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Friday, January 30, 2009

Books

Here are 15 books I loved reading in 2008, with my favourite 5 in bold:

1. Leaf Storm and Other Stories, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - incredible prose and imagery, bountiful imagination.

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson - a science textbook for laypeople full of the history of discovery, and all the unsung geniuses who had the glory snatched from them by future generations finally ready for their work.

3. Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins - very imaginative, unusual, bubbling stacatto prose of the spiritual adventure of inanimate objects and brain-dead people.

4. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Housseini - very simply written, all about the story, and the people of Afghanistan.

5. A Language Older Than Words, by Derrick Jensen - it rambles over a lot of ground, but stays true to its viscious, though heavily provoked, attack on our culture.

6. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison - crazy, crazy journey into the dark heart of the racial majority's prejudices, and a man of the racialized minority struggling to be seen for what he is.

7. Civilization and Its Part in My Downfall, by Paul Quarrington - hilarious story of a movie stuntman.

8. We Were Not the Savages, by Daniel Paul - important re-telling of Nova Scotia history by a descendant of the 'losers', the ones we tried to assimilate and/or annihilate.

9. The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas and All Other Labour Companions, by Penny Simkin - highly recommended to anyone who knows anyone who will be giving birth soon. Practical, balanced, by far the best of several books I read on the subject.

10. Ramblin' Man: the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, by Ed Cray - Not just the story of a man, but of a movement, a time in history, a country.

11. The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klein - Only read this because I was interviewing her for an article. Read in one mind-bending weekend. It's a brilliant theory, brilliantly argued, that brings together many strands we already know.

12. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann - Archeology and anthropology have come a long way, and what we thought was history is new again. This book shows why.

13. Cibou, by Susan Young de Biagi - Great story by a Nova Scotian writer of worlds, and worldviews, colliding with calamitous results. Simply but powerfully told.

14. Grimus, by Salman Rushdie - Magic realism at its best; Rushdie just piles on layers of imagery until your mind is high as a kite and ready to dream.

15. Down to the Dirt, by Joel Thomas Hynes - Gritty story of a young man's fascinating and disturbing, all too realistic, self-destruction.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

DOWN TO THE DIRT IS A BORING BOOK . THE WRITER NEEDS TO TAKE A COURSE IN WRITING. ANYONE CAN BABBLE ABOUT THE TEENAGE YEARS.

benjibopper said...

If you see the life of Keith Kavanagh as typical teenage years you have my sympathies. I found the writing in that book to be quite strong, consistent and in-character.