Banned Author: W.P. Kinsella
W.P. Kinsella is one of my favourite authors, and the fact that he's Canadian makes me like him even more. He is probably best known for Shoeless Joe which was made into the movie "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner. He's written a number of books about baseball, and many about people living on the fictional reserve of Hobema. Several of his books have been challenged over the years, including The Fencepost Chronicles which won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
I have decided not to discuss the controversy, but instead to tell you why I like his books. They're funny, insightful and moving. The characters are extremely interesting and very real - they're clever, they have fun, they'll do anything for friends and family, they make mistakes and they survive. Here's a list of my favourites:
The Winter Helen Dropped By
Dance Me Outside
The Fencepost Chronicles
The Silas Stories (omnibus)
Brother Frank's Gospel Hour
The Alligator Report
Red Wolf, Red Wolf
The Secret of the Northern Lights
In 1997 W.P. Kinsella suffered a brain injury and has been unable to write ever since. This is a great loss for Canadian literature and Canadians.
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A young woman in rural India is not allowed to keep her daughter. To avoid a worse fate, she makes the gruelling trek to Mumbai to take her to an orhphanage.
A couple in California are unable to conceive and decide instead to adopt from the orphanage his mother supports in India. The child is raised by two loving parents, but always wanted to know where she came from. As an adult she is finally able to visit her extended family in India and learns what she needs to about her past.
Secret Daughter is a touching story that explores the relationship between an adopted child and her parents, and how cultural differences can effect that relationship.
|Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende|
Lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this story set in Saint-Domingue (later called the Dominican Republic) and Cuba around the turn of the 18th century.
As a young child Tete is sold several times until she ends up a domestic slave in the home of plantation owner Toulouse Valmorain. Valmorain is new to being a slave owner and only came to the island a few years earlier when his father was in ill health. Valmorain's and Tete's lives become intertwined against their wills, and each is saved by the other out of necessity. On an island where slaves outnumber whites by the tens of thousands, unrest is constant and slave owners live in fear. Eventually those fears are realized and both Valmorain and Tete must make critical decisions they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Age of Persuasion: how marketing ate our culture
by Terry O'Reilly & Mike Tennant
Known for the CBC program of the same name, O'Reilly and Tennant share their knowledge of marketing's impact on our society in this extremely interesting book. A fascinating dissection of how marketing plays into everything we do and how it has changed over time. Every wonder why or how ads work? This book explains that and more, with interesting stories throughout as examples.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (non-fiction)
This was a really interesting look at what might happen to the word if human beings suddenly disappeared. The premise allows the author to explore all the ways in which we have damaged the earth and whether or not it is too late for it to recover. Some the ideas are pretty obvious - could endangered species recover if we weren't around to destroy their habitat and contaminate the food chain? But what would happen to hundreds of nuclear reactors spread around the world if there were no people at the controls?
Really well written (don't worry, it doesn't read like a text book), and insightful. The author researched potential outcomes in some really interesting ways, such as visiting a city that has been left completely abandoned in Kosovo, or the demilitarized zone that acts as a buffer between North and South Korea and because neither side is allowed to enter it rare wildlife have flourished.
Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Told from the perspective of Alice Lidell who inspired Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to create the story of Alice in Wonderland. Based on facts, this is the story of a relationship between a girl and a man who never wanted to grow up.
The author was inspired after visiting an exhibit of Dodgson's photos, most of which were of young girls clothed in sparse dresses, particularly shocking for the time period in which they were taken. Why would he have taken these photos? And what was the nature of his relationship with Alice? You'll have to read this fascinating book to find out!