Somewhere Inside: one sister’s captivity in North Korea and the other’s fight to bring her home

A must-read, written by sisters Laura and Lisa Ling. Not much was said in the media about Laura’s experience, both during and after her captivity. What little I heard about her experience made me curious and I just had to read her story. You won’t be able to put the book down once you start reading. (submitted by LL)

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Inside the Kingdom: my life in Saudi Arabia

When I picked up this audiobook, I was under the impression that it was the biography of Osama Bin Ladin’s wife. However, Carmen Bin Ladin is his former sister-in-law. She writes about her life in Saudi Arabia, being married to Osama’s brother Yeslam, finally getting divorced, and escaping with her three daughters to Switzerland. Carmen talks about the lives of women in Saudi Arabia. By custom they are mostly confined to their homes and most of their time is spent praying, reading Koran, and raising children. I started listening to this audiobook on my commute home, but found myself captivated so much that I ended up listening to it at home. A beautifully written memoir that will keep you engaged and might just help you get through tons of house chores without even noticing. (submitted by IS)

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25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, To Get the Job You Want

Much to my surprise, I  loved this eAudiobook – it is only about a hour long – and it gives very good general advice about what to say at an interview and how to conduct yourself at work. It focuses on working in the for-profit business world with consumers and clients, but its advise is broadly applicable.  Practical life-lessons for all ages, particularly those of us who are in the first half of our working lives. (submitted by Jen)

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Lessons in Taxidermy

Bee Lavender has lived through more sickness than I thought I would have the stomach to even read about. It seems as though every unfortunate illness and ill-luck has befallen this woman: cancer, car accident, complications, and more complications. I read this book when I was quite sick and struggling through a series of unsuccessful diagnoses, feeling completely overwhelmed with chronic illness. Somehow reading Lavender’s writing about sickness actually made me feel better. Her book is empowering. Lavender faces illness without flinching, making for an uplifting, if slightly terrifying, read. The narrative is up-front and personal, which along with the book being a short 160 pages, makes it very accessible. (submitted by TH)

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The Wayfinders: why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world

I love it when I find readable non-fiction, and this book is both eminently readable and lovable. Part of the CBC Massey lecture series, it speaks to culture, language and society, and what happens as we lose the thread between ourselves and our past. Like Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress (another excellent Massey lecture that deserves its own blog post), Davis questions the global thirst for progress. However, unlike Wright, Davis is less doomsday in his outlook and celebrates modern navigators in Hawaii and aboriginal peoples in Canada, among others, in their efforts to reclaim a gentler way of thinking and doing. A very important book with a message that is becoming hard to ignore. (submitted by LH)

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Losing My Religion: how I lost my faith reporting religion in America — and found unexpected peace

I found this book riveting and fascinating.  Veteran journalist William Lobdell was in his early twenties when he became a born-again Christian.  At the time,  few reporters were interested in the religion beat – a topic regarded as an antiquated arena for fading journalists. Lobdell had a vision for this position however, and landing it became a powerful calling.  He prayed and waited years for the opportunity. Then it happened in 1998.  The Los Angeles Times hired him for the job and he felt his prayers were finally answered.

For eight years he travelled extensively, looking for inspirational stories in all walks of life, as well as interviewing some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders.  However, he continually found disturbing discrepancies between the tenets of the various faiths, and the actual behaviour of the faithful and their leaders.  Eventually, he let go of his faith and surprisingly, found more peace in “the truth.”  This book  is not a defence of atheism using hard science, instead it is a passionate, spiritual journey full of revelations – a must read for anyone grappling with all the hard questions.

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Power of Half: one family’s decision to stop taking and start giving back

I am starting to give more money to charity.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin.  Help locally?  Help in developing countries?  Help animals, people, or the environment?  And how should I involve my kids so they know how fortunate they are?

Well, this book definitely got me thinking.  It’s about a family whose 14-year-old daughter wants to do more for others.   Her parents are motivated by her good intentions and decide to sell their 6,500 square foot house and downsize to something half as big and half the price.  They plan to give the other half of the proceeds to charity.  This is the true story of this process.  It’s interesting to hear how they chose who to give the money to, and how this act changes their family dynamics for the better.   A short and uplifting book. (submitted by KA)

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