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More books to give!

More books to give!

Further suggestions of books to give yourself and yours during the holidays

The Hero Book: An Illustrated Memoir, by Scott Waters (Cumulus Press), $15. Appropriately themed for this Military Issue, The Hero Book is a collection of thoughts and visual renderings by ex-soldier Waters of his three years spent in the Canadian Forces. The prose is descriptive and engaging, especially for those of us whose reality is unlike anything a soldier experiences. But the paintings – the beautiful paintings Waters has created since he left the army, studied art and began a visual arts career – they are what make this book a glorious gift for anyone on your list. (IT)

The Five Hole Stories, by Dave Bidini (Brindle & Glass), $19.95. It’s a seductive spot, the place where hockey and eroticism meet. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure, until I read this bijou by Rheostatics rhythm guitarist and all-around hockey dude Bidini. The author of many a hockey book, including last year’s The Best Game You Can Name, Bidini tools a charming tone throughout these sexy, funny five stories that will relish any ice freak you know with unexpected titillation. (IT)

GenXpat: The Young Professional’s Guide to Making a Successful Life Abroad, by Margaret Malewski (Intercultural Press), $23.50. The GenXpat is a member of Generation X, born between 1964 and 1981, who decides to live and pursue a career abroad. Montreal native Malewski has written a terrific guide for likeminded Gen-Xers with dual citizenship who are interested in working overseas. Sections explain how to negotiate an expat contract, deal with culture shock, build social networks, enjoy dating across cultures and how to prepare for a smooth re-entry back home. (BB)

A Certain Respect for Tradition: Mark Miller on Jazz, Selected Writings 1980-2005, by Mark Miller (The Mercury Press), $19.95. Miller’s 27-year run as resident jazz writer for The Globe and Mail came to an end last year. It was, as he says in the introduction to this collection of his writing, time to leave. What Miller did leave, as this collection demonstrates, is a body of carefully crafted work that the jazz aficionado in your life would certainly do well to revisit. (MC)

The Penguin History of Canada, by Robert Bothwell (Penguin Canada), $39. This holiday season a blizzard of new books on Canadian history has descended on local bookstores. While, like snowflakes, each one possesses its own unique qualities, The Penguin History of Canada is the place to start. Respected historian Bothwell argues with true verve that the country is best understood through its relationship with the outside world. The result adroitly outlines how a history defined by compromise has led to painful confrontations between French and English, East and West, native and non-native. Truly, it is a portrait as vast and vibrant as its subject, this winter wonderland we call home. (BH)

Abandon the Old in Tokyo, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn and Quarterly), $25.95. Montreal publishers D+Q have embarked on a project that will do the world a service by publishing an annual translated compendium of Tatsumi’s comics, each focusing on the highlights of one year of his work. This is this year’s, and just like last year’s Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo initiates anglo readers to a mangaka of incredible magnitude; Tatsumi is among Japan’s greatest artists and storytellers, and his vision, as dark as it may be, is a welcome beacon. (IT)

Stumbling in the Bloom, by John Pass (Oolichan Books), $17.95. This recipient of the Governor-General’s Award for English poetry will be a sure hit with the bard on your Christmas list. This collection of 46 poems is a celebration of life’s luminous beauty in all its enticing entanglements. Wry and fanciful, Pass explores everything from a visit to the chiropractor to September 11th with tenderness and insight. (MJS)

The Portable Conundrum, edited by Andy Brown (Conundrum Press), $15. Why not support a local publisher and give the gift of the portable conundrum? Everyone who has published with Brown’s Conundrum Press is featured in this anthology. From the writings of Catherine Kidd and Rob Allen to the comic musings of Howard Chackowicz, The Portable Conundrum is an irresistible trip down memory lane that highlights a decade of publishing by one of Canada’s most unique and innovative publishers. (MJS)

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  • by Martin Dansky - December 13, 2006, 1:27 am

    Canadian history has bored me silly until I rediscovered it indirectly while assisting a newcomer to his immigration test. Thanks for an opportunity to go beyond the usual English and French carving out the continent to get some insight into how Canada has managed to stay together…on paper that is…about Canadians doing service well their courage is admirable just as their folly, that ought to give some people an understanding through illustrative messages. To discover the history of jazz through Miller is also an idea for a gift for those that savored some pleasureable mellow moments at a jazz bar back in the day. And for the guide for a successful stint as a international teacher, well I learned how to network, get through red tape, plan ahead and would do it again in the Far East somewhere..generation X or not! Good to see the prices have dropped since the last review; somebody must have taken the hint that just advertising 40 buck books is not going to get them off the shelves!

  • by Stephanie Ein - December 13, 2006, 11:29 pm

    So, for the holidays, “Hour” suggests some hockey-flavoured porn? I guess it’s the perfect gift for dudes who’ve been waiting for the “Canadian Tire” catalogue came out with a centerfold edition. (Or, for Don Cherry to guest-star on “The L Word”.)
    While it doesn’t exactly wind my clock, it lends a whole new meaning to the term “face-off”.
    Is Ms. Tousingnant sure that her leg wasn’t being pulled? Hockey-smut sounds like something from a “Saturday Night Live” skit entitled, “Great White Losers of the Frozen North”!

  • by David St Pierre - December 17, 2006, 12:02 pm

    Hmmm, hockey erotica. I guess in terms of niches, this is one that Dave Bidini has got all to himself. I realize that the dude is a total hockey fanatic but his preoccupation is veering dangerously close to fetishism. And, as for the title – The Five Hole Stories (!) – well, let’s just say that this might be one of the most unfortunate double-entendres of all time!…lol.

  • by Mark St Pierre - December 18, 2006, 10:40 pm

    For the hockey fan who’s got everything, except maybe a girlfriend, Dave Bidini’s book might be just the thing. I’m not totally sure I’d enjoy this kind of fiction unless, of course, it centered on a women’s hockey team and some locker or shower room hi-jinks. Still you have to give Bidini props for expanding the genre of hockey-fiction into previously unexplored frontiers!

  • by Manuel Urbanski - December 19, 2006, 2:01 am

    There’s a book that I found extremely relevant to today’s agenda that I’d recommend to anyone: Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. It was released last year, but I thought it was an extremely worthy read because it shows a completely alternate depiction of current events concerning global warming and climate change, as well as many other “truths” we take for granted, simply because everyone does. Consider the science of eugenics (the elimination from the gene pool of those deemed inferior to others; think why we fought WW2). It actually began in the UK and spread to America before becoming centered in Germany. In those days, every American scientist and politician jumped onto the bandwagon in support of the elimination of “inferior human beings.” Today we’ve got global warming for which there is NO arbitrary scientific evidence as the focus and priority of every respectable citizen, scientist and politician (because those that are against it aren’t respectable). We constantly hear that the polar icecaps are melting. Well, the Antarctic Peninsula (the part of Antarctica in which these icecaps are melting) represents a FRACTION of the Antarctic continent, and has been melting for years. The truth is that as a whole, the polar icecaps have been growing consistently larger and colder (oddly enough, the media’s overlooking this). Crichton presents many issues and referenced facts that will really make you question our beliefs. All this is presented within an intricate and fascinating story that suggests and attempt to reveal the truth behind the sudden trend towards global warming and the inherent dangers and flaws that politicized science represents to our society, as well as solutions.
    I’d suggest reading this extremely fascinating story and considering the facts before prancing around protesting climate change. Note that this book’s been the subject of a lot of controversy. I think that’s a usually a sign that it’s worth reading. Hate it or love it, do THINK about it.

  • by Reuven De Souza - December 20, 2006, 1:09 pm

    While the warm fuzzy side of me would probably like to mention marley and me or the new album treacle in this festive time, I would have to say that the two books that I enjoyed the most this year were a long way down by nick hornby. It was so good that you wish that it would keep going on. As for the second. well that would be between the bridge and the river by Thr Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson which was so unexpectedly good that I have to wonder if he should not be writing a lot more. A delightfully witty and sarcastic treasure!

  • by Helga Ganguly - December 22, 2006, 11:34 pm

    I stay with my own version of comfort food-Science Fiction. Now before you all groan and moan, Science Fiction has many faces,most of which I appreciate. I have read every book ever written by Heinlein. I even spent a delightful year reading them in order of publication date. I have devoured Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber and treasure the months my son and I read the books together. He was a precocious lad of 10 when he tested at first year College reading level and his teacher said he was “out of ideas.” Well pardon me. That says a lot about our school system. I knew lots books to give him that with just enough wonder. He sailed through 10 books a week.My daughter,who resisted reading with the same passion my son embraced it, was given Job,A Comedy of Justice ,a favorite Heinlein book of mine. She gobbled it up in a 24 hour period. I had known how smart she was but here she clearly showed her sense of good taste.
    To both of these young people,I am giving Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It is a book that all three of us have read repeatedly. I am also giving the rest of the series so far and hoping that Orson Scott Card writes many more books about Ender Wiggin and his world.Card picked up the story of Ender 12 years later and rewrote the same story from his new perspective and wisdom gained. Card is a delight to read. A true joy. His Ender series and Alvin Maker series are absolutely magnificent. Science Fiction? Alvin Maker lives in a world where the US and Canada and Europe exist,but so does magik. It is people with magik that left Europe. George Washington never became president. Fantasy? And I’m giving them Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon. Again-the entire series. The latest book is Callahan’s Con by Spider Robinson. Think Cheers with alien visitors.But people searched for this bar. Drove all over the East coast. It was that real,that welcoming. You just have to read him to see for yourself. Books that make you care,think,and want to read them again.

  • by Trevor Nemeth - December 26, 2006, 1:25 am

    As I laboriously searched my book shelf for books I would recommend to anyone, I realized that many people do not enjoy sitting through the over 800 page books I read and, as such, probably would be disinclined to take on such a daunting task. After thinking about it for awhile I decided that there are many classic books which many people have not read that are considered by many to be must reads. One such book that I have personally devoured is called The Outsider, by Albert Camus; this book is revolutionary in that it portrays how society fears what it does not understand and the main character Meurseault, is very much persecuted for being a deviant in the society he lives. It urges us to think about how we perceive the infrastructure which governs our society and furthermore, about what may be considered deviant and unacceptable within it. Merseault is under scrutiny throughout the novel and by the books end you wonder, as you reflect upon who the hero was and how odd it was for him to be the hero, whether it is even socially acceptable to push the envelope in terms of deviance, even if it is in a good way. Originally in French the author received the Nobel peace prize for his work and is considered by many to be one of the most influential writers in history. The book is shorter than 200 pages no matter the version you buy and reads fairly quickly because it is action packed and well written. A great read for those who are mild mannered, overly demanding, easily distracted because it is short, sweet, and full of controversy.

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