Mailbag - April 6

Listeners are recommending books that go well together, after Shelagh suggested pairing books by Richard Wagamese and John Ralston Saul.

Timeline by Michael Crichton and A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I read both during the same period a few years back and found it to be an interesting pairing. Hawking discusses the science while Crichton seems to apply the science in a fictional way.

Another pairing that I enjoyed (read them back to back) was In the Skin of a Lion (Michael Ondaatje) and Fifth Business (Robertson Davies). I found them to flow into each other. Perhaps being set at in the same point in time and both having elements of small town Ontario contributed to this.
Chris Riehl
Scarborough, Ontario



Just heard you talking about pairing books. For years I have made it a habit of reading auto and bi ographies of the same person. Not always easy as there are far fewer of the former. I finish one first (doesn't matter which one) then start the other, keeping the first on hand. I am going along parallel tracks thinking I know where I am going when suddenly the tracks diverge and I am spinning off in another direction. Back to the first version and maybe some research to detect which side I want to take. It becomes a detective-type board game. Might not be for everyone, but I find it not only fun but an interesting glimpse into perception.

M. Louise Williamson

Following your April 4, 2009 program you asked for suggestions of books that should be read together or sequentially. Having returned from a visit to Antigua, I suggest Austen Clarke's The Polished Hoe and Elizabeth Abbott's book Sugar: A Bittersweet History. The legacy of slavery is still with us today.

Valerie Shannon

I was interested to hear your discussion on [truth and] memoirs. As the author of Abode of Love (pub. 2006 in Canada by Goose Lane Editions), my memoir of growing up in a religious cult - my grandfather decided he was Christ - I am only too aware of the pitfalls of honesty. Yes there are some! While my memoir did respectably - published in three countries - and I couldn't in all conscience have written it any other way, I realized at the time, and now, that writing the truth about the dying days of the cult and my experience within it was not going to set the world on fire; no abuse and no weird rituals.

However I made a conscious decision that, in contrast to the other six or so books about the Agapemonites, and despite therefore there was not a hope of getting on Oprah, I would write the truth as I knew it. This was unlike all those other authors who embellished their tale, but who did not possess the one advantage I had - I was an insider, not an outsider. Yes, there are tradeoffs in writing the truth. but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Kate Barlow

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