Last week, J and I booked a last minute trip south, to escape winter, and to recharge after a couple of very heavy months. We stayed in a fairly new resort, Melia Marina Varedaro, situated at the end of a long Cuban peninsula covered with resorts (57 in all). The holiday gave us sun, relaxation (the biggest decision of the day was to sit at the beach or the pool) and lots of time to read books.
Canada Reads, an annual CBC book club of sorts, announced their choices for the year and the celebrities who would champion them just a week before we were to leave. According to the CBC website “Canada Reads 2015 is all about books that can change perspectives, challenge stereotypes and illuminate issues”, so the books do have a particular slant, all open our eyes to seeing the world as someone else sees it.
We decided it would be fun to read all five of the selections. On a recent trip to the city we went to Chapters and gathered up four of them. The fifth one, Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee was not in stock and wasn’t available online either. So we left with four real books and a number of other ones on our ereaders.
The first book picked off the pile was Ru by Kim Thúy. It’s really hard to believe that this book is not an autobiography. It uses a style that almost feels like blog entries to weave the experience of a leaving home in Vietnam as boat people and arriving to new life in Quebec. The story is not linear, but rather, examines experiences in beautifully crafted vignettes,which bring us right into the fear, the dirt, the discomfort of the life of a refugee along with the gratitude felt for a new home and new opportunities. Of the four books we read, Ru was my favourite.
Ru was followed by And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier. Originally written in French, this book looks at themes of aging, loss of control in life, with a background of love lost (or missed). A wonderful story that combines history, with an innovative approach to the issues of aging and the changes that come with it. And the Birds Rained Down was a wonderful, heartwarming story.
Our third Canada Reads selection was The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King. This book stands out from the others in that it is not fiction. Its not truly history either, something King makes no apology for. It is an engrossing read though, relating the interaction between whites and Indians (his terms) from the time the America’s were “discovered” to the present. King’s quick wit and sarcastic manner make the book easy to read and very convincing. Anyone trying to understand how the relationship between First Nations and the white immigrant population in both Canada and the US (that should be all of us) should take a few hours to read King’s work.
When Everything Feels like the Movies by Raziel Reid was the final selection we were able to read. It’s short blurb on the Chapters Indigo site says the book is edgy and classifies it as young adult. I’m not sure where young adult starts but just because the main character, Jude, is in high school doesn’t mean it’s of value for people his age to read about the intimate details of his life. I found the book beyond edgy, and really wondered if the author actually meant for me to identify with the main character, to sympathize with him. I really couldn’t, not because he was sexually conflicted, but because the things he goes through seem to be more because of how he handles the conflict rather than any sort of inherent prejudice on the part of those around him. The prejudice is there, but Jude seems to go out of his way to provoke it. Unlike the first three, I’m not likely to recommend or share this book with others.
So that was four books in the week, I also read The Children Act by Ian McEwan ( a good read), and a good chunk of Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller (the book is not what the title implies)
Really….it was a great week, relaxing, reading, eating, sleeping, more relaxing….oh, and the sun.(the sunburn is just starting to blister)