Entirely unrelated things

Let’s see… should I start with the most intellectual and go toward the least? Or the other way around?

1. Bizaardvark video
My daughter played this for me this morning and it made my day. I think this song is about me!



2. Eyes and Spies
Friends have been emailing and texting me all week about Alex Van Tol‘s piece about Eyes and Spies in BC Bookworld. (You can read it here, on page 35, if your eyesight is excellent. Or you can look for a real-life copy at various bookstores.) It’s such a good article, it made me think Alex should have written the book instead of me.

3. No Is Not Enough
Min and I went with our friends Jacqui and Carl to see Naomi Klein Saturday night, as she launched her new book, No Is Not Enough. That woman opens her mouth and brilliant things spew out of her. Which is really not fair to the rest of us who muddle through life trying to seem smarter than we really are. I do think I may have gained a few IQ points just from listening, and have hopes I’ll gain more as I read the book.

In case you couldn’t tell, I decided on least intellectual to most. But if you’re overwhelmed, Silence also showed me this emoji video. Enjoy.

The reading tally

I was SO CLOSE to my 75-book goal for last year. I tried a final sprint to the finish line, but then the kids were off school and snowshoeing called and… 73.

It’s really all Naomi Klein‘s fault. (Though she was worth it.)

I read 12 non-fiction books. The ones with the biggest impact were This Changes Everything and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I read the two at the same time, and it was a nice balance. That is to say, Big Magic kept me from jumping off a cliff while I struggled through This Changes Everything.

Other non-fiction books I loved: Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, about Edward Snowden; Caroline Moorehead’s Village of Secrets, about a tiny region in France that sheltered Jewish refugees during World War II; and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about a community in the slums of Mumbai. All amazing books, well worth any reading-goal delays.

bbf

In the world of adult fiction (20 books), I loved Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. If you haven’t read it, you should get a copy immediately.

light

The rest of my books were middle-grade and young adult fiction (41). And I have so many favourites in that category, it’s hard to choose. Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, definitely, because of its wonderful mash-up of realistic romance and inventive sci-fi. Also Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener (deliciously creepy) and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger (contemporary perfection). For the younger set, I choose Jordan Stratford’s The Case of the Missing Moonstone, which made me wish I lived in London in the early 1800s. In a house with a maid, a butler, and a hot-air balloon.

moonstone

I’ve been reading up a storm these last few weeks. My tracking website predicts I’ll hit 123 books this year. But let’s keep our expectations realisttic and say 74, shall we? If you have recommendations for me, leave me a comment.

My reading friends, may every rainy day in 2016 find you curled on a window seat with a cup of tea and the perfect book.

This Changes Everything

I’m behind on my 75-book reading goal for the year, and it’s all Naomi Klein’s fault. I read This Changes Everything, and it took me forever to get through it.

It took so long because (a) Naomi Klein books read like gluten-free bread, dense and chewy, but probably good for you; (b) because she packs an encyclopedia’s worth of research into every chapter; and (c) because I kept collapsing onto my bed like a suicidal slug after every second page.

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Min thought I was getting sick for a while, because he kept finding me in my slug-like state and I didn’t want to admit I was reading this particular book because I knew he would suggest that I, say, STOP READING and thus stop feeling so defeated. But, I’d heard that the second half of the book was more hopeful than the first, and I felt that if a brilliant thinker like Naomi Klein could dedicate years of her life to researching climate change, the least I could do was read her work. Oh, and maybe stop driving my car.

I will summarize the first half of the book for you, in case you don’t have access to antidepressants and thus can’t read it yourself. It says: Hell + Handbasket.

Also, there are a lot of scary deadlines. Like, RIGHT NOW. Stop oil subsidies, divest, create local economies, end globalization, develop renewable energy sources, and get crackin’ THIS AFTERNOON. Tomorrow morning’s too late.

Plus, if you drive a car, you would have owned slaves if you lived a couple hundred years ago.

(Yeesh, even the summary of this stuff is a big sack of suck.)

Okay, onto the second half. By continuing to pillage with wanton disregard for people and the environment, oil companies have lost their social licence to operate. There are grassroots movements around the world mobilizing against these companies, and against the governments (including ours) that have been corrupted by oil money.

So that’s more hopeful.

And I have to say, having finished the book, I’m now reading the news differently. It’s as if every protest and petition is one more step in a global movement toward greater equality and sustainability.

At least, I hope it each protest is another step. Because otherwise, I’m the slug that’s stuck inside the handbasket, and I now know exactly where I’m heading.

(Incidentally, there’s a lovely article by one of my favourite activist-writers, Tzeporeh Berman, posted on the National Observer site this week, which offers us Canadians reason to hope.)