Spring 2015 Chapters Haul

IMG_4997Oh my goodness, it has been way too long since I did a book post!!!

Where have I been you might ask??? Well, for starters, university picked up speed, and I found that the majority of my time was spent in a little nook of the campus library until late hours nearly every day completing homework assignments, drafting essays, and studying for midterms. Never again will I think that I can take six courses at once (I only completed five though; I wizened up halfway through term and dropped one). If I ever post on here, or on Twitter that I’ve had the brilliant idea of cramming six courses into one term, someone PLEASE comment and remind me of this post, and the pact that I made with myself. Life balance is key, and I tossed that entire concept out the window this past term.

However, over the last few months, I did meander down to the local Chapters bookstore several times to pick up some books to read for when term ended and I had nothing to do, so I figured what better way to get back into the book blogging groove than to do a haul post on all the books I have added to my collection since my February haul post???

So, let’s get started!!!

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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I have to admit, I have not read this book yet, but I hope to crack it open sometime next week once I get through the book I am currently reading (coincidentally enough, a book that will also be featured in this haul post). From what I can gather, this book is set in Paris during World War II. It begins with the story of Marie-Laure, a deaf child, and her father, the master of locks at the Museum of Natural History. The pair flee from Paris to the home of Marie-Laure’s great-uncle, and carry with them “what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.” Simultaneously, the story of a German Orphan named Werner unfolds and, with a talent for building and fixing radios, he becomes part of an academy for Hitler Youth. And, of course, Marie-Laure’s and Werner’s paths will cross.

2. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

IMG_5004While this book was released in 2006, and a movie adaptation was released in 2010, I somehow managed to go quite some time without even knowing this story existed. As much as I don’t like doing this, I unknowingly saw the movie first, but once I found out it began as a book, I knew I had to have it. My boyfriend at the time said that the story resonated with him; he felt like he was in the same position as the protagonist, Craig Gilner. In essence, this is a story about a teenaged boy who wants to succeed in life, which for him means that he needs to attend the right schools and colleges, and get the right job. But this generates too much pressure, and Craig nearly kills himself. So, he checks into a mental hospital, and the story chronicles his time there, where he learns to deal with his anxiety, and what life is all about. After watching the movie, I realized that my then-boyfriend was right, but on a larger scale than he probably meant to be. I find that all teenagers are, to a degree, Craig Gilners. All want to succeed at something, and all fear buckling under the pressure of the expectations they set for themselves and believe others set for them. I found this story to resonate with me too, as I’m sure it does for almost any teenager who feels a little bit lost and overwhelmed in this big show we call life.

 3. Still Alice

IMG_5005I ordered this book online about a month ago when I saw a DVD of the movie adaptation sitting on a local library bookshelf. I read the back of the DVD, and realized what an incredible read the book would be, and I didn’t want to spoil any of the intensity of Lisa Genova’s writing by knowing the plot through the movie first. There is a common misconception that Alzheimer’s Disease only targets the old, the people with grandchildren, the people that live in nursing homes. What this book does is shed some light on the harsh truth that even a 50-year-old cognitive psychology professor at Harvard University can be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I haven’t read this one yet, but I am saving it for a rainy day when all I need is a good read and my cat curled up at my feet. And, for when that day comes, I have the movie on hold at the library so I can pick it up the night before, and watch it the minute I finish reading the last page.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (50th Anniversary Edition)

IMG_5003I have read this book many, many times before, and yes, I already have a copy, but when an anniversary edition of a novel as classic as this one is released, I don’t think there’s really a choice to not get it. It’s one of those books that, while it may not be read, it will proudly sit on my shelf, representing the 50 years of this story being taught in schools, read in book clubs, and heralded as one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest novels.

5. Chasers of the Light: Poems from the Typewriter Series

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Prematurely, I labeled buying this book an impulse purchase. I loved the cover art, and that Heather’s Pick sticker always reels me in. But, upon cracking it open and reading the first few poems, I was completely hooked. I read them all in about two hours and, upon finishing the last poem, I started all over again, reading it for a second time, sure I had missed something. His poetry is an actualization of the phrase “quality over quantity”, with some poems comprised of only two verses. A great many of his poems remind me of the imagist movement, where each poem is a snapshot of a commonplace event, represented with acute detail.  Finding beauty in the ordinary and gestures of love in the subtle are two of his talents, and he uses them to their full extent in these poems. They will leave you spellbound, guaranteed.

6. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

IMG_4998This little book is only 70 pages long, and contains Rowling’s 2008 commencement address at Harvard University. She discusses the value of failure, and the power of imagination, two things that have greatly aided her throughout her life. What I loved about her speech was how thought provoking it was in its simplicity. She told the truth: that there are many benefits that come with failing, and they should be embraced, not avoided. As for imagination, well I think her novels speak volumes (no pun intended) on the power of imagination in changing one’s life. This book has been added to my coffee table collection, and I plan on reading it when I need a little boost of confidence or inspiration that there is always time to do what I love and make a difference.

7. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

IMG_5000This little novella was the winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize and, in the words of A.D. Miller on losing the award to Julian Barnes“It was like losing to Brazil in the World Cup Final.” Now that  is a tribute from one writer to another. I have just started reading this book, but by page 16, I am already hooked. If I didn’t have to get off the bus for work yesterday morning, I would have stayed on for the entire route just to finish this book in one sitting. It is that good. There is something about Barnes’ writing style that makes every line thought provoking. By that I mean that I read a sentence, then pause and ruminate on it a bit before moving on. It’s like I’m scared of missing the genius, but it’s in everything he says, and I want to take it all in. So far an incredible read.

8. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

IMG_5001I actually picked up this book a week before Mother’s Day, hoping to give it to my mother as a gift. Well, ok, I admit it, I read it. I just couldn’t help myself!!! Angelou dedicated this book to the daughter she never had, but to the millions of readers she considers to be a part of her extended family. These short essays provide insight into parts of Angelou’s life, my favourite being the essay that describes the conception and birth of her son. This is a must-read for anyone who loves Angelou’s work, and anyone looking for a Mother’s Day gift.

9. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher and Other Stories by Hilary Mantel

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Hilary Mantel has won the Man Booker Prize twice, an unprecedented achievement; once in 2009 for her novel Wolf Hall, and then in 2012 for its sequel Bring Up the Bodies. Having heard incredible things about these novels, I was so excited to find this collection of short stories at Chapters. I have read some of these short stories already (hence the little pink bookmark poking up out of the book in the picture. Oops!!!) and am in love with her ability to craft characters in such depth and weave their lives together. While I am anxiously awaiting the release of the final book in the Thomas Cromwell Trilogy, this collection of stories will most definitely tide me over.

10. Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

IMG_5006 Now this sounds like an incredible read. I first read about this book online, and was dying to find it in stores so I could add it to my must-read shelf. Mini series, this book chronicles the life of a 12-year-old boy who, in 1988, went home from school feeling sick, and never went back. An unknown illness left him wheelchair bound and unable to speak, yet his mind was awake. This book tells his story of the 14 years he spent in institutions and the people he met there and how he eventually learned to communicate via computer, which changed his life. This book was co-written by its protagonist, who is now happily married and living in the UK.

Well, those are all the books I’ve picked up in the last few months. Now that school is over for the summer and work is slow, I am hoping to make it down to Chapters more often, and actually start reading the books on my must-read shelf.

Have you read any of these books??? What did you think of them???

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February 2015 Chapters Haul

Book haul stackChapters is one of my favourite bookstores, not to mention the biggest one in the city that I live in. It is in this amazing downtown location and it has . . . wait for it . . . three floors!!! Just picture three floors of books!!! Depending on where you live, my three-floor Chapters (with escalator, I might add) may not be impressive to you, but I absolutely love it. There’s even a cute little Starbucks tucked away on the top floor, so it is the perfect place to find a good read, pick up a peppermint mocha, and ease into a comfy chair for an afternoon of reading.

Between Christmastime and now, Chapters has had some insane book sales. For example, while Christmas shopping for my mother this year, I was able to scoop up the newest Stephen king novel, Revival, for a mere $15!!! That’s right, $15 for a hardcover book. The same happened to me with John Grisham’s newest novel for $10!!! Now you see why I love Chapters.

Anywho, so I scooped up quite a few books in the past month or so, and I thought I would share them with you all 🙂 🙂

The first book I picked up was Hillary Clinton’s memoir Hard Choices (check out that sale price tag). As a former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady of the United States, Clinton is an incredible woman who I admire for her independence,success, and service to her country. This memoir chronicles her four years spent as Secretary of State under President of Barack Obama. The author’s note begins with, “All of us face hard choices in our lives, whether it be through balancing work and family, caring for the old or the young people in our lives, or, in her case, serving her country. Yet, Clinton notes, serving her country was never a hard choice for her; rather it was an honour. She had me hooked with the author’s note. Now that is the mark of a talented writer.

The Rosie Project

The next two books I picked up go hand in hand, or page in page, if you will, so I wanted to discuss them together: The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, both by Graeme Simsion. While this book is a #1 international bestseller, I, regrettably, had never heard of it until I saw it poised on a book stand on a Chapters bookshelf. The cover looked adorable, and the little description on the inside cover had me laughing. Basically what The Rosie Project is about is this psychology professor who is absolutely brilliant, but he has fewThe Rosie Effect social skills. Unableto secure a second date, he begins ‘The Wife Project,’ a 16-page questionnaire that he believes will select the perfect wife for him. Then he meets Rosie, a girl who is completely wrong for him according to the questionnaire, but he takes on ‘The Father Project’ with her, using his knowledge of genetics to help her find her biological father. But of course, they fall in love. I have yet to read The Rosie Effect, but I realized in the store that it was a sequel to The Rosie Project, so I bought them both at the same time. Few things annoy me as much as finishing a really good book and then learning it has a sequel that you do not own and have to wait a few days to buy and start reading.

Not That Kind of GirlLena Dunham has a long list of titles including actress, screen writer, producer and director, and with the release of her book Not that Kind of Girl, she was able to add author to the list. While I knew little of Lena Dunham when I saw the book, I was immediately intrigued by the content. The books contains essays that are at times hilarious (such as when she describes looking up and seeing a condom dangling from the leaves of a potted tree), but at times heartbreakingly sensitive (like when she ruminates on platonic bed sharing, or losing a lover). Regardless of whether or not the reader has experienced the same things she has, there is no doubt that what she writes can be related to by almost every woman on some level, and perhaps even some men.

Alice Munro box set

The next five books that I bought actually came in a set. As an Indigo exclusive, I came across a 5-book box set of Nobel Prize for Literature winner Alice Munro’s books, including Friend of my Youth, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, The Love of a Good Woman, Runaway, and The View from Castle Rock. As a Canadian, I feel partially obligated to devour a fair amount of Canadian literature. There’s nothing quite like having someone go, “Oh, you’re Canadian. Do you read Margaret Atwood?,” and just staring at them blankly. (That is not to say that that happened to me [I actually adore Margaret Atwood’s writings] but that’s just an example of the embarrassment that could ensue) However, Alice Munro’s writing is so incredible, and I wanted to have a few of her books on hand so I could just blaze through some of her works. And what better way to do that than with a 5-book box set for $50, with each book being worth about $25 if bought separately.

T.S. Eliot poemsAh T.S. Eliot (Thomas Steams Eliot, to be exact). He is probably my favourite American modernist poet. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” has me swept off my feet into a realm of disturbing imagery and overwhelming insecurity by the end of the first stanza, and the rest of his poems have nearly the same effect on me. I first studied him in a grade 12 literature class that I took back in high school, and then studied him again twice last year in a first year English course, and a second year American literature course. Despite all of that, I still cannot get enough of his poetry, and this edition had such beautiful cover art that I couldn’t resist it. (By the way, all hardcover books were 40% off that day).

Attachments

Attachments is the most recent book that I bought, and it was displayed on the Valentine’s Day table in Chapters. Now I am not a huge fan of the holiday (regardless of whether I am single or not each year), mostly because of the forced merriment, the crowds in public places, and the excessive amounts of PDA (public displays of affection). So each Valentine’s Day, I typically pick out a nice little romance or romance comedy novel and have a good read with a cup of hot chocolate by my side and a cat curled up at my feet. The table had some of the classics like The Notebook and P.S. I Love You, but I was looking for something new. This novel is basically about this man who is hired to survey peoples’ emails for security breaches, and he eventually ends up falling in love with a woman through her emails to a fellow female coworker. I liked how it was a bit of a modern twist on the concept of falling in love with someone from afar, and it’s nice and thin, so I should be able to get through it in one day.

Famous Last WordsAs odd as this will sound, I picked up this book, Famous Last Words By Timothy Findley (yet another Canadian author), mostly because of the staff member who recommended it, Graham. I always go to the same Chapters location, and I purposely seek out his picks, because I end up loving them every time, but they are books that I might not have picked out by myself. This particular one is a post-World War Two novel, revolving around the character of Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, who is originally from the Ezra Pound poem of the same name. I started this book yesterday, and I am already loving the narrative style of Findley’s writing.

Animal Farm

The last book I will include in this haul post is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I so enjoyed reading this book, and it is branded a classic by many people, but I had never owned a copy until a few weeks ago. As shallow as this may sound, I believe part of being “well-read” is having a cultured bookshelf, and by that I mean one stocked with a wide variety of book genres from various time periods and authors, not just young adult vampire novels, and not just the classics. But I believe there should be a healthy number of classics on anyone’s shelf because there is a reason they are so celebrated: they speak to the human condition in a way that was unique for its time period, yet in a way that holds timeless relevance.

Moleskine notebooksFinally, while I was at Chapters just the other day, I picked up some Moleskine notebooks. I know these are quite expensive (these two little ruled notebooks in light violet and brilliant violet came to $12) I find they are so worth the extra money. They come in a variety of sizes, have the softest pages (yes, I am one of those notorious page feelers), and many of them come with elastic fasteners to keep them shut when they are in your purse or backpack so that they don’t flap open and pages don’t get bent. I picked up these ones because I find they are the perfect size for idea books, as I find it so frustrating when I think of a good idea, only to forget it by the time I am able to get to some paper and a pen.

Well that’s it for this Chapters haul post. I hope you enjoyed it, and please comment below if there are any books you think I should pick up the next time I’m at Chapters, or how you found any of the books I featured in this haul post.

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