A Reading Rainbow of Editors’ Favourite
— George Orwell
It’s fitting that a novel intended in part to warn against the danger
of limiting language that has contributed so many terms into the mainstream.
When someone is being duplicitous, they’re talking in doublespeak. When
someone is looking over our shoulder, we say it’s like Big Brother is
watching us. Even the author himself is a term: a manipulative authority is
seen as “Orwellian.”
This novel of average joe Winston Smith struggling in a politely fascist world
not just holds up over time (Orwell wrote in 1948), but in today’s climate
of big media and big government, it’s more relevant than ever. I suppose
we can at least be thankful the real year of 1984 was not nearly as terrifying
as Orwell’s vision. Then again, Brian Mulroney was elected prime minister
of Canada, Ronald Reagan was re-elected president of the United States and
the Detroit Tigers won the World Series. Nooooo!
Cave in the Snow
— Vicky Mackenzie
Whether you do yoga every single Tuesday and have read all the Dali Lama’s
books, or whether you think Buddhism is all about fat happy guys sitting cross-legged
on little mats, Cave in the Snow will be a fascinating read.
Mackenzie writes the story of Tenzin Palmo, a British woman who
becomes one of the first Western women to be ordained as a Tibetan
Buddhist nun. Palmo then spends 12 years in a Himalayan cave far
from civilization, focusing on her meditation practice.
In addition to being inspiring merely because of her strength
as a human being, Palmo’s story also includes her pioneering
work to achieve equal spiritual rights for women. Take the time
to pick up an extraordinary book.
The Girl’s Guide to Hunting
— Melissa Bank
This little-known collection of stories made a small ripple in
the giant pond of mainstream literature a few years ago, but arguably
did not get the recognition it deserved. The book follows its heroine,
Jane, through childhood into adulthood, zeroing in on various seminal
events, including her father’s battle with cancer and a brief
affair with a much older man.
The title is a reference to the book’s final story, which
tells about Jane resorting to the desperate purchase of a self-help
book in order to “properly” date a man she recently
met. She hunts and fishes, with hilarious results.
Bank’s tone throughout the book is intelligent and witty,
and each story is told in a different style, allowing for easy
and interesting reading. Think of it as Sex and the City with less
shopping and more syllables.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
— Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Marquez’s Nobel Prize winning text is one of the most fascinating
pieces of fiction in the last 100 years.
Following the story of a mythical South American town as told
through one family, Marquez’s text hits on all of the most
pressing issues of the history of mankind. His fantastic and romantic
tale of the Buendia family describes not only the trying aspects
of individuals and families, but also expands into the personal
effects of wide-sweeping events such as madness and war.
The characters in this story are realistic, often enraging and
endearing all at the same time. Though Marquez’s text covers
a sweepingly large expanse of time and space, his characters bring
the story into sharp focus and reveal the effects history has on
individuals in society.