Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Great Wednesday Compare #3- Hans Christian Andersen VERSES Beatrix Potter

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Pierre Berton Vs. Hans Christian Andersen) with a final score of 5-1 was Hans Christian Anderson.

Berton's name seems to come up on this blog a lot. However, the only two books of his that I've reviewed here were The National Dream and The Secret World of Og, both of which were negative reviews. So do I like his writing or not? The first book of his I ever read was The Arctic Grail, and I LOVED it. He portrayed the Arctic explorers as such interesting characters that it felt more like reading a novel than nonfiction. This has been Berton's appeal for so many; being able to make history exciting, personable, and accessible. With The National Dream, I wasn't sure he was always able to make that connection, and with The Secret World of Og I wasn't convinced he could branch out into fiction all that well. Still, he's a Canadian icon and because of his love of history of all things! A few folks have remarked about their fond memories of his role on the CBC program Front Page Challenge, a pseudo-gameshow in which Berton, and a few other panelist, would try to guess a mystery guest who was somehow involved in a news story. It's easy to suggest that the only reason such a show did as well, or lasted as long as it did, was because it was in the early days when most Canadians were only able to get one or two channels. However, I think the enthusiasm that Berton and others expressed for the news was contagious. This was before all the big news satire shows like 22 Minutes, Air Farce, and Monday Report. People wanted their news, but didn't want the dry, serious delivery of the actual news programs.
I remember that show. I also remember a board game my parents had made by Pierre Berton and Charles Templeton called Tour de Force. No surprise, it was a trivia-based game and had such categories as "Big Bands" and "Hockey." I sucked at it as a kid. Everything seemed so horribly dated. Still, I wouldn't mind giving it a shot now.

But I'm getting lost in my own nostalgia.

We move on.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (Jan. 6, 2009), and if you want your author to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Who's better?

Hans Christian Andersen or Beatrix Potter

Oooops! That's not Miss Potter. Let's try that again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Year In Review- Fiction and Non-Fiction

Here's a recount of my reviews from books I finished in 2008. Each section is listed from my favourite to my least favourite.

The Fiction

1. Mikhail Bulgakov- The Master and Margarita

2. Vladimir Nabokov- Lolita

3. Steve Zipp- Yellowknife

4. Paul Quarrington- King Leary

5. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights On Air

6. Ian McEwan- Saturday

7. Rudy Wiebe- The Temptations of Big Bear

8. Anthony De Sa- Barnacle Love

9. J. N. Williamson (editor)- Dark Masques

10. Lawrence Block- Hit Parade

11. Douglas Gosse- Jackytar

12. Sarah Smith- Chasing Shakespeares

13. Saul Bellow- A Theft

14. Pierre Berton- The Secret World of Og

15. William Gay- Twilight

16. Harold Horwood- White Eskimo

17. Ivan Turgenev- A Sportsman's Notebook

18. Patricia MacClachlan- Sarah, Plain and Tall

19. Arthur Moyer- What's Remembered

20. Louisa May Alcott- A Long Fatal Love Chase

21. Ami McKay- The Birth House

Interesting that my two favourites from this year are Russian titles (though Turgenev didn't fare so well). It was hard to choose between the two, but I settled on the Bulgakov book since it has less of an "ick" factor. The better ones on this list struck a balance between well-written and entertaining.

The Non-Fiction

1. Azar Nafisi- Reading Lolita in Tehran

2. David Damas- Arctic Migrants/ Arctic Villagers

3. Jessica Mitford- The American Way of Death Revisited

4. Philip S. Foner- The Case of Joe Hill

5. Patrick J. Finn- Literacy With An Attitude

6. Dean Hill & Fred Thompson- Joe Hill: IWW Songwriter

7. Pierre Berton- The National Dream

8. Don McTavish- Big Rig

9. Chris Robertson- To The Top Canada

10. M.L.R. Smith- Fighting For Ireland?

What were your favourite fiction and non-fiction titles that you read this year?

As you can tell, I'm not exactly great on keeping up with newly released titles, but I'll get to the 2008 books. It might be in 2011, but I'll get to them.

And there you have it: my final review post of the year. I won't bother listing the handful of picture books, Bible books, and Shakespeare plays that I read this year-- I've been coasting enough with these posts as it is.

All in all, I'm happy with the reading I've done this year. I'd say the good outweighed the bad. Next year I'd like to read more graphic novels, more plays, and revisit some authors I haven't read in a while. Otherwise, I'll continue on. Happy reading in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Year In Review- The Short Stories

Short Story Monday

Today I look back at the short stories I read for Short Story Mondays in 2008. These stories are all available for free and online for your reading pleasure. Click on the link to my review if you'd like to find the link to the stories themselves. I missed a few Mondays along the way, but I also read a few books of short story collections not included in this list. Instead of listing them all in the order I read them, I've ranked them from my favourite (#1) to my least favourite (#44):

1. Richard Van Camp- "Show Me Yours"

2. Mark Twain- "The War Prayer"

3. James Thurber- "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

4. James Joyce- "Araby"

5. Paul Theroux- "Mr. Bones"

6. Laura Bork- "Mama Loved Patsy Cline"

7. Emily Schultz- "I Love You, Pretty Puppy"

8. Flannery O'Connor- "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

9. Kenneth J. Harvey- "No Better A House"

10. Katherine Mansfield- "The Fly"

11. Katherine Anne Porter- "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall"

12. Sean O'Faolain- "The Trout"

13. Leon Rooke- Yellow House

14. Frank O'Connor- "The First Confession"

15. Roald Dahl- "The Way Up To Heaven"

16. Kate Sutherland- "Cool"

17. John Cheever- "Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor"

18. Mort Castle- "Party Time" (audio)

19. J.J. Steinfeld- "In The Opposite Direction"

20. Mark Antony Jarman- "The Cougar"

21. Stuart McClean- "Dave Cooks The Turkey" (audio)

22. Jim Ruland- "Kessler Has No Lucky Pants"

23. Harlan Ellison- "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream"

24. Willa Cather- "Paul's Case"

25. Alexander Pushkin- "The Snow Storm"

26. Raymond Carver- "Cathedral"

27. David Foster Wallace- "Good People"

28. L. Frank Baum- "A Kidnapped Santa Claus"

29. Honoré de Balzac- "Bertha the Penitent"

30. Bret Harte- "The Luck of Roaring Camp"

31. Joseph Boyden- "Driving Lessons"

32. Henry James- "Sir Edmund Orme"

33. Jackie Kay- "Wish I Was Here"

34. Oscar Wilde- "The Model Millionaire"

35. Doris Lessing- "Flight"

36. Robert R. McCammon- "Nightcrawlers"

37. Hezekiah Butterworth- "A Thanksgiving Dinner That Flew Away"

38. Meg Waite Clayton- "Perfect Circles"

39. Romesh Gunesekera- "The Library"

40. W.P. Kinsella- "Waiting On Lombard Street"

41. Cory Doctorow- "The Things That Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away"

42. Dave White- "Closure"

43. Vincent Lam- "A Long Migration"

44. Maeve Binchy- "The Phone-In"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Reader's Diary #427- Steve Zipp: Yellowknife

The book I've dreaded reading this entire year turned out to be one of my favourites. Author Steve Zipp has tied himself inextricably to my Canadian Book Challenge, not only offering his book Yellowknife as a monthly prize, but to pretty much every participant who requested a copy... for free! I'd say it's been a win-win situation for us both. He's gotten loads of reviews (in the first Canadian Book Challenge, 8 people read it, making it the most popular choice), all of which have been positive. And the promise of free books has no doubt helped the popularity of the Canadian Book Challenge, which more than doubled in participants the second time around.

Normally I have no qualms about negatively reviewing a "freebie." My argument has always been, "If you can't handle the truth, don't give me your book." But with Zipp, I feel like we've developed such a great working relationship that I was more than hesitant to throw that away. Believe it or not the good reviews didn't help convince me. Raidergirl's comments seem to be representative of the masses:

There were so many characters it was hard to know what the main story was, or who the main characters were. Once I realized there weren't any, then I just let go and enjoyed whatever part of the story was being told and many of my questions were answered by the end...
Could I be content without a main storyline? Could I live with an overdose of characters? Such issues have taken away from my enjoyment of books in the past (Lisa Moore's Alligator comes to mind). Why would Zipp's book be any different? Perhaps those other reviewers are simply more tolerant than I.

But as author and Canadian Book Challenge participant Corey Redekop points out, there is an "underlying sense of order to the absurdity." Yellowknife is divided into three sections. The first deals primarily with two characters, Danny (a newbie to Yellowknife with a taste for dogfood) and Nora (a houseboat-living biologist engaged to a guy obsessed with mosquitoes). The second deals primarily with Jack Wool (a guy with a thousand get-rich quick schemes swirling in his head, not the least of which is computerized fishing lures) and Freddy (a man who may or may not have been raised by ravens and is now father to a GameBoy-addicted son who can vanish in the blink of an eye). The third not only revisits these four characters but almost all of the minor characters they've met along the way. I often get lost when a cast of characters is too large. It's a testament to Zipp's presentation that I was able to follow along as well as I did.

Of course living in Yellowknife gives the book even more appeal to me. At many points I found myself recalling Elizabeth Hay's Late Nights On Air. Anyone who's read both novels can tell you that Yellowknife looks quite different under the lenses of these two authors. While I enjoyed both, I questioned whose was more accurate. I'd suspect that first-time visitors to the North could probably be convinced it's Zipp's depiction. When we first moved North it seemed so radically different than any Canada we'd ever experienced (and that was Nunavut which makes Yellowknife look like Kansas), that some of Zipp's scenarios wouldn't have seemed out of the question. However, after living North of 60 for going on 7 years now, we've grown more accustomed to life here. Sure there are some idiosyncrasies but quite frankly, the South (remember that even Edmonton is South of here) now seems just as bizarre. For longtimers Hay's somewhat tamer version of Yellowknife probably feels more accurate (except for being set in the 70s).

But there's accuracy and then there's truth. Like a poem, good satire can sometimes reveal that truth. And Yellowknife is great satire. It's funny, energetic, eccentric, and based on more truth than you probably realize.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Word Play- Robbie Burns Chains

This one might be a little difficult to explain. Below are the first and last words from each line of the first two stanzas of Robert Burns' poem "Auld Lang Syne." However, I've removed the usual words that separate them, in favour of a new word for you to figure out that begins with the last letter of the first word and the first letter of the last word. I've also provided clues. Sounds more complicated than it is. For instance, instead of "Auld Lang Syne," let's pretend it's "Jingle Bells" and I've replaced words in the first line as follows:

"Dashing (automobile fluid) snow"

The word I'm looking for is "gas," since it ends in "g" (the last letter of "dashing") and ends in "s" (the first letter in "snow"). Understood?

As always, feel free to do all ten at home, but only answer one in the comment section. That way ten people will have a chance to play along.

1. Should (Grania’s impairment in a Francis Itani novel) forgot
2. And (David Sedaris’s family might wear this) mind?
3. Should (Gimli was one) forgot
4. And (Big Red, Buck, Winn-Dixie) syne?

5. For (Storms, October and Rabbits according to Clancy) dear
6. For (Burrough’s The Place of Dead ______) syne
7. We’ll (“Encyclopedia” Brown’s first name) yet
8. For (romantic Nora) syne.

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Year In Review- The Poetry

It's that time of year again when it's okay reflect on the past. So, for this Poetry Friday, I'm simply going to look back at the poetry books I've read over the past year and rank them in order of preference. #1 was my favourite, #21 was my least favourite:

1. Randall Maggs- Night Work: The Shawchuk Poems

2. Zachariah Wells (editor)- Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets

3. Jeannette C. Armstrong and Lally Grauer (editors)- Native Poetry In Canada: A Contemporary Anthology

4. Paul B. Janeczko (editor) and Chris Raschka (illustrator)- A Kick In The Head

5. Zachariah Wells- Unsettled

6. Andy Quan and Jim Wong Chu (editors)- Swallowing Clouds: An Anthology of Chinese-Canadian Poetry

7. Jason Schinder (editor)- The Poem I Turn To

8. H. W. Longfellow- Evangeline

9. Herménégilde Chiasson, translated by Jo-Anne Elder- Beatitudes

10. Sylvia Plath- Ariel

11. Karen Solie (editor)- The 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology

12. Hermann Hesse, translated by James Wright- Poems

13. Alison Calder- Wolf Tree

14. Douglas LePan- Far Voyages

15. Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes- Polar Bear, Arctic Hare: Poems of the Frozen North

16. Douglas Lochhead- Weathers

17. Oscar Williams (editor)- Immortal Poems of the English Language

18. Frederico Garcia Lorca, translated by Martin Sorrell- Selected Poems

19. George McWhirter- The Anachronicles

20. Connie Fife- Beneath The Naked Sun

21. Kari Anne Roy- Haiku Mama

Did you read any memorable poetry books this year?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reader's Diary #426- Kevin Major, carvings by Imelda George: House of the Wooden Santas

I'd been eyeing this book for a long time, but as a picture book seemed a little on the lengthy side for a nighttime read aloud to my kids. Then, after a glowing review by Wanda, in which she referred to it as "The Perfect Family Read-aloud!" I had to give it a shot (since we're "the perfect family" after all.)

Turns out, Major breaks the reading down for us in the style of an advent calendar. The first chapter is called "Twenty-Four Days To Christmas" and is meant to begin on the 1st of December, with a new chapter each night, ending on Christmas Eve ("One Day To Christmas"). My daughter got into chapter books this year, and we love doing the chapter-per-night routine. We began this one a little late and had to double up chapters for a while to catch up, but that was fine.

House of the Wooden Santas would appeal to any age. As an adult, it was easy to focus on the adults in the book, with their very realistic issues. But, the story still revolved around a young boy named Jesse and the adult issues, while still playing a role in the plot, didn't seem overbearing. Both of us looked forward to it each night, and as the days counted down, I wondered how Major was going to pull off a satisfactory conclusion in time. He throws out more than a few directions the story might lead. Without ruining it, it was satisfying: happy but but unbelievably so, not completely wrapped up, but very hopeful.

On that wonderful note, enjoy your Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What, me? NWT Blog Nominee?

I've been nominated for "Best Blog" at Best NWT Blogs 2008. What should I wear to the ceremony? Oh wait, there isn't a ceremony. Dagnabbit. Personally, I don't think I'll win it. With primarily a book focus, I don't know if the judges-- as beautiful, intelligent, and charming as they are-- will consider it. But (sob, choke) it's an honour just to be nominated. I'd think my better chance would have been for one of the other categories, but I haven't been nominated for those (hint, hint.)

You can read more about it here.

The Great Wednesday Compare #3- Pierre Berton VERSUS Hans Christian Andersen

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Pierre Berton Vs. Robert W. Service) with a final score of 5-4 was Pierre Berton.

Actually, it came down to a tie, but for those of you who might be new to the Great Wednesday Compare, the rules state that I'm allowed to vote only on such an occasion, in effect breaking the tie.

I had to go with Berton. While I appreciate the Service standards, "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," as well as a couple lesser known poems, "Unforgotten" and "The Ballad of the Black Fox Skin," I was less than impressed the first time I read an anthology of his works. Still, "Cremation" and "Dan McGrew" are such fine poems, it was hard not to vote for him purely on the strength of those. Interesting in the comments last week that people seem to have mixed reactions to having to recite "Cremation" in their school days. In some, it seemed to instill familiarity bordering on kinship with the poem, but in others in seemed to breed resentment. I didn't have to learn it by heart when I went to school, but my older sister did and my first exposure to it came from finding a handwritten copy while snooping through her closet. While I can't recite it all, I can easily tell you the first line, "There are strange things done, in the midnight sun..." Gets me every time.

I might also suggest getting Ted Harrison's illustrated copies of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Shooting of Dan McGrew." Had I been able to vote on a Harrison/Service coalition the outcome would have been much different.

This week, we have a non-Canadian contender (though I think he looks like John A. McDonald).

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (Dec. 30th, 2008), and if you want your author to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Who's better?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gordon Kendall- Rest In Peace

Not a literary post, but he was an amazing storyteller. My grandfather (my pop) died last night. No one appreciated life like this man. His drink of choice was Old Sam. So, if you insist on having an eggnog this Tibb's Eve, spike it with that, in remembrance of a man you've never met. I'm on my 2nd, though I'm mixing with Coke. I love you Pop. Cheers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reader's Diary #425- John Cheever: Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor

Short Story Monday

With a title like "Christmas Is A Sad Season For The Poor" you might be expecting a rather sombre tale. And, depending on your perspective, you might get it. However, I found it a little amusing.

If you've ever seen the Saturday Night Live character "Debbie Downer," you'd have a good idea of the type of humour employed by Cheever. If you haven't, Charlie Brown is also a pretty close comparison. Charlie Brown actually came to my mind first probably because "Charlie" is also the name of Cheever's main character. Basically, Charlie is so filled with self-pity and woe, it's almost ludicrous. Working as an elevator operator on Christmas Day, his response to everyone who wishes him a merry Christmas is some variation on the phrase "not for me."

Buried beneath this little bit of not-quite-dark-but-slightly-gray comedy, there's a lot more going on. There's somewhat of a "pay-it-forward" message at the end. There's also a lot to say about perspective. New York is a perfect setting for such a story. If you're in New York and you can't find someone who is worse off than you and someone who is better off than you, you're simply not trying. As Charlie begins his day, he thinks, "Of all the millions of people in New York, I am practically the only one who has to get up in the cold black of 6 a.m. on Christmas Day in the morning; I am practically the only one." But as he goes out to eat and takes a train uptown, I started to think, "but what about the people operating those? Didn't they have to get up at least as early?" Turns out, I was on the right track in terms of the direction the story was heading.

A fine story, and if you share the same sense of humour, not as gloomy as you might expect.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Graphic Novel Challenge

In 2008 I completed several challenges (The 1st Canadian Book Challenge, The Obscure Challenge, The Short Story Challenge, The Russian Reading Challenge, and The Shakespeare Reading Challenge). While I had fun with each, I wasn't exactly challenged. It's not to imply the requirements were too few, but basically I picked books I'd be reading anyway. I've always read Canadian, Shakespeare, and from the other categories listed above, so even had I not joined the challenges, my reading choices and habits wouldn't have looked any different. Next year, however, I'm truly going to be challenged. I'm joining the Graphic Novels Challenge. I've read only one book in my life that could even come close to being called a graphic novel: an anthology of works by Edward Gorey entitled Amphigorey. Nor was I really into comics as a kid. Joining this challenge should really broaden my horizons.

But not too much. Because it's my first foray into this genre, I'm working towards the bare minimum (6 books) and picking from what are probably obvious choices:

1. Art Spiegelman's The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale
2. Seth's It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken
3. Chester Brown's Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography
4. Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis Boxed Set
5. Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira: Book 1
6. Joe Sacco's Palestine

This list could change depending on availability. I'm none too keen on buying books and I'll be looking to borrow, borrow, borrow if at all possible. Plus, the Spiegelman and Satrapi books could technically count as 2 each, so I haven't quite decided how to use them yet. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Word Play- Mad Gabbing Christmas Titles

I have a new appreciation for the creators of Mad Gab. Creating them is harder than it seems. I've tried my best to Mad Gab some popular Christmas titles. The directions, from are as follows, "The puzzles contain a set of unrelated words. When you read them aloud, they sound like familiar phrases, names, places etc." So, read these words aloud and tell me the Christmas title.

As always, feel free to do all 9 at home, but only answer one in the comment section. That way, at least 9 people will have a chance to play along.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guest Post (Debbie Mutford) Kit Pearson: The Sky Is Falling

I don't feel like I have much to say about the book. It's great! It meets all my expectations for a children's novel. Of course, the ending is a little touching and neatly wrapped but it's written for children so it kind of has to be. There is a lot of introductory historical content about WWII with enough detail to maintain children's attention (fighter planes) without any hatred or disturbing gore. The main characters are British children who lived with the threat of war all around them until they are sent to Canada where the war seems strangely distant and has less of an impact on daily life to those around them. I think Pearson has done a splendid job. It is an easy read but with substance for any age reader.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Great Wednesday Compare #3- Pierre Berton VERSUS Robert W. Service

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Pierre Berton Vs. Will Ferguson) with a final score of 7-0 was Pierre Berton.

Our second shut-out of the season.

I'd suspected that someone so honourably in search of the elusive Canadian identity, with titles such as How To Be A Canadian and Why I Hate Canadians would have had more of his share of fans amongst my Canuck readers. But, while Ferguson even won the Pierre Berton Award from the Canada's National History Society, it looks like he hasn't filled Mr. Berton's shoes just yet.

This week we not only stay in Canada, but we even narrow it down to the Yukon.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (Dec. 23rd, 2008), and if you want your author to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Who's better?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reader's Diary #423- Stuart McLean: Dave Cooks The Turkey

Short Story Monday
I'm making it a tradition to break tradition here at the Book Mine Set. Most Short Story Mondays I've made it sort of my rule to feature only short stories that are available for free online. However, last December I broke that rule to feature Stuart McLean's "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party." This year I've decided to feature another of McLean's Christmas stories, once again not available anywhere for free as far as I can find. Like the aforementioned story, it is available for purchase at Last year I remarked that it was a "mere $4.88." Perhaps it's a sign of the recession, but this year that price seems a bit pricey to me. I know at 26:19 it's longer than a typical song mp3, but come on, we're more likely to listen to a song many more times than a short story, and I think the market standard of $0.99 would have been much more reasonable.

Now that I'm good and cranky, let's review a story, shall we?

Last year a few a people remarked that they preferred "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party" to "Dave Cooks The Turkey" even though it's the latter that apparently gets the most airplay. Still, I hadn't heard "Dave Cooks The Turkey" until now. Since it seems inevitable not to compare the two, I'll begin by saying that I, too, prefer "Polly Anderson's Christmas Party" to this one.
First off, McLean's delivery seems a little rushed on this one. Also, since I'm not a huge follower of his stories, I don't know much about Dave and Morley, the heroes of McLean's stories. This time around I got more of a sense of them as characters, and I didn't find them as likable. McLean seems to push the tired "men versus women" angle (Dave's the domestically challenged dud, Morley's the high-strung, overworked wife). While it no doubt resonates with many people, it doesn't so much with me, and I find the stereotype a little annoying.

All that aside, the story isn't without chuckles. McLean seems very adept at setting up situations that become increasingly farcical as the story progresses. While listeners could probably predict the outcome from a mile away, it doesn't diminish the enjoyment at all. In fact, the anticipation of trouble held my interest more than anything else.

In this story, Dave, as the title declares, is in charge of cooking the Christmas turkey. The pressure is on come Christmas Eve when Dave realizes that he hadn't even remembered to buy one, let alone defrost it. The humour, of course, lies in his inventiveness and the pseudo-suspense of whether or not he'll pull it off without getting caught.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reader's Diary #424- William Shakespeare: Richard III

"Now is the winter of our discontent"

Earlier this year I finished reading Shakespeare's King Henry the Sixth plays and mistakenly may have referred to them as a trilogy. While it's true there are three King Henry the Sixth plays, Richard III is more often considered the 4th in the series, making it a tetralogy.

It took me until the third King Henry the Sixth play to enjoy the series, but it was the very wicked Queen Margaret that finally won me over and I was looking forward to meeting her again in Richard III.

Sadly, her role in Richard III is minimal. However, the main reason I didn't enjoy Richard III was it's length. 2nd in length only to Hamlet, Richard III is no Hamlet. At the beginning of the play the action seems slower and admittedly I found myself tuning out, making the plot more than a little confusing at times. It doesn't help matters when several characters start going by different names partway through. Being in the audience would, of course, be a little easier as we could merely recognize the actor as the same person, but for a bored, inattentive reader it wreaks havoc. Were it not for the Internet to get me back up to speed, I'd still be lost. Does anyone use CliffsNotes since the Internet came along?

Richard III is a great villain, very articulate and manipulating, while totally ruthless. Most impressive is his ability to rationalize all his actions:

"Murder her brothers, and then marry her!
Uncertain way of gain! But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin:
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye."

Even near the end when his conscience finally begins to whisper words of guilt, Richard III soon murders even that:

"Let not our babbling dreams affright our souls;
Conscience is but a word that cowards use"

Great villain, lackluster play.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Word Play- Grinch Scattergory

Using the letters of "GRINCH," can you come up with 6 words for each of these categories? For instance, if the category was food, you could say "Goulash, Rice, Ice cream, Nougat, Chilli, and Horseradish."

As always, feel free to do all 10 at home, but only answer one in the comment section, that way at least ten people will have a chance to play along.

1. Books
2. Authors
3. Actors
4. Car makes
5. Songs
6. Fictional Characters
7. Christmas Related
8. Politicians
9. Countries
10. Seuss words

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reader's Diary #422- Herménégilde Chiasson: Beatitudes (translated by Jo-Anne Elder)

As I began Herménégilde Chiasson's Beatitudes, I very quickly decided that it was not a book I'd recommend to just anyone, not even among the poetry-minded folk. With 118 pages of lines that almost always begin with "those who," it runs the risk of becoming tedious. Plus it ends with a comma which might alienate those who require more of a resolution.

Surprisingly however, Chiasson pulled it off. When I really thought about it, what he'd done seemed so cleverly simple I was surprised more hadn't tried it. By beginning each line with "those who," I began to think about the people in Chiasson's life. Was he simply cataloguing all the people he knew?

"those who laugh emphatically and with bravado in public places to show that everything is going well, that things are definitely better, that they now have been released from the inconsolable grief that seemed to have locked them away forever,"

Then I started to think about people I know...

"those who kneel beside your chair to put themselves at eye level,"

And finally, I started to think about myself...

"those who pick out fruit, poking it to see if it is firm enough, and serve it to those for whom they have affection,"

Beatitudes quite obviously forces a reader to consider himself and those around him and to strike a harmony between the everyday and specific with the lifetime and profound. It tends to be depressing line by line, but as an entire text it's strangely uplifting, connecting us and placing our existence. If this sounds like a bit more existentialism than you can handle, I assure you the fault is mine: Chiasson grounds it all with concrete examples.

Beatitudes was published by Goose Lane Books, 2007 and short-listed for a GG.

Taking a lighthearted approach at his style, here's my Christmas Beatitudes, inspired by Chiasson...

those who hang candy canes from the branches of their trees,
those who pay to have their presents wrapped,
those who plan to use their leftovers for turkey sandwiches to give to the homeless but never do,
those who add rum to their egg nog because that's the way it's meant to be,
those who cringe at "Twelve Days of Christmas" spoofs,
those who are filled with peace upon hearing "Silent Night" though they are non-believers,
those who wish carolers still caroled,
those who sleep better under the glow of multicoloured lights,
those who feel guilt pretending to be Santa Claus,
those who never tire of claymation TV specials,
those who remember kissing under plastic mistletoe,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And the winners are...

Wanda! Congrats to Wanda for winning the Random House prize pack in the last update for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge. She will receive:

1.Nino Ricci's Origin of the Species
2.Christine Blatchford's Fifteen Days
3.Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski (Translated by Lazer Lederhendler)
4.Miriam Toews' the Flying Troutmans


Pooker! Congrats to Pooker for winning the 2nd Random House prize pack consisting of:

1.Nino Ricci's Origin of the Species
2.Christine Blatchford's Fifteen Days

(Winners were drawn randomly from all the correct entries.)

Wanda and Pooker, please send your mailing addresses to jmutford [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Thanks to everyone that played along and to Random House for their generosity!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Great Wednesday Compare #3- Pierre Berton VERSUS Will Ferguson

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Vladimir Nabokov Vs. Pierre Berton) with a final score of 5-1 was Pierre Berton.

While I'm sure more people in the world would have to look up Pierre Berton than Vladimir Nabokov, here in Canada it looks as if Berton is the more common household name.

I read Lolita for the first time last year and talk about mixed emotions! On the one hand, it is wonderfully written but on the other hand it makes you feel sort of gross just to turn the page. According to August's impassioned plea from last week, Lolita isn't even his best work. I know since I finished Lolita I've been itching to try An Invitation to a Beheading. Maybe next year.

This week I'm going for a Mr. Miyagi versus the Karate Kid sort of vibe.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (Dec. 16th, 2008), and if you want your author to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Who's better?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Reader's Diary #421- L. Frank Baum: A Kidnapped Santa Claus

Short Story Monday

"...there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction..."

Ah, Christmas. It's that time of year again when we get to paint our morals like candy canes and hand them out to unsuspecting kids. Santa Claus is watching, you'd better be good! Don't make fun of granny's red nose, she might be leading a certain somebody's sleigh tonight (if she ever sobers up). Yes, well-behaved and tolerant kids is what Christmas is all about.

But just in case they need a lesson on selfishness, envy, hatred, malice and repentance, L. Frank Baum's daemons are here to lend a hand.

It's not actually as bad as it sounds. It reminded me somewhat of Maeterlinck's play "The Blue Bird" only less convoluted. Plus, it does have a happy ending so the kids will still get to sleep in the end. And maybe, just maybe, they'll have a better appreciation for the downward slope of human drive and the accessibility of redemption. For Christmas.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards?

I only recently discovered this site and was surprised to see that "Best LitBlog" wasn't a category. So I wrote, "I just looked at the list of categories being voted on, and there are no choices for “Best LitBlog”? What gives? It’s a pretty big blogging scene. At least as popular as some of the others."

To which I got this response:

"We’ve never had someone suggest a category strictly for literature devoted blogs before. If you know of a dozen or more Canadian based literature blogs, I’d be happy to see a list."

So if you're a Canadian LitBlogger, or want to provide your list, head here.

Reader's Diary #420- Philip S. Foner: The Case of Joe Hill / Dean Hill & Fred Thompson: Joe Hill: IWW Songwriter

One of my musical discoveries earlier this year was Paul Robeson. I don't know why he just crossed my radar in 2008, but I've been really digging that low, low yet wonderfully controlled voice. He almost makes Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen sound like the Bee Gees. His versions of "Go Down Moses," "Old Man River," and "Gloomy Sunday" are of course classics, but the song that really does it for me is "Joe Hill."

I'd been listening to that tune over and over again for some time when I read Reading Lolita in Tehran back in April and came upon author Nafisi's use of Hill's song lyrics.

Well, as interests are wont to do, my Robeson fixation soon became a Joe Hill fixation-- but except for downloading a few song covers and wishlisting a few books, I was getting nowhere. Until recently. Back in October I helped a friend of mine go through his insanely huge book collection. Noting an abundance of leftist, anarchist, and political punkish type books, I figured it was probably a safe bet he'd have some Joe Hill info on hand. And I figured correctly. Right away I was set up with Philip S Foner's book The Case of Joe Hill and Dean Nolan and Fred Thompson's zine-esque biography Joe Hill: IWW Songwriter.

The two texts complemented each other well, especially for a Joe Hill novice like myself. Nolan and Thompson offer a brief but succinct biography of Hill, a Swedish immigrant to the U.S. who became an iconic figure in the labour movement, primarily as a poet and songwriter for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or the Wobblies, as they are sometimes called.

While Foner does offer some biographical background, his main focus is the trial of Joe Hill, who was charged with murder in 1915. Occasionally the book gets bogged down in all the appeals and requests for appeals, especially since most readers already know the final outcome. Plus, like Nolan and Thompson's text, there's an occasional slip into saintliness that smacks of propaganda. I still believe it's possible Hill killed John G. Morrison, but I have to go with Foner, Nolan, Thompson and the many others who say that Hill did not have a fair trial. Had he been given a fair trial, he would have walked: the prosecution didn't have enough evidence at all. Clearly his involvement in the IWW was behind the ruthless discarding of justice. Did his execution actually further the IWW's cause? Possibly. But on the other hand, Hill's life was cut short. Who's to say he wouldn't have accomplished more alive than dead?

Anyway, I got my Joe Hill fix and now I'm ready to move on to the next flavour of the month. Let's see...Clarence Birdseye? Anne Boleyn? GG Allin?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday Word Play- A Fallen Christmas Carol

The "fallen" passages below are all taken word for word from the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. For those of you unfamiliar with Fallen Phrases, the letters below each picture have fallen from one of the boxes directly (vertically) above it. In the first picture for instance, the 1st letter must be "M" since it is the only letter directly below. The 2nd, however, could be a "T" an "A" or a "D" (though clearly only "A" makes sense). It's up to you to figure out where each letter fits to complete each phrase.

As always, feel free to do all ten at home, but only answer one in the comment section, that way at least 10 people will have a chance to play along.











Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rest in Peace, Dewey

"Birth, life, and death -- each took place on the hidden side of a leaf," Toni Morrison

Reader's Diary #419- Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita (translated by

A friend of mine recently told me that he was halfway through a reread this book. I've never been much of a rereader, so I was intrigued. What about this book compelled him to go back for more? I was also one book short of completing the Russian Reading Challenge, so I knew I had to borrow it.

The Master and Margarita is one the most bizarre books I've read in some time. I can see how subsequent reads would help in the understanding of it and perhaps in picking up on details otherwise missed. It opens with a 20th century scene of two Russian citizens sitting on park bench debating whether or not satirizing Jesus's life lends an authenticity to a life they claim to have been fiction. Before long the two men are approached by a stranger who seems intrigued by the conversation. Before long the stranger tells them the story of Pontius Pilate and his decision to condemn Jesus to death. At the end the stranger reveals that he'd been there.

But, by the time you get to the part where Natasha is seen naked and riding through the air on the back of Nikolai Ivanovich, who has been transformed into a hog, those earlier chapters will seem mundane.

The Master and Margarita, I'm told, brilliantly satirized Russian society. I could also pick out all sorts of philosophical themes (that "good" only exists on a scale, therefore "evil" is necessary seemed to be pop up on a few occasions). It could probably be read as metafiction. One line that stood out to earlier readers, "Manuscripts don't burn," is especially interesting when one reads the introduction by translator Richard Pevear, who tells us that Bulgakov had thrown earlier versions into the fire. These ideas probably warrant a 2nd reading.

On the first reading, however, it was just a fun, wild ride and I'm glad to have been entertained.

Here were all selections for the Russian Reading Challenge:

1. Alexander Pushkin- The Snow Storm (short story)
2. Vladimir Nabokov- Lolita
3. Ivan Turgenev- A Sportsman's Notebook
4. Mikhail Bulgakov- The Master and Margarita

I read two that were on my original list of choices, but replaced the others. It would be hard to choose between Lolita and The Master and Margarita as a favourite of the four, but I'll pick The Master and Margarita simply because it didn't make me feel icky. My least favourite was A Sportsman's Notebook.

Cross-posted at The Russian Reading Challenge.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Great Wednesday Compare #3: Vladimir Nabokov VERSUS Pierre Berton

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (Noam Chomsky Vs. Vladimir Nabokov) with a final score of 8-0 was Vladimir Nabokov.

Well, I wasn't expecting a shut out. That's the first time in the third round of Great Wednesday Compares that we've had a goose egg. Perhaps people were growing weary of politics and wanted back to literature?

Saying goodbye to Noam Chomsky, I remember back to the only book of his that I read, Power and Terror: Post-9/11 Talks and Interviews. A friend lent it to me and I was anticipating it to be a case of "preaching to the choir." That's not exactly what happened. I've always been hesitant to look at the world as a dichotomy. I felt that people who saw the world that way were being unfair. I have to admit, after reading Chomsky I questioned on a few occasions whether or not I wasn't being naive in the interest of fairness. Could it be possible that things were really black and white? That some people were actually evil? In the long run, he didn't change my outlook a great deal, but for a moment there I had some things to consider.

And speaking of things to consider, at the request of a couple voters I did consider Beckett for this week's contender. As I did a few others as well. In the end, I decided to go with Pierre Berton as I think it was an oversight that he'd not made an appearance in these Compare things until now. Rest assured, Beckett will visit these parts someday.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (Dec. 9nd, 2008), and if you want your author to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Who's better?

Monday, December 01, 2008

The 2nd Canadian Book Challenge- 5th Update

Five months in and we're up to 459 books! To put that in perspective, the grand total at the end of the 1st Canadian Book Challenge (which ran for 9 months) was 415. We've beaten that and we've still got 7 months to go. Great job!

Congrats this time go to Wanda, Richard, Kailana, Nicola and Joy for meeting the 13 mark! Also a hearty welcome to Splummer who joined the challenge this monthy.

Here are the standings so far (* indicates a new review). Some highlights this month include a few people who got on the score board for the first time including my wife Debbie with her review of a Carol Shields book, my good friend Barbara with her review of a Rohinton Mistry book, Reader Rabbit with a book by Amy Belasen and Jacob Osborn and the aforementioned Splummer who entered with a book by Mary Balogh. (Incidentally, I'll be removing the names with a 0 still beside their name in January, but will of course add their names back to the list, should they begin.)Teena brings the celebrities this month with books by Ra McGuire (of Trooper) and Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong). JK and Kathleen, who both met their 13 quota a while ago, continue adding to their totals, as does Historia who is back for a third dose, this time aiming to read 13 ABMs (Autobiographies, Biographies and Memoirs). Historia and Nathan offer reviews of two separate books, both of which revolve around the life of Canadian icon, Farley Mowat. Framed reviews a personal favourite of mine: Wayne Johnston's Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Heather continues with her Native Canadians theme. April read a nonfiction book about crows and ravens. And Kimiko and Kailana add to the growing number of The Gargoyle reviews. Thanks to everyone for your wonderful reviews. Keep those conversations happening!

Nunavummiut (13 Books...or more!)

- The House of Wooden Santas by Kevin Major*
- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews*
- The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnston*
- Whale Song by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- Ramasseur by Richard deMuelles
- Passion Fruit Tea by Elenore Schonmaier
- Turtle Valley by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
- a week of this: a novel in seven days by Nathan Whitlock
- The Birth House by Ami McKay
- Baltimores Mansion by Wayne Johnston
- Mercy Among The Children by David Adams Richards
- The Skating Pond by Deborah Joy Corey

- The Perfection of the Morning by Sharon Butala*
- lan(d)guage by Ken Belford*
- Medicine River by Thomas King*
- ecologue by Ken Belford*
- A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright*
- The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant*
- Spook Country by William Gibson
- Pear Tree Pomes by Roy Kiyooka
- The Witness Ghost by Tim Bowling
- Forage by Rita Wong
- Slash by Jeannette Armstrong
- Ontological Necessities by Priscilla Uppal
- Time Was Soft There by Jeremy Mercer

- Cats I Have Known and Loved by Pierre Berton*
- Santa Claus: A Biography by Gerry Bowler*
- I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors by Bernice Eisenstein*
- The Gargoyleby Andrew Davidson*
- Personal Demon by Kelley Armstrong*
- Barnacle Love by Anthony De Sa*
- What They Wanted by Donna Morrissey*
- Conceit by Mary Novik*
- The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway*
- Jolted by Arthur Slade*
- Coventry by Helen Humphreys
- Extraordinary Canadians: Lord Beaverbrook by David Adams Richards
-The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
-Don't Lets Go The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
-Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
-Traveling Music by Neil Peart

- Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help by Douglas Anthony Cooper*
- My Name Is Number 4 by Ting-Xing Ye
- The Shadow of Malabron by Thomas Wharton
- Bookweird by Paul Glennon
- Night Runner by Max Turner
- Getting the Girl by Susan Juby
- Jolted by Arthur Slade
- Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- The Horseman's Grave by Jacqueline Baker
- Newton and the Time Machine by Michael McGowan
- The Shooting of Dan McGrew by Robert W. Service and illustrated by Ted Harrison
- The Seance by Iain Lawrence

- Big City Bad Blood by Sean Chercover*
- Griffin & Sabine by Nick Bantock*
- Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantock*
- The Golden Mean by Nick Bantock*
- Forty Words For Sorrow by Giles Blunt
- Hate You by Graham McNamee
- The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
- Runaway by Alice Munro
- Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
- Gallows View by Peter Robinson
- The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
- Charley's Web by Joy Fielding
- Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

- Up, Up, Down by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Playhouse by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Alligator Baby by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- The Sandcastle Contest by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Class Clown by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Just One Goal by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- More Pies! by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- No Clean Clothes! by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Boo! by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Smelly Socks by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Get Out of Bed! by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
- We Share Everything by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Look At Me! by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko

- The Channel Shore by Charles Bruce
- Barometer Risingby Hugh MacLennan
- The Clockmaker by Thomas Haliburton
- My Famous Evening by Howard Norman
- Rockbound by Frank Parker Day
- Roger Sudden by Thomas Raddall
- The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler
- The Film Club by David Gilmour
- Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner
- What Happened later by Ray Robertson
- King Leary by Paul Quarrington
- The Game by Ken Dryden
- Midnight Hockey by Bill Gaston

- Fruit by Brian Francis*
- Whylah Falls by George Elliott Clark*
- The Wives of Bath by Susan Swan*
- Silver Salts by Mark Blagrave*
- Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler
- A History Of Reading by Alberto Manguel
- The Wars by Timothy Findley
- Too Close To The Falls by Catherine Gildiner
- The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart
- The Rules of Engagement by Catherine Bush
- Happenstanceby Carol Shields
- The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
- lullabies for little criminals by Heather O'Neill
- Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay
- A History of Forgetting by Caroline Adderson
- JPod by Douglas Coupland
- The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee

- Cockroach by Rawi Hage
- Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson
- Once by Rebecca Rosenblum
- Adult Entertainment by John Metcalf
- Flight Paths and the Emperor by Steven Heighton
- Dancing Nightly in the Tavern by Mark Antony Jarman
- Red Plaid Shirt by Diane Schoemperlen
- The Girls Who Saw Everything by Sean Dixon
- Degrees of Nakedness by Lisa Moore
- The Tracey Fragments by Maureen Medved
- Exotic Dancers by Gerald Lynch
- Stunt by Claudia Dey
- A Week of This by Nathan Whitlock

- Paddle To The Arctic by Don Starkell
- When We Were Young editted by Stuart McLean
- The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong
- I Married The Klondike by Laura Beatrice Berton
- After by Francis Chalifour
- Going Inside by Alan Kesselheim
- Laughing on the Outside: The Life of John Candy by Martin Knelman
- Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne's House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of The Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
- Unknown Shore by Robert Ruby

- Firewing by Kenneth Oppel*
- Mud City by Deborah Ellis*
- Jeux D'adresseseditted by Julie Huard, Michel-Remi Lafond, and Francois-Xavier Simard
- Slow Lightning by Mark Frutkin
- 13 by Mary-Lou Zeitoun
- Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
- Run of the Town by Terrence Rundle West
- Volkswagen Blues by Jacques Poulin
- Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis
- An Acre In Time by Phil Jenkins
- Kiss The Sunset Pig by Laurie Gough
- Psyche's Children by Catherine Joyce
- The Lidek Revolution by James Stark
- Pure Springs by Brian Doyle
- Speak Ill of the Dead by Mary Jane Maffini
- Without Vodka by Aleksander Topolski

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians
(12 Books)

- Children of the Day by Sandra Birdsell*
- The Petty Details of So-and-so's Life by Camilla Gibb*
- Frogs and Other Stories by Diane Schoemperlen
- Sisters of Grass by Theresa Kishkan
- The Outlander by Gil Adamson
- A Certain Mr. Takahashi by Ann Ireland
- Innercity Girl Like Me by Sabrina Bernardo
- The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
- Beautiful Girl Thumb by Melissa Steele
- An Audience of Chairs by Joan Clark
- Where The Pavement Ends by Marie Wadden
- Naomi's Road by Joy Kogowa and illustrated by Matt Gould

Albertans (11 Books)

Saskatchewanies (10 Books)

- Precious by Douglas Glover*
- Microserfs by Douglas Coupland*
- Phantom Lake: North of 54 by Birk Sproxton
- This Business With Elijah by Sheldon Oberman
- More by Austin Clarke
- Murmel, Murmel, Murmel by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner
- The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway
- Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
- Consolation by Michael Redhill

Traveler One
- Swing Low: A Life by Miriam Toews*
- Easton by Paul Butler
- Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
- Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
- Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp
- The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
- Random Passage by Bernice Morgan
- Kiss The Joy As It Flies by Sheree Fitch
- Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay
- The Mountain and The Valley by Ernest Buckler

- Rotten Apple by Rebecca Eckler*
- The Retreat by David Bergen*
- Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper*
- The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
- Watching July by Christine Hart
- The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- The Game by Teresa Toten

- Here For A Good Time by Ra McGuire*
- Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Tommy Chong*
- Before I Wake by Robert J. Wiersema*
- The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Sherry Torkos
- Down The Coal Town Road by Sheldon Currie
- The Story So Far... by Sheldon Currie
- Lauchie, Liza & Rory by Sheldon Currie
- I've Got A Home In Glory Land by Karolyn Smardz Frost
- The War On Women by Brian Vallee
- Truth and Rumors: The Truth Behind TV's Most Famous Myths by Bill Brious

Yukoners (9 Books)

Paul P
- Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
- The Wars by Timothy Findley
- Famous Last Words by Timothy Findley
- As For Me And My House by Sinclair Ross
- Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen
- Pilgrim by Timothy Findley
- The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
- Effigy by Alissa York
- Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood

Prince Edward Islanders (8 Books)

- Sindbad in the Land of Giants retold and illustrated by Ludmila Zeman*
- Some of the Kinder Planets by Tim Wynne-Jones
- Hero of Lesser Causes by Julie Johnston
- Lisa by Carol Matas
- Ticket to Curlew by Celia Barker Lottridge
- Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
- Thumb In The Box by Ken Roberts
- Dippers by Barbara Nichol and illustrated by Barry Moser

British Columbians (7 Books)

- Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb*
- Not Wanted On The Voyage by Timothy Findley*
- King Leary by Paul Quarrington
- Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
- Lullabies For Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
- Living Room by Allan Weiss
- Elizabeth and After by Matt Cohen

- Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston*
- Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman*
- The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
- Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
- Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson
- Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan
- Niagara, A History of The Falls by Pierre Berton

- The Chinese Alchemist by Lyn Hamilton*
- Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields
- Burden of Desire by Robert MacNeil
- Barrington Street Blues by Anne Emery
- Black Ice by Linda Hall
- Blood Lies by Daniel Kalla
- Bone To Ashes by Kathy Reichs

- No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod*
- Good To A Fault by Marina Endicott*
- The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton
- Clauda by Britt Holmstrom
- The Only Snow in Havanna by Elizabeth Hay
- The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou
- Wolf Tree by Alison Calder

- The Anachronicles by George McWhirter*
- King Leary by Paul Quarrington
- The Secret World of Og by Pierre Berton
- Beneath The Naked Sun by Connie Fife
- A Theft by Saul Bellow
- Arctic Migrants/ Arctic Villagers by David Damas
- White Eskimo by Harold Horwood

- Anne of Avonleaby Lucy Maud Montgomery*
- Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne's House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of Windy Poplars by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery*

- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
- Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot
- The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
- The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
- Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
- Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
- The Birth House by Ami McKay

- Brother Dumb by Sky Gilbert
- The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
- Entitlement by Jonathan Bennett
- Cockroach by Rawi Hage
- Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by John McFetridge
- The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
- The Order of Good Cheer by Bill Gaston

Northwest Territorians (6 Books)

Nathan Smith
- Otherwise by Farley Mowat*
- Bookweird by Paul Glennon
- Belle Moral by Ann-Marie MacDonald
- The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
- A Secret Between Us by Daniel Poliquin
-The Wars by Timothy Findley

- What We All Long For by Dionne Brand*
- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
- Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx
- The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis
- At A Loss For Words by Diane Schoemperlin
- The End of East by Jen Sookfong Lee

- Broken by Kelley Armstrong*
- That Scatterbrain Booky by Bernice Thurman-Hunter
- Ontario Murders by Susan McNicoll
- Jacob Two-Two Meets The Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler
- Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
- Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

- Sugarmilk Falls by Ilona Van Mil*
- From Ink Lake: Canadian Stories Collected by Michael Ondaatje*
- Life by Drowning: Selected Poems by Jeni Couzyn*
- Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat*
- New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English editted by Margaret Atwood and Robert Weaver*
- The Birth House by Ami McKay*

Sam Lamb
- The Body's Place by Elise Turcotte
- Streak of Luck by Richelle Kosar
- Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
- The Given by Daphne Marlatt
- A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart

- At A Loss For Words by Diane Schoemperlen
- Mister Sandman by Barbara Gowdy
- Twice Born by Pauline Gedge
- Quintet by Douglas Arthur Brown
- Coventry by Helen Humphreys
- Remembrance of Summers by J. M. Kearns

Manitobans (5 Books)

- The Art of Salvage by Leona Theis*
- Crows: Encounters With The Wise Guys of the Avian World* by Candace Savage*
- The Order of Good Cheer by Bill Gaston*
- The Birth House by Ami McKay
- The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood*
- Whetstone by Lorna Crozier
- The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
- Quick by Anne Simpson
- Runaway by Alice Munro
- Away by Jane Urquhart

Mary Ellen
- Not Guilty by Debbie Travis*
- Still Life by Louise Penny
- The Impact of a Single Event by R. L. Prendergast
- The Whirlpool by Jane Urquhart
- Margarita Nights by Phyliss Smallman

- the Retreat by David Bergen
- Blasted by Kate Story
- The Brutal Heart by Gail Bowen
- Prarie Bridesmaid by Daria Salamon
- Saltsea by David Helwig

- The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
- The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
- Fast Forward and Other Stories by Delia de Santis
- The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
- Selected Poems (1972) by Al Purdy

- Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
- Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
- Consumption by Kevin Patterson
- The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
- No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
- Conceit by Mary Novik
- Forage by Rita Wong
- Porcupine by Meg Tilly
- The Alchemist's Dream by John Wilson

- Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
- The Wars by Timothy Findley
- Great Canadian Short Stories edited by Alec Lucas
- The Fire Dwellers by Margaret Laurence
- The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

New Brunswickers (4 Books)

- Negotiating With The Dead by Margaret Atwood*
- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Yellowknife by Steve Zipp
- Loyalists and Layabouts by Stephen Kimber

- One Native Life by Richard Wagamese*
- All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Fiction editted by Thomas King*
- Medicine River by Thomas King*
- Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen*
- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart
- The Actual by Saul Bellow
- The Song of Kahunsha by Anosh Irani

- Lighting The Dark Side by William R. Potter*
- Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock
- Dingo by Charles de Lint
- How To Be a Canadian by Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson

- The Girls by Lori Lansens*
- The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
- The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson
- Open Secrets by Alice Munro

- Ten Thousand Lovers by Ravel Edeet*
- The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper*
- The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Song of the Paddle by Bill Mason

- Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
- Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

- JPod by Douglas Coupland
- Anne of The Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Unless by Carol Shields
- Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

- Murther and Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies
- Itsuka by Joy Kogowa
- Since Daisy Creek by W. O. Mitchell
- Prospero's Daughter by Constance Beresford-Howe

- Dear Toni by Cyndi Sand-Eveland
- Leslie's Journal by Allan Stratton
- The Reading Solution by Paul Kropp
- Pact of the Wolves by Nina Blazon and translated by Sue Innes

- Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen
- The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper
- The Line Painter by Claire Cameron
- Indigenous Beasts by Nathan Sellyn

- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
- As For Me and My House by Sinclair Ross
- A Bird In The House by Margaret Laurence

- Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- Look for Me by Edeet Ravel
- Horseman's Grave by Jacqueline Baker

- Kit's Law by Donna Morrissey
- Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
- A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay
- The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

Nova Scotians (3 Books)

- A Victim of Convenience by John Ballem*
- Six Seconds by Rick Mofina
- Honour Among Men by Barbara Fradkin

- Sir Cook, The Knight? by Erik Mortensen
- Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop
- The Time In Between by David Bergen

- All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland
- Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson
- What We All Long For by Dionne Brand

- Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
- Catholics by Brian Moore
- Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay

- Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
- The Best of Robert Service by Robert Service
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
- Rollbackby Robert J. Sawyer
- The Birth House by Ami McKay

- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
- A Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Icefields by Thomas Wharton

- Nova Scotia by Tanya Lloyd Kyi
- Tottering in My Garden by Midge Ellis Keeble
- The Pioneers of Inverness Township by Gwen Rawlings

Quebecois (2 Books)

- The Fight of My Life by Maude Barlow*
- Farley: The Life of Farley Mowat by James King*

- Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson*
- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen*

- Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart
- Caedman's Song by Peter Robinson

- My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
- All-Season Edie by Annabel Lyon

- The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

- Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
- The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac

- Claudia by Britt Holmstrom
- The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Cure For Death by Lightning

- Memories Are Murder by Lou Allin
- Pandemic by Daniel Kalla

Ontarians (1 Book)

Reader Rabbit
- Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year by Amy Bleason and Jacob Osborn*

- Tales From Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry*

- The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh*

- Dressing Up For The Carnival by Carol Shields*

- Wolf Moon by Charles de Lint

Paul R
- Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

- The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro

-Coventry by Helen Humphreys

-Beaverbrook: A Failed Legacy by Jacques Poitras

- Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

- Alice, I Think by Susan Juby

- An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinsky

Literary Mom
- Late Nights On Air by Elizabeth Hay

- Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler

- Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Mrs. Peachtree
- Stella Fairy of the Forest by Marie-Louise Gay

(If these standings are not correct, please let me know. As well, if you've missed the explanation of the provincial/territorial headings and can't figure out why you're listed under a particular province, please refer to this post.)

And once again, it's prize time. Donated very generously from Random House comes two amazing "Book Awards Prize Packs." Prize One features Nino Ricci's Origin Of The Species (2008 Winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction), Christine Blatchford's Fifteen Days (2008 Winner of the Governor General's Award for Nonfiction), Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski, translated by Lazer Lederhendler (2008 Winner of the Governor General's Award for Translation), and Miriam Toews' the Flying Troutmans (2008 Winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize):

And Prize Two features Origin of the Species and Fifteen Days:

To be entered into a random drawing for these prizes you have to do two tasks:

1. Look at the books read in November (marked by * above) and find two books rated 4/5 and one book rated 3.75


2. Tell me four people above who reviewed any of the books in this month's prize pack. These do NOT have to be marked with an *.

The first name drawn will win Prize One and the second name will win Prize Two. Email your answers to jmutford [at] hotmail [dot] com. I will pick the winners on the 10th and post the names on the 11th of December.