Harper Reads

Books I read
2011-2013

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
June 2014

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

June 2014

Embassytown by China Mieville
June 2014

Embassytown by China Mieville

June 2014

I mean, why did sex have to be so important? Why couldn’t people live together, spend their whole lives together, just because they liked each other’s company? Just because they liked each other more than they liked anyone else in the whole world?

If you found a person like that you wouldn’t have to have sex. You could just hold them, couldn’t you? You could sit close to them, nestle into them so you could hear the machine of them churning away. You could press your ear against that person’s back, listening to the rhythm of them, knowing that you were both made of the same exact stuff. You could do things like that.

—   Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

“I’m okay with one or two people, but more than that and I turn into a naked mole rat. That’s what being shy feels like. Like my skin is too thin, the light too bright. Like the best place I could possibly be is in a tunnel far under the cool, dark earth. Someone asks me a question and I stare at them, empty-face, my brain jammed up with how hard I’m trying to find something interesting to say. And in the end, all I can do is nod or shrug, because the light of their eyes looking at me, waiting for me, is just too much to take. And then it’s over and there’s one more person in the world who thinks I’m a complete and total waste of space.”

—   Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
A beautiful and moving and sad novel about a young girl learning how to deal with love and family and sisterhood and growing up and how to navigate relationships in the wake of her beloved uncle’s death of AIDS in the 1980s and the stigma surrounding that.
May 2014

“We thought we understood gender — the idea of men and women as finite concepts with boundaries between each other — but lately I have come to understand that we are only just beginning to comprehend what “gender” is, what it means to be allocated a certain gender, how much it informs the person a child becomes and what happens when we don’t talk about gender as a malleable thing, when we shy away from discussing gender with children and teenagers and even adults.”

—   Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Golden Boy by Abegail Tarttelin

The world is unpredictable. Science is unreliable. It can’t tell you who you are or what you want or how you’ll feel. All these researchers are going crazy in their labs trying to fit us into these little boxes so they can justify their jobs, or their government funding, or their life’s work. They can theorize and they can give you a mean, median, and mode but it’s all standardized guesswork, made official by arrogance. You have to be pretty into yourself to think you can play a part in defining the identity of a bunch of people you don’t know, of human beings with complicated shit going on in their bodies. They still don’t know what certain parts of our brains do, they still don’t know how to cure a common cold, and they say they know about sexuality, about gender.

Painful & intense & beautiful & stunning book. (Warning for a very explicit rape scene about fifteen pages in that has implications throughout the rest of the story.)  Deals with issues of abuse, rape, intersexuality, underage pregnancy, abortion, gender identity sexuality, anxiety, family… A good perspective on issues that face teenagers, families, victims of abuse.
April 2014

Golden Boy by Abegail Tarttelin

The world is unpredictable. Science is unreliable. It can’t tell you who you are or what you want or how you’ll feel. All these researchers are going crazy in their labs trying to fit us into these little boxes so they can justify their jobs, or their government funding, or their life’s work. They can theorize and they can give you a mean, median, and mode but it’s all standardized guesswork, made official by arrogance. You have to be pretty into yourself to think you can play a part in defining the identity of a bunch of people you don’t know, of human beings with complicated shit going on in their bodies. They still don’t know what certain parts of our brains do, they still don’t know how to cure a common cold, and they say they know about sexuality, about gender.

Painful & intense & beautiful & stunning book. (Warning for a very explicit rape scene about fifteen pages in that has implications throughout the rest of the story.)  Deals with issues of abuse, rape, intersexuality, underage pregnancy, abortion, gender identity sexuality, anxiety, family… A good perspective on issues that face teenagers, families, victims of abuse.

April 2014

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

"And then when I was twelve I got that feeling, the scary witchy one, and before I knew it my mother was sick and that wildness that had been in me all along, that I tried to tamp down with chores and with homework and with promises that once I reached college I would be able to do whatever I pleased, burst out. I couldn’t help it. I tried to keep it down but it just flooded through all my quiet spaces. It was a message more than a feeling, a message that tolled like a bell: change, change, change.

March 2014

Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy, illustrations by Carson Ellis

Always stunned by these two.

March 2014


It was that nothing was normal, ever, in midwifery or life; there were only levels of ignorance and denial, of obliviousness to the cetacean looming of disaster…In the end, everything was only a ceaseless flow of static, fundamentally no different from silence. The background noise of creation. The implacable flood of time.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael ChabonFebruary 2014