A Collection of Wonderful Reads – Pt II

As promised, My Stable Life returns today with a couple more delightful books. If you missed the first installment, check out yesterday’s:

A Collection of Wonderful Reads

And if any of you have some great reading suggestions, by all means let me know! I love books that come with recommendations.

But without further adieu, let’s begin with the last three reviews:

HALF BROKE HORSES, JEANNETTE WALLS, $34.00 CDN Hardcover
THE GLASS CASTLE, JEANNETTE WALLES, $16.50 CDN Paperback

It’s hard to discuss Half Broke Horses without also mentioning author Jeannette Walls’ other publication, The Glass Castle. I’ve read both. Both books feature Walls’ fabulous eloquence and talent as an author with storytelling fashion. Both books are true-life novels. And both are spectacular recounts of Walls’ family history.

But I enjoyed Half Broke Horses in a way that doesn’t even compare.

The Glass Castle is a spellbinding memoir of Walls’ childhood growing up as the daughter of Rex and Rose Mary Walls. As one of four children, Walls tells of the family adventures doing the “skedaddle” and living like nomads across southwest desert towns, surviving starvation, fires and poverty and picking stars out for Christmas presents. She describes stories of her Father Rex, who was a charismatic dreamer and would drink the grocery money away. And of her mother, Rose Mary, who preferred to create paintings over making dinner for the family. It’s Jeannette Walls’ own life, in her own words and written with such fondness and genuine adoration for her parents that it left me shocked. The Glass Castle struck me to my absolute core and made me think, “Some people do not deserve to have children.” I know that sounds harsh, but it’s honest. And yet, the author doesn’t echo my sentiments. This book is a true testament to the human spirit and is a story of forgiveness that only love – in its truest, most genuine form – can offer.

Half Broke Horses on the other hand, studies Jeannette Walls’ family history one generation further back. It is the riveting tale of Walls’ grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, mother of Rose Mary Walls. Lily was a horse trainer by the tender age of 6, a teacher by the age of 15 – riding over 500 miles alone on her black and white mare named Patches to get her first job – and a bootlegger, rancher and pilot later in life. She endured the Great Depression, tornadoes, floods, harsh winters and heartbreak. She was a true cowgirl and possessed a spirit akin to a half broke horse herself. In many ways, I found myself able to relate with Lily Casey Smith when it came to her experiences with prejudices, untamed horses, personal tragedy and her sheer desire to live her life to the fullest.

As told by the author in a first-person voice, Half Broke Horses is true-life fiction book in light of the fact that Jeannette Walls had to fill in some of the details herself. Nonetheless, this is her grandmother’s story, as told to her by her mother and features the tenacity of a tough-minded, lion-hearted woman in the difficult era of the Wild West.

STAMPEDE!, GORDON PITTS, $21.95 CDN Paperback
I’ll admit, I actually picked this book up off the shelf after reading the front and back covers. But my gamble paid off. With the tagline: The Rise of the West and Canada’s New Power Elite, plus an image of a cowboy riding through the streets of an urban dwelling surrounded by skyscrapers on each side, I couldn’t help myself. STAMPEDE! had my curiosity immediately piqued.

Written by Gordon Pitts, and the recipient of the 2009 National Business Book Award, STAMPEDE! focuses on the new frontiers of wealth making headlines in Canada and the social and cultural emergence of the West. Simply by stating facts, Pitts analyzes the complex issues our country is facing and the changing dynamics that are reshaping the way we live.

From the hot button topic of the oilsands, to Montreal’s loss of aluminum giant Alcan, to Saskatchewan’s big stake in biosciences, Pitts evaluates the developments that are happening from coast to cost in Canada and points out surprising patterns. And regardless of your political views, chapters entitled, “Welcome to Edgary,” “The Prairie is Flat: The boom that knows no borders” and “Playground of the Petro-rich: The Colonization of British Columbia,” are sure to get your blood boiling with intrigue. Any way you slice it, Pitt’s thoughts and predictions are riveting to reflect upon as we approach 2011.

I realize it’s likely not all my Easterner friends will agree, but Pitts puts forward a theory in this book that is hard to ignore. And regardless of where in this glorious country you live, STAMPEDE! is a compelling read that evaluates the steady shift of power currently drawing up a curious blueprint for Canada’s future.

Comments

  1. Let me assure you Jenn that lots of your Eastern friends will find this a good read!!

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