The People Behind the Politics in the Canadian Blogosphere - Week 2: What are you Reading?

Harper Reads

I was pleasantly surprised by how well last week’s new meme. We had a number of comments, and a number of posts from bloggers across the Canadian political spectrum. I’m pleased that I was able to do this. I firmly believe that, unlike the American blogging community, though we have subcommunities like the Blogging Tories and the Blogging Dippers, by and large we remain one community: the community of the Canadian political blogosphere. And it’s still possible to share interests, even as we go at it in a heated election campaign.

So, with week one done, here is week two’s meme, which by happy coincidence meshes in with Book Bloggers Appreciation Week. My question is simple: what books are you reading right now, and why? Post your thoughts on your blog, link to this post, and post a comment here linking to your post.

As for me, I used to have two books on the go. About eleven years, as Erin and I started our life together, she started me on this nice tradition: we would read to each other before we went to bed. The first book I read to her was Norman Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, and we haven’t looked back, though it is largely me doing the reading nowadays, helping Erin go to sleep.

That’s one book. The other book on the go would be the book I’d take with me when I went to the gym with my friend Dan. Our typical exercise regimen consisted of twenty-four minutes on the stationary cycle, a number of sets of weight training, and crunches. Those twenty-four minutes on the bike could either be spent watching television screens, or staring into space, or reading. I picked reading. Unfortunately, between various family upheavals, I haven’t been to the gym since Nora was born, and that outlet has been lost to me, unless Dan and I can make gym happen once again. Hey, Dan, how about tonight?

So, one book on the go; what am I reading? I have just finished The Lightning Thief (and you can read my review here, and I have now moved on to Kenneth Oppel’s Starclimber.

Starclimber is the third book in Oppel’s fantasy series depicting and Edwardian world where the primary mode of transportation are air ships. The first book in the series, Airborn, won the Governor General’s Award for children’s literature, and the second, Skybreaker, won a number of other awards. All three books focus on the characters Matt Cruse and Kate DeVries. Matt is a former cabin boy that we meet on board the titanic airship Aurora; he falls in love with Kate, who is a rich socialite’s daughter that’s rebelling against her pampered upbringing and desires to be a scientist. Together, they face swashbuckling adventures in the air, discovering strange new creatures and fighting sky pirates. There is a definite steampunk-ish atmosphere to the novels, although they are neither dark nor grim.

Starclimber takes things further. The characters are now seventeen and contemplating how they can forge a life together when all social norms dictate that they must stay apart. They’re also recruited into the Canadian space program, as our government seeks to beat France to the punch, getting “astralnauts” into space using essentially a space elevator.

Oppel is well known for his Silverwing series, about the fantastic life of bats, but I prefer his Airborn trilogy. I’ve gotten involved with the characters and their overarching story. The story is told by Matt Cruse in the first person, and Oppel has created a compelling hero. He has an easygoing writing style that is accessible, but contains brilliant flashes of metaphor and wry bits of humour. Most of all, as heroic as Matt and Kate are, they remain lovably flawed and human. Kate is just a little too driven in her ambition, and Matt has to fight off more than one bout of jealousy. It makes their final victories all the more satisfying.

I’m about nine chapters in and am enjoying myself immensely. There is no word yet on whether a fourth book might be possible, but while I see an opening, I get the impression that Oppel wants to move on. This is understandable, but unfortunate, in my opinion. I still want to see what happens next.

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