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.