SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #49-50

Wow, this is the earliest I've reached 50 books for the year since 2009. I suspect my end total will be between 54 and 56 this year since I have a couple more books in process.

Book #49 was "Three Parts Dead" by Max Gladstone, as an audiobook. This is Gladstone's first novel, and I absolutely loved it, even though fantasy isn't my favorite genre. He does a magnificent job with building a strange and wonderful world that - while it relies on *some* fantasy tropes - feels very different and unique from anything else I've read. His character development is good, his prose is clean and lean, and his plotting is top-notch. I did see some things coming from a long way away, but he also threw in some surprises and did a great job of introducing a few innocuous details early in the book that have much bigger significance in the end. In this world, Craftsmen and Craftswomen draw energy from the stars and the moon to shape their world, while others follow living gods that take up residence in various cities. The novel takes place several decades after "The God Wars" in which craftspeople and god-believers go to war. Tara Abernathy is thrown out of magic school and left to her own devices. She gets hired on a trial basis by Ms. Kavarian, a powerful craftswoman, and they travel to the city of Alt Coulumb to investigate the death of the city's god, Kos Ever-burning. Helped by a young cleric named Abelard, Tara takes on her first big craft case while Ms. K goes head-to-head with Tara's former professor and nemesis, who is fighting the other side of the legal case. It's difficult to explain how magic and deity work together or against each other in this novel - you just have to read to see. I loved this so much and plan to read the others in the series.


"The Satyricon" by Petronius, translation and commentaries by Sarah Ruden. I'm trying to get to some classic books I haven't yet read, and I decided to to go back really, really far this year. I read and really enjoyed "Gilgamesh" earlier this year, and I also found "The Satyricon" highly enjoyable. This is considered one of the first-ever prose novels (as opposed to long tales in verse, like "The Odyssey"), and it's dated to circa first century AD Rome. It's unique in that it is told from the viewpoint of the average man on the street, rather than from the aristocracy. Encolpius and his servant/lover Giton and Encolpius's friend and former lover Ascyltus go on a variety of bawdy adventures, making love to men and women along the way, getting involved in crazy orgies, an over-the-top dinner party, a dispute over stolen property and a shipwreck. This book was hilarious and not at all boring. Ruden's commentary, with titles like "Who was Petronius Anyway?" or "Ancient Roman Views on Sexuality," were extremely helpful in figuring out the societal context of the protagonists' adventures. The book is fragmentary, and only a few sections remain, but it's an interesting look at working-class Rome in the 1st century. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun, sexy classic.

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)
37. The House of Hades  (Book #4 in the Heroes of Olympus series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
38. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books [nonfiction/memoir]- Azar Nafisi
39. Thinking In Numbers: On Life, Love, Meaning, and Math [non-fiction]- Daniel Tammet
40. The Bellini Madonna [fiction]- Elizabeth Lowry
41. A Perfect Blood (Book #10 in The Hollows series) [fiction]- Kim Harrison (unabridged audiobook)
42. Crossing to Safety [fiction]- Wallace Stegner
43. The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story [graphic non-fiction]- Vivek J. Tiwary (author), Andrew C Robinson (illustrator), with additional illustrations by Kyle Baker
44. The Round House [fiction]- Louise Erdrich (unabridged audiobook)
45. The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah-1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam [non-fiction]- David Harris 46. A Fire Upon the Deep [fiction]- Vernor Vinge
47. Die for You [fiction]- Lisa Unger (unabridged audiobook)
48. What I Lived For [fiction]- Joyce Carol Oates

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