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Best books from my bookshelves Part I: A reviewer's list of choice literature

Suzy McKee Charnas’ third book in the "Holdfast Chronicles"
Suzy McKee Charnas’ third book in the "Holdfast Chronicles"
suzymckeecharnas.com

As an avid reader, I know how frustrating it is to be scanning the web for a certain type of book, only to be frustrated by book lists dominated by a single type of category. Well, behold!! I have addressed this problem with a wee list of my favourite books. They may not be new, they may not be in Chapters, but they are darn good reads that have been sorted into friendly categories.

SCIENCE FICTION

While not everyone is interested in feminist science fiction, don’t let that stop you from checking out Suzy McKee Charnas’ dystopic vision of the future in The Holdfast Chronicles. Comprised of four books (Walk to the End of the World (1974), Motherlines (1978), The Furies (1994), and The Conqueror's Child (1999)), The Holdfast Chronicles follows the fate of women after the world’s ecosystem has collapsed. After mankind has successfully blamed their female counterparts for the “end of the world,” women become ill-treated slaves and drudges in a male dominated society. Throughout the book, we follow the story of one female slave and two men as they try to find their place in this horrifying society.

This is my absolute favourite Sci-fi series and I cannot endorse it enough. Despite its overtly feminist tone, the series has enough mystery, adventure, and depth for any reader.

FICTION

In City of Thieves David Benioff gives us all insight into the savagery of World War Two. Set in Leningrad during the Nazi occupation, the plot centers around two young men facing execution who are given a chance to save their own lives with the completion of an impossible task.

As the two men travel around Leningrad, we are privy to the horrible suffering and deprivation of the Russian peoples. We see how lack of food, freedom, and space affects even the most stalwart of people. We also see how goodness and love perch themselves on the tiniest of surfaces and thrive in the worst of conditions.
This book is not for the faint of heart but it is a beautiful novel that will keep you thinking long after you have stopped reading.

NON-FICTION

Like City of Thieves, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 is a stunning look at the savagery of humanity in certain conditions. During the Stalinist era, Solzhenitsyn found himself thrown into the Soviet prison system (the gulag) after privately criticizing Stalin. This book is both a chronicle of life in the gulag as well as a chronicle of the Soviet government’s methods of repression and oppression.

As the book is really long, and sometimes repetitive, an abridged copy of The Gulag Archipelago might be better for the average, moderately interested reader. I read a beautifully abridged version and was stunned by Solzhenitsyn’s masterful prose and his palpable anger. A must read for all book-lovers interested in the Soviet Union.

CHILDREN'S FICTION

Gail Sidonie Sobat is an Edmonton author whose fantasy series, Ingamald, is rich and entertaining for adults and the more mature youth alike. Unlike some authors, Sobat is so skilled at writing that she is able to accomplish things that other (sometimes more well known) authors fail to do. Usually, for example, those authors that attempt to write accents in to dialogue fail to create authenticity—something that damages the whole text as opposed to merely damaging the dialogue. I mean, if you can’t write an authentic Irish accent, why are you writing about an Irish character?

But Sobat is perfectly capable of totally creating accents from a fantastical universe without losing any authenticity whatsoever. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would bet that these accents and her fantasy universes are real places that we could get to if we only had a little bit of magic and a mirror. Adults and children will love reading about the adventures of the witch Ingamald and her many fingered friend Yda in this delightfully entertaining book.

I will continue on with my list in the next review…or two…or three. Use the comment boxes below to share the titles of the best books from your bookshelves!
 

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