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Fall 2017

Ron's Picks

RON STADNIK - Print Manager

July 2017

"Brother: A Novel" by David Chariandy

A short novel without a wasted word that packs a powerful punch, exploring issues of immigration, poverty, masculinity. family and racism, set in a Scarborough housing complex. Chariandy, co-founder of Commodore Books and whose debut novel, Soucouyantwas nominated for umpteen awards and prizes, writes like someone that should be teaching master classes. For readers of Colson Whitehead, Junot Diaz and Eden Robinson. A great addition to Canadian urban grit-lit.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 742025

"Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur" by Yvonne Blomer

This thoughtful and poetic travel memoir unfolds in non-chronological order, jumping back and forth from the late 90's to present day. Diabetic Blomer is as much concerned with wondering what it means to be "The Other"  in a strange land, and the tricks of memory,  as she is about her insulin levels. This isn't a book for those looking for practical insights while planning to cycle tour SE Asia; there are guidebooks available for that sort of thing. This will appeal more to someone apt to read Cheryl Strayed or Bill Bryson, drawn to philosophy and anthropology as much as they might be to pedaling. Blomer is Poet Laureate of Victoria, B.C.

Traveller's Tales Paperback LBN 1256369

June 2017

"Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt" by Kristin Hersh

Raw rock memoir of the drunken angel in a wheelchair who left behind a lot of unique and brilliant music before his 2009 OD.

Singer, songwriter and author Hersh toured with Chesnutt and was a close friend. More of a poetic dirge or lamentation than a typical music bio. It’s unbelievably sad to go to Chesnutt’s website and see all of the CDN dates under On Tour and realize he’s never coming back again: www.vicchesnutt.com

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover LBN 1145544

"The Smack" by Richard Lange

Tautly written noir about a down on his luck grifter. Pitch perfect characters, believable situations, story and place all seeming painfully real. One of those read in a single sittings then look for everything else the guy wrote kind of books.

Crime Fiction Hardcover LBN 1243396

May 2017

"Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean" by Morten Stroksnes

Living off the coast of Norway, the Greenland shark is an outlandish creature weighing more than a ton, over 25 feet long, its toxic flesh when consumed is capable of inducing hallucinatory trances. Norwegian historian and journalist Morten Stroksnes sets out to catch one, with his friend Hugo, in a rubber boat, in this original, wide ranging tale. While the publisher seems to be selling this as something like Hunter S. Thompson’s Curse of Lono, Stroksnes’ book shares more with Bryson, Matthiessen, Darwin and Melville. This is travel writing at its finest, meaning it deserves more subject headings than any MARC record could reasonably accommodate.

Winner of the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature.

Adult Non-Fiction Hardcover LBN 1257631

"Burntown: A Novel" by Jennifer McMahon

Quirky without being fey, Burntown is a coming of age genre mash-up combining mystery and fantasy, set in a decaying New England mill town. Misfit characters in an easy to read work of suspense pulls you along quickly. McMahon is the author of Winter People.

Adult Fiction

Hardcover LBN 1255673

Large Print LBN 1253835

Audio Book LBN 1255715

April 2017

"Brewing Revolution: Pioneering the Craft Beer Movement" by Frank Appleton

The Forrest Gump of Canadian brewing recounts his primary role in the resurgence of craft beer since the early 1980s. The general reader may wish for a bit less microbiology and brewing minutiae, but home or craft brewers will lap those sections up like a hoppy IPA. A fun read for those that enjoy popular history and are fond of a pint as well. Appleton lives in Edgewood, BC.

Adult Nonfiction Paperback LBN 1198868

"American War: A Novel" by Omar El Akkad

Set roughly 50 years from now after a second American Civil War, this mature debut novel feels all too plausible for political, environmental, and economic reasons. Set in "The Red," this book is compulsively readable but definitely not escapist fare for those sick of what's in the news these days. If you didn't think it could get any worse, well ... I wouldn't be so sure. A former reporter for The Globe & Mail, El Akkad won a National Newspaper Award for his coverage of the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests.

Adult Fiction

Hardcover LBN 1239172

Large Print LBN 1258252

Audio Book LBN 1258251

"How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir" by Cat Marnell

An addiction memoir from a NYC based fashion industry journo. Books like this follow such a predictable arc, and there have been so many of them for so long now, that they've long since lost the power to surprise or shock. Add an admittedly over entitled, shamelessly spoiled brat supported financially by parents for years of bad behaviour in NYC (rent and rehab paid for along with a steady stream of prescriptions from a psychiatrist father, and credit cards to be used for "emergencies" that come frequently) and I didn't expect this book to hold much appeal for me. But Marnell has such a breezy, upbeat writing style (it's like she's on speed or something: oh, wait a minute...) even while detailing her degradation and despair, while not pretending to be anything more than shallow, that she's surprisingly likeable. The repetitive life of an addict doesn't end up a boring slog to read through, as it usually does. Maybe you shouldn't, but you can't help but root for her and enjoy the ride she takes you on. Rarely have bad decisions been so much fun and so unapologetic.

For a great review in the Globe & Mail click here

Biography Hardcover LBN 1230233

March 2017

"The One Inside" by Sam Shepard

Something between a collection of vignettes, surrealism, short story and thinly veiled memoir that stretches in time from a boy of 13 to a man of 70. Atmospheric and haunting. Shephard is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of more than 55 plays and appeared in more than sixty films, including August, Osage County and an Oscar nomination for The Right Stuff. A forward by Patti Smith sets the mood here nicely.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1223569

"Running with Raven" by Laura Lee Huttenbach

Character study of a man that's been leading an eight mile run every night along Miami's South Beach since 1975. Robert "Raven" Kraft hasn't missed a single run, despite hurricanes, illness and loss. Anyone is welcome to join him each night, and thousands have, from around the world. Part of the charm of the story is that Raven's memory is every bit as obsessive as his running (plus he keeps lists, records and admits to being a hoarder) so there is an incredible wealth of material for the author to work with here. In over 40 years of running, virtually all of Miami has undergone radical change. Raven has seen it all, and keeps running through it. A great read for fans of The Orchid Thief or The Lost City of Z.

To find out more about the Raven Runs, visit www.ravenrun.net

Biography Hardcover LBN 1223279

February 2017

"The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the World's Strangest Syndromes" by Frank Bures

A look at “culture bound” syndromes, including penis theft and running amok. While the western world considers these conditions to result from superstition, Bures notes that syndromes we consider science based fact (e.g. PMS and carpal tunnel) aren’t generally found in the rest of the world. Our health and wellness to a large degree rest on the power of the stories we tell ourselves, as evidenced in placebo and nocebo clinical trials again and again. Part cultural traveller’s tale, part narrative non-fiction and memoir, Bures travels to Nigeria and China in search of penis thieves in this weird and wonderful little book.

Traveller's Tales/Literature Hardcover LBN 1045714

"She Rides Shotgun" by Jordan Harper

A title that should have been included in our Spring Bestseller list, this is a fast moving thriller about an ex-con and his 11 year old daughter set in a SoCal rife with gangs and meth-heads. Polly MClusky is an awkward, intelligent introvert that knows the teddy bear she carries around isn’t real but talks to and through it anyway. She reminds me of Nomi from Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness, or one of Heather O’Neill’s street urchins, but crossed with Lisbeth Salander.  Author Jordan Harper creates a believable character in this unconventional coming of age story, elevated by a quiet style and piquant observations slipped in like a punch you never saw coming.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1262544

January 2017

"Lonely Planet's Where to Go When" by Lonely Planet

Unless you truly want to go to Viet Nam during a monsoon, Moab when it’s too hot to leave your hotel room, or Honduras for hurricane season, the most important travel question is “Where to Go When.”

Lonely Planet has done a bang-up job in this first edition travel guide of providing an answer, in a book with broad appeal no matter your age, finances, personal interests or fitness. You’ll still need additional guidebooks and the internet to definitively decide and book your trip, but when it comes to inspiration, look no further.

Travel Hardcover LBN 1203027

"Rusty Puppy" by Joe R. Lansdale

The latest Hap & Leonard novel, the most mis-matched duo of any crime series I’ve ever come across. Set in East Texas, Hap (former 60s activist and white trash rebel) and Leonard (gay, black, Republican and a Viet Nam vet) investigate a racially motivated murder.  With four dozen novels to his credit, Lansdale keeps the story tight, but this series is mostly about its dialogue, pacing, and the relationship between its main characters.

Reads something like Elmore Leonard crossed with Daniel Woodrell, recently made into a TV series starring James Purefoy, with season one available on DVD in February: VRN 304471

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1200609

December 2016

"The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain" by Tim Moore

The eccentric British madman who’s been called “Bill Bryson on two wheels,” cycles 10,000km along the length of the old Iron Curtain on a shopping bike (two gears and 20" wheels). Starting from Finland, in winter. I’m not kidding. 

Following French Revolutions (riding the Tour de France route in out of shape middle age) and Gironimo!  (Giro d'Italia on a vintage bike with wooden wheels), Moore's publisher and wife need to intervene because it's difficult to see how he ups his game at this point. Unicycling to Patagonia? Riding a penny farthing through Syria? Given his genius for combining unusual travel and history with comedic flair, I’ll always be happy to travel with Moore (from my armchair) wherever he chooses to go.

Traveller's Tales Paperback LBN 1168537

"The Emerald Lie" by Ken Bruen

Contrary to all reason, Jack Taylor continues to limp around the sodden streets of Galway with his pet dog, trailing a vaporous fog of Jameson, in this 12thinstallment of Bruen’s most popular series. Taylor continues to find himself in all manner of misadventures, in this instance including a serial killer whose fuse is lit by bad grammar. As ever, Bruen continues to delight with black humor and a prose style as effervescent as the bubbles in a freshly poured Guinness.

Adult Mystery Fiction Hardcover LBN 1191238

"Carousel Court: A Novel" by Joe McGinniss

A modern day Revolutionary Road, about a marriage crumbling along with The American Dream set on foreclosure alley in California's Inland Empire. Marred, in my view, by a pat ending, this book is otherwise searing, caustic and brilliant. If Christmas is your least favorite time of year, this book’s for you.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1169508

November 2016

"IQ: A Novel" by Joe Ide

Sherlock Holmes in the ‘hood, set in present day L.A. Book (or movie) concepts that fit so easily on a cocktail napkin or elevator pitch rarely deliver as promised, but intriguing characters, a believable storyline and the quality of the writing deliver in this debut mystery/thriller.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1200504

"The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit" by Michael Finkel

Christopher Knight ditched his car and walked into the Maine woods at the age of 20 without telling anyone where he was going, what he was doing, and with virtually no supplies. He survived by stealing from cottages and camps and didn’t speak to another person until his arrest 27 years later. One of the most unusual and compelling books I’ve read in a long while, this would make a great book club pick for the questions it raises about community, technology, solitude, family and what’s required to make a good life. You could find yourself debating whether the book itself should have been written at all.

Finkel is the author of True Story, based on the author’s own experience with accused killer Christian Longo, which was recently made into a movie starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

Adult Biography

Hardcover LBN 1223576

Audiobook LBN 1227562

October 2016

"Red Dog: A Novel" by Jason Miller

Light-hearted yet violent, with great dialogue and sense of place, Miller shows growing gifts as a writer in this second Slim in Little Egypt mystery. Set in rural Southern Illinois and Northern Kentucky, Miller is able to create interesting characters without turning them into grotesque caricatures. He plainly loves this landscape and the people in it, without being blind to the weaknesses and inherent weirdness of it all. Whether you prefer the humor of Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey, or the darker violence of a Donald Ray Pollack or Frank Bill, you're likely going to enjoy this series.

Adult Fiction Paperback LBN 1175476

"My Marathon: Reflections on a Gold Medal Life" by Frank Shorter & John Brant

A gold medal winner in the marathon at the 1972 Munich Games, Frank Shorter won 24 national titles on track, road and cross country courses. After finishing second to an East German doper at the Montreal Games, Shorter helped found the US Anti-Doping Agency, and established the trust that finally allowed amateur athletes to earn an income without losing their status. The son of an esteemed doctor, Shorter didn't reveal until recently the horrific physical and emotional abuse he and his siblings were subjected to as children. A truly inspiring memoir showing the transformative power of sport.

Adult Biography Hardcover LBN 1159526

September 2016
"Guy" by Jowita Bydlowska

 

Darkly comic satire about a narcissistic megalomaniac with zero empathy whose life revolves around his relationships with women as adornments, one nighters or "projects." Bydlowska's endorsements for this work coming from Joseph Boyden, Miranda July and Lena Dunham are wholly deserved. Far more The Deep Whatsis than Nick Hornby in its tone. Expect to dislike the titular protagonist while greatly enjoying the read, right to its twisted ending.

Bydlowska writes a regular column for the Toronto Star on the topic of mental health, and is the author of the controversial memoir, Drunk Mom.

Adult Fiction Paperback LBN 1202939

"Hag-Seed" by Margaret Atwood

A disgraced artistic director takes refuge under a pseudonym and teaches theatre arts in a men's prison, where he stages a production of The Tempest and plots revenge. Issues of grief, ageing and loss, along with vengeance, are explored in this re-imagining of The Tempest, set in the present day. Part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which also includes reimaginings by Jeannette Winterson and Anne Tyler. A surprisingly fun and thrilling read, this is likely to be Atwood’s most popular work since Alias Grace.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1202548

"Ithaca: A Novel" by Patrick Dillion

The Odyssey, told through the perspective of Telemachus, son of Odysseus. For readers of Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles.

Adult Fiction Hardcover LBN 1167252

August 2016

"100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario"

Great photographs highlight brief snapshots of Ontario parks and conservation areas, both widely known and hidden gems. Each location is given enough detail to clue birders and botanists into what they're most likely to encounter. The best book of this sort I've seen in a long time; a great gift for any Ontario nature lover, or library loaner to plot out your next outdoor adventure.

Non-Fiction Paperback LBN 1168434

"The United States of Beer" by Dane Huckelbridge

A light, frothy and fairly satisfying look at the history of beer in America. Don't expect a definitive encyclopedia, or much coverage of the craft beer explosion of the last decade and sadly, there’s no Canadian content here. Qualifiers aside, this is a great read for history lovers, and those that enjoy reading on the deck with a malted beverage on a hot summer day. Author Dane Hucklebridge is also the author of Bourbon: the Definitive History.

Non-Fiction Hardcover LBN 1175335

July 2016

"Before the Fall: A Novel" by Noah Hawley

The creator of the tv series Fargo presents a look at the lives of those affected by a small plane crash, prior to the event and in its aftermath. Written in a style somewhere between commercial and literary, this is something of a beach read for the sort of person that wants a highly readable, entertaining book not without substance. Perhaps not the best choice for when you're in the air on the way to that beach, though. I'd definitely read more by Hawley; this work stands on its own merits, regardless of what you might think of him from his tv work. This book also keeps gathering momentum through word of mouth and everyone I’ve urged it on has liked it to date. Great library book club pick.

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1146429

Fiction Audiobook LBN 1146430

Fiction Large Print LBN 1146431

"Triggerfish: A Crime Novel" by Dietrich Kalteis

An Elmore Leonardesque crime novel set in BC's Lower Mainland, Trigger Fish revolves around a retired cop, sub piloting Columbian drug smugglers, bikers and environmentalists. Dietrich Kalteis does dialogue exceptionally well, and anyone familiar with the Vancouver area will enjoy the wealth of recognizable landmarks that bring the setting home.

Also keep an eye out for his latest book, House of Blazes.  A Sisters Brothers type romp, Kalteis leaves “Vanghanistan” behind for a historical tear through the streets of San Francisco in the days before the great earthquake and fire of 1906.

Fiction Paperback LBN 1163539

June 2016

"Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North" by Blair Braverman

Californian Blair Braverman falls in love with the North and moves to Norway while still in her teens to learn how to drive sled dogs. After a stint as a tour guide in Alaska she returns to Norway to run a quirky small town museum and work in a general store. She constantly struggles to become a “tough girl” as a young woman in a man’s world. Since the success of books like A Glass CastleRunning with Scissors and Wild, memoirs have at times seemed almost a contest of dysfunction where the most horrific experiences “win.” Braverman captures in a brilliant and unique voice the less dramatic but no less real fears more often felt, despite the exotic locations detailed here. The best work of non-fiction I’ve read in 2016, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube is this years’H is For Hawk.

www.instagram.com/blair_braverman

Biography Hardcover LBN 1169829

"Kay's Lucky Coin Variety: A Novel" by Ann Y. K. Choi

A Korean immigrant coming of age story set behind the counter of a 1980s Toronto convenience store. Choi's writing is a continual revelation for it's quiet, subtle brilliance. Unlike the sugar filled junk food sold at narrator Mary/Yu-Rhee's convenience store, the craftsmanship in this debut novel is quality fare. The Toronto Star called this an “explosive and heartfelt debut.” A great YA crossover or book club choice, particularly relevant given the place immigration has assumed in current public discourse.

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1142157

May 2016

"The Waking Comes Late" by Steven Heighton

Some of the poems in this collection are of such brilliance you could fit them into an anthology of Canada’s best from the late 60s & early 70s: Purdy, Ondaatje, Layton and Cohen. Heighton combines personal laments and celebrations with “approximations” – free translations of various authors, most frequently Paul Celan. End notes are of interest, such as the genesis of his poem The Weather Online being an approximation of a Lucinda Williams song, which was itself a kind of approximation of an Emily Dickinson poem. It’s been decades since I was so impressed by a new work of poetry.

Poetry Paperback LBN 1138512

"The Jungle South of the Mountain" by Andrew Westoll

A first novel by the author of The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, Andrew Westoll's past work as a primatologist and biologist brings authenticity to this literary tale of madness, myth and political upheaval set on the north coast of South America.

Fiction Paperback LBN 1170488

April 2016

"Waste" by Andrew F. Sullivan

A lion is killed in a hit and run accident in this tale of skinheads and wastoids in a fictionalized Oshawa, ON circa 1989. The lives of the people in this debut novel are so ugly one might ask why read about them? Look no further than Miriam Toews, who refers to Sullivan “balancing tenderness and brutality in the palm of his hand… his words always in search and service of some beating heart beneath the dirt.” No shortage of dirt here: this is suburban CDN Cringe-Lit at its finest.  A great choice for readers of WS Burroughs, Hubert Selby Jr or Donald Ray Pollock.

www.andrewfsullivan.com

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1168554

"Lives of the Poets With Guitars: Essays" by Ray Robertson

Essays every bit as rollicking and energetic as many of the performers discussed, from Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt, to Canadian Willie P Bennett and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Testosterone fuelled, with a tendency to over romanticize addictions and bad behaviour, Robertson’s enthusiasm and skills as a writer are infectious nonetheless. Black & white portraits by illustrator Chloe Cushman are perfect for these personalized recommendations in an age of Spotify.  The Chatham, ON born author, who now lives in Toronto,  was short-listed for the Hilary Weston Prize for his most recent work, Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live.

Essays Hardcover LBN 1139372

March 2016

"Brighton" by Michael Harvey

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1171202

Audiobook LBN 1182475

Two friends from a rough Boston neighbourhood are forced to confront, as adults, a dark secret of their teenaged years. I’d not read Harvey before (The Governor’s Wife) and there are six dozen books a year with a similar synopsis, so why Brighton? The cover caught my eye, with a simple NYT quote, “One of the best… in the game.” Then there was Harvey’s bio: law degree from Duke, master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern, magna cum laude in classical languages from Holy Cross. Also multiple Emmys and an Oscar nomination and a slew of film festival awards. So what happens on the page? Characters, setting and story all come across as believable, real. This book reads like you’re watching a documentary shot by an auteur. Harvey occupies a space held by Richard Price at his best, and should thrill readers of Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard and George Pelecanos.

"The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island" by Bill Bryson

Non-Fiction Hardcover LBN 1106250

Twenty years after the trip around his adopted island that became Notes from a Small Island, Bryson sets out on a new journey, from Britain’s southern-most point to its northern tip. Now in his mid-60s, Bryson is simultaneously more crotchety and cheerful  than ever. Still insanely curious and erudite, going along on his travels feels like taking a trip with the cast of Monty Python and Stephen Hawking’s brain.

February 2016

"I'm Thinking of Ending Things" by Iain Reid

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1168548

Girl on the Train meets Fight Club in this fiction debut from the Kingston based author of One Bird’s Choice. A literary thriller written by a philosophy major that explores the depths of the human psyche and the limitations of solitude. One of those reads that will anger some and confuse others, but have everyone talking regardless.

See a great article written by 49th Shelf about Reid’s two previous non-fiction works here.

"Alone on the Wall" by Alex Honnold

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1097066

A book about the adventures and feats of derring do of the world’s most famous free soloist. Told in alternating chapters between Honnold and veteran climber/author David Roberts, makes this book far more interesting than the usual ghost written athletic memoir. A great read even for the non-climber. Be prepared to go online looking for video as you read, and your sense of disbelief will grow as you see Honnold’s exploits with your own eyes. Better yet, see below:

Valley Uprising (VRN 292968) is the perfect dvd pairing for this book: Honnold is featured in this history of climbing in Yosemite valley, which documents the counterculture lifestyle of dirt-bag climbers that pushed the limits and broke barriers every bit as monumental as the four minute mile. Narrated by Peter Sarsgaard,Valley Uprising is a magnum opus for Sender Films, winning grand prizes at film festivals around the world, at Banff, San Sebastian, Bilbao, New Zealand and more.

Click here for more information.

January 2016

"What We Salvage" by David Baille

Fiction Paperback LBN 1037356

"Mean Season" by Salvatore Difalco

Fiction Paperback LBN 1105181

Both of these books, written by debut novelists (with previous short story & poetry collections) are set in Hamilton, ON in the early 1980s. Both have strong elements of crime, and are essentially coming of age novels, but that’s where the resemblance ends. They make for an interesting collective read because they illustrate so effectively that every city is an onion with layer upon layer of subcultures and stories occurring within it at all times. In Mean Season, football playing U of T student Bobby Sferazza comes home to the Barton & Sherman neighbourhood to help his mother with a kid brother that keeps getting into trouble. Bobby takes a job as a night club bouncer and gets involved with drugs and gangs and suddenly U of T might as well be on the other side of the world. What We Salvage happens mostly in the downtown core and portrays 80s boot culture, where having the wrong coloured laces in your Doc Martins could get you savagely beaten or worse. It’s a world of drugs, squat houses, runaways, teenage prostitutes and the search to establish a family withwhomever you can. Same place, same time, but the people in these books don’t intersect because they effectively live in another world. Neither book is perfect but they’re great examples of the diamonds in the rough coming out of extremely small Canadian publishers these days.  Thanks to the Hamilton Spectator for making me aware of the Baille book with this great review:

www.thespec.com/whatson-story/6158272-rockingham-a-dark-novel-set-inside-hamilton-s-boot-culture-of-the-80s

December 2015

 

"Dear Reader" by Paul Fournel

Curmudgeon and seen it all old-school publisher meets the e-reader with comic results.

You needn’t be a grumpy old Luddite or bookseller to be charmed by this wry look at change and the world of books.

Fournel, a former publisher, was a cultural attache in Cairo and London, and president of the literary collective known as Oulipo, whose members have included Italo Calvino and George Perec.

FICTION Paperback LBN 1104690


 

"Orfeo" by Richard Powers

Margaret Atwood compared National Book Award winning Powers to the Melville of Moby Dick in a NYT review.

Inspired by the myth of Orpheus, this is the story of a composer who innocently runs afoul of Homeland Security for his work. (Artist Steve Kurtz took four years to clear his name after the FBI arrested him under The Patriot Act, which surely must have provided Powers with inspiration here) Sometimes the fear of culture and the culture of fear run into each other headlong, but never as well told as in this lyrical reflection on the power of art.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 959765

November 2015

"Open Heart, Open Mind" by Clara Hughes

An unusual and above average memoir from Canada's first athlete to win medals at both summer and winter Olympic Games. Athletes are usually raised in a bubble and are as dull as dishwater for it. Hughes has lived a life far more interesting than that, which she shares with honesty and clarity. Her work with Right to Play and as a spokesperson for mental health issues is included here, as well as her early years growing up in Winnipeg. This would be a great addition to the high school curriculum. While there are no shortage of memoirs that deal with depression, eating disorders, alcoholism, abuse from authority figures, divorce, growing up poor etc., few are told with so much gratitude and lack of self-pity by an Olympic champion.

Click here to listen to a Podcast with Shelagh Rogers on CBC's, The Next Chapter.

NON-FICTION Hardcover LBN 1093290

"The Reason You Walk" by Wab Kinew

A memoir about the relationship between a father and his son, this book also encompasses the legacy of the Indian Residential School system, native spirituality and culture and the importance of forgiveness. Wab’s message is a simple one, and laid out in the introduction: that we should love each other, and if our hearts are broken, try to fix them. The story that follows details Kinew’s journey to reach such a simple, but profound conclusion, and is told in a direct, conversational way. As with the Clara Hughes book, this book seems like it should become part of the curriculum.

Click here to listen to more on CBC's, The Next Chapter,

NON-FICTION Hardcover LBN 1082555


 

October 2015

"A Youth Wasted Climbing" by David Chaundry-Smart

Climbing is about more than the seven summits and far flung places. Chaundy-Smart has a nice writing style in this memoir of coming of age climbing at Mount Nemo, Rattlesnake Point and Bon Echo in the 1970s when it was still very much a fringe activity and social networks were created without the web.

SPORTS/RECREATION Paperback LBN 1071716

"Lobster Kings"by Alexi Zentner

King Lear with lobsters and meth in a fictional Maritime community.

A sprawling, powerhouse saga for readers wanting to immerse themselves in fully realized characters and a place brought vividly to life.

FICTION Paperback LBN 964366

September 2015

"Darkness the Color of Snow" by Thomas Cobb

In the aftermath of a bizarre accident, a depressed small town community vents its rage against a rookie cop.

The author of Crazyheart does an incredible job of portraying the fragility upon which the foundation of our lives rest. He aptly illustrates how our relationships, health, livelihoods and sanity are often a house of cards, whether we realize it or not.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 1096618


 

"On the Move: A Life"by Oliver Sacks

An exuberant memoir  by the neurologist who wrote about the brain’s quirks, who died of cancer August 30th. Whether you’re familiar with the author (MusicophiliaAwakenings,The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) or not, this memoir along with an NYT opinion piece he wrote just two weeks before his death (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/opinion/sunday/oliver-sacks-sabbath.html) is well worth reading. He will be missed.

BIOGRAPHY Hardcover LBN 1068806


 

August 2015

"Haints Stay" by Colin Winnette

A transgressive Western for readers of The Sisters Brothers or The Winter Family hankering for something a might weirder. Unsettling and brilliant, albeit in a wholly disturbing way.

FICTION Paperback LBN 1059288


 

"The Cartel"by Don Winslow

Winslow picks up the story of drug trafficking he began in his 2005 novel, The Power of the Dog. This is both a thriller in the vein of James Lee Burke, and narco expose a la Charles Bowden. Truth is stranger than fiction: El Chapo, the real life cartel boss fictionalized here, made headlines in July for escaping from a Mexican prison for the second time, and putting a $100 million bounty on Donald Trump! (See:http://huzlers.com/joaquin-el-chapo-guzman-puts-a-100-million-bounty-for-donald-trump-dead-or-alive/)  There hasn’t been free publicity like this since Clinton bombed Libya the week Top Gun hit theatres.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 1050556


 

July 2015

"The First Bad Man" by Miranda July

A lonely, middle aged woman with a firmly ordered existence and deep obsessions experiences radical life changes including love in both physical and maternal ways. If you’re familiar with Miranda July’s past work as an artist, filmmaker or short story writer, this book will utterly meet your expectations… for about a page and a half. It then goes in some very peculiar directions, well beyond “quirky.” Six months after reading it, I’m still not sure if I actually like this book or not, but given how rare an experience that is, I’m suggesting it’s worth a read.  http://mirandajuly.com/

FICTION HardcoverLBN 1003715


 

"Missoula"by Jon Krakauer

A difficult but necessary, meticulously researched and fact checked account of sexual assaults at a university campus. While it’s tempting to think of this as somehow an American issue, sexual assault statistics in Canada would argue otherwise. Given the spin that the subject matter is often given by the media or by those with a political agenda, I can’t imagine a better investigative reporter to have undertaken the project than Krakauer. While not all readers have agreed with his version of the events on Everest in Into Thin Air, his reporting has been beyond reproach ever since, in books like Under the Banner of Heaven and Where Men Win Glory. Find out more on CBC’s The Current:http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-april-24-2015-1.3047057/missoula-author-jon-krakauer-investigates-campus-rape-1.3047097

TRUE CRIME Hardcover LBN 1068848


 

June 2015

"Confidence" by Russell Smith

Smith is every bit as gifted portraying the lives of urbane Torontonians  in his short stories as Alice Munro delivering Huron County in hers.

Unflinchingly honest,  frequently uncomfortable, there is always an undercurrent of satire and humor in his work, evoking not just Virginia Woolf but Evelyn Waugh.  Find out more at  http://russellsmith.ca/

FICTION PaperbackLBN 1061183


 

"Pilgrim's Wilderness"by Tom Kizzia

Book jacket and catalogue copy is often ludicrous, trite or wildly inaccurate but describing this book as “Into the Wild meets Helter Skelter” describes this strange but true story perfectly. “Papa Pilgrim” shows up in a remote Alaskan national park with wife and 15 home schooled children in tow. After bulldozing a road through National Park lands the peculiar family immediately divides sentiment in the small community and sets the stage for confrontation with the Park Service.

This impeccably researched tale has more layers than an onion, involving everything and everyone from the Kennedy assassination, Jack Nicholson, murder in Louisiana and back to the landers in New Mexico’s Sangre de Christo Mountains. Author Kizzia knows Alaska well as a reporter for The Anchorage Daily News and includes just the right amount of his own life and experiences. This is investigative reporting at its finest, in a story too strange for fiction.

TRUE CRIME Hardcover LBN 895669


 

May 2015

"Yoga for Life: a Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom" by Colleen Saidman Yee

Part memoir, part themed asana sequences, from the model turned yoga guru. An interesting life is well told, with minimal ego and unflinching honesty, including life as "the other woman" leading to the break-up of two marriages with her relationship to well-known yogi, Rodney Yee. You needn't be practicing yoga to find value in this story of acceptance and identity. This is Wild on the mat. To learn more about her, and see her DVDs (available through LBI) go to:http://colleensaidmanyee.com/

BIOGRAPHY PaperbackLBN 1062224


 

"The Subprimes"by Karl Taro Greenfeld

A satirical, dystopian novel where our fates are determined by credit score.  “Subprimes” are the new dustbowl Okies, living in their cars and tent cities in a landscape despoiled by fracking. A mysterious woman establishes a thriving socialist community that comes under threat when shale oil is discovered underneath the land they’re squatting on; multiple storylines converge as the situation comes to a boil.

While much of this book is predictable, and unlikely to end up happening in reality, it’s still a wickedly fun read if you’re in the choir being preached to. Greenfeld has been editor of TIME Asia and The Nation. More can be found athttp://www.karltarogreenfeld.com/karltarogreenfeld/home.html

FICTION Hardcover LBN 1062663


 

April 2015

"The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream" by Katherine Norbury

Very similar in many respects to H is For Hawk, my pick last month, The Fish Ladder is a beautifully written mélange with more subject headings than would fit in any MARC record. Memoir, nature writing, Celtic mythology, travelogue, adoption, bereavement, life threatening illness: it’s astonishing how many things this book touches upon. Even more remarkable are the author’s gifts as a writer. Read from a review copy, this book will be published in Canada in August and will be included in our Fall Bestseller List. Great for book clubs.

BIOGRAPHY Hardcover LBN 1086150


 

March 2015

"Winter Family: A Novel" by Clifford Jackman

The story of a gang of outlaws set during and in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Hard edged historical fiction for readers of The Sisters Brothers orThe Homesman. Jackman, a lawyer by way of day job that lives in Guelph, ON, has already received a great review from Publisher’s Weekly:http://publishersweekly.com/pw/reviews/single/978-0-385-53948-7

He can be found on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/cliffordthomasjackman If Tarantino wants to make another western, this is it.

WESTERN Hardcover LBN 1036089


 

February 2015

"H is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald

"Wild" with a bird. While that's a fairly accurate brief, it has to be noted that Macdonald is massively gifted as a stylist, storyteller, and observer of both the natural world and her interior emotional one.

Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book Award, this book reached the bestseller list in the UK within two weeks of being published last year.

While the bulk of the book deals with the year Macdonald trained a goshawk in the wake of her father’s sudden death, it also offers a biography of author T.H. White; her successful mash-up of genres is part of the book’s success. Macdonald wrote an article for The Guardian about the books that opened her eyes to nature that can be found here:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/28/helen-macdonald-h-is-for-hawk-costa-prize-six-nature-books

BIOGRAPHY Hardcover LBN 1060617


 

"If I Fall, If I Die" by Michael Christie

Thunder Bay finally gets the great agoraphobic skateboarding novel it never knew it needed.

Unusual and highly effective writing makes this a stand out work. A coming of age story that explores themes of mental illness, family and self-determination. Occupies an unusual space between the credulous and magic realism: a unique work.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 1002914


 

"What Stands In a Storm" by Kim Cross

An account of the April 2011 superstorm that killed at least 324 people, leaving physical scars on the land so large they could be seen from space, along with $11 billion in property damage. Kim Cross centers the story in her home state of Alabama, the nation's worst for tornado fatalities, and writes devoid of hyperbole or cheese that does an incredible job of putting you in the story.

Short declarative sentences like "The sky rained cinder blocks and babies” often took my breath away. A book not only about a real life disaster and the incredible force of nature but about community and mankind's capacity to survive and come together in times of great tragedy. Highest recommendation.

NATURE Hardcover LBN 1036224


 

December 2014

"Frostbike" by Tom Babin

A surprisingly fascinating look at winter cycling from Calgary Herald features editor Babin, who decides to commute year round and explores winter cycling on trips to Finland and Copenhagen. Winter riding is the hottest cycling trend since the mountain bike boom of the 1980s.

The chapter on Calgary’s cycling infrastructure is worth the price of the book, which is for readers interested in urban planning and design as much, if not more so, than cyclists. Babin, who says it’s our attitude and not the weather that gets in the way, blogs here:  http://calgaryherald.com/tag/pedal

Sports/Recreation Paperback LBN 1028204


 

"Sister Golden Hair" by Darcey Steinke

Beautiful prose perfectly captures the time and place of 12 year old, Jessie in 1972 Roanoke, Virginia in that space between childhood and being an adult, innocence on the cusp of great change. It absolutely captures an era of macramé and Sonny & Cher in a voice that is part Flannery O'Connor, part Charles Schulz.

A Dewey Diva pick, you can find a great comprehensive review at LARB here:http://lareviewofbooks.org/review/say

Fiction Paperback LBN 1005966


 

November 2014

"Eating Viet Nam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table" by Graham Holliday

A lively, fish sauce soaked look at Vietnamese street food written by a British ESL teacher turned blogger and foreign correspondent for The Guardian. There’s a lot more to this memoir than just gross stories of eating pig uteri while drinking shots of lizard blood: it’s also about finding a career, the place and the person you feel you’re meant for, the rise of blogs and the shift to a digital world.

Pho readers of Anthony Bourdain and those that enjoy stories about other cultures and travel.

Traveller's Tales Hardcover LBN 1044793


 

"Punishment" by Linden MacIntyre

A former corrections officer moves back to the village of his youth after an unwanted divorce and forced early retirement. There he comes into contact with a convict from his past involved in a tragedy connected with his first love.

A book about justice, memory and vengeance along with the emptiness that can lay in wait for some during the last chapter of their lives.

Fiction Hardcover LBN 1019221


 

October 2014

"The Big Tiny: a Built-It-Myself Memoir" by Dee Williams

An odd and charming little book about a woman who decides to radically downsize, by building and moving into her own tiny house. What I'd originally expected to be nothing much more than Eat Pray Build took several unexpected turns.

This was not a book that I thought would require spoiler alerts in review, but it does. The author's style makes this a fast, accessible read, and one that would be great for book clubs as well as anyone looking at making major lifestyle changes or interested in ideas of community.

Non-fiction Hardcover LBN 959985


 

"Foodville: Biting Dispatches from a Food-Obsessed City" by Timothy Taylor

The author of Stanley Park writes about our food obsessed culture and how we got there in this slim "nonvella." (Novella length non-fiction)

Taylor does a great job in this culinary confessional of touching on trends in his Vancouver environment without eviscerating the reputations of chefs, trends or restaurants past, no matter how great the temptation must have been to do so.

At 62 pages, I was left wanting more on the subject, but that's my only quibble and the book is priced appropriately.

Food Paperback LBN 1021626


 

"Rivers" by Michael Farris Smith

A near-future tale of a new south taken off the map by post-Katrina storms of worsening intensity and frequency. A man haunted by memories amongst those that have ignored evacuation orders is forced to confront new realities that ultimately contain more meaning that ghosts.

Reads like The Road meets Waterworld as written by James Lee Burke.

Fiction Paperback LBN 906233


 

"Embrace the Suck" by Stephen Madden

A look into the world of CrossFit through the author's personal immersion. Madden, a former editor of Bicycling magazine, brings great enthusiasm and energy to his writing.

If you're not already a CrossFit enthusiast, reading this book will likely propel you to your nearest "Box" to give it a try. I know I will, as soon as I get the cast off from my latest athletic misadventure.

A fun read for anyone that enjoys athletic memoirs or reading about sports and fitness.

Health Paperback LBN 1007168


 

September 2014

"Gods of the Hammer" by Geoff Pevere

This account of the seminal rockers from Hamilton, Ontario is written with the wild energy and perfection of a 2.5 minute classic punk anthem.

Filled with insight pertaining to the Canadian music scene of the 70s and 80s.  Learn more about Teenage Head and listen to them on CBC Music:http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/Teenage-Head

MUSIC Paperback LBN 942140


 

"The Girl Who Was Saturday Night" by Heather O'Neill

Nouschka and Nicholas Tremblay are twins coming of age on the seedy side of Montreal's St Laurent Boulevard.

It's been a long wait for fans of O'Neill, whose debut, Lullabies for Little Criminals was published in 2006, and would go on to win Canada Reads while being shortlisted for just about everything else. This book's charm lies in the beauty of the writing but even more so with the character of its narrator, Nouschka, who you can't help but fall in love with and will be bereft to leave behind. The Globe and Mail said O'Neill emerges from this book a fully formed artist:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/author-heather-oneill-emerges-from-the-girl-who-was-saturday-night-a-fully-formed-artist/article18725806/

This book gave me more pure pleasure than anything else I've read all year.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 959212


 

August 2014

"The Ploughmen" by Kim Zupan

A contemporary western revolving  around a young deputy with marital problems who can't sleep and a 77 year old killer awaiting trial in small town Montana. Despite the synopsis this is literary, not genre fiction. Archaic and unusual vocabulary throughout is strangely effective. Writing style, characterization and place trump story here. Reads a bit like James Lee Burke might write under a pseudonym if he was freeing himself from genre. (That's meant as a compliment.) All told a remarkable achievement for a debut author. A native Montanan, Zupan has a varied resume that includes working as a pro rodeo horseback rider, Alaska salmon fisherman and now teaches carpentry at Missoula College.  See http://www.kimzupan.com/

FICTION Paperback LBN 1005692


 

"Becoming Wild" by Nikki Van Schyndel

A memoir of living primitively set in B.C.'s Gulf Islands. Nikki Van Schyndel's story strains incredulity at times as she lives off the land with next to no provisions or gear that she doesn't find or craft herself.

That's more likely indicative of just how far we've gone from being in tune with our natural environment than embellishment or falsehoods on Ms. Van Schyndel's part. A real life My Side of the Mountain. Van Schyndel now operates Echo Bay EcoVentures http://echobayecoventures.com/index.html

BIOGRAPHY Paperback LBN 979879


 

July 2014

After last month's deck dreck that skewed towards the male reader, I'll offer the titles below to balance the scales.  Thanks to The Guardian, and the article "Goodbye Carrie Bradshaw. Hello literature's new bad girls"

"Animals" by Emma Jane Unsworth

 

Author, Matt Haig sums this book up nicely: "A riot. A kind of drunker, swearier Girls." Druggier too! Laura and Tyler are over-educated and under-emplyed 30ish flatmates and best friends in Manchester, tearing through life in a manner not unlike Withnail and I, their relationship on the cusp of change with Laura engaged to be married.

Both the UK and North American book covers capture the spirit of the book perfectly.

http://emmajaneunsworth.com/

FICTION Paperback LBN 982666


 

"How to Build a Girl" by Caitlin Moran

Coming of age novel about a 14 year old British girl determined to re-make herself as a writer. Comic enough to obscure the pathos and keen insights beneath. Something of a feminist British version of “Almost Famous”.

Moran is a well-known UK broadcaster, TV critic, and a columnist for The Times. She has probably the most unrestrained, filthy Twitter feed I've ever seen:https://twitter.com/caitlinmoran

FICTION Hardcover LBN 992480 Paperback LBN1005683


 

June 2014

"Beach Dog" by John Fusco

Screenwriter, John Fusco (Thunderheart) delivers a fast paced, entertaining novel about a Hong Kong stuntman down on his luck in LA who unexpectedly finds himself with a feature movie role. Stuntman, Louie Mo's past problems with the Chinese mafia catch up with him just as his director's issues with shady financing threaten not just their movie, but their lives.

Fusco brings enough inside knowledge of the movie business with him to make for a convincing story that reads a bit like Get Shorty by way of Don Winslow's Savages. Fusco has written the screenplay for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II, currently in pre-production.

THRILLER Hardcover LBN 981717


 

"Down the Shore" by Stan Parish

Stan Parish shows great promise in this debut coming of age story that jumps from 2003 New Jersey to St Andrews, Scotland. Tom Alison's Ivy League academic hopes are thwarted by a drug arrest, classmate Clare Savage's by the massive fraud perpetrated by his financier father. Going to school in Scotland is meant to give them distance from their problems; they're too young to realize that problems usually tag along for the ride.

While the characters may leave many cold for their amoral narcissism, the book succeeds because of Parish's writing style, which is a fine balance between the commercial and literary. He's particularly adept at describing mood, behaviour, and observing the details of the physical environment his characters find themselves in.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 983438

Both of these are great quick reads for a June afternoon on the deck, or at the beach. They should also have appeal to teens or the male reader that doesn't normally stick in a toe in fictional waters.


 

May 2014

"What Makes Olga Run?" by Bruce Grierson

A look at how our minds and bodies age told through the story of 93 year old Olga Kotelko, a world record holder in multiple track and field disciplines. A retired schoolteacher living in BC, Kotelko grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan.

Grierson subtly paints such a well-rounded portrait of this remarkable woman that she feels like a family member or friend by the end of the book. Other icons of Canadian masters sport like Milton's Ed Whitlock are included as well.  The author also weaves in his own story, that of a middle aged man whose memory and fitness has begun to register alarming declines (a process I'm all too familiar with).

The book presents scientific research in an easily accessible way, and avoids any dramatic conclusions for a balanced view of the role that genetics and lifestyle choices play in our lives.  See a trailer with Olga at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9VO8N97VjwGrierson is also the author of U-Turn: What if you Woke Up One Morning and Realized You were Living the Wrong Life?

SCIENCE Hardcover LBN 940471


 

"The Hollow Ground: A Novel" by Natalie S. Harnett

The story of a teenaged girl living in poverty in 1960s Pennsylvania coal mining country where underground fires spewed sulphur and flames into the air with people and entire houses sometimes vanishing into the fiery depths below.

For readers of Sheri Reynolds and Jeannette Walls; also a great choice for young adults. While this is a work of fiction, underground fires in central PA were all too real. There are some great photos and links on the author's website at http://natalieharnett.com/hollow-ground/

FICTION Hardcover LBN 979162


 

April 2014

"Young God: A Novel" by Katherine Faw Morris

A debut novel set in the North Carolina tourists don't see, about a 13 year old girl finding her way alongside her dope dealing, pimp, ex-con father.

This is rural backwoods noir for fans of Daniel Woodrell or Cormac McCarthy at his most brutal.

What makes this an unusual read is the bold confidence and maturity with which it's told, along with the age and gender of the protagonist. Nikki's actions would be disturbing coming from a 33 year old; the fact that she's only 13 catches a reader's breath throughout.

This is The Hunger Games made all too current and real.

FICTION Hardcover LBN 981425


 

"North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both" by Cea Sunrise Person

Former model, Cea Sunrise Person writes about growing up off the grid in Alberta and BC, with back to the land grandparents and a stoner hippie mom.

A child's perspective isn't usually the voice we hear tell this kind of story, but Cea didn't flee a straight existence as an adult, she grew up in this unconventional one with no say in the matter.

Great YA crossover for a digital generation raised in fear of direct experience and the outdoors.

BIOGRAPHY Simultaneous Hardcover LBN 959218 & Paperback LBN 959787


 

March 2014

"Naked Imperfection: A Memoir" by Gillian Deacon

Broadcaster, environmentalist and author Gill Deacon writes about being diagnosed with breast cancer despite a conscientious lifetime of healthy living.

A sort of “why bad things happen to good people” tome for the eco-set, this memoir is also about struggling to live up to impossible standards, whether cultural or self-imposed. A couple of chapters stand out for being laugh out loud funny.

Paperback LBN 961553


 

"Four Corners" by Wally Rudolph

Debut fiction from the Canadian born actor (Sons of Anarchy) set in the American Southwest.

Frank Bruce is a 37 year old chronic drug and alcohol abusing criminal trying to sort his life out with his young fiance Maddie. Unfortunately things always look bad before they get worse. Describing Frank as an anti-hero is putting it lightly. This is brutal, unsentimental fiction that makes Breaking Bad look like something from Disney.

For the sort of reluctant reader that hasn't read anything since Fight Club or after Bukowski died, or fans of Barry Hannah, Bill Frank and William Gay.

Paperback LBN 980255


 

February 2014

"Five Days At Memorial" by Sheri Fink

A look into events at a New Orleans hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina, where charges arose of staff ending patient lives without their consent.

An MD and PhD from Stanford, author Sherry Fink's reporting has won the Pulitzer Prize. Having previously worked in disaster relief and written a book  about medical professionals under siege during the genocide in Bosnia (War Hospital), it's hard to imagine an author better suited to report this story.

A compelling look at medical and personal ethics and human behaviour under the most stressful conditions.

Hardcover LBN 935627


 

"The Red Road" by Denise Mina

Glaswegian crime fiction, fifth in the Alex Morrow series, jumping from the night Princess Diana died to present day.

Mina's books are much more about sociological insights and psychological drama than physical and overt acts of violence. A lot of American crime fiction is as subtle as a Disney ride on its way to being adapted into a big budget movie; not so Mina, whose work is dark, subtle, unsettling and unsparing.

Hardcover LBN 959219


 

"Polarity" by Max Bemis

Painter, Tim Woods battles with manic depression, superpowers, hipsters and other forces of evil in Brooklyn.

By the songwriter and lead singer for the Say Anything.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Paperback Original LBN 943647



 

"Friday at Enrico's: A Novel" by Don Carpenter

A recently discovered manuscript by the author of A Hard Rain Falling, edited and with an afterword by Jonathan Lethem.

This is the story of a group of writers in San Francisco and Portland in the 50s and 60s, struggling with relationships, ambition and their craft.

Hardcover LBN 980247


 

January 2014

"Black Rock" by John McFetridge

Crime fiction based on true events set in 1970 Montreal. While most Canadians will be at least familiar with the FLQ and the kidnappings of James Cross and Pierre Laporte, McFetridge does a great job of painting a wider portrait of the times, which included bombings at the stock exchange and McGill University, the murders of three women, and a city in thrall to corruption with organized crime expanding its grip.

Planes are hijacked, political figures assassinated and musicians die as the War Measures Act is invoked. This is a story that would seem far-fetched if it hadn't actually happened. My high school English curriculum included Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. As great as that book is, this would be a better read given the way it captures a time of staggering calamity and change in Canadian history.

Paperback Original LBN 976110


 

"Sexplosion" by Robert Hofler

Entertainment journalist Robert Hofler (a senior editor at Variety) presents a lively account of the revolutionary changes in the world of theatre, books and movies between 1968 and 1973.

A highly readable cultural history about a time of massive change that affected the sort of content we could read, watch, see and hear.

Hardcover LBN 960205


 

December 2013

"The Cairo Affair" by Olen Steinhauer

Paranoid political intrigue in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring set in Egypt, Budapest and Libya.

Like the best spy novels, it seems more revealing and believable than the evening news, while filling you with distrust and unease.

You might find yourself reading your spouse's emails after this and if you were to take it on a holiday, probably ruin the trip.

Hardcover LBN 958974


 

"This Ain't No Holiday Inn: Down and Out At the Chelsea Hotel, 1980-1995" by James Lough

Punks and drunks, dreamers and schemers, recount life at the infamous landmark hotel that served as both home and a lifestyle for generations of bohemians, musicians, artists and writers in the days before NYC was Disneyfied.

Paperback Original LBN 909356


 

November 2013

"The Free" by Willy Vlautin

A book about life's losers struggling like Sisyphus through each and every too long day and night.

Vlautin presents characters so convincingly, without sentimentality or cheap authorial ploys for sympathy, which it hurts to read about them and not be able to somehow help them. If the sum of your "first world problems" amount to nothing more than traffic congestion, long lineups at Starbucks and the dry cleaner not getting out the stain on your yoga pants, read this as a reality check about daily existence for people with real problems. Heartbreaking.

Paperback LBN 950266


 

"Eat Move Sleep" by Tom Rath

The deluge of diet and health books is constant like a monsoon of magical thinking that never quits.

Every time I select for our bestseller lists I find myself alternately cringing and laughing at their grandiose claims and the sheer volume of them; meanwhile, Canadians health declines and our children are expected to live shorter lives because of it. Rath's book is a refreshingly simple and jargon free book filled with brief advice about how to make small changes to our eating, exercise and sleep habits to lead to greater well-being.

Rath has a rare genetic disorder that makes him a sort of cancer chia-pet and he comes to this subject out of necessity yet his suggestions are meant for regular people.

This is a health and exercise book for people that are sick of them or never read one in the first place.

Hardcover LBN 946781


 

October 2013

"The Circle" by Dave Eggers

A deft, and timely novel that reads like modern day Orwell. Eggers tells the story of Mae, newly employed by The Circle, a hi-tech monopoly that seems to neatly encapsulate Google, Apple, Facebook and Scientology all in one. While the ending seemed rushed, this is a near perfect mirror held up to, and satire of, our current social media and digital obsessions, monopolies like Amazon and our willingness to accept the end of privacy while helping to fund it.

For readers of Walker Percy and fans of Christopher Hitchens, this would make a great book club pick. With apologies to Leary, I hope it’ll make more people “turn off, unplug, drop out” although I fear it might actually make even MORE people apply to work at Google.

Hardcover LBN 958802


 

"The Mushroom Hunters" by Langdon Cook

An energetic romp through the underground world of commercial mushroom foragers, mostly set in the Pacific Northwest. There are far more people, and a lot more money, involved than most would suspect. If you like character driven narrative non-fiction like Susan Orlean's Orchid Thief, you'll enjoy this whether you're into mushrooms, foodie, forager or not.

Hardcover LBN 925359


 

September 2013

"What You Want is in the Limo: On the Road with Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and the Who in 1973, the Year the Sixties Died and the Modern Rock Star was Born" by Michael Walker

The subtitle breaks it down but can't convey the deft touch Walker has re-creating the scene and analyzing the past and future of rock from that date.

The author seems perfectly poised as someone who appreciates the music without being in the least bit sycophantic, capable of noting the blunders along with the wonders.

Hardcover LBN 894984


 

"Chuvalo: A Fighter's Life: The Story of Boxing's Last Great Gladiator" by George Chuvalo

Long before the days of MMA when heavyweight boxing was the most highest profile sport in the world, Toronto's George Chuvalo was legendary. In almost 100 pro bouts, including fights with Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Joe Frazier, he was never knocked down and consistently held a high ranking. Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, Chuvalo's life became tougher once out of the ring when he suffered an incomprehensible amount of family tragedy.

While this book will be best appreciated by fans of the sweet science, Chuvalo's stories of growing up in Toronto, along with random comments out of character with his persona (e.g. mentioning that his favourite author is Kahlil Ghibran!) make this more than your average sports read.

Hardcover LBN 904737


 

"You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes" by Nathan Rabin

A.V. Club editor Nathan Rabin goes on a Plimptonesque voyage into the subcultures of Phish and Insane Clown Posse fandom, tracking his mental collapse along the way.

Given how seriously the fans of both groups seem to take their music, I suspect most will take issue with this book.

Not being familiar with the music of either, I read this simply as participatory journalism detailing a world I knew nothing about and enjoyed it tremendously.

While I'm unlikely to ever turn up at a Phish show, or attend the Juggalo Gathering, I'd gladly read whatever Rabin writes next. Almost 50 years after the acid tests, you're still either on the bus or off the bus.

Paperback LBN 925359


 

August 2013

"Pulphead" by John Jeremiah Sullivan

Pulphead contains a wide ranging collection of non-fiction essays. Some of the subjects skew towards the obscure, such as recent changes in animal behavior, archaeological discoveries in Kentuckian caves or a look at 19th century botanist Constantine Samuel Rafinesque.

Equally interesting and more surprisingly so given how well trodden their ground has been covered are essays on Michael Jackson, reality TV and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Writing something like a hybrid of John McPhee and David Foster Wallace, Sullivan seems to be one of those rare writers that can make any subject worth reading about.

Paperback LBN 731754 / ISBN 9780374532901


 

"Skinner" by Charlie Huston

Huston channels William Gibson and the Bourne series in this story peopled with unbelievable but oddly endearing characters caught up pursuing a cyber-terrorist threat.

As improbable as much of the story is, it manages to feel utterly plausible at the same time. I was startled to read a reference to the Boston Marathon bombing in a work of fiction in early July in a book from the public library.

It is touches like that which ground all of the superhuman and bizarre characters in all too uncomfortable reality. Huston is the author of the Henry Thompson trilogy.

Hardcover LBN 902539 / ISBN 9780316133722


 

July 2013

"The Siesta and the Midnight Sun" by Jessa Gamble

Very readable popular science that examines the latest research into circadian rhythms and sleep behaviours.

There's a nice mix of history and diversity of studies and cultures explored.

If you like your science leavened with diversions of memoir and popular culture, this is a great read.

Yellowknife author Jessa Gamble has an admirable touch, managing to write in a style that makes the book feel like you're hanging out listening to the adventures of a well-traveled and intelligent friend, not being taught in a lecture hall.

Hardcover LBN 688935 / ISBN 9780805097252


 

"Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place" by Scott McClanahan

It's nice to see a book from a small press (Two Dollar Radio) that aims at an honest portrayal of lives lived in Appalachia (instead of a cartoon version) get major review attention (as this book did in the NYT).

This is a book about family, a place, a state of mind, a way of being. There are rivers and malls and mountains mentioned, but not as you might expect.

The language is poetic and as casually simple and addictive as homemade crank. Every spring for most of the last 20 years I've gone to Appalachia for a holiday. This book is no two weeks off work for those with a disposable income fantasy: this book is about real folk, living real lives. As Arthur Miller wrote, "attention must be paid."

Paperback LBN 898237 / ISBN 9781937512033


 

June 2013

"My Lunches With Orson"

by Peter Bisking

Tapes recorded over the course of wide ranging lunch conversations between Orson Welles and director Henry Jaglom in the early 80s reveal Welles as a brilliant, iconoclastic raconteur in a merrily uncensored fashion.

You don't need to agree with, or be a fan of Welles to find this book wildly entertaining.

The substantial introduction by Peter Biskind, author of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is worth the price of the book on its own.

For sheer pleasure, the best non-fiction book I've read so far this year. Absolutely essential for film fans and those interested in the movie business, Hollywood, or Welles.

Hardcover LBN 888059 / ISBN 9780805097252


 

May 2013

"Almost Criminal"
by E.R. Brown

Teenager Tate MacLane finds an unlikely father figure in a boutique marijuana producer, and starts improving upon his part time barista's income through involvement in the local grow-op underground economy of Fraser Valley, B.C.

With convincing characters and a lack of cartoonish violence, this is a good read for those with an interest in how marijuana cultivation can underpin vast swathes of a community in myriad ways.

The teenaged protagonist has the mostly usual problems endemic to the age: family, school, money, unrequited love etc, making this a good book for young adult and reluctant readers as well.

Hardcover LBN 902524 / ISBN 9781459705838

"With Charity For All"
by Ken Stearn

Former NPR CEO Ken Stern unveils the seldom scrutinized state of charities in the U.S., which comprises 10% of the economic activity of the country. It's very seldom that I read anything that blows my mind as this book did: the scale of charitable activity, the lack of accountability and effectiveness, the amount of incompetence and outright malfeasance that would shame a Bernie Madoff.

I challenge anyone to pick up this book in a library or bookstore, read the outside back cover and not feel shock and fascination. It should be stressed that we are all (through various taxes) involved in charitable organizations whether we know it or not.

This is an absolute must read. (As a Canadian, I just wish we had a similar book that looked at the situation in this country although sadly, I suspect it would be all too analogous).

Hardcover LBN 882186 / ISBN 9780385534710
April 2013

"A Map Of Tulsa"
by Benjamin Lytal

An exquisitely written tale of first love set in the buckle of the Bible Belt. First person narration so pitch perfect, this reads like an instant coming of age classic, A Catcher in the Rye for a new generation.

Great YA crossover for those more interested in real messy life than vampires and dystopias.

Hardcover LBN 874977 / ISBN 9780142422595

"Uproar's Your Only Music"
by Briant Brett

Best known for Trauma Farm, his passionate and hilarious memoir of rural life, this earlier work details Brett’s somewhat Dickensian upbringing up into his 20s. The story of what turns out to be an extremely rare genetic disorder is all the more shocking for the spare style in which it’s told.

This very slim volume, where every sentence has been polished to a diamond, manages somehow to contain multitudes.

Hardcover LBN 412317 / ISBN 9781550966077
March 2013

"The Silver Star"
by Jeannette Walls

Set in 1970 and narrated by 12-year-old "Bean" Holladay, this coming-of-age tale revolves around the experiences of two sisters abandoned by their single, free-spirited mom.

Bean and her sister Liz are instantly fascinating characters caught up in a suspenseful situation. This novel should do well with Book Clubs and teenagers and appeal to fans of books like A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews or Russell Banks' Rule of Bone.

Hardcover LBN 909099 / ISBN 9781451661507

"Drunk Mom: A Memoir"
by Jowita Bydlowska

While we’ve OD’d on addiction memoirs since the success of James Frey’s (fictional!) A Million Little Pieces, Jowita Bydlowska’s Drunk Mom deserves special note.

In an age of Baby Mozart and $1200 “SUV” baby strollers where many women feel ashamed if they’re not feeding their child organically, Bydlowska is staggering around the streets of Toronto with her own sippy cup filled with vodka falling flat on her face between liquor stores with a newborn.

This is not the usual territory covered by addiction memoirs, nor is the unsentimental writing style and the lack of a predictable, inspirational story arc. Whatever her motives for writing the book, the act was a courageous one.

Don’t expect Disney to make a movie version out of this one.

Hardcover LBN 881978 / ISBN 9780385677806

"Into The Abyss: How A Deadly Commuter Plane Crash Changed The Lives Of A Pilot, A Politician, A Criminal, And A Cop"
by Carol Shaben

The story of a 1984 plane crash in Northern Alberta that killed six people, written by the daughter of one of the survivors.

Shaben does a remarkable job of detailing the events leading up to the tragedy, and her portraits of the survivors, who included an RCMP officer with the prisoner he was escorting and her father, Canada’s first Muslim cabinet minister.

I’ll never take another ride in a “vomit-comet” or “puddle-jumper” again without thinking about this book, and have much greater respect and appreciation for the imposing task faced by rescue services in remote areas.

Hardcover LBN 816288 / ISBN 9780307360229
February 2013

"Kind Of Kin"
by Rilla Askew

Set in 2008 Oklahoma, a family unravels thanks to a new state law making it a felony to harbour illegal aliens.

A great book club pick, this story looks at how social policy issues can have great consequences to personal family dynamics and relationships. It also portrays an overwhelmingly Christian, “blue state” community with realism and respect, not the kind of histrionics and cartoonish exaggerations common in popular media.

Hardcover LBN 881770 / ISBN 9780062198792
January 2013

"Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, And The Search For Something Like Transcendence In Competitive Yoga"
by Benjamin Lorr

The author very randomly takes a Bikram yoga class and begins an obsessive journey into the extreme yoga fringe culminating in advanced teacher training and competitive events.

Part transformative memoir, part expose of yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, this is at its heart a look at obsession, which makes it for readers of The Orchid Thief as much as anyone that can't get through the day without a downward facing dog.

Hardcover LBN 832165 / ISBN 9780312672904

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette"
by Maria Semple

A satirical family drama set under the shadow of Microsoft in a politically correct enclave of Seattle. This book probably had better word of mouth than anything else in 2012 and has been an in-house LBI favourite.

Although it deals with the sort of serious problems that routinely tear families apart, Semple’s breezy comedic style and the warm heart of the family central to the plot keeps this a light, fast read.

Both of these books (this and Hell-Bent, listed above)have very simple but bold covers that do a great job of capturing their essence (as do the titles).

Hardcover LBN 819264 / ISBN 9780316204279
December 2012

"The Big Screen: The Story Of The Movies"
by David Thomson

David Thomson might best be described as the Christopher Hitchens of film criticism: frighteningly knowledgeable with an encyclopedic memory, rapier wit, maliciously gleeful sense of humour, and ferociously opinionated. As with  Hitch, chances are you’ll love or hate him: put me in the former camp.

In his latest book, Thomson presents a history of screens, from the first moving pictures to Facebook. A casual, readable style makes it easy to gloss over the wealth of knowledge and insight on every page.

Read from a Waterloo PL loan, I’ll buy my own copy now: there’s enough reference material here to guide movie choices for a lifetime.

Hardcover LBN 856643 / ISBN 9780374191894

"Death Grip: A Climber's Escape From Benzo Madness"
by Matt Samet

Climber’s stories and addiction memoirs are legion but I can’t think of the two being combined. Death Grip tells the story of a world class rock jock’s nearly life-long (and near fatal) struggles with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, and prescription drug addiction.

This is also a look at the effects of divorce, trying to fit in, and the consequences and limitations of family (Samet’s mother had mental health struggles, while his father worked at prestigious John Hopkins).

Also setting this book apart is the quality of the writing, likely helped by Samet’s career as an author and journalist, including stints as editor at Climbing and Rock & Ice magazines. Prescription drug abuse continues to rise – not to mention the widespread use of benzo drugs prescribed across a broad spectrum of society. A harrowing read.

Hardcover LBN 881966 / ISBN 9781250004239
November 2012

"Cigarettes & Truckstops"
by Lindi Ortega

As much as I adore the work of Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams, and hope to hear more from both, music requires gifted singer songwriters in every generation to sustain itself. Cue Canadian Lindi Ortega in her little red boots, whom American Songwriter calls “the love child of Johnny Cash and Nancy Sinatra.”

Her voice took centre stage in her debut, while its her songwriting chops that stand out on her latest CD. Add in fine musicianship and you’ve got something for everyone here: Saturday night stomp dance tunes and lyrics worth listening to from an old soul.

Genre: Country            Compact Disc - VRN #241128

"Between Man And Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, The Evolution Debates, And The African Adventure That Took The Victorian World By Storm"
by Monte Reel

Nothing like a mile-long subtitle, although in this case you could, unbelievably, have added quite a bit more. In an age where scientists relied on explorers and hunters for specimens, Paul Du Chaillu brought the first gorillas--previously only the subject of legend and myth--to the world.

This is one of those books that is vast in scope and subject areas (Darwinism, exploration, race, evolution, West Africa, Victorian society, even the American Civil War) that is able to provide just the right amount of detail in a highly readable way.

One of the best books I read in 2012 (from an advance copy), it won’t be available until March 2013 and was featured in our Winter Bestseller list.

For readers of Richard Holmes’ Age of Wonder and The Lost City of Z.

Hardcover LBN 881536 / ISBN 9780385534222

"The Round House"
by Louise Erdrich

One of five finalists for the National Book Award, The Round House stands alongside other chapters in the saga of First Nations people begun by Erdrich almost 30 years ago with Love Medicine.

As explained to Eleanor Wachtel in an IFOA interview to be aired on Writers and Company, The Round House was written as a suspenseful mystery to bring native issues forward in a highly readable way.

This is pitch perfect page-turning realism, where issues like violence against women and judicial jurisdiction unfold organically, as realities of her characters everyday lives.

Very few writers have ever been able to combine storytelling, style and characterization with equal strength.

IFOA interview will air Nov 4th and then be available for podcast at http://www.cbc.ca/writersandcompany/

Hardcover LBN 842213 / ISBN 9780062065247
October 2012

"1982"
by Jian Ghomeshi

The popular CBC radio host recalls his 14th year, obsessed with David Bowie, his ethnic identity, an Adidas gym bag and Wendy, a high school crush.

A bittersweet memoir told with humour, innocence, and self-deprecation you don’t have to have stalked Rush or gone to The Police Picnic to enjoy.

Hardcover LBN 852752 / ISBN 9780670066483
September 2012

"Season Of The Witch: Enchantment, Terror, And Deliverance In The City Of Love"
by David Talbot

Deservedly earning starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco resident and founder of Salon David Talbot focuses on his beloved city throughout the tumultuous years of 1967 to 1982.

The Summer of Love is so firmly imprinted in our collective consciousness with a soundtrack provided by Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead , with underground newspapers and literary landmarks and lions like City Lights and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, it’s easy to lose sight of Altamont, AIDS, the SLA and the Zodiac killer, Jim Jones’ pre-Guyana role in politics and the death of Harvey Milk and mayor Moscone.

This cultural, political and social history packs a great deal of information into 406 highly readable pages, ending on a redemptive note I didn’t expect.

Hardcover LBN 733171 / ISBN 9781439108215

"Kicking And Dreaming: A Story Of Heart, Soul, And Rock And Roll"
by Ann and Nancy Wilson

While never a fan of Heart, I was taken aback by how thoughtful, intelligent, and humorous they were in an interview on CBC Radio's Q, enough so to read this book. Ann and Nancy alternate chapters, also adding the spoken memories of some of their closest friends, taking the reader from their early days of being raised on Marine Corps bases through to their 2011 tour and work on the next studio album.

This book isn't a sensational look at past excesses or a shameless cash grab trying to take advantage of the popularity of recent music biographies, but rather a clear and eloquent mutual memoir of lives and dreams lived. There's a lot more to Heart than big hair, cantilevered cleavage, and bad 80s videos.

Having read this book, consider me a fan

Hardcover LBN 841066 / ISBN 9780062101679

"High Country"
by Richmond Fontaine

Richmond Fontaine was formed in Portland in 1994 by Dave Harding and crime novelist Willy Vlautin, whose prose has been compared to Raymond Carver with a movie version of The Motel Life currently in production with Emile Hirsch and Kris Kristoffersen.

Their latest CD, The High Country, is a unique hybrid of Pacific Northwest country rock Americana with spoken word story telling. Is this the first crime novel concept album? I don't know, but it's the best thing I've heard in years and compulsively listenable.

Thanks to Brit crime writer Mark Billingham's blog to bringing these musical poets of rain-soaked logging truck roads to my attention.

CD VRN 236716
August 2012

"Visit Sunny Chernobyl, And Other Adventures In The World's Most Polluted Places"
by Andrew Blackwell

It would be a gross understatement to say that this book chronicles travels far from the usual tourist traps. Andrew Blackwell journeys to some of the world’s most polluted places, including Fort McMurray, Alberta which, while not the world’s worst, (that dubious honour falls to Linfen, China) does manage to emit twice the carbon of Los Angeles, while laying waste to water and wildlife at the same time.

Part reportage, satire, and, one suspects, clever pitch to land a book deal, Blackwell makes the valid point that we need to appreciate our planet as it truly is, in all its diverse and often appalling glory.

Hardcover LBN 819399 / ISBN 9781605294452


 

"Transfer"

Duncan reviewed a book recently so I thought I’d mention a DVD to return the favour. An elderly and wealthy German couple facing a health crisis avail themselves of a controversial procedure that implants their consciousness into the bodies of two young African refugees. As one might expect, trouble ensues in a host of unanticipated ways.

This is a very intelligent look at racism, privilege, aging, technology, and love, that readers of The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist or fans of understated Sci-Fi films like Gattaca will enjoy.

DVD VRN 232025


 

July 2012

"Showdown At Shepherd's Bush"
by David Davis

Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush documents the 1908 Olympics in London where the marathon was the main event, with Tom Longboat from the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario, the favorite to win.

Booklist called this “a class underdog story… although the focus is on just one event… the text places the marathon in the context of the evolution of the Olympics and other major sporting competitions during this period” calling it “a must read for Olympics fans.”

There is a great deal of history in this book, not just athletic, but about the immigrant experience, conditions in turn of the century Italy, the racism Native Canadians faced, and more.

A great read just in time for London 2012.

Hardcover LBN 819383 / ISBN 9780312641009


 

"Argyle Armada: Behind The Scenes Of The Pro Cycling Life"
by Mark Johnson

Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro last month, the first Canadian to ever do so, and races now in the Tour de France as one of the favourites.

The Argyle Armada is the only book available that shows the B.C. native at work, along with his Garmin team mates. Writer/photographer Mark Johnson spent 2011 with the team and chronicles their highs and lows in this beautiful large format book.

Hardcover LBN 795204 / ISBN 9781934030813


 

June 2012

"Life Is About Losing Everything"
by Lynn Crosbie

A fantasy memoir of 80s Toronto from the poet, professor and Globe and Mail columnist, told in brief chapters that read like epileptic fits crossed with delerium tremens.

Reads something like a crack addled David Gilmour with the sound of confessional poetry found in Jean Genet or Anais Nin. There are flowers blooming amongst the refuse piles throughout the book.

Hardcover LBN 820298 / ISBN 9781770890039


 

http://images.borders.com.au/images/bau/97800620/9780062070210/0/0/plain/unicorn-being-a-jerk.jpg

"Unicorn Being A Jerk"
by C.W. Moss

If you're a fan of The Bunny Suicides or Grandpa Won't Wake Up -- gleefully mean spirited adult comics drawn in the style of children's books -- you'll love Unicorn Being a Jerk.

Just DON'T leave these out where your kids can get their hands on them, unless you want to initiate a lifetime of counseling.

Hardcover LBN 752922 / ISBN 9780062070210


 

May 2012

"The Barefoot Bandit"
by Bob Friel

Teenaged Colton Harris-Moore's crime spree throughout the San Juan Islands is told with sympathy and style in this suspenseful account by adventure travel author and Orcas Island resident Bob Friel.

America's "Most Wanted Teen" stole cars, yachts, identities and most incredibly, airplanes, evading capture for years. Far more than just a true crime narrative, this is a look at the culture of small island life in the Pacific Northwest: the stories of the people that live there, the divide between rich and poor, how they came to be and manage to stay there. It encompasses parenting, social services, education, tourism, true crime, and celebrity in the age of Facebook.

Taken along as part of our booth display for BCLA, I found myself staying in my hotel room during glorious BC spring weather to finish the book and find out Colton's fate. Along with Cheryl Strayed's Wild (one of my April 2012 Staff Picks), the best non-fiction I've read this year.

Hardcover LBN 716282 / ISBN 9781401324162


 

"Good As Dead"
by Mark Billingham

Tenth in the Tom Thorne series, Good as Dead revolves around the kidnapping of a police officer and the in custody death of a juvenile offender. Billingham is somehow able to combine B+ social commentary, character and story development, and merely average style, into A+ novels that are more than the sum of their parts.

His first two novels, Sleepyhead and Scaredy Cat, were made into a six part series for SKY (VRN 231852; cast includes Canadian Sandra Oh). Billingham also works as an actor, stand-up comedian, and writes children's books under the psuedonym Will Peterson.

I highly recommend visiting his website, which includes a free iPhone app created by Little, Brown as a companion to the novels and TV series. Check his links page for musical influences like JR Cash, Steve Earle, and Elvis Costello

Hardcover LBN 818963 / ISBN 9781847444202


 

April 2012

"Lakeland"
by Allan Casey

Winner of the Governor General's award for Nonfiction, and Waterloo Region's One Book, One Community pick for 2012, Lakeland is a journey through the greatest lake country on earth.

Part travelogue, natural history, science writing and memoir, Casey's writing is accessible, full of insight, and entertaining. Check the OBOC blog for more information and events, which will culminate in multiple author appearances in Waterloo Region in September.

Website: http://oboc.ca/

Hardcover LBN 753374 / ISBN 9781553688856


 

"A Land More Kind Than Home"
by Wiley Cash

A debut novel set in a small Western North Carolina town, this is an intelligent literary thriller with the power of myth.

I took this book with me on holidays near Brevard, NC and found it as authentic and powerful as the grits, boiled peanuts, and rattlesnakes I encountered there. This book should appeal to fans of both John Hart and Harper Lee.

Check out this link for a short video introduction by the author.

Hardcover LBN 778176 / ISBN 9780062088147


 

"Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail"
by Cheryl Strayed

Eat, Pray, Love & Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking helped unleash an avalanche of memoirs aimed at women about finding yourself, divorce, and grief.

Into this oversaturated market comes Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, one of the most hyped books of the year. Deservedly so, as I found out, devouring it in one sitting, the first book of the year where I’ve purchased copies after reading it to urge on family & friends.

This is not self-indulgent narcissistic navel-gazing cashing in on a publishing trend: written 15 years after the events portrayed, this journey is so well-considered and finely written you feel that you’re with her every step of the way.

Here are links to Cheryl Strayed's Facebook page, her author website (containing links with video and audio), and an article in the New York Times Arts Beat where she talks about this book.

Hardcover LBN 779201 / ISBN 9780307592736


 

"The Song Of Achilles"
by Madeline Miller

The hero’s life and role in the Trojan War reworked through the eyes of his companion and lover, Patroclus.

Did it matter that I already knew the inevitable outcome, or that the relationship portrayed was between two men? Not at all, thanks to Madeline Miller, who holds degrees in Latin & Ancient Greek and studied at the Yale School of Drama, adapting classical tales for a modern audience.

Her beautiful writing style is “literary” and yet the book is a page-turner, with Gods and mythical beings woven in so deftly they belong as naturally as a sunrise, or fish in the wine dark seas.

For readers of Grant Buday’s Dragonflies.

Hardcover LBN 778308 / ISBN 9780062060617


 

March 2012

"Straphangar: How Subways, Buses And Trains Are Saving Our Cities"
by Taras Grescoe

A global look at transportation and cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. As with Bottomfeeder, which won the Writers' Trust & Mavis Gallant prize, Grescoe's genius is the readability & quality of his research, and his quirky powers of observation. (For example, in the chapter on Bogota, he notes that pirated copies of Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels are sold next to transgendered prostitutes offering their wares).

This is a huge issue: locally, Kitchener has been debating LRT for years, people died in a train crash in Burlington last month, and Rob Ford is trying to put in new subway lines in Toronto no matter the cost. Whether or not you care (and unless you walk everywhere, you should) Grescoe is worth reading no matter the subject.

See his related article in The Walrus.

Author website: www.tarasgrescoe.com

Hardcover LBN 778618 / ISBN 9781554686247


 

February 2012

"The Juliet Stories"
by Carrie Snyder

Juliet Friesen is 10 when her family moves to Nicaragua in 1984; the inter-connected stories here see her return to Canada and continue into young adulthood.

Waterloo author Snyder writes with such conviction and precision that it’s difficult to accept this is fiction and not memoir. The characterization of Juliet’s mother is so expertly done I almost couldn’t read the book because of my distaste for her.

The people in this book are so real they provoke genuine heart-felt emotion; Snyder writes with the assurance and maturity of a master.

http://www.facebook.com/thejulietstories

Hardcover LBN 736191 / ISBN 9781770890022


 

"Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory, And The Conquest Of Everest"
by Wade Davis

Since Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air in 1997, I’ve read at least 75 books about mountain climbing, to the point where I’d decided I’d have more than enough of the subject. And then one of my favourite authors, the B.C. anthropologist Wade Davis, comes out with the story of the first Everest expeditions, and the mystery of George Mallory’s disappearance.

But this book is so much more than just another climbing tale: in writing about the history and effects of WWI on a whole generation to put those climbs into their proper context, Davis has written an incredibly detailed history, on a huge range of subjects.

This isn’t just about climbing: it’s about war, and a dentist in Labrador pulling over 700 teeth in a day, life in the Raj, the Bloomsbury scene, cartography and photography and the life of British public schools.

Utterly fascinating from start to finish, the sort of book that begs to be read slowly because of its sheer depth of detail; absolutely epic.

Hardcover LBN 736551 / ISBN 9780676979190


 

January 2012

"That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented"
by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum

A look at the crumbling American empire with an analysis of how the country got into the sorry mess it finds itself now, comparisons to other countries (notably China) a clear eyed look at the present situation and suggestions for a change in policy.

Described by the New York Review of Books as "important and eminently readable" and "a book of exceptional importance" by Library Journal, I'd agree but stress how surprisingly interesting the book is: more like John McPhee or Michael Lewis than political science. I'd also recommend it to readers of general business books.

Thomas Friedman talks to Chris Wragge on CBS

Friedman talks with Sir David Frost

Hardcover LBN 736727 / ISBN 9780374288907

December 2011

"Trigger Point: A Novel"
by Matthew Glass

Matthew Glass takes us behind the scenes in the worlds of high finance and international diplomacy in this intelligent, edge-of-your-seat suspenseful follow-up to the internationally praised Ultimatum.

If you’ve never wanted to kill a banker or politician before, you will after reading this book. I’d gone to this book expecting nothing more than a mindless entertainment and was very pleasantly surprised.

For readers that enjoyed Richard North Patterson’s Exile, John Le Carré or Alex Dryden’s spy series.

Hardcover LBN 778135 / ISBN 9781443407120

"Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, The Octagon, And The Last Emperor"
by Matthew Polly

The author of American Shaolin takes up Mixed Martial Arts in this Plimptonesque narrative of middle-aged folly. While the dumbed down writing style was initially off-putting, resistance is futile and in no time you're laughing along and out loud as if to an airplane movie you'd have never thought could be funny.

For readers of A.J. Jacobs, George Plimpton and former jocks hitting their middle aged spread.

Here is a link to the complete MMA bout between author Matthew Polly and David Cexton, as chronicled in the book. Obviously, Spoiler Alert! for those reading the book.

Hardcover LBN 702024 / ISBN 9781592405992

November 2011

"When Tish Happens: The Unlikely Story of Canada's Most Influential Literary Magazine"
by Frank Davey

Written as a memoir by one of its founders and editors, Frank Davey chronicles his early life in Abbotsford, B.C., and the history of the UBC poetry magazine, Tish.

While an interest in Canadian literary history brought me to this book, Davey's descriptions of his childhood and campus years at UBC, then his early career in Victoria, Montreal, and Toronto were a huge part of what makes the book an interesting read.

Amazing how arguments over poetic theory, publishing deals, and slights real or imagined can be so fiercely remembered 40+ years later, but these are poets, after all. A must read for those interested in Canadian letters of the last 50 years.

Hardcover LBN 725163 / ISBN 9781550229585

"When Bob Met Woody: The Story Of Young Bob Dylan"
by Gary Golio

The story of young Bob Zimmerman of rural Minnesota, who grows up and renames himself after his favorite poet--Dylan Thomas--and goes off to New York City where he meets folk music hero Woody Guthrie.

Beautifully illustrated in a unique style evocative of antique folk art, this children's picture book in all its poetic simplicity just might be the best book on Dylan out there. Can be read to a child as a simple story about chasing your dreams, or as an early look at one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the last century.

Hardcover LBN 714890 / ISBN 9780316112994

October 2011

"The Perfect Order Of Things"
by David Gilmour

A fictional biography with a very recognizable narrator revisiting memories and scenes from the most memorable times of his past.

I don't know why this book has been shut out of the major literary award nominations, although Gilmour has surely offended the less brilliant (which is pretty much everyone) over the years, and this blurring of fiction & non-fiction might not sit well with juries either.

The Perfect Order of Things is a well nigh perfect book, and for my tastes his best since How Boys See Girls.

Hardcover LBN 735980 / ISBN 9780887628078

"Once You Break A Knuckle"
by D.W. Wilson

A collection of short interlinked stories set in the Kootenay Valley of British Columbia.

A promising debut from the winner of the inaugural Man Booker Prize scholarship, for readers of Raymond Carver, Jim Harrison and Richard Ford.

A good book for the sort of man that "doesn't read fiction."

Hardcover LBN 736253 / ISBN 9780670065745

September 2011

"Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, And Life With The Tree-Planting Tribe"
by Charlotte Gill

Award winning fiction writer Charlotte Gill writes of her twenty years working as part of the tree planting tribe, mostly in British Columbia, with beautifully crisp prose. She writes not only of her personal experience but presents passages of natural history and science, big business, anthropology and public policy.

There's no axe to grind, no agenda; she writes from the dirt where she worked on the forest floor, not a soapbox. You can read this to learn about forestry practices, or for the character profiles of those involved, or simply for the pleasure of Gill's prose. Gill can rightfully take her place with other great BC non-fiction writers like John Vaillant and Wade Davis.

Hardcover LBN 736485 / ISBN 9781553659778

"The Great Leader"
by Jim Harrison

The story of a recently divorced and retired detective from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on the trail of a cult leader, that takes him through a series of darkly comic misadventures from the UP to Arizona and Nebraska.

Fans of Harrison will likely interpret the character of Detective Sunderson, and the settings, to be his most autobiographical work. Incredibly entertaining, written with the sort of brilliant economy and seeming ease that only a master of the craft can employ.

A great book for men that don’t normally like fiction or are reluctant readers.

Paperback LBN 736159 / ISBN 9781770890367

August 2011

"Shadows On The Gulf"
by Rowan Jacobsen

A look at the Gulf coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, revealing how that tragedy pales in comparison to 100 years of degradation from a variety of sources. While arguing that clean-up funds post-Deepwater could bring about meaningful restoration of this invaluable resource, it's hard to feel anything but hopeless in light of the systemic abuse and endemic corruption. That said, absolutely worth reading for the insights and perspectives it presents.

 

Hardcover LBN 716523 / ISBN 9781608195817

"A Call From Jersey"
by P.F. Kluge

A look at the mutation of the immigrant experience and the erosion of the family in 1980s New Jersey through the eyes of Hans Grefinger, who arrived in New York from Germany in 1928. For readers of Richard Russo and John Irving, a quietly brilliant work from the author of Gone Tomorrow and Biggest Elvis.

The movies Dog Day Afternoon and Eddie and the Cruisers were based on Kluge’s work.

Hardcover LBN 688332 / ISBN 9781590203613

"Devil Sent The Rain: Music And Writing In Desperate America"
by Tom Piazza

Short essays on American musicians, authors, writing and New Orleans told with a poetic, insightful, and at times outraged and authentic voice. Piazza is the author of Why New Orleans Matters and writes for the HBO TV series Treme. Bob Dylan has noted “Tom Piazza’s writing pulsates with nervous electrical tension – reveals the emotions that we can’t define.”

Hardcover LBN 735511 / ISBN 9780062008220

"Tomato Red"
by Daniel Woodrell

The story of an out-of-control loser in the hardscrabble town of West Table, Missouri from the master of Ozark/country noir, and my new favourite fiction author. While a classic screw-up, hero Sammy Barlach is endearing and sympathetic, as are his co-conspirators Jamalee and Jason Merridew.

Tomato Red won the PEN USA award for fiction in 1998. Two films have been adapted from his novels: Academy Award nominated Winter’s Bone, and Ride with the Devil, directed by Ang Lee and based on Woe to Live On.

Paperback LBN 710966 / ISBN 9781935415060

July 2011

"Chinaberry Sidewalks"
by Rodney Crowell

An above average music memoir that recalls the singer-songwriter’s hardscrabble early days in Jacinto City, Texas. This is more a beautifully evoked snapshot of childhood and a time and place than any sort of rock and roll tale, not that it lacks for tales of guns and drinking, fistfights, fishing, Pentecostal preachers, and colourful characters. Whether or not you’re a fan of Crowell’s music or work as a producer matters not a bit to the enjoyment of this book, which received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

Hardcover LBN 701859 / ISBN 9780307594204

"The Sisters Brothers"
by Patrick deWitt

A revisionist western about two killer-for-hire brothers on the trail from Oregon to California. Funny, brutal, odd, and strange with delicious language that will delight fans of Deadwood. Other than Lonesome Dove, this is the first western I’ve read since I was in britches--don’t let the genre turn you away--this is a great book. Author Patrick DeWitt was born on Vancouver Island and now lives in Portland. Published by Anansi, a member of The Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario (OBPO).

Paperback LBN 713051 / ISBN 9780887842894

June 2011

"Charlatan : America's Most Dangerous Huckster, The Man Who Pursued Him, And The Age Of Flimflam"
by Pope Brock

A look back at the snake oil salesmen and diploma mill doctors of a century ago, along with the rise of the AMA and its attempts to put an end to the hucksterism rampant. The tale centers on John Brinkley, who built an empire based on goat testicles, which he implanted in men young and old, healthy and chronically ill, at usurious cost.  If the tale seems improbable all one has to do is spend some time watching late night infomercials or reading the ads of an exercise magazine to note that America is still more than ready to spend millions every year in an effort to restore virility (Viagra, anyone?) and vitality. Truth, once again stranger than fiction!

Paperback LBN 553405 / ISBN 9780307339881

"My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir"
by Noelle Hancock

After losing her job, 29 year old media blogger Noelle Hancock turns to Eleanor Roosevelt to reinvent herself in the year leading up to her 30th birthday. Anxiety and self doubt had stalled her until inspiration struck in the form of a quote on a chalkboard coffee shop: "Do one thing every day that scares you" - Eleanor Roosevelt. This leads Hancock on a Year of Fear, as she confronts her fears and struggles to overcome them and find meaningful purpose to her life. Laugh out loud funny with an underlying serious message. For readers of A.J. Jacobs and fans of participatory journalism, not just memoirs.

Hardcover LBN 728455 / ISBN 9780061875038

May 2011

"Bury Your Dead"
by Louise Penny

Louise Penny’s book, Bury Your Dead, is the reading selection for Waterloo Region in 2011! One Book, One Community invites all of Waterloo Region to experience what the starred Booklist review describes as “the best yet, a true tour de force of storytelling … Penny hits every note perfectly in what is one of the most elaborately constructed and remarkably moving mysteries in years."

Paperback LBN 700096 / ISBN 9781847444387

"The Etiquette Of Freedom"
by Gary Snyder

Poet Gary Snyder joins his friend, novelist Jim Harrison, for a walk and talk in the Santa Lucia Mountains of California's central coastal range. Every page is fecund with insight and wisdom. The book is really "just" the companion to the documentary film that comes with it on DVD, which also features JoAnne Kyger and Michael McClure. Essential for anyone with an interest in deep ecology, beat literature, or post-war American fiction and poetry.

Hardcover LBN 688723 / ISBN 9781582436296

April 2011

"Effigy"
by Alissa York

An affecting novel of loss, memory, despair, and deliverance by one of Canada’s best young fiction authors, set on a Mormon ranch in nineteenth-century Utah. Inspired by the real events of the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857, Alissa York blends fact with fiction in a haunting story of a family separated by secrets and united by faith. York lives in Toronto; LBI was delighted to have her as our guest at the 2011 Toronto PL's Book Lover's Ball.

Hardcover LBN 503328 / ISBN 9780679314721

"The Orange Eats Creeps"
by Grace Krilanovich

While set amongst vampire teens in the Pacific Northwest, this is arguably the "Anti-Twilight," more Burroughs or Celine than Meyer. Amongst fellow hobo vampire junkies in a desolate, blighted landscape, a girl searches for her disappeared foster sister along "The Highway That Eats People." For readers of Lautremont, Jean Genet, Burroughs, and Blake and all of those that long ago wished for a stake to be driven through Stephenie Meyer's wholesome tween heart.

Hardcover LBN 711219 / ISBN 9780982015186

March 2011

"Twelve By Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off The Grid & Beyond The American Dream"
by William Powers

Why would a successful physician choose to live in a 12x12 cabin without running water or electricity? This is a memoir of what can be gained by going without, written by an international aid worker trying to find balance in an unbalanced world. A 21st century Walden for the global warming era.

Hardcover LBN 663088 / ISBN 9781577318972

"The Blue Light Project"
by Timothy L. Taylor

The author of Stanley Park channels his inner William Gibson in writing this story that revolves around a hostage taking at a controversial children's Reality TV show. A disgraced journalist, former Olympic biathlete, and a street artist that travels the city by Parkour (sorry, "Freesteal") make up the central characters. After making Vancouver a virtual character in his last two novels, this one is set in an imagined Anytown that seems like a cross between Vancouver and Minneapolis. Not quite a futuristic dystopian cautionary tale, but close. For coffee house conspiracy theorists and those that enjoyed William Gibson's recent trilogy.

Hardcover LBN 701452 / ISBN 9780307399304

 

"Yellow Dirt: An American Story Of Poisoned Land And A People Betrayed"
by Judy Pasternak

 

The true cost of uraniam mining in Navajo land makes for chilling, and infuriating reading. With Rachel Carson having recently said that Port Hope's uranium legacy has made it the most dangerous place on earth, there are timely lessons closer to home here as well.

 

Hardcover LBN 662775 / ISBN 9781416594826

 

February 2011

"Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, And Big Breakfasts In My Quest To Cycle The Tour Divide"
by Paul Howard

Veteran British sports writer Paul Howard, author of Riding High: Shadow Cycling the Tour de France, gets his first mountain bike and enters The Tour Divide, a mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, Mexico.

The book stumbles a bit, as if an editor asked for "something Bryson-esque" from the obviously fit and capable Yorkshireman, but it's ultimately an addictive read as you wonder if Howard and the other racers will survive all the snow, mud, rain, bears, gas station food, etc and make it to Mexico. Fanatical cyclists and racers will have to look elsewhere for practical information: this account is aimed very much at the armchair adventurer.

Hardcover LBN 713599 / ISBN 9781553658177

"The Poison Tree"
by Erin Kelly

A mix of psychological suspense and literary fiction that flashes back from present day to a language student's summer in 1990s London. For readers of Kate Atkinson; an impressive debut novel from the UK journalist. Along with A.D. Miller's Snowdrops (a January staff pick), 2011 is already off to a great start with first time novelists.

Hardcover LBN 713599 / ISBN 9780670022403

"Take A Seat: One Man, One Tandem, And Twenty Thousand Miles Of Possibilities"
by Dominic Gill

British mountain climber Dominic Gill rides from Alaska to Patagonia on a bicycle built for two, with no firm plans for pedaling help other than to ask strangers along the way. Two years and 20,000 miles later, he seems too psychologically exhausted to have been able to process the experience--but that's why people make notes and journal entries as they go. Gill also filmed the experience: in 2010 Take a Seat won the Special Jury Award at the Banff Film Festival.

Hardcover LBN 714474 / ISBN 9780762770694

"I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive"
by Steve Earle

The story of a  heroin addicted doctor fallen from grace in 1963 San Antonio. Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams appearing as often as the needle in his arm. A story of regret, redemption, magic, and love from the singer songwriter known to most for Guitar Town and Copperhead Road.

Hardcover LBN 716013 / ISBN 9780618820962

January 2011

"Snowdrops: A Novel"
by A.D. Miller

An intensely riveting psychological drama that unfolds over the course of one Moscow winter, as a young Englishman's moral compass is spun by the seductive opportunities revealed to him by a new Russia: a land of hedonism and desperation, corruption and kindness, magical dachas and debauched nightclubs; a place where secrets - and corpses - come to light only when the deep snows start to thaw - Snowdrops is a chilling story of love and moral freefall: of the corruption, by a corrupt society, of a corruptible young man. It is taut, intense and has a momentum as irresistible to the reader as the moral danger that first enchants, then threatens to overwhelm, its narrator.

Hardcover LBN 701765 / ISBN 9781554687831

December 2010

"Have You Seen...? A Personal Introduction To 1,000 Films"
by David Thomson

One thousand 500-word film reviews from the silent era to 2008 from the author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. No one is likely to read through this over a library loan period, but it's a great reference book to have on your shelves and would make a great gift for a film lover.

Hardcover LBN 584678 / ISBN 9781554687831

November 2010

"It's All About The Bike: The Pursuit Of Happiness On Two Wheels"
by Robert Penn

A book as brilliant as the invention it celebrates, a Bryson-esque account of the author's quest for the perfect bicycle. Part history and culture of bicycling and manufacturing, part travel memoir, Penn writes in such an egaging way that this book should be of interest beyond the somewhat fringe group it celebrates.

Hardcover LBN 695092 / ISBN 9781846142628

"The High Road"
by Terry Fallis

This follow up to the Leacock Award-winning Best Laid Plans, K-W Region's One Book One Community choice for 2010, continues the adventures of reluctant MP Angus McClintock, and his aide Daniel Addison.

Hardcover LBN 688425 / ISBN 9780771047879

October 2010

"For All The Tea In China: How England Stole The World's Favorite Drink"
by Sarah Rose

The story of the Scottish botanist and plant hunter that stole the secret of tea from China in the 1840s for the British East India Company. A tale of corporate espionage, natural science, history and adventure, for readers of Henry Hobhouse, Susan Orlean, Simon Winchester, and David Grann.

Hardcover LBN 659911/ ISBN 9780670021529

"Siberian Education: Family, Honour, And Tattoos--An Extraordinary Underworld Life"
by Nicolai Lilin

An utterly original and poetic evocation of a close knit community of criminals, the Siberian Urkas, deported by Stalin to an area between Moldavia and Ukraine. This book is more than a true crime expose or memoir, beyond conventional notions of good and evil; it's a sort of hallucinatory anthropology of a recently vanished world we never knew existed.

Hardcover LBN 688934 / ISBN 9780771050275

"When The Killing's Done"
by T.C. Boyle

Another outstanding Boyle tale of obsession, hubris, and the sheer ignominious folly of man, set on the Channel Islands off the coast of Santa Barbara. Included in the LBI Winter 2011 Bestseller list.

Hardcover LBN 701808 / ISBN 9780670022328

"Swap"
by John McFetridge

The story of a Detroit criminal visiting Toronto to broker a guns-for-drugs deal with a motorcycle gang, this is great crime fiction that explores the cultural differences with our neighbors to the south. The characters and situations are realistic, the settings familiar, and McFetridge has a gift for dialogue that has earned apt comparisons to Elmore Leonard. For readers of gritty crime fiction like Ken Bruen, Leonard, and George Pelecanos.

Hardcover LBN 644621 / ISBN 9781550228144

September 2010

"Broom Of The System"
by David Foster Wallace

Set in 1990 Cleveland in a subdivision laid out in the shape of Jayne Mansfield, on the edges of the Great Ohio Desert, Lenore Stonecipher Beardsman must deal with a series of absurdist and existential horrors. This is Midewestern post-modernism at its best, surrealism that steers from the slapstick to the sublime. The NYT called it a "manic, human, flawed extravaganza" when it was published in 1987. For readers of John Irving and Thomas Pynchon. Wallace committed suicide in 2008.

Hardcover LBN 699316 / ISBN 9780142002421

"Blood, Sweat & Tears"
by David Clayton-Thomas

The unlikely success story of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee whose 1968 debut album with BS&T sold 10 million copies and won five Grammys. After growing up with an abusive father, living on the streets from the age of 14 and serving time in reformatory and maximum security prison, Clayton-Thomas went on to perform at the Kennedy Center and headline at Woodstock. An above average memoir with a unique perspective, this book goes beyond the tales of groupies, drug use, and bad behaviour that fill most rock bios. I was never a fan of BS&T and you needn't be to enjoy this. A great book for reluctant readers with great YA cross-over appeal.

Hardcover LBN 688646 / ISBN 97800670064694

"The Beauty Of Humanity Movement"
by Camilla Gibb

A heartbreaking story set in contemporary Vietnam, about conflict in all forms and the enduring power of art and love.

Hardcover LBN 688175 / ISBN 9780385663229

August 2010

"The Glass Rainbow"
by James Lee Burke

Eighteenth in the series featuring Iberia, Louisiana deputy sheriff Dave Robicheaux. The following excerpts from the starred review in Publishers Weekly say it better than I could: "brilliant prose, prosaic situations that suddenly become mystic experiences, and a complex plot that repeatedly plumbs the depths of human depravity and the heights of nobility... the sights, smells, and sounds of the Louisiana bayous become sensory experiences in Burke's novels, and death is a constant presence that threatens to overhwlem his angels with tarnished wings." One of my favourite living American authors.

Hardcover LBN 667974 / ISBN 9781439128299

"Void Of Course"
by Jim Carroll

A collection of poetry from the author, poet, autobiographer and punk musician best known for The Basketball Diaries, which was made into a 1995 film of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll. Died September 11, 2009 while at his desk working. His final novel, The Petting Zoo, will be published November 2010.

Hardcover LBN 694398 / ISBN 9780140589092

"Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea"
by Barbara Demick

A look at North Korea through the lives of six defectors, where ordinary life became a parade of horrors in the 1990s. Former Seoul bureau chief and L.A. Times staffer Demick gives us a rare look at a country mostly unknown to us because of the media censorpship imposed by a repressive totalitarian regime.

Hardcover LBN 600061 / ISBN 9780385523905

"Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway"
by Cherie Currie

Cherie Currie, with her signature Bowie haircut and fishnet stockings, was the groundbreaking lead singer of '70s teenage all-girl rock band the Runaways, went on to a career as an actress, and currently works as a chainsaw wood carving artist. This memoir was the basis for the 2010 feature film The Runaways, starring Dakota Fanning and Twilight's Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett.

Hardcover LBN 674348 / ISBN 9780061961359

"I'd Know You Anywhere"
by Laura Lippman

A new stand alone novel of psychological manipulation that moves between past and present to explore the lasting effects of crime on a victim's life. The former Edgar-winning Baltimore Sun reporter continues to push the crime novel into literary fiction territory: I'd Know You Anywhere reads like Still Missing as written by Ian McEwan.

Hardcover LBN 675158 / ISBN 9780061706554

June 2010

"The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, And Andrew Weil Killed The Fifties And Ushered In A New Age For America"
by Don Lattin

Fifty years after Timothy Leary took his first magic mushroom trip, we have this revealing account of four iconic and inter-connected personalities that helped define an era and usher in major cultural changes that affect us to this day. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Hardcover LBN 648094

"The Swap"
by Antony Moore

A brilliant black comedy/mystery/thriller, for people that enjoy tales of men behaving badly, such as Ian McEwan's Solaris.

Paperback LBN 609627

"War"
by Sebastian Junger

Brilliant old school war reporting from the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in 2008.

Hardcover LBN 651844

"Tour de Lance: The Extraordinary Story of Lance Armstrong's Fight to Reclaim the Tour de France"
by Bill Strickland

Just in time for the Tour de France. The author of the brilliant Ten Points tells the story of Armstrong's 2009 comeback with a critical view mostly absent in North American sports journalism. Booklist called it "an irresistible account of a story that needed telling" in a starred review.

Hardcover LBN 668603

"Dandy In The Underworld : An Unauthorised Autobiography"
by Sebastian Horsley

A droll, acerbic, and gleefully outrageous autobiography by the U.K. artist best known for staging his own crucifixion; popular amongst Canadian listeners of CBC Radio's Q. Horsley died of a heroin overdose in June 2010.

Hardcover LBN 547963

May 2010

"The Best Laid Plans"
by Terry Fallis

Canadian political satire from an insider, The Best Laid Plans is Waterloo Region's One Book One Community pick for 2010.

Hardcover LBN 579391

"As Good As Gold: 1 Woman, 9 Sports, 10 Countries, And A 2-Year Quest"
by Kathryn Bertine

A quixotic quest to make it to the 2008 Summer Olympics by any means necessary. While written with a great deal of humour, what separates this from other Plimpton-esque accounts is that the author, an elite triathlete, is an athlete first, and writer second. Her quest is, as one of her coaches points out, "doable" (as long as you're willing to Eat. Pray. Luge).

Hardcover LBN 579391

"Murder City: Ciudad Juarez And The Global Economy's New Killing Fields"
by Charles Bowden

Charles Bowden cries with the intensity and poetry of a Biblical prophet who can't turn off the visions that overwhelm him, of life on the ground in Ciudad Juarez.

Hardcover LBN 661865

"Kenk: A Graphic Portrait"
by Richard Poplak

A groundbreaking 256-page journalistic comic book detailing the life and times of Igor Kenk, "the world''s most prolific bicycle thief" (The New York Times and The Guardian). In Summer 2008, Kenk was arrested and nearly 3,000 bicycles were seized in one of the biggest news stories of the year. Built from more than 30 hours of never-before-seen intimate footage taken over the year leading up to his arrest, Kenk is a thought-provoking and surprisingly funny portrait of an outsize neighbourhood figure and a city in flux, both wracked by the forces of gentrification and by a burgeoning global environmental and economic crisis that promises to define our generation.

Hardcover LBN 678521

March 2010

"Bring On The Books For Everybody"
by Jim Collins

An engaging assessment of the robust popular literary culture that has developed in North America in the past two decades. Fueled by Oprah's book club, Miramax film adaptations, superstore bookshops, and new technologies such as the Kindle digital reader, literary fiction has been transformed into best-selling, high-concept entertainment. A must for those that enjoy books about books and popular culture. Highly recommended for library tech services staff.

Hardcover LBN 673803

"Empire Of Illusion"
by Chris Hedges

Pulitzer prize–winner Chris Hedges charts the dramatic and disturbing rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy, and illusion. Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. Wade Davis railed against the loss of cultural diversity in last month's pick, The Wayfinders. Here, Hedges rages against intellectual degradation no less effectively.

Hardcover LBN 635991

"Lunatic Express"
by Carl Hoffman

An aptly named traveller's tale around the world on the most dangerous conveyances possible. Looking for something different than an all-inclusive Sunquest holiday in Punta Cana? Try a bus trip through Afghanistan, or packed into third class on the worst ferries and trains in the world. Filled with the sort of statistics you have to read over and over to accept, like the dozens that die DAILY on Mumbai commuter trains. ViaRail never looked so good...

Hardcover LBN 651750

Click to Enlarge the Cover -- SOLAR by Ian McEwan

"Solar"
by Ian McEwan

Two books that have much in common in story, tone and craft, both revolving around the fumbling misadventures of narcississtic British males who have left their youth behind. McEwan's book is hysterically funny; Crace's the subtler and more nuanced of the two. Both are quietly brilliant.

Hardcover LBN 662967

"All That Follows"
by Jim Crace

 

Hardcover LBN 651371

January 2010

"The Wayfinders"
by Wade Davis

In the 2009 Massey Lectures Series, the BC author and anthropoligist eloquently addresses the loss of cultural diversity: 50 percent of the 7,000 languages spoken around the world are expected to be extinct within our lifetimes. Davis takes us on a tour of indigenous cultures, describing the worldviews they represent and explaining the threat to mankind's survival and quality of life should we allow them to vanish. Beautifully written, I'll be listening to the audio version in my car next: this is worth more than just a single read through.

Hardcover LBN 636283

Audio LBN 647966

"Where Men Win Glory"
by Jon Krakauer

The story of Pat Tillman, who left a successful career in the NFL to fight in Afghanistan, where he was killed in 2004. Reviews I’ve seen from the U.S. have been unkind, but I feel they’ve misunderstood Krakauer’s portrait of a unique individual and his struggle to live an honorable life. Given that it concerns in part the wrongdoings of their own military and political system, it may be more difficult for an American audience to appreciate this book, which strikes me as a perfect complement to the author’s own Into the Wild, the chronicle of another iconoclast.

Hardcover LBN 596276

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"Always Been There"
by Roseanne Cash

In 1973, Rosanne Cash’s father gave her a list of 100 songs, many from the Southern tradition, that he felt a young musician had to know. Always Been There tells the inside story of the album that, more than thirty-five years later, resulted from “the list.” It paints an unforgettable portrait of Rosanne confronting music-making in the aftermath of serious brain surgery, her lifelong search for her legacy, and her unique creative partnerships. Don’t forget to listen to the resulting album, The List. (VRN 197903)

Hardcover LBN 636115

November 2009
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"Imperfect Birds"
by Anne Lamott

As a huge fan of Lamott’s non-fiction, I approached this fictional tale of a mother-daughter relationship with trepidation. Sometimes you worry about losing an author that’s already won you over when you head into new territory. No worries here. While I still prefer her NF, this account of the mutual frustrations of a drug-using teenage daughter and her recovering alcoholic mother was a great read that captures the perils of parenthood and the precipice many teens teeter on while on the cusp of adulthood. A great book club choice.

Hardcover LBN 651302

"End Of My Addiction"
by Oliver Amiesen

In this age of Oprah, addiction memoirs usually revel in tales of degradation and abuse, entertaining through a horror not our own, inspiring with redemption. This book is different. Eminent cardiologist Olivier Amiesen details his battles with alcohol without hyperbole and leads us through the research and self-medicating trials that have lead to a complete recovery. The End of My Addiction is both a memoir of Dr. Ameisen’s own struggle and a groundbreaking call to action—an urgent plea for research that can rescue millions from the scourge of addiction and spare their loved ones the collateral damage of the disease.

Hardcover LBN 553422

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"Sleepless"
by Charlie Huston

The author of the Henry Thompson trilogy presents a very believable Bladerunner-esque dystopian novel set in the summer of 2010 Los Angeles, where a mad-cow like pandemic causing sleeplessness has led to rapid societal chaos and collapse.

Hardcover LBN 651588

September 2009

"Methland"
by Nick Reding

This four year study of how methamphetamine has affected a small American town goes far beyond insights into a particular drug. Author Nick Reding has adeptly shown, through the intersections of meth with local manufacturing, agriculture, commerce and character studies, the loss of a way of life in the U.S. heartland. Many of the same conditions unfortunately apply in small town rural Ontario. For readers of Tulia and A Civil Action.

Hardcover LBN 613633

"Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash Of The Record Industry In The Digital Age"
by Steve Knopper

The title says it all except how great a job author Steve Knopper does of presenting the story with just the right amount of detail. A great read for music fans and library a/v selectors along with those interested in digital rights management, this book is an LBI in-house favorite with a waiting list to read it.

Hardcover LBN 578899

"The Unit"
by Ninni Holmqvist

This dystopian novel is science fiction for people that don’t read sci-fi; ditto feminist literature. It’s a haunting, chilling novel perfect for book clubs, albeit capable of consuming them. While comparisons could be made to A Handmaid’s Tale, this is for readers of Huxley and Orwell, which is to say everyone should read this book. Thanks to the Dewey Diva blog for this: http://deweydivas.blogspot.com/2009/06/are-you-headed-for-unit.html

Hardcover LBN 614963

"Far North"
by Marcel Theroux

Another dystopian novel, that rightfully belonged on an LBI bestseller list. While The Unit is set in a future so near as to be near seamless, Far North takes place in the sort of apocalyptic landscape we all fear the future holds but that we never see. This is more in line for readers of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jim Crace’s Pesthouse.

Hardcover LBN 641405

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"The Bicycle Diaries"
by David Byrne

Former Talking Heads frontman Byrne travels the world with his bicycle and reports on music, urban planning, arts and culture, and riding. What surprised me was the wry, unaffected humour told without the ironic poses of his early music. This book has been attracting a lot of press pre-release in September from a variety of media and should circulate well with its broad appeal to different readerships.

Hardcover LBN 631600

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"Having Faith In The Polar Girls' Prison"
by Cathleen With

A rare treatment of social problems in Canada’s far north told through fiction, this first novel helps to humanize the people that are too often only glimpsed through evening news reports.

Hardcover LBN 599750

July 2009
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"Why Your World Is About To Get A Whole Lot Smaller"
by Jeff Rubin

This book is creating a lot of buzz right now, as former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets author Jeff Rubin makes the publicity rounds. It was on our Spring bestseller list and most libraries have ordered it. Get your own hold in and read this well written, lucid and cogent forecast. Read this before your next household or career move or car purchase. As with Freakonomics there’s not a lot that’s new here, but rather the perspective at work along with the force and art of the argument being made.

Hardcover LBN 615258

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"Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, And The Greatest Race The World Has Never Seen"
by Christopher McDougall

While I pick too many running books, they often seem like the drama series created for HBO (The Wire, True Blood); the best work out there. Born to Run introduces us to a cast of incredible characters, in running shoes, sandals, barefoot and pointy wing-tips exploring the limits of human endurance and our evolutionary past. For those who enjoy traveler’s and armchair adventurer’s tales, with a good dollop of science and history, although it’s as a series of character studies that this book really excels.

Hardcover LBN 613154

May 2009

"City Of Thieves"
by David Benioff

The author of The 25th Hour tells the story of his grandfather’s experiences in Russia in World War II. This is easy to enjoy book-club fiction that should please a wide range of readers from fans of historical fiction, to those that appreciate character, action, setting, and storytelling, similar to Like Water for Elephants or The Book of Negroes.

Hardcover LBN 566660

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"Nine Lives: Death And Life In New Orleans"
by Dan Baum

In nine profiles that cross age, race, and class lines from Hurricane Betsy in 1965 to Katrina 40 years later, Dan Baum has written a classic work of creative non-fiction. The city and times are brought to life so vividly that you feel as though you can smell and hear the city breathe. The characters are so well developed you’ll weep for their tragedies and cheer their successes as though they were your own family. This book is an epic achievement.

The award winning HBO documentary by Spike Lee, When the Levees Broke (VRN 136532) is the perfect A/V pairing with Nine Lives. I’ve never been a fan of Spike Lee but this finely balanced, even toned documentary is brilliant, albeit harrowing to watch.

Hardcover LBN 600056

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"Yoga Inc."
by John Philp

Finally, a yoga book that moves beyond asanas! John Philp takes a look at the business of yoga, the trends, personalities, fraudsters and misdeeds. This is an entertaining expose of an enormous industry that has managed to remain mostly unexamined. Note there is a film version currently on the festival circuit, not yet available on DVD. Get your downward dog on and read this book!

Hardcover LBN 600124

"Bits Of Me Are Falling Apart: How We Get Older And Why"
by William Leith

Should I be offended that this book was sent to me, unsolicited, by the publisher rep? Perhaps, but I was too busy laughing at this droll and mordent memoir to worry about it. Note that while you may not be a 47 year-old male yourself, sooner or later, bits will be falling apart regardless. Reading this examination of the aging process will provide humourous insight into the process.

Hardcover LBN 599942

"One Square Inch Of Silence: One Man's Search For Natural Silence In A Noisy World"
by Gordon Hempton

Natural silence is our most quickly disappearing resource. While sound ecologist Gordon Hempton does sound off like an obsessive nut at times, it’s worth remembering how people initially responded to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While we take it for granted, uninterrupted natural silence is becoming increasingly rare, as this book makes shockingly clear. Leaving his home near Olympia National Park in Washington, Hempton travels cross-country by ’67 VW mini-bus to Washington D.C., where he meets with members of Congress, National Parks, and FAA officials, searching for silence along the way. A thought-provoking book on a subject that affects us all.

Hardcover LBN 622479

February 2009
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Anne Lamott

Late last year, I discovered Anne Lamott via a book on cd, read by the author. Her deadpan, ironic, candid, and somewhat flaky delivery was as immediately recognizable as an old friend sitting at the kitchen table.  Her non-fiction books on faith, that include thoughts on parenting, grief, friendship, aging, and politics, deal with such universal themes in such plain but heartfelt language that they are immediately accessible to anyone.  Whether in audio or printed format, she's a blessing.

 Grace (Eventually):  Anne Lamott

"Grace (Eventually)"

Hardcover : LBN 514806

Unabridged CD :  LBN 514807
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"Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts On Faith"

Hardcover : LBN 178311

Paperback :  LBN 223889
 Plan B:  Anne Lamott

"Plan B: Further Thoughts On Faith"

Hardcover : LBN 383212

Paperback :  LBN 527667

Unabridged CD :  LBN 383213
December 2008
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"Life At These Speeds: A Novel"
by Jeremy Jackson

Here's another "running" book hot on the heels of last month's Again to Carthage. Life at These Speeds, which I discovered through the great bibliophile's social networking/reader advisory site www.shelfari.com is an odd book that seems to strongly polarize readers who either love or hate it. Put me strongly in the former camp. While the book is rife with critical flaws that are easy to note, this strange riff on loss within a coming of age tale is something like Rule of the Bone crossed with The Sweet Hereafter and J.D. Salinger. An 8th grader survives by chance an accident that kills his school's track team and undergoes strange personality changes while becoming a championship athlete.  Definite YA crossover appeal.

Paperback : ISBN 0312313667 / 9780312313661
LBN # 375637 / Price $25.00

"A Dog In A Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story Of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, And Beauty In Belgium"
by Joe Parkin

One of the first U.S. riders to move to Belgium for a career as a professional cyclist, Joe Parkin didn't once ride the Tour de France or win a major race. Possibly that fact, and certainly his blunt and humorous writing style, make this an above average memoir. While many of the names mentioned, and the stories of drug use, are now familiar, this is definitely a story from the fringes and far more engaging than any celebrity ghost written sports bio. YA crossover and reluctant reader appeal.

Paperback : ISBN 1934030260 / 9781934030264
LBN # 581596 / Price $25.00 / Pub Date: August 2008

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"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running"
by Haruki Murakami

From the author of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, a serene little running memoir, the title paraphrasing Raymond Carver's best known work.

Hardcover : ISBN 0385666276 / 9780385666275
LBN # 584872 / Price $27.95 / Pub Date: July 2008

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"Again To Carthage"
by John L. Parker, Jr.

The author of the cult classic Once a Runner picks up where that novel left off. For readers of George Sheehan and John Brant, best read with your legs up a wall.

Hardcover : ISBN 1891369776 / 9781891369773
LBN # 591480 / Price $29.00 / Pub Date: April 2008

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"Twilight"
by William Gay

Southern Gothic so harsh and dark it makes Cormac McCarthy seem like Nicholas Sparks.

Hardcover : ISBN 1596920580 / 9781596920583
LBN # 548476 / Price $33.00

October 2008

"Dead Man In Paradise"
by J.B. MacKinnon

The co-author of The 100 Mile Diet explores his uncle's death in the Dominican Republic in this Charles Taylor Award winning traveller's tale/mystery/meditation on loss and history.

Hardcover : ISBN 1553651383 / 9781553651383
LBN # 426578 / Price $22.95

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"Again To Carthage"
by John L. Parker, Jr.

The author of the cult classic Once a Runner picks up where that novel left off. For readers of George Sheehan and John Brant, best read with your legs up a wall.

Hardcover : ISBN 1891369776 / 9781891369773
LBN # 591480 / Price $29.00 / Pub Date: April 2008

September 2008

"Bicycling Beyond The Divide"
by Daryl Farmer

The author retraces a bicycle trip made 20 years earlier from Colorado to B.C., down the Pacific Coast and across the Continental Divide while reflecting on the changes to both the physical as well as personal and cultural landscapes.

Hardcover : ISBN 0803220340 / 9780803220348
LBN # 591528 / Price $29.95 / Pub Date: March 2008

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"I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales Of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, And The Most Notorious Magazines In The World."
by Mike Edison

The subtitle pretty much sums things up here. Something for the reluctant reader that usually doesn't go past the magazine aisle.

Hardcover : ISBN 086547964X / 9780865479647
LBN # 562252 / Price $27.50 / Pub Date: May 2008

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"Water For Elephants"
by Sara Gruen

This 2006 title by Canadian born and raised Gruen keeps garnering word of mouth praise. The trade paperback edition, shown here, is incredibly popular as a book club choice. Run away to the circus with this page turner set during the Great Depression. The HBO series Carnivale makes a nice A/V companion of sorts: VRN 104855 (Season One) and 129760 (Season Two).

Hardcover : ISBN 0006391559 / 9780006391555
LBN # 557660 / Price $16.50 / Pub Date: June 2006

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"The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale Of Two Men And How One Fight Changed Their Lives"
by Joe Layden

The events leading to, and aftermath of, the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight. The heavyweight division has been in sad decline since the most surprising fight since Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) knocked out Sonny Liston when they first met. This is insightful, investigative sports journalism at its best.

Hardcover : ISBN 0312353308 / 9780312353308
LBN # 556805 / Price $28.95 / Pub Date: October 2007

August 2008
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"Off The Deep End: The Probably Insane Idea That I Could Swim My Way To Youth And Qualify For The Olympics At Age Forty-Five"
by Hodding W. Carter IV

The quixotic quest of a 40-year-old working father to qualify for the Olympic trials leading up to the Beijing Olympics.

Hardcover : ISBN 1565125649 / 9781565125643
LBN # 562840 / Price $24.95 / Pub Date: June 2008

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"Into Thick Air: Biking To The Bellybutton Of Six Continents"
by Jim Malusa

While alpha dogs head for mountain peaks, biologist Malusa bikes to the lowest points on six continents. Don't hold your breath waiting for a Fodor's Gold Guide on Djibouti or the Turpan Depression: read this.

Hardcover : ISBN 157805141X / 9781578051410
LBN # 561346 / Price $18.50 / Pub Date: May 2008

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"Paranoid Park"
by Blake Nelson

YA Fiction for grades 7 up told in authentic teen speak by a 16-year-old narrator, a skater kid that becomes involved in a murder. The angst and ennui of dealing with the more common teen dilemmas of parental divorce and relationships are a constant backdrop in this page turner perfect for reluctant teen readers. Recently made into a movie by Gus Van Sant (VRN 178165)

Hardcover : ISBN 0142411566 / 9780142411568
LBN # 498439 / Price $6.99 / Pub Date: February 2008

"The Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind--And Almost Found Myself--On the Pacific Crest Trail"
by Dan White

Greenhorn misadventures hiking the Pacific Coast Trail from Mexico to Canada. A humourous traveller's tale.

Hardcover : ISBN 0061376930 / 9780061376931
LBN # 562892 / Price $16.95 / Pub Date: May 2008

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"On A Wave: A Surfer Boyhood"
by Thad Ziolkowski

A memoir of growing up and learning to surf in Florida, the author captures a child's perception and experience of the world perfectly. Exquisitely rendered. Catcher in the Rye on a board and better written.

Hardcover : ISBN 087113845X / 9780871138453
LBN # 591532 / Price $24.95 / Pub Date: April 2002

English Major

"The English Major"
by Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison and Louise Erdrich strike me as being the two living American writers most deserving of a much wider readership. The English Major is the very accessible story of a sixty-something former teacher and farmer who heads out on a road trip after a bitter and sudden divorce. While I put this on our Fall Bestseller list, after reading an advance copy I'm adding it here in hopes of encouraging additional orders.

Paperback : ISBN 0887842259 / 9780887842252
LBN # 584327 / Price $29.95 / Pub Date: September 2008

July 2008
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"The Other"
by David Guterson

Without having read him before, I'd dismissed David Guterson as a chick-lit writer until Maylin from Random House gave me an advance copy of The Other at CLA last week. A novel about alienation, idealism, and friendship set in the Pacific Northwest, it kept me indoors on a sunny day in Vancouver until I'd finished it and I can't give it a better endorsement than that. It presents two very different visions of what it means to live a good life in an engaging, not pendantic, way.

 

Paperback : ISBN 0307263150 / 9780307263155
LBN # 566549 / Price $27.95 / Pub Date: June 2008

"Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against The Injury Epidemic In Women's Sports"
by Michael Sokolove

From The Publisher: Warrior Girls exposes the downside of the women''s sports revolution that has evolved since Title IX: an injury epidemic that is easily ignored because we worry that it will threaten our daughters'' hard-won opportunities on the field. From teenage girls playing local soccer, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, and other sports to women competing at the elite level, female athletes are suffering serious injuries at alarming rates. The numbers are frightening and irrefutable.  Michael Sokolove gives us the most up-to-date research on girls and sports injuries.

From Ron: This book is for parents, teachers, coaches and trainers. Great non-fiction gives you insights into unknown worlds -- Into Thin Air, The Perfect Storm, or John McPhee's Coming Into the Country. This book was every bit as compelling to me as those.

Hardcover : ISBN 0743297555 / 9780743297554
LBN # 564795 / Price $28.99 / Pub Date: June 2008

"Fatal Tide"

By David Leach

One of those books that deserved to be on the Bestseller List, Fatal Tide chronicles an adventure race on the Bay of Fundy that ended in the death of a novice kayaker. Leach, who teaches at the University of Victoria, takes a broad look at the history of extreme sports and research into physiology such as the study of hypothermia from the infamous experiments of the Nazis forward.

Hardcover : ISBN 067006629X / 9780670066292
LBN # 555684 / Price $32.00 / Pub Date: March 2008

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"The Turnaround"

By George Pelecanos

The tone of this novel set in Washington DC for the early 70s to the present day is a bit earnest, but that's the usual price of the nostalgia likely infecting author George Pelecanos. His "Drama City" backlist deserves wider reading, much like the Charm City stories of Laura Lippman, whose husband David Simon Pelecanos has worked with, writing stories for the popular HBO series The Wire. If this stand-alone tale interests you, go back and read the novels featuring Nick Stefanos and Derek Strange for more from this DC native son.

Hardcover : ISBN 0316156477 / 9780316156479
LBN # 566912 / Price $28.99 / Pub Date: August 2008

June 2008

"Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight to Be the World's Fastest Human Being"

By Todd Blaf

A 100 years ago bicycle track racing was the most popular sporting event in the world, its best rider the black American Major Taylor. This book is for cycling buffs and historians, those that love a good biography or interested in the study of race relations.

Hardcover : 978-0307236586

LBN : 554816  / Price $28.00

"Final Theory: A Novel"

By Mark Alpert

This Dewey Diva pick is a thinking person's thriller filled with very accessible and credible science. A non-embarrassing beach read.

Hardcover : 9781416572879

LBN : 566721  /  Price $28.00

May 2008

"The Plague Of Doves"
by Louise Erdrich

Set amongst the inter-married Ojibwe living in the off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota, this is another of Erdrich's magical realist stories of interconnected families and myths. One of my favourite living authors, this is her best work since The Master Butcher's Singing Club.

Hardcover : ISBN 0060515120 / 9780060515126
LBN # 566553 / Price $29.95 / Pub Date: May 2008

"The Push & The Pull"
by Darryl Whetter

This book about a grad student bicycling from Halifax to Kingston came just in time to get me through what I hope is the last snowstorm of the season here in Southwestern Ontario. Bicycling fiction is usually written with about as much craft as bodice rippers but Darryl Whetter, a regular contributor to the Globe & Mail and CBC Radio Talking Books guest brings genuine literary ability to a story about relationships with parents, lovers, and dealing with loss. Occasionally prone to idiotic plot twists and unintentionally laughable scenes, this is not The Great Bicycling Novel (The Rider by Tim Krabbe still holds that honour) but still a great read. Whetter is also the author of A Sharp Tooth in the Fur.

Paperback : ISBN 0864925077 / 9780864925077
LBN # 560932 / Price $21.95 / Pub Date: April 2008

April 2008
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"The King of Lies"
by John Hart

An above average murder mystery that succeeds through the unrelenting, harrowing character development of its main protagonist, an unambitious lawyer in a small North Carolina town.

Hardcover : ISBN 031234161X / 9780312341619
LBN # 468038 / Price $29.95

March 2008

"In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction"
by Gabor Maté

A sprawling, uneven, imaginative, original and passionate look at addiction in our society from Downtown East Side crackheads to more socially acceptable uncontrolled patterns of behaviour in our children, the middle and upper professional classes. Neuroscience, current events, social issues, biography and memoir are all a part of this strange but illuminating book that I truly believe belongs in every public library and deserves to be widely read.

Hardcover : ISBN 0676977405 / 9780676977400
LBN # 537085 / Price $34.95 / Pub Date: February 2008

"High Crimes: The Fate of Everest In An Age of Greed"
by Michael Kodas

A personal and investigative look into the current extreme adventure-travel climbing scene. This is not the Everest of Mallory or Norgay but a new high altitude Wild West of lawless greed, soaring egos, grossly unqualified climbers, fraud and crimes with often fatal consequences. Read it with horror and disgust and never watch another Discovery Channel climbing documentary the same way again.

Hardcover : ISBN 1401302734 / 9781401302733
LBN # 547964 / Price $28.95 / Pub Date: January 2008

February 2008

Bowerman and the Men of Oregon: The Story of Oregon's Legendary Coach and Nike's Cofounder

By  Kenny Moore

Bowerman and the Men of Oregon is a  brilliant re-creation of a large, quintessentially American life. During his 24-year tenure as track coach at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman won four national team titles and his athletes set 13 world and 22 American records, most notably by distance runner Steve Prefontaine (subject of the film Without Limits, available on dvd VRN #76705 with the Bowerman role played by Donald Sutherland with obvious relish and glee). Bowerman also co-founded Nike, invented the waffle sole, helped usher in the running boom to non-athletes in the late 60s, and was the U.S. Track & Field Coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Two time Olympian Kenny Moore, who had been coached by Bowerman, has written a hugely captivating account that takes the reader from The Oregon Trail, through WWII, the drama of the Munich hostage taking, the rise of Nike, and even includes self styled guru Bhagwan Rajneesh's move to Oregon. It is truly a  sprawling read for anyone that enjoys biography" ...Ron Stadnik

 

Paperback : ISBN 1594867313 / 9781594867316
LBN # 531348 /  Price: $20.95

October 2007
“When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School"
by Sam Kashner

As a teenager I idolized the Beat authors, as did author Sam Kashner. However, while I took my enthusiasms on the road with me, Kashner enrolled to become the first student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. Jack had died with Ginsberg, Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and other notorious poets and literary madmen of the 50s, having become faculty members twenty odd years after the HOWL and Naked Lunch obscenity trials. This poignant coming of age story is also a hilarious look at what happens when we confront our heroes and see them revealed as flesh and blood human beings. As "On the Road" celebrates its 50th year in print this month, this is the perfect book to glimpse into the lives of what happened to the Beats themselves as they traded in their heroin and benzedrine for blood pressure medication and dentures." ...Ron Stadnik

Paperback : ISBN 006000567X / 9780060005672
LBN # 396999 /  Price: $17.50
July 2007
“Late Hector Kipling"
by David Thewlis
"This book is the most madly brilliant fiction I've read in ages, although likely not for everyone. This is, as you'd imagine, a book written by the character played by Thewlis in the film Naked. If that's a film you appreciate, this is for you, but if you only know Thewlis through such films as Seven Years in Tibet or Harry Potter, you'd best stay away. It's a wicked, cruel, biting, delicious work. Highly recommended for the twisted." ...Ron Stadnik

Paperback : ISBN 0143054007 / 9780143054009
LBN # 514469 /  Price: $24.00
June 2007

“Ten Points"
by Bill Strickland
"This book deserved to be in our Spring Bestseller list but I thought my personal hobbies might be affecting my judgement. Later, after reading an advance reader's copy, I realized that, much like Lance Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike", this is not a book about bicycling. It's a "Lovely Bones" for men." ...Ron Stadnik

Hardcover : ISBN 1401302580 / 9781401302580
LBN # 512910   /  Price: $29.95

May 2007
"May is a month to think of food, whether it's harvesting rhubarb and leeks in Vancouver, or planting the garden in Ontario; spring revolves around our body's instinctual need to feed. The following aren't practical gardening books, but might be called "foodspirational" as they document current and past eating habits and trends, providing insights into means of positive change. Reading these will change what's on your plate and how it got there." ....Ron Stadnik

“The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating"
by Alisa Smith & JB Mackinnon

Hardcover
: ISBN 0679314822 / 9780679314820
LBN # : 503563   /  Price: $32.95

“The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals"
by Michael Pollan

Paperback : ISBN 0143038583 / 9780143038580
LBN # 528171 / Price: $20.00


“Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life"
by Barbara Kingsolver & Camille Kingsolver

Hardcover
: ISBN 0060852550 / 9780060852559
LBN # 514721 / Price: $33.95
“Alice Waters and Chez Panisse"
by Thomas McNamee

Hardcover : ISBN 1594201153 / 9781594201158
LBN # 503575   /  Price: $35.00