Book 23: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's TaleI can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.

I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

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Book 13: From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian - From Russia with LoveFor my first, and probably only, foray into James Bond this was definitely a good one. Compared to other spy novels I’ve read like The Talented Mr. Ripley or The Thin Man, I enjoyed this one the most! I’m not sure if it is because of the history of the novel, or because of the character James Bond.

So it will come as no surprise, that this is my local library’s books into movies book group February read. What is surprising is that I suggested it. I did so because for some random reason, I have always been obsessed with the title—it’s one of those iconic titles that everyone knows and for some reason it’s always stuck with me even though I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. The second reason is that it’s February and well, Valentine’s Day. And finally Caroline made another connection: oh Russia, like Sochi, and the Olympics. So yet another great reason.

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Book 12: Significant Others (Tales of the City #5) – Armistead Maupin

Maupin, Armistead - Significant Others (Tales of the City #4)Coming back to Maupin’s San Francisco is like going home after a really long vacation. There’s something comforting and something genuinely nice about being back on Barbary Lane. (See the first quote under Additional Quotes).

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I binge read Tales of the CityMore Tales of the CityFurther Tales of the City and Babycakes. And like everyone else who has ever read a single one of The Tales of the city books, I’m finally taking the time to catch up on the series, which has spanned five decades so that I can read the final (I’m assuming) novel in the series The Days of Anna Madrigal released at the beginning of 2014. I won’t binge read them, but they’re such quick reads I plan to read them all this year.

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Book 10: Zazen – Vanessa Veselka

Veselka, Vanessa - ZazenAfter seeing this on Heather’s blog Between the Covers (direct link to her review) and seeing her recommend it to many other people over the intervening years and knowing we have similar book tastes I knew I needed to read this novel.

This was a fascinating take on (post) identity politics in a (potentially) war-torn country. It was incredibly difficult to decide how much was seriousness, criticism, sarcasm or some other commentary. I had a brief conversation with Heather about the book because I was so confused as I started reading it that I thought it might be a translation. In the end I felt Veselka did a great job but I’m still not quite sure what form of commentary she was using. The combination of the identity politics versus the environmental (both natural and manmade) issues made for a really interesting read. Veselka’s writing and story telling reminded me of a less controlled and less refined Margaret Atwood, so of course I was going to enjoy it.

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Book 5: Amistad – David Pesci

Pesci, David - AmistadThis is one of those books that make me glad that I participate in my local library’s book group! I would never have gone out of my way to read this book and I surprisingly enjoyed it. I’ve done like I did with Dances with Wolves and broken down this post into the book and movie sections. I don’t think I will add a book group recap unless something really bad happens like with Dances with Wolves.

The Book
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised anymore that I’m enjoying the books selected for book group. They’ve broadened my reading and helped me to branch out, not just because of the styles and subjects I never would’ve read, but because the film adaptations are older and they are really interesting!

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