View From The Glen

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

50 Books - New Favourites So Far

I joined the online chapters group to try to read 50 books in 2008. So far so good. At least, I'm just starting #33 as we head into month 7, so I'm at least on track.

Some on my list are perennial favourites that I read regularly and always enjoy. But of all the new ones I have read this year, the following are the ones I have enjoyed most:

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston – This story of Joey Smallwood was a library book I picked up not sure it would be my cup of tea. I loved it, especially the first half of the book, and especially the story of Joey, Joey’s Newfoundland, and Joey’s (fictional) foil, Fielding (who I so wanted to be real). I’m a Canadian history fan, but think this book appeals on many other levels too.

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens - Betrayal, Passion, Loss, Hope, Survival – they are all in here…the law of dreams is to keep moving, not to stop and allow yourself to give up. The writing is phenomenal and striking, with words and phrases that jump out and hit you long after you have moved past them. Some great quotes (“Sometimes your heart cracks and tells you what you have to do.”) and imagery (a moving train described as “a promise of everything you could leave behind”).

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – I loved this book and found it a really compelling read, though I would probably not have picked it up if I’d realized it was about vampires – specifically the legend of Dracula and the history of Vlad the Impaler. Oddly, it makes me yearn for eastern Europe and reminds me of the taste of strong black coffee with cream and sipping raucous red wine on red clay patios.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill – I enjoyed this book very much. The life of Aminata, skilled midwife and African slave, is simply recorded against a historical background full of vivid detail and rich imagery that made the book very compelling while telling a powerful story of slavery and freedom and one woman’s lifelong attempt to make a difference.

Addendum: Must also mention Marley and Me by John Grogan which had me laughing and crying. I have a lab, not that it's necessary.

Also The Road by Cormac MacCarthy, which I didn't enjoy because it depressed me, but which I have nonetheless been recommending as something people should read.

Both these last two are being made into movies. I'll see Marley, but may take a pass on The Road.

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