Books shelved under “Essays”

38 reviews found

  1. Book cover for IMPACT

    IMPACT: Colonialism in Canada

    by Warren Cariou

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I picked this up several years ago and am finally diving into it. It’s not what I expected—I was looking for something with essays, including personal essays, but this includes a lot more poems and other, shorter and more artistic pieces. IMPACT: Colonialism in Canada is an anthology that makes quite a statement. If it’s what you’re looking for, it’s going to satisfy. In my case, it wasn’t quite what I wanted, but don’t interpret…

  2. Book cover for Non-Binary Lives

    Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities

    by Jos Twist

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    You’d think the pandemic would mean I have more time to read rather than less, right? But for some reason my reading speed has decreased rather than increased. I’m making more of a comeback, but it still took me a long time to read and review Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities. That shouldn’t reflect on the quality of this book. Similarly, I’m going to explain later that I’m kind of over these…

  3. Book cover for Not That Bad

    Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture

    by Roxane Gay

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    With the news coming out of the United States about abortion bans and lawmakers who actually use phrases like “consensual rape,” this seemed like the right time to read Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. Also, I was going on a library run and it was available. Roxane Gay collects 30 essays about rape or rape culture, some previously published and others newly written for this book. This is a serious book, sure,…

  4. Book cover for Bad Feminist

    Bad Feminist: Essays

    by Roxane Gay

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Bad Feminist has been on my radar for years, but as with many such books, it took someone physically putting it in my hands for me to get around to it. In this case, my best friend Rebecca (with whom I have started a podcast!) gave this to me as a going-away present when she moved to Montreal (I’m not sure she understands how going-away presents work?). She inscribed it, “To our first book,…

  5. Book cover for All Our Relations

    All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

    by Tanya Talaga

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    One year ago I read Tanya Talaga’s Seven Fallen Feathers, in which she remembers the seven Indigenous youths who died far from home while attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School here in Thunder Bay. In that heartbreaking and essential work, she links these deaths to a structure of colonialism and white supremacy and an ongoing form of cultural genocide in which the government and the rest of us remain complicit. Now Talaga is back…

  6. Book cover for In Search of A Better World

    In Search of A Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey

    by Payam Akhavan

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    While I was not a fan of the last collection of Massey Lectures that I read, the brilliant thing about this series is that every year is very different. Each year brings a new speaker, a new topic, and an entirely new way of approaching the topic and the format. (I am very excited for this year’s lectures delivered by Tanya Talaga, author of Seven Fallen Feathers). Last year’s lectures by Payam Akhavan work…

  7. Book cover for The Feminist Porn Book

    The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure

    by Tristan Taormino

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

    This powerful statement, first deployed and used in this essay by Flavia Dzodan, is often on my mind. And I choose to open my review of The Feminist Porn Book with it, because that is how I want to position myself. As a white man who tries his best to be feminist, I recognize I have a hell of a lot of privilege in…

  8. Book cover for Bitch Doctrine

    Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults

    by Laurie Penny

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Laurie Penny has been one of my favourite authors for a while now. Her incisive takes on how feminism can be more intersectional, more anti-capitalist, have continued to be on point as the United States and UK shamble towards their respective political armageddons (armagedda?). Penny’s Unspeakable Things is the feminist primer for my generation. So when I heard that she had a new book coming out, and that it was called Bitch Doctrine: Essays

  9. Book cover for Bit Rot

    Bit Rot

    by Douglas Coupland

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Here Douglas Coupland goes again, trying to break our brains and our library cataloguing systems. Is Bit Rot fiction or non-fiction? It’s a collection of both! Oh noes! It contains short stories, including some previously published in Generation A (which I read almost 7 years ago, so I have zero recollection of any of it), and essays and assorted musings. In general, this is Coupland’s most up-to-date published writing on how we’re dealing with the…

  10. Book cover for Here We Are

    Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World

    by Kelly Jensen

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I suppose I should start with one of those disclaimers about how I received a free electronic copy of this from NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers. However, I also preordered two hard copies with my own money (OK, someone else’s money in gift card form) even before that request was approved. But why wait a whole three weeks when I could read it earlier than that? That’s how excited I am for Here We Are:

  11. Book cover for The Hatred of Poetry

    The Hatred of Poetry

    by Ben Lerner

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It’s with no regret, but some shame, that I admit I’m not a fan of poetry, and that I actively avoid teaching it. I use poems in my classes, when we’re talking about other subjects. But I avoid teaching the mechanics and technique of poetry, analyzing the metre and rhythm, looking into the intricacies of imagery and similes and repetition. I do this largely because, as a reader, I am not comfortable with poetry, and…

  12. Book cover for Why Not Me?

    Why Not Me?

    by Mindy Kaling

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    First off, an update on the shoe situation: I’m much faster at putting on shoes now. I’ve been training hard, lots of montages and such, and I’m proud to say I’ve seen great improvement.

    Why Not Me? is the second autobiographical set of essays from Mindy Kaling. In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Kaling told us about her childhood and the path that led to her involvement with The

  13. Book cover for Men Explain Things to Me

    Men Explain Things to Me

    by Rebecca Solnit

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The same friend who lent me Decoded asked me if I wanted to borrow Men Explain Things to Me, which is great, because it has been on my list for a while now. When I went over to her house, she handed me the book. A mutual friend who was there and only in town until early the next week then said, “Can you read it really quickly so I can have it?” So…

  14. Book cover for Indigenous Writes

    Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada

    by Chelsea Vowel

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Sometimes you see a book and you just know that it’s the book you’ve been waiting for. That was my reaction when Chelsea Vowel, who blogs and tweets as âpihtawikosisân, announced Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada. You really should read her blog and follow her, because she her writing is clear and informative, and she is excellent at providing further resources. This continues in her…

  15. Book cover for The V-Word

    The V-Word: True Stories about First-Time Sex

    by Amber J. Keyser

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Back in Grade 4, a small group of peers asked me if I was a virgin.

    Not knowing what a virgin was, I said no. Well, that certainly got them laughing. And I got very upset.

    This incident has stuck in my memory (which is otherwise very much a sieve through which most details inevitably fall) for a few reasons. Firstly, it was one of the few times I ever felt bullied in school,…

  16. Book cover for Indigenous Men and Masculinities

    Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration

    by Robert Alexander Innes

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    “But what about the men?” It’s a common refrain heard from people who have misinterpreted, or been misinformed about, the aims of feminism and its related movements. So-called “meninist” and “men’s rights activists” encourage the question, because they want to push the view that feminists want to attain women’s liberation and equality at the expense of men. As one men’s rights activist discovered, when one engages with the actual critical theory underlying feminism,…

  17. Book cover for Furiously Happy

    Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

    by Jenny Lawson

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    After my pre-ordered copy of Furiously Happy arrived in the mail last week, I went looking for my copy of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. I wanted to tweet a photo of the two books together—Jenny Lawson now has a running theme of taxidermied animals on her book covers; I think she should stick with it. The copy of her first book was not on my bookshelf under “L.” I briefly pondered if I…

  18. Book cover for Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

    Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

    by Mindy Kaling

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Mindy Kaling is absolutely right: men do take too long to put on their shoes. At least, I do, and I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Send help!

    It’s safe to say I probably wouldn’t have read this book if my friend Rebecca had not literally put it in my hands. (As Goodreads friend Megan remarked recently, this is the one way to ensure I will actually read a book you recommend…

  19. Book cover for Blood

    Blood: The Stuff of Life

    by Lawrence Hill

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    The human body is weird. I mean, it’s a wonder we function at all. We’re fragile bags of mostly water that support a strange and wonderful organ that seems to give us consciousness. All this happens through a complex set of interconnected systems that work to keep us alive. I’m really not down with the ickiness of my biology: bring on the robot bodies! Until that happens, though, I’m forced to agree with Lawrence Hill:

  20. Book cover for Queers Dig Time Lords

    Queers Dig Time Lords

    by Sigrid Ellis

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Wait, Queers Dig Time Lords? But I thought Chicks Dig Time Lords! Who else digs time lords—small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri? Soon there won’t be any time lord left for straight, white men! Think of the menz!

    Seriously though, having read three of these fandom-celebration books from Mad Norwegian Press already, I was looking forward to Queers Dig Time Lords. I should note that since reading Chicks Dig Time Lords three…

  21. Book cover for The Art of Thinking Clearly

    The Art of Thinking Clearly

    by Rolf Dobelli

    1 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    This book is the dead tree equivalent of a BuzzFeed post. Its title could be “I Got 99 Cognitive Biases But a Psychology Degree Ain’t One.” Or maybe not.

    Rolf Dobelli enumerates 99 thinking errors, or cognitive biases, in The Art of Thinking Clearly, dispensing as he does tips for leading a more rational, less error-prone life. Anyone who has done even the least amount of reading in this subject will recognize many of…

  22. Book cover for A Nation Worth Ranting About

    A Nation Worth Ranting About

    by Rick Mercer

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Rick Mercer is a national treasure, and if his show hasn’t convinced you of this, then you need to get this book and re-read some of his rants from years gone by. Having been living in the UK for the past year and a half, my opportunities to watch The Rick Mercer Report have been reduced (I could probably get it, but it would require time and effort I don’t really have right now). I…

  23. Book cover for Prisoner Of The State

    Prisoner Of The State

    by Zhao Ziyang

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m not exactly up on the Chinese history; it’s not a subject that we covered much in school. Most of what I know comes by way of hazy pop culture references and exposure via the slightly counterfactual nature of science fiction and historical fiction. Moreover, having been born and raised subsequent to the Cold War and the height of anti-communist sentiment in the West, not to mention just after the Tienanmen Square incident, the history…

  24. Book cover for Chicks Unravel Time

    Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who

    by Deborah Stanish

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I came to Doctor Who solely through the revived series. Christopher Eccleston was my first doctor, and it’s true that I’ll never forget him. I was gutted to learn that he was leaving after only the first season and convinced that this new fellow, “David Tennant” (if that’s even his real name) could never live up to the Ninth Doctor’s brusque charisma. The rest is history, of course—the Tenth Doctor stole my heart, along with…

  25. Book cover for Thinking in Numbers

    Thinking in Numbers

    by Daniel Tammet

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I can’t resist picking up mathy books when I’m in a bookstore. As a mathematician, I love broadening my knowledge about the field—and seeing what passes for “popular mathematics” these days. Thinking in Numbers is a slim volume that promises to “change the way you think about maths and fire your imagination to see the world with fresh eyes”. It didn’t do that for me—but maybe that’s because I already think about maths that way.…

  26. Book cover for About Writing

    About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews

    by Samuel R. Delany

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m teaching part of an AS Level English Literature class this year, including the creative writing component. As I finally got around to reading this, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why didn’t I read this at the beginning of the school year? I could teach practically the whole class using this.” As it is, I ended up photocopying three of the essays for my students to mull over. About Writing, despite its embrace of the…

  27. Book cover for Chicks Dig Comics

    Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them

    by Lynne M. Thomas

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I don’t read comic books that much.

    Given my reading habits, and how quickly I read, I find it difficult to go out and get every issue of a serial. I’ve read some collected works, like Sandman, and enjoyed them—storytelling is storytelling, whether it’s in words or art on a page. Digital editions might help, once we finally give up on that DRM nonsense. However, even with that hurdle cleared, I’ll admit I’m not…

  28. Book cover for The Gormenghast Novels

    The Gormenghast Novels

    by Mervyn Peake

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    One of the more pernicious aspects of epic fantasy is medieval stasis. Even as we celebrate the freedoms made possible through democracy, we revel in escapism to an inherently oppressive setting, where hereditary titles are standard-issue and the plot often involves helping a rightful heir regain the throne. This is but one of the many tensions that arises in Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast (or Titus) books. The eponymous castle is a grand affair in…

  29. Book cover for Rethinking Popular Culture and Media

    Rethinking Popular Culture and Media

    by Elizabeth A. Marshall

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    My Media, Education, and Gender prof contributed an article to this book. He assigned the article as one of our readings, but he did not make us buy the entire book, providing a photocopy instead. I foiled his evil plan to save us money by ordering the book anyway, because I liked his article and a few others he used so much that I decided to see if the entire book was as awesome.

    It…

  30. Book cover for Scratch Monkey

    Scratch Monkey

    by Charles Stross

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m terrible at explaining orally what books are about. Two people, the sort of people who don’t read books like this, asked me what Scratch Monkey is about while I was reading it, and I stumbled over my reply. “It’s a far-future posthuman story featuring nanotechnology and strong AI,” I mumbled, knowing that this explanation would make no sense to them and is more an over-generalization of the setting than any useful description of plot…

  31. Book cover for The Guinea Pig Diaries

    The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

    by A.J. Jacobs

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I first heard of A.J. Jacobs when he appeared on The Colbert Report in 2009. He talked, among other things, about the year he spent “living Biblically”. This intrigued me, so I decided to read the book he was pushing at the time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, because I didn’t know what types of experiments Jacobs had performed. But the book is short, and his writing, if sometimes overbearing, is usually entertaining…

  32. Book cover for My Spiritual Journey

    My Spiritual Journey

    by Dalai Lama XIV

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    He’s just this guy, you know?

    My Spiritual Journey is a collection of the Dalai Lama’s writings, speeches, and thoughts as they pertain to his life as a human being, as a Buddhist monk, and as the Dalai Lama. This is not a traditional autobiography or memoir. Instead, some of the chapters (passages? sections?) are quite short—even less than a page—but no less meaningful or inspiring. Rather than looking for some kind of chronological theme,…

  33. Book cover for Tomorrow

    Tomorrow: Science Fiction and the Future

    by Alan L. Madsen

    2 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I’m pretty sure that if there isn’t already a sport that involves mocking what people of the past predicted our society would be like, then we need to invent it. Right now. Tomorrow: Science Fiction and the Future has some gems. It opens with a piece by Isaac Asimov, who begins:

    Predicting the future is a hopeless, thankless task, with ridicule to begin with and, all too often, scorn to end with. Still, since I

  34. Book cover for Chicks Dig Time Lords

    Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It

    by Lynne M. Thomas

    5 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    It's safe to say that I am a big fan of the new Doctor Who, and I have been ever since it arrived in 2005, back when I was sixteen. I wasn't a big fan from the first episode. As a science-fiction fan in general, I had heard of Doctor Who but was not quite sure what it was all about. So I tuned into the CBC and watched "Rose" with interest. Gradually, I…

  35. Book cover for Maps and Legends

    Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands

    by Michael Chabon

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I began this book as a sometime reader of Michael Chabon. I klepped The Yiddish Policemen's Union from my dad's shelf, and I've also read Wonder Boys and Summerland at some point. (I actually liked the movie of the former better than Chabon's book, oddly enough.) Chabon is one of those writers who is at the periphery of my awareness, someone whose books I respect even though I only accord them a lukewarm enthusiasm when…

  36. Book cover for Areopagitica

    Areopagitica

    by John Milton

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    In Areopagitica, John Milton delivers a finely-honed argument in opposition to the Licensing Order of 1643, which restored strict censorship laws to England. Milton relies primarily on classical references; indeed, the title is an allusion to the Areopagus, a hill in Athens and the name of a council who sat in judgement on that hill. In a single word, Milton links the crux of his argument to the zeitgeist of Hellenic antiquity, which…

  37. Book cover for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007

    by Dave Eggers

    4 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    Anthologies are always a mixed bag. Often their individual stories will be compelling but not harmonious, making the entire book difficult to read as a whole. Other times, the stories will be harmonious but mediocre. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007 avoids both these pitfalls with a strong selection of stories that work well together. It was a pleasure to read.

    Some highlights:

    • "Best American Names of Television Programs Taken to Their Logical Conclusions" by
  38. Book cover for At the Mountains of Madness

    At the Mountains of Madness

    by H.P. Lovecraft

    3 out of 5 stars

    Reviewed

    I will be brief, since I don't read much horror and am generally ignorant of Lovecraft's work, so I won't try to make a general statement based on this one story.

    At the Mountains of Madness itself was OK, not great. Lovecraft is far more concerned with describing the extinct society of the Old Ones and their struggles with surviving Earth than injecting genuine dread into the story. It left little impression on me.

    I…