Spring 2010 Preview: Happiness, New Literary Heavyweights and Hot for Teacher

Oh hello there!

I've had a week and a half off and I'm raring to go! One can only relax so much until one begins to descend into a coma of PJ-wearing and marathons of Castle-watching (new ep Jan 11!).

Spring (*ahem* winter actually, but let's just call it spring) is about to snow a half ton of delicious books on us and it was my pleasure to comb through the new catalogues to see what goodies 2010 has in store!

Here are a few must reads that will be appearing between now and May:

  • The Happiness Project(HC, January): Gretchen Ruben's blog documented her year-long attempt to find happiness using a variety of methods - old adages, scientific research, principles culled from the likes of Oprah and Thoreau etc. Ruben still posts at Slate.com and her own website and while her objectives may seem obvious (like re-introducing that initial romance into your relationship, her decision to find happiness (not vice versa) is empowering. And who says happiness isn't the journey itself?
  • Jew And Improved(HC, January): This memoir from National Post editor Benjamin Errett documents his conversion to his fiancee's faith, Judaism. I'm not sure about the 'clash of faiths in the 21st century' angle; if the writing and the personal angle are strong the book should have steam. I confess, I have a personal interest in the subject matter seeing as I am attached to a Jew and I have an abiding love for all things Jewish. Jew and Improved includes recipes for brisket (*makes smacking noise*). I like where things are going here.
  • Lonely(HC, February): McClelland and Stewart is doing self-help now. Interesting. Author Emily White was successful by all accounts in her life - friends, family, great job - but she was spending a large portion of her time alone and pretending not to be. Lonely treats loneliness rightfully as a condition, and a debilitating one at that. The fact that loneliness is one of society's remaining taboos makes this book entirely necessary.
  • Deepwater Vee (OTPB, March): Poet Melanie Siebert has been a wilderness guide on remote waterways for the past 10 years and this first collection is a meditation on both the power of northern rivers (the meaning we ascribe to them) and the destruction many of them face. I'm slowly wading back into verse and this looks like a compelling collection.
  • Girl Crazy(OTPB, April): Russell Smith's first novel, Muriella Pent, was ambitious and well-written and very unlike the typical Canadian novel [Ed: this is actually Smith's fourth novel, according to the comment below]. Glossy and witty social satire? Oh my! Smith's follow-up, Girl Crazy, focuses on a lust-crazed college professor obsessed with his student. I don't love this as I'm over the hot for teacher/hot for student storyline. Keep that one for the pornos or at least mix it up a la Notes on a Scandal. However, with Smith's deft touch it could also be pulpy, delicious goodness. I'll let you know.
  • Curiosity(HC, April): Joan Thomas has already been signed on by a major! I shouldn't be surprised since her debut, Reading by Lightning, won the Commonwealth Prize in 2009 for Best First Book. I didn't love RBL but I'm still curious to see what else she can do. Curiosity is set in the same English town as The French Lieutenant's Woman and Persuasion, novels much beloved by myself, and it looks to be one part Charles Darwin homage, one part exploration of the English class system and one part young love. Sounds like a recipe for success.

More to come!


Julie said...

I'm really looking forward to Girl Crazy.

August said...

Just for the record, Muriella Pent wasn't Smith's first novel, it was his third (well, fourth if you count that bizarre fairy-tale thing). The other two were also excellent.

B.Kienapple said...

Thanks August! I stand corrected.

Steven W. Beattie said...

Not to be a stickler, but Girl Crazy is actually Smith's FIFTH novel (not counting "that bizarre fairy-tale thing"). Diana: A Diary in the Second Person was originally released under a pseudonym and was rereleased by Biblioasis (under Smith's own name) in 2008.

B.Kienapple said...

If this blog was an empire built on cash, I would employ you, Steven Beattie, as my fact checker for millions of dollars. I'm not being snarky - you're the best man for the job. Thanks for letting me know.

Julie said...

Jew and Improved might be a book I'll have to pick up this year. Thanks for the descriptions of new books!

John Mutford said...

Jew and Improved reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which a comedian converts to Judaism just so he can acceptably make Jew jokes. I'm skeptical to say the least.

B.Kienapple said...

And let's not forget Charlotte's conversion to Judaism for Harry in Sex and the City! In all seriousness, Jew jokes aren't that funny anymore. I'd rather make fun of the people on Jersey Shore.


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