3BoT Vol. 13: Three Novels You'll Think About for Days
Thursday, November 1, 2012Tweet
The first Thursday of every month, I share three related book recommendations with you. You are invited to link up at the end of the post with three recommendations of your own! Click here for more info about Three Books on Thursday.
It's been a while since I shared some fiction recommendations with you. I actually read quite a bit of fiction, but I'm picky about liking a book enough to recommend it. A book has to have a real impact on me; I'm unlikely to recommend it if I've forgotten about it by the next day.
Thus, these recommendations are books that turned me upside-down. They all involve people in radically different life situations than my own -- deep in the jungles of Africa, amidst a worldwide pandemic, or in a dystopian future. They're all novels that eventually lead you to ask of yourself: "What would I do in this situation?"
Check out these three books and ask yourself the same challenging question:
What happens when a Southern minister goes to live in the Congo with his wife and four daughters? That's the question this book lays out, and then answers in the alternating voices of each of those women. They each handle it differently: Mother, by pretending everything is exactly the same as it was, until she utterly cracks and gives up completely; Rachel, by moaning at how unfair life is and wishing to leave by any means necessary; Leah, by idolizing her father and trying to learn from him; Adah, by silently observing and taking refuge in language; and Ruth May, by teaching the other children games, all while Father shows condescension to the "natives" and tries to civilize them with his American Christian ways. Each learns as much as they've opened themselves to learning, and what eventually happens to each of them in many ways results from their own viewpoint and decisions.
A man is suddenly struck blind, then the doctor who examines him is as well, and soon it is spreading across the city. At first the blind are quarantined in a hospital, but the blindness is so contagious that it eventually spreads to the rest of the world. Humans are reduced to their animal instincts, scavenging, bargaining, and even killing for food, with no way to organize themselves or guide one another. We see everything that happens through the perspective of the one woman who appears to be immune to the disease, the doctor's wife, who pretends to be blind so as to accompany her husband into the quarantine hospital. It's a horrifying and captivating book that forces you to ask questions about who humans are at their core, and in turn, who you are at your core and what you would do in the same situation.
This book, which many of you have probably read by now, was one I couldn't put down and then never wanted to pick up again. It seriously messed me up in the way that only a well-written book can. It's set in a post-apocalyptic time in which the United States, now called Panem, is divided into "districts," and the government requires each distinct to send two children as "tributes," male and female, to fight to the death in a televised match as a way of reminding the people that the government -- the Capitol -- is in charge. The first-person narration is from the point of view of Katniss, who is sent to the Hunger Games as her district's tribute after volunteering to take the place of her little sister. It's impossible to read this book and not come away with all sorts of moral questions: Would I kill someone else to keep from being killed? Would I risk my life for someone I love? Could I ever become numb enough to watch something like this on TV?
What book have you read that stayed with you for days afterward?
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