Monday, October 17, 2011

A Book Recommendation

I just finished reading Kindred, by Octavia Butler. I know- that's not what the sidebar says I'm reading. I'm reading The Rational Optimist, too. I can read a fiction and a non-fiction book at the same time. Kindred is the book my book club is reading this month. I've read it before- I picked it up at random during a visit to City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco many, many years ago, and read it then. I remember liking it, and recommending it to other people then. But now I have a blog, and can recommend it to more people! It is the sort of book that sticks with you, so I remembered the basic outline of the plot- a modern black woman finds herself repeatedly transported back to a Maryland plantation during slavery, and realizes that she is there to save her ancestor, who is the white son of the plantation owner- but the details were lost. So I figured I should read it again.

Once I picked it up again, I had a hard time putting it down. It is an absorbing, fascinating, disturbing story. I think every American should read this book to better understand the horror of slavery. But leaving that aside, you should read it because it is a well-told story that will teach you something about being human.

I think my book club picked it because it was on some list of top sci-fi books (I wasn't at that meeting, so I'm not sure). That classification surprises me, not because the book isn't wonderful, but because I wouldn't call it sci-fi. I'm not sure what I would call it- maybe magic realism. But why bother classifying it? Just read it. The Kindle version is only $4.95- that is an absolute bargain.

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You may or may not have noticed that I've switched back to Amazon links. They reinstated their associates program in California after coming to a deal about the tax issue. It is a short term deal and I may get booted out again if they don't sort out a long term solution, so I considered not going back. I briefly felt guilty about leaving Powell's, whose program is pretty awesome- except no one bought anything from them using one of my links. So me staying with them wasn't going to do either of us any good. If I read the rules of the two programs right, I can stay a member of both, so I'll leave the Powell's link up in the corner, but switch back to Amazon for the in text links.

6 comments:

  1. I'm so jealous of your access to English-language books. :) The library catalogue here in Sweden doesn't say if the book, if it's available, comes in English or Swedish, so I keep requesting English books and get the translation. Although I guess rereading "Middlesex"in Swedish would be good for my language skills.

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  2. Octavia Butler is very "in" right now among a lot of cognoscenti. I think it has something to do with the fact that she's not a pasty, doughy white guy.

    I've never read her stuff and now that she's "in", I don't want to. I'll wait until she cools off.

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  3. MrsHaley4:49 PM

    "Kindred" hooked me right away. I loved it -- and was floored by it. I've gone on to read most of her other stuff and it is *much* weirder, but still really good. I would love to have been able to share 'Kindred' with my students when I taught high school English. It's oneofthose books that could be profoundly formative. Good call, Cloud.

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  4. I have to select a book for one of my clubs - "Kindred" will be my next pick. Thank you!

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  5. Love the blog .. got sucked into the working mom 'is it really guilt?' post, and kept reading.

    I bought the Kindle version of the book - I need a good fiction book to balance out all the nonfiction in my life.

    Steve - a good book is a good book. Don't deny yourself the pleasure of reading just because the author is "in".

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  6. @Antropologa- you need an eReader! Then you can get classics for free, and some books (like this one) for not too much. The cheapest Kindle is only $79- but I wonder if that one won't work with non-US accounts since it is partially subsidized by ads.

    @SteveB- really? She's "in" right now? How funny. From what I've heard, this one is not like her other books at all. And I guess @MrsHaley confirms that!

    @Hush- I almost never recommend books for my own book club- mostly I just read what other people pick. I feel a bit bad about that sometimes, so I guess its nice that I'm helping your book club pick!

    @Amy- welcome! I'm glad you're liking the blog! I think @SteveB should read this one, too, but I understand his point. When there is too much buzz around a book or an author, it can make it harder to read it on its own merits, without being influenced by what everyone else is saying. I guess it is a good thing that I am profoundly clueless about the buzz in any circle except my day care....

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