Friday, March 16, 2007

What I've been reading

Yes, even a bookworm must work occasionaly - which makes her grouchy and a slow reader - in order to buy more books.
In what little time I've had, this is what I managed to read, since February:

Jpod - Douglas Coupland

I really don't like re-reading books. I haven't re-read a book in years (although I've re-read many of Coupland's books), but since I was feeling to tired I figured Jpod was a great antidote to a day's work. And so it was.
Some years ago I used to imagine I was in a Coupland novel - it's a great daydream, try it sometime. But Jpod is even better.
However I never got to end because...

Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland

One morning I woke up at 6 a.m. (which is obscenely early for me) and in the midst of insomnia (yes, it's still insomnia at 6 a.m.) started thinking about Jpod and about how I had never realized before so much of Coupland is verging on sci-fi.
Suddenly I had an epiphany: I realized my two least favorite Coupland's (Girlfriend in a Coma and Hey! Nostradamus) were actually his best books.
Feeling post-apocalyptical I picked up Girlfriend first and having re-read it I am now completely convinced it's one of his best.

Hey! Nostradamus

The jury's still out on this one. I re-read two thirds, and I don't think it's as good as Girlfriend. However I do like it when Coupland goes all religious (meaning when he writes straightforwardly about religion)

If I were to re-read another of his (and I just might) it would be
Eleanor Rigby
I think he's best with mom characters and teenager / young adult characters - his adult characters seem a little dry, but going over Rigby again might change my mind

anyway he's wonderfully canadian - and one day, when I'm not so tired I'll try to explain (to myself first) what I mean by that

The Genius Factory - David Plotz

To quote a much loved sentence here at home about wine, from the movie "Sideways" - this little book is "tighter than a nun's ass". There is not one lost sentence in this non-fiction account of a sperm bank dedicated to storing the seed of Nobel laureates and the ensuing offspring. The rhythm is also great: Plotz always leaves you hanging at the end of the chapters, just when you're dying to know more about a kid or his donor dad.
The story is fascinating - and in 262 pages it packs an amazing amount of information that is never short of mesmerizing. The best thing about it, is the individual kids' stories. And it's not even a guilty pleasure, because Plotz is very ethical in the treatment of his sources.
Even cross eyed from staring at a laptop screen all day long I always felt like reading more at the end of the day. If that's not a compliment I don't know what is.

One In Three - Adam Wishart

I'm not done with this one yet, but I can safely say it's pretty good too. It's also non-fiction about the author's dad cancer, but simultaneously about the history of treatments and public reactions to the disease. Not as comfortable to read in bed, being a hardback, and a slow starter for me (all those descriptions of the cancer treatments administered in the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries left me a little queasy) but ultimately a relief to read - cancer is such a scary thing in our otherwise, mostly confortable lives, most people don't even want to talk about it, that to get facts feels liberating. There is so much to know. One of the reasons I got this book was that I read in a review that the author never falls into the sentimental trap - I wanted a clear account, not a teary eyed one, and that's exactly what Wishart delivers.
I learned a lot and crushed a mostly full pack of cigarettes into the dustbin (but to be truthful I've done that a couple of times before).