Week of reading?
A peppering of MRU’s reading recommendations
By John Green,
No book in January was given the amount of media buzz that John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars received. After hearing positive remarks about his new book, I decided to read it with an open mind.
The Fault In Our Stars was a very difficult book to get through. Not because it was boring — oh no, quite the contrary. I found it difficult because it was so heartbreaking. John Green created his characters with such depth, complexity and honesty that I felt like I knew Hazel Lancaster and Augustus Waters for many years. It isn’t easy to write about cancer, much less deal with it personally, but John Green gives a convincing account of how cancer marks you. He doesn’t rationalize, sentimentalize or romanticize the realities of cancer, but rather touches you with the story of two teens looking for a forever within their numbered days. Once you open the book, I promise you will not be able to think of much else.
— Lauren Gilbart
By Harvey Cashore,
Key Porter Books
To be an investigative journalist is to be constantly walking on eggshells, making sure your every step in holding those in power to account does not lead to your own career downfall.
When things get really discouraging, even your own colleagues may lose faith in your quest for answers. In The Truth Shows Up, Harvey Cashore, then-producer for CBC’s the fifth estate, documents his own real-life political thriller as he spent 15 years of his career pursuing the story of the involvements of former prime minister Brian Mulroney and German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber in the Airbus scandal. Some reviews have hailed this book as Canada’s own answer to All The President’s Men. This tell-all also doubles as candid examinations into the inner-workings of our federal political system, business and even large newsrooms at their most troubling moments.
Truth is always the best defence, but sometimes along the way it has to be on its guard against barrages of political spin and “libel chill” (threatening reporters into silence with lawsuits).
There is a lot more in this book to take home than just the dramatic events surrounding the Mulroney-Schreiber affair you may be writing a senior-level poli sci paper on. Recommended reading for communication and political science majors.
— Shane Flug
By Garry Mulholland,
Garry Mulholland is a British music critic whose first list book This is Uncool: The 500 Greatest Singles Since Punk and Disco compelled me to download every single one of his entries onto my iTunes. That’s the power of his writing: he makes you want to experience everything he enthuses about, to the point where you start to think that, yes, perhaps “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls is a piece of genius. (Yes, I know, he includes “Wannabe.”)
Mulholland’s latest rundown, after two other books on albums and rock films, focuses on the teen movie: basically, any film centered on the experiences and point of view of a teenager. So we get everything from 1953’s The Wild One to modern classics such as Precious and The Social Network, and everything in between, including the best of John Hughes’ gems from the 1980s, the artsy likes of If… and The Virgin Suicides, and popular blockbusters like Clueless and Twilight. Yes, I know, he includes Twilight. But even if you saw it and almost vomited (like I did), Mulholland makes you want to watch it again, just to see what he sees.
That’s a true writer in my eyes.
— Sean-Paul Boynton
A Love Story
By Christopher Moore,
Simon & Schuster
Bloodsucking Fiends is a supernatural comedy-romance about a woman, Jody, who unexpectedly becomes a vampire. Unable to go out in the day and needing a blood source, she enlists Tommy, a spectacularly average man who works the nightshift at Safeway. They, of course, fall in love.
I hear what you’re saying: “Another vampire romance? Are you serious?”
This book hardly falls under the label of the increasing number of teen romance vampire novels.
For one, it’s a genuinely funny book in an intentional way, rather than a “so-bad-it’s-good sort of way.” Comedy does not translate to literature nearly often enough and legitimately funny novels are hard to come by. This one is witty throughout, without sacrificing a plotline (although the plot can be a bit confusing at times). It does have its serious moments and some might find some parts a bit gruesome, but the emphasis is on the funny.
I’ve always had a lady boner for character development and this book does it in a realistic way. Both of the main characters can be dicks, and Tommy particularly does and says the stupidest things. But, so do people in real life.
The book is the first in a trilogy. I read the second book, You Suck, before reading this one (accidentally). I enjoyed the second more, but this is a good read, and it’s usually best to start with the first book in a series.
— Lindsay Douglas
For something a little different this reading break, you might want to give Machine of Death a shot. Based on an Internet comic about dinosaurs, the book is a collection of short stories about people who know how they are going to die. In each story lies the machine, which takes a small blood sample and returns a small card with one’s cause of death printed on it. It is never wrong, despite being vague and ambiguous more often than not. Despite its fascinatingly morbid concept, the book is one of the most intriguing reads I’ve ever had. Constant themes such as love, sex and the pursuit of happiness come up when each character is confronted with their death. They were going to die this way anyway, but now they know, and their life is forever altered by it. With stories by authors all over the world, Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki edited all submissions and took their favourite to compile and self-publish one of the most unique books in recent history. After reading, it does leave you wondering, would you want to know how you are going to die?
— Nathan Ross