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The Left Hand of Darkness
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GROUP READS > September FICTION selection THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS

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message 1: by El (new) - rated it 5 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
For the month of September we will be reading Ursula K. Le Guin's 1969 science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. This is Book 6 in the Hainish Cycle, but don't worry - you don't need to have read the others for this one to make sense. (I read this on my own before I realized it was part of a series and I would have had no idea otherwise. And I'm usually a stickler for reading the books in order. Seriously, no panic - it's totally fine.)

Here's an article from The Guardian written in 2004 if you'd like to come back to check it out after reading the book. (Or before if you like to live life on the edge like that!)

This book is an interesting look at several issues, but the most obvious, I think, is sexuality. The characters are ambisexual which, especially in 1969 when the book was published, challenged the social norms of sexuality. I'm interested to see how you all feel when you read it.

Has anyone read this before? Joining us this month? Have any thoughts? Jump in!


Robin (whatpuckreads) | 12 comments I took a science fiction class my senior year of college and The Left Hand of Darkness was part of our assigned reading.

I read this book before I ever knew anything about gender fluidity or non-binary gender identity (I now, years later, identify as non-binary), so this book was very mind-opening in that regard.


message 3: by El (last edited Sep 11, 2018 04:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
I would have loved to read this book as assigned reading in college, Robin. That's awesome.


There was an article about this book yesterday on LitHub, How The Left Hand of Darkness Changed Everything. The author of the essay talks about how she read the book in school too.
As a closeted kid growing up Catholic in a conservative town, the idea that sex and gender had no default templates in nature was a life-saving epiphany.
How are you all doing with this one? Anyone reading it this month?


Anita (anitafajitapitareada) I read this a couple years ago and I liked it. I found it hard to get in to at first, but ultimately fantastic. I think it would be really good to reread if I can get to it this month. I just read "The 57 Bus" and the book is mentioned in passing, but I have found it - or Ursula K. Le Guin, or other works - referenced a lot by lgbtq characters. I can only imagine the impact on a person identifying as a non binary gender reading this. I'm always blown away by social commentary literature like this. (I totally recommend The 57 Bus btw for some good non-fiction YA social commentary on gender identity as well as the American judicial system)


Robin (whatpuckreads) | 12 comments Anita wrote: "I read this a couple years ago and I liked it. I found it hard to get in to at first, but ultimately fantastic. I think it would be really good to reread if I can get to it this month. I just read ..."

I think everyone in my class agreed it was difficult to get into, but once when you stick it out, it's so rewarding. I'd love to read more of her books, especially the Earthsea series.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm reading the articles and comments here. The writing is great and I really want to like it and have no problem with the issues it raises but I'm not getting into it like I want to. I think it's a general problem between me and science fiction.


Robin (whatpuckreads) | 12 comments Coral wrote: "I'm reading the articles and comments here. The writing is great and I really want to like it and have no problem with the issues it raises but I'm not getting into it like I want to. I think it's ..."

Like I said earlier in the thread, this book takes a bit to get into it-- I think it's Le Guin's writing style. But I think it ultimately pays off if you stick it out.


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