February 27, 2012

The Book Thief Steals Our Hearts

Several of us couldn’t find “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. We didn’t realize that it was categorized as young adult literature. One had to head towards the teen section at the library or bookstore to get a copy.  That’s what’s wonderful about book clubs. They expose you to books you don’t usually consider. The Book Thief was a pleasant surprise to most of us however some readers thought the blurbs on the back cover didn’t serve it well and it tainted their experience. Although the story is set in Germany during WWII, it’s not fair to compare it to The Diary of Young Girl by Anne Frank. If your expectations is a detailed historical account of the struggles faced by innocent German villagers during WWII you will be disappointed. The book is much broader in its themes of love, hate, conflict and death.

The writing style is unique throughout. It starts with the narrator’s voice. To explain further would ruin it for you so you'll just have to trust me. The layout of the words is peculiar and there are drawings throughout the text. The extensive use of imagery is breathtaking. I still look at the sky differently now. Many passages were so beautiful I had to take a break and reflect for a few minutes. The book club members doubted that a teenager would enjoy reading it because the pace is slow and the subject is quite depressing.  No shirtless vampires here.  Since the meeting however many moms have told me their kids loved it! For its unique style and great storytelling we gave it a 4 out 5.
Overall Rating (*****)

February 17, 2012

Canada Reads - Final Day - All the Books Are Winners

I know I know, I'm late posting my comments on the finale for Canada Reads. A dear relative passed away this week and my mind was left numb and my heart filled with sadness. My relative loved books but due to illness she was no longer able to read. During her stay in hospital I read newspaper articles out loud for her to keep her abreast on the world's activities. I'm not sure why one cares about news when one is dying but the distraction was providing her some comfort so I proceeded with the readings, carefully omitting articles on miracle cures and nuclear war. The first to avoid false hope, the latter to avoid losing hope altogether. I scanned the pages quickly and focused my attention on trashy gossip and celebrity clippings. 

The Canada Reads debates were particularly controversial this year so there was lots of material for me to play with. Frankly it was more interesting than my recaps of Coronation Street. You see, TV watching had ceased as well, mostly due to the abhorrent fees for televisions in hospitals, slightly less than the ridiculous parking fees. Who knew parking in Ajax could cost more than central Toronto? But I digress. Together my relative and I decided our favourite panelist was Arlene Dickinson. She was articulate, classy and smart throughout the debates. Her book didn't win but she sure won our respect. The winner was a book called "Something Fierce" which was brilliantly defended by Shad. I haven't read it yet but the title describes my relative perfectly. She was fierce till the end.

February 07, 2012

Canada Reads Day 2 - Dignity Restored

Yesterday's broue ha-ha at Canada Reads made headlines in today's national papers. Fortunately a sense of calmness was restored in today's session largely in part to Alan Thicke's folksy humour and Shad's pragmatic "enough with the drama and let's talk about books" refrain. The Tiger was voted off today because Siberia is not in Canada, it had too many detailed passages irrelevant to the story and works that include tigers expressing thoughts and feelings shouldn't be considered non-fiction.

This skeptic thinks it was payback for yesterday.

February 06, 2012

Canada Reads Day 1 - Artists as Ruthless as Wall St. Bankers

A surprising result at Canada Reads today. The most popular book according to a CBC poll, Prisoner of Tehran, was voted off on Day 1. Arlene's passionate and articulate defense failed to ensure a spot through the next round. What happened? The initial vote was a tie between The Tiger and The Prisoner of Tehran. Stacey held the cards. Since she had voted for neither, she would decide which one was to go. She chose to remove her biggest competitor in order to save her book. I'm sure Kevin OLeary would have done the same. Will her strategy backfire? We'll see.