The English teacher in me would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the last few books that I’ve read with some of the extra time that I have. I tend to get pretty sentimental, and often like to travel to places that I’ve read about, and vice versa. At the moment, while in quarantine, I’ve been reading a lot of books about India, England, school and some overlap. It’s almost halfway through the year, and I’m about halfway through my yearly Goodreads challenge of 50 books, so it seems like a good time to reflect on a few that I’ve really enjoyed.
Sea of Poppies,The Ibis Trilogy, Part 1, by Amitav Ghosh
I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite awhile, and for whatever reason just didn’t get around to it. It does, however, have everything I like in a book– lots of backstory on characters, India, strong, female leads and adventure. Ghosh dives into the complicated matter of a former slave ship, the Ibis, making the perilous journey out of Calcutta in 19th century British India, with a unique cast of characters ranging from the French botanist’s daughter, to the fallen Rajah, to the Chinese opium addict, to the American freedman. At times the language is overwrought; Ghosh did extensive research in order to recreate the Pidgin language used between traders in Canton. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am currently reading River of Smoke.
Adventures on the High Teas: In Search of Middle England, By Stuart Maconie
My husband added this book to my iPad after he read it, saying, “we went to most of these places last summer.” Indeed, it was a nostalgic treat to read about Tolkien’s Malvern and Jane Austin’s Bath, inspiring me enough to type up my travel writing from my journal.
Educated by Tara Westover
This one has won tons of rewards, gotten many good reviews, and the library recommended it to me with no wait, so I figured why not? It was a quick read; I finished it in about a day. For the most part, I enjoyed it, albeit finding parts of it pretty far-fetched. Knowing how systems work (or don’t work, for that matter), I feel like something is missing when she wrote she went from being in an isolated community to having a full-ride at Cambridge. For me, I know that representation matters so how do you know what the possibilities are if you’ve never seen them? Do deeply ingrained cultural values just go away with new opportunities? Pieces of the story were missing, and I’d like to know more.
The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss
I love a long, epic fantasy, in general, and this was one that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, especially since it had been so long since I finished the first book in this trilogy (?!). The long wait between the book releases in this series can be discouraging to some readers, but I found this book just about the equal to The Name of the Wind. Actually, this may be an unpopular opinion, but I thought Kvothe was much more likeable in this one than in the first. The main character is a bit more humble in this follow-up, maybe because he took a break from the pretentious university and went on an adventure.
Leila by Prayag Akbaar
I couldn’t put this book down. Leila was a beautiful imagining of a dystopian India, and perhaps because I’ve read so much American dystopian fiction, it was such a different concept to me, using a social structure that has existed for centuries and turning it completely upside down. There is a Netflix adaptation, which I haven’t watched because I’ve read the plot deviates from the book. That being said, I’ll probably give it a chance eventually, keeping in mind I did enjoy both iterations of “A Handmaid’s Tale”.