What I’m Reading: Spring/Summer 2017

So I’m pretty terrible about blogging in a timely fashion, but here are a few of the books I’ve particularly enjoyed over the past, eh, six months or so:

A Pocket Full of Murder and A Little Taste of Poison by R.J. Anderson (2015, 2016)
I read these a long time ago and don’t really remember much, but they’re middle-grade fantasy and very good. (I’d be well pleased if these were the start of a whole series, rather than just a book and sequel.) They’re set in a world that has two different types of magic–one for rich people and one (which is conducted by breaking open tablets into which spells have been baked for storage) for everyone else. I really liked the unique magic system, but what I think appealed to me most is how the different socioeconomic classes are described and interact, and how this (which is often missing in children’s literature) winds up being a major part of the story.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (2017)
This is sci-fi for an adult audience, which is something I read very rarely, but a couple of my coworkers said it was good, and it was. In brief: a guy from the future travels back in time, but he messes up and changes things, so when he tries to go back to his own time, he winds up in a parallel world, which he views as a dystopia and which everyone reading will easily recognize as the world we currently live in. Since I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, this may be less novel than I think it is, but I thought it was a cool idea. Also, the time travel actually made sense, which is super important to me.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (2016)
I don’t really know what to say about this, other than that I am amazed Trevor Noah is still alive.
…Also, while this book obviously has some entertainment value (he’s a comedian, after all), I also think it could be really useful in terms of helping people to understand the world better. That’s a really graceless way of saying it, but, for example, I’m young enough that I don’t really remember the time before Nelson Mandela was President of South Africa, and I don’t remember his election and I don’t remember how big a deal it was (probably at least in part because, at the time, I had very little awareness of South Africa, period). It’s something I became vaguely aware of in the intervening years, emphasis on “vaguely.” There’s a big difference between reading a textbook entry about apartheid, or the various forms of oppression and inequality that have lingered post-apartheid, and reading an account of what a real person’s life was like. Maybe this makes me hopelessly naive, but reading this was very much an eye-opener for me.
I’ll also note that I don’t like stand-up comedy at all really, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so I’d recommend it even if you aren’t a fan of Trevor Noah when he’s on TV.

One thought on “What I’m Reading: Spring/Summer 2017

  1. A book I found quirky and that kept me curious enough to keep reading to reach the conclusion that could go a number of ways is The Idiot by Elif Batuman. It is a college story so young readers will relate. The writing style alone makes it worth reading. I laughed aloud at several passages. I found the first section slow; the remainder of the story gains momentum.

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