Yesterday February 2nd, 2023 was Groundhog day, and if you trust Manitoba Merv we are in for another six weeks of winter, so why not stay inside and keep warm and enjoy some new reads; especially because February is I love to Read Month.
Chris Hall From McNally Robinson Booksellers stopped by our Classic 107 studios to give us his picks for what to read for this month of February. Here are his selections:
The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez
A stunning new novel about the unbreakable bond of family and the magic that can happen when we meet in the middle
Like many Overseas Filipino Workers, Mary Grace Concepcion has lived a life of sacrifices. First, she left her husband, Ale, to be a caregiver in Hong Kong. Now, she has travelled even farther, to Canada, in the hopes of one day sponsoring Ale and having children of their own.
But when she arrives in Toronto, she must navigate a series of bewildering and careless employers and unruly children. Mary Grace seeks new employment as a Personal Support Worker and begins caring for Liz, an elderly patient suffering from Alzheimer's disease, whose health is as fragile as her rundown bungalow beside the Rouge River in Scarborough. While Mary Grace's time with her charge challenges her conservative beliefs, she soon becomes Liz's biggest ally, and the friendship that grows between them will turn out to be just as legendary as Liz's past.
My Father’s House by Joseph O’Connor
When the Nazis take Rome, thousands go into hiding. One priest will risk everything to save them.
September 1943: German forces occupy Rome. SS officer Paul Hauptmann rules with terror.
An Irish priest, Hugh O'Flaherty, dedicates himself to helping those escaping from the Nazis. His home is Vatican City, a neutral, independent country within Rome where the occupiers hold no sway. He gathers a team to set up an Escape Line.
But Hauptmann's net begins closing in and the need for a terrifyingly audacious mission grows critical. By Christmas, it's too late to turn back.
Culture: the Story of Us, from Cave Art to K-Pop by Martin Puchner
In Culture, acclaimed author, professor, and public intellectual Martin Puchner takes us on a breakneck tour through pivotal moments in world history, providing a global introduction to the arts and humanities in one engaging volume.
What good are the arts? Why should we care about the past? For millennia, humanity has sought to understand and transmit to future generations not just the “know-how” of life, but the “know-why”—the meaning and purpose of our existence, as expressed in art, architecture, religion, and philosophy. This crucial passing down of knowledge has required the radical integration of insights from the past and from other cultures. In Culture, acclaimed author, professor, and public intellectual Martin Puchner takes us on a breakneck tour through pivotal moments in world history, providing a global introduction to the arts and humanities in one engaging volume.
Empress of the Nile by Lynne Olson
The remarkable story of the intrepid French archaeologist who led the international effort to save ancient Egyptian temples from the floodwaters of the Aswan Dam, by the New York Times bestselling author of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War
In the 1960s, the world’s attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: Fifty countries contributed nearly a billion dollars to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples, built during the height of the pharaohs’ rule, from drowning in the floodwaters of the massive new Aswan High Dam. But the extensive press coverage at the time overlooked the gutsy French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples would now be at the bottom of a vast reservoir. It was an unimaginably large and complex project that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt on higher ground.
A willful real-life version of Indiana Jones, Desroches-Noblecourt refused to be cowed by anyone or anything. During World War II she joined the French Resistance and was held by the Nazis; in her fight to save the temples she challenged two of the postwar world’s most daunting leaders, Egypt’s President Nasser and France’s President de Gaulle. As she told a reporter, “You don’t get anywhere without a fight, you know.”
Yet Desroches-Noblecourt was not the only woman who played an essential role in the historic endeavor. The other was Jacqueline Kennedy, who persuaded her husband to call on Congress to help fund the rescue effort. After years of Western plunder of Egypt’s ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt did the opposite. She helped preserve a crucial part of Egypt’s cultural heritage, and made sure it remained in its homeland.
On the Ravine by Vincent Lam
In his downtown Toronto condo, Dr. Chen awakens to the sound of streetcars below, but it is not the early morning traffic that keeps him from sleep. News banners run across his phone: Fentanyl Crisis; Toxic Drug Supply; Record Number of Deaths. From behind the headlines, on the same screen, glow the faces of his patients, the faces of the what-ifs: What if he had done more, or less? Or something different? Would they still be alive?
Claire is a violinist; she feels at one with her music, taking flight in its melody, free in its movement. But now she rises and falls with the opioids in her system, becoming increasingly reckless. After two overdoses in twenty-four hours, she sits in the blue light of her computer, searching a notice board for recommendations: my doctor saved my life; my doctor is just another dealer. And then another message catches her attention, about Chen’s clinic: be a guinea pig—why not get paid to take it?
When Claire’s life intersects with Chen’s, the doctor is drawn ever more deeply in to the complexities of the doctor-patient relationship, the implication and meaning of his intention to treat. Chen must confront just how far he would go to save a life.
Combining the depth of his experience as a physician with the brilliance of his literary talent, Vincent Lam creates a world electric in its precision, radiant in its detail. On the Ravine is a gripping novel of profound emotional force, a soaring achievement from a singular voice in Canadian fiction.