254 The Unit

theunitby Ninni Holmqvist, 2006
translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A translated book written by and/or translated by a woman.

If you’re a woman over 50, or a man over 60, and have yet to get married and have children, congratulations – you’re dispensable. This is the world Dorrit Weger lives in, and we meet her just after she’s been transferred to the eponymously named Unit, a comfortable place where men and women like her will live out the remainder of their days. The catch? Those days are not long in the making, for such citizens will spend that amount of time donating parts of their bodies to those who have been deemed “needed,” those who have made significant contributions to society, those who have achieved, those who have parented. It is the ultimate judgment from a society that believes that single, childless individuals are not worthy of their own lives. Continue reading


250 Pluto 001

pluto001by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka, 2004

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A book of manga.

I know absolutely nothing about manga and was pretty much at a loss when this task showed up on the Read Harder Challenge list. However, when I heard Jenn recommend this story about an android gone rogue on a past episode of SFF Yeah!, it sounded right up my alley. Pluto is based on Astro Boy, with which I also lack familiarity, but Jenn assured that that wasn’t necessary and, after reading the first book in this eight-book series, I agree. This is essentially an old-fashioned murder mystery. But with robots.

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247 In an Absent Dream

inanabsentdreamby Seanan McGuire, 2019

Oh, I do adore this series. In this fourth installment we are acquainted with Katherine Lundy’s origin story. Those who read Every Heart a Doorway will recognize Lundy as the child-seeming therapist who helps Eleanor West run the school. Of course, Lundy was once a person who grew at an average human rate, and it’s only after a deal with the Goblin Market that she finds herself aging backwards. This is how it happened.

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242 All the Birds in the Sky

allthebirdsintheskyby Charlie Jane Anders, 2016

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A book by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse.

Winner: Best Novel – Nebula Awards 2016

Well, add this to the growing list of books that disprove my notion that I don’t like fantasy! Despite the book winning a Nebula Award and despite hearing nothing but favorable reviews, I was still very hesitant to pick up this book that was touted as a great fantasy read. When I realized that it fit not one, but two of the Read Harder Challenge categories (Anders is also transgender), I knew it was time to read it. I’m not sure what I expected of this story, but this smartly told, sarcastically humorous, eloquently written yarn certainly wasn’t it. Fantasy: 1; Veronica: 0.

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238 Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

gunsgermsandsteelby Jared Diamond, 1997

This is the second time I’ve read this tome on how the civilizations came to be how they are. The first time was for a book club, during which time I read the book as quickly as possible in order to have it finished by the discussion date and, as a result, I remembered very little of it. As I’ve been reading more books about history and culture and, especially, books about the history of racism, I’ve been curious to revisit Diamond’s ideas on why some cultures conquered others and not the other way around. The idea that some cultures dominated because they were morally and intellectually superior still somewhat persists and that is the exact idea that Diamond attempts to destroy. For Diamond, there no one culture was superior to another, some were just in the right places at the right times, aligned along the right axis.

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237 Red Clocks

redclocksby Leni Zumas, 2018

Feminist dystopian literature is certainly having a moment. The success of the fortuitously timed release of The Handmaid’s Tale series amid the current political climate has ushered in a new generation of stories that focus on one general idea: we women are terrified. Red Clocks is no different. A clear child of Atwood’s bleak imagining of a totalitarian control on reproductive rights, Red Clocks depicts a future in which embryos have rights, in vitro fertilization is illegal, only two-parent households can adopt, and Roe v. Wade is overturned. Of course, history tells us that this does not mean fewer women will have abortions, just that more women will die from them. This book is history repeating itself.

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231 Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

eggplantedited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler, 2007

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: An essay anthology.

I’m a big fan of eating and of cooking and of reading so, naturally, I also love to read about the two subjects. I’ve lived by myself for most of my adult life and have never subscribed to the idea that I don’t warrant a nice meal. Sure, I have my share of scrambled eggs, grilled cheeses, and other quick fixes to fill me at night, but I also consider this my time to experiment, to try new recipes and new ingredients so that when I do cook for others, I’ll have some proven wins in my arsenal. Thus, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone immediately appealed to me when I first saw it years ago. I’m glad that I finally took the opportunity to read it.

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