This week I am going to write about my favorite books I’ve read this summer. I love to read! One of my most favorite things about summer is how much extra time I have to read and I fall back in love with it every summer. Reading for pleasure at school can be really tough because of all of the required readings associated with my coursework. My schedule over the summer is much more open and I really love the opportunity to explore fiction I really like and a just a wider range of genres and topics.
The two books I read this summer that have been the most interesting to me are The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi and Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. Both are fiction and post-apocalyptic which for some reason was what I was most drawn to this summer.
I read The Windup Girl while I was in Tanzania which was extremely fitting because it also takes place in a developing context, post-apocalyptic Thailand. Disease has ravaged the global food supply and the world is no longer global because of the quick way diseases spread through the international network. The story explores a windup girl–part human, part robot, design for servitude and human pleasure–and her experiences being exploited in a resources strapped world. The book was actually assigned during my Women in Developing Countries class because its a great case study about the way in which women are exploited for money and resources and how famine, technology, and class play into it. In this world ravaged by famine and disease, the most important currency is calories and food giants fight to find coveted DNA material which is resistant to strains of diseases. This book really stuck with me because its remarkably well written and involves a really interesting premise. I love the agricultural element because of the massive importance global food chains play into sustaining our lives and society.
The next book Station 11 is set in a world devastated by a H1N1 plague which destroys 99% of civilization. The story though is about a group of artists, actors, and musicians called The Traveling Symphony in the years after The Collapse spreading Shakespeare and music to the small villages that have been set up. They run into trouble when they encounter a town that is has been taken over a cult led by a violent prophet. The book is also premised around a group of people, whose connection becomes more clear as the story progresses. The book really made me consider how important stories and art are in our daily lives. The Symphony’s motto is “survival is insufficient” which I think captures how life itself is not just about surviving but learning and enriching one’s understanding. The book does an amazing job of creating rich characters in a fascinatingly terrible world.