257 The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

inspectorchopraby Vaseem Khan, 2015

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: A cozy mystery.

On the day Inspector Ashwin Chopra retires, he receives a baby elephant from his uncle and becomes involved in the case that will spark his post-inspector career. I had been curious about this series for some time, as my interest in mysteries started to grow along with my ever-present desire to read outside of the white literary canon. While I’ve enjoyed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, I’m sad to say that I found this modern series set in India less compelling. In fact, this is exactly the sort of story that I was beginning to hope was merely stereotypical of “cozy mysteries”: not a lot of action, obvious plot twists, and mysteries that fail to capture interest. That doesn’t necessarily mean that this series is bad, but it’s clearly not for me, and my desire to delve into the mystery genre must continue elsewhere.

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255 Educated

educatedby Tara Westover, 2018

This book has certainly made me think some things about the way I view my students. Educated has received a great amount of praise, and rightly so. Tara Westover grew up in the mountains of Idaho to fundamentalist Mormon parents who, by the time youngest child Tara was born, did not believe in sending their seven children to school, did not believe in being members of greater society, and did not believe in seeking medical help for any ailment, no matter how life-threatening. What they did believe in was preparing for the end times, that women should be “modest” at all times, and that all was sent by God and all would be healed by God. This memoir is Westover’s journey to break free from the reins of her family’s destructive hold and become educated.

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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

253 Dandelion Wine

dandelionwineby Ray Bradbury, 1957

“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue.”

Here it is, one of my most favorite books of all time. I first read Dandelion Wine the summer before I began my freshman year of high school. It was on the summer reading list for English 9, and because my brother had read it for the same class the year before me, it was passed down to me. I didn’t fall in love with Dandelion Wine the first time I read it. In fact, I don’t think I really understood it then, this story about the nostalgia for childhood, about the loss of innocence that occurs with adulthood, about the yearning for times that have escaped and can never be regained. I was too young then; I did not yet have anything to miss. But as I read the book again as an adult, and numerous times after, I began to see the point of this rambling story that seemed to lack just that. I, too, had something to miss, and I finally understood all that Bradbury was saying in his beautiful prose, in this story of two brothers growing up in Green Town, Illinois, in the summer of 1928.

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252 Underground Airlines

undergroundairlinesby Ben H. Winters, 2016

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: An alternate history novel.

It’s the 21st century and slavery has been abolished in all but the “Hard Four.” Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the united state of Carolina have continued with southern tradition and use “Persons Bound to Labor” for a majority of industrial pursuits. In this world, Abraham Lincoln was never president, the Emancipation Proclamation was never issued, and slavery is protected under the eighteenth amendment, which states that “no amendment shall be made to the Constitution which shall authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose laws it is, or may be, allowed or permitted.” This is Confederate pride taken to its extreme. This is Winters’s imagining of what the country may have been like if African-Americans were not merely discriminated against, but were still considered to be property under the law.

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251 Just Mercy

justmercyby Bryan Stevenson, 2014

File another one under “Required Reading.” In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson sheds light on a population that often goes unnoticed and underrepresented: that of the wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to death. Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, Stevenson has dedicated much of his work to fighting for more just sentences for convicted criminals and attempting to overturn the convictions of those who were poorly represented and as much a victim of a shoddy, racist judicial system as the those who were the victims of the crimes that were committed. I admit to not knowing much about the criminal justice system and how it preys on the socially vulnerable. While I’ve watched Ava DuVernay’s Thirteenth and I’ve worked with a few ex-convicts, I can in no way consider myself well-educated on the topic of mass incarceration in America and the social ills it perpetuates. Just Mercy is a window into a unjust system that leaves many dead in its wake, and it has shown me that, if we believe everyone is afforded a fair trial and due process under the law, we have so much to learn.

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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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