Altered States: Suggested Readings

This guide suggests many exemplary books (and authors) that are official Altered States: Adult Winter Reading Program selections. All official selections are available for checkout from the Library.

Suggested Readings

The Alteration by Kingsley Amis.
Ten-year-old Hubert Anvil is an English choirboy with such a lovely voice that the Pope has decreed that he will join the ranks of castrato singers. Hubert flees, and his escape serves as an excuse for Amis to explore a world in which the Reformation never occurred, Martin Luther ascended to the Papacy, and the Cold War is a struggle between Christians and Muslims. Even James Bond is a priest. An acclaimed comic novelist, Amis does not let his sense of humor distract from this novel of ideas.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

A violent revolution has replaced the United States with the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy where women are second-class citizens who are no longer even permitted to read. The novel follows the struggles of a nameless handmaid, a concubine who is the property of a government official for whom she must bear a child. Atwood creates a feminist hell in which the only weapon available to the handmaid is also what subjugates her. Author Valerie Martin describes the novel as an instant classic because “its timeliness increases with time.”

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Bioengineered plagues and pests have ravaged worldwide food supplies, making calories the most valuable commodity on Earth. Anderson is an economic hitman in search of a government seedbank in Thailand. When Anderson starts trading information with a genetically engineered prostitute, he sets in motion a sweeping revolution that is not good for business. Bacigalupi won a 2010 Hugo Award for this debut novel.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

“It was a pleasure to burn.” The opening line of this classic novel is a pleasure to read, as is the entirety of this dystopian tale of fireman Guy Montag, whose job is tossing books into the flames. As his position among the thought-police of a totalitarian government is jeopardized, a rebel literary culture prepares to receive him. A prescient piece of social commentary decades ahead of its time, Bradbury critiques more than censorship, as he also takes on the dangers of a multimedia entertainment-driven culture.