Friday Reads 12/23/2016


  • Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (narrated by Sheryl WuDunn): After seeing this book on pretty much all the human rights and social justice reading lists, I finally decided to pick it up for myself. Kristof and WuDunn (who has a very nice narration style) survey several instances of the suppression of women’s rights, and then give examples of how grassroot movements helped turn those situations around. Overall, the book is a positive and empowering look at how every individual, no matter what his/her circumstances, can become more active as a citizen of the world and help each other.
  • Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars (Descender, #1) by Jeff Lemire: I really think this graphic novel series just might beat Giant Days and Lumberjanes to become my favorite of the year. It is about a young robot boy who wakes up on a deserted planet, only to find that the universe has changed dramatically from when he went to sleep. Before humans and robots were on their way to becoming integrated, and then some unknown mech robots show up, attack the humans, and the humans retaliate by destroying all the robots they could get their hands on. In the span of a single volume, Lemire asked me to think about the meaning of sentience, existence, and what “being alive” means.
  • Smokejumper by Jason A. Ramos (narrated by Ned Vaughn): Ramos is a smokejumper, one of America’s elite firefighters sent to fight the difficult to put out fires. He tells his story with charm and honesty, weaving in bits of the smokejumper program’s history. Towards the end of the book, he turns to advocating for an increase in funding for the program, and sneaks in a bit of promotion for his own company. But he did it with a frankness that took what could have been a gauche situation and made the best of it. Overall, an entertaining jaunt into one of America’s most interesting professions.
  • Eva’s Eye (Inspector Konrad Sejer) by Karin Fossum: At the end of this novel, I sat back and went “huh?” This book loosely revolves around two mysterious deaths and slowly reveals the connection between them. Now, Inspector Sejer may be the titular protagonist of the series, but for most of the book he only makes brief appearances, gliding in and out of shadows. This book is more of a psychological study of what drives seemingly ordinary people to commit crimes than it is about how to solve a crime, so fans of police procedurals should read this with that caveat in mind. Furthermore, we don’t get a nice, tidy resolution at the end of the novel; we do get a confession, and then Inspector Sejer believes he has done his job and moves on to the next crime that lands on his desk, leaving us to wonder what happens to the perpetrator(s).

Currently Reading:

  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley: I’m still working through this book (i.e. I’ve made no move to pick it up since I checked it out).
  • Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon by Mark Hodder: Our fearless group of explorers have made it from the English countryside to London on an airship/blimp that sounds like the Titanic of the sky. And since the entire series deals with questions of alternate timelines, we’re now getting what I think is an alternate timeline to the alternate timeline and it’s all getting a bit tangled in my mind.
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff: One of my remaining challenges for the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder challenge is to read a biography. So I decided to pick up this chunk of a biography, which many of the Book Riot staff have raved about, and give it a shot. The writing is absolutely enchanting and easily draws the reader in, but since I’m only about 20 pages in, I can’t speak to how well the book is constructed as a biography.
  • The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3) by Erika Johansen: I have been waiting and waiting for this book and was lucky enough to be #1 on the holds list at the library. So I managed to snag the book as soon as our library acquired it. But because it had been a few years since I read the previous two in the series- and I did not Wikipedia the details to refresh my memory – it took me some time to refamiliarize myself with all the players. I’m more than halfway through the book, and I think it’s a fabulous end to the trilogy. I especially like how Johansen dealt with the antagonistic relationship between Kelsea, the Queen of the Tearling, and the Red Queen. Spoiler alert: the climax of the book does not involve them hacking each other to the death.
  • My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher (narrated by David Tennant): I just started this today and am only about 30 minutes into the 6 hour audiobook. I expected a grim, maybe even slightly depressing book about how a family falls apart in the aftermath of the death (maybe murder?) of one of the children. So far, the child protagonist, who is the younger brother of the dead girl, is more than a little baffled at his family’s grief. But before you say he is heartless, he has a point – can you grieve for someone you don’t even remember?

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