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Chris Benjamin’s Favourite Books of 2015

A little late, as has become my custom, here are the best books I read in 2015, in the order I read them [Click on the image to learn more about the book]:

Miramar by Naguib Mahfouz

miramar

The same story four times in a row, from four different perspectives, all revolving around a building in post-revolutionary Egypt. Reveals much about the time and place and politics and people.

Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatwabin

up ghost river

A straightforward, frank and emotional account of a residential school experience in the context of life on a northern reserve during a time of forced change.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

celiassong

Flat out beautiful writing, mystical and magical but very grounded and honest at the same time. Heartbreaking story.

Prerequisites for Sleep by Jennifer L. Stone

prerequisitesforsleep

Her first book, a collection of short stories. A local writer I was asked to review and these fairly light, fast paced stories took me by surprise. The writing was tight and and impactful.

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

theinconvenientindian

King rages against the tricks of colonialism and is clever and funny about it and it’s an enlightening perspective.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

wheneverythingfeelslikethemovies

I was intrigued by the controversy and a friend who said the book was  too hardcore for its intended age (junior high). But it was based on real events and I found it believable but frightening thinking of my kids entering that world before too long. Regardless, Reid did a great job creating a memorable character, a not always likable kid who gets bullied in a very tough situation.

Generations Re-merging by Shalan Joudry

generationsremerging

These poems offer a powerful perspective from a young Mi’kmaw woman, a mother, an environmentalist and a community-builder. They are evocative and moving; prophetic and insightful.

The Comeback by John Ralston Saul

thecomeback

It was good to read an optimistic book by a highly regarded Canadian philosopher on a topic where hopeful tones are rarely used. His optimism is not blind; Ralston Saul makes his case well.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

thecolorpurple

It’s a classic for good reason. Amazing storytelling and insight into the American south, particularly regarding the lives and histories of Black women.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

sapiens

A brief history of humanity and therefore skims over an immense amount of complicated history/science, but as a broad history and philosophy book it was quite fascinating and enjoyable.

The Story of Gar by Syr Ruus

thestoryofgar

A simple story about a family that adopts crows, only one of which survives and becomes a hesitant pet. Really about wildness and conformity and destiny and authenticity and survival and compromise.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

thesixthextinction

You might expect it to be depressing but I found it strangely comforting to think that mass extinctions are part of the existence of masses of life, that they have happened many times in our planet’s history for many different reasons without human prompting. But this time we are the cause, which poses the challenging question of what will be humanity’s legacy?

Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

reservationblues

A sometimes hilarious and sometimes dark depiction (racism/alcoholism/violence/bullying/corruption/abuse) of life on a Spokane Indian reservation in Washington State; the power of music, the draw of the big time whitestream society and the struggle to keep traditions meaningful. Alexie tackles real hardships and tragedies with a smiling narrative.

 

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