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March 26, 2019

 
 
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The Michelle Obama tour lands in Vancouver – and stays (mostly) on script
  The Michelle Obama tour lands in Vancouver – and stays (mostly) on script
 

Marsha Lederman

There’s a point in Michelle Obama’s onstage book event where she discusses the feelings of self-doubt and fears of inadequacy she experienced toward the end of high school, a story she also recounts in her memoir. She was an excellent student, with nearly straight As, class treasurer, on the honour roll. Yet the school guidance counsellor discouraged her from applying to her first choice, Princeton. What else could the issue be, other than the colour of her skin?

 
“I went into Princeton believing that I didn’t belong,” the former first lady said Thursday night in Vancouver. “You know, you hear the term affirmative action and whatever that means; it’s essentially [that] there are kids that don’t belong here as things have happened to give them positions that they don’t deserve – and as we are hearing now.”

 
That brief but obvious reference to the recent college admissions scandal was one of the few moments Ms. Obama strayed from talking about her life – the subject of her bestselling memoir, Becoming – and dipped a very cautious toe into turbulent current events.

 
 
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essays
 
New Zealand and Quebec, and how crime fiction helps us understand these devastating mosque shootings
  New Zealand and Quebec, and how crime fiction helps us understand these devastating mosque shootings
 

Ausma Zehanat Khan

I recently wrote a crime novel called A Deadly Divide. It was inspired by the 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec, an act where a young white man who’d been radicalized online murdered his Muslim neighbours at the end of evening prayers at their mosque. The shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, was motivated to act by the fear and hate stirred up by prolonged exposure to the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views of the far right in Canada and the United States. The horror of last week’s mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, took me back to a place I occupy as a Muslim woman and writer, struggling to communicate the impact of hate on vulnerable and marginalized communities through the stories I tell.

 
 
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Why CBC’s Canada Reads is bad for literature
  Why CBC’s Canada Reads is bad for literature
 

Russell Smith

I am going to give voice to something that is common knowledge among people in the business of writing and publishing, but rarely stated publicly, for obvious political reasons. There is a lot of private, secret scorn, in dark pubs and bedrooms, about Canada Reads, the CBC’s annual book competition. This is frequently among people who publicly say what a great boon this promotion is for literature and literacy and how happy they are for the winners.

 
What could possibly be wrong with Canada Reads? It’s a lighthearted debate show among five prominent and diverse Canadians about their favourite books. It takes the form of a Survivor-style competition in which a book is eliminated every day. Canadians are supposed to all read the same books so that we can follow along and cheer for our favourites. The idea is to encourage a national conversation about representatively Canadian books.

 
 
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Book reviews
 
Review: The thrilling story of Israel’s secret service and how it all began in Matti Friedman’s new book
  Review: The thrilling story of Israel’s secret service and how it all began in Matti Friedman’s new book
 

Joe Friesen

 
Postsecondary Education Reporter
  • Title: Spies of No Country: Behind Enemy Lines at the Birth of the Israeli Secret Service
  • Author: Matti Friedman
  • Genre: History
  • Publisher: Signal
  • Pages: 248
Before Israel was a country and before its spy service earned a fearsome reputation for covert operations, a small group of volunteers was sequestered on a kibbutz to train in the arts of espionage and concealment. After a rudimentary training course, they were sent out into the Arab world in the period just before the founding of the state and remained there during the ensuing Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Isolated, operating under the assumption they would be killed if their true identities were discovered, the men were the forerunners of the modern Mossad.

 
They were the Spies of No Country, the subject of Toronto-born, Jerusalem-based journalist Matti Friedman’s latest book. Their story shines a light on the improvised origins of a fabled spy service. But Friedman argues that it also provides insight into the kind of country that Israel has become, one that its founders may not recognize.

 
 
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We don’t have the prime minister biographies we deserve – and Canadian history suffers for it
  We don’t have the prime minister biographies we deserve – and Canadian history suffers for it
 

J.D.M. Stewart

“I don’t know about you, but I’d sure like to read more about Sir Robert Borden,” wrote Paul Wells, columnist and author of The Longer I’m Prime Minister, a biography about Stephen Harper, in the November, 2009, issue of the Literary Review of Canada. “Now there was a prime minister.”

 
The occasion of Wells’s lament was the publication of volume two of historian John English’s highly regarded biography of Pierre Trudeau, Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Trudeau 1968-2000. The work was both a critical and popular success, but it was yet another book on one of Canada’s most-analyzed prime ministers – and Wells rightly asked, what about the others? “There is a great book to be written about Borden,” he continued, speaking of Canada’s PM during the First World War, “just as there is more to be said about Louis St. Laurent and, still, about Mackenzie King and Laurier.”

 
 
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Tanaz Bhathena’s latest, and three other young adult novels to read this spring
  Tanaz Bhathena’s latest, and three other young adult novels to read this spring
 

Chidera Ukairo

  • Title: The Beauty of the Moment
  • Author: Tanaz Bhathena
  • Genre: Young Adult Fiction
  • Publisher: Penguin Teen Canada
  • Pages: 365
Susan Thomas is a shy Malayali-Christian girl who recently immigrated to Mississauga from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for her final year of high school. She is academically driven and has a passion for art. Unfortunately, the consistent push from her parents to go to engineering or medical school makes it impossible for her to share her love of drawing with them. Faced with a new country, school and set of friends, her track record for sticking to the script remains spotless, until she meets Malcolm.

 
 
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Review: Author Greg Bellerby makes the ‘masterwork’ case for an overlooked Arthur Erickson house in West Vancouver
Review: Author Greg Bellerby makes the ‘masterwork’ case for an overlooked Arthur Erickson house in West Vancouver
 

Alex Bozikovic

 
Architecture Critic
  • Title: Eppich House II: The Story of an Arthur Erickson Masterwork
  • Author: Greg Bellerby
  • Genre: Non-fiction
  • Publisher: Figure 1 Publishing
  • Pages: 160, $45.
A “masterwork.” That’s what author Greg Bellerby calls this house by Arthur Erickson in West Vancouver, a hillside aerie in white steel and glass block. He’s right, and this coffee-table book, Eppich House II: The Story of an Arthur Erickson Masterwork, is beautifully presented and clearly and thoroughly written. Most important, it makes a strong argument for this house by one of Canada’s great architects.

 
 
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Books news and more
 
How feminism fails the infertility conversation
  How feminism fails the infertility conversation
 

Zosia Bielski

 
Full Story
 
Three literary ways to kick off your spring
  Three literary ways to kick off your spring
 

Judith Pereira

 
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Bill Gaston’s memoir Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood leads nominations for BC Book Prizes
  Bill Gaston’s memoir Just Let Me Look at You: On Fatherhood leads nominations for BC Book Prizes
 

Marsha Lederman

 
Full Story
 
Publication ban granted protecting name of main Steven Galloway complainant
  Publication ban granted protecting name of main Steven Galloway complainant
 

Marsha Lederman

 
Full Story
 
The old-fashioned ways of Montreal fine-paper mill La Papeterie Saint-Armand
  The old-fashioned ways of Montreal fine-paper mill La Papeterie Saint-Armand
 

Robert Everett-Green

 
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In case you missed it
 
Read 150-plus books a year? Voracious ‘super readers’ share their page-turning secrets
  Read 150-plus books a year? Voracious ‘super readers’ share their page-turning secrets
 

Carly Lewis

 
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Portugal River Cruise
 
Join Globe and Mail Publisher and CEO, Phillip Crawley and Editor-in-Chief, David Walmsley as they host the second sailing of The Globe and Mail Portugal River Cruise from July 28 to August 7. This custom-built tour begins with a 3-night stay at the 5-star Tivoli Lisbon hotel and continues on from spectacular Porto where we embark on a journey through the beautiful Douro River Valley. All the while, cruise culinary hosts Tara O’Brady and Beppi Crosariol plus your favourite journalists will all be there to narrate the very best the region has to offer.
 
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