SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #81-82

Book #81 was "California" by Edan Lepucki, as an audiobook. I think I ran across this on a "best books of the year" list, and later found out that Stephen Colbert had plugged it and helped make it very popular. Some people have criticized it, saying it would never have become a bestseller if not for Colbert, but I think it mostly deserves it. Frieda and Calvin are living in a near-future U.S. where the environment has gone to hell, the economy is collapsing, big cities have devolved into chaos, the rich have built walled communities, and terrorist groups have staged violence to protest the growing inequality. Frieda and Calvin decide Los Angeles is too dangerous and have moved out to the country to live off the land. Things go reasonably well for them for about two years, but then Frieda begins to suspect she is pregnant, and becomes anxious about the thought of giving birth and raising a child alone in the wilderness. The couple sets out to see if a nearby community of others who live off the land will be welcoming. The community is thriving on a model different from the rich, walled communities and seems ideal in many ways, but it is harboring dark secrets. I won't say more because it would include major spoilers. I didn't think this book was perfect, and it left a lot of loose threads at the end, but I did really like it. It's less a near-future dystopia and more a meditation on marriage and the secrets people keep, even from the ones that we love most. I listened to this as an audiobook read by Emma Galvin, and, sadly, I didn't love her as the reader. I like the timbre of her voice, but the cadence was off. She pauses in weird places where I'm sure there wasn't a comma in the text, which has her coming off as a female Capt. Kirk at times. I'd recommend this as a paper book instead of listening to the audiobook if you're picky about your audiobook readers.

Book #82 was "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco. I'd read his earlier novel, "The Name of the Rose," many years ago and always meant to read more by this Italian author. He died earlier this year so I bumped up this novel on my "to read" list and am glad that I did. The premise of the novel is that the protagonist and his friends at a publishing house in Milan start specializing in authors writing on occult and obscure topics, and the three begin to make a game out of creating their own conspiracy theory that they call "The Plan" by mish-mashing cabala with Rosicrucianism and mystical strains of Islam, witchcraft, Knights Templar and other bits of arcane knowledge. They think of it as a joke, but they realize someone is taking their Plan seriously when people start to go missing. This book is over 600 pages, but it took me three weeks to read it for reasons beyond the page count. In the first 16 pages, I already had an entire page of notes of vocabulary words, phrases, people and places to look up. The man's novels are NOT easy reads, but I didn't mind it. Sometimes I want a challenging read. I enjoyed this and plan to read more by Eco.

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
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

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