Our Take Ten staffer for January: Ginger Kautz
From Mamie: Ginger Kautz is our new floor manager. She would rather be traveling but finds that reading about far-flung lands fills the gaps between her own travels nicely. For her new year’s resolution, she plans to read the second book of all those great series she started reading last year. And the year before that. Below are Ginger's top ten books, accompanied by her reviews:
Short essays explore such literate pleasures as the "odd shelf," the particular enjoyment of reading a book in the place where it is set, and the sometimes weird quirks readers have for books as physical objects.
A young woman bicycled across Central Asia on a journey of discovery with a childhood friend. Her vivid depictions of her modern travels are illuminated by the words of a range of explorers past—from Marco Polo to Thoreau to the Voyager Golden Record.
Nafisi provides a window into her life and the lives of her students under the early years of the Islamic Republic of Iran. She encourages readers to view a critical approach to fiction as a way of increasing empathy and understanding, of seeing a world beyond one’s own, and of remaining hopeful even in dangerous times.
A wild range of speculative fiction by an award-winning author: horrific, uplifting, tragic, and comic—all beautifully written and utterly human. That rare collection in which every story is a jewel.
A character-driven exploration of life aboard the spaceships that humanity once used to escape a dying Earth and that now circle a star as part of a wider, multi-species Galactic Commons. Chambers deftly engages with ideas of belonging, immigration, emigration, and social memory within a phenomenal science fiction novel with life-and-death stakes.
A beautifully written book by an author who loves words, literature, and bookstores. One of those books that I wanted to quote incessantly and that made me want to read every book mentioned within it.
A fantastic, playful translation of one of the most popular stories in East Asia. Monkey and his companions on their journey to the West have inspired many retellings—but there is only one Monkey. (Also, the end of every chapter reminds me of Reading Rainbow: "And if you do not know what befell them, you must listen to the next chapter.")
Not at all a science book; rather the title is a reference to the title of a book within the novel. The protagonist litters her narrative with references to texts she’s read—and as the child of an itinerant professor, she’s read quite a few. A coming of age novel with a brilliantly dark undercurrent.
My first favorite book—a grand adventure where the protagonist simply wants to enjoy the comforts of home. Best read with a pot of tea on standby.
Mostly a science book written in a clever, pun-filled voice. Framed as an aid to jumpstart human civilization should a time traveler become stuck in the past, the book lays out introductory lessons in everything from the domestication of animals up to the development of the germ theory of medicine and adding machines.