On Books, and Judging Them by Their Covers

My friends and I did something unlikely not too long ago: we started a book club.

I say unlikely only because of the circumstances: picture seven or eight twenty-something guys — half of whom are better known for living with their parents and gathering around Taco Tuesdays — suddenly discussing the merits of the latest Giller Prize. It’s unusual. It’s also kind of nice.

What started as a way of friends in faraway cities catching up every now and then to chat about life and something in common has now become a portal into realms of reading I’d never thought to explore. Crime novels, sci-fi, historical nonfiction… all are tossed into the mix, vying to be the next month’s choice.

We started with The Unincorporated Man, a vivid, half-dystopian look into capitalism taken to its extreme. A man brought back to life 300 years in the future must come to terms with a world in which individuals are controlled by shareholders, and a person’s worth is determined by their stock price.

Now, we’re on to Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, an exploration of our past and progress. (I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, so you’ll have to forgive the brief introduction.)

With all that said, here’s a look at what else I’ve been reading lately.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

A slightly embarrassing confession: I had actually intended to read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I first spotted a friend I met while travelling across Australia browsing through a dog-eared copy at the beach, and made a mental note to give it a read when I could. What someone really ought to have thought about when designing either of these books is that they look the exact same: yellow spine, sky blue cover, and only one different word in the title. Can I be forgiven for judging a book by its cover?

Thankfully, The Happiness Equation has been a perfectly fine read. But now I’ve still got to read The Happiness Project.

Terry Fox: His Story by Leslie Scrivener

A slow starter, but it picks up pace as it goes along. Terry’s story has interested me for years — as it has for many Canadians — and to read entries from his journal along the run is to get a fascinating glimpse into what he was thinking at the time. I was surprised at how much of my experience in cycling across Canada overlapped with what he was feeling on his own journey: days of frustration, moments of joy, it all rang true.

Of all the passages, I’ll remember this one, a quote from journalist Christie Blatchford: “He gave us a dream as big as our country.”

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

A slow-at-times read, but a fascinating one. Pirsig’s musings on life and investigation into his forgotten, fragmented past, woven into one long Chautauqua, makes for a hell of a story. His knack for setting a scene makes it all the more enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “On Books, and Judging Them by Their Covers

  1. How interesting, Martin! I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” quite a long time ago. Marv had read it and recommended it. Glad to keep up with your reading recommendations.

    1. Nice to hear from you, Ardith! Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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