by Madeleine L’Engle, 1978
narrated by Jennifer Ehle
Alas, the third book in the Time Quintet suffers a little bit from boredom. We’ve moved ahead in the Murry’s lives and find Meg married to Calvin and pregnant with their child. Twins Sandy and Dennys are in law and medical school and Charles Wallace is a teenager. The family has gathered together to celebrate Thanksgiving. Calvin is off in England giving a conference, so they are joined by his mother, Mrs. Branwen Maddox O’Keefe. The dinner is interrupted when Mr. Murry receives a call from the president warning him of impending nuclear war set in motion by the South American dictator known as Mad Dog Branzillo. After Mrs. O’Keefe utters a mysterious rune, we’re off on another adventure in time and space.
by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong, 2018
In 2008, Marie was raped. She reported the crime to the police, but because there were inconsistencies in her story and because someone close to her expressed doubt, the police told her she was lying and convinced her to recant her accusation. She was charged with filing a false report, made to explain her actions to the fellow residents who lived in the housing complex subsidized by a nonprofit that helped foster children in transition, and spent years dealing with the subsequent court case. In 2011, Marie’s photo was found on the camera of a Colorado man who was charged with raping several other women. Marie had been telling the truth.
by Richard Adams, 1972
My first question about Watership Down is, why did no one ever tell me to read this?! You see, I love bunnies. Aside from Care Bears, I was not a teddy bear kind of kid. I was also never a doll kind of kid and the only dolls I had were ones that other people bought for me and not ones that I asked for. No, I loved bunnies, and it is still one of my greatest regrets that I have yet to adopt a bunny as a pet. I also feel a pang of regret for the fact that my childhood passed without ever reading this adventure tale about a gang of bunnies looking for a new, peaceful home. Society, you have let me down!
by N.K. Jemison, 2016
narrated by Robin Miles
I wish I understood what everyone sees in these books. I promise I’m trying, but I’m simply unmoved by this and most of fantasy. Consequently, I had a hard time following what was happening. Here’s my best attempt to piece it together. (Spoilers for The Fifth Season below, as they are unavoidable in discussing the sequel.)
by Basma Abdel Aziz, 2013
translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette
In a modern, unnamed Middle Eastern city, a line of people has formed outside a Gate. Stretching for kilometers, the queue is filled with people trying to take care of bureaucratic needs. We meet Ines, a teacher who has been required to receive a Certificate of True Citizenship to continue teaching at her school. We meet Um Mabrouk, who starts selling tea to other members of the queue to make up for the money she is losing from abandoning her job. We meet Shalaby, whose aim is to convince everyone that his cousin is a martyr who should be revered for his actions during the Disgraceful Events. And we meet Yehya Gad el-Rab Saeed who is suffering from a bullet lodged in his pelvis during those same Events. Yehya wants nothing more than to receive a copy of his X-ray showing the bullet and permission to have it removed. Bullets are the property of state and cannot be removed without permission, so Yehya waits, with his peers, in front of a Gate that does not open.
by Elie Wiesel, 1972
translated from the French by Marion Wiesel
This is one of the most affecting pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Elie Wiesel was 15 in 1944 when the Nazis entered Hungary and he and his family were moved into concentration camps. Separated from his mother and sister, it was not long after that he and his father were moved to Auschwitz and Buchenwald, some of the most infamous concentration camps of the war. Wiesel’s treatise is, in a word, harrowing. His short, direct manner of writing (perhaps due in part to the translation) gives a stark portrait of some of the greatest evil known to mankind. Night is an exceedingly difficult book to read and, despite being barely more than 100 pages, was one that I found I could only consume in short bursts. However, it is one of the most necessary books that I have ever had the opportunity to encounter and it is imperative that we continue to read this story and hold this terror close to our hearts.
by Joanna Russ, 1975
While my original plan for the “read a classic of genre fiction” task in the Read Harder Challenge was to count my forthcoming reread of Parable of the Sower, I decided to branch out instead and pick up a book I’d been meaning to read for years. The Female Man is a classic of feminist science-fiction. Though she may not be as well-known as the likes of Octavia Butler or Ursula K. Le Guin, Russ’s work has always appeared in discussions of this particular genre. The novel involves four women – really, four iterations of the same woman in various points in time and space. Jeannine lives during the 1930s, Joanna is a 1970s feminist, Janet is from another version of earth called Whileaway that is populated only by women, and Jael, with her metal claws and teeth, hails from a future torn by war between the two genders. This is the story of what happens when they come together.