Monday, June 27, 2022

Emily St. John Mandel's Reading List

 At the end of Emily Mandel's Sea of Tranquility, she lists these eleven books (including her own Station Eleven, must be a favorite number) that influenced her and that she recommends. I thought I'd share the list and my reactions.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I loved it, I have taught it, you may have watched it, now we're living it. If you haven't read it, you must. There's a reason it tops the list. 

2. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I loved it. In 1885, a US Army Colonel is sent to explore Alaska, while his wife reluctantly stays home, discovering birds and photography. You'll recognize the Pacific Northwest setting shared in Sea of Tranquility. 

3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I loved it. Speculative, post-apocalyptic tale about the role of culture in civilization.

4. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. An amazing love story about an involuntary time traveler and his love, and their intersections at random times in their lives. 

5. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Wonderful Chinese-influenced sci-fi short stories. The title story, about first contact with extraterrestrials who do not think linearly, was adapted to the film Arrival.

6. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Like Sea of Tranquility, this incredible novel intertwines parallel stories in the past, present, and future, about the power of story. 

7. Dune by Frank Herbert. I read this a long time ago; I found it interesting, but not enough to read the whole saga. 

8. Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones. The only one on this list I have not read yet. I'm on a wait list.

9. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Grim post-apocalyptic speculation.

10. The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi. I tried to read this, and found it very confusing and not very engaging. However, I loved her collection of short stories, What is Not Yours is Not Yours. From my Goodreads review, a "mix of really original stuff, fables and fairy tales with a modern twist. Think Margaret Atwood meets David Mitchell."

11. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I'm a big fan of Ann Patchett, but this one is not one of my favorites. It's about an Amazon tribe that seems to have mastered fertility. But I can highly recommend Bel Canto and The Magician's Assistant. 

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