Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

The cover for Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians

Alcatraz is a teenager who grew up in the United States.  The US, along with the rest of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa, are the Hushlands, a region of the world controlled by evil librarians.  The rest of the world, the Free Kingdoms, knows about all sorts of advanced technologies, including magic glasses.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The cover of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a book/play about Harry's son.  In case you're confused, it says "parts one and two" because it's two plays.

The characters are angsty and melodramatic.  The book/play adaptation is a bit awkward.  The plot doesn't make any sense.  The writing leaves something to be desired.  So, it's not a masterpiece.

Brandon Sanderson: The Rithmatist

The cover of The Rithmatist

In an interview, Brandon Sanderson mentioned that the inspiration behind The Rithmatist was, "What would it be like to be a muggle in Hogwarts?"

Michelle Alexander: The New Jim Crow

The cover of The New Jim Crow

Under slavery, millions of people were uprooted from their families, discriminated against, denied basic rights, and killed.  Then slavery was outlawed, and under Jim Crow, millions of people were uprooted from their families, discriminated against, denied basic rights, and killed.  Then overt race-based discrimination was outlawed, and now with the US criminal justice system, millions of people are uprooted from their families, discriminated against, denied basic rights, and killed.  Absent cultural change, laws against discrimination don't end discrimination.  They just change its form.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Americanah

The Americanah cover

At one point in Americanah, the protagonist criticizes someone for asking what a book was about because that question oversimplifies complicated narratives and people's interactions with those narratives.  In the protagonist's mind, books are about a lot of things.

Octavia Butler: Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower cover

The Parable of the Sower is set in a dystopian future where climate change has made food, water, and energy prohibitively expensive and has worsened poverty and wealth imbalances.  The protagonist grew up in a tenuously middle class gated community and the book features her struggle to survive.

N K Jemisin: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season cover

The Fifth Season is a smart, well-written fantasy novel with interesting characters and world building.

In the series, the world ends a lot.  The planet regularly has extreme weather events, called fifth seasons, where there might not be sunlight for years, and even in good times, there are frequent earthquakes and minor events.  The magic users in the book, orogenes, can control seismic activity to stop all that from happening -- or to make it worse.

JD Vance: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy cover

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir about someone growing up in an Appalachian town.  It is well written, touching, and will probably teach you something, especially if you don't grow up in Appalachia.

Leo Frankowski: The Cross-Time Engineer

The Cross Time Engineer cover

In middle school, I was on an airplane back home from somewhere (probably visiting relatives in Colorado or Pennsylvania).  I finished my book on the first flight and didn't have anything else to read, so the person sitting next to me on the plane gave me a book he had finished to read.  That book was The Radiant Warrior, the third book in the Conrad Stargard series by Leo Frankowski.

What is Life? by Erwin Schrödinger

The What Is Life cover

Schrodinger (the one with the cat) wrote a popular science book in 1944 about the building blocks of life.  The book was very interesting from a historical perspective.


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