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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Books you've just GOTTA read!! #1

(Or our favorite under-appreciated, under-loved, long-forgotten or never heard of books that we know you'll love just as much as we do when we convince you to finally read them!...phew....books....)

Last month, while hoping to interest everyone in my current favorite Under-appreciated book, Big Sid's Vincati, I asked what your favorite under-appreciated book was. And did I get answers! We are a passionate bunch about books we love. And I'll admit, I hadn't heard of many of these books. So, starting today, I'm going to add a regular feature to the blog....and here is the first installment.....*drumroll please......

This week's featured books come from Jill at Rhapsody in Books! (Thanks Jill!!)

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

From Amazon:
Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which won Hugo and Nebula Awards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

Jill brought this book to my attention, and she was kind enough to send me this terrific review on the book:
There are two settings in this book: the Oxford University History Department in 2054, and Medieval England in 1348.

In 2054, Oxford is using time travel to amend and correct historical records, and so it allows Kivrin, a young woman studying history, to go back to 1320 for research. Unfortunately, an error drops her 28 years later, right into the time period of the Bubonic Plague.

The book alternates between 2054 and 1348 as the historians try to get Kivrin back, and as Kivrin fights for her life. As we get to know the people with whom Kivrin stays in 1348 and learn to care about them, we live through the Plague as vividly and poignantly as she does. And we live through Kivrin’s terror that she may never get back.

Connie Willis is a remarkable author for several reasons. One is that she so thoroughly researches her work that this account of Medieval England is as extensive and accurate as any you will get in any academic study. The second is that books by Willis focus extensively on miscommunications – sentences only half spoken, or misunderstood, or never conveyed, or conveyed too late, or lost in dreams. The tragic as well as comedic consequences of not communicating well are a recurring theme in her work and serve to provide dramatic tension as well as sociological commentary.

This book is classified as scifi rather than historical fiction, but it could certainly be well-suited in either category.

If you'd like to read a bit more about the plot, you can head over to the Wikipedia entry, which is more detailed, but might give away a little too much. After reading the Wikipedia entry and Jill's review, I'm hooked! Even though I hardly ever read this type of book, it's time to expand my horizons a bit. Doomsday Book is now right up there at the top of my list, and I can't wait to read it!

This first entry into my "Books I've Got To Read" project is a book I can't wait to get my hands on. Thanks so much to Jill for bringing it to my attention!!

Come back Thursday for Jill's other "Books you've just GOTTA read" selection!!


bermudaonion said...

What a great new feature! I've made a note of this book.

Minding Spot said...

YOu have an award!


Becca said...

What a great idea. I’d love to hear about books I have probably overlooked. This one sounds a little dark but very interesting. Time travel and historical fiction? How can you beat that?

Lenore Appelhans said...

I adore THE DOOMSDAY BOOK! I've read it at least 4 times now, and it never fails to make me sob.