Sunday, June 22, 2014

Books I'm Reading / Have Read: Recommendations

Here is my somewhat didactic list of books you might ought to read, if you haven't read them yet.

You'll notice these lean heavily to the SF/F side of the bookstore.  Don't act so shocked.

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie. This is hand's down no fooling the best SF novel I have read this decade.  It's also causing a small amount of (insider-baseball) controversy, because of a gender-issue thing Leckie does with her pronouns.  That's only one bit of the book, but it is an important one, and one (apparently) deeply disturbing to the time-anchored SF writers / readers among us, who dismiss the entire book due to it.

The Rosie Project: The story of how a scientist who does not know he's on the autism spectrum, having determined he needs a wife, goes about attaining one.  This is probably the most charming of all the novels I have read this year.  Also an excellent example of your unreliable narrator.

My Real Children, Jo Walton: I've been a fan of Jo Walton since reading her Tooth & Claw, which is sort of Jane Austen but with dragons as the main characters (and highly recommended).  This, her latest book, kept me up and reading until three in the morning.  It's the story of a woman with lives in alternative universes, who finds (at the end of her life/lives) that she can remember both of them.  One choice changed everything.


The Kitchen House, Kathleen Grissom: Set 19th century Virginia, this reminds me a tiny bit of Octavia Butler's Kindred.  Only a tiny bit, though. It's a slave narrative that centers around an indentured Irish orphan child and the slaves who become her family.  Conflict arises as she comes of age and can't align herself with the white culture which claims her, but can't remain part of the slave culture.  This was a risky book to write (obviously), but Grissom navigates the tricky ground with success, mostly, and the book is a page-turner. (Trigger warnings apply,

THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom

Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women & Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Stephanie Camp. I discovered this one through Historiann's blog.  It makes an excellent pairing to The Kitchen House.

A Discovery of Witches: I'm only halfway through this one, but I'm liking it a lot. The writing is lovely, and the author, Deborah Harkness, seems to be deviously and subtly interrogating many of the tropes common to vampire / romance novels in general. (Such as that women secretly want to be overpowered by dark, dangerous, infinitely superior men, and to be told what to do by these men.)  I also love this one for the academic background.  It's (somewhat) realistic portrayal of what life as an academic is like.  (Diana doesn't do enough teaching or dealing with students, is my only complaint.)

The Rabbi's Cat, Joann Sfar: I'm re-reading this because I'm teaching it.  It's a graphic novel about a cat that gains the power of speech after eating a parrot.  Set in 1920's Algeria, the book gives a charming picture of life in a cosmopolitan world and time, while also discussing some hefty ethical and religious questions. The art is lovely.

What are y'all reading that you recommend?


Anonymous said...

I'm reading Lost Generation fiction, esp. Evelyn Waugh, and "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd. --L

Tree of Knowledge said...

I was thinking about adding A Discovery of Witches to my library queue but wasn't sure. Now I will. Thanks!

delagar said...

There's also a sequel, "Shadow of Light," which (yay!) my library has.

(The library here has nothing, usually.)

Anonymous said...

I'm an occasional visitor to your blog but had to say thanks for the Deborah Harkness recommendation. I have now devoured all three in the series and loved them. Aurore

delagar said...

The third is out? Oh boy!