I’ve been intentionally trying to diversify my reading list this year, and have hit a few good ones since I’ve last posted (moving and settling in takes up a lot of time and energy, turns out). So here’s a quick post to get my reading list up to date:
This first one is an American classic, although one I’d never heard of till my girlfriend gave me a copy. The Awakening tells the story of a disillusioned housewife in 1890s New Orleans. When it first came out, it was controversial because of the main character – Edna Pontellier is a woman who dares to question the roles of women at that time. It’s quite intriguing from that perspective – both seeing how strict things were back then, and realizing we haven’t actually gotten to true gender equality today. With a few changes, this could be a contemporary book theme-wise. It’s also really well-written, with depth of character, humor, insight, and quality. Worth a read for sure, it’s a quick one too.
Speaking of women forced into roles, I read this popular novel for the first time recently. It’s also very well-written, and in several different ways: The Poisonwood Bible tells the story of a Baptist missionary who takes his family to the Congo in 1960. Each family member besides the missionary contributes to the narrative – his wife and their four daughters each tell parts of the story in their own voices. It’s also a reflection of how far we haven’t come in gender equality, and also a great read for anyone (like myself) still struggling with their conservative Christian upbringing.
Alexie is the first Native American writer to make my list, and this short story collection gave me some insight into what life as a contemporary Native is like. He writes of alcoholism, basketball, broken families, and the legacy of government policies that left the natives of our country destitute, on marginal lands, and with a deep sense of shame and anger. These are powerful stories – for their tragedy, yes, but also for their humor. The lives of the characters in these stories (all residents of the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington) serve as another reminder that the legacy of injustices in our country’s past are nowhere close to being reconciled.