Thursday, 19 June 2008

Four More Books for Stephen Harper to Read: Yann Martel Continues His Campaign to Provide the PM with "Stillness" and Good Reading

What is Stephen Harper reading now?

I know people who read a lot when they’re on holiday, but aside from one summer when I read Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle by campfire light, I’ve never read much—too much to do and see, usually. What this has meant most recently is that I’ve fallen behind on the books that Yann Martel is sending to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You’ll remember that Martel started sending a short book every two weeks to Harper more than a year ago in an attempt to give the poliician something to read and reflect on in a moment of stillness before going to sleep. That was 29 books ago now, and the reading list continues to get more and more interesting.

What I missed was a new book Read All About It!, about the wonders of reading by the mother and daughter team of Laura and Jenna Bush, which prompted Martel to write about the importance of teachers; another novella by Leo Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata, accompanied by an essay on music and the sad decline of CBC musical programming; Drown, tough but tender short stories by Junot Díaz; and most recently Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston.

Many of the books Martel sends are used, and in the last he sent he found a photo of some identified people taken on a camping trip. “I wonder what the story of these people is. Clearly they're a family. Was this their book? Who among them read it? What stories do they have, what voices?” Martel writes.

Summer reading, for sure.

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