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ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

My TOP TEN Favourite Book Covers

August9

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

This week’s topic allows me to share some covers on books that I still have on my shelves. Covers change, shelves change: this is a permutable list!
 

COVERS THAT EVOKE THE COUNTRY LIFE I LOVE

1. Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada by Stuart McLean

elcome Home by Stuart McLean photo welcome home_zpsxnd8ocmr.jpg

McLean is the host of the very popular CBC radio show The Vinyl Café. McLean’s books of stories from The Vinyl Café have won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times.

Before The Vinyl Café, McLean traveled to small towns across Canada to visit for several weeks in each.

I love this book and I loved the cover on my copy, but when I went to Amazon to find that cover, I loved this cover on the re-issue even more!

 

2. From Stone Orchard: a Collection of Memories

From Stone Orchard by Timothy Findley photo stone orchard_zpsmvbcu1y1.jpg This non-fiction work was my introduction to this icon of Canadian literature.

Findley and his partner purchased a run-down 19th century farmhouse in southern Ontario, Canada and lived there until his death in 2002. They named their estate Stone Orchard, for obvious reasons.

Even in non-fiction, Findley’s writing was lyrical.
 

3. The Corrigan Women by M.T. Dohaney
 
The Corrigan women by M.T. Dohaney photo corrigan women_zpsccg1svix.jpgI love this cover: it represents so well the Atlantic Canadian life I’ve embraced.

Along with To Scatter Stones and A Fit Month for Dying, this trilogy is the story of three generations of Corrigan women: Bertha, Carmel, & Tessie.

Set in a Newfoundland outport, the stories are rich and tragic; the writing superb.

Note: Check out the cover on the recent reissue of A Fit Month for Dying. I love it; it made me laugh out loud.

 

COVERS THAT EVOKE A DIFFERENT TIME OR PLACE

4. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice photo lost art_zpsierivbmi.jpg

Aren’t these clothes so elegant?

The only complaint I have about this book set in 1950s London is that, after making me salivate at the dresses on the cover of the book, there was very little detail about the party clothes. I’d really liked to have known more than just it was “sparkly mint green dress”!

But don’t let that minor problem stop you from reading this delightful novel.

 

5. The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith photo full cupboard_zpspmkykoyq.jpg

Book 5 in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe

There is something very touching about this cupboard, “full” of its stripped down essentials. It makes me think of my kitchen cupboards, and wonder what life would be like in Botswana.

And it’s a beautifully balanced montage.

 

6. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck photo good earth_zpsx9kpfzx8.jpg

I know that this 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner has had numerous covers in its many incarnations, but this is the one on the copy that I have.

It immediately evokes traditional China, where peasant Wang Lung’s life is tied up in cycles of that earth that he works so diligently to acquire.

And I love the contrast between the gold and red.

 

COVERS WITH WONDERFUL COMPOSITION

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel photo life of pi_zpsmzxlqnh2.jpg

This cover is perfect.

The blue is the perfect colour. The beautiful contrasting orange is just enough.

The boat is placed in just the right position, slightly off centre.

And there’s no extra text marring the composition.

Beats me why they issued all the digital “stuff” with a different cover.
 

8. The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart
The Underpainter by Jane Urquhart photo underpainter_zpsmlowwwg0.jpg
This brilliant novel won the 1997 Governor-General’s Literary Award.

The cover of the current edition of this book is different. Why? Oh, why?

There’s that country red again in the flowers.

The flowers imperfect; the cloth imperfect. The vase cut off.

Just beautiful.

 

9. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky

This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky photo this cake_zps257aht1u.jpg

So far, this cover is the only one this book has had – and that’s a good thing.

You just know these are not “live happily ever after” short stories, but are about real life.

The broken plate. The crumbs.

Amazing how the imperfect makes it perfect.

 

10. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury photo illustrated man_zpsolwjc6xl.jpg

This is not a beautiful cover. Frankly, it gives me the creeps.

But, wow, what an impact it had on me when I first read this as a teenager.

That was 45 years ago – and I can still see the cover without seeing it. If you know what I mean.

That blood red. The back of that man. So ominous.

 
I didn’t do this intentionally, and – honest – I read books from all over the world. But six of these authors (McLean, Findley, Dohaney, Martel, Urquhart, & Selecky) are Canadian. I guess I’m on a theme.

What do you think of these? Do any of them appeal to you? What’s your favourite cover?

 


 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small

Top Books Set in Atlantic Canada – with fewer than 2,000 Goodreads Ratings

July19

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

This week’s topic asks for books set outside the USA. I’ve combined that with the challenge from two weeks ago (books with fewer than 2,000 GoodReads ratings) to make you a list of Atlantic-Canadian-set books you may not have heard too much about. These books come from my reading of the last ten years, and the list is, of course, subject to change as life goes on.

 

1. River Thieves by Michael Crummey
1,381 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

River Thieves by Michael Crummey photo river thieves_zpse7s0tzco.jpgIn Newfoundland in the early 1800s, explorer David Buchan wants to establish communication with the last of the Beothuks–the native peoples.

The expedition goes “horribly awry” and it becomes clear that there is no way these people can avoid extinction, as long as “white men” continue to settle.

The book exposes the senselessness of such extinctions, and the baseness of human nature.
 

2. Downhill Chance by Donna Morrissey
419 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Downhill Chance by Donna Morrissey photo downhill chance_zpszutinpyu.jpgSet in Newfoundland fishing villages c1940-1955, this is a heart-rending story of how war affects families and communities.

Morrissey writes beautifully. Her characters are brilliantly real–likeable but flawed, every one.

This is also the story of women – Sare, Clair, Missy, Hannah. Even the things the men did were presented in the context of how it affected a woman, or women. But, trust me, that does not make this a women’s novel.
 

The Corrigan Women by M.T. Dohany photo corrigan women_zpsnawl24ic.jpg3. The Corrigan Women/To Scatter Stones/A Fit Month for Dying by M.T. Dohaney
30/12/15 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Set in a Newfoundland outport, this trilogy is the story of three generations of Corrigan women: Bertha, Carmel, & Tessie. The stories are rich and tragic; the writing superb. I was sad to see this series end.
 

4. Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark
820 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark photo latitudes of melt_zpsv2ocbroi.jpg

Also set in Newfoundland, this near Cape Race throughout the 20th century.

Baby Aurora is found floating on an ice pan in the North Atlantic Ocean. We later learn that she had been on the Titanic.

The book follows Aurora’s life and that of her daughter and grand-daughter. It’s lovely, almost lyrical writing.
 

5. Ivor Johnson’s Neighbours by Bruce Graham
6 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Ivor Johnson's Neighbours photo ivor johnsons neighbours_zpsppb4yxvf.jpg
This is, in my opinion, the best of the four novels by Graham that I have read.

It has a great Nova Scotia small town setting (Parrsboro?) and realistic characters. The plots and sub-plots are skillfully woven together.

How the lives of the residents of Snake Road intertwine over the years!
 

6. A Forest for Calum by Frank Macdonald A Forest for Calum by Frank MacDonald photo forest for calum_zps210b2lxo.jpg
52 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

Wonderful book set in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia). It explores the relationship between grandfather and grandson, and the need for a purpose in life.

No sugar coated endings.

Also, some lessons in Gaelic.
 

7. Tarcadia by Jonathan Campbell Tarcadia by Jonathan Campbell photo tarcadia_zpsuhcpwti9.jpg
7 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

The summer of 1974 in Sydney, Nova Scotia through the eyes of 13-year-old Michael.

The premise that leads to his family’s breakdown might seem bizarre if you didn’t live through that time of “free love” and “open marriage”. I found it disturbingly realistic.

Highly recommended.
 

8. Alligator by Lisa Moore
1,188 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

Alligator by Lisa Moore photo alligator_zpsqly7enka.jpgSet in modern day St. John’s, Newfoundland, this book tells its story through alternating chapters about Colleen, a seventeen-year-old would-be eco-terrorist, her mother Beverly, Beverly’s sister Madelaine, and Frank, a benevolent young man without a family.

Moore’s word pictures shine. Through them, and many seamless flashbacks, she provides character development, background and plot advancement simultaneously.

Alligator
is a Canadian best seller, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canadian and Caribbean region), and a Globe and Mail Book of the Year award.
 

9. Cold Clear Morning by Lesley Choyce
11 Goodreads ratings – my rating – 4 stars
Cold Clear Morning by Lesley Choyce photo cold clear morning_zpsiutkjq2k.jpg
Set in fictional Nickerson Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Man returned to his boyhood home after his wife fatally ODs, due to Hollywood lifestyle. Man finds roots, memories including the cold clear morning.

Beautifully written.
 

10. There You Are by Joanne Taylor
13 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

 photo there you are_zpsfshfpxey.jpgTwelve-year-old Jeannie Shaw lives in the Margaree Valley on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in the 1950s. Amazon says: “Lonely and isolated in her small, post-World War II rural community, she longs for a friend, a longing that verges on obsession. When a new family moves in, her hopes are raised, then dashed, and a near tragedy yields unexpected results. Taylor has done a fabulous job of painting a vivid picture of life on Cape Breton Island.”

This is a middle-grades novel that I would recommend to readers of any age.
 

Bonus #11. Losing Eddie by Deborah Joy Corey
53 Goodreads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
Losing Eddie by Deborah Joy Corey photo losing eddie_zps50x665xh.jpg
This is a brilliant first novel about how the death of teenage child affects family dynamics.

“Deborah Joy Corey captures the voice of . . . poverty and the voice of a single, struggling family” in rural New Brunswick.

Eloquent insights into family relationships.
 

* * * * *

 

Of course, there a myriad of other Atlantic-Canadian books I could recommend as well as those set elsewhere in Canada. Perhaps another post, if anyone is interested?
 



P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Top Ten Books I Have Enjoyed that Have Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on GoodReads

July5

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

This week’s topic allows me to share some books from my reading of the past few years that I think should get “more air-time”.
 

1. A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam
618 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

a beautiful truth by colin mcadam photo beautiful truth 175_zpste0e9jvy.jpg Set in Vermont and in a Florida primate research facility, this story is told alternately from the POV of humans and chimpanzees.

Wealthy young couple Walt and Judy, unable to conceive children, adopt a young chimpanzee who enjoys a pampered life with them. Meanwhile, in Florida, chimps have been studied (and more) for decades. These two stories tragically intersect.

This is an extremely powerful book that continues to haunt me, though I read it over two years ago.
 

2. Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
1,093 GoodRead ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung photo dog boy_zpsfvfqoqvz.jpgI’ll repeat my comments of March 2013: Winner of the 2010 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Dog Boy is a marvel of experience and of emotion.

Four-year-old Romochka is abandoned in Moscow at the beginning of winter. Hungry and cold, he follows a feral dog to her lair – and so starts Romochka’s life as a dog. The premise sounds preposterous, but Hornung makes it work.

I can’t understand why this book didn’t win more awards.
 

3. Adé: A Love Story by Rebecca Walker
Ade: a Love story by Rebecca Walker photo ade_zpsfmnnfum9.jpg 551 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
 

I mentioned Adé in a recent Six Degrees of Separation post, comparing it to Romeo and Juliet. It’s haunting and heart-breaking, and definitely not a “romance novel”. This tale, set in modern-day Kenya, deserves to be a classic of 21st century literature. I have not been as touched by a book in a long time as I was by Adé.
 

4. How High the Moon by Sandra Kring
1,114 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

How High the Moon by Sandra Kring photo how high the moom_zpsruhngwmd.jpgHow delightful this book!

Isabelle “Teaspoon” Marlene was abandoned by her mother and left with mother’s boyfriend of one year, Teddy, who raises her. It’s summer 1955 and Teaspoon is 10 years old.
The relationships are exceedingly well done, and Teaspoon’s misunderstanding of adult terms (such as blackmail: a dark-colored letter) leads to some very funny parts.

Fresh voice, and humour, and warmth – oh my – a new favourite!
 

5. Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckert
1,917 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert photo hawks hill_zpsv5ceii5y.jpgSet in the nineteenth century American mid-west, this is the story of a little boy who becomes lost on the prairie and spends several weeks living underground with an adult female badger. For some reason, I mistakenly thought it was a true story – and I found it highly believable. The boy was small and desperate; and the badger, grieving.

It doesn’t really “prettify” nature’s interaction with men (and vice-versa).

Newbery Honor Book. Recommended.
 

6. Wrecker by Summer Wood
(Raising) Wrecker by Summer Wood photo wrecker_zpsnwtovmlp.jpg
411 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars

The best way to find out about Wrecker is to read my review.

I was hooked on Wrecker from the first paragraph and could seldom put it down.

There are beautiful insights and rich emotion, caught in spare and lovely prose.

Just read it.
 

7. Altamont Augie by Richard Barager
55 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 5 stars

Altamont Augie by Richard Barager photo augie_zpsunhb7dgw.jpgRichard Barager’s debut novel is set against the back drop of 1960s America, the Vietnam War, and the ever increasingly violent anti-war protests of the time. It is the story of David and Jackie, young people on opposite sides of those divisive issues, but who have a passion for each other that connects them through it all.

Barager has crafted a keenly insightful look into the politics of the 1960s, presenting both sides, but with a protagonist who represents a view that was decidedly unpopular among youth of the day.

When I first read Altamont Augie , I rated it 4½ stars. But since it provided much fuel for discussion in our household, was extremely thought-provoking and stayed with me, when it came time to review it, I upped my rating to 5 stars.
 

8. The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey
537 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
the Grace that keeps this World by Tom Bailey photo grace that keeps_zps4xwefymp.jpg
My 2005 pre-blogging reading journal remarks:

Wow. Just wow!

First, I love the different perspectives by different people.
Second, the setting and life-style are, if not appealing, certainly compelling.
Third, the plot didn’t go at all where I expected it to.

Set in rural Wisconsin.
 

9. The Last Rain by Edeet Ravel
26 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4 stars

The Last Rain by Edeet Ravel photo last rain_zpsguyfktlk.jpgThis novel is set on a kibbutz in Israel, mostly in the years 1949 and 1961.

The story jumps to various points of view and time periods, as well as formats (bits of a play, excerpts of committee meeting minutes, diary entries, and so on) at what is, at first, a dizzying—and sometimes annoying—rate. But piecing it together is all part of the plot, illustrating the complexities of any experiment to create a utopia.

When I finished the book, I wanted to start at the beginning and read it again now that I had the whole picture.
 

10. The Meadow: a Novel by James Galvin
1,218 GoodReads ratings; my rating – 4½ stars
The Meadow by James Galvin photo meadow_zpstieipgg7.jpg
 
From Amazon: “James Galvin depicts the hundred-year history of a meadow in the arid mountains of the Colorado/Wyoming border. Galvin describes the seasons, the weather, the wildlife, and the few people who do not possess but are themselves possessed by this terrain.

I read this for book club – and I’m glad I did!
 


 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Reasons I Love Country Living

June7

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

I want to make this a quick list that won’t require extra photos, nor a lot of your time to read.

1.
Privacy (in a physical sense). Folks will want to know who your grandfather was, where you’re from, why you’re here and lots, lots more. But most of them “don’t mean nothin’ by it”. It’s just the country way of knowing people. And they leave you be to go out on the deck in your robe (or less!)

2. Quiet – You’re usually far enough away from your neighbours that the noises you hear are the spring peepers, summer crickets, autumn leaves, and winter wind. Much nicer than someone else’s stereo on full blast, sirens and horns, and squealing tires.

3. Friendliness — It might take you a while to be accepted in the country but while you’re waiting you can pretty much know that everybody on Main Street will smile and say hello. It helps to try do things their way instead of showing off your city learnin’.

4. Traffic — There isn’t any. Except during haying season when the farmers drive their tractors down the highway. Three cars behind one is a traffic jam. (The school buses here pull over and let you by.)

5. Clean Air — No traffic carbon monoxide, no factory particulates or smells. Country air smells green; here it sometimes also smells like the ocean.

6. Clotheslines — outlawed in lots of cities, but pretty much de rigeur in the country.

7. No Water or Sewer Bill — not that we waste water; it is a limited earth resource after all. And every few years we have to pay to get the septic tank pumped. But it still beats having that monthly bill.

8. Wildlife
— Okay, the bear getting into the green bin was a little much, but I never tire of seeing deer in the yard, or catching a glimpse of a fox or a ferret crossing the road and disappearing into the woods. There’s red squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, muskrats and lots, lots more.

9. The View from My Window

10. House Accounts
— at the pharmacy and the hardware store. Enough said.
 

To be fair, there are a few things that I miss about living in the city. I’ll share them with you next Tuesday.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Childhood Characters I’d Love To Revisit As Adults

May3

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! This is the first time I’ve joined in and I picked a week with a topic that I’ve struggled with. The Broke and the Bookish explain that these characters might be someone I’d like to read about in a novella or something to see what they grew up to be. I couldn’t get to ten – but I got half-way!

Top Ten Tuesday photo toptentuesday_zps1les7hiy.jpg

The Saturdays photo Saturdays_zps4h4rm0ci.jpg1. Rush Melendy, one of the four Melendy children whose story I read and reread in Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays, The Four-Story Mistake, and Then There Were Five. I loved all the Melendys but I had a real crush on Rush, right into my teens.

Never mind the novella: I’d like to meet him in person and catch up with what he and his siblings (Mona, Randy & Oliver) have been doing for the last 50 years!
 

Trixie Belden #1 photo trixie_zpsfm0csi3o.jpg2. Trixie Belden, young heroine of the eponymous series, only 13 books long (the first six by Julie Campbell, and the next seven by Kathryn Kenny) when I was young and reading them. but since taken into syndication. Trixie and I were soul-mates, except that she was athletic, had big brothers, and had rich friends. Okay – I liked to solve mysteries, neither of us were rich, and I thought she was down-to-earth. That’s more of a connection than I made with Nancy Drew.

And, again, never mind the book, I’d like to have dinner with the older Trixie and find out about her brothers, Brian, Mart and Bobby, and her friends Honey Wheeler, Jim Frayne and Diana Lynch.
 

Happy Hollisters photo happy hollisters_zpsya4bnfsv.jpg
3. Holly Hollister of the Happy Hollisters series by Jerry West. (Again, the series was a lot shorter in the early ’60s.) There were five kids in the Hollister family (just like mine!) and we grew up in the same era. I should have identified with Pam because she was the oldest, but Holly had braids just like mine.

I’d love to read a novella set in the ’80s and then present day to see how they all turned out.

 

Bobbsey Twins photo bobbsey twins_zpsufq6ng8t.jpg
 
4. Nan and Burt Bobbsey, the older set of Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey twins. I suppose I could hear about how Freddie and Flossie made out too.

The first 15 original Bobbsey Twins books were published between 1904 and 1922 (on Kindle for .77 cents) so I guess something set between 1950 and 1980 would catch them up.

 
Little House series photo little house_zpsp3zxfsjf.jpg
5. Laura Ingalls Wilder from her own Little House series. This one’s a little trickier because Laura was a real person and we know how her life turned out. But rather than read what someone else has said, I’d like to have had her version of events after The First Four Years.
 

So that’s all I could come up with. Who have I missed? Who from your childhood reading would you like to catch up with?

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

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