Book picks as published in the January 18, 2017 St. Albert Gazette.
With the United States on the cusp of a new era, some timely books reflecting on pressing social issues.
The Underground Railroad : a novel
By Colson Whitehead
This US National Book Award winning novel chronicles the daring survival story of a cotton plantation slave in Georgia, who, after suffering at the hands of both her owners and fellow slaves, races through the Underground Railroad with a relentless slave-catcher close behind. A powerful meditation on the history of race relations in America.
Hillbilly elegy : a memoir of a family and culture in crisis
By J.D. Vance
Shares the story of the author’s family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past. A passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans.
Book picks as published in the January 11, 2017 St. Albert Gazette.
The Promise of Canada : 150 years – people and ideas that have shaped our country
By Charlotte Gray
Get into the spirit of Canada’s sesquicentennial year with this award-winning writer’s look at 150 years of Canadian history. What does it mean to be a Canadian? What great ideas have changed our country? Gray has chosen people whose ideas have caught her imagination, ideas that over time have become part of our collective conversation.
A Number of Things : stories of Canada told through fifty objects
By Jane Urquhart
Urquhart chose 50 Canadian objects and wove a rich and surprising narrative that speaks to our collective experience as a nation. Each object is beautifully illustrated by the noted artist Scott McKowen, with Jane Urquhart conjuring and distilling meaning and magic from these unexpected facets of our history.
Start the new year with a celebration of reading!
The Art of X-Ray Reading : how the secrets of 25 great works of literature will improve your writing by Roy Peter Clark
Clark invites you to don your X-ray reading glasses and join him on a guided tour through some of the most exquisite and masterful literary works of all time, from the Great Gatsby to Lolita to The Bluest Eye, and many more. Along the way, he shows you how to mine these masterpieces for invaluable writing strategies that you can add to your arsenal and apply in your own writing.
Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. The books span centuries and genres and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. He focuses on the way certain books can help us honour those we’ve loved, and also figure out how to live each day more fully.
The Seniors Book Club will meet in the 2nd floor Aquarium on Wednesday, June 15 at 2 pm. This month we’re discussing The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys.
About the book
Resigned to living out the Second World War in a German POW camp, James Hunter, an English officer, begins studying a pair of redstarts near the camp. His interest in the birds captures the attention of the Kommandant and gives James cause to fear for his life. Meanwhile, back in England, James’s young wife, Rose, falls headlong into a passionate affair with another man. When James’s sister, Enid, is bombed out of her London flat, she comes to stay with Rose, and the two women form a surprising friendship that alters the course of both of their lives.
With wonderfully developed characters, exquisitely shaped by and reflected in the natural world, The Evening Chorus is a brilliant, beautiful evocation of place and a natural history of both the war and the human heart. (Publisher)
Helen Humphreys on The Evening Chorus and the solitary act of writing
Helen Humphreys on writing historical fiction
Q and A with Helen Humphreys (The Globe and Mail)
Review in the The Globe and Mail
Review in the National Post
John Buxton (ornithologist)
Birdmen of the German Stalags
Airmen’s memorial on Ashdown Forest
The Seniors Book Club will meet on Wednesday, April 13 at 2:00 to discuss Fifteen Dogs, a unique and compelling novel by Andre Alexis.
About the book
— I wonder, said Hermes, what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.
— I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.
And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.
André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks. (Provided by the Publisher)
What is an apologue?
Q & A with Andre Alexis: Fifteen Dogs author talks about animals as allegory and his bond with words
Wager of the Gods – Andre Alexis (an Ideas broadcast on CBC Radio)
Review in the Globe and Mail
Review in The Star
Review in Fjords