I’ve been reading lately…

I got gift cards for Chapters/Indigo for Christmas. I used them at New Year’s and have spent the last three weeks reading whenever Flora was sleeping or hanging out with Sean. Below is the list of what I bought with my thoughts. I recommend all these books, so if you need new reading material, any of these would be a fun place to start.

The Average American Male: A Novel by Chad Kultgen
Being neither American or male, this book certainly was not written for me. I probably should have been offended by it. I still laughed out loud in several places and giggled in my head for many others. As I read it, I kept thinking “I know guys like this” (even though the guys in question aren’t American either). While most of the average [Canadian] males I know well enough to see this side of them are now married and have children, I see them say or do some of the (tamer) things the protagonist of this book does. I passed this book on to my husband telling him he had to read it. He’s not finished yet, but he does see certain aspects of himself and others we know described in this book. I don’t think he could have missed them – subtle this book ain’t. To get an idea of what this book is like, check out the promotional videos on the book’s website (definitely NSFW).

The Garneau Block by Todd Babiak
I love my CanLit! This was a fun read with a great mix of characters all coming together for one common purpose. It takes place in Edmonton, and is a bit of a love letter to the city even though several of the characters are often disappointed with their lot in life there. A group of neighbours come together to save their homes after a shocking event takes place in their neighbourhood. The author does a good job of telling several character’s stories and bringing them all together despite their varied backgrounds. This book was first serialized in the Edmonton Journal. Learn more about the author here.

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott
More CanLit here. This book was nominated for the 2008 Giller Prize, and it certainly earned that nomination. The protagonist, Clara, gets into a car accident with the car containing the Gage family. When the mother is brought to the hospital, they discover that her bruises are actually from undiscovered late-stage cancer rather than the accident. Clara ends up taking the rest of the family (two children, a baby, a father and mother-in-law), who she had never met before the accident, into her home to stay while the mother recovers. A single, childless woman, Clara’s life is obviously turned upside down during the family’s stay with her. A good read, and it made me wonder if I could do something like that. Read more about the book and author here.

The Hour I First Believed: A Novel by Wally Lamb
When I saw that Wally Lamb had written a new novel, I was really excited. I enjoyed his last two books, as well as the book “Couldn’t Keep it to Ourselves” that he edited for the class he teaches at a women’s prison near his home in Connecticut. I enjoyed the story, but found some of the plot to be a little too similar to I Know This Much is True. I enjoyed that book as well, so it didn’t stop me from reading this one – I had a hard time putting it down. I also enjoyed that some characters from his other books make cameo appearances in this one. Makes sense since they all take place in the same town (or in the case of She’s Come Undone, nearby). Find out more about the author here.

J.K. Rowling comes to Toronto!

Today, Sean and I got to watch J.K. Rowling do a reading and Q&A session on the Toronto stop of her tour.

The reading was done at the Winter Garden Theatre downtown (which is the upper half of the Elgin theatre, one of the last stacked theatres in the world). This is one of the oldest and prettiest theatres in Toronto, and it was a great choice.

The reading was the second half of Chapter 19 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She got some microphone feedback right at the point where the words “complete arse” came up in the dialogue (you’d think it was planned, but I don’t know).

There were about 1000 people there, almost all students and their teachers. I’d never heard a room stay so quiet outside of coughing (cold season is starting here). There were people from every province and territory in Canada, which was really neat. I hope all the visitors enjoyed their time in Toronto.

The Q&A was not nearly as revelatory as the one in NYC last week – no one else came out of the closet today. The 12 questions answered were pre-selected from submitted questions by various students, so they were pretty tame. I wish they had picked book-specific questions that hadn’t already been asked. These kids are the internet generation – can’t they Google stuff? I’m probably just bitter because my question didn’t get chosen for answering.

At the end, Raincoast (the Canadian publisher of HP) brought out two huge books (they needed to be brought in on a dolly) filled with handwritten notes from readers from various events across the country. I don’t think she was expecting them as she said she didn’t want to cry so she’d read them later.

The signing went really quickly – they really had the assembly line down pat. It was amazing to watch her sign books and have a quick word with everyone who went through the line. She was extremely gracious throughout the whole event.My husband thanked her for getting kids and adults reading again, to which she replied “that is the best kind of compliment to get.” I said “thank you on behalf of the adult fans who couldn’t be here today” and she smiled and said “thank you”. (Husband got the win on this one.) The guy in front of us gave her a post-it with something written on it and he got a very emphatic thank you. Of course, I’m dying to know what it said.

I didn’t dare take any pictures (my camera and my cell phone both make noise when they take pictures), but since we were in a dimmed theatre, I can’t imagine they would have turned out anyway.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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