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James McCann -- Night Table Recommendations

Tuesday, Aug 03, 2010 at 4:19pm

The question I get asked the most is, "Why write for young adults? Why not write grown-up books?" Usually I hum and haw my answer, but when I reflect upon my current reading list I realize the answer is simple: I write what I read. This isn't to say that I don't read grown-up books, but when I do they are usually titles that are inspired by the YA novels I've enjoyed. (This will also explain why I check under the bed for monsters and can't sleep with the closet door open...)

Currently, this is the reading that has occupied my free time:

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Tom Jokinen's Night Table Recommendations

Monday, Jul 19, 2010 at 7:41pm

I keep fat books on my bedside table for the nights I can't sleep and thin books for the nights I can, when I'm too tired for more than a page or two. In fact I fall asleep easily so the fat books never get read. They exist as pure potential or myths, the Loch Ness monsters of the books I own. I may never read them but it's important to know they're there in case I ever do, but I won't. Meanwhile the thin books never get finished because I can't remember what I read the night before and I end up starting again, every night in the same place, falling asleep after two pages. I should stick to TV. Anyway, here are my poor neglected bedside books:

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Erica Jantzen -- Night Table Recommendations

Friday, Jul 09, 2010 at 9:53am

To many people, Central Asia is a far-off part of the world that conjures up images of the fabled cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, the wild exploits of Tamerlane, and the legendary Silk Route. It was also the site of Stalin's cruelest deportations, and more recently, the site of political unrest.

By a quirk of history, my parents were born (around 1900) in the beautiful, fertile Talas Valley of Kyrgyzstan, one of the countries in the area of Central Asia formerly known as Turkestan. In 1929, when confronted with Soviet land reform and facing loss of life or deportation, my parents fled the country of their birth-consequently sojourning in five other countries. They grieved the loss of their cherished homeland until the end of their days.

We, their children, were born in three different continents and lived in our respective countries only a few years. Consequently, the meaning of a homeland held little significance for us. What made Kyrgyzstan so special for our parents? I was determined to find out and listened to the stories the relatives told who left Kyrgyzstan seventy years later. The result is my book Six Sugar Beets - Five Bitter Years (2003), the story of my aunt who survived the Stalin era. I travelled and I taught in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan and wrote Sheer Survival: From Brazil to Kyrgyzstan (2007), my memoir and the writings of my parents. It was a delight to translate the biography of my relative Hermann Jantzen who spent most of his years in Kyrgyzstan-my book In the Wilds of Turkestan (2009).

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Leslie Vryenhoek -- Night Table Recommendations

Tuesday, Jun 29, 2010 at 4:26pm

My nightstand is rich with short story collections-and why wouldn't it be? Bedtime is the best time for short fiction, which can pack a satisfying wallop without the risk of keeping you up all night.

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Rosie Chard -- Night Table Recommendations

Wednesday, Jun 23, 2010 at 3:27pm

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Not quite knowing what is going on is one of the most pleasurable aspects of Inherent Vice. Private eye Doc Portello, occasionally emerging from a fog of marijuana smoke, somehow manages to decipher a trail of increasingly convoluted clues that bring him ever closer to solving the mystery of the enigmatic Golden Fang. There's a lot happening, a tangle of motives, an undercurrent of melancholy and a deliciously dodgy cast of characters all negotiating 1970 Los Angeles, but I was perfectly happy to just tag along with Doc as he drifted through his lonely, yet strangely enviable life, reflecting on every little pleasure that presented itself.

The Rapture by Liz Jensen

You can feel the heat coming from Liz Jensen's apocalyptic thriller from the first page. Set in a stifling twenty-first century England it tells the story of a world on the cusp of disaster seen through the eyes of Gabrielle Fox, a distressed art therapist who is already trying to deal with her own history of personal calamity. If this incendiary mix of psychiatry and global warming were not enough to tempt us Jensen gives us Bethany Krall, a teenage killer raised in evangelical hellfire, who is in possession of an uncanny ability to predict catastrophes. As the two womens' lives become increasingly intertwined Gabrielle comes to realize that turbulence, even in its most powerful form, obeys specific rules. Tense and haunting, The Rapture is a thrilling read that remained in my thoughts long after I had reached the final page.


Rosie Chard is a British writer and landscape architect who immigrated to Canada in 2005. She now lives in Winnipeg, where she divides her time between writing and garden design. Her first novel, Seal Intestine Raincoat, was published by NeWest Press in Sept 2009.

Categories: Reviews, Discussions, Authors
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