Saturday, June 27, 2009

2nd Canadian Book Challenge - The End is Nigh

About twelve months ago, I joined the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

The originator (John Mutford), challenged bloggers to read (and write about) 13 Canadian books (by Canadians and/or about Canadians) in the 1 year period between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

And the last days of the challenge are among us. While I was successful in my efforts (I surpassed the required 13 books a few months ago), I haven't been so successful when it comes to actually POSTING about my reads. I had planned on posting longer reviews of the books I read, but merely ran out of time. Also, I didn't crack 20, but there's always next year, right?

I've only posted two updates prior to this since I began.

My first update is here. (Jan 11, 2009)

My second update is here. (April 1, 2009)

My list so far:

1) The Killing Circle - Andrew Pyper
2) Cricket in a Fist - Naomi K. Lewis
3) Wolf Pack - Edo van Belkom
4) Lone Wolf - Edo van Belkom
5) Cry Wolf - Edo van Belkom
6) Wolf Man - Edo van Belkom
7) In Tongues of the Dead - Brad Kelln
8) Wake - Robert J. Sawyer
9) Grown up Digital - Don Tapscott
10) Too Close To Home - Linwood Barclay
11) The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
12) Frozen Blood - Joel A. Sutherland
13) Me Minus 173 - Alicia Snell
14) The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill

And now, for my final batch:

15) POW! Right Between The Eyes: Profiting from the Power of Surprise - Andy Nulman
(Finished reading April 26, 2009)
An interesting book that I'm quite looking forward to sharing with others. I have already placed it in the STAFF PICKS section of my bookstore as it's a decidedly different type of business/marketing book that is a very quick read, but with significant examples and landmark moments that stick in the reader's mind.
Andy's take on surprise is fascinating -- I quite enjoyed the book and have bookmarked certain parts of it to return to later for practical use.
One additional thing I'll say about the book is that is CERTAINLY sticks to its mandate. While offering examples of the important of surprise marketing, it stays true to its word and the book itself (as well as the author), have embedded some truly unique surprises that I can honestly say I have NEVER ever experienced before between the pages of the book. Some of the surprised that START within the pages of the book take on a multi-dimensional aspect that bring the reader into the real world with "live" and up to date surprises. Nuff said, go read this book if you are at all interested in marketing.
Link(s): Andy Nulman's website, Silly picture of me being hit between the eyes with the book

16) Crimson - Gord Rollo
(Finished reading April 27, 2009)
I absolutely loved Gord's THE JIGSAW MAN, which came out last year (I listed it as one of the 10 top books I read in 2008, in fact), and the opening of CRIMSON was truly riveting -- it immediately hooked me and pulled me in.
Unfortunately, and perhaps this had to do with the endless dream sequences within the middle part of the book, it started to wear on me and I was merely finishing the book for the sake of finishing it and not because I was riveted. So, in many ways, the middle part of the book fell flat for me. The last third of the book, though, redeemed itself in full and more than made up for those moments when my attention spam seemed to wane.
David's struggles in prison, spending his life there for murders he didn't commit, were extremely riveting and well written -- and the ending was incredibly well done, brilliant, in fact. The last third of the novel really redeemed itself and made up for the challenging second third of the novel. So Rollo is two for two in my mind as a solid writer who delivers on his promise and I cannot wait to get my hands on his next book.
Link(s): Gord Rollo's website

17) Beneath the Surface - Simon Stranztas
(Finished reading May 19, 2009)
Stranztas has created some compellingly interesting characters in this book. The tales within this collection contain a disturbing undertone and read like literary tales that have been injected with a solid dose of the bizarre, disturbing and surreal. This certainly isn't one of those books that you rush through reading, but is rather one that you absorb and experience. For that reason, I read this book slowly over the course of several months, enjoying the stories between finishing full books.
A side note. The publisher of this book has, unfortunately, gone out of business just a few months after the release of Simon's collection. If you see the book in your travels, grab it up quickly because chances are it won't be there long.
Link(s): Simon Strantzas' website

18) Scar Tissue - Michael Ignatieff
(Finished reading June 27, 2009)
Say what you want about him as a politician, but Michael Ignatieff is a gifted writer. I had the pleasure of listening to him speak a couple of years ago at an event at McMaster so I already knew that he was a master of the spoken word. I picked up Scar Tissue that night wanting to explore his written words.
Scar Tissue is a disquieting story of a man watching his mother descend into the maddening depths of Alzheimer's. As her mind continues to unravel in chaotic strands, so too does the man's life.
I have to admit that while the first few pages of the novel were compelling (consider the wonderful opening lines of: "I do not want to remember her last hour. I do not want to be eternally condemned to think of her as she was in those final moments, when we held her hands, my brother and I, and she fought for life and lost, her mouth stretch open, gasping for breath, her eyes staring sightlessly up into the lights.") my interest started to faulter for the next 10 to 20 pages. It didn't hook me again until another couple of dozen pages in, but by then, I was sufficiently drawn back in to the story.
Poignantly written, this novel is filled with beautiful turns of phrase and perfectly captured descriptions that stick in the mind and are a pleasure to absorb. It nicely questions the concept of "personhood" and is evidence that Ignatieff isn't just a talented speaker and writer of non-fiction, but also a storyteller of talent. It's easy to see why this novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1993.
Link(s): Scar Tissue on

With only a few days left in the challenge, and me being an extremely slow reader, I doubt I'll be able to add any more Canadian authored titles to this year's batch. But I'd like to thank John Mutford and all the other bloggers participating in this challenge, for a truly fun time of discovery and sharing.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Honored to be listed with so many other great books, Mark. Honored even more by your kind words.