This brings my total for the year to 88 books so far. I have 2 more books in process, but I might only complete one of them, or possibly neither of them, depending on how much time I have to read between now and Saturday. I'll do an analysis of my list and reading goals around Jan. 1.
"Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol. Published in 1842, the book concerns a Russian named Chichikov who wants to use the Russian love of bureaucracy against the system and goes around the country buying up "dead souls" to inflate his prestige. In Russia at the time, serfs are like property of the landowners and can be bought, sold and traded and are accounted for on a landowners tax registries. Chichikov has a scheme to buy dead peasants who are still on the tax rolls, relieving the landowner of the taxes he'd have to pay while also making himself look like a rich landowner himself, which he hopes will help him actually establish himself as minor nobility. There were things I liked about this book, like the humor and some of the descriptions of nature. On the negative side, I found the pace a bit slow and the episodic nature of the plot doesn't necessarily drive you forward to find out what happens next. I'm glad I read it, but it wasn't one of my favorite "classic" novels.
"Flight" by Sherman Alexie, as an audiobook, read by Adam Beach. The main character is a 15-year-old, half-Indian foster kid with such bad acne that everyone calls him "Zits." The novel opens with Zits running away from yet another foster home, ending up in jail, and making friends with a white kid named Justice. Justice convinces Zits that he should try the Ghost Dance and kill some white people. But while he's getting into trouble, Zits is pulled out of his body and goes on a time-traveling, body-swapping adventure, into the body of a corrupt FBI agent persecuting Native Americans in the 1960s, into the body of an Indian child whose tribe is being attacked by white soldiers, into the body of a flight instructor whose student has intentionally crashed a passenger plane, and through several other lives, all touching on interracial hate and violence. At 4 discs on audiobook, I'd call it a short and easy read, except it's so bloody and violent that it's really *not* an easy read. It's good, and I'd recommend it if you like Alexie's other books.
My full comments on both books here