Starting this fall, we’ve decided to post our favourite book of the past month and the book we’re most excited to read next. Feel free to comment with your own favourites and recommendations!
What was the best book you read in September, and why?
What book are you excited about in October?
My best read of September was a reread. I decided it was time to revisit The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and it was a good yet frightening decision. She’s said that she didn’t write it to be science fiction but speculative fiction, as she thinks it’s a possible future, and in the current political climate it felt terribly near. The last time I read it was shortly after university, before I had kids, and I remember being furious with the ending. I felt that it undid the story, made it into a farce, and took away its impact. This time, however, I read it differently, and the ending made me sad. The first time I didn’t understand the choices she made. I didn’t understand politics and real life that well either, and though I’m pretty sure I’m still no expert, it definitely felt more real and relatable. I highly recommend it.
I’ve just started reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and it’s really beautiful but heartbreaking so far. I think October will be hard pressed to bring me a better book than this one.
This is weird for me, as a fiction junkie, but my best read of September was non-fiction. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer weaves her deep knowledge of plants from her background as a botanist with the indigenous teachings she has embraced as a member of the Potawatomi Nation. The writing is beautiful and the tone is hopeful. I recently read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything (I guess I do read non-fiction) and this is a great companion read. It expands on Klein’s appeal for us non-indigenous folks to follow the lead of our First Nations peoples in the struggle for environmental justice. I give it all the stars.
My to-read list is way too long, but I really want to get my hands on The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.! I also now need to reread The Handmaid’s Tale. Good thing I hung onto my copy!
The best book I read in September was The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. It came across my desk at work (the library), and the cover image hooked me in ways I can’t quite articulate – it reminded me of the show Stranger Things and the pose of the girl on the cover is similar to my tattoo. It wasn’t until I was halfway through reading it that I discovered the film version coming out later this year.
The Girl with All the Gifts takes a unique spin on zombies. Called ‘hungries’ throughout the novel, zombies begin as a fungal illness that has spread unequally around the human race. The story is split in perspective between four different characters, but the most compelling by far is Melanie. We begin the story deeply in her POV, and immediately notice that something is off about her childhood. She lives at school, but the teachers are afraid of her and her classmates. She’s wheeled from her sleeping quarters to her classroom while strapped into a chair. Her favourite teacher is admonished for getting too close, and the doctor is not interested in healing the children. The author takes a visceral, highly visual journey through this post-apocalyptic world, as Melanie ends up traveling with her teacher, a doctor and two military men through a destroyed England.
In October, I’m reading the classic sci-fi book The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It’s been on my list for many years and I’m finally sitting down with it this month.