On The Page: LMPR's Favourite Books to Broaden Horizons
We have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of arts and culture organizations – from Shiamak Davar to Dancers of Damelahamid to the Museum of Anthropology, to name but a few. In celebration of the complex and illuminating culture of Canada – and the clients we are privileged to work with – our team presents their favourite books that have broadened horizons and furthered understanding.
Laura Murray – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
This book transported me deep into a world so unlike my own, introducing me to another time, another place. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan vividly describes the beauty and the complexity of this fascinating culture and its customs and rituals. Set in the mid-1800s in China’s remote Hunan Province, I learned of arranged marriages and of customary foot bindings. However, what surfaces in this book, amongst the despair and abuse, is the inner lives of the women and their unwavering resolve and optimistic outlook, despite their harsh, unforgiving realities.
We follow the intense friendship of Lily and Snow Flower, a ‘latong’ match, whose relationship is linked more closely than a husband and wife's. The duo speaks ‘nu shu' – a unique language developed by women in order to communicate in secret, away from the dominance of men.
Zoe Grams – Consumption, by Kevin Patterson
As a relative newcomer to Canada, I often look for literature that helps me to learn more about this vast, diverse country. The novel, Consumption, is set in the tundra of Nunavut, and follows a family, the community, and a culture, from the 1950s to present day.
It is a compassionate yet haunting look at how individuals are galvanized in the face of natural, and human-made, dangers. It is an exploration of the universal notions of love, belonging, and self-identity. And, it acts as a stringent criticism of our modern culture. The characters have remained with me since reading, but so to has a better understanding of the complexities of Canadian history, and the country’s society.
Rebecca Sharma – Ravensong, by Lee Maracle
Often we feel we need to look far away for a broader horizon. With Lee Maracle’s 1993 novel Ravensong, I discovered different ways of knowing from right here at home. Ravensong invites us into the liminal world of Stacey, a young Coast Salish woman in the 1950s who engages with forms of difference in many ways: ethnic and cultural variation between Indigenous and white communities, epistemological difference in learning and knowledge, generational diversity, and sexual alterity.
Maracle artfully guides her characters through these complex situations by opening readers to a distinctly Indigenous worldview, one that diffuses the polarizing tendencies of identities and conflict. Ravensong helped me reflect on my own assumptions about so-called ‘human nature,’ and encouraged me to relate to people on their own terms.
Brian Paterson – The Rebel Sell, by Heath and Potter
The Rebel Sell is a thought-provoking and controversial book by Canadian authors Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter that attacks the beliefs and ideas which underlie countercultural movements. Through a series of pop culture, historic, and philosophical examples, it argues that social groups such as hippies, punks, and hipsters who seek to fight back against 'mainstream consumerism' are in fact a vital creator of the very culture they oppose.
It would be an embarrassment to attempt to summarize its complex argument in the space available here, but suffice to say, the book overturned and challenged many of the convictions I held when I read it many years ago. While I continue to disagree with much of what is said, it was a certainly horizon broadening work to be exposed to as a young marketer, one which I frequently think back on to this day.
Angela Poon - The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey
One of my top reads from 2012 was Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel, The Snow Child. Set in 1920s Alaska, this book was at once a brutal portrayal of the harsh, unforgiving wilderness and an uplifting fairytale that inspires hope, love, and faith. While I can’t say the book elicited any desire to travel to Alaska personally, every beautifully descriptive page instantly transported me to unfamiliar terrain and bred in me an awe and respect for the ruthless but majestic landscape.