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17. Delicious by Sherry Thomas
I saw this posted on the comm a couple of times but never really looked into the book because I don't usually read romances.
But one of my friends had the book and thought why not. She was surprised I wanted to read it since it's a "smutty" book (rough translation; she said it in Chinese). Also, I guess it's because we mostly have different reading tastes. Anyway, the book was fun and yes, smutty but not in a stereotypical virginal female and alpha male way. It was also yummy in terms of all the food mentioned and totally exploited my fondness for watching and now reading about making delicious food (as opposed to eating it though I don't mind that). I liked the secondary couple especially when it seemed like the characters' sexual orientations were not so clearly defined. I agree with some other reviewers that it was disappointing when that fell through. I did like the 'dilemma' of choosing between love and money though that's probably me projecting my 'modern' values onto those of the time period in the story. Also, it probably was cheesy but I thought their conversation about calling the different sexual orientations symphonic orchestra (something like that) and music hall was cute and funny. I admit I was a bit confused when the main couple kept interacting without seeing each other's faces and I started skimming through their interactions near the end before the big resolution. I was also vaguely uncomfortable with the issues of class and how important and blatant they are in that time period though again, this was probably me being unfamiliar with them. All in all, an enjoyable read.

18. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The book is a look at an African culture (Ibo or Igbo) before and after contact with white people and Christianity. It was divided into three parts with the first part essentially setting the stage of these people's lives - their customs, their personal histories, their culture, their world. The second shows the gradual entry of white people into the consciousness and into the area and the reaction to their arrival. The final part shows the change in reaction and also how the white people's behaviour changes. The story is primarily told in relation to one man, Okonkwo, and his family.

This book elicited mixed emotions from me. On one hand, it's a fascinating look at a group of people and a culture that I'm not at all familiar with. One previous reviewer said it well, describing it as "making neither demons or angels of them" (here). On the other hand, I'm seeing certain actions and values within the culture that I find troubling, specifically the violence against women and children.

19. The Absolutely True Story of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Other people have covered this book so I won't get into it too much. Basically, I really liked the main character, Junior, but what happens to him and to people around him was incredibly eye-opening and depressing. I really admire Junior (and by extension, Alexie for writing it so well) for his strength of character in not letting the tragedy in his life overwhelm him and also in being just a great character.


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January 2013

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