I'm sad to admit that I haven't had much time for reading this year since the mundane parts of life have commanded most of my attention. This tends to fracture my peace, and I recently forced myself to take some time out just to quiet myself with books.
The first was China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, a novel set within a future dominated by communist China. It's a difficult novel for me to explain, because it's presented mostly as glimpses into the lives of several characters rather than as one cohesive plotline, but if that sounds like a disjointed tale...it's not. It's detailed and character driven, and I couldn't put it down. In fact, I found myself wanting more. I would have easily read another 300+ pages, particularly about life as imagined by McHugh on a Martain colony. Of course, that's generally my cup of tea. I've always thought that the most interesting job that a person could have would be as a cultural anthropologist on a newly colonized planet...or maybe a botanist.
The second novel that I read was The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper, and I'm still processing it mentally. For that reason, I don't want to go into a great deal of detail, but I will direct you to a synopis at Strange Worlds, because I can already say that the book was well worth my time. It raised some interesting questions and stirred up all sorts of conflicting emotions that I can't seem to shake...which is exactly what I'm looking for. It's not that I enjoy being disturbed, necessarily. I just enjoy indulging in things that make me feel deeply in one direction or another...or sometimes in many directions all at one time. It beats sitting around and feeling numb, which is far too easy to do.