Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gender Blank's Reading Corner

Are you a nerd? It's okay to admit it around these parts. I'm a nerd, and I married a nerd, so it will only make me like you more if you tell me you're nerdy. Not Weird Al nerdy, but into-books-and-intellectual-conversations nerdy. I don't find a pocket protector all that sexy, but I suppose it would depend on who was wearing it. But I digress...

Anyway, if you're into books, you can go here and vote for Book of the Year, as nominated by The Quill for their Quills Book of the Year contest. I admit that as nerdy as I am, I've not read a single one of the books on this list. Because of that, I don't feel it's right to throw in my two cents. But feel free to throw in yours if you've got an opinion.

By the way, I just finished The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I know this is far from being a new release (I'm only about twenty years behind the times), but it was a recent purchase for me (along with Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which I have yet to read). I felt I should read it on accounta its feminist underpinnings, but I gotta tellya, I was disappointed in the ending. I hate it when a book ties up the end of the story too neatly (I'm looking at you, J.K. Rowling), but geez Louise! What the aytch happened to these people? We're talking severe subjugation of women here - severely restrictive dress codes, a breeding caste, etc. - so I'd like to not have to infer the main character's fate. 'Cause in the dystopia of Gilead, that fate could have been anything (sorta like in the bizarro dystopia of the U.S. under GWB, where people die 'cause the boyking is too stubborn to admit defeat and I-can't-fucking-believe-they-just-did-that moments happen all too frequently, only this ain't fiction). And the whole academic conference setting of the appendix felt out of place. I'm sure a zillion people liked it, based on the fact that it won some awards and shit, but the ending just wasn't my cuppa tea. Apparently I need a bit more direction. Your thoughts?

Also, what should I read next? I've got Fun Home calling out to me, but I've also had the following books on my interest list, all for different reasons:

Snow Flowers and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Empire by Gore Vidal
The Arrangement by Elia Kazan
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Anyone read any of these? Your guidance is appreciated. I know it seems that a self-proclaimed nerd ought to have read some of these (and the ones on that other list) by now, but I got a late start. I didn't really start reading until I was in graduate school, so I'm way behind. I gots me some catchin' up to do.

Happy October, all!


ken said...

Unfortunately I have not read anything on your "what's next?" list so I cannot advise you on that. But I have read THT and really enjoyed it. Didn't mind the ending even perhaps because the part that really sticks with me is everything up until the ending. I have thought about teaching it in a WS course but haven't gotten up the nerve yet.
Anyway, not that you asked, but I am reading Middlesex (I am little behind the times too) and really enjoying it. Excellent writing.
I also highly recommend Southland which talks about race, ethnicity, sexuality, the Watts Riots, Japanese internment, LA, family relations--it has everything.
PS Glad to see you back and posting. Missed it!

Amy said...

The Secret Life of Bees made me cry when I read it a couple of years ago. It is definitely a book that I would recommend.

MonkeyPants said...

From your list, I've read The Secret Life of Bees, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, and A Wrinkle in Time. If you're going for the really-creative-for-the-1970s-5th-grade-science-fiction thing, go with AWIT; otherwise, I highly recommend both of the others - in no particular order.