157 Thirteen Reasons Why

13reasonsby Jay Asher, 2007
narrated by Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone

I am both surprised and disappointed by Thirteen Reasons Why. I didn’t know much about the book coming into it, other than that it dealt with the suicide of a teenage girl, and the Netflix show, which I haven’t seen, has come under fire for inspiring an increase in teenage suicides. I’m not equipped to comment on whether the book idealizes suicide or makes it seem like suicide is nothing more than an overreaction to some unfortunate events. I’m fortunate to have not had to deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, but I believe those who question the book’s portrayal of this very serious topic. I am equipped, however, to comment on the book’s secondary topics, the ones that directly contributes to Hannah Baker’s suicide: sexual harassment, sexual assault, and female objectification.

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156 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

dragontattooby Stieg Larsson, 2005
narrated by Simon Vance

Years ago when it first became popular, I tried to read the first book in the Millennium Trilogy. I ambitiously attempted to read it in Spanish, figuring that if I were going to read a translated work, I might as well sharpen my Spanish skills while I was at it. It wasn’t long before I gave up, and I assumed that my Spanish simply wasn’t up to snuff. Then I borrowed it from the library in English and, well, quickly gave up, too. I was bored. Not only did I not understand the financial stuff, I didn’t care. It was only when I was searching for my next audiobook to accompany me on my commute, and found every book I wanted to read had a waitlist, that I decided to give this another shot. Surprisingly, I’m glad I did.

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153 Winter

winterby Marissa Meyer, 2015
narrated by Rebecca Soler

Dear Reader, I have come to the conclusion that I hate love. Okay, I don’t 100% hate love (I don’t think…), but I do hate stories that focus on love at the expense of other, more interesting things. This has been my complaint throughout The Lunar Chronicles. In each of the installments we get a righteously badass chick, doing righteously badass things, only to then wring her hands and fret over whether a boy likes her. I realize that these are fairy tales and that fairy tales, as we know them, always end with the princess getting her prince, but if we can make Cinderella a cyborg mechanic who saves political relations between the Earth and the moon, then surely we can dispense with the heteronormative gender roles, right?

Apparently not.

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151 The Fifth Season

fifthseasonby N.K. Jemisin, 2015

When I decided to make an effort to read award-winning books, I included the Hugo and Nebula awards in my list because I’m a decent fan of science-fiction. I forgot this meant that I would also have to read fantasy, a genre of which I’m not particularly enamored. Nevertheless, I’d heard much effusion over N.K. Jemisin’s writing and I was interested to find out what has garnered her so much attention, even while being a bit apprehensive about reading her. After having read this book I can say…I didn’t hate it. That’s about as much excitement as I can muster for a fantasy read, but even if I didn’t fall in love with it, I can surely appreciate some of what Jemisin is doing here.

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144 Jazz

jazzby Toni Morrison, 1992

One of the things I’ve come to love about Toni Morrison’s style is that I often don’t know what is happening at the outset. I’ve become accustomed to feeling a bit lost, to not knowing who our narrator is, to not fully grasping the meat of the story until Morrison’s vivid words unfurl the narrative across the pages. I enjoy this lack of grounding because I have not yet ceased to be amazed by how deftly Morrison pulls everything together and, by the novel’s end, presents a story that is greater than the sum of its parts. Alas, Jazz was the first time I found myself less than thrilled with this style. Instead of feeling rewarded in the end, I mostly felt, well, lost.

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138 Uncle Tom’s Cabin

uncletomby Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1852

And so continues my education of reading books that I should have read, but haven’t. I was particularly interested in reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin to learn exactly where the term “Uncle Tom” originated. For the unaware, an Uncle Tom is a black person who is exceedingly deferential to whites. That’s the polite way of putting it; for a more piquant definition, watch Django Unchained. Samuel L. Jackson’s character? He’s an Uncle Tom through and through. But where does the term come from? Surprisingly, not directly from this book.

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136 La sombra del viento

 sombradelvientode Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 2001

[Scroll down for English.]

He oído mucho de este libro, un libro sobre un misterio de libros. Intenté leerlo el año pasado, pero cuando la elección pasó, ya no tenía ganas de descifrar un misterio en español. Pero estaba determinada leerlo y por fin he terminado con ello. ¿Valía la pena? Desafortunadamente, no estoy segura. Sí, disfruté algunas partes del libro y a veces lo encontré encantador, pero aunque la trama me interesaba, el cuento no tomó forma al fin.

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