I’ve been keeping cozy with lots of good reading recently. I’ll share a few mini-reviews but first a fun bookish activity for Canadians.
The National Post hosts the Afterword Reading Society. In exchange for a free, pre-release copy of a book, participants are asked to read it and provide feedback by answering a short set of questions. I was one of the lucky 25 who were sent a copy of The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon, and a couple of my responses were used in the paper. Anyone (presumably Canadian) can join so go here to sign up. Periodically you’ll get an email asking whether you’re interested in reading a particular book, and then you cross your fingers!
I’m currently reading Quality Of Life Report by Meghan Daum. Recommended by Curtis Sittenfeld, this book is funny and easy and like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. I needed it at this point, as I am just coming down from The Dark Road by exiled Chinese writer Ma Jian. My Goodreads review:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This novel is a disturbing tale of life under the Family Planning regime in China. Kongzi longs for a son to carry on his family’s dynastic name, and he and his wife Meili are forced to flee their village when she becomes pregnant a second time. This work also looks at the issues around electronic waste and the terrifying impact of the significant recycling industry on people and the environment as well as the fate of families without residency permits, struggling to eke out an existence when they are not acknowledged by the state. This is a difficult book to read, but also difficult to put down.
Another recent read:
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’d had this book on my shelf for some time and wish I’d gotten to it sooner. Moore’s prose is gorgeous, funny, and evocative, often all at the same time. There is a lot happening in it, and I almost felt like the narratives might have been better served in a set of linked short stories. A lot to think about in this novel, and I’m still processing it, but my sense is that it’s about the blurry edges between good and evil. Lovely.
I’m very much enjoying listening to the historical novel Katherine by the late Anya Seton. It’s a big book (500 pages) and over 28 hours long. I’m about halfway through it, and got a good start during my travels to Ottawa last week.
Before that, I loved the hilarity that is The Spellman Files: Document #1 by Lisa Lutz. It’s kind of like a Harriet the Spy for grownups and had an excellent narrator. I’ll definitely be reading more in the series.
Next up in print will be the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize winning A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam, my book club pick for February. And for a complete change of (audio) pace, I’ve got Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan queued up on the iPhone.
What books are you snuggling up with?