Monday 22 May 2017

Book talk on a holiday Monday...

It’s Monday morning, and I’m so happy to have this extra day off work.  I did some shopping on Saturday, some family visiting yesterday, and I still have another whole day stretching before me, waiting to be filled with… whatever I choose!  But for now, I’ve got CBC Radio Two, a cup of steaming chai tea and a slice of date bread to keep me company as I write this post.

I had a book club meeting this past Monday night, when we discussed Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper.  If you recall from last week’s post, I was nearly finished, but was not loving it.  I thought it was too long, detailed and repetitive, but that parts of the story were good so I was determined to finish it before the meeting.  Well, most of the book club members had the same thoughts about the book.  One member mentioned that the most redeeming thing about the book was the occasional insight into children and memories, and how one’s experiences in childhood definitely influence the person he or she becomes in adulthood - she felt this was “interesting and noteworthy”.  I hadn’t thought of this, but it’s true, and can be applied to most of the characters in the book.  One member has read another book by this author, The Forgotten Garden, which she really enjoyed, but she also enjoyed this book.  The member who chose this book was not at the meeting, so I’m curious to hear what she thought of it at the next meeting.

I then spent the next couple of nights finishing Dead Wake by Erik Larsson (this was my book club selection from two weekends’ ago).  The author managed to sustain the momentum of the story to the end, offering insight into the days, months and years following the sinking of the Lusitania, the investigation into the sinking, the entrance of the US into WWI, and what happened to some of the survivors.  I would definitely recommend this to even the most die-hard “fiction-only” readers, as it reads like a historical novel, is thoroughly researched, and is written with skill and compassion.

Then, with only a few evenings left in the week to read, I struggled to find another book that I could finish in a couple of days.  I tried a few novels that I had on my own bookshelves, and finally ended up pulling out something I’ve on my shelves for years, The Incident Report by Martha Baillie.  Baillie works at the Toronto Public Library, and this novel is comprised of 144 fictionalized Incident Reports, the type of reports one would fill out recording incidents at the library.  These reports are anecdotal, and are much like very short interconnected stories (sometimes a single paragraph, some as long as 2 pages) set in the fictional Allan Gardens branch of the Public Library of Toronto.  Some of these reports reveal information about incidents involving library patrons, while others delve into the personal life of Miriam Gordon, author of these reports, both her difficult childhood with distant parents and her current relationship with the enigmatic Janko.  There’s a mystery (who is leaving those curious notes about Rigoletto, and are they intended for Miriam?), a love story, and an insider’s look at a day in the life of a public library employee (when in doubt about what to do, refer to The Manual of Conduct for Encounters with Difficult Patrons).  I’m just over halfway through this engrossing chronicle and, as a former public library employee, I’m finding it pretty “unputdownable”, although I’ve been forced to put it down for most of the weekend due to prior commitments; I’m confident that I can finish it today, and that it will continue to be intriguing.  

That's all for now. Happy Victoria Day, and enjoy the extra day off, whatever you decide to do!

Bye for now…

PS Have I mentioned that I've been watching the new miniseries A Handmaid's Tale, based on Margaret Atwood's novel? I'm really enjoying it, and feel that it's an accurate depiction of the novel, capturing the essence of Atwood's cautionary tale. I would highly recommend watching this, but definitely start at the beginning and watch it in order. I'm tempted to reread the novel, but I'll wait until I've watched all the episodes - I think there are eight in total, and so far only five have been aired.

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