SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
SarahMichigan
sarahmichigan
50bookchallenge

Books #35-36

Book #35 was "The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu, translated into english by Ken Liu. I had seen this on a "best books of the year" list a few years ago, and I'm glad I got around to reading this. Cixin Liu is a best-selling sci-fi author in China, but this is the first time he's been translated for an English audience. Still, even in translation, this feels like a very Chinese book. It starts with real events from China's Cultural Revolution but suggests that a scientific base with radio atennas might be up to something out of the ordinary. It skips 40 years into the future when scientists around the world are committing suicide and a strange society/quasi-religious organizaiton springs up, called the Earth-Trisolaris Organziation. At the same time, some intellectuals are becoming interested in a virtual reality game called "The Three-Body Problem." All these things are eventually tied together. This first-contact story is full of fundamental science ideas, mostly math and physics, but still written at a layman's level. It isn't written like an American sci-fi novel, but that's part of the appeal. I really liked it and am looking forward to getting a hold of #2 in the trilogy. I believe that the third and final book hasn't yet been released in English. If you're curious about how other cultures approach science fiction, you will enjoy and appreciate this book.

Book #36 was "Daisy Miller" by Henry James. I read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" last year, and one whole section is dedicated to Henry James, with an extensive discussion of this novella, so I was happy to come across a free copy of it. I am treating it as a book for the purposes of this challenge since I'm clearly going to read more than 50 books this year anyway, and I read it as a very slim standalone volume (59 pages). In this story, told in two parts, an American man living abroad, Winterbourne, meets Daisy, a young and pretty but gauche American on holiday with her mother and younger brother. Part One takes place in Geneva, where Winterbourne is fascinated but confused by Daisy; is she a "bad girl" or simply a naive flirt who doesn't understand European mores? In Part 2, he meets her again in Rome, where Daisy scandalizes polite society by taking nearly daily walks with an Italian man who is not quite a gentleman. The payoff, as with any of Henry James' stuff, is all about the psychological insights, the tiny moments, and then the bigger context of these tiny moments within society at large. I can't put my finger on exactly why I enjoyed it, but I think this novella will stick with me a long time.

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

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