I finished reading The World of Mexican Migrants: The Rock and the Hard Place a few days ago and want to recommend it to anyone with an interest in the intersection of race, ethnicity, poverty, workers' rights, sex and gender, and many of the other issues faced by Mexicans who come to urban areas in the United States seeking work. I was disappointed that sexual orientation and disability did not make an appearance in the book, but it did cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time (the unabridged audiobook is only 8 hours long).

What struck me most was the description of the hardships faced by married Mexican women whether they join their husbands in the United States or if they stay in their hometowns.

The postscript about the difficulties of getting standard "consent" from research subjects in social science fields when those subjects are from marginalized groups that rely on a certain amount of anonymity to stay safe was also enlightening.

The book is available from NLS as DB67566
I subscribe to a few knitting and crochet related publications. Ever since I began those subscriptions, I've received junk mail from various companies assuming that someone who knits or crochets must also be of several demographic categories that do not describe me. Most of this stuff doesn't even make it up the stairs to my apartment (hooray for giant recycling dumpsters!) but occasionally I'll bring something up for entertainment value. Last year I received a fat envelope asking me to subscribe to Love Inspired, a series of Christian romance novels published by Harlequin's (that's Mills & Boon to those in the UK) Steeple Hill imprint. They offered me two free books, no catch, not even a fee for shipping. The offer included a survey, on which I cheerfully checked NO to every question even though it was pretty obvious from the way the questions were phrased that they assumed anyone who would be interested in their books would answer YES to every question. What clinched the deal for me was the fact that they offered a large print option. So, out of morbid curiosity, I sent off the form and waited for the books.
A few weeks later, the books arrived, and sat on my dresser for a few more weeks until I worked up the courage to crack one of them open. I should point out at this point that one of the many reasons my peers (and in several cases, adults who ought to have known better) treated me like crap was because I wasn't a Christian. As a result I have a near-phobic reaction to a lot of religion-related things.

However, I do try to challenge myself with ideas with which I'm not comfortable, and I had the promise that at least I wouldn't have explicit sex scenes dropped on top of the religious stuff. I find explicit sex scenes tedious and annoying. That's just a personal preference and not a judgment of anyone who likes them.

As it turned out, I mostly liked the book. I didn't always agree with how the characters perceived their situations or how they dealt with them, but it was an interesting story and had a satisfying ending. I liked it enough that I've bought a few more books in the Love Inspired series, and a few books from other Harlequin series like Harlequin Intrigue (mystery/suspense) and Harlequin Heartwarming. Harlequin Heartwarming is especially interesting because it consists mostly of reprints of older titles from other Harlequin series, including some Love Inspired books that have had most of the Christian references edited out.

If you read ebooks and want to check out some books from these series for yourself, you can download some for free here: http://www.tryharlequin.com/ Please note that I haven't read any of these freebies for myself and can't comment directly on them.

Having been previously skeptical of the romance genre, and of Christian fiction, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't think that a book where the main plot point was romance would hold my interest as an asexual and largely aromantic person, and I didn't think that as lifelong non-Christian I would be able to connect with characters who were as much in love with their faith as they were with their romantic partners. But I did.

What books were you skeptical of but took a chance on, and liked?



July 2012

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