Tuesday, July 06, 2010

3rd Canadian Book Challenge Results

For 2009/2010 (starting and ending on Canada Day each year) I participated in the 3rd annual Canadian Book Challenge.  Of course, I wasn't a great participant.  Sure, I read at least 13 books written by Canadians, but I wasn't so successful in putting up reivews of each of the books I read as I read them and staying engaged in the social aspect of the challenge.

So I failed as a participant, and won't officially participate this year in the 4th challenge, but I WILL make every effort to read at least 13 Canadian authored books between July 2010 and June 2011 because I still believe in the book challenge (just not in my own ability to stay with the program)

Here's a look at the Canadian books I read this past year.  Yes, many of them are NOT novels.  Again, perhaps another area where I "fell down on the job."

1) July 7, 2009
Last Canadian Beer:  The Moosehead Story - Harvey Sawler
This book was a fantastic behind the scenes look at the Oland family and the six generations of creating and running Moosehead Breweries, Canada's last independent brewery. Blog post/Review about this book: Pardon my Big Moose Head.

2) August 9, 2009
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
This incredible book completely reimagined the way I see things now, particularly about those outliers who have succeeded far beyond their peers. While, yes, circumstances DO play a huge factor, one thing still IS clear -- working at it (for 10,000 hours) is what makes a person successful at something. So, while a combination of circumstances DO play a large factor in an "outlier's" success, so too do hard work, practice and relentless effort. Awesome read!  Reading this made me want to read ALL of Gladwell's other books.

3) August 11, 2009
No Such Creature - Giles Blunt
Great book - interesting story of a Shakespeare-quoting thief and his adopted son traveling across the US pulling jobs and evading other bad guys.  It was interesting that I started reading this book with in San Francisco and that's where the novel begins -- I liked that neat juxtaposition. Blunt is a good writer - while this was different than the John Cardinal mysteries of his that I have always enjoyed, it was still a good read and much enjoyed.

4) August 23, 2009
Fear The Worst - Linwood Barclay
Absolutely fantastic thriller. Of course I've gotten used to loving everything Barclay has ever written.  Barclay has a knack for taking an everyday average person and throwing them into the center of a whirlwind situation spiraling out of control. Another wonderful page-turner of a thriller with incredible twists and turns along the way. A great ride. A wonderful read. Highly recommended. (This also made it to my Best Reads of 2009 post)

5) Sept 13, 2009
Last Night in Montreal - Emily St. John Mandel
This was a good book, an interesting read. The main character, Lilia, reminded me a little bit of someone from my past, which was interesting in and of itself.  The story begins like a literary tale and is written in that style, however, unlike the issue I have with many literary tales, there IS a plot in this novel, and there's a definite mystery to the tale itself. It was a good read and definitely worthwhile. I met the author at Canadian Bookseller Association Summer Conference 2009 and I'm delighted to have read her book and look forward to her next one.

6) Sept 20, 2009
Jacob Two-Two Meets The Hooded Fang - Mordecai Richler
I read this story to Alexander that someone bought for him a while ago (either Christmas or his birthday, I honestly can't remember) - it was fun reading him this chapter book, and fun to discover a Canadian classic kid's story.

7) Oct 5, 2009
Six Pixels of Separation - Mitch Joel
Simply put, this debut by Mitch Joel is a definite must-read for business owners, managers or people just wanting to better understand the digital/social media landscape.  Written in an easygoing, approachable style and without tossing around a lot of confusing technobabble, Joel takes the commonly understood concept of "six degrees of separation" into the digital landscape  of  "six pixels" and explains the importance of being connected.  The book is as much about understanding new media and personal branding as it is about rudimentary connectedness between people on a personal level.  Throughout the book, Joel continues to come back to the concept of using social and digital media not as a marketing broadcast mechanism, but something that creates real value.  In producing this book and his podcast of the same name, Joel definitely walks the talk by creating something of incredible value. (This book also made my Best Reads of 2009 post)

8) Oct 15, 2009
Campus Chills - Mark Leslie
While it's a book I edited, I DID read it about a dozen times -- yes, that happens when you edit a story -- you read, and re-read and make notes, and edit, and read again, and re-read again).  But all the authors are Canadian, not to mention authors who are extremely talented and worthy of checking out.  This anthology contains all original horror stories set on campuses across Canada.  So perhaps it's cheating to include this book on my list.  But too bad, it's my list and I can do what I want with it.  So there.

9) Nov 14, 2009
Apparitions - Michael Kelly
This is a decent anthology of ghost stories edited by Michael Kelly (who also appears in Campus Chills) -- Michael is a talented author, but also a great editor who selects some fine ghost stories to include in this book -- my favourite story was the final one by Steve Duffy called "Certain Death for a Known Person."  A wonderful tale to end this great collection.

10) Nov 26, 2009
Red Snow - Michael Slade
Great hard hitting thriller by Slade. Wonderful in the sense that Slade seems to have virtually no sense of character preservation -- nobody is safe and assured to be kept alive, which makes for phenomenal reading and incredible suspense and tension.  I reviewed this on my blog back in February)

11) Dec 7, 2009
The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
Fantastic book - easy to see why it has been on and off bestseller lists for years.  I quite loved Gladwells Outliers and think that Tipping Point is even better.  He is a genius writer who brings together facts in an interesting way of showing things in a whole new light.  (This book also made my Best Reads of 2009 post)

12) March xx, 2010
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
Great. Okay, is it obvious that I simply enjoyed Gladwell's books so much that I had to rush through reading as many as I could?

13) April 5, 2010
Ouroboros - Michael Kelly & Carol Weeks
A wonderfully haunting and beautiful love story of two close couples and what happens when one of them loses a spouse.  Kelly & Weekes are two fantastically brilliant writers -- of course, I can't possibly do the book justice with a review, but instead, should refer to a podcast that includes a phenomenal review of the novel by Norm Rubenstein.

14) April xx, 2010
Watch - Robert J. Sawyer
Incredible continuation of the triology, even better than WAKE, which was a fantastic novel. Sawyer is a gifted storyteller and the tale he spins in WATCH is a compelling one. I remember being angry with Rob at many times because reading this book kept me from some important deadlines I had at the time.  There are some great videos of Rob (including a reading from WATCH) when he launched it at my bookstore (Titles Bookstore McMaster University)

15) June 05, 2010
Switch - Grant McKenzie
Short chapters in this quick-paced thriller make it a very fast read. 426 pages read like it was 200 due to this. Intriguing storyline, interesting plot and interesting characters that show the impact that high school life can have on the rest of one's career/personal life. I reviewed this great novel in a bit more detail a few weeks ago.


John Mutford said...

Hi Mark, Congrats on finishing and thanks for playing along. Sorry you're not joining us this time around but thanks for the support-- and if you should change your mind, we'd love to have you!

Mark Leslie said...

John - thanks for creating the challenge and inspiring people to read more Canadian books.

I'll likely play along "silently" like I did this past year, rooting for the team and eagerly reading as many Canadian authors as I can. (At least 13, of course)