It’s World Book Day! And with everyone stuck at home during this pandemic, there’s never been a better time to crack open a great book, step into someone else’s shoes, and set out to explore the world with new eyes.
As a creative agency, our team likes to read. A lot. And we keep those creative juices pumping with a pretty eclectic array of books on the go.
To celebrate the joy of reading on this World Book Day, we asked around NOW’s virtual-office to see what we’re reading right now. And here it is: Our team’s first-ever recommendations for good reads.
An Ocean of Minutes, by Thea Lim. Take a story about a couple separated by crisis and borders and flip it 90 degrees so they’re separated by time, instead of distance. An Ocean of Minutes is a novel that leans on time travel but it’s not sci-fi – instead, it explores separation, longing, and imagination in a world that’s been thrown askew. Sound familiar?
On The Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement, by Rod Mickleburgh. As an agency devoted to promoting social good and helping unions connect with working Canadians, we love a good labour history. And exploring BC’s labour history is an incredible journey – from mining strikes and fiery speeches, to the lasting victories that unions have won for BC’s workers. On The Line is the story of how the labour movement has helped to build BC – and the vital role that unions play in making life better for all working families.
Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention, by Tings Chak. Through a little over a hundred pages of precise illustrations, photos, and words, Chak informs, enlightens, and provokes us about the way we use built environments to restrict human movement and the ethical responsibilities designers face. A unique work from the perspective of an author who wears the hats of both artist and architect.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators, by Ronan Farrow. This is a powerful book about the importance of survivors’ voices – and the irreplaceable value of investigative journalism in uncovering truths that powerful interests would prefer to keep buried. Catch and Kill documents Farrow’s struggle to uncover the stories of multiple sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, who now sits convicted in a New York prison cell. Farrow reveals what it took to bring so many women’s stories to light – and help catalyse one of the most important criminal cases of the 21st century.
What Goes Up: The Right and Wrongs to the City, by Michael Sorkin. The social conscience of the architectural design field, Sorkin tragically passed away on March 26 as one of New York City’s first victims of the COVID-19 virus. But he left us with a profound legacy through his decades of writing and architectural practice. Drawing inspiration from George Orwell’s reasons for writing, Sorkin hoped that his own design practice “strikes a blow against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism.” Full of thought-provoking ideas about building better spaces for all city residents, this collection also showcases Sorkin at his witty and playful best. Who knew that every architect should be aware of the flowering season of azaleas?
There There, by Tommy Orange. This novel looks at what it means to be “native” in a modern American landscape – not as one all-encompassing group but as individuals with unique experiences and struggles. The unique structure of the story allows the narrative to shift perspectives between twelve characters, almost spiraling towards the climax as they all make their way to a Powwow in Oakland. The writing is vivid and poignant, and you find yourself thinking about each of the characters for hours after putting down the book. Can’t wait to see what Tommy Orange writes next!
The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-1975, by Geoff Meggs and Rod Mickleburgh. This book looks back on the time in office – and the long list of legacies – of Dave Barrett, the first NDP premier of British Columbia. It was just three years, but Barrett’s government helped shape the future of BC as we know it. It passed hundreds of bills, set up public auto insurance, created pharmacare, and so much more. This book is well worth the read – and a timely reminder of how much a government can do to help people, if it has the political will.
P.S. Next time you order a book, please support your local independent booksellers. We can’t imagine our neighbourhoods without them – and we need to make sure they survive this difficult period.
And a big shout-out to public library workers across Canada for making incredible e-books and electronic resources available during this period of isolation. Thank you, librarians, for making the world of books accessible to more people than ever.