Friday 23 September 2011

Rainy Friday morning...

Once again, I didn't take my own advice.  Instead of "doing it now" on Wednesday morning and writing a short, uninspired post, I decided to "do it later".  Unlike going to see the movie that I suspected I wouldn't like, I think that was the right choice, since I have much more time and inclination today.  I have four topics in mind for today's post, and I'm not sure if I'm going to tackle them all briefly or if I will opt to go into one in-depth and leave the others for another time.  The topics are the book club discussion of The Bishop's Man and our discussion and comparison of ebooks and ebook readers, audiobooks, and traditional books.  The next is the visit of the One Book One Community author, Louise Penny.  The third is the book I'm currently reading and hoping to finish today, Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward, and the fourth is the book I started reading, and may finish eventually, but is now sitting unread on my desk, Valerie Martin's Italian Fever.  I'll start with The Bishop's Man.

I was thrilled to discover at the meeting last week that, of the members who were able to make it out, everyone felt that this book selection was "a good read".  People were reluctant to use the word "enjoyed" when they talked about the book, due to the difficult nature of the issues presented in the novel.  It's hard to say you enjoyed reading a book about sexual abuse of minors by clergy members, crises of faith and purpose faced by priests after more than 20 years of service, and the secrecy and cover-ups that exist not only in the church's hierarchy, but in small towns and within families.  But MacIntyre did an excellent job of presenting the main character, Father Duncan McAskill, as both guilty and innocent, likeable and disagreeable, and ultimately a character towards which the reader feels compassion.  It is truly an excellent read, one which presents the humanity of priests and men, and reminds us that those in power are just men.  As I suspected, most people in the group found the time-shifting passages difficult to follow, except, as one member pointed out, those passages in italics, because you always knew that those passages were taking place in Honduras.  But everyone also agreed that, in the end, it all came together, although there were no concrete answers offered to the reader.  Like truth, the conclusions were uncertain and different for each reader.  Brilliant!  I think I could safely recommend this book to just about anyone.

Before we even go to talking about the book, though, we had a full and interesting discussion about different types of "books", as one of the book club members received an ebook reader for her birthday and had some questions about it.  We discusses the merits of this type of "book", and concluded that there are times and reasons for which this type of reading format would be suitable, such as reading in bed, when books can get heavy to hold, and when travelling, when books are once again heavy.  But we agreed that the tactile nature of physical books was wonderful and could not be replaced by that which appears on a screen.  Then we talked about audiobooks and when they are a great alternative to physical books.  I use my MP3 player to listen to audiobooks when I'm walking or biking.  I know some people listen to books when they are cleaning, cooking, or driving.  The great thing about this type of "book" is that you can do something else while listening, whereas with a physical book, you can really only read and do nothing else (well, I have been known to read and walk at the same time, but that can be unsafe, especially when encountering stairs or traffic!!).  Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Children can listen to a book that is up to 2 grades above what they can actually read.  I don't know if that's true of adults, but I suspect that, at some point, our  ability to read and comprehend reaches its peak and plateaus, so I think this only applies to children.  Anyways, I thought that was interesting.

I've written quite a bit already, so I may just talk about the visit from Louise Penny to the Victoria Park Pavillion on Tuesday evening.  She and Waterloo Region police chief Matt Torigian were onstage together in conversation for about an hour, and it was a great discussion.  It mostly centred on her book, and the One Book One Community book selection for 2011, Bury Your Dead, but occasionally Torigian discussed the challenges he faces being in law enforcement and now being in a position of management and leadership.  He commented that the Inspector in Penny's novel, in his dealings with one of his officers, demonstrated "the humanity of leadership", which I thought was beautifully put.  He was interesting and well-spoken and made a nice conversational companion to Penny, who makes her living using language to express thoughts and feeling and to create believable characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, despite the fact that I haven't read that book or any other of her novels. 

One of my kitties is asking for some snuggle-time right now, so I better close.

Bye for now!

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