reading, read, literature, book review, book recommendation

The following is a short list of recommendations and vaguely relevant reviews of our current/future reads for summer ’17.

Let us know what you're reading/planning to read in the comments. We love book recommendations!

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Keywords to set the tone: classic, must-read, totally heart-wrenching, heavy as Russian molasses, lush, deep, moody... it ain’t War and Peace, but what else really is?

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac: Whereeeeee are myyyyy soccckkkkkiiiii boooooooos? Nicole and I would be hard-pressed to go a day without screaming that line at the top of our lungs (much to the delight of our neighbours, I'm sure). Want to get in on the joke? Join our dear, half-French-Canadian friend Kerouac on his journey dealing with newfound writer fame (is there really such a thing?), alcoholism and women, as he lurches his way from San Fran to Big Sur.

The Dinner by Herman Koch: You won’t be prepared for how much you’ll like it. It's chalk-full of poignant, incredibly human, dark humour that slices through the shiny veneer of middle class propriety. 

The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky: I can’t say I’ve ever read a story about gambling gone right, and good ol' Dostoevsky - in this ode to his own vices (more on that in a moment) - makes you shake your head in self-reflective disgust at the low, slimey bowels of human vice.

Before, and a direct cause of Dostoevsky writing The Gambler, he had been in such severe gambling debt, that he wagered the publishing rights to all his past and future books to a "ruthless Russian publisher," provided he couldn't produce a novel within 30 days.

As we know, he managed to complete the task, but not without some years taken off of his life, I'm sure. Stay away from the roulette tables, my friends, stay far, far away. 

A Wall of Light by Edeet Ravel: Deaf university prof loses virginity to taxi driver from the occupied territories. A comical, yet poignant look at the humanness in any conflict, and an excellent read.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien: This award-winning novel about the intricacies of immigrating to a new country, and the difficult history our ancestors leave behind, leaves an acutely painful, yet beautiful mark on one’s heart. Do Not Say We Have nothing, is an English language book, that gives a fictionalized account of the communist revolution in China, and its impact across generations, countries, families and individuals. Beautifully written, deeply moving, well worth the read.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls: No matter how shitty your childhood was, it wasn't this shitty. Character building at it's finest, Walls recounts her life up until the present in straight-forward narrative, that is remarkably non-judgemental towards the atrocities her and her siblings faced at the hands of the people who brought them into the world. My only wish is that she'd spent more time focusing on the new life she made for herself, and the good she herself is bringing to the world, despite the odds against her having been able to do so were. Perhaps we don't always see how we can feel happy and do good after so many people were left in the wake by the destruction of loved ones, but do and feel we must to move forward.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill: Being resurrected by a boner has never produced such a darling tale. A slice of Montreal night-life that’s comically magical in its darkness, and it’s characters stay with you long after you close the book in your poorly heated Plateau apartment in the darkness of the winter it tells of.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Boats, hoes and coffee as black as your heart: Gabriel Garcia Marquez hits the nail on the goddamn head with this one. The silliness of human passion aside, this story makes one feel the depths and the breadths of human love, emotion, passion and dedication. Is any one human worth this much of your time, effort and thoughts? 60 years of sitting in wait and day-dreaming of their presumedly angelic, can-do-no-wrong spirit, that you actually have no reason to know is true? Probably not. But I’m glad Marquez went there, and we get to touch it from afar.