Last month was both busy and tiring, so not nearly as much reading got done. Most of these have their own posts, too, so this entry will be short. (Short enough, in fact, that I’m not going to bother with a cut.)
Stopping for a Spell, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed here.
Dogsbody, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed here.
Winter’s Heart, Robert Jordan. Discussed here.
Witch’s Business, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed here.
Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, trans. William Scott Wilson. This is a translation of selections from a rather famous seventeenth-century Japanese text on how to be a samurai. But it dates to the early part of the Edo period, which means it comes from one of those points in time where what being a samurai meant was in flux: Japan was (relatively speaking) at peace, so now the expectation was starting to be that samurai should be Confucian gentlemen as well as warriors. Furthermore, Yamamoto — the guy whose sayings are collected here — had not seen much war (at least by the standards of the period immediately preceding his), so you have to weigh that into the balance with his declarations about how it’s grander to throw your life away for your lord than to kill the enemy for your lord. (I found myself raising an eyebrow at him a lot.) A lot of what’s in here comes across as flat-out crazy to a modern American mind, but trying to understand the mentality behind it is a very interesting exercise.
The Ogre Downstairs, Diana Wynne Jones. Discussed here.
The Dragon-Seekers, Christopher McGowan. Research for A Natural History of Dragons, and many thanks to elaine_thom for recommending it. This is a social history/collection of biographies about English fossilists in the decades leading up to the publication of On the Origin of Species. There were a few things in the introduction I looked askance at; the writer is a paleontologist rather than a historian, so the context is occasionally a bit weak. But I appreciated the reminder of how people of this kind all knew each other and worked together (or at cross-purposes), and I very much appreciated McGowan’s attention to the role played by quarry-workers and other non-specialists, without whom the fossilists would not have been supplied with things to study.