“What are you reading, Judge?”

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An important factor in the success of the BC Provincial Court’s eNews blog (eNews articles had more than 110,000 page views in 2020 and have surpassed that figure in the first ten months of 2021) is the contribution judges and judicial justices make by sharing stories and photos, suggesting topics, and writing articles explaining court processes to litigants.

This summer, eNews asked the Court’s judicial officers to contribute in a different way – by telling us what they were reading for pleasure.

Provincial Court judges must do a lot of work-related reading – legal texts, articles, and judgments (some can be more than a hundred pages long). But they still enjoy reading to relax and learn about non-legal subjects.

“What are you reading?”
When asked what they were reading for pleasure this summer, the Court’s judges and judicial justices named a variety of fiction and non-fiction books, including several by Canadian authors. In no particular order, here’s what they reported.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good (Harper Collins) – Winner of the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. The novel tells the story of residential school survivors’ quest to come to terms with their past and find a way forward with compassion and insight.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill (HarperCollins Books) – Winner of Canada Reads and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2007 - A compelling book about an adolescent girl growing up with a troubled single father. She has to fend for herself at many times, and is exposed to criminality, abuse and addiction at a tender age – the experience of too many children involved in our child protection and justice systems

Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline (Audio book - Penguin Random House Canada) - Indigo’s #1 Best Book of 2019 – This well-written story is about a Metis woman who returns to her community with an outsider whom she marries. He disappears one night after an argument, and she searches for a year before finding him preaching in a revival tent. He does not remember or recognize her. Can she remind him who he really is?

Lost Book of Names by Kristen Harmel (Gallery Books) is a novel about a young woman who escapes the Nazis in the early days of WWII. She becomes a forger of false documents to help children out of Germany. She encodes the real names and new names given to the children in a book, so they can be reunited with their identities one day. Betrayal, intrigue, and sixty-five years pass before that book resurfaces.

Arrow’s Flight by Joel Scott (ECW Press) is a well-written action novel about two friends on the run from drug dealers in Vancouver. They take their sailboat, The Arrow, and flee south. Action-packed adventure combined with nautical details follow as they evade and then attempt to trap their pursuers.

The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby (Harper Collins Canada) A funny, feel-good story set on Vancouver Island, it is about a young woman from New York who inherits a dilapidated farm. She moves there and begins to adopt hapless locals. There’s even a sequel, Republic of Dirt.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama (Random House – Crown) The first volume of his presidential memoirs recounts the former president’s life from youth through his first term as president, sharing personal details and insights into the dynamics of American politics and international events.

Red Notice: A true story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by William Browder (Simon & Schuster) William Browder, an American/British financial investor who started work in Russia in the early 1990s, tells his story of exposing corruption in Russia. The book provides some history of the Russian oligarchs' acquisition of riches, the balance of power between President Putin and the oligarchs , and how Browder himself became a target. The story highlights the importance of the Rule of Law.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, (Random House) - Time’s 2020 #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year – A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist makes the case that America is a caste system analogous to that of India but organized on the basis of race.

The Day the World Came to Town – 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede (Harper Collins - Regan Books) A heart-warming oral history of how Gander’s population of 10,000 welcomed and cared for 6,800 air passengers and crew stranded on 9/11.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Faber and Faber) This historical novel follows the life of a Haggadah (a Jewish illuminated text) backwards in time through old Europe.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (Sphere Books) – As the story unfolds, the characters are complex and well-developed – the main characters carry on from past books, but each book can stand on its own. Galbraith is a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.

Mind Gym, An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack and David Casstevens (McGraw-Hill Education) – It’s basically about believing in yourself - a sports psychologist uses anecdotes from prominent athletes to explain how the mind influences performance. A favourite quote from the book: “The desire to succeed needs to be stronger than the fear of failure.”

Greenlights by Mathew McConaughey (Audiobook - Crown) – A compilation of the author/actor's stories and insights. The gist is that every event in life is either a red light, yellow light or green light. Eventually all lights turn green … so in essence it is about the power of positive thinking and the impact it had on his life.

Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin (Penguin Random House). Historical fiction inspired by the life of Noor Khan who worked against the Nazi occupation in France.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart: Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize. Set in post-industrial working class Glasgow, this beautifully written, heart-breaking novel is about poverty, addiction, and the undying love between a broken mother and her child.

... Lots to consider if you’re looking for a good read as winter sets in!