Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The 2009 Evergreen List

One of my goals this year was to read most of the books on the 2009 Ontario Library Association's Evergreen list. I didn't think at first that all of them would interest me or even if that were the case, I'd manage to get through all of them, but I did! Even better, some friends and family members joined me in reading these through our book club. Here's a quick run-down:
  • Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover's Tour of Canadian Farms by Margaret Webb. Journalist Webb examines 11 Canadian foods and how they are produced, with a focus on sustainable farming. Fascinating stuff. I bought Ambrosia apples for the first time after reading this book. Would like to try dulse too, but not sure where to get it locally.
  • The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe. This is a psychological thriller, gruesome at times, written by Wolfe, a pseudonym for a supposedly well-known Canadian writer. Wolfe develops the characters well and does a good job of portraying small-town Ontario. The second book in the series, The Taken, has just been released.
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. This is a compact but intense story about three people trying to survive during the siege of Sarajevo. The title refers to the real-life cellist, a mostly symbolic character in the novel, who risked his life to play Albioni's Adagio to honour the dead. Definitely recommended!
  • Coventry by Helen Humphreys. Humphrey's spare and poetic style really appealed to me and it was a pleasure to read this story about two women whose lives cross during wartime.
  • Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott. This book, about a middle-aged woman who takes in a family after she accidentally crashes into the car in which they've been living, explores the notion of being "good". It's an engaging story.
  • In Spite of Myself: a Memoir by Christopher Plummer. Plummer's book is long and verbose, with names dropped on every page, but it is full of hilarious anecdotes and a must-read for fans of the theatre.
  • The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper. This is the story of a struggling writer who joins a writing circle and finds himself and his son drawn into the world of a serial killer. Wonderfully suspenseful, scary and disturbing!
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson. The story of a young widow's flight through the wilderness of western Canada and US in the early 1900s, this was my favourite book of the ten. Beautifully written and a page-turner at the same time.
  • Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood. Taken from the Massey Lectures, Atwood's discourse on debt (a historical, philosophical and literary view rather than a financial guide) is thought-provoking and timely. I do enjoy her fiction more, though.
  • Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese. This was the biggest surprise for me. Had never heard of Wagamese but absolutely loved this book about four homeless people who win the lottery. Wonderful storytelling!
And the winner is .... The Cellist of Sarajevo! The Distinction of Honour goes to Coventry. See the announcement on the Ontario Library Association's Web site.

The new Evergreen list will be released in February 2010. However, the other 2010 OLA Forest of Reading lists are available now. Kate plans to participate in the Silver Birch Fiction program again this year.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

re: Webb and apples
She was my instructor for a magazine writing course at Ryerson one year.