Week 18: Fun, character-driven stories

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in this update. This has been the last full week of my summer job, and this weekend was extremely busy! I don’t feel like it’s been all that long since I started in May, but it will be nice to have some time to really explore and play in the park. I have gotten stuck on a few great books that are also fairly long and dense, and so I didn’t do quite as much reading this week.

It does look like I will be very busy over the next few weeks, so I probably won’t be writing much more than my weekly updates for a month or so. I have a few subjects that I have been thinking about and hopefully, once I get settled back in Washington State I will have the time to share them.

In spite of being a busy week, I still two books to share with you all! They are completely different, but were both great reading experiences.

Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

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This is the sequel to The Sparrow, and it is wonderful! I don’t have words to describe how well this book follows up on the first. Russell does something incredible because she tells you the end in the beginning and yet also keeps you on the edge of your seat. I don’t know if I have ever read a book where I both knew roughly what happened and was truly gripped by the action at the same time.

In The Sparrow, a group of Jesuits, linguists and scientists seek the source of beautiful music that is coming from another planet, later known as Rahkat. The cultural exchange that ensues when they get to the planet is complex, multifaceted and incredibly realistic. The main character, Emilio Sandoz, eventually makes it back to Earth as the sole survivor of this misson, and as the novel develops, we discover what happened to him and the others. In The Children of God, a group of people once again makes the trip to Rahkat and both they and the reader gain an ever deeper appreciation for the many layers of cultural exchange. This is a pair of books that really should be read in order, but I recommend both wholeheartedly!

If you haven’t read The Sparrow and you are a fan of literary fiction of any kind, I cannot recommend it enough. This pair of books looks at cultural understanding and misunderstanding, love, friendship, exploration, and so much more, and does it in a way that leaves you inspired and exhausted.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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This Young Adult novel came out recently to much acclaim, and while it wasn’t the strongest book in some ways, I fully admit that it is also charming, and funny, cute, and a fabulous read for any high-schoolers (or teenagers at heart) out there.

What I do love about this book is the exceptional way that it shows teenagers who feel real, and don’t come across as too “goody-goody”, but are also able to make healthy, safe choices.  For example, there is a sex scene in this book, and as I read it I found myself thinking that it was a textbook example of what consent should look like. There are moments here that I feel are very real and written in such a way that they could give teenagers a positive model without feeling preachy. I don’t know if I have ever come across as book that does this as well as it is done here.

Overall, When Dimple Met Rishi is a great YA book, although the writing and some of the plot points mean it doesn’t quite earn “so good it could be for adults” status. However, I still recommend it to the high-school aged people in your lives!


 

What went well

I am really enjoying all the books I am working my way through at the moment, and I was so happy to reconnect with the world of The Sparrow in Children of God.  I also found that many of the books I am reading are leading to more books I want to read, and I like that feeling of having book recommendations confirmed by others.

What did not go well

Although they are good, I am finding it more difficult to focus on and absorb my non-fiction books at the moment. I have realized that when I am particularly tired, fiction is easier for me to consume, and I think with as busy as I have been, this is probably why.

What I am reading this week

This week I am continuing to read Women Who Run With Wolves and another anthology of Native American contemporary literature that I am really enjoying. I also absolutely love audio-books read and written by comedians, and I am listening to W. Kamau Bell’s memoir which I am also really enjoying.

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