- The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3) by Shannon Hale: My first completed series of 2017! I really enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy where we follow Miri on her journey to find her place in the world. The trilogy follows the typical coming-of-age arc: girl finds out what makes her special, girl goes to a bigger city and has some doubts about her identity, and finally girl saves the day. Sadly, the conclusion the trilogy started out strong and then collapsed towards the end. We have Miri taking things into her own hands trying to be a teacher/mentor for three young women while she has to learn how to survive in a different way of living, and then the Big Problem is solved oh so very conveniently by insta-love (or at least insta-attraction?). Confetti time! Everyone gets their happily-ever-afters! Maybe I’m just a cynical grumpy cat who believes someone should suffer in fairytales.
- Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge: I already had an interest in America’s gun law from reading Sue Klebold’s A Mother’s Reckoning, so this was a natural jump for me. Younge examines the consequences of America’s gun law by taking a random day and tracking down and reporting on the reported deaths of children as a result of gun violence. I had already prepared myself for feeling the emotional gut punch over the deaths of children, but I was unprepared at the rage I felt reading this book. It’s not just directed at the loss of lives, but also at how divided America is over gun-control laws and how there doesn’t seem to progress towards a mutual understanding. But I think Younge’s other message should not be lost in the pro-gun vs. anti-gun debate: the official cause of death for these children may be death by gunshot wound, but there is a complex network of factors that led to them being in the path of that bullet. So while we fight over whether guns should be easily available for everyone, we should also work on changing those factors that cause people to feel like violence is the only path available to them.
- Extra Lives by Tom Bissell: I am reading this book because I know nothing about video games. I’m about 60% way through this book and feel like I’ve gotten a whirlwind non-linear tour of the video game industry focused on first person shooter games (which to be honest I am most definitely not interested in. I’m looking at you, unplayed Call of Duty and Resident Evil on my shelves.) but still don’t know much about why video games are attractive. After confessing this book wasn’t doing it for me, I was recommended Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal, so I’ll be picking that up when I next feel the urge to understand video games.
- On Trails by Robert Moor (audiobook narrated by Jason Grasl): A sometimes meandering (haha) reflection on what a trail is, and how trails have impacted humanity. However, it seems like everytime I listen, I’m hearing things about the Appalachian Trail (or maybe I’ve just tuned out all the non-Appalachian Trail bits?). For me, the most fascinating chapter was at the beginning of the book, where Moor looks at fossilized trails, so maybe Moor will return to that later in the book?
- The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide (audiobook narrated by David Shih): I made no progress on this book. At this point, I think I will put down the audiobook and pick the book up as a physical book. I am interested in the story, but I think the contemplative nature of the plot (i.e. there is really no plot), means my mind seems to believe it has permission to wander off when I’m listening to the audiobook.