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And so we are up to the fourth question of the My Life in Books feature.

Question #4:
What’s one of your favorite books that you’ve found in the last five years, and how has blogging or the reading of blogs changed your reading habits?

For me this question is sort of backwards, as it is more that my newfound reading habits led me to blogging rather than the other way around.

I have spent the last few years trying to get back into the habit of reading for pleasure. I was a voracious reader in my childhood and teen years, and, even though I was a business student in college, I still managed to read a decent amount of fiction in my down time. After leaving investment consulting and heading to graduate school (see Part 3 for more on why I did that), I was reading so much for my research, and later on for teaching, that I completely fell out of the habit of even knowing what people were reading.

Starting with a friend’s Facebook challenge, and then my own self-imposed challenges in 2010 and 2011, and the founding of the book salon, I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m reading enough to really feel part of that world again. A big part of that was joining Goodreads in early 2010, which led another friend to encourage me to blog, and things sort of snowballed from there. I don’t read many books blogs only because I’m not a fan of reading lengthy reviews before experiencing a book (or seeing a film for that matter). I want to know only enough to get a sense of whether I might like something. In this respect, the Books on the Nightstand podcast, and now The Readers, have been perfect for me.

I’ve been thrilled with how many good books I’ve discovered over the last few years including Await Your Reply, City of Thieves, The Hunger Games, The Invisible Bridge, Suite Française, 13 Reasons Why, and Unbroken. But, given the recent political climate in the United States, particularly the attacks on women’s basic healthcare, for today’s question I have to pick The Handmaid’s Tale.

This was the most contemporary book I put on my 2010 challenge list of “should reads.” I think when it came out I had mistakenly characterized it in my brain as schlocky genre fiction and had only slowly come to realize that it was far more literary and important than I had first thought.

Sadly, the book has proved to be eerily prescient in its vision of a dystopic American future, where a woman’s right to control her own body has been completely jettisoned in the name of a new social order founded on “respect” and “safety.” It saddens me to think that we are a lot closer to this world today than we were when this book came out.

No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

—Margaret Sanger

In any case, I really enjoyed this novel (if that’s even the right word to describe something so chilling and disturbing) and look forward to more Atwood in my future.

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment in this series, where I may or may not surprise you.