Sorry, there aren’t any books in this post but it is about reading, so I figure, close enough. If you read the Globe and Mail, you may already be familiar with Ian Brown, a writer for that paper. Over the summer, Mr. Brown has been on a mission: “get in your car, drive across Canada, eat everything you can”. His posts are highly entertaining; hilarious and by turn, thought-provoking. There’s a fair bit of reading but each column can stand on its own, and not too much will be lost if you don’t read them in the order they were written and posted. So if you like to read, like to eat, and like to read about what to eat, or even eat while you read, I highly recommend Ian Brown Eats Canada.
Here are two books by Chip Heath and Dan Heath that I’ve recently read and thoroughly enjoyed. Made to Stick is a great book, all about effective communication and about getting your ideas across to the right people. Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard is a remarkable look at what we can do to effect change in our lives at many levels, whether it’s in a job or at a more personal level.
I highly recommend both these books to anyone who is interested in human behavior (particularly our own!) and what we can do to change what we don’t like. Lots of times, it’s easy to identify a problem, but much harder to do something about the problem. It’s easy to see the rut, but can feel impossible to get out of it! The information in these two books provides some wonderful and practical advice for getting out and staying out of the rut. The messages are positive and hopeful: don’t despair, you can do something about the stuff that bugs you! The books are easy to read, the brothers are knowledgeable and articulate, writing with grace and humor about two difficult subjects, and well worth your time even if you are completely happy and don’t think you need to change a single thing in your life!
(Check out their website, www.heathbrothers.com )
I thought The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels was going to be a story about the building of the Aswan dam and the subsequent flooding of the land, but nope, not at all. I obviously didn’t pay as close attention to the story synopsis as I thought. The story’s pivotal event does happen in Egypt, where the husband of the main-character-couple is working on a project to save an ancient temple from the flood. So the book was not what I was expecting or hoping for, but I did enjoy it, nonetheless. If enjoy is the right word. The story is rather heart-breaking, although happily, the ending leaves us hopeful. It is not a light read; lots of detail, lots of emotion, lots of thought-provocation. I’m not sure exactly how to summarize the essence of the story, except to say that it’s not so much a story as it is a depiction of the human journey, as seen through the lives of a husband and wife and the good, the bad and the ugly that they encounter along the way.
P.S. If anyone can tell me the significance of the title, I’d be much obliged. I got so engrossed, I forget to pay attention for that detail, and how annoying that I missed it!!
I have just finished and enjoyed (again!) Brother Cadfael’s Penance by Ellis Peters. Brother Cadfael is a 12th century monk, with a flair for solving 12th century mysteries. Reading these stories is like visiting with a dear and long-time friend. Cadfael is one of those fictional characters that I wish would be real and that I could meet in person. Of the whole series, this story is undoubtedly my favorite, with Summer of the Danes in close second. Ellis Peters is definitely on my “Favorite Authors” list. She has also written modern stories as Ellis Peters, and more medieval stories as Edith Pargeter.
Here’s a book by Harriet Doerr that I read this week, The Tiger in the Grass, Stories and other inventions, but I can’t tell you if I liked it or not. I’m still ruminating. I think it’s really more about appreciating. I did read it all and it was engaging. The writing is spare but elegant, and though the settings are mostly quite ordinary, there’s an exotic flavor running through each story and “invention” (as the title calls them), something that entices you to keep reading. So, I think my praise is not for the stories themselves, but for the writing style and for the author’s obvious skill and craftsmanship. (I’ll give it 31/2 bookmarks out of 5.)
Derek Prince has become a favorite author and speaker of mine, and I have just finished reading a biography of him by Stephen Mansfield. Derek Prince was born in 1915 and passed away in 2003. His life spanned a remarkable near-century marked by war and social upheaval. His story is a compelling account of the impact and influence one person can have in their lifetime.
Derek was a prolific author, writing over 40 books, which have been translated into more than 60 languages. His influence lives on.
Here’s another good book: La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith. I was already a huge fan of A.M.S. and this novel only increases my appreciation for his body of work. I recommend it (the book, that is, although I do also recommend his body of work!). I’m not going to tell you what the story is about, but I am going to tell you to go to the library and check it out. Or, if you live close to me, I could be persuaded to lend it to you. 🙂 Enjoy!