The third book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin won several awards after being published in 2000. This section of the story contains several weddings including Joffrey’s, Tyrion’s, and the dreaded red wedding. The latter is no less shocking having seen it on TV and now reading about it. In other chapters, the Night’s Watch are on the move back to the wall, Khaleesi marches onwards, and Arya travels with the Hound in one of the novel’s best plotlines. This epic book rivals the first for its staggering achievement and thrilling action.
Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning is one of the most popular books that gets recommended as a must read. It has sold over 20 million copies and translated into 24 different languages. The powerful first half of the book describing day to day life in a German concentration camp is a must read to discover the power of human resilience in devastating circumstances. The second half describes Frankl’s logotherapy philosophy. Frankl’s main message here is that people must find something to live for and that will help them survive anything, even the horrors of a concentration camp.
Steven Hyden’s book This Isn’t Happening goes into great detail on the band Radiohead surrounding the recording and release of their seminal Kid A album in 2000. Recognized as one of the top albums of the aughts, Kid A is a recording that was initially panned by critics and many fans alike. The book also takes in the history of the band leading up to Kid A as well as the aftermath of their recordings and career. Hyden is a knowledgeable music writer and here he has created a fascinating look at a polarizing album.
Prairiefire Magazine – Winter 2021-22, Volume 42 No. 4
A bit late with this posting, but here it goes:
A Clash of Kings is the second novel in George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Like it’s predecessor, there is a lot plot covered in its many pages. A few highlights include the struggle between Stannis and Renly Baratheon to take the crown, Arya Stark’s journey, Theon Greyjoy’s heel turn, Tyrion Lannister becoming the king’s hand and Jon Snow travelling well behind the wall. With so many characters and plot points, it would be easy to get lost but Martin does a masterful job of keeping everything together. While it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the first novel, it is still a terrific read and the description of the war at King’s Landing is a thrill.
The first of Ryan Holiday’s big three stoicism books is The Obstacle Is The Way. Released in 2014, the book is broken into three main sections – perception, action and will. The format is familiar to some of his other books of short stories taken from history. While summarizing some of those historic lessons, Holiday can make it all very simplistic to prove his point. After several years of reading his writing, some of the stories and lessons may be blunted by being familiar but Holiday does have a unique ability to make the reader want to learn more about the many stories he shares.
Great Expectations is Charles Dickens’ 13th novel and one of his most beloved. The story follows Pip, starting as a young lad who lives with his sister and her husband in the country with dreams of becoming a gentleman in the city. His dreams come true through a secret benefactor that pays his many bills. Along the way, Pip falls for the beautiful Estella who he meets through the mysterious Miss Havisham. Great Expectations is a very good story with many memorable characters and a few twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.
Thus far George RR Martin has released five volumes of his ever popular A Song of Ice and Fire series with two more expected to be released at some point. The first book sees the family of Winterfell torn apart as Ned Stark is chosen as the new hand of the king to his good friend Robert Beratheon as he goes through troubles on the throne. Like the series, the book is chock a block of characters and places so having seen the TV show makes it a bit easier to follow and picture what is happening. Introductions are made to Khaleesi, Jon Snow, the Wall, the Lannisters, the Starks, etc as they venture through Martin’s fantasy world. The thick book is hard to put down as the action moves swiftly from one seen to another in this excellent fantasy novel.
The Break, the first novel by Winnipegger Katherena Vermette, won the author a boatload of awards and appeared on numerous year end lists in 2016. The novel centres around a brutal assault and how the extended family each deals with that trauma and the other events in their lives. Each chapter is written in the voice of a different narrator to gain insight into what each character is going through. The Break is a memorable story that takes place in Winnipeg’s north end area which shows both it’s grittiness and the loving people who try to carve out a life in Manitoba’s largest city.
Steven Blush’s 2016 book, New York Rock takes the reader through the NYC rock scene from Lou Reed/Velvet Underground through the Alternative rock scene of the early 2000s. It touches on scenes such glam, punk, hardcore, noise, etc. It is not just the music that Blush writes about but also the bars/clubs that played such an important role in the development of all these scenes. The problem here is that it tries to touch on every band within a scene vs writing about a few of the major player. It ends up just being a list of bands that most rock fans will never have heard of or will ever care about. Oddly, even though it touches the new century Blush does not even mention The Strokes. A similar but far better book is Meet Me in the Bathroom that instead focuses on one particular time period to better effect.
Jill Jonnes 2010 book Eiffel’s Tower is one of those that sat on my bookshelf for years. The tower acts as the centrepiece of the book that is actually about the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Notable characters including Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and artist Paul Gauguin all play pivotal roles to create the scene of the fair. It does a very good job of describing the trials and tribulations that Eiffel went through to both have his tower built as well as accepted by Parisian society. Jonnes paints a colourful history of life in 1889.