It’s been a while since we talked books. I’ve read a fair number thus far in 2017–the count is up to 21. Unfortunately a lot of them haven’t been the greatest, so rather than whine, I’d much rather just tell you about my favorite books so far this year.
EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, Celeste Ng
This tale of family, loss, and secrets could be “Inter-sectional Feminism: The Book”. Yes, it’s yet another story about teen suicide, but for me the most interesting part was the parents’ relationship, and how racism, sexism, and just a total failure of communication lead to their problems with their children down the line. The prose is lovely, and the tension matches the scope of the story.
PANDEMIC, Sonia Shah
I’ll admit–the first couple chapters of this in-depth look at the spread of diseases didn’t grab me by the eyeballs. [yawn] “yeah, yeah, I know the science of cholera, blah blah blah.” But by the third chapter, Shah moves beyond basic science and dives deeply into the socio-economic, political, and public health factors that have made it possible for epidemics like cholera to become so devastating. (There are a few details about the company that became J.P. Morgan that are particularly horrifying.) It’s a chilling reminder that infectious diseases are evolving right alongside human society, and how it’s our job to stay a couple steps ahead.
SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED, Jon Ronson
I honestly think this book should required reading for the internet age. As someone who’s stomped around the social media scene since I was 16, I’ve borne witness to a fair number of the examples Ronson cites, and many of his conclusions more eloquently articulate vague notions I’ve held as a result. Sexism, group frenzies, fake news–everything is here, and everyone should stop and think about what’s really happening when they click ‘post’ or ‘retweet.’
THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE, John Scalzi
Let’s end on a cheerier note, shall we? This expansive, humorous, fast-paced space opera is first installment to the latest series by sci-fi giant Scalzi. I’ve read several of his books in the past couple years, and damn he just keeps getting better. There is too much going on in EMPIRE to unpack it all here, but I loved the characters, the writing is cinematic, and the world leans on sci-fi tropes only long enough to twist them into something new. My only complaint is that it’s clearly set-up for the rest of the series, but man, it’s a good set-up.
That’s all for now! Go find a story to enjoy. 🙂