Sunday, April 27, 2008

From the Friend File

I've had a few people comment on having problems with posting comments to my blog posts. I have looked at my settings, gone to the help files and I can't figure it out. I'll keep working on it though.

That being said, my friend Gayle was not to be deterred. She sent me an email with what she would have posted on my blog so I decided to do a post dedicated to Gayle's list of book recommendations.

My night table list is shrinking and will pretty much be done with my upcoming trip to Asia (Jakarta + Hong Kong = 40+ hours in the air = lots of time to read). Enjoy.

Non Fiction

Inside Inside, James Lipton
This book by an amazing (even if some find annoying) interviewer from Inside the Actor's Studio intercuts autobiographical flashbacks with quotes from interviews excerpted from his sessions with Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Lemmon, Mike Nichols, Sean Penn, Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep and many more. This is a wonderfully written and insightful story that I found incredibly inspiring, written by one of the most accomplished and articulate men I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know.

The Film Club, David Gilmour
Film critic David Gilmour battles with his slacking 15 year old son over his grades and interest in school. Alarmed that Jesse finds learning a terrible chore, he allows him drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three movies a week of his father's choosing. Week by week, side by side, father and son watched everything from True Romance to Rosemary's Baby to Showgirls, and films by Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Brian DePalma, Billy Wilder, among others. The movies open a dialogue between them that few fathers and sons ever are able to have as they grow up together.

Celebrity Detox - The Fame Game, Rosie O'Donnell
A surprisingly enjoyable read. Who knew what really went on behind all the tabloid crap? This book is a quick read about the back-story of Rosie O'Donnell's rise to, and fall from fame.

Quirkology, How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things, Richard Wiseman
Nowhere near as entertaining as Freakonomics, but thought provoking none the less. This book illuminates some of the more interesting aspects of human behavior such as discovering the tell-tale signs that give away a liar, the secret science behind speed-dating and personal ads, and what a person's sense of humor reveals about the innermost workings of their mind. An engaging read.


Loving Frank, Nancy Horan
I loved this book! This is a fictionalized account based on the true story of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, best known as the woman who wrecked Frank Lloyd Wright's first marriage. The book is a portrayal of an independent, educated woman at odds with the social mores of the early 1900s. Frank and Mamah, both married and with children, met when Mamah's husband, Edwin, commissioned Frank to design a house. Their affair became the stuff of headlines.

Consolation, Michel Redhill
An homage to Toronto at the turn of the century during the first major immigration wave. This story interweaves a current story about a city historian who is trying to locate and authenticate the long lost first photographs ever taken of the city with the story of Jem Hallam, a Londoner who moved to Toronto when the city was first flourishing and found himself allied with a female portrait model and a heart broken Irishman.

The Magician's Assistant, Ann Patchett
This wonderful story is about the magician's assistant Sabine who falls in love with and marries Parsifal, the magician, even though he's gay and ends up dying of AIDS. When he dies he leaves a will and a trust fund, which reveals everything about a family he has never talked about. A great story.

The Gum Thief, Douglas Coupland
You have to like Coupland, otherwise forget it...
Roger Thorpe has become a dejected, hard-drinking, divorced father and the oldest employee by a fair margin at Staples. He's a frustrated novelist and an overall angry guy. One day Bethany Twain, his much younger, gothed-out co-worker discovers Roger's diary-filled with mock re-imaginings of her thoughts and feelings-in the break room. They start to write diary entries back and forth to each other, but neither acknowledges the other around the store. This coming (and going) of age story ends with a wonderful twist. Quirky and irreverant.

The Senator's Wife, Sue Miller
This is a simple, basic story about two couples, one young, one old, who sort of live side by side in an old New England semi detached house. The retired Senator doesn't really live there anymore but continues an affair with his wife over many years. The book explores their lives and relationships in parallel and highlights how couples both grow and decline together. It's a book filled with both joy and pain and it's a read I thought a lot about many weeks after I completed it.