Read my lips (and also these books)

I really, really love to read.

For definitive proof, please see this photo of Mr. M’s and my wedding cake:

This may have been the best idea of my life.

Some of my very earliest memories are of my little sister, my mother, and I, all curled up together on my single bed, reading James Stevenson and Shel Silverstein.

Sometimes I would imagine that we were stranded at sea, afloat on a raft made up of duvets, plush toys, book spines and tea.

(And for what it’s worth, I still think Will You Please Feed Our Cat? is a work of genius. That and The Missing Piece.)

Nowadays, I don’t discriminate much when it comes to the literature that sits atop my bedside table.

Seriously, I’ll give anything a shot.

Canadiana, fantasy, SF (both speculative and science fiction), graphic novels, YA, biographies, cookbooks –  WHATEVER.

If it’s good, I’ll read it. Heck, even if I start it and don’t like it, I’ll slog it out.

Because if I start something, I’m darn well finishing it.

I have a sometimes co-worker (he only works part-time) who, whenever he’s in the office, pops around my pad to pick up some recommendations for his much beloved kindle.

When I first started my job, we were seated together at a tax luncheon. And because I didn’t know him from Bob, and am not a tax expert by any stretch, I turned to him and opened with my one and only ice breaker:

“Are you reading anything good at the moment?”

He relayed that he wasn’t, and since I was nervous as all get out, I proceeded to talk for at least three weeks straight about all the books I had ever read in my entire life.

Luckily he took it all in stride.

And now he’s just e-mailed me to let me know that he’ll be in later on next week. So here are the 5 books I am encouraging him to read this go around:

1.)    One Step Behind – Henning Mankell

I wrote briefly on Monday about my love for this author. Once again I cannot stress enough how bloody brilliant (I think) he is. Granted, I’ve never read anything of his in the original Swedish, but this is a man who has outsold Harry Potter in many European countries, so I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say his works are excellent no matter what language you’re reading them in.

One Step Behind is the seventh book in Mankell’s highly acclaimed Kurt Wallander mystery series. When we were living in Birmingham M stayed up all night reading it because he couldn’t fathom going to bed not knowing how it ended (for real he read the entire 600+ page book in one sitting.)

2.)    Green Grass, Running Water – Thomas King

Thomas King is a Canadian author of Cherokee and Greek descent. He is also a master storyteller and humorist extraordinaire. Green Grass is one of the most amazing books I have ever read in my life; it weaves together written and oral literary traditions, and plays with structure and narrative in a seamless, easy, organic way – much in the same way I imagine that grass grows and water runs.

We have 1000+ books floating around the joint so I couldn't find all the books to photograph. Plus all my Mankell is in Halifax.

Rife with satire and humour, it made me laugh, pause, think, re-think, and feel. Truly, I really believed as though I could feel the book; like it I was living inside of it – and it inside of me.

Years later, I still feel this way.

3.)    The Buddha of Suberbia – Hanif Kureishi

I read this in one of my second year English classes. My professor was all about pushing us to think outside of socially proscribed and expected norms –  particularly in terms of gender, sex, politics, and academia. (This pretty much blew my nineteen year old mind.)

Set in late 1970s London, this book tackles all of these issues, and more.

I hear the movie version of this is pretty good. I have yet to watch it though.

There are parts of this book that I find so funny, I shake with laughter. There are parts of this book that I find so difficult, I shake with rage.

4.)    Straight Man – Richard Russo

There is a part in the book where the protagonist goes on live television, wearing Groucho Marx style gag glasses and a fake nose, brandishing a terrified, honking goose he’s named Finnie, and threatens to kill “a duck a day!” until he gets his small mid-west University English Department’s budget.

Enough said.

5.)    Tempest Tost – Roberston Davies

Robertson Davies is a Canadian institution.

I could easily recommend any of his books, what with him being a downright genius and all that, but this was the first book of his I ever read, and Mr. M and I took turns reading it out loud to each other, and the whole experience was simply enchanting.

Plus it has one of the best lines I have ever read in my life:

“I do not quite ante-date the telephone.”

Now, taken out of context, it might seem a bit strange, but heck, you’ll just have to read it.

So there you have it folks. Five fabulous feats of literary magic.

I’m curious – what has enchanted you these early Spring days? What has you spellbound?

I’d really love to know.

Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

30 thoughts on “Read my lips (and also these books)”

  1. I love your wedding cake! I just forwarded this to my wife who is a voracious reader. I am currently rereading A Clash Of Kings by GRRMartin for the third time as well as a collection of Conan stories by Robert E. Howard (the crazed stepfather of modern fantasy). Its been slow going on both; I try not to read too much when I am writing a lot because I am terrified of stealing ideas subconsciously. I will start soon on The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett (a friend of mine did the character designs for the author and she got me a signed copy for Saturnalia; pretty exciting stuff) and Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (not really sure how I never read this before).

    1. Thank you! I too adore it. Let me know what your wife thinks about the list!

      Oh GRRM. I have been a long time fan and have this crazy irrational hatred of the miniseries (okay maybe not so irrational because honestly I think it’s pretty crap and I really loathe David Benioff), but I do love those books. Storm of Swords is my favorite. Have you read them before?

      You know, I’ve never read Ivanhoe either, but I have Rob Roy. Let me know how it goes! Also that is pretty darn cool about the Brett books. I haven’t read any of his stuff so keep me posted on that too!

      1. I’ve read all of The Song before, and read Game three times (this is my third time reading Clash and I’ve read Storm twice; its my favourite as well, so much wonderful Sandor Clegane!). I like the series but have hated the first episode of both seasons. I am generally pretty understanding of changes for adaptations but I think a lot of the changes for Game have been unnecessary or somewhat stupid (mostly I feel like the showrunners; who have direct access to Martin and information that’s in his head like that Tyrion is gonna marry Littlefinder and they’ll rule Westeros together by book seven; don’t get that so much of the seemingly small details are actually set up for things to come. Not sure how the events of Storm play out without Edmure and Brynden Tully; but I guess I’ll have to find out).

  2. You should also see My Beautiful Laundrette, if you haven’t! Written by Hanif Kureishi and irected by Stephen Frears…amazing.
    I’m going to put Richard Russo and Robertson Davies on my post-grad school reading list (Mankell is already on it, and I’ve read King and Kureishi).
    I think I need to revisit Green Grass, Running Water though. I read it in second year and I remember I’d never read anything like it before. Or since!

    1. I need, NEED to watch that. I have heard such brilliant things. But isn’t the main character gorge beyond belief? I am so so so excited to talk to you about these books! EEP.

  3. That wedding cake is sooo cute! I just recently read a Good Housekeeping editorial about the love of reading. It was so accurate! Wish I had the link. I have been on a Marilyn Monroe biography kick lately. Random… Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. Hey, no worries! There are so many bloody books in the world it can be completely overwhelming sometimes. My list seems to get longer and longer every day!

      Thank you so much! I loved it like mad. And what a truly lovely thing to say – I am probably the biggest proponent of love ever, and truly believe that there is someone out there for anyone. It’s just taking those risks that can be a little scary, but worth it in the end :) I am rambling now and being extra cheesy, but heck, there it is! :)

  4. I am flabbergasted and generally aghast as well. I’ve never heard of any of those books.

    Damn, more to add to the ever-growing “to read” shelf. :D But that’s a good problem to have.

    I love that wedding cake SO HARD. You both probably just rock together in general. I think we all hope to find our Mr. M.

    1. Hmm, for some reason my reply didn’t post. Anyways, don’t feel bad, there are so many books out there it gives me anxiety! My list grows ever long indeed…

      I’m glad you like the cake! It was my favorite ever. I am like, the biggest warrior for love EVER. I am pretty positive that there is somewhere out there for everybody. :)

  5. I haven’t read any of these titles or authors so definitely going to have to get my rear in gear!

    I’m a big fan of Stephen Lawhead – he’s a British historian with some interest in linguistics as far as I can tell. The result is something akin to C.S. Lewis works; goes into mythology, legend, and plenty of research to make it feasible fiction on an epic scale. :)

  6. The Buddha of Suburbia is one of my favourite books, and the scene where the man is attacked with a pink dildo is one of my favourite scenes in a book ever of all time. I knew I liked you.

  7. I’m giving myself a (very) late education in graphic novels by checking out pretty much everything my library has to offer that sounds even remotely interesting. I already mentioned (or babbled) my love of Castle Waiting in my latest entry, but I just finished the first collection of Charlie’s War, and it’s … enchantment isn’t really the right word for that sort of book, but it certainly held me spellbound the whole way through. Sometimes I find it incredible what words and scribbles can do. And I don’t say “words and scribbles” to play down the talent of the author or artist, goodness knows they’re both talented – it’s just – you know? Someone puts a pen to paper in 1979, and 33 years later I cry when I read about Mick and Lonely, Charley and boy who chains himself to his machine gun. It’s rather amazing. I’d expound more, but I have 23 books checked out, another 10 ready to pick up, and more coming in every day. Must… devour… more books!

    1. Wow! That’s such a cool thing to take on. I bloody well love graphic novels. I think the Preacher series just may be one of the best things I ever read EVER, bar none. I would highly recommend you to check it out if you are interested. That and the Sandman series, also Powers, Fables, anything by Alan Moore…I could go on!

      Enjoy your reading!

      1. Heh. I ended up making an entry on Sandman, thanks to your triggering my memory of that one! I’ve heard of Preacher and actually have the first issue in my “to read” list in my library queue, but I’ve bumped it up since you recommend it – it’s checked out already, but I’ll let you know how I like it when I do get it. Fables I did like for several issues, but I found myself getting less and less motivated to find more. Not sure why. Powers I’ve never heard of, looks like the library only has one random copy in the middle of the series (I haaaaaaaate how prone they are to doing that!!!), but if I see it, I’ll be sure to take a look at it.

  8. Let me start off by saying how amazingly awesome you’re wedding cake was, my eyes ate it up in 5 seconds flat! I’m currently reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, a friend of mine recommended it to me. I’m coming clean, it’s a young adult werewolf drama minus the vampires. That particular dude has really good choices in books and reviews that make me stew in my own envious juices, so I gave it a try.
    More than half way through and I’m not enthralled but what won points was her writing style: prose + teenage hormones = beautiful. After Shiver and I mean a good while after, I’m thinking of resuming my Mercy Thompson binge (urban fantasy with wolves and the works) and take a peek at ‘A Game of Thrones’.
    The Buddha of Suberbia and green grass, running water sounds interesting, I’ll check them out. By the way, I don’t know if you’re aware of this website:, it’s like Book Heaven! Check it out if you if you haven’t already, I’ll have a very hard time believing that you’ll regret it :)

    1. Thanks! It tasted good too :) Let me know how you like GoT, I am huge, huge fan and of course if you like the other two too!

      Also thanks for letting me know about Shiver. I’m always on the hunt for good YA, not only for me, but for my little sister. :)

  9. you mentioned graphic novels. here’s one that i never woulda picked up in a million years (had a graphic novel course in Library school) but was very good: Life Sucks by Jessica Abel. great post!

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