SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #67-68

Book #67 was "Ash" by Malinda Lo. This book is a retelling of the Cinderella story. Ash lives during a time when philosophers are in vogue and magic is only believed in by naive rural folk. When Ash's mother, who is a believer in magic and may have consorted with fairies, dies, her father remarries and then also dies shortly afterward, leaving her with a cruel stepmother who forces her to be a lady's maid for her two daughters. However, the plot deviates from the Disney version of Cinderella by giving Ash more options than simply char woman or marrying a rich prince. Instead, she is torn between the love of a fairy prince who once courted Ash's mother and the love of the king's huntress, who treats her as an equal. The prose is absolutely gorgeous in this novel. It's marketed as YA, but I believe most readers of any age could appreciate this story. Highly recommended, and I'm interested in reading more by Lo now.

Book #68 was "The Female Man" by Joanna Russ. It's hard to know what to say about this book. I tried to read it back in 2009 or 2010 and was so disgusted with it by the third page that I put it down and decided I wasn't going to read it. I found the prose clunky, and the sentence that made me set it down was "Miss Allison was a Negro." I mean, what? Why does that deserve a stand-alone sentence and a capital for "Negro"? After Russ died in 2011, I decided maybe I would give it another try, since it's well respected both by people I know and other authors I respect (Dorothy Allison has a blurb on the cover saying she wishes everyone would read it). I found myself infuriated with the book the second time around as well, but perhaps that was Russ's intent, since she's known to be someone who poured her own anger into her writing. The book follows 4 women in different timelines who are similar in some ways but shaped by their environment. One is Joanna, who lives in our timeline in 1969. Another is Jeannine, who lives in 1969 in a parallel timeline when the Great Depression never ended. Janet lives in an utopian all-female world, and Jael is a warrior woman from a timeline where men and women form two tribes at war with one another. Jael isn't introduced until nearly 3/4 of the way through the book, and you find out it is scientists from her timeline that are studying similar timelines and have brought the 3 other incarnations together. When Russ is doing straightforward narrative, I mostly enjoyed it, though it still felt somewhat didactic (in the spirit of "Herland" by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman). I got frustrated with her literary experiments and injection of her politics. It's really a treatise on gender and feminism disguised as a science-fiction novel. I felt intensely angry through much of the book because I felt like Russ was holding the reader in contempt, and treating science-fiction and the form of the novel with contempt. I LOATHE it when an author seems to feel they are "above" a certain genre but enjoy using the tropes from it for their own agenda, and anti-novelists anger me something fierce, like who are YOU you pissant to think you're above writing a conventional narrative? FUCK YOU!!!! So, I guess I'm glad I read this book, but I would only recommend it if you're up for reading experimental fiction or you just find her politics interesting enough to read it. If you're looking for a science fiction novel with a conventional structure, this would not be the book for you.

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 Cixin Liu [fiction]- Cixin Liue (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

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