Put together by Lília

Written by Bob, IrisW, Jonna, Naomi, Tiemen, Sophie, Jitse, Júlia and Lília

Some of these titles were chosen by one or more ABC colleagues, and everyone gives their own reasons to have loved them. Take a look at what we say about our personal favorites. You might even find one or two new titles for your TBR list.

The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green

Bob: A collection of profound essays about seemingly silly subjects that are actually about life.

Jonna: Sometimes silly, sometimes serious. John Green describes his thoughts about several subjects and happenings from the Anthropocene. It was a perfect book to change pace. Since they are all short essays, you don’t need to read it all at once, and it can be good as an “in-between books” filler.

IrisW: I’ve never been a huge fan of John Green’s YA titles, but I do enjoy the video essays he posts alongside his brother on their vlogbrothers YouTube channel since time immemorial.

This book of reviews is very much in that same vein: covering a wide range of topics to do with the anthropocene (the current geological age, characterised by the impact of humans), offering some research or background information that never fails to be fascinating, and adding a deft personal touch that ensures you never again see the Lascaux cave paintings, viral meningitis or diet Dr Pepper the same way.

Providing a “rating” is a funny touch, especially when it comes to some of the more abstract topics such as the yips. My favourite review is the one about whispering!

Prisoners of Geography – Tim Marshall

Jitse: Tim Marshall explains why all global politics are driven by geography. The lay of the land, and its access to oceans and resources, defines the choices policy makers have to make to keep their countries, economies and people secure. He shows, for example, why Russia seeks to keep influence in the former Soviet republics and why it sees Nato’s military base building as encirclement.

A Taste of Gold & Iron – Alexandra Rowlands

Naomi: Have you ever wanted to experience a world were queerness was utterly normal? A Taste of Gold and Iron takes place in a fantasy-kingdom based on the Ottoman Empire. The main characters, a prince and his bodyguard, must learn to work together to solve the mystery of who is threatening the kingdom. Their eventual love story is based on mutual respect, kindness and admiration. This novel is filled with lush and vivid descriptions, casual diversity and representation and beautiful world-building.

Ice Planet Barbarians – Ruby Dixon

Lília: Hilarious steamy romance about a bunch of women kidnapped by aliens that end up in an ice planet full of very tall blue aliens. They save the women and romance follows, not without complications and miscommunication of all kinds. The first in a series, all are worth reading if you like sexy romances and absolute escapism.

The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See

Júlia: I enjoyed this book so much.

The main story is about two female divers (haenyeo) who are best friends, living their daily life in a small village on a Korean island in the late 30’s. The story is not just about friendship: it is also about the matriarchal society on the island and the changes in the run up to the second world war. The author beautifully combines these historic events with a heartful story of love, betrayal and female friendship. I could not stop reading it but also tried to take my time, because I just didn’t want the story to end. I would highly recommend this book!

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie

Sophie: I loved how the Imperial Radch trilogy (Ancillary Justice, Sword + Mercy) had me thinking continuously.

Leckie explores numerous concepts: language, AI,  what makes someone or -thing Significant, what is civilization.  The books are subtle, layered and meant for rereading.

If you love big explosions, this might not be for you (although you’ll find a few!).  But if you like science fiction for its exploration of possible futures and their attendant moral and ethical quandaries, then this is one of the best series you’ll encounter.

Tiemen: Wow, just freakin’ wow. Breq, the protagonist, is probably the most interesting character I have come across in a while now. Neither male nor female, and not exactly human, Breq is an artificial mind trapped in a human body that used to be a large starship. Yes, you read that correctly.

This is a bit of a cerebral story, following the literary tradition of the great Ursula Le Guin.  It is also a political intrigue – la Dune and an almost sociological essay about power, gender and obedience. Leckie is one of those writers whose writing will stretch your mind, making you view the world in quite a different way.

There is a persistent and ridiculous notion that women can’t write great space opera. Ancillary Justice is yet another piece of evidence that proves the folly of such an idea.