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10 books that mean a lot to me

September 7, 2014

which is a facebook tag that’s circulating right now, but i thought i’d move this to the blog so as not to spam everyone. this way, i only spam the people who choose to be spammed. i wrote about this three years (!!) ago, but i’ll come back to it and expand it. some of them are going to stick, but some may not. it’s hard not to feel self indulgent here, because that’s totally what this is – look at my literary genius! – but books have always been one of the most important things in my life so let’s give it a go. so thanks to the lovely carly for nominating me, and here i go – time to be self-indulgent. i’m sure i’ve forgotten tons, but this what first comes to mind:


– not wanted on the voyage – timothy findley

– still one of my favourite books ever, possibly my top book. anything with lucifer as a protagonist is a-okay with me. but in honesty, i have a soft spot for biblical tales, especially warped ones, and i read this all in one day. this made me cry on the subway en route to work. tiffy’s other books never quite measured up.


– the hobbit – jrr tolkien

– this one is important because it taught me to read. dad is a big tolkien fan (whereas i am not) and started to read an illustrated hobbit to me when i was young – estimates vary, but i’m going to put it at 5 or 6. i remember this book fondly because it meant that he would come and sit beside me in bed every night. (the picture of smaug was particularly magnificent.) but the important part is that one day, i decided he was reading too slowly for my tastes, and started reading ahead. (lord knows i probably didn’t grasp some of what i was reading.)


– the bible

– yes, for a heathen like me, i know this sounds jokey. but as one of my friends recently said “it’s a damn good story.” the bible also made me realise that i wasn’t going to continue being a catholic when i left elementary school. it’s a damn good story.


– practical magic

– i still have my battered copy with the pictures of nicole kidman and sandra bullock on the front (n.b.: the book is much better than the movie!) . sometimes writers get sniffy and say “oh gawd really alice hoffman?” but this book is so lush.


– as i lay dying – william faulkner

– i went back and forth between including cormac mccarthy on this list, and i wanted to, but faulkner is the grandpappy of everything mccarthy does, and this was the first book of his i read, and its animal magnetism sticks with me to this day. (“my mother is a fish”)


– kiss of the fur queen – tomson highway

– for years, my mum told me to read this, but i guess i had to make my own way around to it. i brought it up to northern ontario with me when i worked at a fishing lodge, and it was a fitting setting to first read highway, because i was working on cree land and alongside the moose cree first nation band. (i even got a chance to meet highway at the banff centre years later. shradical)


– born with a tooth – joseph boyden

– not the first boyden book i read (three day road was, which i am ambivalent about) but the book that made the most impact on me at the time. (the orenda might take that place now, now that i think of it.) boyden writes about the places of canada i want to know more about.


– eating dirt – charlotte gill

– this was the first real non-fiction book i picked up, and i was fucking hooked, right from the first sentence. it’s dirty (as in … dirt) and tribal and reflects on our country’s nature. this was the book that made me realise  “…. wait. i think can do this, too.” gill writes canada. and i do love canada.


– different loving – william brame, gloria brame, jon jacobs

– i think maybe the advent of 50 shades of grey drove up the demand for books like this, but aside from that, (and not having read 50 shades) this book is a damn revelation. it’s 500+ pages on the different ways that people love/have sex/experience kink/conduct relationships, compiled and written in the days BEFORE THE INTERNET. (face-to-face interviews!) it’s really remarkable and broke open my viewpoint.


– weetzie bat – francesca lia block

– praise to be to my mother for letting my buy this in a toronto feminist bookstore when i was 11 or 12. this is one deep YA book. written in 1989, it delves into AIDS, which i didn’t quite understand at the time – but it was still important for me to read. block writes fairytales for this generation, and her thick, vivid images still stand the test of time for me today.


well, that’s it for me!

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