In honor of World Book Day, I thought I might give you the lo-down on some of my favourite books by my favourite authors. After a quick peek at my book shelves, it was glaringly obvious about whom I should write since I’ve got a couple of tiny shrines in the works.
The first is none other than Margaret Atwood, . If you don’t know who she is, you’re either not Canadian or you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades. She’s one of the stars of Canadian Literature, and a pioneer in the field. A quick wiki search will tell you everything you need to know: she writes poetry, short stories, non-fiction and fiction novels, children’s books, helps to edit Canadian anthologies and has won myriad awards in most of those categories. The woman has NINETEEN honorary degrees. That’s how big of a deal she is.
I’ve read a lot of her fiction, especially some of her early feminist works like The Edible Woman or The Handmaid’s Tale (loved both, by the way), but my all time favourite novel by Margaret Atwood is Oryx and Crake. Atwood isn’t new to dystopian fiction, but this is one of the first I’ve read that deals with sci-fi as well. In it, she envisions the future crisis of a world like our own: meat products are grown in labs, most of the animals are genetically engineered… the world is at the height of scientific advancement. The action centers around Snowman, one of the few survivors of the human race, who is surrounded by a gaggle of genetically enhanced super-human creatures called the Crakers, as he tries to piece together how he found himself in the midst of the apocalypse. I could not put this book down. Nor either of the other two books in the trilogy. The novel was actually my first introduction to Atwood, whom I’d always heard was dry. Those allegations are totally false — Atwood is an incredibly witty writer with sardonic humour that you can miss if you’re not paying close enough attention. The story is beautiful, the world-building is stunning. This book has the highest recommendations that I can give, especially for any fans of sci-fi or dystopian fiction. 10/10
The second author I’d like to draw your attention to (though you likely already know him) is Neil Gaiman. I can’t claim to have read even a tenth of his works but I can almost guarantee that they’re all just as wonderful as the ones I have read. You probably know him best for Coraline, one of his best (I mean, creepiest) children’s books. Gaiman has a kind of Tim Burton-esque gothic style in many of his works, such as his graphic novel Sandman, but he’s also got a twinge of magic-realism and fantasy.
It was difficult for me to choose a favourite novel by him. Good Omens, the first I ever read, is in very high standing, as is Stardust, but I finally decided to go with American Gods, which I just read this past summer. In this novel Gaiman brings Gods and Myth, both the old and the new, to life in an epic battle for control. The new gods are ones like Media, the television goddess, or Technical Boy, sniveling dweeb and god of the internet, while the old are classic Norse, African, Egyptian gods. Shadow is just your everyday ex-criminal caught up in the war, forced to choose sides and fight in it after having shared a cell with a man named Low-Key (get it?). I found the action of the novel very compelling, another one I just couldn’t put down, and was drawn in by the mysticism and mythology of the world, as well as the character of Shadow who is a kind of noble criminal. I recommend it to anyone who wants to get lost in a magical world or who is interested in American Studies, especially those of culture, pop or otherwise.
Those are my two picks for today. I hope you pick them up and really enjoy reading them. Or, if you have read them, what were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time: Happy Reading!