What WPL Is reading in August

We at WPL have been busy this season.  With the summer programming schedule running in full bloom, we’ve often been helping thirty (or more) kids at a time explore ideas, build, create, and discover.  While we’ve had fun with the Eureka! theme, at the end of the day it has been nice to replace the youthful energy and curiosity with a good summer read.

Here’s what we’ve been lounging with this month:

Rob: The Armageddon Rag by  George R.R. Martin.

The Armageddon Rag

While patiently waiting for the next George R.R. Martin World of Ice and Fire book, I decided I’d check out what was up with the novel that Martin considered a failure.  The Armageddon Rag was billed as a mystery and in that regard, I can see where the problem was.  It’s part murder mystery yet, but the book ends up being more magic realism combined with a retrospective look at 1960’s counterculture and it’s interactions with rock music.  While the book may not have reached expectations commercially, Stephen King said it was, “The best novel concerning the American pop music culture of the sixties I’ve ever read.”  It’s nothing like the game of thrones (apart from 1 particularly brutal murder) so don’t expect that.  It is however an enjoyable work that I found hard to put down.

I also went through the Magician King (also available as an e-book) by Lev Grossman in anticipation of book three in his trilogy The Magician’s Land.  Grossman has an enjoyable light/funny style of storytelling, and his adult version of Narnia has kept me entertained. It’s also apparently going to be coming to television, so if you want to get on top of that before you watch it – now’s the time.

Jodie: Vodka : how a colorless, odorless, flavorless spirit conquered America by Victorino Matus

Vodka

If you are looking for a dry informational book about your favorite grain alcohol, this one is NOT for you.  Vodka is the main character in this very readable nonfiction title that delves into the history and marketing shenanigans worldwide that have developed in the past century around a spirit that is essentially the same no matter which bottle it is poured into.  Don’t forget to read the footnotes where Matus not only gives extra insights, but also a double shot of humour.  Cheers to this unexpectedly delightful read!

Angela: Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Land of Love and Drowning

Set in the Virgin Islands in the early 1900s, Land of Love and Drowning is the story of three generations of family growing up on this mesmerizing island as it passes to American hands. Yanique is a fascinating storyteller, and this novel about the saga of the Bradshaw family was one of the most captivating books I have read in a while. As told through different speakers, the book takes you on a journey exploring different love stories, war, and colonial issues, all with a thread of magical realism. The characters are unique and fascinating, and they capture the essence of society and the issues that these islanders were facing at the time. This is a highly recommended read, but maybe not for those who are looking for some ‘light’ reading.

Julie: Two Women by Christene Browne (also available in an e-book)

Two Women

Two Women is a story about five women: Eva & Ava – twin sisters in their fifties who are blind, and who have lived a very sheltered life; Rose and Violet – two young women from opposite sides of the world who just so happen to share one soul; and Bernice – Eva & Ava’s mother, Rose & Violet’s trusted confidante, and most importantly, the magical storyteller who brings everybody together.  This group of women all live in the same low income neighbourhood, and circumstances often bring them together in Bernice’s living room, which is where her magical stories unfold.  “Two Women” deals with some very serious issues: domestic violence, revenge, escape; at the same time, it also explores feminism, strong women, and female bonding.   Sometimes heavy, sometimes funny, and many times magical, this book, particularly Bernice’s stories, is captivating from the get-go.

Michael: Isaac’s Torah by Angel Wagenstein

Isaac’s Torah

Admittedly, I picked this book up because of the eye-widening tagline, “through two world wars, three concentration camps and five motherlands.”  I happened upon the book by chance through the Windsor Public Library’s website when I clicked the tag of “Ukrainian Fiction – 20th century” (aside: tags are a great way to find something new!) and really didn’t know what to expect and what I found was pure gold.

The author explains that, although labeled fiction, all aspects of the tale told are authentic and had not been embellished one iota.  Isaac comes across as an “every man” sort of person, not exceedingly apt at anything and considers himself tumbled through life like a piece of flotsam (or, perhaps jetsam) out at sea, unable to control the situation and merely swept by the capricious currents.  You would expect a story with a tagline of war and concentration camps to be dark; however, Isaac continually looks to the lighter side of life and peppers his story with wise and hilarious quips and vignettes from a traditional Jewish perspective.  In all, Isaac’s Torah surpassed my expectations to the point where I couldn’t put it down.

 

Thank you for reading!

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