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Boy, did this book push me out of my comfort zone; actually, several comfort zones. Twice nominated recently for a literary prize (the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust of Canada for Fiction), this is a story told from two perspectives- that of humans, and that of chimpanzees. Normally, I don’t like books where animals might be given human attributes. However, McAdam deftly skirts around this issue. Half of the book takes place in the household of a childless couple who are raising a chimpanzee. The other half takes place in a primate research facility; and it is in this part where the author’s writing is particularly smart and convincing. I was tense from the start- of course, this is a train wreck waiting to happen. Sometimes brutal but often times beautiful, this is a novel (and I quote the jacket) “about parenthood, friendship, loneliness and strength, about the things we hold sacred as humans and the facts that link us inevitably to a nature we too often ignore”.
In her newest book, Paula Wild seeks to fill a gap in nature writing that’s been ignored for too long. Too far between are the investigations done into the cougar, an animal about which our knowledge is constantly changing as we learn more. And it matters now more than ever, as human and cougar interactions continue to increase, especially in British Columbia, and especially on Vancouver Island. In Cougar,Wild explores the history of human interactions with cougars and how our perceptions of, and knowledge about them has changed drastically over time. She lays out in expertly researched detail what it is that makes cougars the incredible, important, and also dangerous animals that they are. She also offers up dozens of documented attacks and close calls, and far from fear mongering, uses them to draw conclusions about how we can (and do) peacefully co-exist with these animals – of which there an estimated 600 of on Vancouver Island alone!
Wild is careful not to paint the cougar as the bloodthirsty man-eater it’s often misrepresented as. Instead, she reminds us that cougars are a beautiful, fascinating, and integral part of the ecosystem, which we should approach (not literally!) with equal parts respect and caution. This is an excellent piece of wildlife writing. Read it, pass it on to a friend. These big cats are amazing, but can be dangerous, and knowledge is the power to keep one from becoming the other.
This isn’t the sort of book that looks like it would be important, but it is.
It’s hard to review You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me without stepping too much on the book’s toes or stealing its thunder, but here’s a brief primer on the subject at hand for those not in the loop: Phish and Insane Clown Posse (ICP for short) are bands. The first being a floaty hippie stoner jam band from Vermont and the latter being a hyperviolent rap duo from Detroit who dress in clown makeup and spray their fans with the discount off-brand midwestern soda Faygo. A lot of people hate Phish because they have guitar solos that go nowhere and yet still seem to somehow last for five hours, and a lot of people hate ICP because they’re a bunch of painted weirdos who rap (poorly) about their genitals, clowns, and hacking people to death with hatchets.
What’s important here, though, is not the critical deconstruction of the bands themselves – taste is taste, after all – but the fact that in both cases their fans are pretty much universally discounted and maligned if not out-and-out vilified. While this might, in the case of Phish fans, simply mean awkwardly holding one’s breath while walking past them to block out the weed and patchouli, in the case of ICP fans (selfstyled as “Juggalos”) this might mean getting tailed by the FBI or being kicked to death.
This book, wherein music critic and former head writer for The Onion A.V. Club Nathan Rabin goes on the road and follows both bands on tour to immerse himself in their fan culture (and, in the process, his own psychology – he is diagnosed as bipolar halfway through the journey), posits that the general stance on both groups is entirely unfair. I couldn’t agree more.
While Phish fans need their defenders, the heavy lifting the book has to do is really in the Juggalo chapters. To keep this review from getting even more overlong (and largely because the book does it for me) I won’t detail all my thoughts and opinions on Juggalos, but it’s a surprisingly fascinating, complicated, and heartbreaking subculture. They’ve been quite frequently called “the most misunderstood people of all time,” and I honestly can’t think of many other groups on the planet that need to be understood more than Juggalos do. This is a group that seriously, achingly, cripplingly needs some pathos, and this book has it.
In the past few years the knee-jerk lambasting has taken a brief back seat to a decent amount of fair, even-handed Juggalo journalism (the Village Voice arguably kicked this off in 2010) but nothing has really captured the heart and soul of the matter like this book does. For those like myself it is refreshing, but for some – in fact I would imagine most – it will be revelatory. You will cry. Juggalos will make you cry and you will need to go into the past and tell yourself that because you won’t believe it, but then you will.
You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me:
Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music’s Most Maligned Tribes
by Nathan Rabin
The Gathering of the Juggalos
by Daniel Cronin & Camille Dodero
The Dark, a joint effort by the shadowy sensation Lemony Snicket and the darkly delightful Jon Klassen offers a brand new take on an old fear. Laszlo is afraid of the dark that lives in his cellar and creeps out through his house at night, enveloping all the safe familiar things and shrouding every room in blackness. Then comes the night when the dark arrives at Laszlo’s bed…what happens next? You’ll just have to screw up your courage and read on. Possibly the finest book on overcoming fear written in the last decade, this book should be read and shared by all who’ve ever wondered—and worried—about things that go bump in the night.
Last fall, we offered a money-back guarantee on hardcover copies of Erin Morgenstern‘s stunning debut novel The Night Circus. We had never done that before with a book, but then, there’s never been a book like The Night Circus.
Everyone who read it here loved it. And more, we believed in it. Enough to make an unprecedented offer: “buy it, and try it. If you don’t like it, we’ll give you your money back, no questions asked.”
Of the hundreds of copies of The Night Circus that we sold in hardcover, we didn’t have a single person ask us for a refund.
It really is that good a book.
Now, just in time for summer reading, The Night Circus is out in paperback. The money-back guarantee offer no longer applies, but we have every confidence in promising that you WILL love it.
Last September, I wrote of The Night Circus in the Globe and Mail: “Occasionally, though, and all too rarely, you’ll encounter a book that stops you in your tracks, a book the experience of which tears you open and leaves you gasping, a book that affects your head and your heart in equal measure. A book that makes the hair on your arms stand on end, and that has you picking up the phone or sending a text to tell everyone you know, “You have to read this.”
The Night Circus is one of those books. One of those rare, wonderful, transcendent books that, upon finishing, you want to immediately start again.”
I think I’m going to spend my weekend with the new paperback of The Night Circus; you should too.
It is within my personal opinion, that the world is an inherently good place. Be it by the simple gestures of holding a door, or letting someone ahead of you with fewer items in a grocery checkout… people will always try and do the best thing. However, and I’m sure a few other people may feel like this, as of late I’ve been getting the bad news blues every time I turn on the radio (yes, I still listen to the radio) or read a newspaper. There just never seems to be any good news… that’s where this book comes in.
Worldchanging 2.0 is probably without a doubt my favorite book we have ever carried in the store.
With that mammoth sentence aside, let me explain why. Where as most people I know are beginning to become bogged down by disaster X or annoying government issueY, this book not only shines a light onto said problems but offers a simple, blunt, humorous and most of all optimistic list of what you can do to help. Let me be clear, these are not ways you can think of helping, or struggle with how you could manage to help… but a book dedicated to reasonable projects that anyone can easily start today should they wish.
This incredibly thick soft-cover is not also gorgeous to look at cover-wise, but features many innovative and simple designs created to make life more sustainable, enjoyable, and most importantly meaningful. It also has some great interviews with the people who design these brilliant contraptions, a chapter sized bibliography for further reading on issues close to your heart, and thousands of working links to groups and documentation that will help you go forth and change the world. You can find Worldchanging 2.0 by Alex Steffen and other fascinating reads in our Ecology-Lifestyle section.
It would be easy to tell you about 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami in a single sentence; it’s a beautifully curious and unique story of love, loss and the enormous humanity to be found in the unknown. However, that makes it sound far more typical than it actually is. I’d rather ramble on a bit and try to more accurately express just how rewarding 1Q84 truly is. One thing I won’t tell you though is what the title means. That’s just one of the many perks for those who’ve read it.
1Q84 is a beautifully mysterious story, which in itself is enough to make for a great read. The aspect I enjoyed the most though was Murakami’s characters. The story is told from the perspective of two people, both of whom ever so cleverly toe the line between being bizarrely unique and completely typical. I often found myself pausing mid-page to consider just how similar, yet completely odd each and every one of us actually is. I’m at a loss to think of any other author who can simultaneously tell a great story as well as tell us about ourselves in such a comfortable manner. Murakami’s patient and introspective pace delivers something more than just a rewarding tale. What that something is though likely varies from reader to reader, so if you do read 1Q84 I’d love to hear what you took away from it.
Since 1Q84 was originally written in Japanese, I was skeptical of how well I would understand the translation and subject matter. However, I was never once at a loss to understand what was happening. Instead of being confused by the foreign setting, I was instead gently educated about life in Japan. The translation certainly seems to have been expertly handled as I would have been unable to tell it was not originally written in English.