Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Chinese Girls: In Fiction, In Photos

Bette Bao Lord’s In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson (1984) opens when Bandit is living in China in her grandparents’ home. She is ten years old (nine in Western birthdays) and she is about to learn that she will be going to live in the United States.

  “Holding Precious […]

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Difficult Stories, Difficult Narrators: Five Novels

Conflicted: that describes my first impressions after meeting Pillow in Andrew Battershill’s Giller-nominated novel of the same name,and it also describes his perspective on the world.

It’s hard to be Pillow, to see all the angles which converge and diverge simultaneously on any single thought he has. For instance: “Pillow was of the mind that […]

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XI (RIPXI): Novels 2016

When I picked up Cherie Priest’s I Am Princess X, it was on the advice of a trusted bookseller for a (then) thirteen-year-old friend of mine. Then an older reading friend raved about it too. At last, I picked it up, and was pleased to find it was my first RIP read.

There is a […]

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Helen Oyeyemi’s The Icarus Girl (2005)

Jessamy is eight years old. When readers meet her, she is in a closet.

She doesn’t mind readers knowing, but she is hesitant to admit it to her mother, who has believed her to be outside.

This is but the tip of the iceberg which comprises Jessamy’s interior truth, and The Icarus Girl is preoccupied […]

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Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series

At the beginning of the novel, where an epigraph might appear, is a note from the author, explaining that Uglies was shaped by a series of email exchanges between Scott Westerfeld and author Ted Chiang about his story “Liking What You See: A Documentary”.

At the end of Ted Chiang’s collection Stories of Your Life, […]

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Derek McCormack’s Christmas Days (2005)

When I was a girl, I had the same kind of advent calendar that Derek McCormack describes receiving every year from his mother, the flat ones made of cardstock, with winter scenes decorating them, little images behind each flap as you discovered them. No toys, no candies.

House of Anansi, 2005 Designed and Decorated […]

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A Boy’s Life: John Michael Cummings, Meg Rosoff and John Green

When I was a younger reader, I avoided stories about boys. A friend of mine sought them out because the boys had all the best adventures and the girls were always learning how to be ‘good’; I kept reading stories about girls in search of  the ones who were ‘bad’ and managed to not get […]

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Myths and Fairy Tales: In the Beginning

Canongate, 2005

With a subject as vast as mythology, it seems impossible to consider distilling it into A Short History of Myth.

Yet that is what Karen Armstrong has done for the first volume in the Canongate Myth Series.

What seems equally impossible is condensing those ideas once more, into A Short Post on […]

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Eatin’ and Drinkin’: Books about consuming

Fourth Estate, 2004

Antony Wild’s Coffee: A Dark History

One of the coolest bits of Antony Wild’s work is waiting for readers in the appendix: The Find at Kush.

And what is it? Well, this is non-fiction, right? So it’s hardly a spoiler to say that they found two carbonized coffee beans in an […]

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MREs: Must-Read-Everything Authors

I’ve been collecting authors for so many years. Authors whose oeuvres I am determined to read. It’s a never-ending reading list .

At the end of last year, I noticed that I was adding to the list at a phenomenal rate and not moving as quickly with my reading. So I added the following to […]

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