What we’re READING

images-2Umberto Eco and Toronto

The late great Umberto Eco was a frequent visitor to Toronto and was especially fond of the Robarts Library at U of T. He considered the city ‘very civil’ and said that after New York and Paris, Toronto would be the only other city he would move to, to live and work.

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– Elizabeth Cinello

IMG_1995Elena of Naples

Who is not reading Elena Ferrante’s quartet of Neapolitan novels? It seems that anyone interested in literary fiction is enraptured by this series of books set mostly in Naples that tells the life story of two ‘frenemies’.

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– Miria Ioannou

H is fGoshawk.or Hawk and for Ho-Hum

A “soaring triumph” they said. A must read. A critical and popular success, winning every literary award in sight. Then what was the matter with our book group?

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– Miria Ioannou

Two Tales of Adoptionadoption feature

‘Not Exactly as Planned’ and ‘Make Me a Mother’ are two very different stories of adoption including the extreme challenges and remarkable rewards.

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– Marlene Webber

wild and puny covers 2Wild and Puny Sorrows

What happens when you’re reading two books at once? Or reading one and listening to the other? Depending on whether the two are the same genre I can either keep them completely separate or start to confuse them.

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– Miria Ioannou

My Secret Sister book cover.My Secret Sister

Twin and adoption studies and stories are gold to those interested in the never-ending nature-nurture debate. As a political pinko, I easily bought into the idea of the transformative potential of environment to trump genetic endowment.

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– Marlene Webber

Book cover, Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

What happens when Susannah Cahalan, a young successful journalist suddenly comes down with inexplicable and seemingly life-threatening symptoms? Marlene Webber reviews the harrowing memoir of Cahalan’s experience.

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– Marlene Weber

All the Light We Cannot See book cover.All the Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, is at the top of many ‘best of the year’ books and was a recent pick of our book group. The general consensus was pretty much total adoration for many reasons.

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– Miria Ioannou

NovelCover - The Search for Heinrich Schlogel Objects

Martha Baillie is a novelist who produces more than a manuscript. In constructing her fiction she sometimes fabricates objects and evidences of the world she is creating.

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– Schuster Gindin

Melancholy Scientist, poems by Nicholas Power.The Boneshaker Reading Series

The Boneshaker Reading Series is an eclectic, vibrant reading series run out of a small neighbourhood library that brings in audiences from all over the city. There is real community feel to the evenings, it is a chance for locals and visitors to come together over great literature.

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–  Lillian Necakov

The Coral Heart coverThe Coral Heart Book Launch

Friends and neighbours mingling over drinks and hot hors d’oeuvres at a cosy bistro. Speeches which were engaging and succinct, and discussed qualities of the writing rather than re-telling the plot. The author reading a very short excerpt, just enough to whet our appetites…

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– Schuster Gindin

 

Americanah book cover.Americanah: The Book About Hair

Recently, our book group got together to discuss Americanah, the new book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about a young Nigerian woman moving to the U.S. for a number of years then eventually returning to Africa. Adichie’s point of view seemed fresh, irreverent and entirely compelling. But really she had me when she said her book was about “hair.”

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– Miria Ioannou

Book in recycling bin.Trash-talking at book group

You know that the book group discussion is going to be intriguing when the person who recommended the book starts off by apologizing to everyone for her suggestion. Relief…

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– Miria Ioannou

Neighbourhood book club

Bookclub books.We have been talking about books and baking for each other for nearly thirty years. I mark the time by remembering that when we began one of us was pregnant with the last of our babies, who has just finished grad school…

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Schuster Gindin

Piecing the Puzzle: The Genesis of AIDS Research in Africa

piecing-the-puzzle-cover-2by Larry Krotz
University Of Manitoba Press, 2012

At Vaughan Road Academy’s 85th anniversary reunion a few of us commented on the men who were missing – our gay friends, dead from HIV/AIDS. Soon after, I met Larry Krotz, a Toronto-based writer and film maker. He told me about his trips to East Africa and his research for an upcoming book.

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– Elizabeth Cinello

Ways of Reading

pile of discarded booksI wonder whether the physical act of reading is essential to the character of the information or ideas that are read. How is reading about a car accident different from seeing it or hearing? When we listen to a lecture or a poem- is the content impacted by the way in which it is delivered to our brains? What is gained or lost, if anything?

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– Minda Sherman

The Stop: How the fight for good food transformed a community and inspired a The Stopmovement

By Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis

The inside story of how a local west end Toronto food bank reinvented itself as a community food center, and moved from charity to justice and joy.

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Nature And The City

Nature and the City bookcoverBeauty Is Taking On New Form

Proceedings of the Bologna Conference for the International Association for Aesthetics (June, 2012)

Edited by: Jale Erzen and Raffaele Milani                             Published by: Parol, Sassari, Italy, 2013

It’s quite a coincidence that as we launch Living Toronto, a number of old friends have been involved with the publication of a book that tackles issues facing cities everywhere. Can a city have a soul? In her introduction, co-editor Jale Erzen, artist, art historian and founder of the Turkish Association of Aesthetics, advises us to look to the east for alternative aesthetic models.

Right from the start, there’s a warning from Gao Jianping, research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Describing the economic boom in the cities of Eastern China, in his paper The Origin of Particular Characters of a City, he says rapid growth can put a city at risk of losing its character. He refers to a Chinese way to put it: “a thousand cities with the same faces.”

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  – Elizabeth Cinello

What are you reading? Tell us about it.

Comment:

I enjoyed reading about your book group experiences, which resonate for me. Our group, too, counts the years by the ages of our children, remembering the members who became pregnant and now have teenagers. Sadly, the founder of our group passed away a few years ago; we cherish her memory in our ongoing friendship and shared love of reading (and good food).
In our group we often choose contemporary works but occasionally will agree to share an old classic. A colleague from Europe said I must read the hilarious Three Men in a Boat. Written by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889, it’s a curious blend of humour and charming lyrical passages, describing a boating trip on the Thames. Reading a few passages aloud, I couldn’t contain my laughter. The best was a rumination on commonplace ornaments and how they will be valued in the future as ‘precious antiques’. It is as relevant (and funny) now as in days gone by. I recommend it!
Gwyneth Fatemi, Toronto

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