What time is it? It’s time for Busy K’s 2016 booklist! I’m just realizing that most of these books are about war or apocalypse. Thanks 2016!
Catherine the Great by Robert K Massie
Epic in scope and meticulous in detail, Massie’s biography of this powerful woman was a delight to read. Catherine was a princes of humble means who rose to become the most famous and longest ruling female leaders of Russia, presiding over its Golden Age by rapidly expanding her country’s borders and powers. A pen pal of Voltaire, she ushered in reforms in art, education and public health. Her rule was only possible after her disastrous marriage to Peter III came to an end with his overthrow. Reader beware: Nobody bungles assassinations like the Russians.
The Girl with all the Gifts by ML Carey
I really can’t write much without spoilers, in fact, I don’t even want you to click on the link above. I’ll just say that this book scared the crap out of me. Perhaps it was the voice of Finty Williams, the reader of the audiobook version that I enjoyed, that sent actual shivers down my spine. This is a story from the point of view of 10-year-old Melanie about something terrible that has happened in the world. It’s seriously scary.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
World War II continues to be a well-mined source for tragic and romantic material. Take a French blind girl who grew up in a Paris museum and relocate her to an old mansion by the sea inhabited by a mad rich uncle. Then put a young reluctant Nazi soldier on an intercept course for France, and you have all the makings of a romantic thriller. There is a reason this book was a best seller. Once started, it’s hard to put down.
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Emily St John Mandel begins her story with the end of civilization and then jumps forward in time 20 years. It’s a bold move to pick up with a merry band of performers who travel America’s wasteland for tips. There is a hopeful message nestled in that sad landscape: that merely surviving is not enough. Art and storytelling are nourishment of another kind.
Dead Wake by Eric Larson
Historians agree that the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 is one of the major events that eventually lead to US involvement in World War I in 1917. I’ve worked with several divers who have explored the depths of the Lusitania for science. When documenting any wreck, divers are confronted with the tragic circumstances of the sinking. In this case, 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard were killed when a German U-boat torpedoed the ocean liner. Larson describes these historical events as if they are unfolding in real time. Both sickening and haunting, the description of one poor woman’s demise is an image I will not soon get out of my mind.
World War Z (Audio Book) by Max Brooks
I read the book a few years ago, and I enjoyed it all over again with the audio version. Performed like a radio play, the story comes alive when each character is read by a celebrity from Alan Alda to Henry Rollins to Martin Scorsese. It’s a fun way to reconnect with the material.