Dorothy’s Favorite Books of 2016: Station Eleven & Born A Crime

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Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
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Hello, Whisperers! Happy New Year! I loved Rebecca’s post about her favorite book of 2016, and I wanted to make my own.  I was fairly certain what I would choose for most of the year – I said things like “this is the best book I’ve read in years” and actually went so far as to get a quote from it tattooed on my living flesh. However, in the very last days of 2016, I listened to an audiobook version of another amazing book (which was actually published in 2016,) and honestly couldn’t decide between the two. Luckily, one is non-fiction and one is fiction, so I can choose both!

My favorite fiction book I read in 2016: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (published 2014.) Although this book received accolades and awards when it was released, somehow the hype went over my head and I didn’t hear anything about it. Really it should only take four words for you to want to read this book: “Shakespeare after the apocalypse.” What more could you possibly want? Oh, a reference to Star Trek that makes you want to cry and sing and laugh and run out to the tattoo parlor? This book has that too. The core of this book is going beyond survival, into…. thrive-al(?) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. While others cobble together a living from the land or the remains of the cities, this book follows a cast of actors, musicians and other artists who travel from town to town performing Shakespeare and classical music. Because survival is insufficient.

My favorite non-fiction book I read in 2016: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (published 2016.) I don’t watch The Daily Show and have only seen a few clips of Trevor Noah, but when several friends of varying literary interests began raving about this book, I had to check it out. I ended up listening to the audio version, and I’m glad I did – it is narrated by Trevor and he speaks the different African languages, accents for each person, just a generally fabulous narration. I couldn’t put it down. Trevor manages to address social issues like racism, sexism, institutionalized poverty, code switching – WAIT DON’T FALL ASLEEP – while also telling great stories about pooping on the floor and getting abandoned by a dog named Foofy. Listen to this book. It will make you laugh and cry.

William Shakespeare

If I profane with my unworthy hand
Your written shrine of celebrated wit
My praise, lowly as it is, ready stands
To release itself through most loving writ
For ‘To be or not to be’ you once said
Hamlet’s distress did kindred spirit find
A lonely girl of but thirteen years led
From depression with bottle left behind
When yet more years had passed and knowledge earned
The sorrow returned anew to claim
A lonely, angry heart that always burned
She would not gentle enter Peace’s domain
But for Antony’s piercing words and tears
She’d not’ve named her demons for yet more years

For thee in thanks, MADELEINE

 


nota bene: This sonnet has been poorly written in the style of a Shakespearean sonnet. Please forgive the author of this letter for her inability to write poetry and general absurdity.