Brother by David Chariandy, is a story that takes place in Scarborough near the Rouge Valley about two brothers, Michael and Francis. The book is both familiar (about the low expectations that others have for the two brothers based on the colour of their skin) and heartbreaking (in that it seems there is no way out of the cycle of low hopes, dreams and eventual poverty for the family).
As an active resident of Scarborough I have seen (and experienced some) the same things that Michael and Francis have.
A great book for everyone living in Toronto and those who don’t but live in places where the shadows are both inviting and scary.
I can get used to this. It’s early March 2018 and I’ve already read three Terry Fallis books. This last one, Poles Apart (2015), is another tale written in the humourous style Canadians have come to know and love about Fallis’ books.
Just before I started reading this book, I reached out to Fallis to ask him on my podcast. I sat down with him early this week and will be releasing that episode this weekend. So I don’t want to spoil some of the insights that Fallis shared.
However, what I will say, is that Fallis does not disappoint in Poles Apart. It’s both a funny and insightful read. We know the funny. Insightful because Terry explores the feminist movement from the standpoint of a feminist who happens to be a man.
While reading Jason Zinoman’s book, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night . I was reminded of many moments that I got to watch over the years. You see, I was, and remain, a huge fan of David Letterman.
While I stopped actively watching TV in 2000 (I got married and we decided to not get cable) I still followed the Letterman and his show online. I remember sneaking down the stairs every night just before 12:30am to watch his 3 joke opening monologue, Stupid Pet Tricks, calling familiar strangers on the phone, drop stuff off the building and interview Richard Simmons for the hundredth time. I had both of his Top Ten List books and a framed Time magazine cover on my bedroom wall. I even once had tickets to go see his Late Night show in New York City. I wished I actually asked my parents to help me get there. Sigh. And even after I got married I still had his photo in my wallet. Yes. I was a huge.
However, some parts of the book upset me a bit. For example, I always thought the character of David Letterman that I saw on TV was just that. A character. Yet, Zinoman writes that that was actually the real Letterman. I struggle with the notion that Letterman was never satisfied with his show/success or was really angry underneath it all.
Letterman now has his popular Netflix show, My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Thank goodness I don’t need TV to watch!
Thanks Jason for writing this book. And thanks Dave for continuing to make us laugh.
Fahmy is a former CNN and Al Jazeera journalist who was wrongly imprisoned on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization. He would go on to spend over 400 days in prison including Egypt’s infamous prison for terrorists Scorpion Prison.
In today’s climate of “fake news” and the disintegration of local news his story is a chilling reminder that one of the main roles of journalists is to hold power to account.
I could not wait to finish this book so I could finally read another. I’m sure that on another day this book might have captured my attention. But, alas, it did not. Mr. Januska failed to activate my imagination. And this is one of the things I look for in a fiction book.
Many of you who know me know that I am a huge Neil Young fan. To this day, he is one of Canada’s most successful and well-regarded songwriters and musicians. However, when it comes to Canadian rock royalty there is probably no one else who has penned and produced as many hits than Randy Bachman. He has fronted two of the biggest names is Canadian rock: The Guess Who and BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive).
I have had the opportunity to both hear him play as well as listen to him speak. Both live. And here in Toronto. Along with Canadian indie band, The Sadies, he opened for Neil Young a couple of years ago at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This past year, he published a book and was part of a speaker series at the Reference Library in Toronto.
Tales From Beyond The Tap takes an inside look at Bachman’s life. Everything from his songwriting process, his relationship with Burton Cummings and siblings, his popular CBC show Randy’s Vinyl Tap, and his thoughts on the future of the music business and everything in between are covered in this book.
Randy has penned some of rock’s most beloved anthems. Tales From Beyond The Tap is Bachman at his best. A must read for any rock and roll fan.
“the everything store” by Brad Stone is a very in-depth analysis of the beginning of the Amazon story. And, of course, the main actor in this story is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The story begins in the East Coast with Bezos working for an investment house. Starting here, Stone takes us on a journey inside Bezos entrepreneurial mind throughout the humble beginnings of Amazon as it grew into the behemoth that it is today.
I’ve read Accidental Billionairesas well as Hatching Twitter. I’ve even read the Steve Jobs book. “the everything store” is different. This is no soap opera story; although many former employees might tell you that they felt they were in one when they worked there.
Stone’s book is a serious business look at what makes Bezos tick and what makes Amazon as feared by competitors while being admired by entrepreneurs; both at the same time.
To say that I was glued to this Robyn Doolittle’s book until I was finished reading it would be an understatement. It’s taken me longer to start (and finish) blogging about the book than it took me to actually read it.
Crazy Town us the perfect title for this book. It’s not so much as Toronto being a crazy town as it is a play on the bubble that the Ford family has created for itself over a generation.
Everything that you would expect to be in this book is there. Everything. Including the research process and behind the scenes meetings and conversations between Doolittle and her superiors at the Toronto Star.
What struck me the most about this book were two things that have nothing to do with Ford.
The first is the amount of research and discussions that occur before a word is even typed and subsequently printed. For every piece that Doolittle has written there is literally a team of editors, (sometimes) publishers and even lawyers (especially when reporting on Rob Ford) that need to go over her research and submission. Nothing is left to chance and all sides of the story are discussed and dissected. Reading her book gave me a new found appreciation for the news reporting process that the Toronto Star follows.
The second, and most disturbing, revelation has to do with the seemingly archaic laws in Canada surrounding access to information. Our public institutions (government and public services such as police) gather so much information in the name of the greater public good. However, accessing that information is next to impossible for ordinary citizens such as me. And the media? Well, they have the resources and the knowledge on how to ask and what to ask. Yet even they have the hardest time getting access to information.
As a book, Crazy Town has it all. And by all, I mean everything you could ever want to know about Rob Ford. His parents (enterprising), upbringing (silver spoon), siblings (crazy people usually influenced by drugs it seems), career before politics (nada), his brushes with the law (international and usually involving booze) and his current political life (unbelievable).
This October, Toronto will go to the polls to vote for who they want as their Mayor. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. Unless you ask me. However, I do have one suggestion: READ. THE. BOOK.
Every once in a while a person has a dream as a child. That same person grows up focusing on that same goal. Finally that person goes on to experience that dream.
Yes, Chris Hadfield did dream of becoming an astronaut and visiting space. However, this book is not so much about the culmination of a decades long dream. It is about experiencing and living that journey. And that journey is what An Astronaut’s Guide is all about.
Hadfield was an astronaut for 20+ years. Less than a year of that was actually spent in space. The journey and Hadfield’s constant preparation is the basis of this wonderful book.
This is not a feel good book. Nor is it a self-help book. At least it wasn’t for me. An Astronaut’s Guide was an opportunity to get as close as possible to Hadfield as he illustrates his success and failures over his preparation and career as an astronaut.