The Sparrow Read-A-Long: Midway Check In


I want to thank Trish at Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity for organizing The Sparrow read-a-long. It gave me the opportunity to read this book that I’ve heard so much about in the past year, but had yet to read. In fair warning to all of you, I finished the book over the weekend – I literally couldn’t put it down – but this post will be entirely spoiler free.

There are a number of things that crossed my mind while reading The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell. Here we go:

  • I consider myself to be rather well-read and up on all things literary. I’ve been reading book reviews in magazines and newspapers since I was in high school. So how is it that I had never heard of The Sparrow until about a year and a half ago? Was I living under a rock? It was originally published in 1996 and it took me 16 years to hear about it in spite of having won a number of awards? And since then Russell has been nominated for the Pulitzer and I still didn’t know who she was!¬†Part of the problem may be that The Sparrow has been classified as a Science Fiction novel. To me, and many others, this does not quite seem right. Yes, it is about space travel, but really it is a literary and deeply philosophical novel. What Margaret Atwood would call speculative fiction.
  • The Sparrow is largely set in 2019 and 2060. I love Russell’s vision of the future. For having been written before 1996, it is really quite prescient. In particular, Russell seems to have anticipated the rise of the IPad and it’s ubiquity quite accurately. Her future isn’t crazy and techno filled. Instead, she has focused on the humanity of the future. At the end of it all, we are still human.
  • One thing that did bother me about The Sparrow and Russell’s vision of the future was he adherence to traditional gender roles. Every time she mentioned that Anne and Sofia were preparing a meal I wanted to scream. I understand that some women like cooking, but some men like it too. Why were the women always the ones cooking?!? And also, the sole nurturing character on the mission (Anne) was a woman. At one point she is described as feeling too much. Very valid and true, and yet I want to imagine a future where men can also be viewed and described as nurturers. Although Russell plays with gender a little bit in the alien culture, roles are still determined along gender lines. It seems to me that somewhere in the universe roles should be assigned based on skills, knowledge and proficiency. It only makes sense.

I have much more to say about The Sparrow, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone. I would love to hear from anyone can remember the reception this book received when it came out, and who read it at that time.


The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannink Grannec

goddess-of-small-victoriesLike many book bloggers and avid readers I am always on a quest to read more. Whether it is more books, more diversely, in more detail, life long readers want more. In reading more diversely one of my goals was to read more in translation. I think English readers are hesitant to read in translation because we have so much great literature to choose from already, but we may be missing out on something. So of late, I’ve been picking up books that should appeal to me and that are translations. Things have not been going well. Continue reading

30 Authors in 30 Days: Marissa Stapley on The Bear by Claire Cameron


30authors30 Authors in 30 Days is a first of its kind event aimed at connecting readers, bloggers, and authors. Hosted by The Book Wheel, this month-long event takes place during September and features 30 authors discussing their favorite recent reads on 30 different blogs. There are also some great prizes provided by and BookJigs. Follow this link to The Book Wheel to enter.

 For the full schedule of participating authors and bloggers, visit The Book Wheel or join the Facebook group. You can also follow along on Twitter with the #30Authors hashtag!

I am so excited to be taking part in this event. It’s all about spreading the literary love. And I’m super excited to be hosting fellow Canadian Marissa Stapley discussing The Bear by Claire Cameron.

Continue reading

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

the-paying-guestsThe Paying Guests by Sarah Waters may well be one of the most anticipated new novels of this autumn. I know it was high up on my lists of must reads. Waters is known for her beautifully written and well researched historical novels that highlight sapphic relationships. The Paying Guests follows this trend with a love story that crosses class lines in post World War I London. Continue reading

Books That Need to Be Reviewed

I don’t know what has happened to me. I’m so busy and blogging has fallen by the wayside. I’m still reading, I’m just not writing those reviews. So until I get a little time, here is what I’ve been reading.