Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas

509 pages; Random House
This was the present I gave everyone I knew for three years. It's six different stories told in different time periods and genres: One is historical fiction, another is a '70s thriller mystery, the sixth is a post' 'apocalyptic story. It's one of the most beautiful, entertaining, challenging books—something that takes all your attention. I think the stories are meditations on violence, specifically the necessity of violence. The book ends with a beautiful exchange: "' 'only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean! Yet what is an ocean but a multitude of drops."
— Natalie Portman