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Radio West Reading List

Book recommendations from Radio West listeners, in their own words. Plus, recommendations from our Radio West Reads guests (at bottom of entry).

From Gary Ockenden:

The Wars, by Timothy Findley (1977)
The story of a young Canadian officer in World War I - filled with evocative imagery, the stifling world of early 20th century Toronto...and coming of age.

Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat (1963)
You've seen the movie? Now read the book (nature, the North, humour...tick, tick, tick)

We So Seldom Look on Love, by Barbara Gowdy (1992)
A collection of short stories by a writer who goes to the edges of human behaviour...and pulls it all back into 'normal' (and love in this book). Necrophilia done tastefully ... go figure!

My Present Age, by Guy Vanderhaeghe (2000)
You may have read his epic books on the early west in Canada. This isn't that! This is Ed's story - unemployed, the wrong side of 30 and wandering between a rampant imagination and facing his past. Dark and tasty, like a good red wine that's surprisingly cheap...

The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Towes (2008)
A writer of Mennonite descent, she does the thing many Canadian writers don't easily do (in my humble opinion). She makes me laugh out loud. And this road trip story will not disappoint. Go for the ride...

From Andy Wilson:

Cool Water (called Juliet in August in the U.S.), by Dianne Warren (2010)
It's a beautiful story set in modern day, rural Saskatchewan.  I couldn't put it down, but didn't want to finish it either, which is a great dilemma to be in. 

From Deborah Leonard:

A Handful Of Time, by Kit Pearson (1987)
I like this book because it's about a girl named Patricia who spends her summer with her cousins who tease her. Then Patricia finds an old watch and she finds herself back in time of when her mother was twelve years old. 

From Glow Lemon:

The Last Cowboy, by Lee Gowan (2004)

From Penny Baughen

Best Laid Plans, by Terry Fallis (2007)
Perhaps it is not 'literature' but it would be difficult to find a more entertaining read. It has become my gift of choice to book loving friends and family.

From Denise Tupman

The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence (1964)
Every Canadian should read this classic more than once.

From Sue Cooper:

The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, by M.G. Vassanji (2003)
Set in Kenya, it is the story of the Indian immigrants living between native Africans and the White cultures. The setting could be in Canada in so many ways with the vast number of immigrants from so many countries trying to find their way in this country where First Nations have been pushed aside by Europeans. They too must find their space in the in-between world.

From Lavern Butchart:

Too Close to the Falls, by Catherine Gildiner (1999)
Such an entertaining memoir of her childhood as a pharmacist's daughter.  Her growing up story in Niagara Falls in the 1950s was full of laugh out loud moments.  I loved the many connections I had with my own growing up with a more old fashioned approach. A definite recommended read.

From Lise Le Bel:

The Birth House, by Ami McKay (2007)
I love this book on so many levels: it is about maritime history, it is about birthing history, it is about women's history and it is about relationship with the self, relationship with the past and relationship with the future. It delves into old world medicine meets new. It delves into women's sexuality and the struggle women have to retain control over their own bodies. It is a beautifully and masterfully told story with an evolution of a female character rarely seen in fiction. I appreciate the author's bravery and clever handling in her story telling when dealing with some of these tricky subject matters. I have read it several times and continue to get more out of it each time I do. Not only do I recommend to people the book I have given it as gifts. If you have not yet read it I highly recommend you do!

From Claude Desmarais:

In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje (1987)
So many to choose from, but I have go with this one.

From Steve Mroszczak:

Chump Change, by David Eddie (1996)
Hilariously poignant novel of a struggling writer and young man.

From Diane Taylor:

A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry (1995)
Mistry writes so well about the Indian situation. His language allows the reader to create very vivid images in his/her mind.

River Thieves, by Michael Crummey (2002)
He is able to instruct us about early Newfoundland/Canadian history in a powerful way through great prose and wonderful events.

From Trevor Salloum:

Decisions, by Jim Treliving (2012)
I just finished reading a few books by the stars of Dragon's Den. This was my favourite.

From Jack Mawle:

The Rainbow Chasers, by Ervin Austin MacDonald (2008)
Non-fiction, an account of a pioneer and his three sons, the original settlers of the Bridge Lake country in the East Cariboo  in the early days of the 1900s and all their trials and tribulations to do with ranching, homesteading, trapping etc.  I highly recommend it.

From Pat Nelson:

Creating Room to Read: a story of hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, by John Wood (2013)
By a former Microsoft Executive who gave up his job to start Room to Read, an NGO that is building schools, libraries, funding education for girls publishing children's books in the local languages of the countries it is working in.  In just over 10 years it has built more than 15,000 libraries in countries with the highest illiteracy rates in the world.  The book was published this month. It as inspiring read!

From Doug Revel:

Adventures in Solitude, by Grant Lawrence (2010)
He managed to share his feelings of having a family cabin and my family has one and I was able to relate with him.

anything by Mike McCardell
He just has an interesting way of looking at life and being a professional story teller.

Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe books

From Rob LaBelle:

Empress of Asia, by Adam Lewis Schroeder (2006)
It is a superb story of a man who revisits his past experience as a member of a ship's crew (the the 'Empress of Asia') during World War 2 who is captured, escapes and then hides from the Japanese. The story is told from his perspective as a old man seeking to reunite with the man who helped him many years ago while giving a real account of his epic journey at the time of the War. It has a compelling plot, relate-able characters and keeps you on your toes until the end. Nothing like a local author serving up first class literature.

From Catherine Disbery:

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese (2012)
It is a vivid, engaging, and dramatic story.  The bush of northern Ontario comes alive, but it is alarming to read how the knowledge and spirit of the people who lived there for thousands of years are about to be destroyed in the story.  I am aware of the tragic abuse suffered by Aboriginal children in residential schools, but Indian Horse brings this history alive and touches me deeply. 

From Moni Schiller:

Pinboy, by George Bowering (2012)
George Bowering's memoir of growing up in Oliver.  It's wonderful, especially for someone like me who attended the same school and had many of the same teachers he mentions.

From Tracy Knight:

Captain Correlli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières (1994)
I know men and women that have equally enjoyed this incredible tale. I crave finding books as good as this!  And don't watch theories or let it discourage you... The book is different and amazing.

From Gillian Bakker:

Dear Life, by Alice Munro (2012)
Sometimes I need the comfort of a sure thing, so I'm reading this. I am, of course, not disappointed.

From Dianne Graham:

Anything from Alan Bradley in his Flavia da Luce mystery series.
Another great Canadian author and books which are enjoyed by kids and adults alike. My husband and I can hardly wait to read his latest book.

From Sherry Dewey:

Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2008)
This book was so powerful. Following the author's struggle with Islam, her life in Somalia, Kenya and Holland and her relationship with her clan, parents and siblings. Truly my best read in the last few years.

From Betty McKinnon:

The Forest Lover, by Susan Vreeland (2004)
A book I strongly recommend for all Canadians, especially British Columbians who want a better understanding of Emily Carr's life and works (in novel form). The well-researched writing takes you to early life on the west coast and profoundly captures the racial divide between European Canadians and the First Nations. You feel yourself almost walking alongside Emily as she explores the amazing coastal forests, and feel her sense of injustice for how her First Nations friends are treated. As you read, you feel the energy of the potlatch ceremonies and the fear that erupts as the police disrupt the people and decide at their whim whether to take away a few children to a residential school, or to take away the band chief for punishment. The painterly descriptiveness of Vreeland gives rich meaning and depth to famous Emily Carr paintings and also explores her life in France and collaboration with other great artists. Great writing! Great story!

From Ian Dewey:

A Geography Of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by Eric Weiner (2008)

The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, by William Thackeray (1844)
One of the all-time favourites, some 200 years since.

From Shelley Wood:

Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann (2009)

From Jane Maskell:
I hate happy endings!! I want something gritty and something real. I'm not so much plot or character driven as most people. I just like really good writing. 

A Long Long Way, by Sebastian Barry (2005)
About the Irish during the First World War.

Fall On Your Knees, by Ann-Marie MacDonald (1996)
One of my all-time favourite books. The first line got me: "They're all dead now." Had to
keep reading! :)

Here are the recommendations from our Radio West Reads guests, featuring a broad range of light reading, high-end literature, and kids' books:

From UBCO Writer in Residence Erin Mouré:

Poetry by Federico García Lorca (Spanish poet who died in the Spanish Civil War)

From panelists Barbara Jo May, Adam Schroeder, and Alix Hawley:

Godless but Loyal to Heaven, by Richard Van Camp (2012)

The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, by Geoff Meggs and Rod Mickleburgh (2012)

The Tale of Two Bad Mice, by Beatrix Potter (2004)

The Portable Twentieth Century Russian Reader, edited by Clarence Brown (2003)

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, by Adam Rex (2006)

2666, by Roberto Bolano (2004)

Up in the Old Hotel and Other Stories, by Joseph Mitchell (1992)

Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Flowers in the Attic, by V.C. Andrews (1979)

Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt (1990)

The Stone Angel, by Margaret Laurence (1964)