So I received a couple of requests from people to tell them which books I particularly enjoyed from my list. I thought I’d do a quick roundup of the books I liked and the ones I found challenging.
If I could only re-read one book from the list it would be
Emily St John Mandel is a Canadian author and Station Eleven is her fourth book. If you start reading the book without reading the blurb on the back cover or the inside jacket, the first chapter sports a conventional start involving an actor dying on stage playing King Lear. Only at the end of the chapter is a teeny weeny hint to what will come next with a line that says only the bartender made it alive at least to the end of the following week. The world gets hit with a virulent virus and there are only a handful of people that make it alive. This means that all essential infrastructure crumbles and humanity is restored to a pre-industrial phase. The action moves back and forth between pre-catastrophe and post-catastrophe and the pivotal figure bringing together the various characters is the actor who died on stage.
I absolutely loved the theme, the characterisation and the way Emily St John Mandel writes- something very poetic and poignant. Although classified as science fiction, the only fictional part is the virus. So readers need not be put off. Totally recommend this one.
The writer find of the year
Last year I spoke about how China Mieville had been my author find of the year. This year I discovered Kim Stanley Robinson– an American science fiction writer. Aurora was the first book of his I read and that was because I picked it out from a list of best science fiction books that had come out in the past few years. I liked Aurora and its theme but I did not think much of Robinson until I read 2140 New York which is his latest book released earlier this year. It talks about climate change, sea level rises and what will happen if we do nothing to mitigate the disaster we are heading into. I followed this up with Science in the Capital trilogy and then by 2312. The latter I felt was a love story that was nestled within a grand inter-planetary theme. After reading Kim Stanley Robinson, terraforming has become a part of my vocabulary.
What is evident from Robinson’s work is his love for the planet and everything around his. I wish more of our lawmakers and the general public would read his books but hey if they actually did that we wouldn’t be in this position anyway, would we?
Here’s a short excerpt from where he talks about wolves in 2312 making them sound most human.
“She had howled with them more times than she could have counted; every time she heard them howl she joined in, feeling it was the human thing to do. Other times she had felt the long stare on her, and had stared back. She had seen wolves in discourse with coyotes, seen ravens lead them to a target kill for a share of the leavings. She knew that humans had made wolves more human, and thus dogs, and in that same time period wolves had made humans more wolfish, by teaching them pack behaviours. None of the other primates had friends that were not kin, for instance; humans had learned that from watching wolves…they had, in short, coevolved.”
The good news- Kim Stanley Robinson has written over a dozen books through the decades and there are many more great books waiting to be read!
If you like science books I would recommend “Invention of Nature” by Andrea Wulf or “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben.
If you’d like a quick read, then I’d suggest Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories. I found some of the stories very endearing.
If you want page turners I’d recommend Munich by Robert Harris.
Alright, happy reading everyone!