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.

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.


  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.

  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.

  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.

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

  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".

  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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