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01.09.2014 admin
This is a personal list, and many would claim that far better titles than the ones I’ve listed should have been included.
My 2015 resolution was to tone down the number of movies I consumed and balance the equation with more books.
Anthony Horowitz had cooked up a great Sherlock novel earlier, and that was one reason why I looked forward to his characterization of Ian Fleming’s hero. I personally loved this book for the beauty with which Pamuk managed to reveal Istanbul to the reader. So many characters and their complexities made me a leaver of this book initially, and it’s only later when I gave it some time and went back to it was I converted into a lover. Ronnie Screwvala, aka the Jack Warner Of India, talks about how he undertook many initiatives and explored entrepreneurial opportunities in this bare-all book. Anuradha Roy’s book was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, but did not make it to the shortlist.
This book touches upon illegal immigration through the lives of four characters, who were delusional enough to believe that life in the west would be greener pastures compared to what it is in India. Sumit Kumar in his satirical comic book shows the Naxalbari uprising and Maoist dispute in Central India.
One of the many Mumbai Comic Con freebies, Graphic India’s The Mighty Yeti is a series to look forward to.
Julius Caesar has compiled the details of his campaigns, which his publisher believes shall be a huge hit. After having purchased almost all existing editions and spin-offs of JK Rowling’s witchery, I withheld from buying any more Harry Potter books until Jim Kay came out with a fantastical illustrated edition (and a tote-bag too on pre-order).
Hi Ajit, The best LED in 55 " category is Sony , the starting price of Sony 4K 55 inch is more than Rs 1.5 lacs. Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi Inc is ready with its first tablet called MiPad for an Indian launch.
Whether you like to download your literature to a tablet or e-reader, or simply stuff your suitcase with a couple of novels, there’s no better time to grab a new read than the summer. The Versions of Us by Laura BarnettBest for: Helpless romanticsPass notes: What if a single moment of chance could change the rest of your life forever?
Dubai bookshopsBook World by KinokuniyaThe 68,000 sq ft store in The Dubai Mall prides itself on carrying more than half a million titles in English, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin-Chinese and Cantonese, and stocking magazines native to France and Germany as well as the Middle East, China and Japan.
Of course, it’s the identity of the killer that ultimately resulted in this novel receiving so much acclaim (and controversy). The Murder of Roger Ackroyd stands out because Christie took it a step further, having to consider how the mystery looks to the narrator and then how the narrator makes things look to the reader.
I’ll also just add that I love how as these novels age they become intricate studies in the attitudes of the day.
So I wonder if we’re reaching a point where Christie’s novels are beginning to go the way of the Regency romances. While I lack some of the understanding to completely immerse myself in her world, however, I still fully enjoy these novels. See, we mathematicians know what people with a warped idea of math do not: mathematics is a creative discipline.
This idea pervades Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, which is organized in such a way to progress from basic ideas about numbers to very abstract ideas about functions, dimensions, and infinity. I learned some neat things in the chapters that Parker devotes to higher-dimensional shapes. This is the story of Parker Fadley—an awkward name if ever I’ve heard one—who used to be “Perfect” Parker Fadley but is now just “Fadley,” a screw-up verging on not finishing senior year.
Some of this sounds ominous and vague, and you, with your exposure to Very Special Episodes of nineties’ television, can be forgiven for thinking this seems like the plot of most YA books targeted at teenaged girls. Let’s set aside, for the moment, the fact that most adults can barely remember what it’s like to be in high school, and that the challenges they faced are different from the challenges teenagers face now. So it’s not just a matter of being “out of touch.” It’s fundamental mismatching and misallocation of resources to shore up what is probably broken from the beginning. On the social level, Summers also shows us how Parker’s peers react to her changed attitude. I didn’t even reread the stupid story and the only memory I have of it isn’T entirely accurate, if I’m to believe Becky, which in this case I do. Yeah, that sounds to me like something some people would do to get out of having to do an essay. I mean, I suppose I should mention at this point that I lead a pretty charmed life in high school. And there’s a lot of structural problems to the high school experience that contribute to this. Chris drags me out to the pool and for the next hour all anyone can talk about is how Perfect Parker Fadley is actually drunk, and then they slap me on the back and they say “way to go” all admiringly, and next thing I know, someone’s pressing a red plastic cup into my hand.
I love the idea that Parker falls down this rabbithole because she gets a rush from becoming perfectly drunk.
I probably won’t ever forgive Courtney Summers for sacrificing Bailey on the altar of plot like that.
Normally when I love a book, I inhale it, reading it so quickly that it’s gone before I realize how much I should cherish this unique experience of reading it for the first time.
Whereas Baby, the protagonist from Lullabies for Little Criminals, was just on the cusp of adolescence, Nouschka is just on the cusp of adulthood. It’s this way that O’Neill captures the bizarre layers of our life almost photorealistically that appeals to me.
Many of the characters in this book are also studies in how to write a sympathetic but unlikable character. Every major character, no matter where they lie along the spectrum of protagonist or antagonist, in this book acts how they do out of loyalty. As for Locke and Jean’s friendship … well, I want to keep this review spoiler-free, so I’ll only say this: “I don't have to beat you. It’s like a movie that you really like: even when you remember the details and the characters (which I didn’t this time around), you take such pleasure from hanging around them and watching them in their element. In case the following new review doesn't make it absolutely clear, on a second reading, my admiration of The Lies of Locke Lamora has only increased. Locke Lamora is everything you expect from the brains behind a con game: sneaky, devious, and a smart-ass.
Camorr comes alive through Lynch's description of the way the city and its inhabitants operate. Instead of learning about the Grey King's actual totally ultimate evil plan from his own mouth, we refreshingly hear it from the mouth of a tortured henchman whom Locke and Jean capture.
The Lies of Locke Lamora offers entertaining characters who all seem to have schemes of their own, exciting action scenes, and equally excellent exposition. Alliteration aside, I enjoyed this book in a way I haven't for a while (mostly because I spent the summer reading The Sword of Truth series). Locke Lamora is an orphan who rises to become the leader of a gang of thieves for whom misdirection is everything. While Lynch does a good job weaving backstory into the book using flashback, some of the backstory seems superfluous, and that broke the unity of the story.
The book was rushed toward the end--climaxes tend to lead to an increased pace, of course, but in this case I felt that the need for the climax drove the story toward an artificial resolution rather than the other way around. This edition includes a sneak peek at the second book in the series, and I must say that I can't wait to read it! After my pre-ordered copy of Furiously Happy arrived in the mail last week, I went looking for my copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened . Ordering Furiously Happy the moment I learned Lawson had another book on the way was a no-brainer. Because the truth that we are only now starting to acknowledge is that mental illness is more common than we want to think. When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. Lots of concerned friends and family felt that the first medication’s failure was a clear sign that drugs were not the answer; if they were I would have been fixed. Leaving aside the bizarre and scary fact that many people apply precisely this logic to cancer treatment (Chemo not working? As I read Lawson’s metaphorical explanation of the common attitude towards medicating mental illness, I started to realize this was one of my blind spots. It’s natural to want to compare Furiously Happy with Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and rank them. Just last week, CBC News announced it was closing comments on articles about indigenous peoples, because at the moment, it cannot guarantee sufficient moderation to sustain polite discourse.
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America is Thomas King’s attempt to make some kind of sense of the conflicting narratives and myths created about the European occupation of North America.
Unlike Stephen Harper, I have no trouble admitting that Canada has a history of colonialism.
He does go on to say, “If nothing else, an examination of the past—and of the present, for that matter—can be instructive,” so education is helpful—just not enough on its own. I was reading a recent issue of National Geographic, and it had an article about a national park in Scandinavia.
The Inconvenient Indian is an account of indigenous peoples in North America rather than a history.
Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation is Nye’s attempt to reach out to those who weren’t so lucky to receive that education the first go round.
Nye brings a huge amount of compassion to the table, something scientists and sceptics (ahem, Dawkins) fail to do. Creationism’s textbook, the Bible, hasn’t changed (aside from translations) in over a millennium. I agree wholeheartedly with Nye when he argues that creationism is an inherently useless perspective, because it will never lead to anything new. I also share Nye’s bemusement over the fact that evolution is, by and large, singled out among scientific theories as controversial.
Nye responds to this exasperation with the same exuberance for science that inspired so many watching his TV show. Undeniable is also one of the most accessible popular science books on evolution you’re likely to find. So if you like science but want to know how to talk about evolution in mixed company, this is the book for you.
But really, I think the most controversial thing Bill Nye mentions in this book is that he read Fifty Shades of Grey. In In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom, Yeonmi Park simply and starkly relates her struggle, and the struggles of her family, to just survive under the brutal North Korean regime and in their subsequent escape to China. This is a coming of age story like you’ve never seen, and you better buckle up your seatbelts, because this shit gets real.
Park’s simple prose is eye-opening in describing how people in North Korea actually live (or, in some cases, fail to live). This is a country fully committed to realizing the end state of a corrupt communist regime imploding on itself. At least in other places that experience abject poverty, people know of and aspire to something better. I recently made the not-entirely-facetious comparison between Soviet gulags of the 1940s with the American prison system of today. In many ways, Park’s story of her harrowing escape from North Korea and secret migration through China and Mongolia to South Korea is the most conventional, least surprising part of this book.
Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the entire process, and by the emotional toll it takes on Park and her mother. When relating her life in North Korea, Park is sometimes dismissive of the hardships she and her family experienced. If this were fiction, In Order to Live might end with Park and her mother arriving in South Korea, getting a hero’s welcome, and settling down to a new life of freedom, justice, and the South Korean way. I also liked hearing about Park’s trip to the United States and Costa Rica, and her realization that other people in the world suffer as much as people in North Korea. It’s the nature of a character-driven book such as this that it’s hard to identify protagonists and antagonists. When James marries Materia over her parents’ disapproval, it seems for about two and a half pages that Fall On Your Knees will be a love story. Reading this book a second time, of course, means that I have the benefit of what little I remembered about it. The first of the Faraway Tree series, it introduces readers to Jo, Beth and Frannie who find an enchanted wood at the back of their cottage. The best known  of Jim Corbett’s books, it includes thrilling tales of shooting tigers in the Himalayan forests.
Based on his own experiences as the captain of a steamer on the Congo river, Conrad’s novella tells the story of Charles Marlow who sails down the African coast and to the interior of the continent. Drawn from the writer’s experiences as an estate manager in Bihar, it is a tale of an ecocide caused by man’s hunger for land.
One of the Bard’s most popular plays, it is set in a forest where fairies make mischief and manipulate a group of Athenian lovers and a crew of six amateur actors to hilarious consequences. Poornachandra Tejaswi’s Kannada novella features a set of people, who have set out in the Western Ghats in search of an elusive flying lizard. First published in 1812 as a collection of 86 German fairy tales, the book by the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, was initially criticised because its contents were not considered suitable for children.
Yes, it’s that time of year when every literary critic draws up a list of the best books. Keki N Daruwalla’s last book of poems, Fire Altar, celebrated the legends of the Persian empire in true Parsi fashion while also making the reader ruminate about the meaning of and yearning for rootedness in a world in flux. Alongside, there are digressions into family stories and into tales about opium and Parsi trade fortunes during the Raj, and examinations of those perennially interesting subjects — love and marriage. Ancestral Affairs is a novel that’s both historical and Parsi, and to borrow an image from the author, as crunchy as a good boomla (Bombay Duck) fry. This book makes the reader titter nervously as she follows self righteous Mrs Sharma and her everyday Indian obsessions with purity and getting ahead, with family and keeping up appearances. Rao, Kapur and Daruwalla belong to different generational cohorts and have differing literary styles but each has turned a keen eye to the worlds we carry within us and the one that surrounds us, to the undying ghosts of the past and the peculiar madnesses of contemporary India. The celebration of freedom and glory continues in DelhiExercise, if you want to deal with schizophrenia once and for allWant to fight depression? Of the set quota of 120 books for the year, I somehow managed to read 51 (including a few graphic novels and manga). Catch the protagonist Mevlut, a boza seller, who becomes your guide in the book helping you explore Istanbul in ways only a local can.
I’m not a romance digger, but every now and then there are stories which make me a little fluttery and jittery in the heart, and this was one of those rare books.
While the plot is extremely simple as such, what makes this read special is the manner in which the story is told.
One can rest assured that this is definitely not the last we read of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Had read this way back when it was published as a webcomic, need to get a physical copy soon. Pulpocracy’s latest comic book is an anthology of adventures in outer-space. And boy did it blow my mind! The price of any electronic gadget is based upon the taxes the country levies on the products. The novel’s manuscript was discovered last year and its release has been widely labelled the literary event of the decade. It’s incredible to believe that it is two decades since Candace Bushnell’s first novel was published and went on to be a hit TV series, movie franchise and fulcrum of the fashion industry.
The queen of adolescent fiction walked entire Girl Guide brigade’s worth of young women through their first romances and early heartbreaks with chapters full of teenage angst.
Dense, multi-layered, sprawling, time and place-hopping novels that leap through genres and narratives with a fantastical recklessness. Misery, Secret Window, Secret Garden and Lisey’s Story all feature psycho fans of acclaimed writers. Which is why disciples of Tom Holt are desperate to enter the ludicrous world of Mordak the goblin king. Nor do they often prompt a bidding war between movie studios and see the author making TV and radio appearances around the world while being courted as the next literary superstar.
The question isn’t a new one in literature, although it is more common in science fiction than Laura Barnett’s high-concept romance. This is set sometime after Poirot has retired “to grow the marrows.” But just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in! But I love the idea that Poirot wants out of the limelight in his retirement—just as I find it eminently believable that he wouldn’t be able to resist the thrill of the mystery. Christie was the first to employ “the narrator did it!” I find her use of an unreliable narrator itself enjoyable, regardless of the fact he also happened to be a murderer. Separated from this book by just shy of ninety years, and exposed to countless derivative plot devices since then, it’s tempting for a modern reader to shrug their shoulders and go, “Meh,” when they read those final chapters.
The writer of a mystery necessarily must perceive it from a different perspective than the reader: the writer knows, from the beginning, who did it and why.
That is, the writer assumes cultural knowledge the reader no longer has, so that which is left unsaid, or implied, is almost entirely lost on us. Then Josie, one of my Canadian friends still teaching in England, was filling me in on how she went to one of Matt Parker’s stand-up events and how awesome it was. This is not an area of math I’ve studied in much detail, and conceptualizing higher-dimensional shapes is, of course, very difficult! He doesn’t really do anything new when it comes to talking about old chestnuts like the Four Colour Theorem and its infamous proof. Well worth the wait, though: Cracked Up to Be is all it’s cracked up to be, in that it is a ripping good yarn about how high school is a messed up place. Once cheerleader captain and most popular girl in school, something happened at the end of last year that caused Parker to slip away. Parker got raped or something, right, and that’s why she maybe-kinda-sorta tried to commit suicide, and now she’s just circling the drain? I really enjoyed her depiction of the frenemy nature of Parker’s relationship with Becky, as well as the weird kind of wary friendship between Parker and Chris. Still, I’m a fantastic liar in all other aspects of my life, so writing a thousand-word lie should be easy. I’m sure some of my students turned on the tears to manipulate me (with varying degrees of success) when I was a classroom teacher. Everything comes through naturally in Parker’s voice, so Summers doesn’t have to scream, “Teenagers these days are having lots of sex!” It’s all there, in the subtext—but for a young adult reading this book, it’s plain as day. My reluctance to engage in most social aspects of high school cushioned me from a lot of the issues Parker and her peers face here (sex, dating, alcohol, drugs, etc., just never came up for me). These appear in Cracked Up to Be, I’m sure entirely intentionally on Summers’ part, but nonetheless as part of the background—Parker is not exactly a sociology major here, but she is clever enough to understand when the system is trying to play her. And because I start feeling that rush I usually feel when I’ve done something perfectly and everyone knows it, I drink whatever is in the red plastic cup. This isn’t just a great example of peer pressure; it’s a stellar description of the stream-of-consciousness sensation of being subjected to peer pressure. But that just seems more realistic: there is no easy answer to any of this, Summers is saying. Aside from that, we’re cool, and so is this book, and you should read it, and probably everything else Summers is writing like this. It took me a little longer than normal to read The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, enough that I started to savour it.
I read it the summer I first joined Goodreads, and it was my second favourite book of the year.
She depicts the struggles that Nouschka faces, but unlike many novelists, she does not glamourize or even dwell on them. The story takes place during the second Quebec referendum (1995), and Nouschka gives us a very Quebecois perspective on something that many Canadians will only be familiar with through the lens of news media.
She doesn’t sugar-coat things, but she also puts that sympathetic light on people like Nicolas and Nouschka and even Raphael, who might otherwise seem like jerks and assholes for the way they act. It’s the consummate storytelling skill that transforms The Girl Who Was Saturday Night into something far more sublime and amazing. The paperback edition I have has normal-sized print, but it has slim margins and eschews any headers or footers besides modest page numbers at the bottom.
It starts out as a con game and quickly becomes about intra-city politics, class warfare, and revenge. They regularly breach Capa Barsavi's Secret Peace--that the thieves of Camorr, or "Right People" as they call themselves, will steal only from commoners and merchants, not from nobles or the "yellowjacket" city watch.


I wanted to tweet a photo of the two books together—Jenny Lawson now has a running theme of taxidermied animals on her book covers; I think she should stick with it. Those who have it don’t always want to talk about it, because those who don’t shame them, blame them, or otherwise refuse to offer empathy when a cold shoulder will do.
We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe. I had fallen into the trap of believing the binary narrative that drugs either work or don’t work, that we just over-medicate because it’s easier and more profitable for pharmaceutical companies.
As Lawson points out early in the book, her experience is not every person’s experience with mental illness.
For the sake of discussion I’ll say that I liked the first book better, in that I laughed out loud more often at more of her stories. In addition to the usual trolls, some people were writing hate speech motivated by a misconception of the state of indigenous peoples in Canada.
I approached this book as someone who is interested in gaining a deeper awareness of indigenous perspectives on indigenous issues. It’s convenient, for instance, for us to subscribe to the fiction that we aren’t responsible for anything that happened before 1867. I knew we had been colonialist in the past, and I knew we were being colonialist now, but King lines everything up and connects the dots in a way that shows how our current attitudes emerged from past ones. The problem was and continues to be unexamined confidence in western civilization and the unwarranted certainty of Christianity. Because when you get right down to it, our governments, past and present, have always known what they were doing. Because they exist, and if some people have their way, these people will become more numerous.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Ontario, Canada; while our education system is far from perfect, its science curriculum is fact-based at least. Although he is unfailingly critical of creationism, Nye is not here to harangue or lecture the reader. We cannot address the problems facing humankind today without science—both the body of scientific knowledge and, more important, the process.
One of the current—and, sadly, most effective—tactics used by creationist lobbies is the “teach the controversy” model, where science teachers must present creationism (or its gussied-up cousin, intelligent design) as a viable alternative theory alongside evolution, as if there were some debate amongst scientists it.
And for a religious text, that is absolutely fine—like Nye (and unlike Dawkins) I have no problem with the idea that religion and science can coexist, and that you can be a scientifically-minded religious person, or a religious scientist. Creationism attempts to couch its beliefs in scientific language these days, but scratch the surface and you soon arrive at “God did it.” Again, as a religious argument this is fine. In this very book, chapter 30 is all about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and how he thinks we should “slow down” because there’s something very “unnatural” about putting fish genes in a tomato. Few enough people argue about the principles that underline, say, aircraft or computers or phones. The chapters are short, averaging about 8 pages each, and there are no equations—but hey, Nye does include some sketches he drew himself! She does not sugarcoat or elide any part of her suffering—nor does she glorify it, use it as an excuse to discount or erase the suffering of others. It’s a very emotional read, and I found myself on the verge of tears every couple of pages; I was crying as I finished it, and not just because of Park’s anguish—but from her incredible resilience as well.
I knew it as a distinct country from South Korea, communist where the South was democratic, and isolated. Her family, based in a town bordering China far from the more stable capital city, alternates between prosperity and poverty as their father’s criminal enterprises grow and then collapse.
Park explains how the government once provided everyone with a job, housing, and food—and now it doesn’t. And of course, it’s another story of a country suffering from the Russian and American superpowers staking out their territory. And while I’m not one to advocate invading a foreign country to “liberate” its people, I think there are probably more proactive steps that we outsiders could be taking to end the North Korean regime and isolation more quickly—and less violently. But when Park says that North Korea is like one big prison camp, I understand why she is not joking. Sadly, it doesn’t shock me that there are people out there who take advantage of desperate refugees and traffic them, selling them as slaves into marriage, to brothels, etc. She reaches a point where she is determined to die rather than be raped or captured and returned to North Korea … and I believed her.
Compared to what other families were going through, she feels that her family was often better off—even when they didn’t have enough food to eat well, or when she and her sister nearly froze to death while her mother was in Pyongyang trying to get their father out of prison. She reluctantly agreed to join the cast of an entertainment series starring defectors, because she thought the exposure might help her find her sister. She confesses her own self-centred and very narrow view of the world, reminding us in the process that we all have biases and blinders.
Recently there has been much debate about plans to take in thousands of Syrian refugees, and media portrayals and discussions of these refugees often forget that simple fact. Fall On Your Knees is a difficult book to summarize, or review, in a way that could do it justice. We don’t find out who the narrator is until the very end (though you can probably guess after a while). Each character takes their turn at both; much as in real life, it’s largely a matter of perspective.
Rugged Canadian of Irish descent makes good with daughter of Lebanese immigrants, settles down, and becomes a respected piano tuner. Passion fizzles out to be replaced only by a kind of bewildered regret, which soon kindles resentment. As far as we know, James never cheats on her (with the one exception, as we learn at the end, but that is … different). I don’t know if I completely comprehended the foreshadowing of James’ demon when I first read this book; this time around, of course, it feels rather heavy-handed. In its midst, stands the Faraway Tree, home to magical characters who become their new friends.
First published in 1854, the book chronicles Thoreau’s experiences in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. In MP Sivadasa Menon’s fine prose, the forests in the lower reaches of the Western Ghats come alive. Kipling packed them with nearly everything he knew or “heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle”. Newly-appointed estate manager Satyacharan has the task of turning forest into a plantation.
Several stories that were set in the woods went on to become famous — Hansel and Gretel, Little Brair Rose (their version of Sleeping Beauty), Rapunzel and more. While Ratika Kapura€™s book makes readers ponder about New Indiaa€™s chimeras and chasms, Mahesh Raoa€™s stories get into the minds of characters living in this nation of 1.2 billion. Considering how many Indian English books are published every year, this is an arduous task that fills the list maker with equal portions of dread and ennui. Rao confounds the readers expectations of how each story will end: Will Upkaar’s wife who has become a Christian evangelist preacher return to him?
My only quibble is with the strenuous striving to present the meaning of Parsi and Gujrati terms in the running text. Author Ratika Kapur expertly blends irony and pathos and reveals a great skill for ventriloquism. It’ll help me and many other readers in discovering gems that they might miss otherwise. Real efforts were made this year to read of authors from diverse regions, just to ensure that I had someplace new to read and learn about. This is Pamuk’s first book since he received the Nobel Prize, and in my opinion also his best work yet. Many have compared this book with Gone Girl, and that’s a good enough reason why you should be reading it.
Anne takes on her standard Baltimore settings and focuses on one family and its characters. Author Chigozie Obioma has rendered folk-like storytelling techniques and mythic overtones to bring out the best elements in the book. This is one of those books that simply carries the reader along on the storyteller’s quirky view of the world. Issue #1 has superb concept but offers little in terms of story (Arjun Gaind), but the art by Saumin Patel is just divine. Also looking forward to the theater format (Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) scheduled to release in 2016.
Subsequent novels, whether they were direct sequels or a new line, never strayed far from the Manhattan world of romance, style and social commentary. What is less known, however, is that Blume also writes novels for fully grown (yet equally needing of emotional escapism) adults. As with two previous novels (Cloud Atlas and number9dream) this generation-spanning tome was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and straddles modern-day England and a post-apocalyptic future where the planet has been ravaged by climate change. The themes may be familiar – reader obscures the boundaries between fact and fiction and takes on a murderous approach to literary criticism – but thanks to King’s thrilling prose and gripping narrative this has to go straight onto any ‘must read’ list. But this is exactly what happened when former journalist Paula Hawkins turned her hand to fiction.
The idea of a ‘multiverse’ (different parallel worlds of an infinite number of possibilities which spring up depending on the decisions you make) seems ideal for the telling of a love story. Because boffins in the labs have worked out what artists have known for centuries – the reading public want to be entertained. Whether confronting the American military in The Men Who Stare At Goats or mental health in The Psychopath Report, Ronson is a journalist who never lets the seriousness of a subject get in the way of gentle humour. It’s like the perfect intellectual beach read: you know what to expect, yet there are still surprises (even if you manage to guess whodunit, which I seldom do).
Poirot finds himself neck-deep in the murder of the eponymous Ackroyd, with a whole household of suspects. I like to think that in any of the books narrated by Hastings, part of the reason I don’t solve the crime is because I’m forced to “wear a Hastings cap” and see everything through his eyes. Even if you aren’t impressed by Sheppard’s guilt (if, indeed, he is guilty—we have only his word to go on here, and he has already lied to us!), just think about what Christie had to do to write this book.
All the pieces are apparent to them, whereas the reader only discovers this as a function of time.
Just as modern readers have a hard time really comprehending the world of Jane Austen without some historical grounding first, I suspect that most of us don’t have as full an understanding of the world Christie depicts here either. When I informed her I had purchased a signed copy of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension on the Internets, she was suitably envious.
If I were better with young children I might consider becoming a primary school teacher to rectify this. Understanding everything is not the goal of reading a popular math or popular science book—getting a glimpse behind the curtain, understanding why it’s important, piquing your interest to learn more; these are the goals. Nevertheless, this is one of those areas of math that people never hear about unless they go into university, despite it being so interesting and widely applicable. Parker is ever-encouraging, ever-understanding, ready to make fun of math, mathematicians, school, and himself—and yes, my dear reader, you as well. Courtney Summers manages to convey some of the issues that some teenagers face without trivializing them or wrapping them up in a neat little bow at the end.
But Summers doesn’t seem to date anything, unless I missed it.) Grey is ineffectual because she isn’t someone that Parker can trust. The way these characters negotiate their lives, both in and out of school, strikes me as fairly realistic (at least, from what little I remember of being a teen at the advanced age of 25).
And despite being incredibly nerdy and giving off an intelligence vibe, somehow I was never a target for bullying (or if people did make fun of me, I was just oblivious to it). Now The Girl Who Was Saturday Night will be joining it on my favourites shelf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes an appearance on this year’s best 10 books. But she is anchored to this small, impoverished, impersonal yet intimate Montreal street through her twin brother and her grandfather. There’s a latent current of humour running throughout the book (so many cats, so much Anglo-bashing!), but there are also moments of quiet seriousness. Though The Girl Who Was Saturday Night is “CanLit” that ended up being shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, it certainly feels less like a Canadian novel and more like a Quebecois novel (not that I have much experience with those). I can understand how some could feel that O’Neill overdoes the similes or the asides (but you ain’t seen nothing if you think this is overdone). It feels strange to think that the last time I read The Lies of Locke Lamora was five years ago. Some authors don’t have a very clear conception of what their world is like—there are a lot of blank spaces on their maps.
It’s a fantasy book I would recommend to anyone thinking, “I don’t read a lot of fantasy, so where can I start?” Magic exists, but it isn’t too in-your-face. The copy of her first book was not on my bookshelf under “L.” I briefly pondered if I had lent it to someone, as I am wont to do with books I love (I keep meaning to start some kind of spreadsheet, but laziness, am I right?).
It’s one of those books I just keep giving (to different people, not the same person, because that would be weird) because I know a lot of people who would appreciate the Bloggess’ humour, even if they don’t realize it themselves.
Whereas her first book is mostly a collection of blog posts and assorted musings, with particular focus, as a memoir might, on Lawson’s childhood and upbrining, Furiously Happy focuses more on living with mental illness. In the work-obsessed American society, mental illness is more synonymous with laziness and malingering than actual disease. And that sort of makes sense, because when you have cancer the doctor gives you the best medicine and if it doesn’t shrink the tumor immediately then that’s a pretty clear sign you were just faking it for attention. I don’t necessarily think that means the first book is a better book, if that makes any sense.
I’m already sympathetic to these ideas and have a surface-level understanding of some of the challenges Indigenous people face as a result of colonialism.
And so I can see now that a statement I might have made previously, like, “The situation of indigenous peoples in Canada is still pretty bad, but it has gotten a lot better in recent years” is just woefully inaccurate.
He’s not here to accuse or point fingers at white people in general; he’s not saying you are a bad person.
We live in a world that rewards a certain perspective, one in which property and people are both commodities valued only for what they can produce, not their intrinsic qualities.
The scientifically semi-literate, they will have a working knowledge of technology and a basic grasp of science, but they will drift through life forever uncertain and apprehensive of the controversial strides we are making because of science.
Although I don’t have the patience, determination, or fiddly manual dexterity to become a scientist myself (I went the more abstract route of mathematics!), I grew up with a great fascination of and respect for science and scientists. This attempt to legitimize creationism as “creation science” and the use of pseudoscientific lines of reasoning in creationist arguments is pernicious and troubling, because creationism is not science.
But as a scientific argument it is worthless, because we can’t extrapolate from “God did it.” Creationism insists that our world cannot be investigated in a systematic way—that, in fact, for some reason this all-loving creator has gone out of its way to fool us with all these fake fossils and sediments and whatnot. I really don’t like this chapter; even though he is apprehension about GMOs is legitimate, it feels like he is falling back on a lot of unscientific and emotional appeals here. Physics is somehow less controversial—maybe because all that math makes it harder for laypeople to debate? Drawing on his decades as a science communicator, Nye is able to use analogies and plain English to explain these complicated processes. Indeed, what strikes me so profoundly about this twenty-two-year-old, who has been through more in her life than I’ll probably ever experience in mine, is the depth of her empathy and her compassion for her fellow humans. Park explains how, for all but the most privileged families, life in North Korea is like something from medieval Europe.
Although I was surprised to learn about the burgeoning trade of smuggling bootleg DVDs out of China—Park mentions how she watched South Korean and Chinese movies and soap operas—even this act of rebellion does little to counter the programming North Koreans receive in school and society at large. But first we need to understand what makes North Korea unique, and why people like Yeonmi Park go through so much to escape.
When they decide to run from China and try for South Korea, their conduit is through missionaries who insist they study the Bible and profess Christianity.
Although the show’s intentions were benign, Park found herself and her mother exaggerating their stories of their lives and saying what they thought would play well with audiences. And finally, she shares her evolving perspective on her fame and notoriety, and its role in galvanizing her to write this book. But that also speaks to the low standard in our mass media: so much of what we see is managed, staged, or massaged to present certain perspectives. Park is a refugee, a defector, a victim, yes—but she is also a survivor, a young woman, a scholar, an advocate, and an activist. Yeomi Park teaches us about North Korea, makes us aware of the depths of its wrongness, and at the same time sheds light on the amazing lengths to which people will go to obtain freedom. It is one of those sweeping multi-generational pieces of historical fiction, but at the same time it’s really just a story about four sisters.
Though mostly linear, there are flashbacks throughout, and a detailled accounting of Kathleen’s time in New York is deferred to the penulimate section for dramatic effect. Even in cases where the character seems more villainous than not, like James, or more saint than sinner, like Lily, their actions bely that simplified morality.
MacDonald lets us cling to this vision, as I said, for a few pages, spinning out the fantasy that James and Materia might be happy together. James has such ambition: he orders a crate of books—a crate!—from England with the intention of becoming an educated, well-read, learned man.
He does not beat her regularly—there are moments when he hits her, yes, and MacDonald rightly portrays these as the inexcusable acts they are. The tales in the book are fables, much like Aesop’s, and dispenses moral lessons through its anthropomorphic characters. Indeed, at the book’s launch in Delhi, the author mentioned that the initial inspiration for Drums came from a clip on YouTube. In Golden Ladder, will Falguni’s life change after her family’s feudal ways are exposed to the wider world? It’s probably old fashioned to provide lengthy footnotes but this book would have benefited from them. I had also attempted making a spreadsheet listing out all the books I read and at least one good point that I liked about them, but that never happened. But is he just another westerner hippie in India or he is a true seeker? A spiritual roller-coaster of a book. The best part is, even with a high emotional setting, Anne manages to steer away from melodrama and sentimentality. Killing Monica is about a wildly successful writer planning to kill off a much-loved character in a novel that has taken the world of fashion, celebrity and New York glamour by storm.
This is her first effort in 17 years for the adult market, and fans are eagerly awaiting to see if the disaster novel-turned memoir ignites old flames or fails to take off. The epic novel is told out through six short interconnected stories that revolve around the same individual who is visited by well-known characters from Mitchell’s other works. Following on from 2014’s Mr Mercedes, this is the second of a planned trilogy about detective Bill Hodges.
The story of murder, intrigue and mistaken identity on the commute to London has already registered millions of sales and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more cinematic thriller this summer. The novel follows three strands of a romance with each intertwining and diverging depending on the choices the characters make.
Following the Freakonomics model of hiding the actual science inside punchy anecdotes and humorous storytelling, certified maths whizz-kid Jordan Ellenberg enlightens readers to the hidden beauty of mathematics and why it can help you find love, be lucky and succeed in all areas of everyday life. His attention is now directed towards the 21st century appetite for public shaming and the wrath of social media users when attacking strangers online.
So I was spoiled for choice when it came to this top 10 list of best books, and there are some powerful, moving, educational, heart-breaking, uplifting titles here.
During this time Christie lays the groundwork, scattering clues—or clews as they are spelt here—that will be significant much later in the story. Poirot is past his prime and really should go back to growing marrows,” in general the other characters treat Poirot with a little bit of veneration. Here, the narrator isn’t just omitting or garbling information that Poirot readily receives first hand: he is actively deceiving both Poirot and the reader. Unlike Shakespeare, where this problem has a great deal to do with language drift, this is almost entirely a function of cultural assumptions.
Not, however, as envious as I was for her singular stand-up experience—I don’t like stand-up, but I’d probably watch math stand-up. As it is, my head stuck up here in the calculus clouds, I can only evangelize recreational math from afar.
And mathematicians do this by investigating, by looking at what we already know and finding the gaps.
Parker is very proactive in demonstrating some of the practical ramifications of even the most esoteric ideas, from calculating digital roots to knitting 3D projections of 4D shapes. You need to try these things yourself, to investigate a problem until you hit upon interesting and sometimes unexpected results.


I also appreciate how much he uses computer programs to help him investigate relationships and ideas.
This is a safe book in that sense: you’re not going to be judged for not liking math or not having much luck, so far, with it. As the story unfolds from her point of view, we watch her engage with different people—friends, ex-boyfriend, parents and counselors and teachers—trying to push them away like she pushes away the flashbacks that helpfully unpack the fateful night that changed everything forever. What’s more interesting is the way in which Summers portrays the failure of the very systems we think are helping adolescents mature and deal with the stress of impending adulthood.
Somewhere along the line, we made a mistake that caused Parker and other teenagers like her to feel that they need to clam up instead of open up. And because Parker spends the majority of the book hiding the root cause of her self-loathing, she can’t get help until she finally becomes willing to take that step. Her identity is boxed in by the tabloids and documentarians who recall the days she spent appearing on TV with her chansonnier father, Etienne. O’Neill neither makes light of Nouschka’s troubles nor exaggerates them; they simply are, and it’s the people and circumstances in her life that are absurd by comparison.
Despite the novel being in English, it’s implied that the characters speak and think primarily in French. I agreed with Loulou when he tried to stop Nouschka from marrying Raphael, and I knew it wouldn’t work out well—but I couldn’t stop myself from hoping that maybe I would be wrong, maybe something would work out.
For me, though, the prose is a perfect alchemical mix of description that leads to introspection. Others have detailed biographies of every minor character—but the trouble is that they feel the need to share all those details with the reader! That’s because Lynch packs a lot in it—plots within plots within plots within cons and schemes.
And Lynch manages the whole gamut of emotion, from humour through farce and dialogue to the gutwrenching, stomach-punching tragedy of losing the ones we love. It features both direct and indirect confrontations with this demon—there are many stories about Lawson’s visits to therapists, arguments with her long-suffering husband Victor, and the difficulties that her depression, anxiety, etc., create in her daily life.
I mean, cancer is a serious, often fatal disease we’ve spent billions of dollars studying and treating so obviously a patient would never have to try multiple drugs, surgeries, radiation, etc., to find what will work specifically for them. But whereas many of her fans are drawn to her through a kindred feeling of “getting it,” I’m drawn to her for two reasons.
If you like either book you’ll like the other one, and you can also read them in either order.
We white people are very good at ignoring indigenous people—until we want their land, that is.
I don’t think this book would work for someone who, say, is not so sympathetic or is actively labouring under the types of misconceptions that I hear all-too-often in Thunder Bay. And while I thought I understood this prior to reading The Inconvenient Indian, the implications of this continuum of colonialism only crystallized for me after reading this book. Although it’s true that some bands and nations have made great strides in some areas, others have seen setbacks; it’s so difficult to quantify whether things are getting better or worse, because overall our society remains hostile and racist.
They wish that indigenous peoples were relegated to history like they are so often portrayed in Hollywood. But acknowledging our privilege and the way we interact with our racist society is important.
While he can’t point to things getting better, he highlights two “recent” massive land claims (in Alaska and in the creation of Nunavut) that have set some precedents. Though The Origin of Species might be the seminal work on evolution, that doesn’t mean it’s a holy text for scientists. If that is the case, then how could we hope to learn more about how the world works, and in so doing, invent new things and improve our ways of life for everyone? Like A Short History of Nearly Everything , this book’s enthusiasm and love for science and learning rings loudly. And while there are areas I notice he elides, for the most part his accounts are both accurate and accessible, which is not easy to do. Despite growing up in a culturally stagnant and deprived society only to escape into more hardship and oppression, Park has managed not just to survive but to blossom and flourish, to become a symbol for hope and a voice against oppression. More recently, of course, North Korea has been in the news for its nuclear arms program and its posturing.
Forget about computers and electricity—the former non-existent outside of a few places, the latter so unreliable and unpredictable that when it’s on everyone stops what they’re doing simply to enjoy using it briefly. The infrastructure of the country is so broken that it can’t transport fertilizer properly, so schoolchildren and adults alike have to save their own poop to use as manure.
It’s one thing to know about the use of propaganda and another to hear it described and explained in the words of someone who experienced it from birth. Park shares her mixed feelings about believing in a higher power that could let North Korea continue the way it does. Park explains how they had trouble acclimating to living on their own after spending so long in a society where individuality was punished. I can imagine few things worse for an uncertain teenage girl trying to fit into a new society than being forced not only to relive her past but retell it in new, interesting ways for the entertainment of the masses. While In Order to Live certainly evokes pathos for Yeomi Park, it does not strike me as having an agenda. That’s a word that many people like to use fairly liberally, and it’s worthwhile reflecting on what it actually means to us.
Against the backdrop of Cape Breton Island and New York City from the turn of the 20th century all the way to the advent of World War II, Ann-Marie MacDonald shows us how the good and bad actions we take in life ripple outward to touch the lives of everyone around us.
The story’s power comes from how the setting around the main characters changes, almost like a time-lapse video.
It was just that, recently, it had struck him taht other people might think there was something strange. At night, Max’s bedroom transforms into a jungle, and he sails to an island inhabited by the “Wild Things”.
Will Roma suddenly jump up yelling and run away from the restaurant in The Trouble with Dining Out?
If only Gollum had a better PR company he could have opened a very successful jewellery business.
In the hands of anybody else it could be a preachy and righteous defence of society, but for Ronson it’s an opportunity to find human stories at the centre of very inhumane worlds. Mystery was my first genre love, even way back before I got into science fiction and fantasy, and in mystery, Christie made history. Poirot is just a batty old “Frenchman” who has taken the cottage next door and who is so opaque that not even Caroline, Sheppard’s sister and the town gossip, can divine his identity. Now, that’s not because math is somehow more difficult for the average person to comprehend than any other highly-specialized field. Yes, they do this is a systematic way, and they have to do it rigorously before other mathematicians will agree with them. Parker writes with a sense of humour that’s only to be expected considering his comedic career.
I could easily see some of this stuff working in a classroom setting if, you know, you’re not the kind of math teacher that thinks we should just memorize it all.
This is one of the greatest things about mathematics: you can, in theory, verify every math result ever discovered by someone else. As someone who also enjoys writing Python scripts, I’m always happy to see my interest in math and computers come together.
Summers very accurately captures what I suspect is an all-too-common phenomenon in the interactions between “troubled teens” and authority figures, be they counselors or teachers or parents.
So I need to recognize that I’m an outlier, and that for most people, the high school experience is sucky to blandly neutral at best.
So while Cracked Up to Be ends on a hopeful note, it’s also a sombre reminder that nothing is certain. Her need to make a connection lands her with the most outrageous husband and a marriage that is properly bizarre for fiction but likely accurate for real life. She’s smart enough to realize that she can’t actually fix him, and that she has to leave him at some point—but she’s also enough in love with him to go along with his craziness just slightly more than another person might. By playing with the language in this twisted way, O’Neill gets to have some fun meditating on the different ways French- and English-speaking Canadians think and act.
In the end what happens is what happens so often in real life—something stupid and tragic and irrevocable, but also something you have no choice but to move on from and keep on living afterwards.
I’m glad I decided to re-read this, and to read Red Seas Under Red Skies again, before I start the third book. I’ve graduated from university, spent two years teaching in England, and now I’m back here, kinda-sorta teaching. Lynch is among the elite rank of authors who’ve done the research, done the creation, but don’t drown the reader in extraneous exposition.
Jean's got brains too—he reads books—but prefers to let Locke build the schemes even as he cuts down anyone in the way. And once the cancer sufferer is in remission they’re set for life because once they’ve learned how to not have cancer they should be good. And while I understand now that the colonization and oppression of indigenous people is ongoing, it took King’s book to help me connect these two ideas—that is to say, our education system leaves us ignorant because colonialism is ongoing. And if we truly are a democracy where governments reflect the will of the people—where governments refuse to take a stand about land rights or missing and murdered women or police brutality because it would mean upsetting affluent white voters—then the will of the people sucks, and we should be ashamed. And, unfortunately, attempts to improve or replace this system have sometimes backfired spectacularly. And he reminds us that whatever the past and present holds, the future is yet unwritten: indigenous cultures and people can change, just as the rest of society can change. Or maybe you had the misfortune to attend an underfunded public school in the United States—worse still, one in a state where politicians have decided that little things like “facts” don’t belong in curricula.
It’s not something inherently wrong with them, a closed-mindedness they were born with or inculcated early at birth.
And even more so than in the debate, this book is not about evolution versus creationism so much as it is about evolution full stop.
Nevertheless, Nye has fulfilled the statement he made at the Ken Ham debate and reiterates in this book: in the face of evidence, he changed his mind about GMOs. And while she shares her ambivalence over this latter turn of events, she shows us how it’s possible—perhaps even necessary—to take on such a role while retaining one’s own goals and personal ambitions. So most of us know of North Korea as a political entity, and maybe we have a vague notion of what life is like for North Koreans—most live in poverty, have no access to computers or the Internet, and are raised on propaganda where Kim Il Sung and his progeny are all-powerful benefactors.
Park explains this with no trace of humour, and I wanted to laugh at how absurd it seems to us. From the way she was taught arithmetic—how many American bastards you’ve killed—to people’s cognitive dissonance regarding their own poverty despite the idea that the Kims are beneficent and omnipotent—Park helps us to understand how life in North Korea continues like this. And she talks about how some of the pastors make her feel so ashamed and “sinful” for working as a cam girl to subsist. She does not mince words when describing Hongwei, the human trafficker who purchases Park and her mother and sells the latter while trying to get Park to live as his mistress. She makes it clear that while South Korea officially welcomes North Korean refugees, the attitude of its people can sometimes be indifferent or hostile towards individual North Koreans.
On one side, she has North Korea denouncing her, targeting her, pressuring her family back in the country to make up lies or face the consequences. It behoves us to recognize this and remember it when considering others who have experienced comparable struggles surviving and escaping from untenable situations. Park cautions us that not only do some people lack freedom, but they might not even have a proper understanding of its meaning or its possibility. When James and Materia marry, their corner of Cape Breton Island is unremarkable and undistinguished. And he is frustrated when it becomes clear that Materia will be more hindrance than help in this regard.
I mention these things, because in spite of the evident dissatisfaction on both sides, these two try to muddle through. Written in the judgemental voice of a 37-year-old married woman, who seeks at all times to establish her own superiority in matters moral and social, Mrs Sharma should be an unattractive protagonist. Mrs Sharma is not immediately likable but she is unforgettable and quite unlike any other woman in Indian English fiction.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, sensational and controversial and regarded by so many as her best work, definitely attests to her skill as a writer. She has to consider how it looks to the detective—how does Poirot fit all the pieces together to get to the solution? Servants are a curious fixture in Christie novels, because they tend to be invisible and nameless (think of the Breton-capped woman who waits on Poirot in the Larches) unless they are relevant to the mystery, in which case they are naturally suspect. We only have this perception as an unfortunate side-effect of our industrialized education system, which has traditionally insisted that we should learn math through rote memorization of rules.
But a lot of mathematical discoveries have literally come about because of mathematicians just playing with numbers and shapes and ideas. And you don’t even need specialized equipment: most of the time you just need a ruler, some scissors, and some paper. In our busy lives, we try to make time for these children, try to listen to them, hear their problems, and advise them. But because the system dictates that Grey is the one to whom Parker should spill her guts, we arrive at an impasse. Ultimately, O’Neill uses Nouschka to do what most people refuse to do: interact with the person suffering from a serious mental illness instead of trying to interact with their condition.
Unlike a story, life does not always end after tragedy—and it’s that weird, anticlimactic part of life that O’Neill captures here. I’ve grown up, might be a little more cynical and definitely more sarcastic than I used to be—so I thought I wouldn’t necessarily like this as much as I used to. It’s no accident, how all those flashbacks Lynch includes are object lessons in loyalty, perseverance, and trust. He has invented months and a way of naming the years after the gods and whatnot, but he doesn’t include appendices explaining these systems, and he certainly doesn’t shoehorn such explanations into the text.
Of course Locke is going to win in the end—at a terrible price—but along the way he suffers many setbacks. She talks about her trip to Australia, where she stood next to a koala while dressed as a koala.
But Lawson reminds us what we already understand: our brains are our most complicated organ, so the idea that we might treat their ailments in a simplistic way is facile.
I learned about the slavery and the triangle trade in history class, because these things are done and gone, and we can talk about them as “terrible tragedies” with the required distance of history. Each chapter is full of facts (as much as he maligns them) and anecdotes and impressive lists of dates and events. I already knew a good deal about evolution, and much of what Nye talks about is not new to me—but I still learned, because his prose is straightforward and his explanations accessible.
It’s heartbreaking that her first exposures to ideas about sex and sexuality came in this way—and then that the very people so generous and kind to help her and her mother escape also condemn what they did to survive.
And the atmosphere of excellence that pushes South Korean students to succeed creates a supercilious view that North Korean defectors can seldom catch up.
On the other side, she has people trying to take advantage of her, twist her message, or insist that she is lying or making things up. She talks about the good and the bad times in North Korea, acknowledging the human drive to find the light within the darkness. We get to watch a town spring up, miners’ strike, the devastation of war, and the Great Depression. On Materia’s part, it’s likely that she sees little other choice, especially after Mercedes and Frances are born.
Do say: Unreliable narrators and a simmering malice are popular themes right now, but nobody does suspense building quite like Hawkins. Then she has to consider how the mystery looks to the narrator (and thus, usually, to the reader) at a given point in time. But there are so many barriers in the way preventing us from being as helpful as we could be.
Whether it’s the day after the province voted “Non” or the day after something else, life goes on … just always different from before. Considered altogether, it’s just a lovely package of story and character and craft: the exhilaration of anguish and terrible foreboding of joy. I know that in my first review I thought the flashbacks were more of a nuisance than not, but I enjoyed them a lot more this time. Once you find the right cancer medication you’re pretty much immune from that disease forever. And I like to think I’m generally open and capable of empathy for people who do struggle with mental illness. At every turn, he confronts us with the reality that the Canadian and American governments have never dealt with indigenous peoples in good faith, have broken treaties and promises whenever it suited them, and have alternatively attempted to exterminate or legislate indigenous people out of existence. This is the book about evolution for those who are genuinely curious or confused but don’t know how to find out more information. Along the way we learned about genes and DNA, and we understand so much more than we did in the 1860s.
As Nye explains in this book, evolution is inextricably linked to the chemical and physical properties of the universe—and is a consequence of those properties. Park found herself in a new “home” that was wary of her, had no idea what she had been through, and had no confidence in her ability to learn or contribute to society.
She shares a journey that is complex and perhaps incredible—because often the truth is stranger than fiction.
While the characters grow older, go to school, take or change vocations, the story that MacDonald tells never seems to change. Yet MacDonald gives her ambition as well: she discovers her love for performing, for playing the piano for vaudeville acts.
The Lies of Locke Lamora took me back to the basics; Scott Lynch reminds me of how much I love stories about con artists and heists. They’re an efficient way of building Locke’s character without constraining the story to a boring, linear trajectory. It sounds just familiar enough that it becomes part of the flavour of the novel, just alien enough that it helps build up some character for the setting. This is a book about living with mental illness, yes, but it would be just as accurate to say that this is a book about living in general. And if you get it again it’s probably just a reaction to too much gluten or not praying correctly.
But because I don’t really know what it’s like, and because I live in a culture that stigmatizes mental illness and those who suffer from it, I have a lot of internalized crap to deal with.
It is illogical and irrational to take the parts and fruits of scientific discovery you feel comfortable with but discard the ones that disagree with your pet worldview.
She is not obligated to say this; she could, and maybe in all rights should be angry at and disgusted by Hongwei. It’s always about the tension between the good and evil parts of the soul, that desire to do right by each other and that temptation to be mischievous.
What might Materia have become if James had believed in and supported her instead of shunned her? Yet beneath that decoration, it’s more accurate to say that this is a book about friendship and loyalty. It’s much the same as how, not being a woman and living in a sexist culture, I’ve internalized a lot of sexist views even if I consider myself an ally. Wanting to be more understanding of how people deal with mental illness doesn’t give one the freedom to pry into someone’s life—I do have friends who struggle with mental illness, and some are open about it while others aren’t.
But even with all her negative experiences, Park is able to show the complex and contradictory nature of humanity.
I can’t help but feel like some of this subtext is grounded inexorably in the period: in a more contemporary setting, Fall On Your Knees would involve messy affairs, fast cars, divorce, and in the inevitable movie adaptation, a car chase and a running-through-the-airport scene. Because I don’t, all my idiosyncrasies and distaste for certain social niceties aside, exhibit “craziness,” I have privilege.
The way those lipsticky lips move, the way those hands move when she is saying something, when she is saying anything at all. So I am grateful for people like Lawson who have the ability and desire to speak out about their struggles.



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