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This book by Madeleine Thien won the Giller prize this year, so I was anxious to read it.  I watched Madeleine Thien receive the award, when the Giller prize was announced, and she impressed me as a speaker.  Reading her book later impressed me by her writing and her wisdom.  She tells the story of an extended family in China during years that I knew about slightly through Canadian media.  However, this book shows the rich humanity and passion of the individuals, over years and generations.  Sad.  Sobering.  I cried, and I learned.  I wanted these people to live, and live well, and reconnect.  I wished I played piano and had experienced Goldberg and Brahms and Glenn Gould.  I have only a smattering of knowledge to bring to these pages, so I received much more in return.

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This book, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, describes Amanda’s life and her early years as a reporter/photographer.  I remember when she was captured in Somalia and followed her story through Canadian media.  I have read her articles in the United Church Observer, so I knew she had been released.  However, reading about her imprisonment, and how she managed to survive the years of deprivation and torment, has been fascinating to me.  She didn’t give up.  She persevered.  She has a phenomenal memory, and her descriptions of attempts taken and lost mesmerized me.  She found ways to cope, and eventually envisioned living in a house in the sky that sustained her.  At times I was frustrated by her early naivety and her youthful confidence, but I realize that’s because I am old and hesitant to risk.  She wasn’t.  She paid a huge price.    I


I have been reading this book off & on for about a month.  It is very detailed, and I am learning a lot!  However, the small print and many unfamiliar names frequently slow me down, and as non-fiction it challenges me and teaches me.  I lived through the years that Mandela was in prison, and thought I knew his life, but this book shows me that I understood little.  I have learned how long it takes to become an activist, and how one must stay true to one’s convictions and beliefs despite set-back and lack of support and imprisonment.  It is written by Anthony Sampson.  I shall continue to read it, between easier books of fiction and escapism.  Many events described in this book make me think of Canada’s indigenous people.  I continue to learn to understand colonialism, and racism, and the need for perseverance in the face of injustice.

 


After I read ‘Away’ by Jane Urquhart I phoned my friend Carolyn Pogue to see if she had read it.  Not yet, but she suggested her latest read, ‘Confessions of a Pagan Nun’; by  Kate Horsley.  She teased that the central character seemed similar to her and I, so I was intrigued.  Fortunately the library had a copy available, so I have read it.  Perfect!  It follows a woman through her life living in Ireland at the time of the transition from Druids to Christians, so it’s dark ages, historical, full of impoverished hungry people and dramatic changes.  A sobering read, and makes me realize anew all the horror stories about the Christian doctrine, including the stupid practice of celibacy for priests and nuns.  What a sad history.  Well-intentioned, but inadequate to meet human needs.   Ever thus, I fear.

 


I continue to read, as well as write.  The more recent books have been by Jane Urquhart, who wrote ‘Away’ about 15 years ago.  It was new to me, but after I raved about her writing to a friend, I borrowed two more books by her. “The Stone Carvers’ was lovely, and since I was reading it the same weekend as the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge, very appropriate.

I have just looked at the pile of books beside the sofa, and found ten that I haven’t written about, so I’ll add these to future blogs.

I have written another play, and it’s gone through 5 revisions so far.  Who knows if it ever will be produced?

 


Still Reading Books….

So many books, too many to recall them all.  When we go to the Thrift stores, my partner checks for vintage pottery and I look at books.  What do I remember?  Which ones are still in my mind?

Elizabeth George – 3 mystery books, featuring Scotland Yard favourites

Russka, by Edward Rutherford

People of the Lakes, by Kathleen Oneil Gear & Richard Gear

The Lake House, by Kate Morton (my current escape)

Mindsight, by Daniel Siegel

The Brain’s Way of Healing, by Norman Doidge

Full Catastrophe Living, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert

One Story, One Song, by Richard Wagamese

Energetic Boundaries, by Cyndi Dale

A Place Called Freedom, by Ken Follett

Ann’s House of Dreams, by L.M. Montgomery

I think there were more books between last February and now, as it’s only 12 books in 6 months.  I realize I am a slow reader, but there were others I’m sure.  Funny how the fictional books are forgettable, but not the non-fiction.

 

 

 

 


I spend time each day reading a book, whenever I can.  I don’t consider a day well-spent unless I have read about an hour.  Of course, on the occasional days when I have two or more activities out of the house, I don’t read at all.  However, this is what I’ve read since Christmas:

Grace Lee Boggs: The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty First Century

Nevada Barr: Flashback ( another mystery thriller with Anna Page, Park Ranger)

Ian McEwan: Enduring Love (fiction, a puzzling style, based on a true story, & made me think a lot about love, obsession, and religiosity)

Plus my favorite magazines, Alberta Views (this issue about Alberta’s finances), the United Church Observer (always good articles), and History (the latest issue about 25 great Canadian women).  So life is good when I can read!

In putting these last books away on the shelf (I haven’t decided where they go next!) I saw a book I forgot to list in 2015.   It’s by Miriam Toews, and is entitled All My Puny Sorrows. It’s one of my favourite books of all time! 

 

Happy Reading!