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Books #87-88

Book #87 was "Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol. I am embarrassed about how long this took me to read, about 20 months! I ordered it as a book to receive via DailyLit.com, but I think that reading it in small chunks kept me from getting into the flow of the book properly, and I kept "pausing" delivery of the next installment because I wasn't that keen to finish it. Published in 1842, the book concerns a Russian named Chichikov who wants to use the Russian love of bureaucracy against the system and goes around the country buying up "dead souls" to inflate his prestige. In Russia at the time, serfs are like property of the landowners and can be bought, sold and traded and are accounted for on a landowners' tax registries. Chichikov has a scheme to buy dead peasants who are still on the tax rolls, relieving the landowner of the taxes he'd have to pay while also making himself look like a rich landowner himself, which he hopes will help him actually establish himself as minor nobility. The story is episodic as Chichikov encounters various local eccentrics, tries to get rich, occasionally tries to help others he encounters, but more often taking advantage. He also runs into trouble with the law and has to move on a couple times. There were things I liked about this book, like the humor and some of the descriptions of nature. On the negative side, I found the pace a bit slow and the episodic nature of the plot doesn't necessarily drive you forward to find out what happens next. I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't one of my favorite "classic" novels.

Book #88 was "Flight" by Sherman Alexie, as an audiobook, read by Adam Beach. The main character is a 15-year-old, half-Indian foster kid with such bad acne that everyone calls him "Zits." The novel opens with Zits running away from yet another foster home and ending up in jail, where he meets and makes friends with a white kid named Justice. Justice convinces Zits that he should try the Ghost Dance and kill some white people. But while he's getting into trouble, Zits is pulled out of his body and goes on a time-traveling, body-swapping adventure, into the body of a corrupt FBI agent persecuting Native Americans in the 1960s, into the body of an Indian child whose tribe is being attacked by white soldiers, into the body of a flight instructor whose student has intentionally crashed a passenger plane, and through several other lives, all touching on interracial hate and violence. I like Alexie's writing, and Zits is a very sympathetic character, depsite his flaws. One thing that I did find a bit irritating is that Alexie bent and broke the rules of time travel and body-hopping to suit his agenda in each vignette. Sometimes Zits can control the body, sometimes he can't. Sometimes he can access the body's memories, and sometimes he can't. At 4 discs on audiobook, I'd call it a short and easy read, except it's so bloody and violent that it's really *not* an easy read. It's good, and I'd recommend it if you like Alexie's other books.

1. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time" [nonfiction]- David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson (unabridged audiobook)
2. The Detroit Electric Scheme [fiction]- D.E. Johnson
3. Classic Philip Jose Farmer 1964-1973 (Volume 5 in the Classics of Modern Science Fiction series) [fiction/short stories]- PJ Farmer
4. "The Aspern Papers" and "The Turn of the Screw" (omnibus volume with notes and commentary) [fiction]- Henry James
5. Ever After (11th in "The Hollows" series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
6. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family [nonfiction]- Lisa See
7. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama [nonfiction/ graphic memoir]- written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel
8. My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir [nonfiction/memoir]- Noelle Hancock
9. House of Leaves [fiction]- Mark Z. Danielewski
10. Ready Player One [fiction]- Ernest Cline (unabridged audiobook)
11. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America [nonfiction]- Barbara Ehrenreich
12. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life [nonfiction/memoir]- Harriet McBryde Johnson
13. The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
14. Ivanhoe [fiction]- Sir Walter Scott
15. Ancillary Justice [fiction]- Ann Leckie
16. Beauty Queens [fiction]- Libba Bray (unabridged audiobook)
17. Burnt Mountain [fiction]- Anne Rivers Siddons
18. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia [nonfiction]- David Greene
19. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex [nonfiction]- Mary Roach (unabridged audiobook)
20. The Likeness [fiction]- Tana French
21. Atonement [fiction]- Ian McEwan
22. The Westing Game [fiction]- Ellen Raskin (unabridged audiobook)
23. Nappy Edges [poetry]- Ntozake Shange
24. Childhood's End [fiction]- Arthur C. Clarke
25. Tartuffe [play/drama]- Moliere, translated and with introduction by Richard Wilbur
26. Bicycle Diaries [nonfiction]- David Byrne
27. Cotton Comes to Harlem [fiction]- Chester Himes
28. Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
29. House of Sand and Fog [fiction]- Andre Dubus III
30. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes [nonfiction]- Maria Konnikova
31. Blood Colony [fiction]- Tannarive Due
32. All the Light We Cannot See [fiction]- Anthony Doerr (unabridged audiobook)
33. The Summer Prince [fiction]- Alaya Dawn Johnson
34. The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science [nonfiction]- Douglass Starr
35. The Three-Body Problem [fiction]- Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu)
36. Daisy Miller [ficiton/novella]- Henry James
37. Raven Boys [fiction]- Maggie Stiefvater (unabridged audiobook)
38. Faithful Place [fiction]- Tana French
39. Babyji [fiction]- Abha Dawesar
40. Motherless Brooklyn [fiction]- Jonathan Lethem
41. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? [nonfiction/memoir]- Jeanette Winterson (unabridged audiobook)
42. Unbound (third in the "Magic Ex Libris" series) [fiction]- Jim Hines
43. The Undead Pool (the Hollows series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
44. On Such a Full Sea [fiction]- Chang-Rae Lee
45. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek [nonfiction]- Annie Dillard
46. A Widow for One Year [fiction]- John Irving
47. The Broken Cord [nonfiction]- Michael Dorris
48. The Count of Monte Cristo [fiction]- Alexandre Dumas (unabridged audiobook)
49. The Dark Forest (second in the The Three-Body Problem trilogy) [fiction]- Cixin Liu
50. The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family [nonfiction/memoir/graphic nonfiction]- Paul Karasik (author/illustrator) and Judy Karasik (author)
51. Bossypants [nonfiction/memoir]- Tina Fey (unabridged audiobook)
52. The Golem and the Jinni [fiction]- Helene Wecker
53. Lock In [fiction]- John Scalzi
54. Broken Harbor [fiction]- Tana French
55. The Buddha of Suburbia [fiction]- Hanif Kureishi
56. Something Wicked This Way Comes [fiction]- Ray Bradbury
57. The Dream Thieves (2nd in the Raven Cycle) [fiction]- Maggie Stiefvater (unabridged audiobook)
58. The Shadowed Sun" [fiction]- N.K. Jemisin
59. Ancillary Sword (2nd in the Imperial Radch trilogy) [fiction]- Ann Leckie
60. Roadside Picnic [fiction]- Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
61. Orlando [fiction]- Virginia Woolf
62. Wakulla Springs [fiction]- Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages
63. Desert Solitaire [nonfiction]- Edward Abbey
64. The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures [nonfiction]- Christine Kenneally (unabridged audiobook)
65. A Gathering of Old Men [fiction]- Ernest J. Gaines
66. Ancillary Mercy (3rd in the Imperial Radch trilogy) [fiction]- Ann Leckie
67. Ash [fiction]- Malinda Lo
68. The Female Man [fiction]- Joanna Russ
69. Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater (3rd book in The Raven Cycle) (unabridged audiobook)
70. Moving Violations: War Zones, Wheelchairs, and Declarations of Independence [nonfiction]- John Hockenberry
71. The Windup Girl [fiction]- Paolo Bacigalupi.
72. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage [mix of fiction & nonfiction/graphic novel]- Sydney Padua
73. Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
74. The Comfort of Strangers [fiction]- Ian McEwan
75. Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity [collected essays]- ed. Matt (Matilda) Bernstein Sycamore
76. Cold Comfort Farm [fiction]- Stella Gibbons
77. The Raven King (4th book in the Raven Cycle) [fiction]- Maggie Stiefvater (unabridged audiobook)
78. Station Eleven [fiction]- Emily St. John Mandel
79. The Secret History [fiction]- Donna Tartt
80. Mississippi Sissy [nonfiction/memoir]- Kevin Sessums
81. California [fiction]- Edan Lepucki (unabridged audiobook)
82. Foucault's Pendulum [fiction]- Umberto Eco
83. The Conference of the Birds [poetry]- Farid ud-din Attar
84. One Kick [fiction]- Chelsea Cain
85. Will Grayson, Will Grayson [fiction]- David Levithan and John Green (unabridged audiobook)
86. Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration Into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel [nonfiction]- Michio Kaku

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