All around town, readers are kind enough to stop me and offer up book suggestions. In the past few months, here’s what you had to say about some of your favorite reads:
In between push-ups at exercise class I was told about Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life by Brian Brett. I had first seen this book title on the long list for the 2009 B.C. Book Prizes. This great mix of farming history and daily life on Salt Spring Island went on to win the Writers’ Trust of Canada non-fiction prize.
A second book recommended during exercise was The Curve of Time, a book from the 60s, by M. Wylie Blanchet. This is an obscure but classic memoir about a widow and her children who explored the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest.
While getting new keys cut I was reminded of a book on the long list for Canada Reads last year, and which won the Trillium book award in 1999, the year it was published. No Great Mischief by Alistair McLeod tells a spellbinding story of family, loyalty, exile and the narrator’s roots in Cape Breton Island.
At the doctor’s office for my son’s ear infection, I came away with a prescription and three book titles. Shantaram is a 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, which chronicles the life of an Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes prison and flees to India; Lonesome Dove is a 1995 Pulitzer-prize winning western novel by Larry McMurty; and The Little Coffee Shop in Kabul, a book by Deborah Rodriguez, details the lives of five women who meet in an Afghan cafe.
Waiting for my kids teeth to be cleaned I learned of Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel. This offbeat comic novel begins with a dispute over a referee’s call at a girls’ soccer game, and spirals into a round-the-world odyssey.
The book that had the most people talking (and would be a great choice for a book club discussion) was 419 by Will Ferguson. Not only was it the most-discussed book, but it also elicited the widest range of opinions. 419 is an epic story of internet scandals and life in Nigeria, and was the winner of the 2012 Giller Prize.
While on an airplane, the flight attendant told me not to bother wasting more of my time with 419, and while picking up my son from a play date, was told the book was too unrelentingly sad to endure. And yet at the summer cottage, and again while watching a horse show at the Rock Creek Fair, readers said that 419 was the best book of the year.
I haven’t had a chance to read all of these recommended books, although I’m planning on it. Besides, there’s nothing better than a stack of books waiting on the bedside table, or as happens more often, stored on my e-reader wish list.
Let me know what you think of your fellow readers’ recommendations. And, if you recognize me on the street or wherever I happen to be, feel free to stop and share your book recommendations. Happy reading!
Heather Allen is a writer and reader living in Penticton.