239 China Rich Girlfriend

chinarichgirlfriendby Kevin Kwan, 2015

If there’s one thing I don’t understand, it’s people who get on a train or a plane, buckle their seatbelts, and proceed to stare forward for the duration of the trip. They don’t put in earbuds, they don’t watch a downloaded movie, they sure as hell don’t crack open a book, and they don’t even close their eyes and rest their heads. I don’t particularly love flying, but I do enjoy knowing that for a definite period of time I will be required to do nothing more but entertain myself, which is to say, I will have guaranteed reading time. I read the second installment of the Crazy Rich Asians series while coming back from visiting my parents over the Christmas break where, you guessed it, my seatmate did nothing but stare forward. Well, he did ask me if I were studying for an exam, because apparently that’s the only reason one would be reading. Anyway.

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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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236 Americanah

americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2013

As the year came to a close and I finished both the Read Harder Challenge and my Year Of challenge, I decided to try to squeeze in some books that I’ve long wanted to read. The previously posted My Brilliant Friend was one, as was this tale of two lovers split between Nigeria and the United States that I continue to hear so much about. Such hyped books always run the risk of not living up to their reputations, either because their plots have been spoiled, they were never really that good and were just the result of some excellent marketing, or their stories just aren’t for you (see again: My Brilliant Friend). I’m happy to say that none of this was the case with Americanah, for the writing was as brilliant as I had been promised, the story was as relevant as could be, and the emotions were raw and poignant. This is one book that I expect to be read for decades to come.

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235 My Brilliant Friend

mybrilliantfriendby Elena Ferrante, 2012

I’ve heard so much about the Neapolitan novels since they infiltrated the English literature market and I’ve always been curious about these sweeping tales of two girls growing up in 1950s Italy. I’ve made the erroneous assumption before that something that is popular cannot also be good (Devil in the White City, Harry Potter, Big Little Lies), so I’ve started to suspend my judgment until I actually read the work in question. How does My Brilliant Friend stack up? Eh…it was okay.

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Challenge Completed! 2018

ReadHarderChallenge2018-768x994Well, I certainly skated in just under the wire this year, didn’t I? After deciding that I just wasn’t going to complete Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge this year, I suddenly felt compelled to forge ahead and finish what I started, especially because I saved the books I was most looking forward to for last. (Except for task 24. That was just procrastination.) As I have been the previous two years, I’m really glad I fit all these in, as I found most of the books both enjoyable and edifying. I considered giving myself a break and not doing the challenge in 2019, but seems like I just can’t quit it. Look for my proposed challenge reading list soon. Now, let’s get to the wrap-up, shall we?

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