Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
A fascinating retelling of the life of Henrietta Lacks and how she has impacted science to this day. Her cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951 and were the first ‘immortal’ human cells grown in culture. Her cells, known as HeLa cells, are still alive today, even though she’s been dead for over 60 years. This account of her story and how her cells have led to numerous medical breakthroughs throughout history is a must-read. Explore the cloudy borders that separate science and ethics.
Record: Fair Warning – Van Halen
An all-time favourite – Van Halen’s fourth LP, Fair Warning, is complete with awesome riffs, iconic lyrics and tunes you can’t help but sing along to. Hearing ‘Unchained’ come through the speakers immediately leads to my best rockstar impression!
Book: Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler
After reading The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in high school, I was hooked by Richler’s writing. He had an amazing ability to write in almost as a stream of consciousness and capture the happiness, sadness, and despair of the characters he created. One of the few authors that can evoke tears from the reader, both from laughter and sorrow. Barney’s Version did just that through the multiple accounts and narratives of the life and times of Barney Panofsky. Definitely one of the most colourful, entertaining, yet complicated characters in Canadian literature. Worth the read.
Record: The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo
The Country Rock sound is like a soundtrack to my youth. Could not get enough of it as I ventured into music at a young age. I have just recently binged on as much as I could find: a great rock/documentary, Echoes in the Canyon, and a PBS multi-part special, “Country Music”, carefully and creatively chronicled the Byrds, along with so many others as they crafted beautiful music that crossed over from rock to country. Awesome.
Book: Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques
The Redwall series was made into a TV show when I was very young, when it was taken off air I remember my brother and me wanting to know more! And that’s when we discovered these phenomenal, well written books. If you’d like to read a great work of fiction that’s just fun and enjoyable, these books are for you!
Record: Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
This album is a compilation of demos that were originally planned to be on the fantastic album To Pimp a Butterfly. Kendrick takes the world of hip hop, and combines it with free soul Jazz while exploring political and philosophical themes. If you take the time to listen to the lyrics it’s a very poetic and beautiful album. **fun fact I have the CD version of this and it is stuck in my car CD slot and I have only been able to listen to this for 2 years…still love it**
Book: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I think I picked up this book after reading a couple of Malcolm Gladwell’s first books (The Tipping Point and Blink). It is written by a former wall street trader and is full of interesting examples of how limited we are in predicting the future. The idea of a ‘black swan event’ is a highly improbably event, which turns out to be true, based on the story that it was widely believed all swans were white, because all swans that had been observed were white – until black swans were discovered in Australia. He argues that these highly improbable, unpredictable events are responsible for many aspects of life. If you’re at all interested in prediction, probability, and words like ‘fractal randomness’ this gem is for you, it’s really a great read!
Record: M83 – Saturdays = Youth
This was my entry into m83’s wonderful world of synthesizer-infused drama; this one being particularly reminiscent of a montage in an 80s coming of age movie. A track from this album was on a snowboard movie that came out in 2008 which was the first I’d seen in like 20 years (and incidentally was a major way of discovering music back in the day) – so for me it always reminds me of snowboarding. After finding this album, I dug deep into some of m83s earlier records which are all awesome (some even better). Check out the song ‘We Own the Sky’ for a sample – epic, dramatic, maybe a little over the top, but perfect for gazing out at the falling leaves and reading about fractal randomness.