book love: ryan

hello, i’m back, and with photos to share!

a couple weeks ago, i photographed ryan for my book love project, and was absolutely delighted in his choice of reading material!  not only did he choose the princess bride, but he and i have the same edition of hitch hiker’s guide, and the most perfect part is that both our copies are library discards.

enough talk, though: here he is, in all his beardy blond glory!


falling in love with ‘the silent world’

on a whim, i picked up the jacques cousteau classic the silent world.  although he was a native french speaker, he wrote the book in english, and i was shocked at how similar his prose is to the (translated) works i’ve read by antione de sainte-exupery, wind, sand and stars in particular.  the story of cousteau and his team, exploring the oceans as the first ‘menfish’ is so captivating; i had never before considered those early days of sea exploration and how little we truly knew about the world beneath the waves.

although cousteau later gained the reputation of a conservationist, in seems many of his undersea experiments involve harming animals out of curiosity.  will the shark die if you harpoon its head?  why not just harpoon this whale and see how long it takes to die?  oh, you’ve discovered a colony of monk seals, a species thought to be extinct for 300 years, so  why not kidnap (his own words) a juvenile and raise it for a couple months until you realise how vast its appetite, and then release it to a zoo?  although some of the things his team did, such as dissecting manta rays, led to greater scientific understanding of the species, many of the incidents served to highlight the difference in attitudes toward animals then and now.

anyway, that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book–i adored it and wished there was more to it, but that’s always the way with a good book.

One Sunday morning in 1936 at Le Mourillon, near Toulon, I waded into the Mediterranean and looked into it through Fernez goggles.  I was a regular Navy gunner, a good swimmer interested only in perfecting my crawl style.  The sea was merely a salty obstacle that burned my eyes. I was astounded by what I saw in the shallow single at Le Mourillon, rocks covered with green, brown and silver forests of algae and fishes unknown to me, swimming in crystalline water. Standing up to breathe I saw a trolley car, people, electric-light poles. I put my eyes under again and civilization vanished with one last bow. I was in a jungle never seen by those who floated on the opaque roof.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to know that our lives have been changed, to discard the old, embrace the new, and run headlong down an immutable course. It happened to me at Le Mourillon on that summer’s day, when my eyes were opened on the sea.

book love: janna

another segment in my slowly-growing book love series; janna was rad enough to let me take her photo in her favourite coffee shop.  i had a great afternoon hanging out with her and chatting over coffee.

and in her own words, why she chose these books:

Dungeon World: This is the core rule book for an indie tabletop Role Playing Game I bought off Kickstarter last August. It’s a game that aimed to bridge old-school dungeon crawler games with modern mechanics, and, reading it, I feel it was quite successful. It’s one of my favourite books right now because it inspires me. Almost every page in it sparked an idea. I haven’t felt so overwhelmed with creativity in ages. It has been a phenomenal story springboard for me and I’m actively channeling it into writing fiction and planning game worlds.

The High Window (Raymond Chandler): American Noir detective fiction from the 30s and 40s is probably my favourite fiction genre. Raymond Chandler is one of the top names in it and wrote a series around a private detective named Philip Marlowe. The High Window is the third book in the series and is one of my favourites because it’s one where you actually learn a lot about what it is that motivates Marlowe to lead the life he does, but also what cripples him from participating in a “normal” life. It’s particularly fun because he never actually TELLS you anything, the reader is actively puzzling it out based on Marlowe’s actions, many of which he simply does but refuses to justify or explain, even to himself (it is a first person narration). I love books that are also puzzles.

The Plague (Albert Camus): I have not actually read this book yet. I started it the morning this photo was taken. And it is that, the newness and mystery of this book, that qualifies it as a favourite. There’s very little I love more than a mystery bound between two covers.

Make Room! Make Room! (Harry Harrison): Make Room! Make Room! is a dystopian thought experiment on overpopulation written in the 1970s with an underlying argument in favour of birth control and sex education. The first time I read this book I was completely awed by it. It is everything I have ever wanted to write. It’s bleak and hopeless, and the characters are pathetic and sad but hopeful and proactive, and in the end life is just this indifferent juggernaut that steamrolls everything and reminds the reader of both the resilience of the individual, their adaptability, and the complete meaninglessness of anything they could possibly do.

Catch 22 (Joseph Heller): One of the most absurd and disturbing books I’ve ever read. It’s about some fighter pilots stationed in Italy during WWII who are all steadily being driven insane by the absurdity of the war and the army. It very steadily pushes from hilarious to horrifying, to the point where, by the time I hit the 2/3 mark and the story really starts going to hell, I would often have to put the book down just to keep from throwing up. Spectacularly powerful story, especially if you are like me and love war fiction or non-fiction.

book love: malloreigh

in her own words, this is why malloreigh loves the dispossessed:

The Dispossessed is my favourite book of all the books I love. It’s got everything I like in it. It’s speculative science fiction, which to me has always been the most interesting form of fiction because it makes a comment on our lives today and extrapolates our world in a certain way to project a vision of our future. Even the campiest science fiction contains within it an understanding of human nature, of politics, of our relationship with technology, with each other, and with Others. The Dispossessed, specifically, takes a critical look at an anarchist utopia and says some interesting and, I think, fundamental things about human nature while doing so. In this book, Le Guin imagined a society without gender differences and hierarchy, without a sense of private property, and in doing so pointed out things about the world we live in today that are otherwise difficult to see. Plus, it’s fantastic science fiction written by a woman, and a feminist at that. There are not a ton of female science fiction writers, and Le Guin is one of the best ones out there.


book love: erika

a few months ago, i started doing a project where i take photos of people and their favourite books.

this is erika, a youth librarian who reviews ya books on her blog, YA OR GTFO !  she chose the collected ‘his dark materials’ trilogy: books so beautiful they make my heart ache.

she says:

“I love Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials more than any other book I have ever read. It is one of the most wholly original and fascinating fantasy worlds I have ever encountered (external souls in the form of shape shifting animal familiars! armored bear father figures! angels made of pure consciousness! millions of worlds existing in the same space, only separated by a veil that can be cut by a magical knife!), but for all its fantasy the resonance of this story lies firmly in its exploration of the nature of our existence as human beings. Pullman marries heavy philosophical concepts with one of the best fantasy adventures stories ever written. It is, quite simply, the best.”



(as an aside: if you are in vancouver and want to be part of this project, drop me a line!)

much love monday: son of the morning star

okay, i adore this book. i first read it maybe 4 years ago, and swooned over it then. i just began re-reading it, and for the first fifty pages i was like ‘why did i even like this’

OH YEAH cause evan s. connell is a boss of a storyteller. it may be a surprise to find out that i adore a book about the battle of the little bighorn but this shit is moving. evan s. doesn’t just examine the battle. he explores the lives around everyone involved, even going into etymology of the plains tribes who appear in this book. he paints custer as a deeply flawed man, cruel and vain, hated by nearly everyone he comes across, not as a hero or a victim to native brutality. he reconstructs the world these people lived in: institutionalised genocide against native peoples, the momentum of westward expansion, how furiously native peoples fought back against the loss of their entire way of living. he even goes into detail about the lives, customs & etymology of native groups, which is so important in shedding light and giving context to these events.

and his writing is so dreamy. i’m such a romantic at heart. “He stands forever on that dusty Montana slope.” just kills me. i don’t know what it is, but…damn. this book is painstakingly researched and offers diverse sources and weighs them against each other before taking a stand. such a thing can only appeal to me!

or this:

What a flamboyant, outrageous figure. What a sense of himself he had. He must have considered himself immortal, at least when his hair was long, as invincible as Beowulf or Sigfried or Harold Greatheart. He sprang from that race of blue-eyed, long-nosed devils who once upon a time trotted arrogantly through cold black forests with the North Sea in their veins; and being who he was, he must have felt their eyes on him as he galloped across the American prairie, strawberry curls flowing in the wind. Even his weapons–Remington sporting rifle with octagon barrel, two self-cocking ivory-handled Webley Bulldog pistols, a hunting knife in a beaded scabbard–everything about him contributed to this image.

more poets should write history books.

much love: reading buddies

i love my bookish friends like mal (pictured above) and courtney (with whom i don’t have any reading photos) who can pull out a book anywhere, anytime, and we can read together.   i spent most of this labour day weekend reading, part of it while at a local music festival with mal and a bunch of other friends.  it felt so good to be bookish. ❤  PLUS ‘blink’ is incredible, holy fuck.  i’m 100 pages in and it’s already blown my mind so many times.  you should read it if you like books that are a) informative and b) SO GOOD.