The Reading List: 10 Books to Read
Find out what writer Emily Landau had to say about these books this month.
by Margaret Atwood
Bullying has been a hot-button issue recently, but Atwood rendered it with scathing precision more than 20 years ago. Her stinging, merciless depiction of the cruelty of little girls cuts like a knife and rings scarily true, resonating long after the story ends.
A Room With a View
by E.M. Forster
The second season of BBC’s Downton Abbey-a favourite of history buffs and lovers of costume dramas alike-hits North America this month. Brush up on your Edwardian melodrama with Forster’s charming coming-of-age story about a refined young Englishwoman caught between passion and propriety on a trip to Florence.
Consider the Lobster
by David Foster Wallace
Rumours are flying around the lit world that Leonard, a main character in Jeffrey Eugenides’s new book, The Marriage Plot (below), is based on Wallace. As a point of comparison-and for a hilarious, whip-smart read-pick up Consider the Lobster, in which the manic genius compiles a series of raucous postmodern essays that flit effortlessly from Kafka to pornography to John McCain.
Hark! A Vagrant
by Kate Beaton
The cartoonist’s popular Web comic, now anthologized in graphic novel form by Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly, is a dream come true for the bookish hipster (who won’t take Beaton’s serial comic, “Hipsters Ruin Everything,” personally). Beaton’s winning sass is in full play here, riffing on Victorian novels, Broadway musicals and military history.
In the Garden of Beasts
by Erik Larson
Seattle writer Larson has the uncanny ability to turn history into can’t-look-away narrative. His latest is the true tale of a reluctant American ambassador and his freewheeling daughter in Berlin in 1933. Told with all the zip and zest of a spy thriller, the book is a nightmare come to life.
The Marriage Plot
by Jeffrey Eugenides
A long way from his multi-generational mythic family saga Middlesex, Eugenides turns to the comic campus novel here, cleverly spoofing academic tomfoolery as three students stumble in and out of love.
The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick deWitt
No offence to Guy Vanderhaeghe and his latest, A Good Man, but B.C.-born writer Patrick deWitt has put out the best Canadian Western of 2011. His picaresque GG-winning yarn follows a pair of assassin-for-hire brothers busy hunting down a criminal mastermind. It’s idiosyncratic, unrestrained and impossible to put down.
This Beautiful Life
by Helen Schulman
Parents will race to confiscate their kids’ laptops after reading this cautionary tale of Web mischief gone wrong. Schulman’s novel, about a viral video that slowly destroys the lives of an upwardly mobile Manhattan family, gets under the skin, proving as insidious as-you guessed it-a computer virus.
by Adam Gopnik
This fall, Gopnik left his home in New York City to tour Canada for the annual Massey Lectures. If you missed the live shows, their content is collected here in an exploration of our national season from five different perspectives: romanticism, recuperation, radicalism, recreation and remembrance. As he is wont to do, Gopnik casts vivid new light on a time of year that is frequently griped about and taken for granted.
by Emily Brontë
British director Andrea Arnold has helmed a gritty new film adaptation of the finest of the Brontë sisters’ novels, but nothing beats the real thing. This book is commonly read as a love story. It’s not. It’s a twisted, perverse tale of brutality, insularity and chaos, with Heathcliff and Cathy as the architects of each other’s misery-and it’s phenomenal.