This month was a mixed bag of genres and feelings, but not quality – I loved everything I read this month!

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really liked the way this novel approaches life in academia. It doesn’t look at it through rose-colored glasses, but the protagonist was the kind of character who justifies and even thrives in the challenging environment of academia. This romance, despite getting steamy, felt innocent and sincere. It didn’t take itself too seriously.

Two things took me out of it: first, the central conflict is a little sudden and poorly developed. Second, the love interest is an asshole to everybody except the main character, and that’s not resolved. It’s a little concerning, is all. Adam, please be nice to people other than the girl you’re in love with. Thanks.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Wow. A rich, colorful fantasy with beautiful writing and characters I was instantly invested in? It’s all my favorite things on a platter. Read this if you liked The Poppy War, because it can be similarly brutal and dark, then sweet and almost romantic. The pre-Columbian Americas-inspired fantasy world is a stunning place to live in for a while.

China’s Great Wall of Debt by Dinny McMahon

Rating: 3 out of 5.

McMahon does a great job in this volume of putting China into context. He draws on a lifetime of experience in China and East Asia, as well as his own command of Chinese and his understanding of the culture. I came into this reading experience hoping to understand more about the nerve-wracking economic and political giant that is China, and I came away knowing much more.

However, I also came away disagreeing with McMahon’s thesis – that China will have a very hard time succeeding in the next few decades. Reading about all the economic challenges facing China, and then looking at the Western powers, it just seems like China is more likely to come out successful. McMahon did not seem convinced by his own argument. Sure, there are ghost towns of empty high-rises and masses of state debt tucked under the proverbial carpet, but China’s singular direction toward growth and improved quality of life does not seem like it will be thwarted or turned anytime soon. A scary, interesting, and highly informative read.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you like classics, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one. It does the thing many classics do, which is creep up on you with its theme until you look up two-thirds of the way through and feel saturated with it. Innocence. Ignorance. The leisure class, the generation before America really had a fire lit under its ass. It’s an extremely odd world to inhabit, but also fun because of how weird and different and identifiably real it is. Also, some of these characters are laugh-out-loud absurd. I would recommend this one if you’ve read more than one Jane Austen book.

Remote Control by Nnendi Okafor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Okay, I need to instantly go read all of Okafor’s other stuff. Because wow. Short but STUNNING. I was brought to tears several times by this novella about a young girl wrapped in the myth of death. It’s a kind of afro-futurist sci-fi I’ve never read before, so focused is it on the humanity and visceral experience of Sankofa as she travels rural Ghana. The writing is beautiful, simple, and empathetic, the ideas so creative and almost familiar that I got genuine goosebumps a few times.

I recommend listening to the audiobook for this, because Adjoa Andoh does an amazing job bringing the world of Remote Control to life.

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