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tech, teaching, and books

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Sci-fi melded with Hindu Gods? Right. It doesn't seem like it would work, but it kinda does. It's not an easy read though; names are difficult and characters change names because they change bodies.

It's certainly a unique and strange book. I enjoyed it, but I like lots of weird things. I'm glad that it's finished though too. The chapters are very long! This is a 284 page book with 7 chapters in it.

This Guardian review sums up this book quite well.

Rating: ★★★ Book #72 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #SciFi #hinduism #RogerZelazny

The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World by Greg Grandin

This is one of those very large, very beautiful hard-cover history books with illustrations and pictures in it that open your eyes to something you knew very little about. This is about slavery and it uses a slave revolt on the ship, The Tryal, to give this book a narrative that's easier to follow along. As the author makes his way to explaining the slave revolt on the ship you learn a lot along the way.

This book does a good job of taking a very large (and potentially overwhelming) subject and breaking it down into manageable chapters of information. It links all the information through the narrative. It also 'attacks' the subject from all angles so you get quite a full picture of slavery from the point of view of slavers, regular people, people working on the ships, the Spanish, the English, the Americans, etc. It also has very detailed notes at the end of the book giving you even more information on important people, and things mentioned in the book.

These kind of books, you read them and reflect on them for months after.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #71 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #history #slavery #GregGrandin

The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

A short novel, a novella really, about two women traveling back to Morocco, where their families are from, and they get caught up with smuggling back a person to Europe. Of course, something goes wrong and it details the plight of these ladies.

Not much to say about this one, it's short, sweet and too the point. It certainly is very topical as it talks about the struggle of immigrants trying to find a better life for themselves and their family in Europe, at any cost. It isn't a very deep novel. It only scratches the surface of the topic.

It's too bad this story isn't from multiple perspectives. We don't get to hear much at all from the immigrant Murat at all. This novel could've also taken another approach and had different immigrants trying to come in to Europe from different countries, for different reasons.

Rating: ★★★ Book #70 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #TommyWieringa #Morocco

Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up by Xiaolu Guo

A story so fantastical, it's hard to believe it's not fiction. Xiaolu had quite an upbringing. This book is her memoir and it doesn't hold back. She includes some real pictures from her life and even calls out the person who sexually assaulted her as a teen.

This is a page turner with just enough drama, passion, and politics to keep it humming along. The main character is the author, but she also goes into the backstory of her grandparents, and parents as well so this book has quite a bit of depth. This means that she touches upon different experiences in her family members lives that help you feel a little bit what it was like to live in Mao's China: the census, one child policy, Tiananmen Square, and cultural revolution.

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At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong

A story told from multiple perspectives of people's lives and how they were all caught up in the modernization building boom in the 1980s in Korea. The main character is a rich man, a verifiable rags-to-riches story, who has become very successful. As he's at the end of his career, he wonders at what cost have all his riches come?

I lived in Seoul before so I really enjoy Korean Literature. I can smell, and see the places the author talks about. This is a nice and short book that gets to the point rather quickly. It starts with a very long chapter that is a bit overwhelming, but if you can get through that, the book gets better after.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #66 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #HwangSokyong #TranslatedFiction #KoreanLit

Books by Polish Writers: Szukalski and Tokarczuk

I recently finished two books by Polish authors. One is an art book by a creative 'genius', unrecognized as such, on his theories, sketches and sculptures about Zermatism. The other book is by a celebrated author that is currently having a moment. The authors being Polish seems to be the only thing these two books have in common, though they both seem to be eccentric.

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The White Book by Han Kang

A book about colour? Yes it's about colour, but also about the author's life. Her mother had children before her, but they didn't survive. This book seems to be about the author working through the pain but also wondering what her life would be like if her siblings had survived.

The book is organized by words of white things. For every thing, for example Salt, the author recounts a feeling, anecdote or a short story from her past. The whole book is very short but it's a very interesting book. The stories are all over the place but they do sort of connect together and they keep circling back to the author's siblings that died just a few hours after birth. I've never read a book just based on a colour but it seems the right way to write this book.

In Asia, white is the colour for death. You have white flowers at the funeral of people. This book is about death but I don't want to scare you off, it's a beautiful book as much about life as death.

This author, Ms. Kang also has written some other powerful books like The Vegetarian, and Human Acts. If you haven't read her yet, you should!

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #65 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #HanKang #TranslatedFiction #KoreanLit

To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

In 1885, Alaska is still the Wild West and hasn't been tamed. A soldier is tasked with traversing the Wolverine River with a small band of men bu he has to leave behind his wife as he undertakes this difficult journey. We are told this story through journal entries from the soldier and his wife. We also get some news clippings, pictures, sketches, and even poetry from another member of the mission.

There are difficulties and mysterious happenings along the way to do with the Native Americans who live in the river. The men have to navigate these relationships as well as the wild Wolverine River.

This was an exciting adventure story. You have to give it a a few chapters to draw you in though. I would say this is an example of great historical fiction – I am drawn into a story while also learning about the historical context of the men and women at this time.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #64 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #EowynIvey #HistoricalFiction #Alaska

The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis

A beautiful story about an alien who comes to Earth on a mission. He has to learn to fit in, and earn lots and lots of money, but living on Earth changes him as well. This sort of reminded me of the story The Humans by Matt Haig. It's interesting to see humans from the alien perspective. We are just as strange as the aliens!

I want to be careful not to say too much about this story so I don't spoil it for you. This book certainly deserves to be in this SF Masterworks collection. I can't believe I've never heard of this author as I consider myself well-read in sci-fi. I found out that he is well-known for his book Mockingbird. I have added that to my To-Read list as well.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #63 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #WalterTevis #SciFi #SFMasterworks #BookReview

Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi

A powerful account of a murderer, prostitute, and just a woman taking back her freedom and dignity in the world. This is a true story of a woman in Cairo, Egypt sentenced to death for killing her pimp. She tells her story to a psychiatrist the night before she's executed.

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