Monday, January 23, 2012

A couple more off the list ...

Two very good books finished this week - TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, by Mitch Albom, which was on my list ... and "Black Berry, Sweet Juice: Black and White in Canada", a book recommended to me as the mother of two mixed-race boys, by my minister, by Lawrence Hill (acclaimed author of Book of Negroes). I have added it to the list at the expense of The Host, you can see it in bold below. Granted the Host was a much longer book, but it was trash; and, unlike author Stephenie Meyers' previous work, not even trash you could at least sit, enjoy and shut the brain off. It was a big overreach that I found boring. A slow start is fine - I have patience for that. But when I'm 150-200 pages into a book and still feeling either bored or 'huh?' by turns ... yeah. Movin' on.

I also wanted to quickly cross off and add a review for Girlfriend in a Coma, which I finished last month but didn't have the time to review.

1. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God - Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama
7. Beloved - Toni Morrison
8. 'Tis - Frank McCourt 

9. Black Berry, Sweet Juice: Black and White in Canada - Lawrence Hill
10. The Constant Princess - Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th - Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine - Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers - J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula - Bram Stoker
24. Last Night at the Chateau Marmont - Laura Weisberger
25. The Inferno - Dante
26. Towelhead - Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks - Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies - Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours - Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
36. The First Christmas - Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
37. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
38. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point - Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
44. Lolita - Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement - Ian McEwan
46. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
47. Under the Dome - Stephen King
48. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
49. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett - Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise - Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours - Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates
57. Ragtime - E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
59. Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman
60. Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister - Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs - Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil - Romeo d'Allaire
64. Team of Rivals - Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes - Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians - Will Ferguson
67. Planet Simpson - Chris Turner
68. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything - Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless - Douglas Adams

73. Fifth Business - Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore - Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders - Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys - James Reaney
77. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage - Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
82. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible - Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire
85. The Emerging Christian Way - Marcus Borg et al
86. Sorbonne Confidential - Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K - Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire - Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities - Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls - Damon Runyon
98. Good Book - David Plotz
99. He's Just Not that Into You - Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Undisputed - Chris Jericho
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious - John Shelby Spong

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE: A short, easy, but thoughtful read - this story of a man who got absorbed into the North American culture and work ethic, rediscovering what's important with the help of his dying professor in his (the professor's) last weeks of life. Both heartwarming and saddening, Morrie Schwartz dies the way we all should aspire to - with dignity, with concern for the world and the people he was leaving behind ... 'a teacher to the last', as he wanted on his epitaph. This isn't a long book full of big words, but in its simplicity it lets us access complex thoughts and feelings, and assess frankly what is important in this world, so we don't learn those life lessons on our deathbed. Even if this doesn't change how we live ... it will at least make us more aware, and remind us, as Morrie says, "Death ends life, it doesn't end relationships."

BLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICE: Lawrence Hill provides a broad perspective on the mixed-race experience in Canada, and was a real insight into the world our sons are about to face. You won't agree with everyone Hill interviews, or even with Hill himself all the time - they don't agree with each other, and Hill himself sometimes contradicts himself as he walks the line between suggesting that race shouldn't matter when it comes to how we feel about one another (his parents intermarried, and he did too, so obviously he understands love knows no colour, even while expressing sympathy for African-Canadian women who resent black men marrying white women, for example), while acknowledging at the same time there are experiences people of colour will experience that 'white' folks might struggle to relate to (being more sympathetic than I would have liked, for example, to racial matching in custody and adoption issues, and more than a little condescending toward a 20-something man of mixed race asking why his skin colour should define him anyway). You might agree or disagree, he might have you stand and cheer or make you mad - but it is a thoughtful read with a great cross-section of perspectives across the black Canadian community. Worth a read.

GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA: Part coming of age story, part ensemble cast buddy book, part apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy, Douglas Coupland weaves several different concepts, perspectives, genres, into this book - leaves me curious and interested in reading more from this well-respected author; thank goodness I have a few more Coupland books on my list yet! :) Hard to sit and give a plot synopsis without spoilers, or at the very least going way too long, so many characters, twists, turns etc. does this story have - but it is very likely you will enjoy it if you don't mind a read that is light on difficulty, if perhaps a bit heavy on subject matter (you can tell from the title it's a fun, breezy beach read can't you?)

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