Friday, July 14, 2006

what'cha reading?

A few words about posting comments and other blog stuff:

I’ve set up the comments interface to avoid “spam.” Apparently, spammers now target the comments areas of blogs. So, in order to avoid us having to wade through 25 “comments” telling us how to invest money in Nigeria and enlarge our penises up to 3 sizes larger, I’ve set it up so that I get a message every time a comment has been posted. I then get to “moderate” the comments – basically I click a button to accept or decline a post. That’s why there’s a delay in seeing your comments live.

I’ve noticed that so far everyone has created an account to “log-in” and comment. However, you should know that you don’t have to do this. You can comment anonymously – which is handy if you’ve forgotten your log-in or actually want to be anonymous. You can still sign your names to anonymous posts – the anon. option just bypasses the whole log-in thing.

If you don’t see the “anonymous” option when you try to comment, click on the refresh button on your browser. I’m finding that I have to refresh quite often to see any changes I make to the blog – you may not be seeing new posts “on time” if you’re not refreshing. In case you don’t know what the refresh button is, it looks like a piece of paper with two arrows on it. I may have solved this problem by tweaking the html of my blog so that it tells browsers to auto-refresh. Let me know, though, if you notice the blog acting funny lately!!


Being a librarian, the question I get most often from everyone is “read anything good lately?” It’s an occupational hazard just like how I always ask Ange about every disease that hits my radar (spongiform!) and Julie about what Stephen Harper is really like. So I figure the blog is the perfect place to let you know what I’ve read that’s good.

My latest philosophy is that if I’m not at least somewhat enjoying a book by two chapters into it, I just don’t finish it. This is a huge departure for me as I used to ALWAYS finish every book I started. Now, I’ve decided that there are just too many things I want to read, so why waste time on something that’s not at least “good.” Sometimes, I do read books that are “just OK,” but you know sometimes one’s in the mood for that. So here are some recent, and therefore by default, good reads (in my humble opinion).

Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff
Non-fiction essays. David Rakoff is a gem of a writer – his writing is hilarious, super-smart, smug and wry. The subtitle of this book is “The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems,” which gives you an idea of what it’s about. Rakoff writes for a lot of magazines, so his voice might be familiar to you. One reviewer describes him as an “urbane, witty gay raconteur.” Cheesy, but true.

Fluke or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore
Novel. Christopher Moore isn’t for everybody and neither is this book. He writes humorous novels, which isn’t normally my thing, but I find him so good, I just can’t resist. Lots of similarities to Douglas Adams here. This one is “science fiction” – the science is marine biology. You might enjoy it, you might hate it, but why not try it? Moore’s novel Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff Christ’s Childhood Pal is one of my all-time favourites novels.

JPod by Douglas Coupland
Novel. If you’re thirty-something you should already know if you like Coupland or not. If you’ve never read him, why haven’t you!? You call yourself a literate Gen Xer and haven’t read Coupland?! If you haven’t read Coupland, however, don’t start with this one. I would say start with Microserfs or one of the more “traditional” (snort!) novels like Girlfriend in a Coma, Miss Wyoming or All Familes are Psychotic. JPod is just plain weird; entertaining, but totally out there.

The Girls by Lori Lansens
Novel. One of the best books I have come across in a long time. A good vacation read. It is written as the autobiography of conjoined twins. Fascinating and good storytelling.

Night Watch by Sarah Waters
Novel. I really enjoy Waters’ writing and how she crafts a story. Her writing is very reminiscent of Dickens, except that many of her characters are gay. Her books are touted all over the place as “gay fiction,” but I think that's comparable to calling other writers’ work “hetero fiction.” Some characters are gay, so what? Its not like there’s chapters of gay sex! Normally, her books are great Victorian “mysteries” – this one is a World War II novel. In my opinion, not her best novel, but a good read nonetheless.

Until I Find You by John Irving
Novel. I love John Irving and would say that if his A Prayer for Own Meany is not my favourite book of all time, it’s in the top three for sure. I absolutely loved this book – for me, it was one of those reads that you don’t want to finish because you have become so involved with the characters. The hardcover is over 800 pages and you have to be able to go with Irving’s back and forth narration and enjoy some of his excessive detailing that often doesn’t further the plot along too much. I really enjoy Salman Rushdie’s novels as well – in my mind, Irving is kind of like a WASP Rushdie.

Because I Said So edited by Kate Moses and Camille Peri
Non-fiction. This is an anthology of essays written by mostly American, lefty, intellectual moms. It’s a great read and like a lot of anthologies some pieces stand out more than others. I don’t think I will ever forget the great essay by Asra Nomani who writes about the ramifications of being a young Islamic woman having a child out of wedlock in her community or the heart-wrenching and inspiring essay by Marianne Pearl, the widowed wife of Daniel Pearl (the journalist who was kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists several years ago).

That's all for now!


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