Station Eleven

By Emily St. John Mandel,

Book cover of Station Eleven

Book description

'Best novel. The big one . . . stands above all the others' - George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones

Now an HBO Max original TV series

The New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

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Why read it?

25 authors picked Station Eleven as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

In addition to eerily anticipating the COVID-19 pandemic—thankfully, our pathogen was not nearly as virulent and lethal—this post-apocalyptic novel offers interesting commentary about airports as microcosms of society.

The airport that figures prominently here is the gateway to and manifestation of a “secure” society structured as much by those it excludes as by those it includes. It is also the archive of a society defined, for better and for worse, by its relationship to technology. 

From Eric's list on airports teaching us about society.

I loved this book because it gives a dark vision of what could go wrong if we fail to control pandemics. I read this book in 2019–just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave it a terrifying reality!

I am a lab scientist, and my work can focus on somewhat abstract ideas about infection, but this book inspired me to think about the (huge) human impact.

This book was hopeful in a time when I needed it the most. We’ve all recently lived through a serious global disaster where we were forced to re-evaluate our priorities and make decisions that we might not have always made to survive and maintain our sanity through a difficult situation. 

Though this book was written well before Covid–and believe me, I couldn’t have read this during Covid–it was revelatory in understanding the ways that family come together, how not all bonds are by blood, and that family can be found, can be relational, can be blood. 

Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

By Shawn Michel De Montaigne,

Book cover of Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

Shawn Michel De Montaigne

New book alert!

What is my book about?

A young adult and epic fantasy novel that begins an entire series, as yet unfinished, about a young girl named Melody who discovers that the pier she lives near goes on forever—a pier that was destroyed by a hurricane that appeared out of blue skies in mere moments in 1983.

Melody doesn't know it, but a king has been searching for her for more than twenty years—longer than she's been alive. His kingdom is readying for the day when they may return to the world found beyond the end of that very pier, a world cast into darkness by an…

Melody and the Pier to Forever: Parts Five and Six

By Shawn Michel De Montaigne,

What is this book about?

Melody Singleton is a bright 13-year-old girl who loves math, classical music, her mom, her best friend Yaeko, and her dog. To her classmates that makes her a nerd, and they cruelly treat her as such. After being expelled from the advanced algebra class for not paying attention, she meets her new teacher, Mr. Conor, who gives her a very strange homework assignment. You see, she got kicked out because she was distracted by a symbol that the rest of us can't see, a beautiful sigil that, incredibly, Mr. Conor can see too, because it's on the assignment he gave…

This book begins part way through the story, when one night in a Toronto theatre, onstage performing the role of King Lear, 51-year-old Arthur Leander has a fatal heart attack. We don’t see the relevance and connection of this till later.

The way the book gradually unpeels the story and we get to know more about the characters and what they face is one of the things I like about this fascinating book. The situation is a pandemic in the form of a flu pandemic so lethal that, within weeks, most of the world's population has been killed, and most…

From Phill's list on young people meeting a challenge.

After being deluged by dystopian YA fiction and end-of-day dramas on the big screen, it was oh-so-refreshing to read a grown-up story about a global catastrophe that was hopeful and optimistic—one that didn’t begin with the premise that when everything fell apart, humans would all resort to conflict and violence.

In two timelines, with a present day centred on a play being performed in Canada and a North America two decades after a deadly pandemic, it was heartening to read a story where art and literature bring the world together when everything falls apart. I loved it!

Station Eleven is another book that I’ve enjoyed re-reading, I think because of the depth of character and, again, the believability of their actions.

This time it’s a pandemic that does the damage, and the bulk of the action takes place twenty years later, when society has reached a kind of degraded normality. As in a couple of my other recommendations, there’s an encounter with a cult, showing how humanity might turn to the supernatural for answers. I also like that the story ends on a hopeful note!

From Phil's list on post-civilisation futures.

I was first struck by the elegance of this book, its seamless ease in which it moves between time and place, its weird, ghostly beauty, and unsettling nature.

It’s post-apocalyptic but at the same time enchanting. Where else could a troupe of Shakespearean actors and musicians travel in horse-drawn pickup trucks in a post-civilisation dreamscape? I was held all the way through by its understated charm and mystery.

Station Eleven is a welcome change from the usual wail and woe of plague stories.

Everyone likes to see their own city get trashed in apocalyptic fiction, right?

The terrifying Georgia Flu that decimates civilization in Station Eleven first appears in Toronto, where I live, and St. John Mandel’s descriptions of real-life places crumbling is intense and visceral. But beyond the horror, this is a tale about art as a force for survival, rebuilding, and the rekindling of hope.

The beautiful prose and inventive use of structure elevate this tale of a wandering theatre troupe to literary heights.

It’s a mark of a good book that years after reading it, scenes from it still play out in your mind.

In Station Eleven, after the world grinds to a halt (again, a virus), a girl can’t get hold of her desperately needed medication. I still visualize her wandering off into the woods, never to be seen again.

If society collapsed, we would profoundly miss many things that are more than just basics. It begs the question of whether we can ever be truly disaster resilient.

At one point in the novel, a character protests, “Are we supposed to believe…

The throughline that art is as important to civilization as the more obvious elements required for survival is also one of my thematic obsessions as a writer. Art in all its forms, from comics to theater – and all the steps involved in bringing it to life from the initial idea through the creation process, to performing, to experiencing it, is central to the story. In particular, I appreciate the thesis of how even after a collapse of society, art can help people understand themselves and others and forge connections among disparate individuals. Bonus points for showing how a personal,…

From Khan's list on how art is more than art.

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