3 Novellas for the Summer

3 Novellas for the Summer

Need a few short books give yourself a boost your GoodReads Challenge? These books are three very different novellas, but very good novellas. I’m glad I stumbled upon, and read these on my Kobo.

Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather

Many would just describe this as ““nuns in space”” but that would do a huge disservice to this novella which is actually quite a good political space thriller. It takes place in deep space, system 2 or 3 I believe, far away from ECG (Earth Central Governance) which used to be powerful, but has lost its grip lately. It is about a convent living on a living ship who travel through space, proseletize, and render medical aid where they can.

The novella deals with a tricky situation the convent finds themselves in which they have to decide to hold back and ‘follow orders’, or do what they think is right. Some of these nuns have some skeletons in their closets that affect their decision in the tricky situation.

This isn’t a hard sci-fi book, but if you can look past that this is a good look at how religion might look like in the space, and how ‘religion’ will still be entangled with Earth politics.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #88 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

The format of this novella was not quite what I expected. This is about Kim Jiyoung and her life from elementary school until she is an adult. This reads like a journal, documenting her feelings as she is constantly mistreated as a woman in South Korea, but she also mixes in true facts and statistics about being a woman in Korea.

I lived in South Korea for about 2 years so I saw how mistreated, and hard a woman’s life is there, this book puts it down in an easy to read way and really makes you empathize with Jiyoung and how she feels. If you’ve never visited Asia, the things she points out might seem incredibly discriminatory, but woman everywhere will be able to relate to her situations.

I hope men will read this book though and see the world through Jiyoung’s eyes for a bit. I know this book hit me hard when it got to the point where Jiyoung was married with a child. I certainly felt guilty reading some of the things the husband said to Jiyoung, because I know I’m guilty of saying some of those things to my wife.

Reading this book made me want to go hug my wife and tell her how much I appreciate her. I’m glad Taiwan isn’t as patriarchal as South Korea, but it still has a long way to go until men and women are ’equal’. I hope as my daughter grows up, things will keep changing for the better.

I enjoyed this book, and it made me reflect on how I treat my wife, but the format is a bit too clunky; I think this book lost something in translation.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #89 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli

This is a simple novella: four soldiers meet as they are marching from place to place in a war, and become friends. It is written simply, but this is about a very strong bond that develops between soldiers who fight alongside each other. I have experienced this bond in my time in the military. I can still remember the people I did basic training with, and went on war games with even though I haven’t seen some of them in more than 15 years.

This may make this sound like a ‘war’ book, but it’s actually a book about relationships. The only fighting that happens in this book is at the very, very end, and it is brief and devastating. Throughout the book, the men are mostly killing time, talking, and trying to make it from one day to the next.

Some have compared this book to a Hemmingway book, and I think they are right in some ways. I don’t think this book has the depth of say, Hemmingway’s ““The Old Man and the Sea””, but it certainly has the same tone, and explores some of the same themes. I guess if you read between the lines, you can think of it as like Hemmingway, but this story is far too simple to stand up to that sort of comparison.

I liked this book, but it won’t stay with me like other classic ‘simple’ books like Of Mice and Men, or The Old Man and the Sea. It’s a nice read for the summer and I enjoyed following the soldier’s relationships.

Rating: ★★★ Book #90 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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