Books


In the early summer of 2010 I handed in my final essay at the University of Toronto. After a well-deserved nap, I decided that I would read for reading’s sake from then on. The first book I read (well re-read) was “The Hobbit” by J. R. R. Tolkien. I have decided to put up a list of books I have read since then, here is it:

Books I have read:

2010:

  1. Mere Christianity. (C.S. Lewis.) This book is actually based on a series of lectures C.S. Lewis gave on the BBC Radio during the Second World War. Lewis is an evangelist writing about the hope and light of Christianity during one of humanity’s darkest hours. I’ve always preferred Lewis’ theological texts to the Narnia books and I highly recommend this book to both religious/non-religious readers.
  2. Game Change. (John Heilemann, Mark Halperin.) This book is highly addictive. The authors sought to flip conventional wisdom about the 2008 election on its head, which can be a bit annoying, but in many ways they succeeded. Anyone who thinks it would be better if John McCain won the election should read this book. The portrait the authors paint of Obama, Clinton, McCain and Palin behind the scenes may be voyeuristic, but the insight this book provides is indispensable.
  3. The Tao of Pooh. (Benjamin Hoff.)
  4. Harper’s Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power. (Tom Flanagan.) This book is a must read for anyone trying to understand how Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister came to power, and why exactly the Conservative Party of Canada is running a permanent campaign. Flanagan had a bit of a falling out with Harper over the publishing of this book, even after he let Harper’s people edit out what they really didn’t like.
  5. Harperland: The Politics of Control. (Lawrence Martin.) Martin has spent years dissecting the Chrétien government so his non-partisan credential are fairly well established. This book is a must-read for anyone who has any or no opinion of this Prime Minister as it strips away the personal that the PM has established and the caricature his fiercest opponents trying to hang on him.
  6. Oryx and Crake. (Margaret Atwood.)
  7. Open and Shut: Why America Has Barack Obama, And Canada Has Stephen Harper. (John Ibbitson.)
  8. Duty: The Life of a Cop. (Julian Fantino.)
  9. Only Joking. (Jimmy Carr.)
  10. The Book of General Ignorance. (Stephen Fry.) A delightfully whimsical trivia book.
  11. The Rights Revolution. (Michael Ignatieff.) This book was my introduction to the Massey Lectures, and Michael Ignatieff. Before he was leader of the Liberal Party, Mr. Ignatieff spent years studying the very essence of Canada. This is a book that I plan on re-reading every year, as I get something new out of it each time I read it.
  12. True Patriot Love. (Michael Ignatieff.)
  13. Conclave: The Politics, Personalities, and Process of the Next Papal Election. (John Allen.) An interesting look into how the Catholic Church elects the Pope. The author devotes less than a paragraph to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, so read this with a healthy skepticism.
  14. Aesop’s Fables.
  15. Stephen Harper and The Future of Canada. (William Johnson.) A fawning biography, but as PM Harper is an enigma to many Canadians this is still a must read.
  16. Renegade: The Making of a President. (Richard Wolffe.) I am a big fan of Richard Wolffe as an author and MSNBC contributor. This is the most insightful piece of writing I have read on Barack Obama. Obama’s leadership during the campaign, especially when the global economy was shattered, provides the foundation for his presidency.
  17. The Metamorphoses. (Ovid.)
  18. The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. (Thomas Frank.) This provides an interesting history of conservatism in the USA, and provides many parallels to conservatism in Canada as well.
  19. Pride & Prejudice. (Jane Austen.)
  20. Frankenstein. (Mary Shelley.)
  21. The Metamorphosis. (Franz Kafka.)
  22. Green Grass Running Water. (Thomas King.) One of my favourite works of Canadian literature. Read this with an open mind and you will be rewarded.
  23. Rules for Radicals. (Saul Alinsky.)
  24. Dreams from my Father. (Barack Obama.)
  25. Slaughterhouse-Five. (Kurt Vonnegut.) I first read this right after Vonnegut died. This novel delves deeply into the human mind, the life of a man dealing with PTSD and the nature of war. I have a deep personal connection with this book that I still can’t explain.
  26. 1984. (George Orwell.)
  27. The Conscience Of A Liberal. (Paul Krugman.) This book is both an indictment of the conservative movement in the United States and a rallying cry for progressives everywhere.
  28. Henry IV Part 1. (Shakespeare.) My favourite of Shakespeare’s plays.
  29. Politics. (Aristotle.)
  30. Player 1. (Douglas Coupland.) Another in the wonderful Massey Lecture series. I had the privilege of attending Mr. Coupland’s final lecture in the series.
  31. Jurassic Park. (Michael Crichton.) Way better than the movie. Warning: there is a LOT more of Dr. Ian Malcolm in the book.
  32. Becoming Canada. (Ken Dryden.)
  33. Star Wars: Dark Force Rising. (Timothy Zahn.)
  34. The Great Divorce. (C.S. Lewis.)
  35. Juggernaut: Paul Martin’s Campaign for Chretien’s Crown. (Susan Delacourt.) This is the best political book I read last year. Every single Liberal should read this as it sheds lights on the beginnings of many of the fissures within the party today. This book changed many of the opinions/assumptions I held about Chretien/Martin. I am a big fan of Mrs. Delacourt, but I also consider her a friend.
  36. Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – And Why We Believe Them Anyway. (Dan Gardner.) This book is objectively great. Read it and you will think differently about public policy, politics and even reading the news each morning.
  37. The Death of Grass. (John Christopher.)
  38. Harry Potter 1 -7. (J.K Rowling.)

2011:

  1. Revival: The Struggle For Survival Inside the Obama White House. (Richard Wolffe.)
  2. Exporting Democracy. (Bob Rae.)
  3. Local Motion: The Art of Civic Engagement in Toronto. (David Meslin, Christina Palassio, & Alana Wilcox.)
  4. Game of Thrones. (George R.R. Martin.)
  5. Bossypants. (Tina Fey.)
  6. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. (Patton Oswalt.)
  7. The Best Laid Plans. (Terry Fallis.)
  8. The Shack. (Wm. Paul Young.)
  9. The Great Gatsby. (F. Scott Fitzgerald.)
  10. What is history? (Edward Hallet Carr.)
  11. On the road. (Jack Kerouac.)
  12. The Samaritan’s Dilemma. (Deborah Stone.)
  13. The Audacity to Win. (David Plouffe.)
  14. Democracy Matters. (Cornel West.)
  15. I don’t care about your band. (Julie Klausner.)
  16. God of Carnage. (Yasmina Reza.)
  17. Life of the Beloved. (Henri J.M. Nouwen.)
  18. Rick Mercer Report: The Book. (Rick Mercer.)
  19. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale. (Art Spiegelman.)
  20. And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft. (Mike Sacks.)
  21. Freedom. (Jonathan Franken.)

2012:

  1. Tales from the back room. (Michael Decter.)
  2. Gaming the Vote. (William Poundstone.)
  3. 8 Minute Meditation. (Victor Davich.)
  4. Fruitless Fall. (Rowan Jacobsen.)
  5. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. (Michael Pollan.)
  6. The Botany of Desire. (Michael Pollan.)
  7. A Short History of the Honey Bee. (E. Readicker-Henderson.)
  8. The McSweeney’s Joke Book of Book Jokes. (By the Editors of mcSweeney’s.)
  9. From the Dust Returned. (Ray Bradbury.)
  10. The Fault in Our Stars. (John Green.)
  11. Prelude to Foundation. (Isaac Asimov.)
  12. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick.)
  13. Anansi Boys. (Neil Gaiman.)
  14. The Psychopath Test. (Jon Ronson.)
  15. The Victory Lab: The secret science of winning campaigns. (Sasha Issenberg.)

2013:

  1. Proud. (Michael Healey.)
  2. Richard II (William Shakespeare.)
  3. The Machine Stops. (E.M. Forster.)
  4. Contender: The Justin Trudeau Story. (Althia Raj.)
  5. Deadline. (Stephen Maher.)
  6. Rhinoceros. (Eugene Ionesco.)
  7. Exit the King.  (Eugene Ionesco.)
  8. Fraud. (David Rakoff.)
  9. Don’t Get Too Comfortable. (David Rakoff.)
  10. Love, Dishonour, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish. (David Rakoff.)

If you want to know what I thought of any of the books on these lists or you have a book to recommend, please feel free to comment below.

9 responses to “Books

  1. What are your top 3 books on the list of books you’ve read that deal with Canadian politics?

    • Harper’s Team by Tom Flanagan, Fights of our lives by John Duffy and Harperland by Lawrence Martin.

      I read “Fights of our lives” years ago when it first came out. It succeeds in the seemingly impossible task of making Canadian elections incredibly interesting. Harper’s Team is great because you do learn something new every page, and it’s fun to read because Stephen Harper didn’t want it to come out which makes up for the fact that Tom Flanagan wrote it. Harperland gives context to the current political situation, it makes me happy to see how it well it is doing.

      Michael Ignatieff’s “The Rights Revolution” would come in a close 4th.

      • It’d be sweet if you did short little commentaries/reviews about the books you read. You know, just things you found interesting and if you’d recommend it. I know I would be interested!

        (Just received “Exporting Democracy” and “Harperland” in the mail today!!)

  2. I am going to write up a paragraph on each book, starting tomorrow to make this more than just a list.

  3. Pingback: The 2010 “You Go Girl!” Awards. Presented by: The Equivocator | The Equivocator

  4. Few good reads for you could be:

    Citizen of the World: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1919-1968 Vol.1; Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1968-2000 Vol. 2 by John English

    Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward

    The Clinton Tapes: Conversations With a President 1993-2000 by Taylor Branch

  5. Your reading list above is inspiring. Best book I read in 2011 was Adam Hochschild’s brilliant and heartbreaking TO END ALL WARS about the insanity of WW1 and the brave Brits who refused to fight and went to jail for it (including Bertrand Russell).

    I hope you’ll have a look at my novel ENTRAPPED inspired by a true story of sabotage by an Alberta landowner vs. Big Oil.

  6. “Fight Of Our Lives” is one of the best books on Canadian politics. I read it a couple of years ago and was lucky to have John Duffy autograph my copy. I especially enjoyed the sections on Dief.

  7. On my bedside table: The War Room by Warren Kinsella – excellent!

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