The grading scale is out of five. Three and a half stars for books I recommend and up to five stars for the ones I believe to be great.
As much as I read, I don't finish every book I start. Unlike my more compassionate wife, if a book doesn’t grab me, I’ll set it aside. There are too many great books out there waiting to be read. Don’t be afraid to comment on one of the blogs about this section either, I welcome the feedback.
THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach
"Wonderfully constructed and beautifully written, the characters stay with you long after you've finished the book."
DAVITA'S HARP by Chaim Potok
"Beautiful and poignant. Find my full review here."
ENLIGHTENED SEXISM by Susan J. Douglas
"Tremendously empassioned and informed look at feminism today, and the battles it faces as it passes into its third wave. Douglas is an excellent writer, and her look at the challenges facing old and new feminists is fascinating, particularly when she explores it from the angle of mother and daughter. Highly recommended."
THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson
"Sanderson is one of the best epic fantasists working today, and his finishing work on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (who died tragically in 2007) has been excellent, as have his other works, specifically the Mistborn trilogy. Ten years in the making, THE WAY OF KINGS is a compelling story told from the viewpoint of a former slave and a noble's daughter. The world is complex and well constructed, and the writing, for a fantasist at least, is spare and quick. It has to be, as the book comes in at just over 1000 pages in length. Fortunately, every page counts, and it is everything you could hope for in an epic fantasy. A tremendous novel, so engrossing that despite its mammoth size I finished it in less than a week. Highly recommended."
THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss
"The best fantasy book (perhaps the best novel) that I've read in three years. Brilliant. I should probably write more here, but suffice to say that when I recommend a fantasy novel, this is the one I reference. Highly recommended."
SAILING TO SARANTIUM by Guy Gavriel Kay
“Kay is a unique writer, more of a historical-fable-ist than a fantasy author, at least as we know them in the form of George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan. SAILING TO SARANTIUM is set in the time of the Byzantine Empire, the story of a mosaicist who travels to the new glorious city (Sarantium = Constantinople) after losing his wife and daughters to the plague. It is, of course, so much more, as Kay weaves a tale of politics and war, of allegiances and loyalties, all delivered with his characteristic tone and thoughtful asides. He is not a fast read, and there are times his work seems indulgent, but the prose is graceful and smooth, and as always, there is great thoughtfulness behind his stories. The first of a two book series. Highly recommended.”
LORD OF EMPERORS by Guy Gavriel Kay
"Tremendous follow up to Kay's SAILING TO SARANTIUM. This is historical/fantasy fiction at its finest. It is not, however, "true" fantasy, though I say that with some trepidation. In LORD OF EMPERORS, Kay documents the Byzantine Empire and its changes, sometimes quoting directly from the history books and putting those quotes in the mouths of his fictionalized-but-real historical figures. Best thing I can say about this novel, having read the two part series, is that when I finished the book, I closed it the way we do when we read something special, with regret and a sigh that we would not be returning to that world. Highly recommended."
DRIVE by Daniel Pink
"A terrific book about motivation and about how we generally have it wrong. Malcolm Gladwell has covered some of this material, but for some people it will be revelatory. I highly recommend it for parents. Wonder why your child isn't responding to "normal" motivational techniques? (Reward good behaviour, punish bad behaviour) Read this. It will make a difference. NOTE: You can also find Daniel Pink at TED.com for videos of him speaking, if you're more inclined to watching then speaking.
YSABELby Guy Gavriel Kay
"Kay writes with a poetic voice. More, he knows how to tell a story. (Something prose writers seem to forget at times.) I finished Ysabel in two days. Excellent and highly recommended."
BORN TO BE GOOD by Dacher Keltner
"The first three chapters are somewhat startling and encouraging, and Keltner riffs on the idea that humans are not born selfish. (In refutation of Dawkins' work from the 1970's, in particular THE SELFISH GENE.) He uses Ekner's work, which has been used a great deal the past five or six years by writers like Malcolm Gladwell. His concept of the 'ja ratio', in essence that the good we do fosters changes not only in our life but biologically is tremendously thought provoking and encouraging. Unfortunately, the book loses steam about midway through, and the ideas are not nearly as fresh. Worth picking up from the library for the first four chapters though. Marginal recommendation."
THE AUTHENTICITY HOAX by Andrew Potter
"A nice follow up to his National Bestseller THE REBEL SELL. Here, Potter examines the post modern quest for authenticity, and exposes great swaths of it as being nothing more than simple status seeking. (i.e. organic food) There are points throughout the book where Potter's cynicism is too evident, and his arrogance becomes tiresome. (There are people who involve themselves in causes for more reasons than just status seeking. Some people actually mean well.) That said, and the best compliment I can give the book, is that I'm still working through many of his ideas. Absolutely recommend."
THE LAST LIGHT OF THE SUN by Guy Gavriel Kay
"A beautifully rendered tale of three cultures, the Anglo-Saxons, the Celtic, and the Vikings. There are moments in the middle where the constant viewpoint shifting becomes frustrating, but Kay has done some of his finest work here, blending history into a fantastic tale worthy of the sagas he echoes in this book."
ALL TIME FAVOURITES
EYE OF THE WORLD by Robert Jordan
I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE by Wally Lamb
LOVE WINS by Rob Bell
BLUE LIKE JAZZ by Donald Miller
WRITING DOWN THE BONES by Natalie Goldberg
ON WRITING by Stephen King
THE ADVENTURES OF CAVALIER AND CLAY by Michael Chabon
MY NAME IS ASHER LEV by Chaim Potok
GORKY PARK by Martin Cruz Smith