• Francine Cunningham

What I read in January and February 2015

One of my resolutions for 2015 (and probably 2016) will be to read all the unread books in my home library. There are 150. I love books and I keep buying books because I love books but I buy faster than I can read so as of now I am not allowed to buy anymore. I can however allowed to rent from the library and if someone gives me a book I'll add it the ole' library but no more buying. I'll also give every book 50 pages, if after that point I am really not digging it I'll donate it out of my library. I can do this.


I am going to be keeping track of my reading list on this blog. I'll also be posting quotes from my favourites on my Instagram and occasionally on my Twitter.


One, The Bell Jar bySylvia Plath. Ok, so I don't know why it took me until now to read this book. I loved it. The way the voice slowly crumbled from the start to the finish, brilliant. I am going to have to give this book another read for sure.

Two, The English PatientbyMichael Ondaatje. This book was my first Ondaatje experience. If you haven't had that experience yet I would highly recommend it. There are moments in this book that broke my heart and soul. The beauty in the words and images is something I've wanted to capture but has been elusive in my own writing. I wrote poems while reading this book. How could you not?

"The damp fires steam and burn, and the plant-odourded smoke sidles into the bushes, up into the trees, then withers on the terrace in front of the house. It reaches the window of the english patient, who can hear the drift of voices, now and then a laugh from the smoky garden. He translates the smell, evolving it backwards to what has been burned."

Three, Shadows Cast by Stars byCathrine Knutsson. This book was good in the way that it was a dystopian Indigenous YA and that is just cool and needed. It talked about blood quantum politics, hybrid identity issues that a lot of indigenous youth deal with and something I see a lot in my classrooms but there was something missing from the text, something I could not and still cannot nail down. Will I read book two? Probably not. Will I recommend it to youth, yes.


Four, Dressing up for the Carnival byCarol Shields. The stories in this collection were weird and off kilter and that is what made them perfect. I liked some more than others and my favourite was about keys. I love keys. I collect keys. I use keys in my paintings.

"The little key she found at the Harbour Heights Laundromat was bent from being tossed about in the dryers drum. Some of it's particularity had been rubbed away from friction. She straightened it the best she could between her fingers, dropped it into her purse, and carried it home. Who knows when she might be confronted by a lock she can't open?"

Five, Whale rider byWiti Ihimaera. I had the pleasure of working with Witi this fall. He taught me some much needed lessons on writing through an Indigenous lens and filled me with inspiration. This book was graceful. It was beautiful and I cried, a lot, while reading it.


Six, Magician's Pawn byMercedes Lacky. This book is one of those books I've read dozens of times. I know the characters so well that when I read it I feel not like I'm reading something but that I am re-living my own memories. I have a few books like this and most of them are fantasy books that I first read when I was in my early teens.


Seven, Frankenstein byMary Shelly. This book is told partially in letters. I love sending letters. It's one of my greatest joys, going to the post box every week with my bundle of postcards and letters for all my family and friends across the globe. I really enjoyed the prose in this book.

"I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me; whose eyes would reply to mine."

Eight, Fight Club byChuck Palahnuik. I am a huge Palahnuik fan. Choke was my first introduction to his writing. Fight Club was my first introduction to him overall though, well the movie. I loved the movie. I loved this book. I think, and I don't say this often, that the movie was spot on and helped to fill in the book in unexpected and different ways. Also, who is excited for Fight Club 2? Me!!

"Crying is right at hand in the smothering dark, closed inside someone else, when you see how everything you can ever accomplish will end up in the trash, Anything you've ever been proud of will be thrown away."

Nine, Islands at the end of the world byAustin Aslan. This book is a dystopian YA set on the islands of Hawaii and finds a young Hawaiian girl using her traditional knowledge to get back to her family when everything falls apart. This book brought up a lot of things I never considered when thinking about the end of the world. Radiation pills—buy some now.


Ten, American Born Chinese byGene Luen Yang. This is a graphic novel that deals with issues of living as a minority and identity issues in North America. I assigned this book to my class of middle school creative writing students this semester. They loved it.


Eleven, The Diary of Anne Frank byAnna Frank.This book is another read dozens of times books. When I was growing up I felt really connected to Anne. Obviously I couldn't know the fear of living in an occupied country with the treat of death over you but she also wrote about being a teenager and growing up and all of the mess you feel inside.

"Last night I dreamed we were kissing each other, but Peter's cheeks were very disappointing, they weren't as soft as they looked. They were more like fathers cheeks—the cheeks of a man who already shaves."

Twelve, Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug byRaymond E Feist andStephen Abrams. This book is like an expansion pack to one of my favourite universes, Midkemia. It's all maps and character drawings and expanded world mythology. This is one of all time fantasy series, there are around 30ish books in it. I've been waiting patiently for the last one to come out. This is something I've followed since I was 15 give or take.

FC

ILLUSTRATIONS AND WRITING BY

FRANCINE CUNNINGHAM

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