Tuesday, 1 September 2015

2015 Reads: August

Now that I'm finally back into reading, I tried to get through my pile of to be read books in my apartment...but somehow, I ended up reading books that were not on my to be read list already. Ooops.

46. The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Iain MacDonald

I picked up this one at the Owl's Nest Bookstore in Fredericton on a day trip to visit one of my brothers. I haven't spent much time in Fredericton, for all that it is the capital of my home province, and apparently everyone in my extended family but me had gone to the Owl's Nest and loved it. And then told me about it. So I suggested we go. They only accept cash, and I only had ten dollars in my purse (this is rare; I never carry cash), so I picked up this one. It's about Squid, a girl returning to her family home on an island off the coast of BC with her toddler daughter in tow, where her father is the lighthouse keeper. It switches between memories of her childhood on the island, isolated from the rest of the world, and the present, where she and her parents try to deal with one another and the death of her brother some years before. It's sad and strange. I enjoyed it - it was an entertaining read, if mostly depressing.

47. Grist - Linda Little

This one caught my eye at the bookstore, and after a few weeks of thinking about it, I picked it up. This is the story of Penelope and her marriage to Ewan McLaughlin, a miller. Again, not a cheery story: it details physical and emotional abuse, miscarriages, tragic accidents, affairs, and many other hurts. It's fairly short, but a tumultuous, emotional story. Some parts of read a bit like a manual about how to run a grist mill, but unlike Moby Dick, for example, it's not long enough to be irritating. 

48. The Cherry Harvest - Lucy Sanna

Another one that caught my eye at the bookstore. This one is set in 1943 in Wisconsin, around a family that owns a cherry orchard. Ben, the son is off fighting; Kate, the daughter is preparing to finish high school and go off to college; Charlotte and Thomas, the parents, are contriving to keep everyone fed and survive the war. Charlotte suggests that they have German POWs brought in to help them with the harvests - a plan that ends up causing a lot of turmoil in their lives. The different perspectives of Kate and Charlotte were the main lenses of the story, and very different viewpoints. Another desperately sad book. Apparently I was very maudlin this month

49. So Few On Earth: A Labrador Metis Woman Remembers - Josie Penny

50. On the Goose: A Labrador Metis Woman Remembers - Josie Penny

So Few on Earth and On the Goose are two halves of one story: the life of Josie Penny, a Metis woman from Newfoundland. The way this story came to me is a very interesting story, but to keep it short, I'll just say that So Few On Earth was a particularly troublesome ILL at my library. When it finally arrived, I started reading it when I should have been processing it. Ooops. I swear I only read a few pages before coming back to earth. It tells of her nomadic childhood, the end of her family's traditional lifestyle on the coast of Labrador, the years she spent in a residential school, the poverty her family was often in, and her struggle to give her children a better life. It's a simply told story, a sad one, and a beautiful one.

51. Freakonomics - Stephen J. Dubner and Stephen J. Levitt

My partner picked up this one and its sequel, which I just started, in a charity booksale in June. I enjoyed it - it was a really interesting thought process, and completely fascinating. 

52. The Keeper of Tides - Beatrice MacNeil

Another bookstore find. The lesson here is to stop going into bookstores. This is set in Cape Breton, at an old inn. The owner, Ivadoile, is in her nineties, and the inn has long since been closed. The former cook of the inn, Margaret keeps an eye on her, and it flits between Iva's childhood and opening of the inn, Margaret's memories of their guests that they had, and the secrets of a sixty-year relationship between the two of them. It's equal parts whimsy and sadness.

53. The Year of Fog - Michelle Richmond 

I'm still not really sure how I feel about this one. It was entertaining, I read it pretty fast to figure out what happened next, but I don't know, looking back on it. Abby, a photographer, is on the beach with her fiance's daughter, Emma. She looks away, and Emma is gone. Thus begins the collapse of her relationship with her fiance, and her increasingly obsessive quest to find Emma. I think, ultimately, while it was entertaining in the reading of it, it's pretty forgettable. Something you read on vacation and never pick up again. 

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