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Archive for August, 2014

Library Lust

credit: unknown

credit: unknown

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I’m off gallivanting right now (I should be on a train going from Germany to Switzerland when this post goes up) but, after a very non-bookish summer, I’ve loaded my Kobo up with dozens of library ebooks and am looking forward to getting lots of reading done on this vacation.  Here are a few of the books I brought along – lots of rereads!:

Library Loot

 

What did you pick up this week?

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Library Lust

via Shelterness

via Shelterness

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To-War-With-WhitakerIf I were knowingly heading into an active theatre of war, I like to think I would go armed with the necessary information, wardrobe, and exit plan (I’m a desperate coward).  What I would never have thought to put on my packing list are a valet, a parrot, and a little black book with the names of seemingly everyone interesting, exciting and important.  Hermione Ranfurly had all these things and more with her when she followed her husband, Dan, to the Middle East at the beginning of World War Two.  Dan was fighting Germans, Hermione was fighting the British military for the right to stay near her husband, and Dan’s valet, Whitaker, was fighting to keep as much order as is possible in a) a war zone and b) a desert.  Hermione’s diaries of these days, collected in the excellently-named To War with Whitaker, make for wonderful reading and offer a perspective on that war that is certainly unlike any I’ve come across before and all the more welcome for that.

Read my full review at Shiny New Books.

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Library Lust

credit: Francesco Lagnese

credit: Francesco Lagnese

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badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Library Loot 1The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine – a somewhat disappointing retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” set in prohibition-era New York.  It’s readable but lacks the nuance and moral complexity that I want from this sort of book.

The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane – I’ve started this a few times and, reading the first fifty-or-so pages over the weekend, was completely swept away by the beauty of Macfarlane’s writing about human footpaths and why we walk them.

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg – Molly runs the highly successful food blog Orangette and I read and enjoyed her first book, A Homemade Life, back in my early blogging days.  I still regularly use a number of her recipes.  This, her second book, is focused on what happened when her husband decided he wanted to open a restaurant.

Library Loot 2The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser – My favourite new blog reader, Beth, got in touch with me recently by email to offer up some reading suggestions.  Now, first of all, I love when any reader gets in touch with me but Beth sent such thoughtful, varied suggestions that her emails were truly highlights of my days.  This was one of her recommendations and, after having it on my TBR list for years, her email spurred me to finally check it out.  Thank you, Beth!

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod – Woman moves to Paris, woman falls in love, woman writes book.  And I will always, always, always read any book that follows that formula.  I may not always finish them, but I have high hopes for this one.

A Garden in Lucca by Paul Gervais – I’m feeling quite cosmopolitan with my book choices today: two from the US, one from (mostly) the UK, another in Russia, one in Paris, and finally this gardening memoir, set in Tuscany.

What did you pick up this week?

 

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Laughing All the Way to the MosqueI had the perfect book for my daily commute last week, but for one thing: Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz had me laughing, out loud, all the way to work.  This was vaguely unsettling for my fellow commuters, but, aside from a slight fear that they would band together to force the crazy giggling woman off the bus, I couldn’t have cared less.  There is no better way to start – or end – your day than with a laugh and this book provides many of those.

Nawaz, a Canadian filmmaker, is most famous as the creator of the television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, a sitcom about the Muslim community in a quirky small town in Saskatchewan.  It attracted a lot of attention when it premiered and, reading Nawaz’s memoir, it is interesting to see how some of the show’s characters and episodes are inspired by her real-life events.

If you are looking for a serious, respectful observation of what it is like to be Muslim in Canada, this is not the book for you.  Nawaz is irreverent and slightly kooky and definitely talks herself into trouble more often than she needs to.  Which is what makes her so likeable and this book so entertaining.  For example, her great teenage act of rebellion was to become more religious and to begin wearing the hijab.  This was done partly out of religious feeling and partly, like any action taken by a teenager, out of the desire to outwit her parents:

…the best thing about the hijab was that I had discovered it on my own – my parents had nothing to do with it, which meant that I could beat them at their own game: religion.  I wanted so desperately to be different from them.  Hijab was the answer.  Some people think hijab is used to oppress people.  It’s true.  I used it to oppress my parents.

Nawaz fumbled her way through her B.Sc. undergrad, working diligently towards medical school.  When the med school rejection letter came, it prompted a rethink about her entire future – for both her and her parents.  Nawaz’s mother – who is portrayed as being just as spirited and quick-witted as her daughter, through a little more together – views it as opportunity to find her daughter a husband:

Her biggest fear for me was that too much education might result in old, dried-up ovaries.  Until the letter arrived, my father had squashed her matrimonial dreams for me, because he believed marriage was for women who failed to get into medical school.  I had officially become one of those females.

Nawaz is definitely not onboard with this idea, especially as she overhears unsettling conversations about one-eyed accountants.   She can’t understand why her mother is so determined to see her married.  Her mother’s answer to that, “because you’ll be lonely after I die”, is eminently sensible and true, but I can understand how a twenty-two year old might not see it that way.  Nawaz enrolls in journalism school instead of marrying immediately and, a few years later, ends up engineering her own marriage to Sami, then a medical student, now a child psychiatrist, and moving to the Prairies to be with him.

The years that follow are busy ones, filled with the births of four children and the start of Nawaz’s career as a filmmaker, first with low-budget short films, then documentaries, and finally Little Mosque on the Prairie.  But, thankfully since I’m not much interested in filmmaking, her career track is very much in the background here.  Instead, we hear about what it is like explaining to a Canadian contractor how a Muslim bathroom needs to be laid out or how a not-particularly-accomplished chef (Nawaz) finds herself cooking an Eid dinner for dozens of people.  One of my favourite chapters described Nawaz’s experiences on Hajj, when her father-in-law took all his children and children-in-law (grandchildren stayed home) on pilgrimage to Mecca.

Most of all, this book is funny.  It is full of hilarious dialogue, with all of Nawaz’s family members, particularly her mother and husband, portrayed as the long-suffering straight men to her unrelenting comedienne.  I laughed more than I have in months while reading it and I loved every page.

 

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Library Lust

credit: unknown

credit: unknown

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Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay before an early ferry

I have not been a good blogger or reader this summer but I have been having a good time.  Without books.  Who knew?

Instead of reading, I have been exploring, getting reacquainted or simply introduced to some of the amazing sights in and around Vancouver. From beaches to mountains, I’ve been taking it all in and counting my blessings yet again that I live in such a stunning place.

Since I don’t have any book reviews to present to you (yet), I thought I might as well share some photos of my recent adventures.

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Deep Cove

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View from Grey Rock down on Indian Arm and Deep Cove

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Cleveland Dam (aka the city’s very scenic water supply)

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Early morning at the beach on Canada Day

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View to Bowen and up Howe Sound

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View from Dog Mountain

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Looking down on the city from Dog Mountain

Morning Ferry

Taking the ferry across to Bowen Island

Snug Cove

The marina on Bowen

Bowen

Marina-side shops and restaurants in Snug Cove (Bowen)

Ferry 2

The view from the ferry, heading back to the mainland

I’m off to spectacular Switzerland later this month but I already feel like I’ve had a bit of a holiday this summer, thanks to these weekend adventures.

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Library Lust

credit: Timothy Corrigan

credit: Timothy Corrigan

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