The Canadaland Guide to Canada by Jesse Brown (241)

This is a book that is about Canada but is published in America. The benefit of having an American author write about Canada is that she finds all the humorous aspects of our culture and times. I just absolutely loved this book.

This guide digs up everything from buried rage to buried oil, uncovering Canada’s bizarre history and shocking present.

According to the author, we are a beige nation. Canada blurs together into a shapeless, being haze. But is that really true?

Well, no!  Especially for the regular Canadian. But being born to European parents myself, and how colourful their cooking, clothes, and colours are in their homes, I can agree to at least some of that the author is saying.

One thing is for certain, you will never look at a Canadian the same way again without snickering even a bit.

We do have a strange history according to people and cultures that are not Canadian, but which one doesn’t?

What I found absolutely hilarious is how this particular author was able to see Canadians and how certain things are really skewed if misunderstood.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Canada, Culture in Canada | Leave a comment

The Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire (240)

I decided to end this year by reviewing a few graphic novels. It is all in the name of fun. And rounding up this year is hard to do. So, I will end all my many book reviews with these next few books!

This is a very sad graphic novel about Canada’s residential schools. I had no idea that there were so many problems and issues with them. It is really interesting and eye-opening what you learn when a part of your life is devoted to reading!

Chanie Wenjack was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966. He was trying to walk home along the railroad tracks in order to escape the Celia Jeffrey Indian Residential School.

Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where his home was, nor know how to find it. But like so many kids from residential schools, more than anyone else will be able imagine, he tried.

Chanie Wenjack haunts us. His story is Canada’s story. We are the country we think we are. History will be rewritten. All of the Residential Schools will be pulled apart and studied. The next hundred years are going to be painful and unsettling as we meet Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him. In the process we will find out about ourselves, about all of us, and when we do, we can truly call ourselves Canada.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth


Posted in Author from Winnipeg, Cultural Diversity, Culture in Canada | Leave a comment

The Vintage Book of Canadian Memoirs by George Fetherling (239)

I am SO glad that I picked up this book from my local library. It is one of these books that I will treasure for a long time and it makes the Canadian Book Review Challenge even more exciting for me as I get ready to embark on a brand new year of book reviewing in July!

I guess I didn’t know how important literary memoir is in Canada.  There are so many voices including those of Margaret Atwood, Al Purdy, Mordecai Richler, and Michael Ondaatji. These authors were collected into this wonderful book in a unique and wonderful way.

This book is a collector item for anyone who would loves memoir and especially literary memoirs, like I do.

For this timely and distinguished anthology, George Fetherling has selected twenty-two unparalleled examples of the genre, and ahs written a spirited and insightful introduction that sheds light on the characteristics unique to the memoir as a form of important writing.

These pieces are passionate and wonderful. They are a treasure-throve of life, love, and loss.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Margaret Atwood, Memoir | Leave a comment

The Ontario Naturalized Garden by Lorraine Johnson (238)

Who decides which plants are weeks?  Why do North Americans insist on trying to grow a perfect lawn?

How can planting wildflowers contribute to a healthier, global environment?

The author provides insightful and thought-provoking answers to these and other questions in this book.

The book also celebrates the diversity of Ontario’s native plants and teaches gardeners how to break free from the endless weeding, watering and fertilizing problems of fussy exotic flora.

Readers will discover the benefits of native plant gardening such as attracting wildlife and recreating various habitats from prairie pockets to lush urban woodlands.

I loved books about gardening and nature. Whenever I see a book like this, I just grab it off the shelf. And the fact that it is written by a Canadian author is even more reason to read it.

I recommend this book to all nature lovers and those who think a well-quaffed lawn is the most important thing.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Ontario, Book on Nature | Leave a comment

DNA Is not Destiny by Steven J. Heine (237)

This is a brand new book that I found in my local library on the new book’s shelf.  I am SO glad that I read it!

So many of us believe that if we have parents who are prone to certain illnesses that we will automatically be prone to them as well.

However, this is not the case at all according to the author!

Scientists expect that one billion people will have their genomes sequenced by 2025 and as the price drops it may even become a standard medical procedure.

Yet Steven Heine argues that the first thing we’ll do upon receiving our DNA test results is misinterpret them completely. We’ve become accustomed to breathless media coverage about newly discovered cancer, IQ or infidelity genes, each one promising a deeper understanding of what makes us tick.

However, as Heine shows, most of these claims are oversimplified and overhyped misinterpretations of how our DNA really works.

With few exceptions, I tis a complex combination of experience, environment, and genetics that determines who we are, how we behave, and what diseases will afflict us in the future.

So, why do we keep believing that our genes control our destiny?

The answer Heine believes is because we are ill-equipped to deal with DNA results psychologically. So, we turn to biased thinking which yield all the negative results that we would expect.

This is a wonderful exploration of our DNA and about the surprising conclusions about the limits of genetic engineering and DNA testing.

This book is a must read for all of us who wonder if we will experience the same illnesses as our parents. The answers will surprise you.

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Vancouver, Critical thinking, Culture in Canada, DNA, Health | Leave a comment

Hell Going by Lynn Coady (236)

This is a book of nine stories that covers a lot of topics.  It has an amazing depth and breath.

In one of the stories, a young nun is charged with talking an anorexic out of her religious fanatics toys with the thin distance between practicality and blasphemy. A strange bond between a teacher and a schoolgirl takes on ever deeper and stranger as time goes.

In another story, a bride-to-be with a penchant for nocturnal bondage can’t seem to stop bashing herself up in the light of day.

I couldn’t help but squirm as I was reading these stories. It is a book like no other that I read this year. It is a book that will make you take note of the ordinary and extraordinary in everyone and everything.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Posted in Author from Alberta | Leave a comment

Food Rules by Michael Pollan (235)

This is a definitely book on food wisdom. It is a book that you will read and re-read year after year.

Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, this book brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decision about food.

The book is written with the clarity, concision, and wit that has become bestselling author Michael Pollan’s trademark.

This indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page, accompanied by a concise explanation.

The book is an easy-to-use guide that draws from a variety of traditions, suggesting how different cultures through the ages have arrived at the same enduring wisdom about food.

This book is the perfect guide that we need to make proper food choices.

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth


Posted in Author from Ontario, Book on Nature, Food | Leave a comment