Winner of 2017 Giller Prize

Winner of 2017 Giller Prize
Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Book Lover Goes Wild



At the South Gillies Community Book Swap, South Gillies Community Centre, (corner 595 and 608) last Saturday, I was able to pick up several books I had sometimes considered reading one day, the kind of books that are on the mental list or books by authors that I admire. The Swap people had set out two storeys of books. They organized them by category on flat tables, the easier to browse. And, the books are free. (donations welcome and you can donate your own books to the hoard.).


The Swap takes place the third Saturday of every month, with the exception of September, 2016.

Here is what I took.  And why. 

The Mission Song by John le Carre I enjoyed  my first  leCarre book, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and every one after that. So I grabbed this one, hoping I had not read it before, which can easily happen with thrillers.

Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge I first encountered this book, or rather an excerpt, in my Grade Eight reader. I tried to read it several times but I could not understand it perhaps because it was published in 1865. Or maybe because no silver skates appeared. At twelve years old, I found it an incomprehensible mess. Timing is everything, and now, in my dotage, I may find out why it was once a heralded children’s classic.

Doors Open and Mortal Causes, both by Ian Rankin. Rankin always serves up a first rate police procedural, usually set in Scotland.

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver The Book Swap arranges its fiction by gender with female authors on the front tables and males at the back. A bit strange, but I suppose they like it that way. However Lionel Shriver, an excellent writer, is female but, perhaps understandably, she got mixed up with the guys at the back of the hall.

The Wisdom of Karl Marx – I had hoped for some pithy sayings that I could put in the mouth of a fictitious character. But Marx was more turgid than pithy. “Workers of the world unite,” seems to be his only memorable phrase. This collection includes gems such as this “The product of labour is labour which has been congealed in an object: it is the objectification of labour.”

In a Glass House by Nino Ricci A good writer. I am looking forward to this book.

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory. I love historical fiction and Gregory is a master. I especially enjoyed her series on the War of the Roses. This book is set in the docklands of eighteenth century Bristol. Add in an arranged marriage and it all sounds pretty good.

The Story of the Port Arthur Clinic 1923- 2000 by Charles Wilkins. A slim book full of anecdotes as well as solid local history.  When I was a child in Port Arthur, I was often taken to the clinic to see our family doctor, Gordon Duff. Somehow, I learned that the clinic was a pioneer in medical services. Years later came a bitter strike by clinic workers and, leafing through, I saw this sad chapter was well covered. You can always count on Charlie Wilkins to entertain and interest at the same time.

The Four-Chambered Heart by Anais Nin. In my hippie days, everyone read  Nin. Except me.  I am still not sure if I will read this or not, but I will give it a fair try.

The Birth of the Modern: Post-Impressionism in Canadian Art 1900 – 1920. Lots of coloured plates of the works of the Group of Seven, the Beaver Hall Group and others including Emily Carr and David Milne. I snatched this one up.

Cavalcade of the North selected by George E Nelson. This early Canadian fiction compilation includes some old friends such as Jalna (by Mazo de la Roche ) and Barometer Rising (by Hugh MacLennan). I am more interested in the short stories by writers such as Garbrielle Roy, W.O. Mitchell, Ethel Wilson, Scott Young, and other early luminaries.


The Tale of Pig Robinson by Beatrix Potter. I could lie and say I took the book as a present for a child. But the truth is I wanted it for myself. The cover shows a benign porker, one Pig Robinson, in a blue bloomer suit seated in a beach chair and holding a spyglass to his eye. I have never read The Tale of Pig Robinson but I will now. A quick scan gave me the gist. A ship’s cook shanghaies poor Robinson with the intent of fattening him up for the crew’s dinner. An irresistible plot. Included, of course, are the wonderful Potter illustrations.

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea: Sharing the titles and why you snatched them up. I may have to mimic your blog using my last foray into Hastings' liquidation sale. Also, I'd like to share this FB post on my timeline (or whatever it's called. xoxo

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