Hi everyone! As St.George’s new Library Clerk I’m extremely excited to be a part of the school’s library team. I’m also excited about sharing some of my favorite books with all of you, students and faculty. The senior library has so many great books but I’ve found six great ones on the shelves that I’d be happy to recommend. Ready? Let’s go!
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – by Michael Chabon
My love for both New York and comic books come together in this 2000 novel by author Michael Chabon. The novel follows the lives of two Jewish cousins (Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay) before, during, and after World War II. Kavalier and Clay join forces to co-create the fictional anti-fascist comic book hero known as the Escapist. Chabon has an amazing talent for combining tragedy with comic moments, and the lushly written Kavalier & Clay does not disappoint in its exploration of the human struggle for personal liberation. Don’t let the 600+ pages intimidate you though; this is a great read, filled with suspense and adventure, just like a real comic book would be.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close –by Jonathan Safran Foer
I had never read Foer’s first novel (“Everything Is Illuminated”), but I picked up his second work of fiction simply because it promised to explore all the rich neighbourhoods of my favorite city: New York. Okay, I promise this will be the last time I mention New York.
Oskar Schell is not your typical nine-year-old. He is an inventor, a tambourine player, a Shakespearean actor, a jeweler and a pacifist. When he finds a mysterious left by his father (who died in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11), Oskar begins to search through all five of New York City’s boroughs to find the one lock that the key will open. His journey takes him through Central Park, to Coney Island, to Harlem and to the Empire State Building, to name only a few places. Oskar is an inspiring character; he is heartwarming, frustrating, hilarious and more than capable of holding your attention until the very last page.
(Note: the library has both of Foer’s books on the shelf in a single volume)
Fight Club – by Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club is the novel that not only kicked off my interest in reading, but it is also the book that inspired me to start writing. It still inspires me to this day, and the book remains one of the most original and incendiary stories I’ve read. Chuck Palahniuk tells the tale of a disillusioned young man who is frustrated with his job, his relationships and with society as a whole. Relief comes in the form of Tyler Durden, the intensely charismatic inventor of Fight Club, a secret after-hours boxing match held in the basements of bars. But there’s so much more to Tyler Durden and Fight Club is not quite as it seems.
If you’ve never read the book or seen the movie I highly recommend Fight Club.
Happiness – by Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson is a Canadian author best known for his works of non-fiction, but his first attempt at fiction is an incredibly memorable and often hilarious one. The story follows Edwin de Valu, an overworked editor at a major publishing company. Edwin is struggling to find a hit book and in desperation he grabs the first thing that comes to his desk (a self-help manuscript titled “What I Learned On The Mountain”) and submits it rather nonchalantly. Unexpectedly, the book becomes the number-one all-time bestseller, and its solutions for finding true happiness seem to actually work. But is the world becoming too happy? Are people in such a state of euphoria that they won’t strive for anything more? Edwin begins a quest to find the book’s mysterious author in the hopes of putting an end to what is being called a plague of happiness.
A funny book that is a riot to read, Happiness has its share of social commentary and it takes a look at what the world might be like if really could be truly happy.
jPod – by Douglas Coupland
Some people say jPod is merely an updated but inferior version of Coupland’s earlier book, Microserfs. But I’m of the party who found jPod vastly superior in both story and jocularity. The novel follows Ethan Jarlewski and his five co-workers as they fight through bureaucratic nonsense at a Vancouver video game design company (Coupland doesn’t tell us it is Electronic Arts, but the connection is clearly implied). Having come from a similar technology-driven industry, I could relate to a lot of the scenes in jPod and even laughed out loud a couple of times. And if you really knew me, you’d know that I do not laugh easily. Douglas Coupland even writes himself into the story and slyly portrays himself as a callous, cold-blooded villain.
Coupland’s wit has never been sharper and he takes yet another remarkable stab at contemporary life.
Let The Great World Spin – by Colum McCann
Okay, one more book about New York. I can’t help myself. There’s a true story about Philippe Petit, a French tightrope walker who snuck his way to the top of the World Trade Center in 1974 and proceeded to walk between the two towers. While Let The Great World Spin is not necessarily about Petit, he does play an integral role in the novel. McCann smartly weaves together the stories and lives of a few of New York’s residents, each of whom has their own moment with Petit that connect them all. The story’s perspective jumps between many different characters but it works, drawing together all of their hopes and dreams and regrets and mistakes.
Wordy at times, but there is a masterpiece at the heart of Let The Great World Spin. McCann does a wonderful job at letting me into the city again for one more glance.
I hope you’ll take the time to read and enjoy any of these books, and please feel free to come and talk to me about more recommended reads!