You know those days when you go shopping for clothes only to find nothing even close to amiable? The days when you secretly wish for the next season to hurry in or blame your city’s lack of shopping choices because nuh-thing is appealing? If you do, they you also know the opposite kind of shopping days. The kind where you can almost feel your credit card vibrating in your purse as you eye all of the wonderful items just waiting to be owned by none other than you.
I find the same experience exists at your nearest Chapters (in another post we can get into the big box versus independent bookstore owner. I too have watched You’ve Got Mail). There are days when I enter through the quadruple doors, immediately feeling at home surrounded by shiny hardcovers and Heather’s ubiquitous picks, eager to find a new read or two. Not often, but once in awhile, my shopping extravaganza falls flat as I stare at Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns for the umpteenth time and its numerous replicas. When the most exciting book is (still?) Lovely Bones. On these days, I am more attracted to the paraphanelia – the laptop pillows, the window-box gardens and tea cozies – than the main purpose for my outing: the books.
Luckily, today was not one of those days. I swear I could feel a change in the air as I walked into my ‘local’ big box book supplier. I scanned the front tables – the “New and Hot in Fiction” the “Best of the Decade (really?), the “Books with Buzz” and could hardly decide where to look. There were so many enticing new titles.
Here’s a couple of my buys and soon to buy:
Yann Martel’s What is Stephen Harper Reading? – I loved Life of Pi. It seems to me that book is a little like the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Not in the content, circumstances or anything pertinent but more in the way people reacted to the book. People either loved it or hated it. Praised Martel or passed him off as a one-hit-wonder. I was in the ‘love it’ camp. I added Martel to my ‘authors to watch’ list and so immediately started scooping up anything with his name on it. So, what could be better than a recommended reading list written by the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2002 (it’s hard to be lead astray by this list)!
His list seems to be what you would expect, ranging from the classics (Candide by Voltaire) to the nouveau-classics (George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Toni Morrison’s the Bluest Eye) to the unheard of (Maus by Art Speigelman) with a smattering of surprises (the Bhagavad Gita) and somewhat endearing choices (Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery). This will be a fly-through book I’m sure, one I can tear into hungrily while adding selections to my own must-read-list.
Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands by Aatish Taseer – Truthfully, it was praise by V.S. Naipaul smeared across the cover of this book that first caught my attention (well-played McClelland & Stewart, well-played). This book could be one in a million amongst the lineage of books examining India, the Middle East, the pervasive theme of religion…. That doesn’t really matter to me. We are always drawn to that which is ‘other’ or foreign. That is why children in the Philippines come out to see the falangs, why Michael Jackson was and will always be so fascinating and why shows like Jerry Springer survive. For me, all that religion is is foreign. I am somewhat familiar, of course, with the major world religions but the concept of religious devotions/adherence/subjugation/allegation is so far out of my nexus that I cannot help but be captivated by ‘these’ books. What’s even more appealing of Taseer’s book is that he himself grew up in India and could still not identify with his father’s religions allegiances.
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer – Again I am biased by my first experience with this author. I was so surprised by how much I loved Foer’s earlier book, Everything is Illuminated – a magical realist account of the holocaust. Foer’s most recent pen, though, is much different, instead analyzing the way and the why we eat as he approaches his new life as a father. I feel a Zeitgeist-meets-Fast Food Nation-as-directed-by -Tim Burton in our midst.
Like any kid with a fresh bag of candy (or a recently discovered bag of last year’s left over Halloween candy), I have little will-power and I’ve got the munchies.
‘Till next time.