What a great year for reading! I read over 60 books last year, some great ones (as you’ll read later) and some good ones. I was fortunate to not have read any real duds last year! Let’s hope it stays like that for this year as well.
The best and most important book I read last year was “Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” by Johann Hari. Like the subtitle says, it’s about the war on drugs and it is incredibly informational and relatable. Hari manages to write a book chock full of information that reads more like a conversation than anything else. It was this rhetorical style combined with the information he presented that wonderfully overwhelmed me. There were times I thought that he was just going to come out with the end to his thesis right then and there, but no, more questions to ponder and more stories to tell. If your life is impacted in any way by drugs, then you should read this book; oh, and just so you know, YOUR LIFE IS IMPACTED BY DRUGS even if you don’t do them and your family doesn’t do them. You see, my life is impacted by drugs, the environment I work in is devastatingly impacted by drugs, and if you’re reading this, you most likely know me and so, at the very least by knowing me your life is impacted by drugs. READ THIS BOOK!
I would also like to take a paragraph to mention a fantastic surprise of a novel: “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic dystopian novel that is set partially in and around Toronto, and the great lakes. The main character in the story is an actress with a Traveling Symphony in an altered world. I’ve never read a post-apocalyptic novel where the main character was an entertainer and that element of their life was important and critical to their life in the world of the novel. As an artist of multiple disciplines, this delighted me to no end. I feel that this is something sorely missing in serious depictions of dystopian futures. Sure, some may not include it on purpose, but mostly I think a lot of authors don’t include it because they don’t think it’s important, and yet, without artists, where would they themselves be? It was something that delighted me in the intensely amazing (although very disturbing) 2013 masterpiece “Snowpiercer“. In that movie there is, in the tail section of the train, an artist and his role is vital to the health of that section of the train. It’s never explicitly stated “he’s important because he’s an artist and what he does is important”; it’s subtle and perfect instead. So, that having been said, give “Station Eleven” a try if you like science fiction or dystopian futures or books where Toronto is a major setting.
I’m really looking forward in 2016 to reading the “Lost Time” series by Damien Boyes. It’s a series of 5 novellas (3 of which have been released as of the time of this writing) taking place in Toronto in 2058/59. Having read the first one (and really enjoying book 2 right now) I can honestly say that I can’t wait for the rest of the series! The first book deliciously reminded me of Gibson’s “Neuromancer”. Like Gibson, Boyes trusts his readers to pick things up as they go along and doesn’t feel like he has to explain everything. Unlike Gibson though Boyes doesn’t alienate his reader either, setting clues and examples along the route without pandering or condescending or dragging out unnecessary exposition. If you are a science fiction fan after the likes of Gibson or Pillip K. Dick then I think Boyes’ “Lost Time” series could be for you!
Well, that’s all for me for this post. Stay tuned for my favorite movies from last year. And, if you didn’t at the beginning, you can check out the full list of books I read by clicking on this ridiculously long half of this sentence.