it needed to be, but overall I enjoyed the book greatly.

The Seep (2020, Soho Press) 4 stars

A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is …

The Seep - whoa

5 stars

Just read this one in less than an hour and a half. Amazing, like nothing I've read. A bizarre utopian dystopia. My brain is like... too full to do it justice right now. I hope we never get to a point where people we love want to become babies again.

Automation and the Future of Work (2021, Verso Books) 4 stars

Silicon Valley titans, politicians, techno-futurists and social critics have united in arguing that we are …

Automation & the Future of Work

4 stars

I'd give this more of a 3.5. I think the ideas here are very important and I agree with much of the author's assessment, but this was one of the most dry, acutely "academic" pieces of writing I've read in a while, I'm sad to say.

That being said, two of the book's main points are important to point out, whether or not you read it: 1) the current "era of automation" is pulling a traditional technosolutionism move by making people believe that it's the development of AI & robotics, not long-term deindustrialization and productivity stagnation, that is creating disruption in the workplace 2) a universal basic income is an indequate solution because it's not guaranteed to reduce inequality or hoarding of capital; it also makes no specific promises about how to redistribute wealth into publicly beneficial projects, and doesn't deal with eliminating scarcity (ie, we don't all magically get …