What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

The Panopticon - Jenni Fagan When The Panopticon showed up in my Indiespensable box, of course I poked around and found that karen had given it a glowing review, so I was excited. I was slightly less excited the more I read. For sure The Panopticon is well written and the use of dialect paints an impressive and informative picture of the world in which Anais lives. At the same time this is one I would have almost preferred to listen to as an audiobook since I found myself a couple times reading out loud to get the gist of the writing (which reflects exactly what Anais' brand of English sounds like). Fortunately I adapted eventually, since this novel is much more than just the UK setting. Anais believes that she is part of an experiment where someone somewhere is constantly watching her. Part of the challenge of this novel is figuring out how reliable Anais is as a narrator, and in the end I came to the conclusion that she has been coping with so much that she needs an explanation, any explanation. The first couple chapters I was trying to figure out if this was one of those urban dystopia things, but The Panopticon deals with the much darker reality of at-risk youth. The panopticon is an experimental half-way house/low security prison where young offenders are sent before they are sent to prison or released into the care of their social workers or foster families. The inhabitants are a broken but also finding their own unique ways to survive, and Anais bonds with them. Anais is waiting for a determination of whether or not she put a police officer in a coma, and thus how the state will deal with the rest of her life. Anais is also sassy, tough, and her ways of coping with her orphaned and foster-cared for make this novel more than just a depressing story. From somewhere within, the foul-mouth Anais is able to navigate her world with a combination of spunk and her own quick wits. So, while not exactly my reading cup of tea, The Panopticon is a strong well written novel about young offenders, identity, and the consequences of the juvenile justice system.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard