New year, new resolutions. Some of them will go astray after a few weeks; others will last until next December.
For me, new year also means setting a new Goodreads reading challenge.
Goodreads is a social media that allows you to build a kind of literary catalogue. The website contains reviews, descriptions and notes for thousands of books. This allows users to find books to suit their interests.
Readers can organize their books according to many categories. The basics are: Read, Currently Reading and To Read, but they can also create more personal lists. Example: Best Sci-Fi Novels, 18th-Century Authors, Novels Featuring Mummies, etc.
The possibilities are endless.
Like any social media, you can find your friends and see what they read, take note of the books they liked… or not, and comment their reading status.
In 2017, I had set a goal for 40 books. Goal that I shattered by reading 67 books…
From romance to sci-fi to biographies and essays on linguistics, 2017 was full of learning and entertainment opportunities.
Below, I present you with three of those books that stood out.
DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY (2012, 1ST EDITION IN 1987)
Written by Douglas Adams, Pan Macmillan, 288 pages
Photo: Chapters Indigo
Douglas Adams is one of my favourite authors. That’s why I had to include this book on my list.
Using the same absurd humour that made him famous with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams brings this time an investigation by Dirk Gently, a holistic detective who believes in the “inter-connectivity of all things.”
So, everything that exists in the world, even what is not connected to the ongoing investigation, is bound to be linked. A cat disappeared in London? Well, of course, Dirk needs to go to the Bahamas! And the price increase for this trip is entirely justified…
This detective seems to be a crook at first (and second…) sight, but he’s not offended to never be paid. He thus has no scruples to charge outrageous prices.
Absurd investigation. Ridiculous deductions. Time travel. An Electric Monk, because there needs to be at least one person to believe in something. A horse in the bathroom. A sofa stuck in a staircase for months. Musical accounting software. And so much more for this first book!
BBC America has created a TV series loosely based on this book by Douglas Adams: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The second (and final) season was just added to Netflix.
I strongly encourage you to discover the Douglas Adams universe. Warning! Once you discover him, there’s no going back. And sadly, he passed away in 2001. He can no longer offer us his wonderful, satirical and humorous wit.
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (2011)
Written by Rebecca Skloot, Random House, 382 pages
Photo: Chapters Indigo
Half biography, half essay on bioethics. A book I recommend to everybody since I read it for my book club.
It’s a biography of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who died from cancer in 1951 and from whom cells were harvested at her death. Without her consent, or the consent of her family. Cells that turned out to be “immortal” (a new cell generation appears every 24 hours).
HeLa (for Henrietta Lacks) cells have been used in creating vaccines, including the one for polio, and have allowed for a better understanding of tumours and viruses and for technological advances like cloning and gene therapy.
Many scientists have profited from Henrietta’s cells, whereas her descendants live in poverty, without social security or health coverage.
A moving book about the very recent beginnings of medical ethics, a family’s fight for her rights and a woman who changed History.
HI, ANXIETY: LIFE WITH A BAD CASE OF NERVES (2016)
Written by Kat Kinsman, Dey Street Books, 240 pages
Photo: Chapters Indigo
A look at Kat Kinsman’s battle with anxiety. She is an author and columnist. This book contains moments both humorous and painful: an overview of her personal experiences with this illness.
A book like Kinsman’s can help an anxious person: to accept, to understand, to put words on feelings, to feel less lonely, etc.
It’s because of people like her that it has become less taboo to talk about mental illnesses. And we must continue to talk about them.
“In 2013, an estimated 3 million Canadians (11.6%) aged 18 years or older reported that they had a mood and/or anxiety disorder.” – Mood and anxiety disorders in Canada, Government of Canada
“If I’m not bracing for the next bad thing, how will I be ready when it comes.” – Kat Kinsman
I have no doubt that 2018 will also be a very good reading year. It remains to be seen whether I will meet my goal of 72 books…
There is no doubt that the following books will be read before my next list of “Crushes,” I can’t wait to meet them:
- The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins (2006)
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Grey (2017)
- Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2014)
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (2012)
- Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951)