Friday, October 31, 2008

I was speaking with a co-worker yesterday about books. When I first meet someone I usually try to gage if they love books like me and there fore if I can be their friend. Sometimes I ask directly, other times I mention that I went to the library on the weekend or bought a new book. Usually I can quickly find out who loves books...because they usually want to talk about them as much as I do.

While talking with my co-worker, I mentioned that I was currently reading "Jazz" by Toni Morrison. We began discussing African-American literature and what we had read. This got me thinking about the African-American/Canadian literature that I had read in my life and how it has affected me. When I was 15, I read "Native Son" by Richard Wright for the first time. (Check out for a review) I don't recall all the details of the book or really remember why it affected me so much - but what I do remember is how I felt after I read it. I felt as if I had seen something new - something not very pleasant but something I had never seen before. It made me look at the world differently. It sounds cheesy but it did change my life. I think that reading novels about other peoples experiences can open a persons mind and help readers understand other cultures a bit more.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I always say I am going to keep up on my blog....but time slips away from me and I end up forgetting about it. I have read quite a few books since I last wrote. A few were great...some were not so good. This is how it happens.

One of the best books I read was called "The Dew Breaker" by Edwidge Danticat. She is a Haitian-American novelist who writes amazing books about Haiti and the people who live there. The Dew Breaker is set between the United States and Haiti, chronicling many different peoples lives in a thirty year time-span. Everyone's life is somehow connected, sometimes for the worst. The term dew breaker means torturer and the book looks at the political tortures that took place in Haiti. What makes this story interesting is that the first character we meet was a "dew breaker" and we read about how this has affected his life, and his families, after they emmigrated to America. I would highly recommend this novel.

Another great book was "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo. I had been meaning to read this for a while but, to be honest, was never that interested in picking it up. I saw it at the library here and decided to take the plunge.....and I am so glad I did. This is an excellent book that looks at small town America and the struggles of the people who live there. I could relate to this book when it talked about the closure of key industries and how people were left with nothing afterwards. The characters were very real and the book had a lot of humour in it. I am not going to say much more because there was a shocking turn of events towards the end that I did not see coming!

"West of Kabul, East of New York" by Tamim Ansary is a memior about the life of an Afghan-American man. The beginning of the book discusses why he wrote the book (it was due to September 11th) and then moves on to discuss his journey from being an Afghan child to an American man. I thought it was really interesting and very easy to read. My favorite part was when Tamim recalls his trip through North Africa and the Middle East in the late 70's and how even though he was born in Afghanistan and spoke Farsi, he was still hated because he had an American passport. People who are interested in reading about how the events of September 11 affected Afghan people who were living in America would really learn a lot from this book.

There are more but I have some more work to do. From now on I will keep up to date on my reading reviews. I promise!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

James and I went on a little vacation and I brought "Thirteen Moons" by Charles Frazier and "On Mexican Time" by Tony Cohan. I really enjoyed "Thirteen Moons" at the beginning but by the end I got a little bored of it. The beginning was funny and I loved how it was written from the perspective of an older man, Will Cooper, looking back at his life. It gave insight to why the young man did the things he did. I tried not to expect too much with this book because I had loved Cold Mountain so much. I didn't want Cold Mountain to color my judgement on this novel.....but I think it did.

"On Mexican Time" was a book I had on my shelf for years and years and never read. Finally I did and I am glad I finally read it. It is a memoir about a Californian couple who moves to a small community in Mexico in the 1980's. I really enjoyed this book because it was filled with descriptions of wonderful Mexican foods, festivals and people. The food part I liked the most. It made me want to live in Mexico and eat home-made tortillas and guacamole.

When I got back to the university, James and I went to the library and I borrowed some books. James read "Deception Point" by Dan Brown a couple of months ago and really liked it. I decided it would be nice to read something easy and interesting. I finished it this morning and it wasn't that interesting. It was hard to get through. The novel was about NASA and the discovery of a meteorite with fossils something interesting inside of it. Thats all I am going to say about it because I am still not that interested.

Hopefully the next read will be more enjoyable!