Becky Chambers: Hope for Humanity

On a busy cover, you see a branching curvy path through plants and flowers. At bottom sits a young man on a cart, holding a cup of tea. At the top stands a grey robot with butterflies floating above his hand.

by Eliana H.

What’s your favorite book? If you can decide, feel free to leave it in the comments. I always have a terrible time answering this question. It depends so much on what I’m in the mood for, but I recently finished A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, and it reminded me yet again why I love this author’s work. She has won the Hugo Award and been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. In case you are less familiar with those particular awards, Becky Chambers writes science fiction. 

The first Becky Chambers book I read was The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, her debut novel and the first book in the Wayfarers series. I actually read it for a meeting of In Other Worlds, one of the many fantastic book clubs that the library offers. I remember during our discussion that other participants agreed with me that it was such a lovely, comforting read. One friend described it as comfort food in book form. You can see a little more about this title in one of our previous blog posts

As I read more books by Becky Chambers, I continue to be struck not only by her storytelling, but also by the appeal of the worlds she creates. Each book is like a warm hug, easing me out of the everyday struggles and worries we all experience and into this universe in which everything is different. But although everything is different, there is so much that is familiar. I can relate to the characters and their feelings about what is happening around them, even when they are a completely dissimilar species to myself. 

One of the most refreshing parts of diving into the universe that Chambers shows us in the Wayfarers series is that humans are nowhere near the top of the food chain. Far from being the species in power, humans were some of the last to join the Galactic Commons and are not very technologically advanced. But beyond the change in perspective offered by that dynamic, my favorite aspect of Becky Chambers’s books is the hope they provide. Each is filled with people (mostly non-human, but still people) treating each other respectfully and considerately. Although they may not understand the traditions and habits of those so different from themselves, people originating from an enormously diverse array of cultures find common ground and consistently demonstrate their regard for every individual’s inherent value and rights. It is a profoundly inspiring universe. 

I hope that you will find as much joy and satisfaction from any of the Becky Chambers books you choose to explore. While titles in the Wayfarers series do have a numerical order, they can generally be read as stand-alone novels as well. You can find the following books written by Becky Chambers available now. 

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).