SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #37-38 (Note: Multiple spoilers for "House of Hades")

Book #37 was "The House of Hades"  (Book #4 in the Heroes of Olympus series) by Rick Riordan. I have loved the entire first Percy Jackson series and am really digging the Heroes of Olympus series as well. It's a little more grown-up, but retains all the things I loved about the first series - great plotting, good character development, fun updates to ancient mythology, and big heaps of humor to lighten the mood when things get bleak. This book is definitely one of the bleaker books in all of Riordan's Olympian books so far, as you would expect from one named after the god of the underworld. At the beginning of this book,[Spoiler (click to open)]Percy and Annabeth have fallen into Tartarus and must, literally, walk through hell together. The others are trying to meet them on the outside of the doors of death so that, with Percy & Annabeth's help, they can close the doors of death and keep the monsters they slay from being reborn and going right back into the world to cause trouble.Along the way, the heroes take on other battles and tasks in various combinations of two and three and begin to learn more about each other and to rely on one another. Niko gets some serious character-development in his encounter with a not-so-nice Cupid/Eros.[Spoiler (click to open)]I was thrilled beyond belief that Riordan has added a non-heterosexual character to the cast. He's been quoted as saying that "non-heterosexual children do exist" and that it's silly to just ignore that fact. I think it's entirely appropriate for this series, since leaving out any mention of same-sex love and attraction would be very odd for the Greeks and Romans, who took these things more matter-of-factly than many of us do today. LOVE THIS SERIES. Can't wait for the last one, and yet i don't want it to end. Thank you, Rick Riordan, for all the pleasure I've gotten from this series! One caveat: I listened to this on audiobook, and they changed readers part-way through the series. I don't hate the new reader (Nick Chamian), but I did like the old one (Joshua Swanson) better.

Book #38 was "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books" by Azar Nafisi. This is SO up my alley! I was an English major and still am an avid reader, so a book about classic books is sure to interest me. I believe I've seen this non-fiction book listed on several book lists along the lines of "Books I think I should read but haven't gotten to" or "Books I started but didn't finish." I'm not sure why someone would avoid this book, because it's beautifully written. I do think that perhaps some American readers would be threatened by the fact that a bunch of 19- and 20-year old Iranian women are better read in Western literature than they are, though. Nafisi is a teacher of western literature in Iran, and this book tells of how she became disenchanted with teaching in a repressive university atmosphere and instead started a small literature course for young women taught from her home. Each section is named after a famous classic author or book -- Lolita, Gatsby, James, Austen -- and the themes of that author or book are matched up with the life themes she explores with her students. It's really interesting how these young women relate to the books and the characters in a very different but very complex way than American readers. It's a love-letter to books and imagination coupled with an eloquent denunciation of tyranny. I loved this book and will pass it on to someone else who also loves literature. Highly recommended.

1. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood [non-fiction]- James Gleick
2. Stones from the River [fiction]- Ursula Hegi
3. The Penelopiad [fiction]- Margaret Atwood
4. Woman Warrior [non-fiction/memoir]- Maxine Hong Kingston
5. The Son of Neptune [ficiton]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
6. The Poe Shadow [fiction]- Matthew Pearl
7. Nat Turner [non-fiction graphic "novel"]- Kyle Baker (illustrator)
8. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
9. The Daughter of Time [fiction]- Josephine Tey
10. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) [non-fiction/biography]- Stacy Schiff
11. Gilgamesh: A New English Version [literary criticism/epic poetry]- Stephen Mitchell
12. Back When We Were Grownups [fiction]- Anne Tyler
13. Red Azalea [non-fiction/memoir]- Anchee Min
14. The Mark of Athena (#3 in the "Heroes of Olympus" series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
15. The Mosquito Coast [fiction]- Paul Theroux
16. The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis [non-fiction]- Arthur Allen
17. The City of Devi [fiction]- Manil Suri
18. The Lovely Bones [fiction]- Alice Sebold (unabridged audiobook)
19. The Office of Mercy [fiction]- Ariel Djanikian (unabridged audiobook)
20. A Thousand Acres [fiction]- Jane Smiley
21. The Snow Queen [fiction]- Joan Vinge
22. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian [fiction]- Sherman Alexie
23. Memoirs of a Survivor [fiction]- Doris Lessing
24. Moral Disorder, [fiction/short stories]- Margaret Atwood (unabridged audiobook)
25. Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father [non-fiction]- John Matteson
26. The Wasp Factory [fiction]- Iaian Banks
27. Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
28. Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing [fiction]- May Sarton
29. What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day [fiction]- Pearl Cleage (unabridged audiobook)
30. Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction [non-ficiton]- Annalee Newitz
31. Free Enterprise [fiction]- Michelle Cliff
32. The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin's Theory [nonfiction/memoir]- Kenny Fries
33. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void [non-fiction]- Mary Roach (unabridged audiobook)
34. Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir [non-ficiton/memoir/graphic book]- Roz Chast
35. Two Serious Ladies [fiction]- Jane Bowles
36.Herland [fiction]- Charlotte Perkins Gilman (unabridged audiobook)


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