I’m doing the 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, and you should, too! (Click the link to see the challenge, and to download a PDF of the challenge list.)
To quote the article: “We encourage you to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try. But this isn’t a test. […] We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out.”
- Read a book of historical fiction set before the 1900s.
Under a Painted Sky; Stacey Lee.
This is historical fiction, and set in 1849.
Samantha dreams of becoming a musician and opening a conservatory. Annamae just wants to be free and united with her family. Together, these two girls disguise themselves as boys and head for the frontier, where they meet a group of cowboys who just might provide safety through bandit, snake, and law-infested lands. Or there might not be any safety to be found.
It’s tough not to admire “Sammy” and “Andy” as they struggle to adapt to life on horseback, riding and camping across cattle country. It’s also a little tough not to laugh at their attempts to be boys–which aren’t really the best, though they put a lot of effort into them. And that might just as well, because there’s not too much else to laugh at. Their situation is pretty grim, and their pasts full of hurt. The world, you’re reminded, is not kind or fair sometimes. But there’s also a bit of romance, and plenty of friendship, and lots of horses and mules and the wide open spaces that some people love (and some snakes.) These are quite the characters, and riding along with them is an adventure from start to finish.
- Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction).
One Child; Mei Fong.
This is nonfiction about China’s politics as they relate to the one child law.
The Communist Party adopted the one-child policy in 1980, planning that lower birth rates would improve the lives–and economic health–of their citizens. In 2015, they shifted it to two children, but the damage may have already been done. The author traveled for years, speaking to people affected by the policy, measuring its cost–an aging population, the single child supporting their parents, greatly decreased birth rates, a gender imbalance, unregistred children, and a booming business in fines. And she looks to the future, trying to track how the situation will develop as the years pass, while dealing with her own issues with fertility.
I already knew a little about this policy and its effects, but the detail woven into the personal stories told me a lot more. It explains a great deal about how the policy came to be in effect, and why it stayed in place so long, as well as the reasons why lifting the one child limit hasn’t resulted in very many more babies being born. The stories of parents are heart-rending, from people who lost their only child to disaster, to forced abortions and adoptions. Some benefits did come from the policy, Fong points out. In the end, we have no choice but to wait and see–to see if these changes can be compensated for, because, as the author points out, the parents of these single children will continue to grow older. That, at least, is inevitable.