I’m heading back to France for two full weeks! I’m going to join my family in Normandy, enjoy the sea and French food (and pastries!) and rest, rest, rest!

I’m not so used to packing, but this time I noticed something was particularly difficult: choosing books for the holidays. What am I going to read? Beloved had the same issue than I had, so we were both going back and forth between the book shelves and the luggage, dropping a book in, changing our mind, putting the book away and picking another, and so forth.

Finally, I have a selection! Here it is:

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper FfordeThis is the pick of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy eBook Club on GoodReads. It happens that we have the physical book since Beloved already read the two first novels in this series (and the third one is on its way to France!). It’s crazy Science-Fiction, in a Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy way: “Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.”

Blindness, by José Saramago

Blindness by José SaramagoThis is the next read for the Science-Fiction and Fantasy World Tour, so I won’t tell you much about it yet! Here is the synopsis: “A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides her charges—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and their procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. As Blindness reclaims the age-old story of a plague, it evokes the vivid and trembling horrors of the twentieth century, leaving readers with a powerful vision of the human spirit that’s bound both by weakness and exhilarating strength.”

Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden

Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine HardenA non-fiction. I found this book in my favourite thrift store. It’s about a man called Shin who was born and “raised” in a camp, in North Korea, before his family members were killed and he managed to flee. It’s hard to know what’s happening in a country that is so closed to the rest of the world, that’s why this book interested me. “North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.

In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.

The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.

Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.”

The Wisdom of Psychopaths, by Kevin Dutton

The Wisdom of Psychopaths, by Kevin DuttonThe full title of this non-fiction is actually “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success” which is much longer but says it all. I found this book in my favourite indie book store but I didn’t buy it (got a math book instead, sorry about that!). Fortunately, the Ottawa library has it and I borrowed the eBook.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. HeinleinExtra! This is actually one of Beloved’s pick but I was planning to read this book for a while. If the three books above don’t cover the holidays and the two 10 hours trips, I have a backup plan! “It is the year 2076, and the Moon is a penal colony for the rebellious and the unwanted of Earth. The exiles have created a libertarian society in order to survive in their harsh and unforgiving environment, their motto being TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Looming over them is the Luna Authority, the heavy-handed Earth administration, who trades life necessities to the “Loonies” in exchange for grain shipments to the starving populations of Earth.As the situation steadily deteriorates the inhabitants of Luna come to realize that they have little choice but to revolt against Luna Authority in order to save themselves from resource exhaustion and a subsequent environmental apocalypse.

A small band of dissidents emerges to lead the revolution. This consists of a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic, and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike. These people ignite the fires of revolution, despite the near certainty of failure.”