Monday, December 31, 2007
Books Bought 2007
Honestly, no idea. I don't keep track at all (perhaps that's why my shelves are overflowing)
Books Read 2007
By Women: 88
By Men: 52
Non-gendered reading (multiple authors etc.): 6
Rereads : 4
In Translation: 8 (oh, that's low. I have to try harder to increase the variety of my reading choices)
Non-Fiction: 32 (12 of these were on writing/literature)
Multiple Books by the same author:
3 - Alexander McCall Smith, Martine Desjardins
2 - Wilkie Collins, Frances Itani, Elizabeth Goudge, Jane Austen, Ray Bradbury, Earlene Fowler
And as for my favourites, well, it's hard to choose favourites, I've read so many really good books this year. But if I was to pick, by completely subjective criteria like how much fun I had reading or how much I admired the writing style, or how I was surprised by something utterly unknown to me when I picked it up, my Top Fiction reads of 2007 would be:
5/6. Smuggling Donkeys / David Helwig
A Feast of Longing / Sarah Klassen
4. Changing light / Nora Gallagher
3. Remembering the Bones / Frances Itani
2. Fairy Ring / Martine Desjardins
1. The Dream Life of Sukhanov / Olga Grushin
Likewise for Non-Fiction:
3. Burning down the House / Charles Baxter (read recently and not reviewed, but enjoyed)
2. Art Objects / Jeanette Winterson ( I was astonished by her brilliance)
1. Lectures on literature / Vladimir Nabokov (I just finished this, on the recommendations of many bloggers and am amazed by him and ready to start at the beginning again)
And just for interest's sake -
Challenges Joined 2007: 5 (2 still ongoing)
Challenges Completed 2007: 1 (yes, that's right -- 1! although that's not stopping me from joining a ton more for 2008!)
Sunday, December 30, 2007
This novel, originally published in 1978, is set in the Antarctic, 1909. In Keneally's preface, he states that he wanted to discuss the ever-fascinating subject of all-male expeditions to the South Pole in a way consistent with the times; to look at an expedition within an Edwardian mindset. Although all of the gentlemanly Edwardian explorers give no hint of conflict in their journals, Keneally wanted to approach a situation rife with it. This idea meshes well with another book I've been slowly reading, Francis Spufford's I May be some time. In that book, Spufford examines the Idea of ice in the Edwardian imagination. In this novel, Keneally takes that sublime appeal of the icy wilderness and peoples it with prosaic Edwardian men. It succeeds admirably, even with a few loose ends left dangling.
It is a reminiscence told by Anthony Piers, the expedition's artist. He is 92, living in a seniors residence in California, and this distancing in time allows us to benefit from his pointing out the differences in belief he was under as a young man and as a seasoned adult. The group of 26 men is heading to Antarctica just a few years before Ernest Shackleton's Endurance would head to the South Pole. Sir Eugene Stewart is leading a scientific cohort, but along with the varied geologists, zoologists, & meteorologists is included a journalist, Victor Henneker. He is supposed to supply news to the outside world, but as is discovered, he is keeping a logbook not only of worthy news but of all the scandals of his fellow travellers, for blackmail or for tabloid income. Various fellows are revealed within the journal as adulterers, thieves, or heaven forbid, homosexuals. When Victor is found dead outside at a weather screen, the tenor of the isolated group changes. Was it an accident? Murder? Was one of their small number responsible for such a violent act? Who can be trusted? Was it the mythical Forbes-Chalmers, a lost individual from a previous expedition rumoured to be living as a hermit on the Antarctic plain? As Anthony is involved in questioning his colleagues, his Edwardian ideals are battered, foreshadowing the loss of innocence of the coming war years. As the situation comes to a head, Anthony realizes what is about to happen, and says, "It was the act that rendered the condition of the century terminal. Nothing ever since has surprised me."
In a lunchtime e-mail you said, I've just been out for a walk. The tulips here are so beautiful! I almost wrote "two lips". Oops......Freudian slip!
I said, Four lips are better than two! These two are going to have some lunch now...although they can think of a few other things they'd rather do!
You said, Smooch! Yes, I see what you mean......four are much better than two!
I said, Thanks...I needed that! Not nearly enough smooching going on around here (i.e., zero!) to suit me.
You said, We are in total sync on that topic! Concentrating....is very hard today....(smiles).
I said, I'm thinking about pistachios...seven or eight hours' worth! There...now I've really done myself in! We've been very naughty today!
You said, Naughty...yes...I loved it! The sun shines more brilliantly now because of our shared thoughts. Gotta run...
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
For some light mystery reading, I like this series set (mostly) in Regina. One of my favourites was "Murder at the Mendel", (set at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon.) Although Joanne seems to come across a LOT of dead people, I guess it's not too far-fetched, as Regina has held the distinction of being the murder capital of Canada in real life.
This 2001 novel by this year's Giller Prize winner is one of my favourites of her books. It begins in Saskatchewan, and is the story of two sisters and how their lives are affected by the appearance of a young metereologist in their household during the Dust Bowl of the 30's. It doesn't stay in Sask the whole book, as the younger sister heads off to Ontario and New York.
One I've also just reviewed, this is a short story collection with some stories set in Sask. It's an enjoyable and recognizable read, and after you've finished it I dare you not to try to find her first collection, Summer Reading. Because you'll want to!
**And before anyone tells me I forgot one, As for me and my house by Sinclair Ross would be on my Anti-List. Can someone tell me WHY this book is so famous and taught so often? It gives me the heaves. The only good thing to come out of it is Saskatchewan poet Lorna Crozier's collection, A Saving Grace: The Collected Poems of Mrs. Bentley, a series of poems from the point of view of the main character.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This Challenge has been on the horizon for a while and I looked at it repeatedly but was quite convinced that I'd taken on enough Challenges for the next year. However, as I see more participants' lists, and realize that double-Challenge books are permitted, I'm irretrievably tempted. There are quite a few books I could use for more than one Challenge, plus this just sounds so random and so entertaining. Besides, it runs the entire year -- there's no reason I couldn't do it, right? So with great humility I will eat my words and I will take on JUST ONE MORE CHALLENGE!
So, over to Annie-the-amazing-10-yr-old's random categories:
Book with a Colour in the Title:
White / Marie Darrieussecq (from my Polar Reading list)
The Golden Notebook / Doris Lessing
Book with an Animal in the Title:
Death and the Penguin / Andrey Kurkov (this is a choice for the Russian Reading Challenge as well)
Turtle Valley / Gail Anderson Dargatz (pick for the Canadian Book Challenge)
Book with a First Name in the Title:
Anna Karenina / Tolstoy (Russian Reading Challenge again, obviously!)
The Solitude of Thomas Cave / Georgina Harding (from my Polar Reading list)
Book with a Place in the Title:
Skating to Antarctica / Jenny Diski (Polar Reading again)
The House in Paris / Elizabeth Bowen (for the Outmoded Authors challenge)
Book with a Weather Event in the Title:
The Ice Child / Elizabeth McGregor (Polar reading)
Sunlight on a broken column / Attia Hosain (sunlight is kind of weatherish, I think)
Book with a Plant in the Title:
Seduction of the Crimson Rose / Lauren Willig (because this 4th book in one of my favourite fun series is coming out in Spring 2008 and I know I'll read it as quick as I can)
The Wife Tree / Dorothy Speak
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Next is a book of reminiscences and interviews with and about a giant in the creation of a Canadian literature, Robert Weaver. Strangely enough, it is called Robert Weaver : Godfather of Canadian Literature. (also published by Vehicule Press, 2007) Weaver is a fascinating figure, a generous man who gave many current CanLit stars their beginnings; for example, Alice Munro or Margaret Atwood. He worked for CBC Radio(based in Toronto) and co-founded the Tamarack Review, and in all these ways influenced the development of a national literature. The paeans to him by many different authors included in this book show how vital his role was.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
January: Audrey Thomas' Graven Images is one of those books that just appeared in my collection somehow; I was intrigued enough to read it, even though I'd never heard of it.
February: I've somehow watched three British literary adaptations in the last week or so; could explain why I haven't been posting here or even catching up on my various Challenge books!
March: Here is a meme I found posted by Bookfool.
April: Ah, April. It's enchanting, and what better way to enjoy it than through poetry?
May: As I was just mentioning a few posts back, writer Yann Martel is sending our Prime Minister a book every two weeks, hoping that he may read one and gain some appreciation of what the arts can do in our lives.
June: Hi all; it's a busy week for me here.
July: My recent reading of Frances Itani's new book has got me thinking about all the Canadian novels I've read featuring older women looking back at their lives.
August: Due to popular demand, here is one of my favourite foods to eat, explained.
September: I've just heard with sadness the news of Madeleine L'Engle's death. (Sept. 6, 2007)
October: I am sorry that I've been away from my blog for a while; family things happen that require one's full attention.
November: This is the latest collection of short stories by Canadian literary doyenne P.K. Page.
December: After much beginning and re-beginning, after putting this book on a couple of Challenge lists(Carl's RIP II, my personal Polar Reading list), I have FINALLY finished reading this 102 page novella.
Hmm, very strange, I seem to be fond of making excuses for not posting. And when I do post it's all about my reading (except my wild and crazy foray into food in August...) A few challenges make their appearance, as well as another meme. A pretty accurate overview of the year's writing, spookily enough.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I haven't read as many as I'd planned, but it's a rather amorphous list, always changing as I go. I'm reading ya and adult fiction, as well as a few non-fiction choices. So far I've found some really amazing work, some by chance, books I've picked up solely because they had some connection to the Poles or arctic regions. But for the next year and a bit (until the end of IPY in March '09) here are some of the books that are on my radar:
1. The Ice Child / Elizabeth McGregor
2. The Solitude of Thomas Cave / Georgina Harding
3. The Frozen Deep / Wilkie Collins
4. Arthur Gordon Pym / Edgar Allen Poe
5. White / Marie Darrieussecq
6. Antarctic Navigation / Elizabeth Arthur
7. The Terror / Dan Simmons
8. The Survivor / Thomas Keneally (am half way through his excellent "Victim of the Aurora")
9. Troubling a Star / Madeleine L'engle
1. I May be some time / Francis Spofford (I'm about 1/3 through this one at present)
2. The Worst Journey in the World / Apsley Cherry-Garrard
3. Fatal Passage / Ken McGoogan
4. Lady Franklin's Revenge / Ken McGoogan
5. Skating to Antarctica /Jenny Diski
Anyone have any other suggestions? I've found a few really intriguing YA novels so far. There seems to be a fascination with Antarctica in particular, especially with Scott. It makes for good fiction!
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Or check out Polar Bears International's lively website and gift shop.
You can shop at the Canadian Wildlife Federation's site; one of their many projects is to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska by supporting the Canadian government's opposition to development of the ANWR. There's also the Alaska Wilderness League, an American group determined to protect Alaska's wild spaces.
In association with IPY, there's a group of artists who are celebrating the centennial of the first navigation of the Northwest Passage at Arctic Quest. Take a look if you want to see original art intended to focus attention on the beauty and fragility of the Arctic ecosystem, or want to support their charitable efforts in education.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
New York : Modern Library, 2005.