january 8, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 54  

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A Reading Rainbow of Editors’ Favourite Picks

— 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!

—Mark Polishuk

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.

—Laura Katsirdakis

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting
and Fishing
— 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.

—Maggie Wrobel

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.

—Kelly Marcella



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