This just in – reading fiction makes you smarter and more socially perceptive!
University of Toronto Professor Keith Oatley has studied your brain on fiction and concluded that because you have to create meaning from the text and imagine “possible selves in possible worlds” it works your brain and your social I.Q. While all fiction helps, Professor Oatley thinks that literary fiction builds those brain muscles the best so why not try these engaging and entertaining titles and add to those grey cells!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before.
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The family of a fierce evangelical Baptist missionary--Nathan Price, his wife, and his four daughters--begins to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Belgian Congo, where they find their lives forever transformed over the course of three decades by the political and social upheaval of Africa.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
After being orphaned, Alexander MacDonald comes to Cape Breton Island yearning for family connections and finds himself working in the mines with his wild older brother and caring for another brother, who is dying.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Tells the story of the Buendia family, set against the background of the evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town.
*Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.
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What’s your favourite read that makes you think?
Former Calgarian, Esi Edugyan made the shortlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction!
Her second novel, Half-Blood Blues, is one of the six nominees on the shortlist.
While you’re waiting to get your copy of this great read, why don’t you check out some of the great reads from last year’s shortlist:
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Long Song by Andrea Levy
C by Tom McCarthy
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
Room by Emma Donoghue
What award nominated book has blown you away?
Frank Adams must be the most silent protagonist in fiction. Perhaps his humble voice is what allows the reader to experience the cacophony of the Boer War in The Great Karoo, by Fred Stenson. What seems like a radical departure from Stenson’s usual and successful scenes in western Canada quickly becomes an extension of southern Alberta, as cowboys go off to war in South Africa at the behest of an ungrateful Great Britain.
Frank is a follower, a man uncomfortable with any sort of attention. He loves and knows horses, particularly Dunny. Along with many other cowboys, he and Dunny are shipped first to Halifax and then to South Africa in the roughest of conditions. Already Frank has started to develop a sort of confused resentment at the waste and incompetence of war.
In The Great Karoo, the Boer war is exposed as a shambles. Many characters, both fictional and historic, direct the troops according to their past experiences or to satisfy their own egos. The Boers have their own egotistical leaders, who often outwit the British, yet also disregard human life in pursuit of their goals. Scattered across the desert, plains and hills are Boer farms and towns, eerily reminiscent of Alberta. Naturally, the Boer farmers are uniformly angry and disdainful of the armed interlopers who fight for their subjection.
Despite the death, illnesses, cold, heat, lice, hunger and every other calamity of war, Frank persists even longer than his enlistment requires. He makes friends with Ovide, another man who does what he is told, until he falls fatally for a bad “joke”. And after much persistence, he becomes the true friend of Jeff Davis, a man of ambition and leadership. Frank’s persistence is his most endearing quality. Many times he withdraws, but then he returns to his deep need to be friends with a few select people and horses.
The Great Karoo is a finely crafted novel that teaches us history while defining the value of the quiet voice.