Book list

I’ve been collecting book recommendations for diverse, inclusive, feminist sci fi and fantasy, and several people have indicated they are also interested in such a list, so I’m collating it here. The ones marked with an asterisk are ones we have read personally and recommend; the others are suggestions from people I know. I’ll be coming back and updating this periodically. I also have a list for myself that’s less exciting nonfiction but we’ll save that for another day.

  • Octavia Butler – all of her work
  • *Ursula K Le Guin –  start with The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed for adult reading; I am particular to her Earthsea books but all of her writing is great, including her writing on writing
  • *Nnedi Okorafor – all her YA fiction. I wish I had these when I was younger.
  • *N.K. Jemisin – a strong recommend from Paul
  • *Ann Leckie – Ancillary series
  • China Miéville – The City and the City, Perdido Street Station, The Scar
  • Caroline Stevermer
  • Robin McKinley
  • Lila Bowen
  • Caroline Robin
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
  • Jeff VanderMeer -the Ambergris books – especially Finch; Shriek: An Afterword;  Southern Reach Trilogy
  • the Cixin Liu trilogy that starts with Three Body Problem
  • Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora
  • Sofia Samatar – Winged Histories, A Stranger in Olondria
  • Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison – Goblin Emperor
  • *Patricia C Wrede – Enchanted Forest Chronicles (I have a soft spot for these as I loved them as a kid, but I’m not sure how they hold up. Guess I’ll have to sign them out again. In this same vein I would also recommend Hild by Nicola Griffith.)
  • and of course, The Handmaid’s Tale, now more than ever

These all run the gamut from straightforward YA to intricate and challenging fiction – you’ll have to do your own research to find out which ones you’ll like, but this is a starting point. I am divided on the definition of progressive, or sensitive – sometimes you want a book that directly counteracts tired stereotypes (i.e. the Ye Old Princess Kicks Butt plot), but as I get older I’m also looking for reads where sexism et al is not a Thing that must be Overcome. I’d rather it not be a thing at all. If you can imagine a world with dragons, how hard is it to imagine a world without structural inequality? Suffice it to say this list varies on this axis as well.

I don’t have comments turned on but you can @ me on Twitter if you would like to add to the list.

(Yes, I know YA can be intricate and challenging. I’m not speaking about plot here, but writing. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, with its dense plot and opaque nomenclature system, is much harder to get into than a Nnedi Okorafor volume. This is not to say one is better than the other; it’s more a matter of preference, like how you take your coffee.)



July 21, 2016

I was going to write more, write more every day but I felt like I needed to have a specific topic, which was an excuse to avoid it altogether. It’s better just to write on what I’ve thought about during the day rather than to save it all up for a themed post. I also feel if I start writing I will never stop.

I finished reading Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson. It is a good book. There isn’t an extra word in it, and it slips into you so quick and quiet like a filleting knife, you don’t notice that you’re cut till there’s blood. It’s both of Canada and older than Canada, spare, light, and dark.

I am full of resentment. July is hot and long. August will be worse. The bus schedules have changed, but not for me. I can’t tell if our neighbourhood is insignificant or underserved. I am not cycling either, and the tang of hot car permeates my days. We have to replace it, cumbersome thing. Another chore to add to the weekends. The brake caliper is sticking, a several hundred dollar fix on a car worth at most twenty-five hundred. Math we know too well. The faint shoofing of the brake pads against the rotor grind my nerves every time I drive. I hate when things are broken.

I cannot leave the city, and in this car-mad province there are few options. It is the inverse of my teenage life, stuck at the farm with no way to get into the city. It helps with perspective. There are many ways of living in the city, though. My sister purchased a Saskatoon Canoe Club membership for me as a birthday present, and we sign out kayaks to slip up and down the river. I pretend my house is a cabin, and we cook burgers on the smoker. I buy flip-flops and swim at the pool. Evenings I sit outside with a light beer and play games on my phone. There isn’t any wifi at the lake. I don’t work hard enough to be a lake person, anyway.