Arts & Culture Roundtable: BOOKS

Table – round with books by Jorge Royan

Table – round with books
by Jorge Royan

Roundtable the second

Author: Jael Bartnik, Michelle Jones, John Loepkky, Taylor MacPherson

This week’s Arts and Culture Roundtable is focused on books, new and old. We love books and I know that some of you do, too.


What is your favourite book of 2015?


JB: Consentuality: Navigating Feminism, Gender, and Boundaries Towards Loving Relationships by Helen Wildfell. Considering Valentine’s Day is coming up, the book talks about ways to form healthy relationships while being mindful of sexual boundaries, privilege, and communicating emotions in a way that’s sensitive to your partner’s needs. The book does it in an activity book format while also writing about her personal experiences.


MJ: I’m an English grad student writing my thesis.  I haven’t even gotten to the books I added to my “must read” list in 2010.  Ask me that question in another six years and I might have an answer for you.


JL: That I read in 2015, well I reread My name is Asher Lev which is a book about a very religious Jew who has to confront his religious identity in the face of his artistry. It’s an old book; deal with it.


TM: Make Me by Lee Child. I’m a huge fan of the trashy American thriller, and Child does it better than anybody has in years.


What book are you anticipating in 2016?


JB: I can tell you what book I was excited to come out 25 years ago.


MJ: Oh, that’s an easy one.  Adoring Outlander: Essays on Fandom, Genre and the Female Audience.  Partially because I really do “adore Outlander,” but mostly because I’m published in it (please note my shameless self-promotion).


JL: I am anticipating the release of the Griffin Poetry Prize anthology, if it hasn’t already been released. If it has, then I am anticipating buying that thing on Amazon and reading the shit out of it, shoddy labour standards, be damned.


TM: I think Patrick deWitt has a new book coming out this year. His last one, The Sisters Brothers was a seriously intense western.


What is your favourite book of all-time?


JB: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I know it’s a generic book. Shut up and listen. The monster as a character is relatable and shows a level for empathy in fellow beings. His complex relationship with his creator and desire to be loved are all parts of the human condition. After a few reads, the novel becomes less of a horror fiction and more of a complex interpretation of social norms that indoctrinate us with an irrational fear of difference.


MJ: Have I mentioned that I “adore Outlander?” 


JL: To Kill a Mockingbird or The Book of Negroes. Wow, I guess I have a thing for the fighting of racial inequality and the equitable stories of marginalized people. Go me.


TM: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. It was one of the first “adult” novels I read, and it’s got this really literary quality while still being tremendously readable. It also triggered a weird fascination with serial killers, but that’s another topic.


What are you reading right now?


JB: I just finished reading Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. Technically it’s a graphic novel, but it’s been the one book that I’ve been reading that isn’t for classes. So fuck it. I’ve had a very basic understanding of wrestling culture only because of people I know that have a mild obsession. Being a film major, I thought of Andre the Giant as Fezzik from The Princess Bride. It’s a pretty honest depiction of his life and it doesn’t paint him completely as a hero or a villain, but as a prominent figure in wrestling.


MJ: I’m rereading Outlander for my thesis.  I’m starting to feel like “adore” may not be a strong enough word…


JL: You think I have time to read? That’s cute. I’m currently reading a non-fiction anthology, my favourite being Jamaica Kincaid’s work, as well as I am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son – an essay collection by Kent Russell.


TM: Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy. Most people just know about the video game series, but the book is a great story of modern counterterrorism. It goes really in-depth on modern small-unit tactics as well, which is really fascinating stuff. It came out in 1998, but it’s maybe even more relevant today.



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