Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Title: Born a Crime
Author: Trevor Noah
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of Trevor Noah until I read this book. Most people know him as the host of The Daily Show, but I don’t really watch much TV, and so I hadn’t even heard his name when his book was chosen, along with Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o for my monthly bookclub. But I’m really glad that I was led to this book and had the chance to read it and get to know a bit about this guy.

Trevor Noah was born in South Africa in 1984, during a time when interracial unions were a crime punishable with significant jail time. His mother was a black Xhosa woman, and his father a white Swiss man. So you can see where the title Born a Crime came from.

I think it was somewhat inevitable that Trevor Noah would grow up with an exceptional sense of humour after the things he had to live through as a kid. He couldn’t even go out and about with his own mother because the colour of his skin would reveal the crime that his mother and father had committed! Continue reading

Advertisements

Dreams in a Time of War by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Title: Dreams in a Time of War
Author: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

I was glad that this book was chosen along with Born a Crime by Trevor No6716861ah for my monthly bookclub. I haven’t read many books about Africa or by African authors, and I haven’t traveled to that part of the world at all, and I think reading books like these is one of the best ways to learn about the history of different parts of the world.

Thiong’o’s childhood memoir certainly didn’t disappoint me. He grew up in Kenya in the ’40s and ’50s, which was a time of intense turmoil in that country. This book is a collection of the author’s recollections from early childhood right up to the time he leaves for high school. He is a wonderful storyteller, and he expertly weaves in history “lessons” and interesting, engaging stories.

The anecdotes are told mostly from the point of view of the child that the author was when the events happened. I think this lends a charming perspective to the story, and it lets the reader do a bit of their own thinking about what went on. Now I really want to read some more of Thiong’o’s works to see if and how his perspective changed as he grew up and moved to the western world.

I would also love to know more about Thiong’o’s mother, and I wonder if any of his other books go into more detail about her. She is a strong woman. She was kicked out by her husband, basically because her livestock and agriculture were doing better than his at a time when he was down and out. At the same time, she had two sons fighting on opposite sides of a horrible war. And all the while, she encourages Ngũgĩ to always do his best. You get the feeling that she doesn’t even really have a goalpost against which to measure his achievements, because every time he tells her about something she replies with “But is that the best you could have done?” even when he gets into the prestigious high school. Nonetheless, he is inspired and encouraged by her throughout his childhood.

The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett

Title: The Dark Net: Inside the Digital World
Author: Jamie Bartlett
My Rating: ♥♥♥

I heard about The Dark Net in a podcast I was listening to about the horrible things that people get up to on corners of the internet. The author was interviewed on the topic, and it sounded like he had some interesting things to say. I’m sure I must have heard about the “dark net” before, but it didn’t stick and it felt like I was hearing about it for the first time. A world of secret websites where anything goes and you can’t get there using a normal browser? Tell me more! Continue reading

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden

Title: Wenjack
Author: Joseph Boyden
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

WenjackStories about Indigenous Canadians have been my flavour of the month. I started out with Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire, and continued with The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew. My Canada Reads 2017 favourite was The Break by Katherena Vermette (sadly voted out on day one, but that’s another story for another time).

Wenjack tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year old boy who ran away from a residential school in 1966. Sadly, he didn’t know that his family lived hundreds of kilometres away when he set out to walk home along the train tracks, and he passed away after only a few days out there. Continue reading

The Break by Katherena Vermette

Title: The Break
Author: Katherena Vermette

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

The BreakI hope this book wins Canada Reads 2017. There you go. Out of all of the 6 or 7 longlist and shortlisted books I’ve read so far, this one stands way ahead of the rest in my opinion.

The book starts with Stella, a mother who hears and sees a terrible attack outside her house. With her baby and young daughter in the house, she can’t really run outside to help, so she calls the police. From there, the story slowly and delightfully unravels, with each chapter told from the perspective of a different woman from four generations in the same family. Continue reading

Where I Get Books (Hint: I haven’t bought a book for years)

I don’t really buy books. I share my very small apartment with my partner and two cats, and sadly we just don’t have room for that room full of library that I dreamed about as a child.

The other thing is that I just don’t really tend to read books more than once. There are SO MANY good books out there, and so little time to read them all. Sometimes I hear about people who have read one book many times, and I just wonder how they can possibly have enough time in their lives to do so??!

So here’s the thing: I haven’t bought a book for years! Before you jump on me and assume I’m downloading e-books illegally or something, I don’t do that either. No, I get all of my books in a legal and legitimate way, I just don’t feel the need to buy a physical copy of each book.

So, where do I get my books? Well, I’ve decided to make this post about where I get my books. Continue reading

CBC Canada Reads 2017: Meet The Contenders

I’ve decided to following along at home with the 2017 CBC Canada Reads. When CBC announced the 15 books on the longlist, I chose 8 of them that appealed most to me, and I was able to get through 5 of my picks them before they announced the 5 contenders yesterday (January 31, 2017).

Yesterday, CBC announced the 5 contenders and the 5 Canadians that will be defending them. Luckily for me, 2 of the books I read are now in the final 5: Fifteen Dogs and Nostalgia. One more of the final 5, The Break, was on my list to read, but I wasn’t able to get it from the library in time. Including The Break, I’ve got 3 books to read before the competition begin on March 27th.

So, in case you haven’t seen the list splashed all over the blogosphere yet, here is a little bit about the 5 contenders and their defenders for CBC Canada Reads 2017: Continue reading