Sunday, September 7, 2014


Reading shouldn't be a chore. Reading should enlighten. Reading should delight. Reading should expand our worlds. Reading should be entertaining. If you bother to read this blog, either you're a lifelong reader or Gianna has naked pictures of you (not judging). Readers are made when they find books that capture them, usually in childhood, and the greatest pleasure for adult readers comes in hints of that magic again even as grown-ups. For my colleagues at Penguin Random House and me, Station Eleven is that book. We believe in this book. We love this book. We think that you will love it too. Here's why:
  1. Station Eleven is dystopian fiction, and yes there are a ton of end-of-the-world books out there, but this one is different. Set 20 years after a global flu pandemic has wiped out much of the population, this book is more about what survives than what's destroyed. 
  2. Station Eleven plays with Shakespeare. The whole premise of the narrative is that a girl who was performing in a version of King Lear when the flu hit belongs to a theater troupe whose mission is to bring Shakespeare and music to the communities that have survived. 
  3. Station Eleven is therefore a love song to literature and music and the power that can be found in storytelling. I recently watched Monuments Men (not a great movie) about the small group of art historians who scoured Europe to recover the stolen works of art that the Nazis looted in World War II. Why risk your life for a painting? Civilization exists through our arts. To destroy a group of people, destroy their art and music and writing. Station Eleven gets that. 
  4. Station Eleven is a great story. The Traveling Symphony moves into a town hoping to rendezvous with two of their members who'd stayed behind a couple of years earlier in order to have a child. When they arrive back in the town, though, they find no sign of their friends and are threatened by the new leader of the community, a man known as The Prophet.
    Author Emily St. John Mandel
  5. Station Eleven has compelling characters. From Arthur, a Hollywood star whose career has slipped to the point that he's the headliner in a regional production of King Lear, to Jeevan, the paramedic who tries to save Arthur when he collapses on stage, to Kirsten, the girl in the play who ends up joining The Traveling Symphony, to the woman who created "Station Eleven," the graphic novel that pops up throughout the book, to The Prophet. You want to spend time with these people. 
  6. Station Eleven is a celebration of what we take for granted everyday, from clean water to electricity to fresh produce in grocery stores to the clothes we wear. What would you miss most if the world came to a screeching halt tomorrow? (I'm guessing your answer is not "this blog.") I think I'd miss reading light in the evening. Flickering light gives me migraines, so I probably wouldn't be able to read by firelight. 
  7. Station Eleven captures an idea I think about a lot, that we create our own families and are sustained by these relationships. While I am often comfortable alone, I need other people to pull me out of my head and remind me that the world is bigger than just my own interior craziness and the antics of a spoiled cat. I don't need an apocalypse for me to realize this fact, but I appreciate books that remind me that I can't be the recluse I sometimes fantasize about becoming.
  8. Station Eleven is written by a super-talented writer who deserves to have a megahit bestseller. Emily
    Emily St. John Mandel dropped by the Penguin Random House
    warehouse to sign copies for our bookstores. She signed a
    few thousand books that day.
    St. John Mandel has been a bookseller favorite for years, but it's time that the rest of the world figures out how incredible she is at spinning a great story.
  9. Station Eleven is a book you won't want to end. I rarely say that about any book, but in this case it's the truth.
  10. Station Eleven is the book that ALL of my fellow sales reps loved. This never happens. We are a bunch of jaded readers who sometimes slog through books like they are homework rather than recall that we get to read books and work with books all the time. The last time we shared such enthusiasm for a book, it was The Night Circus. The hive mind has been waiting for the release date of Station Eleven for months. It's here. It goes on sale on Tuesday, September 9. 
I implore you to read Station Eleven. I hope you love it as much as I do.


  1. I really liked this book, also, but my fellow book club members had never heard of it, even though it was a National Book Award Finalist.