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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Best Books I Read in 2012

[Click on the book cover image to learn more about the book from Goodreads.com.]

Fiction


The Way the Crow Flies by Anne-Marie MacDonald - based on the Stephen Truscott story, set in early cold war in Ontario at a military base. A murder mystery, abuse of power, divided loyalties, and great writing.



This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski - horrifying and unforgettable stories based on Borowski's time as a prisoner in two concentration camps during WWII.


The Rest is Silence by Scott Fotheringham - Kind of a gentle apocalypse story, with gender bending.



The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall - The genius is that he gives a sympathetic portrayal, yet shows exactly how fucked up polygamy is.



Room by Emma Donoghue - I blitzed through the first half to see how the five-year-old narrator and his mom escape their cruel captor. The second half was an usual surprise: the story of the post trauma, the healing process. Gripping story (especially for a parent of small kids I think), masterfully delivered.


Germinal by Emile Zola - Craziest story I ever read. Scenes I thought would never end - miners marauding through the countryside leaving a swath of angry destruction, women ripping the penis off their tormentor's dead body, the collapse of the mine and the drawn out survival of some miners among the relentless corpses of others floating in the floodwaters. Thank holiness I wasn't born in northern France 1860.



Non-Fiction
Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy - academic, but helped me understand parenting (not only mothering) and community and the work I do and why.



Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi'kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia by Isabelle Knockwood - A sad, powerful story that helped me better understand the attempted genocide of First Nations people.



A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System by John S. Milloy - Context for Knockwood's survivor stories. Milloy tells the stories of how these horrible facilities of systematic abuse, and the attempt to destroy First Nations culture through their children, came to be.




3 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Germinal sounds like something I have to try.

Chris Benjamin said...

It's a slog, Charles. But it's worth it.

Kebin Go said...

So... how fucked up is polygamy?