Shelf Life: February 2012

This month I tackled most of the Canada Reads short list in reverse order of elimination. Though I still haven’t yet read Something Fierce.

14. Kenk, by Richard Poplak
(Pop Sandbox, 2010)

The graphic biography of Toronto’s Igor Kenk, told through grainy punk-style photocopied stills excerpted from filmed interviews. Poplak reveals a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the radical environmentalist who probably stole your bike.

One of the best graphic biographies I’ve ever read.

15. Saltations, by Jennifer Still
(Thistledown Press, 2005)

Still’s first collection, I put this on order before picking up Girlwood, though it came in to the store much later. A lovely book.

16. The Fists of Remembering, by Jim Nason
(Wolsak and Wynn, 2006)

A beautiful collection of poetry from Jim Nason. I picked this up because¬† was reading his short story collection, The Girl on the Escalator, and wanted to read more. It’s been a long time since a book of poetry has made me cry.

17. The Prisoner of Tehran, by Maria Nemat
(Free Press, 2008)

I started reading the Canada Reads shortlist after the winner was selected, and as The Prisoner of Tehran was voted off first, I began with it.

What a strong woman to have endured so much, and come out the other side intact. It’s well written, well paced, and I couldn’t help but feel if this was the book voted off first, that truly incredible things must be in store for the remaining titles.

18. A Coney Island of the Mind, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
(New Directions, 1978)

A complete trip. I adored it, and want more.

19. Faces on Places, by Terry Murray
(House of Anansi Press, 2006)

Murray details the gargoyles, grotesques, and other decorations on buildings in Toronto. It’s kind of a shame we don’t have more. If we’re going to build so many damned condos, can’t we at least put interesting things on them?

20. Glimpse, by George Murray
(ECW Press, 2010)

A collection of 409 aphorisms from the poet behind the now-defunct Bookninja.

They range from abstract (“268. Every man is a dimension unto herself.”) to the morbidly depressing (“303. Everyone works in sales now.”) – these examples are chosen almost at random.

It’s really neat collection.

21. The Tiger, by John Vaillant
(Knopf Canada, 2010)

Not a book I would have normally picked up, had it not been shortlisted for Canada Reads, but it was really well written and surprisingly sympathetic to all characters involved.

I only listened to some of the debate on CBC Radio 1, so I have little idea how these were whittled down to the final selection. I hope it was as difficult as it seems.

22. On a Cold Road, by Dave Bidini
(McClelland & Stewart, 1998)

Part chronicle of the Rheostatics’ tour with the Tragically Hip for the album Trouble in the Henhouse, and part collection of road and band stories from the classic rock bands of yesteryear. It’s an interesting mix, and certainly introduced me to bands I’d never heard of before, and, kind of randomly, earned my book club a guest appearance from the very gracious author and rock star himself. Thanks again!

For more, see the profile on Book Club in a Box.

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