Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 book challenge: month 1, book 1

[photo by pawzonthepage, Ecuador, 1989]
The first book I read to get the challenge underway was The Queen of Night, by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango (2011), from the category of "Hispanic author or topic." (BTW, the reason I'm using the word "Hispanic" here rather than "Latino" is that the library branch where I work calls its large collection of materials on the topic or in Spanish the Hispanic Resource Center. I realize that people often have strong preferences for one term or the other.) I started with this one because a colleague highly recommended it -- and rightly so.

Set in the Ecuadorian Altiplano in the 1980s, the story is based on the childhood and youth of one of the authors, Maria Virginia Farinango, who at the age of seven was sent from her Quichua village to work as a maid. It's not only about her personal struggles with abuse, disrespect, poverty, and lack of opportunity, but also about the worldwide issue of bigotry against indigenous people and its very real consequences -- a problem that, while it has improved in recent decades, still needs work.

 It's not a spoiler to say that she turns out all right in the end -- obviously, she's writing the book -- but it would be a spoiler to tell how, or to explain the title, so I'll end here.

There is an interview with Maria Virginia Farinango on Laura Resau's website.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2014 book challenge

Some of my colleages have taken on reading challenges or set reading goals for the coming year, so I've decided to join in the fun. As I'll be working more closely with Young Adult and Tween fiction this year, I've decided to do an overview of popular topics. subgenres, whatever-you-want-to-call-em. I read quite a bit of YA lit already, but the point here is to sample some that I wouldn't necessarily grab for myself during a shelfcheck just 'cause they look cool. Some may be outside my comfort zone, but not all; if none of them were escapist, I'd probably never make it through the year. All the books should be recently published, not part of a series I'm currently following, and in our library system. They might be on a recent award list, or suggested by a colleague, or fresh off the new book display. To be read in no particular order.

Books I would probably read anyway:
  • near future / postapocalyptic dystopia 
  • superhero / special powers / special forces 
  • time travel or chronological mishmash (steampunk, alternate history, etc.) 
  • humor 
  • plot or format centered around current technology or trends, or enhanced book  
Books I don't usually read:
  • urban fiction  
  • Hispanic 
  • LGBT 
Books I would normally find too emotional or unpleasant to read:
  • vampire / werewolf / supernatural romance 
  • high school drama / gossip 
  • mental health issues 
  • various other serious issues (death, abuse, crime, etc.) 
Twelve topics, twelve months.