Oooh boy, I have been looking forward to today for quite a while. As I may or may not have mentioned, I love books. The shape, the smell, the feel of them in my hands; there is not many things in this world that give me as much pleasure as reading a good book. So to share some of my favourites is a pleasure, especially since for one I know which I’m going to recommend. Also, this calls for another list!
I picked up Little Brother shortly after Christmas, mostly because I had received a fancy new e-reader and Cory has a tendency to give his writings away for free on his website. I had read some other stories by him in class before and already purchased one of his other books, Eastern Standard Tribe, but given all the buzz I had heard about LB I figured it would be the perfect book to start my e-book reading experience with. Boy was that a good choice.
Doctorow has constructed an eerily believable future in which the technology we trust and rely on often unthinkingly is turned against the population of San Francisco following a terrorist attack, leading to a level of surveillance usually associated with police states. The book’s teenage protagonists use all the tricks they know to stay one step ahead of the government hounds in an attempt to preserve the rule of law, due process, and human rights in the face of fear-mongering and power abuse. It forces the reader to question what freedoms they are willing to give up in the name of security. It is smart and (bonus) educational, though not overbearing when it is trying to teach the reader how something works in the story. It is the kind of book that is really hard to put down once you pick it up.
My parents gave me this book for Christmas one year, likely because of the ties the legends of Anansi the Spider to Jamaica. My Dearma had told us some Anansi stories, and this book serves as a very interesting take on the West African/ Caribbean tales of the trickster god. This was also my first exposure to Neil Gaiman, who is now one of my absolute favourite authors.
The book centres around Fat Charlie and Spider, the sons of “Mr. Nancy” who meet for the first time following their father’s death. Fat Charlie, who never though of himself as anything special, is shocked to discover that his brother seems to have magical powers, though not as shocked as when he discovers that his father is a god. Trying to reconnect the two brothers is a daunting undertaking, and naturally hilarity ensues. Gaiman is always good for a laugh in that ironic, British way, and Anansi Boys has him at the top of his game.
Totalling up to about eleven thousand pages over fourteen books (with one more on the way), the Wheel of Time series is an epic of epic proportions. To attempt to sum the complex and layered stories would be madness, so I’ll point you to the Wikipedia entry to sate that thirst. What I can say is that the usual fantasy tropes are there: magic, swords, dragons (kind of), the reluctant hero, an epic struggle of good vs evil. It is a long book series, but perfect for anyone looking for something to dig into that isn’t going to be over before the enjoyment kicks in. I picked the first book up at a book fair at my elementary school. Little did I know what I was getting into. A few years and a shelf on my book case dedicated to the series later, tWoT has fostered in me a huge appreciation for serialized storytelling of the sort that makes waiting for the latest manga chapters to come out bearable. It can take a lot of patience to slog through the series, especially as more and more characters are introduced, but it is worth it.
I linked to the fourth book in the series because it is my favourite, and though I own all the books in either paperback or hardcover the books are also available as e-books, for those not willing to carry around the tomes eating up space on my bookshelf. Strongly recommended.
- Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett
- The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkein
- The Saga of the Seven Suns – Kevin J. Anderson
- The Song of Albion – Stephen R. Lawhead
- The Space Trilogy – C.S Lewis
- Ysabel – Guy Gavriel Kay