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[personal profile] emma_in_dream
This collection of journalistic essays about life as second generation Lebanese Australians is really interesting. It would be great for a school library as the collection is accessibly written and eclectically covers a variety of topics.

My only quibble is that some of the essays are about the experiences of the authors while others are the result of interviews but the essays are not marked to show this distinction. It would be helpful if there was a header on each essay giving a very general overview of who was interviewed.
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[personal profile] seekingferret
21 India Calling by Anand Giridharadas

India Calling is a book I read as I tried to write Midnight's Children fanfiction, updating Rushdie's style for an India that has changed since that book was written thirty years ago. It is in some senses typical of a booming sub-genre of nonfiction works about "the New India", coming to grips with the rise of capitalism, the rise of economic and social and intellectual mobility, and all the associated changes those things bring with them. There are a lot of such books- Giridharadas comfortably situates himself within the subgenre by comparing his experiences to those reported in a few of them. As I ended up writing in my story, "Anyone with a pen and paper is writing that India doesn't have a story, and they will sell it to you if you give them the chance."

Giridharadas himself was the son of Indian immigrants to America who then moved back to India as an adult. His perspective is interesting. He's an outsider, but he speaks the language and knows intellectually the customs, so he can get past the exoticization that true Westerners visiting India often subject their readers to. But his perspective is still outsiderly. He feels comfortable reproaching native Indians for behaviors he finds misguided, but also spends a lot of time deconstructing his own mistaken assumptions about India- as backward, religiously intolerant, unambitious, and addicted to poverty and corruption. I really appreciated the humility he brought to his study.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and though I don't think I ended up using any specific details from it in the fic, the sense he gave me of how India has evolved and how people feel about the evolution ended up being a major guiding force as I developed themes.

22 Dancers on the Shore by William M. Kelley

Kelley is a writer I would never have known about had I not literally googled for African-American literary novelists when I first started doing [community profile] 50books_poc, about three and a half years ago, and discovering him is one of the things I am most grateful to this challenge for. He writes gracefully and complicatedly about the mid-20th-century African-American experience and at times the broader American experience. A Different Drummer, his debut novel, which was one of the first books I read for this challenge, remains one of my favorites.

Dancers on the Shore is a short story collection published not long after A Different Drummer, and it is more of a mixed bag, as short story collections often are. Some of the stories are a part of a roughly continuous family cycle that continues throughout Kelley's novels and culminates in the messy post-modern soup of Dunfords Travels Everywheres. Others are standalone. Some of them feel like early sketches added to fill up the book, while others are marvelous in the depth of character and emotion that Kelly is able to show in so little space.

Though all of his characters are African-American, explicit and even implicit discussions of racial politics are rare (the first page is an invocation from the author begging to be treated as an author instead of as an African-American author who has anything at all to say about the Race Question). The stories are mostly family dramas, characters discovering things about themselves and about the people close to them. A mother contemplates divorcing her husband. A son visits his extended family and learns about his father's childhood. A young woman contemplates an illegal abortion. Two old men endure retirement together. All of these subjects are handled with sensitivity and ambiguity.

23 Terminal Point by KM Ruiz

I loved the first book in Ruiz's Stryker Syndicate series of cyberpunky post-apocalyptic psionic action-adventures, but this one, the second, was more uneven. It was beautifully plotted and paced, and it had more of the great characters from the first book, but it stinted on setting. I knew I was in for a good show with Mind Storm from the first scene, which threw us on a train moving across the radioactive wasteland between the husk of Las Vegas and the husk oif Los Angeles. The location was so atmospheric, interesting, and real feeling that it intensified all of the action. Terminal Point bounces through a lot more locations, and a lot more exotic locations, but none of them feel as rich and real as the settings from the first book. Many of them have their interesting features infodumped at us rather than being allowed to present themselves naturally. The plot subordinated the world building, unfortunately, and the result was a book that offered satisfying resolution to open plots from the first book, but not a book that was as satisfying on its own terms.
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[personal profile] alias_sqbr
I stopped counting books when I realised it was making reading feel like a chore. While I've read a lot of manga I realised I'd never read any novels by Japanese people, so I decided to make a special effort to do so.

Under the cut:
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Aya by Margauerite Aboue
The Manga Guide to Databases by Mana Takahashi
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa
Twelve Kingdoms: Shadow of the Moon by Fuyumi Ono
Harboiled and Hard Luck by Banana Yoshimoto

Read more... )
[identity profile] ms-mmelissa.livejournal.com
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas is a compulsively good read. Like Angelou's previous two biographies it's not very long, but the enthusiasm with which Angelou relates her experiences makes it seem even shorter. While her other biographies deal with childhood and her early steps towards independence, Angelou emerges here as a full-fledged adult become more confident with herself and the world around her.

The book covers two major themes, the first being Angelou's beginnings in show business. After her first marriage fails (the courtship, marriage and its dissolution are covered in a brisk few pages) Angelou takes a job as a dancer in a strip club. Her dances catch the attention of some white night club singers who help her begin a career as a nightclub singer which becomes a launching pad for her career as an actress and dancer. At last the Marguerite Johnson of the two previous memoirs transforms into Maya Angelou. A role in the renowned opera Porgy and Bess opens the world up to Angelou literally as well as metaphorically as the opera's tour allows her to visit Europe and parts of North Africa.

Wound inseparably into the narrative is Angelou's observations about what it is like to operate as a strong-minded independent black woman in America in the fifties. Segregation meant that her previous experiences with white people had been infrequent and hostile, but as she begins to travel in different circles her experiences with white people become more frequent and complex. Her family reacts badly when she marries a white man. Her white friends still have the power to unexpectedly wound her with a thoughtless comment and Angelou feels that power imbalance keenly. Her tour across Europe is also incredibly revealing to Angelou as she and the members of her company are often the first black people that people have seen in real life. The questions and stares give way to both painful moments and beautiful ones all of which Angelou recollects with grace and good humour.
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[personal profile] pauraque
This book has been reviewed here several times, and I don't disagree with what others have said. Much of it is a beginner-level discussion of racism and privilege, though a notably clear and compassionate one with many striking analogies. (I particularly liked the image of racism as an airport moving sidewalk -- if you "do nothing", it carries you along. You have to actively walk the other way just to stay in one place, let alone get anywhere else.)

It seems aimed at people who may still be unsure about whether white privilege is real, and if it is, whether it's really that big of a deal. I think it could be a good way to ease in to the topic for someone who doesn't know where to start, especially because of the large amount of further reading Tatum suggests. It led me to add many titles to my list of books to look for.

Read more... )

a: Tatum Beverly Daniel, African-American, non-fiction, race
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[personal profile] pauraque
This book chronicles the history of cancer diagnosis and treatment from antiquity to the present day, and for being a fairly long book it was a damn quick read for me, because every bit of it was interesting. I was constantly looking for excuses to pick up the book and find out what would happen next. I learned an extraordinary number of things about cancer that I had no idea about before, particularly the latest theories on how it functions on a genetic level.

I have no medical background, but none was needed -- Mukherjee, an oncologist himself, has the gift of making science easy to understand without reducing it to vague analogies. Read more... )

a: Mukherjee Siddhartha, Indian-American, non-fiction, medicine
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[personal profile] pauraque
What is Whiteness? Who is White?

These are questions that many people (and especially people who consider themselves white) never seriously ask, as though the category of whiteness is a natural one. It isn't, of course -- it's a socially constructed idea that has developed and changed considerably over many hundreds of years.

This book takes us through the history of that idea from its earliest known roots in antiquity, and ultimately goes on to focus mostly on Britain and the United States, where various different "white races" were long spoken of and ranked in value. The gradual incorporation of light-skinned people into one big group called White proceeded (and continues to proceed) in waves in the U.S., corresponding to waves of immigration, backlash against it, and an eventual admission that such-and-such a group is at last "American".

You've probably heard this phenomenon mentioned as a derailing tactic in discussions of race. ("Irish people were treated worse than black people") That is not what Painter is doing at all. She understands that the racialized ill treatment of white groups by other white groups does not erase anti-black racism -- it illuminates it! As the definition of who can be "white" has expanded over the centuries, it only sharpens the line between white people who might be able to become "just plain American" someday if they work hard and assimilate, and black people who, no matter what they do, never can.

Read more... )

a: Painter Nell Irvin, African-American, non-fiction, history, race
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[personal profile] pauraque
This is a broad and wide-ranging introduction to Islam, and assumes the reader has no prior knowledge of the subject. (I didn't, so that worked for me.) A lot of time is spent on the origins and ancient history of the religion, including the cultural background of the region and how the very earliest Muslims lived and practiced their faith.

The middle section, after Muhammad's death but before the modern face of Islam had really arisen, kind of lost my attention. Too many names, dates, and battles, and I wasn't sure how it all fit together in the bigger picture. Aslan is knowledgeable but his style is pretty dry. I felt like asking if this was all going to be on the test.

Things picked up more when he got into discussion of the divisions between Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, and their own subdivisions, and modern attempts to create Muslim states and how they've gone about it differently. This is where it really shows, though, that it's just a general introduction. It seemed he took on more than he could do justice to in a short-ish book. A number of interesting topics are brought up but then given only cursory treatment.

Aslan himself is a liberal Shi'ite, and he definitely puts forth his own views, not only on what Islam is, but on what it *ought* to be, religiously, culturally, and politically. I don't think arguing one's own position is bad -- it's certainly better than pretending to be neutral when you're not -- but again, the book seemed like it was being too many things at once. Is it a quick historical overview for beginners, or an argument for Islamic democracy, liberalism, and pluralism? It's both, and in a way that ultimately didn't read as cohesive for me.

tags: a: Aslan Reza, Iranian-American, Muslim, subject: Islam, genre: non-fiction
[identity profile] veleda-k.livejournal.com
The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It: The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson by Jo Ann Gibson Robinson.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It )

The Bandit Queen of India: An Indian Woman's Amazing Journey From Peasant to International Legend by Phoolan Devi with Marie-Therese Cuny and Paul Rambali.

The Bandit Queen of India )
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[personal profile] pauraque
This is a teaching grammar of the language which is now more properly called Tohono O'odham. (It appears that later editions of the book are indeed called A Tohono O'odham Grammar. The edition I have is from 1997.) It's the language of the Tohono O'odham people, of what is now Arizona and northern Mexico. As of the year 2000 the language was fairly robust, with 10,000 speakers, 13% of them children, which is great. (Languages die quickly when children no longer learn them.)

Ofelia Zepeda is a native speaker and a linguist. She wrote this book to be used in the classroom, both for O'odham who lack full fluency, and for interested outsiders. The material is in the form of lessons, with discussion of the grammar, vocabulary lists, dialogues, and exercises. There are special advanced exercises for native speakers, challenging them to analyze their own speech and describe why certain constructions sound right and others do not, which is a cool addition and really drives home that the intended audience is the O'odham community itself.

The presentation is linguistically informed, but technical terms are largely avoided; there is nothing more exotic than the sorts of words you'd find in a high school language class. For me this made the book harder to read, not easier, but that's because linguistics is My Thing. I think the book does a good job of being accessible to people for whom linguistics is not Their Thing, while not being excessively dumbed-down.

The only potential snag is that the book doesn't stand on its own as a Teach-Yourself; it's obviously supposed to be a textbook for a class. The answers to the exercises are not provided. The phonology section is extremely sparse and vague, which is fine if you have people to hear and talk to, but not if you're trying to learn alone. Many of the finer points are under-explained (if you don't already know the difference between perfective and imperfective, I don't think you'll really know after reading this book either), and they're the kind of things your teacher would go over with you.

While I wouldn't rely on this book to teach you the language, it does cover quite a bit of ground for not being very long, so if you're the kind of person (like me) who reads about a language not because you're planning to speak it but simply because languages are awesome, it may well appeal to you. American Indian grammars written by native speakers aren't exactly a dime a dozen, so I was pleased to get my hands on this one.

tags: a: Zepeda Ofelia, Tohono O'odham, genre: non-fiction, subject: linguistics
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[personal profile] pauraque
This book isn't long, but it took me a long time to read and a long time to digest. It's an academic work, not a popular one. Literary theory isn't my field, and some of the sections were too dense for me to understand, making heavy use of concepts I was unfamiliar with. But I believe Sarris's core message got through to me, and it was a message that moved and excited me greatly: When you hear or read a text, you are conversing with that text. You and the author are conversing. Your experiences and your cultures are conversing. Your reading/hearing experience is itself a creative act.

He expresses and illustrates this central theme through his own experiences of cultural intersection, starting with the Pomo women who raised him (his father was Miwok and Pomo, and his mother was white, but he never knew them), and the attempts of white academia to study these women, his family -- their storytelling, particularly.

Read more... )

tags: a: Sarris Greg, Miwok, Pomo, genre: non-fiction, subject: American Indian literature, literary theory
[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
2.16 Larissa Behrendt, Achieving Social Justice: Indigenous Rights and Australia's Future (2003)

This is a very clear exploration of the debates over Indigenous rights in Australia, including a quite clear discussion of sovereignty.

I was left, as I always am, baffled by the common Australian perspective that Aboriginal people are constantly being given extra things, for nothing. Because, seriously, that in no way tallies with the fact that Aboriginal people are generally poorer, sicker, live in worse housing, etc, etc. How do these two, diametrically opposed ideas co-exist in their heads?
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: The History of White People
Author: Nell Irvin Painter
Number of Pages: 496 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5

Amazon Summary: Who are white people and where did they come from? Elementary questions with elusive, contradictory, and complicated answers set historian Painter's inquiry into motion. From notions of whiteness in Greek literature to the changing nature of white identity in direct response to Malcolm X and his black power successors, Painter's wide-ranging response is a who's who of racial thinkers and a synoptic guide to their work. Her commodious history of an idea accommodates Caesar; Saint Patrick, history's most famous British slave of the early medieval period; Madame de Staël; and Emerson, the philosopher king of American white race theory. Painter reviews the diverse cast in their intellectual milieus, linking them to one another across time and language barriers. Conceptions of beauty (ideals of white beauty firmly embedded in the science of race), social science research, and persistent North/South stereotypes prove relevant to defining whiteness. What we can see, the author observes, depends heavily on what our culture has trained us to look for. For the variable, changing, and often capricious definition of whiteness, Painter offers a kaleidoscopic lens.

Review: This was an interesting book, but I often felt like I was slogging through a textbook trying to read it (especially the early chapters), so I kept setting it down and it actually took me several months to finally finish. I just didn't find the writing style engaging at all, otherwise I would probably have given if five stars.

But it was interesting, and I learned a lot of things about famous people of the past (none of them good) that I didn't know before. It was also interesting to see how little anti-immigrant rhetoric has changed. A lot of things people were saying about Irish, Italian, Eastern European, Jewish, etc. immigrants is pretty much word for word what people say about Latin@ immigrants today. A lot of "oh noes, the right people aren't having enough babies and the wrong people are having too many!" and that sort of thing. Except it wasn't Those Brown People who were going to destroy the White Race, is was Those Other Inferior White People.

Also, while this book is called The History of White People, it's very US-centric. She traces things from Europe to the US, but once she gets to the US, she really never talks about whiteness elsewhere for the rest of the book.
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
13. Pico Iyer, Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East

I love travel books, and this is a fantastic one. Iyer visits several Asian countries (including India, China, Tibet, Burma, the Philippines, Bali, Thailand, Hong Kong, and probably a few more I'm forgetting) with the goal of seeing how they've been affected by Western pop culture and tourism. Iyer is quite good at describing places, and seems to have really made the effort to get to know local people and include their viewpoints.

This book is a bit out-of-date now (it was written in the early 80s), but to me that just added to the appeal. This is a China and Tibet newly opened to Westerners, a Hong Kong which is still a colony, Burma before it was Myanmar. So many of the places he visits no longer exist- at least, not as they did at the time- that it makes for an intriguing historical snapshot.

Iyer uses the 'Modern, Masculine West meets Traditional, Feminine East! However Will They Understand One Another?' trope a bit too much for my tastes, but you could easily skim those parts and focus on the descriptions of places and people, which are quite well-written. Recommended, and I'd love recs for other travel books, if you have a favorite!
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: 4teen
Author: Ishida Ira
Number of Pages: 329 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Tsukishima, an island in the middle of Tokyo Bay. Here we race through the streets on our bikes, faster than the wind. Naoto, Dai, Jun, and me, Tetsuro, four 9th graders. We each have our problems, but together we can go anywhere, maybe we can even fly...

Review: Like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, 4teen is a collection of short stories about young people set in Tokyo (though younger kids this time and a different area of Tokyo). No mysteries here, though, but basically if you like Ikebukuro West Gate Park, if you like Ishida Ira's writing style, this is more of the same.

Title: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
Author: José Esteban Muñoz
Number of Pages: 222 pages
My Rating: 2/5

Jacket Summary: The LGBT agenda has for too long been dominated by pragmatic issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military. It has been stifled by this myopic focus on the present, which is short-sighted and assimilationist. In a startling repudiation of what the LGBT movement has held dear, Muñoz contends that queerness is instead a futurity-bound phenomenon, a "not yet here" that critically engages pragmatic presentism.

Review: I picked this up off the new-books shelf at the library because the title caught my eye, but was really disappointed in it. Since he is explicitly critiquing the current LGBT movement, I had hopes that his "queer" wasn't a synonym for gay men as it (and LGBT, really) so often is. Alas, while there are a handful of lesbians here and there and an aside about a trans friend, this book is totally about gay men, mainly pre-AIDS gay male culture and art.

I could have rolled with that if the book had otherwise been interesting, but the academic language made it difficult for me to read, plus the whole thing lacked cohesion and just felt more like a collection of essays about this art/period he liked rather than something that was building towards a whole. Also, mainly he talked about what he liked about queer movements in the past, and what I had picked up the book hoping for was a critique of the current LGBT movement. But other than saying he doesn't like it, he doesn't really go into it at all.
[identity profile] alankria.livejournal.com
I'm way behind on posting here and, for various reasons, all but one of the following books are currently not in my possession - so these are pretty short reviews.

4. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, Paper

The back made it sound wonderful: a scribe in central Asia searching for the perfect paper, while his town's location at a crossroads of travel and politics impacts upon his life. While it is about that, the execution is not as good as I'd hoped. A lot of time is given over to the Scribe's unhappy musings about his life and how he's just not capable of writing the perfect book. Events unfold sometimes slowly, sometimes offstage, with the overall effect of not particularly gripping me. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's language is lovely in places and some of the characters are interesting, but I felt like the novel isn't quite as focused as it could have been: it muses, it tells, but it doesn't quite work. Certainly interesting, though, and I intend to re-read it sometime because I suspect there are layers to be found. Also there's a chronology of paper-related history at the back which is marvellous.

5. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo & Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio, eds. Why I Travel and other essays by fourteen women

Now this was a find! It's a collection of travel essays by Filipina, with a section focusing on local destinations and another on international ones. A small section at the back considers the how of travel in particular; one my favourite essays is here, concerning how a wheelchair-bound woman has discovered that she shouldn't feel too limited by her situation, and she tells all about her adventures in a Moroccan souk on donkey-back and other experiences around the world, where the help of a few people has resulted in her having a fantastic time. The essays sometimes describe the places visited, sometimes dwell on personal history in that places (especially in the local section), and are almost all engaging and interesting.

6. Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Sightseeing

A collection of short stories by a Thai author. This means, crucially, that you're getting stories about Thailand as a complex and real place, not the magical land of golden temples and hookers often described by farang writers. Rattawut is concerned with the regular Thai person, not particularly wealthy, often in a perpetual balancing act just above poverty. He writes about a young boy's relationship with a Cambodian refugee whose now-dead father put all their wealth in her gold teeth; he writes about a young man whose mother is on the verge of going blind; he writes about a teenaged girl whose poor father is losing his cockfights to a rich bully, and the various consequences this has on their family; he writes about a wealthy teenaged boy dodging the draft while his poorer friend cannot; and so on. In some stories, the plot itself is not particularly innovative. The entire emotional arc of the draft-dodging story was predictable, for instance. But the way Rattawut writes allows you to really get into his characters' heads and understand their various decisions, so they are not distant or simple stories, and the Thailand he writes about is a difficult, interesting, complicated place. Definitely recommended, especially for readers of realist fiction or those interested in Thailand/SE Asia as depicted by a local.

7. Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

Oh, My Name is Red, I did want to adore you. Those long beautiful passages on the nature of art and miniaturism and history are, in my opinion, worth the price of admission alone. (Especially if you, uh, got it for cheaps at an Indian pavement book stall.) Yet the characters are almost all un-captivating and parts of the plot progress strangely. A character is tortured and, within pages of the torture ending, decides that the man who gave the order is going to be his new mentor and father figure, and Pamuk spends the rest of the book telling us that they have a deep and meaningful bond. We're told a lot about characterisation in this book. I enjoyed reading about historic Istanbul (and I can't imagine the city under snow!) and, as I said, his tangents were divine, and parts of the murder plot were pretty interesting. Overall, though, a bit of a flawed package.

8. Githa Hariharan, When Dreams Travel

A novel about storytelling and storytellers, especially female, typically powerless ones. Hariharan takes the myth of Shahrzad and begins after it ended, with her sister Dunyazad returning to Shahrzad's palace to help her husband construct her tomb. Echoes of the Taj Mahal in its vast splendour and the Sultan's obsession and the consequences. Dunyazad and a scheming maidservant with a peculiarly hairy mole meet and share stories, including many of a hair-covered woman who was eventually ostracised by her community -- revolving around the possibility that Shahrzad escaped and they can too, from the entrapments of the old 1001 Night story and the present concerns of their lives. When Dreams Travel is a curious, meandering book, beautifully written.
[identity profile] seekingferret.livejournal.com
47 Zionist Colonialism in Palestine by Fayez A. Sayegh

A 1965 pamphlet by one of the founders of the PLO. I do not intend to get into a flamewar over the book on this forum. However, if you're curious what I thought and would like to get into a good faith discussion, I might be willing to take it to email.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Damn it, I keep forgetting to crosspost my reviews.

Title: Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 4: Onibijima Satsujin Jiken
Author: Amagi Seimaru
Number of Pages: 318 pages
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: A murderer witnessed through a keyhole who disappears without a trace when the door is opened. An approaching tornado. And snow in the middle of summer... The stage for this tragedy is a cursed island that people call Onibijima...Will-o'-Wisp Island.

Review: I think my love for Kindaichi mysteries is pretty well established, and I don't really have much of anything new or different to say here. I love Kindaichi so I loved this book. :p It's not just that they're good mysteries (though they are), but I really love how the killer always has this heart-wrenching tale of why they had to kill all these people. No one kills for greed or just because they're a psychotic killer. They're always motivated by revenge against the people who wronged them or their friends/family and there's always this big heart-felt apology at the end. idk, I like the ~drama~. (Sadly, these novels and even most of the manga are only available in Japanese, though some of the manga was released in English and I highly recommend those as well.)

Title: The Icarus Girl
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Number of Pages: 338 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Jessamy "Jess" Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly's visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn't actually know who her friend is at all.

Review: I really enjoyed this a lot. I took it with me the other day to my doctor's appointment and ended up reading two-thirds of it on the bus and while waiting. It was definitely a good choice for being stuck out for a long time with no other options. It sucked me in right away and I found it hard to put down.

Apparently the author wrote this while still at school, and it does show, but it's still overall really well-written. The biggest annoyance to me was POV slippage here and there and stuff like how the entire book is from Jess's POV except for one random paragraph from her friend's POV, and then the last two chapters are her parents' POV (that choice at least has a good reason; the paragraph in the friend's POV was unnecessary and tell-y).

I have another of her books on my wishlist and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Title: Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science
Author: Carol Kaesuk Yoon
Number of Pages: 344 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: In Naming Nature, Yoon takes us on a guided tour of science's brilliant, if sometimes misguided, attempts to order and name the overwhelming diversity of earth's living things. We follow a trail of scattered clues that reveals taxonomy's real origins in humanity's distant past. Yoon's journey brings us from New Guinea tribesmen who call a giant bird a mammal to the trials and tribulations of patients with a curious form of brain damage that causes them to be unable to distinguish among living things. Finally, Yoon shows us how the reclaiming of taxonomy will rekindle humanity's dwindling connection with wild nature.

Review: I did not previously have any interest in taxonomy before picking this up, or really much interest in nature at all. But I happened to see it on the shelf at the library and it sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did, because it really is interesting and written in a very engaging way. One thing that bugged me, though, was that she went on and on and on about how wonderful Carl Linneaus was and I would have liked for her to at least touch on the fact that not only did he order plants and animals, but also humans (with whites at the top, natch).
ext_48823: 42, the answer to life, the universe and everything (books)
[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Here is a batch of mini-reviews and notes on books I read from May to October. I started including descriptions from other websites but didn't do that for all the books. Also, please note there are potentially triggering scenes and events in some of the books (e.g., rape, childhood abuse, incidents with dubious consent, violence). Please let me know if you need more detail.

List of Books Read
33. Burndive by Karin Lowachee
34. Cagebird by Karin Lowachee
35. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
36. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
37. The Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong
38. Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang
39. The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
40. Pulse by Lydia Kwa
41. Choose Me by Evelyn Lau
42. The Monkey King & Other Stories edited by Griffin Ondaatje
43. The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
44. Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami

Reviews )
[identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com
9. Gita Mehta, Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India

Snakes and Ladders is a book of short essays (very short; I'd guess the average was three pages) on the modern history of India, written to celebrate the country's fifty anniversary in 1997. If you don't know anything about modern India, I think this would be a great place to start. If you already are familiar with the topic, this is probably not really the book for you, although it is certainly written in a very engaging style.

My favorite essays were the ones that didn't deal with history or politics at all, but recounted personal moments from Mehta's own life: how her mother was out at a club at 3am, dancing the foxtrot and the tango, when she went into labor to have Gita; the effect on her parents' marriage of their involvement in the Freedom Movement; how she grew up with a love of reading, thanks to the booksellers of Calcutta.

Recommended as a lighthearted but educational read.


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October 2017

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