Laline Paull's The Bees peeks into the hive of the honeybee, an extraordinary world that worker bee Flora 717 must navigate, defend and ultimately challenge in this fabulously imaginative debut novel. Our reviewer says that "The Bees is a tremendous work of literature, told with suspense and passion. You will never look at the activity in your flower garden the same way again." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Paull has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
Horses of God
By Mahi Binebine, translated by Lulu Norman
I read this slim novel (182 pages) in just over an hour last week – and I haven’t stopped talking about it since. I was tired, but this book required nothing from me – except letting myself get dragged by the neck through its beautiful, brutal, elegant and honest story of an 18 year old Moroccan suicide bomber, and it brought tears to my eyes. It makes no excuses, but it does shine a most humane light on the atrocity of poverty, the root of so much suffering. Mahi Binebine writes with anger and compassion, and this book is a call to arms: to protect innocence, to stand up to corruption and greed and to prove that good writing can make a political difference.
Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honey Bee
By Hattie Ellis
Here’s a wonderful non-fiction book that is so lightly and entertainingly erudite that you can open it anywhere and be delighted by the writing. It effortlessly informs the reader about the magic of a creature that I’ve spent a long time studying, writing and talking about, yet this book still entrances me. I love books that make me feel more intelligent for having read them, and this is one of them. Hattie Ellis writes in an accessible, vivid and unpatronizing way. I’m going to keep this book handy for when I need to remind myself just why honey bees really are amazing creatures, and that I’m just one in a very long line of writers who have become obsessed by them.
By James Lever
A satirical Hollywood memoir told through the jaded innocence of the chimp who ‘played’ Cheeta in the Tarzan films. What a brilliant conceit! I remember hearing about this when it was first released and thinking, “Ooh I must read that!” But I somehow got distracted and didn’t think of it again until I recently met the author. I remembered how intriguing it sounded, and then, what a relief to genuinely love this funny, bitchy, kind and original novel. Highly recommended.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding The Bees—or any of Paull's recommended books—to your TBR list?