SARcasm











{November 24, 2015}   These Are My Children

I am in the process of reading “Between the World and Me”, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and guys – I am struggling really hard. Which I think is the point.

I have always tried to be a good ally to any marginalized community, largely because I’ve been raised to be compassionate, my faith teaches me compassion and hey! It’s just the right thing to do with privilege, is to use it to make sure it gets spread around. Hey, I’ve even gotten the memo that a part of good ally-ship is realizing that it is, by definition, imperfect, and not to assume I have all the answers up here in my (very) ivory tower.

Intellectually, I have understood for a long time that as a society we see coloured lives as cheaper than white lives, and nothing has brought this more firmly home to me than the realization that I am raising young black men – and that I sit there watching them sleep as we see the murderers of Trayvon Martin … Michael Brown … Eric Garner … dear God, Tamir Rice and intellectually I understand “These could be my kids”. Ari and I have had the conversation and have known – if perhaps not understood – that they are going to face some realities that we never have. They will – simply by the fact of being born the colour they are – have racial slurs thrown at them someday. It is not an ‘if’, it is a ‘when’.

And, if they’re lucky – that’s the worst they’ll experience. That doesn’t speak to the police who I had always been taught were there to protect me, but will probably look at my sons with more suspicion than their white brethren in just a decade’s time. That doesn’t speak to the unspoken slights … the dates or jobs or friends they might not get, of course for other reasons on paper but ostensibly for being ‘other’. And the choice between “play nice and be twice as good, or risk violence at the hands of … peers … police … reactionary racists …” – well, I mean …

How do we have that conversation with them? Honestly, in some ways, how dare we presume to have that conversation with them as comfortable, middle class white people who, quite honestly, have been incredibly blessed and privileged – right down to the ability to, quite frankly, adopt our two beautiful boys – by the system that puts them at risk?

This isn’t a new worry or a new conversation – but, only halfway into Coates’ book, I think a new level of personal-ness has crept into this for me. It’s not statistics – X number of young black men shot by police, X number of young black kids being funnelled out of schools and into jails – it’s real people, living their lives scared, every day. Coates’ son is lucky in one sense, to have a dad whose lived those experiences and can talk to him about them honestly, with wisdom and clear eyes. He can look out for his son – in conversation, in example, in brutal awareness of his experiences of the same world.

But how can we truthfully do that when the “world’s” rules – go to school, behave yourself, learn, do well, get a job, get married, buy a house, blah blah blah – seem to have done pretty well by us? But on the other hand … not to  do so could ultimately put our sons’ very lives at risk. We’re not talking hurt feelings and bullying here – rites of passage that everyone seems to experience. We are talking membership in a clan, a tribe, that Ari and I can work our butts off to understand but never be a part of, and as such, never adequately prepare them for.

At the end of the day, I guess, like any parent, I guess for now, we hope our best is good enough. We continue to educate ourselves – honestly, sometimes painfully, even when we don’t want to hear it or think about it.

We continue to challenge racism – whether it is the blatant beating (endorsed by the Republican presidential front-runner, by the way) of a Black Lives Matter protester at a political rally this weekend, or even as seemingly minor as casual, good-natured “jokes” from dear friends and family. We make sure the kids grow up in diverse neighbourhoods, go to diverse schools, are surrounded by a world where they fit in … make sure to introduce them to black culture without appropriating it or tokenizing it … making ourselves available for conversations when they have their first experiences of bigotry, and acknowledging when we aren’t enough, and seeking wise counsel and help. Being aware that, as nice as #AllLivesMatter sounds, it is “White Power” wrapped up with a nice little bow, because if all lives truly DID matter, #BlackLivesMatter wouldn’t need to be justified as a statement or a movement.

It takes a village, and – only halfway through this book, I’m so thankful for mine, and hope to continue expanding it. Let’s all be aware of this – be aware that it isn’t a theory, but a very real, corporeal, literally painful reality – and one we can only hope to navigate … as parents, as a family, and a society … as best we can. I am afraid, but I also agree with President Obama, who said “There’s never bee anything false about hope”. So let’s be that hope, let’s always be willing to call out hate, let’s be open to being called out ourselves, and hopefully we can at least make our little corner of this messy world of ours a bit more loving, a bit more open, a bit more diverse … and a whole lot richer for it. Nothing but love.

 

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{March 6, 2015}   101 Books in 1001 Days Wrapup

Hi all. So once again, less than successful with this challenge, but I probably read more for having set it in front of myself than I would have otherwise. Please note I probably HAVE read 101 books in the last 1001 days, lol, I just go ‘off list’ so often I didn’t make it all the way through the following. I have actually knocked off several more books from this list since my last completion, so please check below for those (stricken through and bold). I’m not reviewing all of them – you can look me up on Goodreads – Sarah Daigen – and check my thoughts out there if you like. Below is my list – the final tally is 36/101.

Please note I am not going to renew this challenge this year, so I can focus on my 2015 reading challenge outlined in my previous post. I have knocked two more books off that list and will update it soon as well. I might take this back up again in 2016, as it is a great way to ensure I keep reading and don’t get too wrapped up in ‘Other Stuff’. 🙂

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossing
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Take this Bread – Sara Miles



{February 2, 2015}   2015 Reading Challenge

I know I have yet to update my other ongoing “101 Books in 1001 Days” reading challenge, but I’ve knocked my first book off of my 2015 Reading Challenge list, and I wanted to note that here. 🙂 In the “Non-Fiction” Category, I knocked off Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake Harris.

It was a fun book, one clearly more “based on a true story” than literally non-fiction – it was told in a narrative style, complete with private conversations and all that the author acknowledged in his prologue might be paraphrased, mashed together, placed in a different place temporally, without being meant to interfere with the “spirit of the story”. So if you’re looking to write an academic paper on this particular time in video game history, this is probably not your most reliable source in that sense. However, for a humanizing and fascinating look behind the scenes in a key time in North American pop culture – think what “The Social Network” was to social media, or “Moneyball” was to baseball – this is a worthy read for all that. Definitely glad I read this.

Do you want to join me on the 2015 reading challenge? The list of categories is provided below. I will scratch out each category, providing the book title, for each one that I complete.

2015 READING CHALLENGE

Anyone want to join me? It’s simple. Read one book that matches each of the below descriptions. (Hey! I said it was SIMPLE, I didn’t say EASY!)

A book with more than 500 pages

A classic romance

A book that became a movie

A book published this year

A book with a number in the title

A book written by someone under 30

A book with nonhuman characters

A funny book

A book by a female author

A mystery or a thriller

A book with a one-word title

A book of short stories

A book set in a different country

A nonfiction book – Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation (Blake Harris)

A popular author’s first book

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

A book a friend recommended

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

A book based on a true story

A book at the bottom of your to-read list

A book your mom loves

A book that scares you

A book more than 100 years old

A book based entirely on its cover

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

A memoir

A book you can read in a day

A book with antonyms in the title

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book that came out the year you were born

A book with bad reviews

A trilogy

A book from your childhood

A book with a love triangle

A book set in the future

A book set in high school

A book with a colour in the title

A book that made you cry

A book with magic

A graphic novel

A book by an author you’ve never read before

A book you own but you’ve never read

A book that takes place in your hometown

A book that was originally written in another language

A book set during Christmas

A book written by an author with your same initials

A play

A banned book

A book based on or turned into a TV show

A book you started but never finished



{January 11, 2015}   New Year, New Goals!

Happy New Year all! 🙂 I know I haven’t been around in some time – and really wasn’t around much at all last year – and 2015 has already started off with some pretty big news to dissect and discuss. And there will be plenty of time to do so. I will also get around to addressing regular features here, such as my 101 Books in 1001 Days challenge that is coming to an end in March (this round anyway 🙂 ), and all the good stuff that, once upon a time you could expect from me here.

But it’s the start of 2015, a new year, and that means new goals. One of my biggest, now that we’re back in the swing of routine, is to blog more. I am so impressed by what my blogging friends put out into the world, and I really don’t enjoy that I’ve fallen off that horse this year. So I’m back on it – family updates, comments on major world issues, and memes like my reading lists and books reviews are all fair game and I will do my best of tracking all of it! I’m hoping to blog at least weekly, and – in a perfect world – more than that. So we’ll see if I can live up to that goal.

Goal #2 is, in addition to my 101 Books challenge, to complete the reading challenge I describe below. It’s 52 books that meet the descriptions in the list at the end of this blog entry. As best I can, I’m hoping to dovetail it with my 101 Books challenge so they cover some of the same ground, but with some other books in there too for variety. I have also closed 2014/opened 2015 with some good reading and hope to share those books with you, as well as an update on my 101 Books challenge, in the next day or two.

I also want to give a quick family update for those following the adventures of Little J and Little Tyke and, you know, their parents – on the understanding I will also do a better job of this later, as I get back into the swing of things. 🙂 Ari and I are doing the working parent thing, both boys are in school now and seem to be learning and thriving, and we made the most of the Christmukah season despite my mom and my grandma being ill, as they did their best to enjoy the festivities; and my west coast in-laws, as well as my MIL and Ari, are in my thoughts as they lost a sister/mother/grandma/daughter/aunt – Ari’s aunt – to cancer at the start of the year. Despite that rocky start, though, we’re looking forward to an exciting year, with our grandmas celebrating milestone birthdays (and hoping to head out to the west coast in particular to celebrate with Ari’s grandma), and celebrating ten years of marriage on our part. We’re going to make it a good one, and hope you do too!

That all said – I would be absolutely remiss, being who I am, and in talking about the start 2015 has gotten off to, to not address the shootings in Paris last week. I have on Facebook, but not here. However, I don’t think it would do my thoughts justice to cram them into a “we’re back up and running” blog, so however belatedly, that will be up soon as well. Lots to discuss here around the SARcasm blog, so I hope you keep visiting, this year I promise to make it worth your while. 🙂

2015 READING CHALLENGE

Anyone want to join me? It’s simple. Read one book that matches each of the below descriptions. (Hey! I said it was SIMPLE, I didn’t say EASY!)

A book with more than 500 pages

A classic romance

A book that became a movie

A book published this year

A book with a number in the title

A book written by someone under 30

A book with nonhuman characters

A funny book

A book by a female author

A mystery or a thriller

A book with a one-word title

A book of short stories

A book set in a different country

A nonfiction book

A popular author’s first book

A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

A book a friend recommended

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

A book based on a true story

A book at the bottom of your to-read list

A book your mom loves

A book that scares you

A book more than 100 years old

A book based entirely on its cover

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

A memoir

A book you can read in a day

A book with antonyms in the title

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

A book that came out the year you were born

A book with bad reviews

A trilogy

A book from your childhood

A book with a love triangle

A book set in the future

A book set in high school

A book with a colour in the title

A book that made you cry

A book with magic

A graphic novel

A book by an author you’ve never read before

A book you own but you’ve never read

A book that takes place in your hometown

A book that was originally written in another language

A book set during Christmas

A book written by an author with your same initials

A play

A banned book

A book based on or turned into a TV show

A book you started but never finished



{July 19, 2014}   A Few More Books Down

Hi all! Sorry, I promise I’ll post a newsier, more substantive posting soon … but in my own little world, while things have been busy this week, it’s all been pretty run of the mill stuff; job interviews, grading papers, errands, housekeeping, babysitting … my reading material has probably been the most interesting thing in my neck of the woods this week, so I wanted to share! 🙂

A SERIOUS NOTE BEFORE THE FUN STUFF THOUGH: not everyone in this world has been blessed with such a routine week; it has in fact in many ways been a very troubling one in many parts of our world, as we hear of ongoing fighting in Gaza-Israel with many innocent civilian casualties; as we hear of the tragic conditions of undocumented, unaccompanied immigrant children on the southern US border; as we hear of the Malaysian Airlines plane shot down near the Ukrainian-Russian border in the midst of ongoing tensions and fighting there, and a serious humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. I want to take a moment to hold all of those struggling with the problems of the world in my heart, thoughts and prayers, and I encourage anyone wishing to make a tangible difference – in the South Sudan crisis anyway – to visit the United Church of Canada’s South Sudan Appeal page and donate at http://www.united-church.ca/south-sudan. Amnesty International – http://www.amnesty.ca – is another great place to get involved. Thank you.

This week, I finished reading (1) TAKE THIS BREAD, (2) TOWELHEAD, and (3) EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES.

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Take this Bread – Sara Miles

Again, some mini-reviews for each of the three books I’ve read:

TAKE THIS BREAD is a great memoir of a longtime lesbian atheist who converts to Christianity … but not the stereotypical version of Christianity we all associate with the fundamentalist/evangelical/’Moral Majority’ bit. A very practical, hands-on, tactile, physical expression of God’s love – and tying the concept of Communion, or the Eucharist, the findamental sacrament in the Christian community, to Jesus’ requirement that we love our neighbours, Sara Miles expresses her Christianity by radically reimagining Christ’s table as something open to all, helping to set up several soup kitchens as a spiritual practice. An absolutely phenomenal example of us being Christ’s hands and feet in this world.

TOWELHEAD is extremely hard to review, as it seems incredibly wrong to say I ‘enjoyed’ such a deeply disturbing book, but it was extremely well-written, evocative and provocative, casting light and shadow and shades of grey into a world and a situation at once both startlingly simple and deceptively complex. Perhaps one of the best reviews that most echoes my feelings on the book can be found here – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/10/books/review/10GILESL.html?_r=0 – I suggest you read it for a better sense of the feel of the book than my humble talents can provide.

EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES might leave you wanting to stand up and cheer because you agree with Lynn Truss’s basic point, or it might leave you more convinced than ever that grammar sticklers need to get a life. I probably lean to the stickler end without being a complete one myself – while I try to avoid errors in grammar generally, or punctuation in particular, I know it happens, it can be tricky, some rules are less hard-and-fast and more stylistic, and a few errors in grammar, especially in this age of netspeak, doesn’t make you a total idiot. But I still enjoyed this book and found my inherent belief that grammar and punctuation are important tools to our understanding of the written word happily affirmed by the author. This book may or may not convince you of the importance of punctuation, but it will perhaps convince you of an even more impossible fact: that a funny, enjoyable, easy-to-read, lighthearted book about grammar, of all things, can indeed be written! 🙂



Hi all! First of all, I’m sorry – this has been a particularly protracted break from blogging, even for me. The first six or so months of 2014 have been particularly busy ones, as not only have I had the usual “busy working mom” stuff on my plate, but for three months that work went from part-time to full-time. And as much of my work is done in my computer, when I have had some leisure time, I’ve been more inclined to put away the screen. Which has been bad news for keeping up with my blog, but good news for progress through my reading list. As such, I thought that would be a good place to wade back into the blogging waters (although by no means will it end here – I promise to be more of a presence in the *somewhat* quieter summer months).

Below, please note that I’ve swapped out “INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE” for “QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN’T STOP TALKING”, by Susan Cain, and “JESUS FOR THE NON-RELIGIOUS” for “TAKE THIS BREAD” by Sara Miles. Jesus for the Non-Religious will probably return to this list (or my next one), it was just the easiest place to make room for this other book on a similar topic (progressive Christianity) of a similar length. I will also bold and cross off books I have read since the start of the year, rather than naming them all here. 🙂

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain.
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Take this Bread – Sara Miles

This time around I’m not going to review each book individually with any kind of depth, as there are several. But I will say I enjoyed and recommend each of them, albeit perhaps for somewhat different audiences. Briefly, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH is a sweet, short, inspiring book about the presence of God in two faith communities and specifically two clergy members with radically different life experiences. BEING BOTH outlines the experience of living life as an interfaith family like ours, and makes a compelling case that more than a confusing or difficult experience, it can be a very fulfilling and rewarding one.

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA: A HISTORY and TEAM OF RIVALS I actually read some time ago but forgot to strike off here. The former is a collection of essays outlining the history of the United Church of Canada from both a timeline-type perspective and an issues-based perspective. A bit of an “academic” read but a worthwhile one. The latter, similarly, is a bit scholarly in that it was written by a historian, but one who makes Abraham Lincoln’s rise to power and his close work with men who could otherwise have been political rivals during the Civil War amazingly accessible. The man was quite something, and Doris Kearns Goodwin does an exceptional job of illustrating that. Highly recommended.

QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT WON’T STOP TALKING is an insightful revelation into the world of introversion, removing a lot of the misperceptions, assumptions, and stigma attached to the introverted, who can in fact be incredibly social, powerful and world-moving if we as a society stop thinking “shyness” is necessarily a defect and can work to see the richness beyond the perhaps quieter facade. And lastly, THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is a sweeping yet intimate story of a troubled missionary family in the even more troubled Congo of the 1960s – not by any means an easy or a light read, but a fascinating one from a literary/poetic perspective, as well as the perspective of history, politics, etc.

If any of these books sound interesting to you, I can certainly recommend any of them highly, even though they are vastly different books that are designed for very different audiences (unless, like me, you aren’t a terribly picky reader in terms of genre and enjoy almost anything). 🙂



{January 3, 2014}   New Year, New Reading!

Hi all! Hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and that 2014 is off to a rolicking start for all! I had a wonderful time with friends and family, and I feel like a good time was had by all this Christmukah season! And now it’s January 3 and we’re back to the routine’ – the take the tree down, make room for holiday gifts, unpack and have laundry on constant loop time. So much I could say about the week or two before now, from what I felt was a very successful Christmas Eve pageant at church, through a fun Christmas resulting in some new electronics, clothes, books and – most importantly! – amazing time with family, and a Chanukah with my in-laws and just about all our friends back in Kitchener-Waterloo (including a few ‘rasslin’ buddies in Toronto when we went to check out WWE’s live show on Dec. 30 – thanks Ari for the tickets, and Dad for babysitting!).

I will definitely try to do a bit of a look back/look ahead, year end/year beginning post in the next day or two, but Christmas break also means new reading, and despite having done some reading in recent months I haven’t updated my reading list in some time, so I wanted to take care of this before I forgot and got sidetracked with other things in the New Year. I also wanted to make a couple of changes; namely, changing my two Dan Brown picks to “Book of Negroes” by Canadian author Lawrence Hill (which I finished over the winter break, incidentally), and to “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family” by Susan Katz Miller. You can find those changes below in bold, and “Book of Negroes” struck off. I may yet replace one or two books below with Malala Yousafsi’s autobiography and “Blood”, also by Hill, but I’m going to hold off on that as yet, since I’m still really interested in my list as it is, so I might just read those over and above my 101 books. We’ll see. 🙂

That said … for my first book review of 2014, we’ll look at a wonderful piece of CanLit, “THE BOOK OF NEGROES” by Lawrence Hill, with no further ado …

I’m a bit behind the 8-ball in reviewing this one as it’s roughly 5-6 years old, but I read Hill’s “Black Berry, Sweet Juice” a couple of years back and wanted to read more of his work. Ari bought me this book for Chanukah and I read it over about 2 weeks’ time, which should tell you how engaging it was, and an easier read than you might expect given the subject matter. 🙂 You can find the review below. 

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill
42. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family – Susan Katz Miller
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

I’m torn on exactly what to say about this book. As I said in my Goodreads review, on the one hand I want to get a bit picky about how readable and accessible it is in some ways – should a book about slavery really be a ‘page-turner’? On the other hand, it speaks well to the author that, while he doesn’t (much) sanitize things (although I’m sure the horror of slavery is such it is impossible to write about from this remove without any sanitation), he creates an accessible book that you don’t need to be a historian or scholar to read, enjoy and learn from. Aminata Diallo is a relatable character who faces both a lifetime of losses and horrors, yet builds important and affirming relatinonships that see her through. While there are a few unrealistic conceits throughout the story designed to build hope and affirmation, you still feel the strength her journey requires of her, and the understanding that even when good things happen, it has so often gone the other way it is far from a sure thing (and vice versa). A very human story about a very inhuman time and place, crossing the map from Africa to the Southern United States to the Northeast, into Canada, and back to Africa before one last trip to England, this historical novel might struggle in some places with the risks of the genre – telling a compelling and entertaining story while remaining true to difficult subject matter – but by and large succeeds, and at the very least is a compelling and engaging read you will not regret.



The above is a catchphrase of Marcus J. Borg. In the insanity of the last couple of weeks of adjusting to the new school year, job interviews, getting the house back in shape after having been away, it has also been time to prepare for a book group I am participating at church this year, which begins Monday. The theme of this book study is “Beloving the Bible”, and how we see this central text of our faith. The anchor book (well … ahem … one of them), is “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time”, by the above author. I was supposed to read 3 chapters of it for Monday. I have so enjoyed this book that I went well beyond those chapters, finishing it today, and have to say it served as an amazing reminder that Borg has, over the last few years that I have experienced his theology, had an amazing way of putting into understandable, readable words, thoughts I have had a hard time grasping and expressing for some time in my Christian journey.

As a progressive Christian, it can sometimes feel lonely out there – the non-religious in my network struggle to understand how I, a good solid liberal/left-wing progressive, can be a Christian. Some Christians, however, might question how I can be a passionate, praying, church-going Christian while still believing in marriage equality, women’s bodily autonomy, and disbelieving the factual, historical accuracy of some (OK, much) of the Good Book. Borg not only helped me understand that there were others like me out there, he helped me find language to express it – the understanding that stories can be ‘true’ – deeply, powerfully true – whether ‘factual or not’, and that in fact to narrow our view of the Bible so rigidly that it only has value insofar as it’s factual actually robs it of some of its most richest meanings … that despite Christianity having been an entrenched power in many ways for centuries, it actually started out, and is at its core, an egalitarian, power-challenging, anti-Imperial movement in favour of radical democracy. That there is, in short, more than one way out there to be a Christian, and to read the Bible.

On that note, I wanted to take the time and share my “Goodreads” review of this book, and add preface it by saying again what I can’t emphasize enough at the end of this review: that anyone who wishes to understand Christianity in particular or religion in general – for better or worse, good or ill, admiration or critique – should read this book, as it is accessible, not a hard read despite the thorny subject matter, and important in forming ANY understanding of the Bible, and Christianity in general, be it to critique or to praise … beginning with the reality that, just as there is no one way to understand the Bible, there is no ONE Christianity. Thus, my review:

“I absolutely love Marcus Borg, as he’s able to take some complicated concepts that have made Christianity in particular (and, probably, religion in general) either a damaging stumbling block, or a compulsive mania, for so many, and demonstrate how it can make sense, be tolerant – beyond tolerant, even radically inclusive and compassionate – and still meaningful. The subheading for this book, “Taking the Bible seriously, but not literally” sums it up in as pithy a nutshell as I can manage.

Looking at both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, at the Law, Prophets and Wisdom, at the Gospels, Epistles and Revelation, not only does Borg show how these can hold deep and guiding wisdom and truth, even if at times their imagery is more metaphorical than factual history, Borg makes sense of the deep history of the Christian faith while bringing it in line with up to date understandings of the world, realizing that some truths and realities are timeless, while contextualizing others in their thousands-of-years-ago history.

And best of all – incredibly readable. Don’t let the dense and (perhaps – yawn – boring-sounding?) subject matter overwhelm or deter you. Borg is accessible, readable, funny and intelligent, and I very much believe there is much to be learned for anyone – secular or religious, atheist or “True Believer” to glean and learn from this book. It might not change anyone’s mind – in my case, it didn’t so much change my thinking as provide me a foundation, a basis, context and language for where I’m already at in my faith journey – but it will provide a perspective that perhaps goes under-heard and under-represented in terms of the voices speaking loudest on behalf of “Christianity” today. While it might not change your thinking, it will inform it, both about the Bible itself, and your understanding of how you and others think about it.”



{June 16, 2013}   Book Reviews

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve read two books that weren’t on my 101 books list, and I don’t so much want to ‘cheat’ and replace books on the list with these two books, as I’m really a fan of all the books I’ve got lined up and didn’t know which ones to knock off. So OK – I will have read one hundred and THREE books by the end of 1001 days, hopefully! 🙂 But these were so good, and I have to recommend them as I enjoyed them so much.

The first is ‘Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World’ by David Schiff. A previous iteration of this book was ‘Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children’, and a later version is entitled ‘Game Over: Press Start to Continue’. But I read the second edition.

Now what I liked about this book is … well I won’t quite go so far as to say there’s something in it for everyone, but it covers a lot of ground. It has a lot of savvy about video games, but it’s not just a ‘video game book’. So if you’re looking for a book about the genius behind the development of Mario, or Link and Zelda, or Donkey Kong, that’s not necessarily what you’re going to get here, although there are certainly aspects of that creative process. It introduces you to big names in the entire industry – particularly at Nintendo but Atari, Sega, etc. as well, and talks about some of the creativity and process that goes into creating a great video game. But it’s more than that. It’s a book about business and industry, featuring some international politics and economics, particularly in terms of US-Japanese relations economically and politically in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as providing an interesting character study of the big names at Nintendo … and there were/are definitely some characters!

All this and yet it’s incredibly accessible … at no point is the book hard to read or ‘over one’s head’ or boring. It tends to follow threads rather than chronology so it CAN jump back and forth in time a bit, but other than that it takes some large macro- and micro-economic and business concepts and parses them down to make them understandable, laced with intrigue and personalities enough that it never feels like some boring business studies textbook. It’s a fun and interesting read and a glimpse into an industry that took the world – and particularly North America – by storm in the 1980s. And interesting to see the perspective even as this book was written in the early-mid 1990s (around 1993), predicting that electronic consoles (think Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Play Station) would be the predominant electronic communication and entertainment tool, surpassing the personal computer … the predictions about the importance of multimedia were right on, albeit obviously from 20 years on we have a different perspective of how it will be provided.

The second book I read was ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown – the fourth of his Robert Langdon novels. The treatment Brown’s earlier work – “Angels and Demons”, “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Lost Symbol” give to the Roman Catholic Church, the historical Jesus and Freemasonry, respectively, this book gives to Dante’s famous Divine Comedy in general, but the Inferno in particular.

I know Dan Brown isn’t exactly seen as high brow so perhaps I should be embarrassed at just how much I enjoy his work … but he does the pulp thriller better than anyone else I know, while making some fancy concepts, literature etc. accessible to all readers. His books are digestible, fun and intelligent, quick and easy to read … and this one was at least slightly less formulaic than its predecessors (albeit yes … turns and double-turns, not being sure who the ‘bad’ or ‘good’ guys are, travel and suspense a-plenty are of course the order of the day). For anyone who has read a Dan Brown novel, to say he gave ‘Inferno’ the Dan Brown treatment is sufficient; for those who haven’t, while this was a fun and excellent example of his work and style, I’d suggest starting with ‘Angels and Demons’ or ‘The Da Vinci Code’, as I feel like the first two Robert Langdon novels were significantly better than the last two – which is more praise for them than a knock on this one or ‘The Lost Symbol’, but there you have it. 🙂

Happy reading!



Hey all, so maybe this is where I should stop making promises about how often I’ll blog, as life just seems to be busy with work, two kids etc. all around; but I DO promise to try. That said, my busy-ness this week involved a lot of ‘hurry up and wait’ (appointments etc.) so I did at least manage to get some reading done and knocked ‘Deadlocked’ by Charlaine Harris off my list. This wonderful piece of pulp is the 12th, and penultimate, book in the Southern Vampire Mysteries series featuring Sookie Stackhouse – perhaps more popularly known as the inspiration behind the True Blood series on HBO. 🙂

1. Deadlocked – Charlaine Harris

2. The Last Week – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
3. Speaking Christian – Why Christian Words Have Lost their Meaning – Marcus J. Borg
4. The Spiral Staircase – Karen Armstrong
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. jPod – Douglas Coupland
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt
9. We Need to Talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
<s>22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. 1066 and All That; A Memorable History of England – W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman
31. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The Holy Bible – Various
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
48. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
56. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
59. The Trial – Franz Kafka
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. The Man Who Made Us – Richard Gwyn
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. Nation Maker – Richard Gwyn
66. The United Church of Canada: A History – Don Schweitzer (ed.)
67. Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
73. Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. Eats, Shoots & Leaves – Lynne Truss
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. The Girl who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

On some levels this is just your good gothic vampire trash pulp – lots of sex and violence and innuendo. But 12 books in, with a crowded landscape of supernatural creatures and a core cast – Sookie Stackhouse, her vampire love interests Eric and Bill, her friend and boss Sam, her fairy kin etc. – to whom we’ve become attached, our familiarity with the Bon Temps world – the ‘Sookieverse’ as fans put it – gives this story a depth its genre might not otherwise lend itself to. I know as the series comes to an end and some of Sookie’s allegiances are … well … shifting, and some of her strongest relationships are being tested, some diehard fans are quite disenchanted with this and the final book, out this month, “Dead Ever After” – and I can understand that. But the story taking some unexpected directions and turns doesn’t take away from the tensions as the supernatural world Sookie finds herself immersed in becomes aware of a precious magical object she is in possession of … and wants it. As she questions whether the people in her life are interested in her, or the item she holds, and as her connections particularly to the vampires, and to Sam, put her in danger (as usual), it’s quite telling that, for the first time in the series, Sookie is alone on this book’s cover, with nary a Supe suitor in sight. What makes this book, and this series in general, work is the simultaneous self-exploration that occurs at the same time that bigger picture issues of prejudice, bigotry, conflict resolution, identity and priorities; it works on macro and micro levels that again, make it deeper than a 200-some-odd page paperback has any right to be. And I for one, at least on that level, enjoy this series and can’t wait to see exactly how it ends. 🙂



et cetera