Welcome to my newest foray into the world of book blogging. In 2006, I launched my first blog, simply called The Book Blog (I was lucky enough to own thebookblog.net but it has since expired and been bought up). This was a mix of every type of a book from all over the world and from every period, but the focus was on Canadian literature. This website waned a slowly disappeared. In 2010, I launched The Canadian Book Review (canadianbookreview.wordpress.com), where I review Canadian literature from all genres – fiction, poetry, drama, history, memoir, biography, essays, even the odd graphic novel – and post the occasional editorial on CanLit related topics. Now, after several years of reading solely writing from my home country, I feel the need to begin, once again, to read those classics of Western literature that shaped and informed our culture.
My education is in both English literature and the social sciences. My undergraduate major was in English and my graduate studies were in the field of Island Studies – with my research focusing on the history of publishing in Prince Edward Island. I’ve taken literature courses from Medieval England to contemporary American fiction. I like to think I’m fairly well read.
Literature is an essential part of who I am; it has helped and continues to help shape me. I was very happy with my education in the world of literature; I had some wonderful professors, was exposed to some fantastic writers and books, learned the foundations of the study of literature, and, a very fortunate byproduct of my studies, I met my wife during my studies. But, in retrospect, I feel there there are numerous and massive gaping holes in the academic study of English – world literature in translation, over reliance on rigid critical theories and narrow analytical approaches, lack of historical and social contexts, and a general approach that excluded any outside academic disciplines, which resulted in feeling like I was studying literature in a vacuum. My fellow literary-critics-in-training seemed to rarely share my sentiment as, in my experience, most English majors seem to only study English with the odd history course thrown in. Now that I am pushing 40 and make a comfortable enough of a living that allows me to buy books guilt free, I have the freedom to plug these psychic holes, read the classics I want, and can enjoy them as I see fit without worrying about analyzing them through the critical lens of Foucault’s panopticism or Freudian suppression. And, in an affront to some of my professors, I can read Middle English writing in translation.
So what should you expect from this website? I’m hoping for a mix of classic book reviews, some rants (or as I like to call them, editorials), suggested reading lists, and anything else that strikes my fancy – it is my site after all. My reviews are not going to be the same as what I would undertake for a recent title on my other blog nor will it be a critical analysis. They will simply be what I thought of the book, what spoke to me, what interested me, etc. Please comment and email me often. Make reading suggestions. Argue. I’m up for anything. Thank you for visiting.