Book Title: What Is Stephen Harper Reading?
Author: Yann Martel
Published: 2009
Pages: 228
Category: Non-Fiction: Canadian politics, Non-Fiction: Epistolary

I mentioned this book to one of my favourite little old ladies who comes into work, we always chat – she grew up very near the Castle that I went to for first year University and whenever she’s been in the bank in the last 2 years we’ve chatted about England, about Politics, about anything really. She and I were talking about her husband, who’s memory is failing, and how she’s discovered that reading aloud to him from books that he remembers from years ago has become a great pastime for the two of them – something they can do together without worrying that he’ll forget where they left off the last time. I mentioned ‘What is Stephen Harper Reading?’ to her, and she told me that Martel had been a student of her son’s at Trent University. It’s simply incredible how small our world can be sometimes.

Now, if you haven’t read Martel’s 2001 novel, ‘Life of Pi,’ I suggest you go and do so immediately.
Now that you’ve read ‘Life of Pi’ I can continue with my review of  Martel’s incredibly different work – this nonfiction, canadian, political, epistolary novel. I don’t know how to better categorize it. How does one categorize a book of letters about books that have all been sent by a Canadian Author to the current Canadian Prime Minister?  Because that’s exactly what Martel has done in this book. He started sending Prime Minister Harper books in April 2007, chosen all for specific reasons, to help with understanding, or governing, or culture. Martel picks a book every two weeks, writes a letter and sends it off to Harper, at the following address:

The Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A OA2

In this book Martel has published all of his letters, and compiled a book of recommended readings for a prime minister of Canada. The project is still ongoing and current books & letters can be found at it is also available in French. I’ve placed a link to his project in my links list on the right hand side of this page as well.

Some of the books Martel has chosen I have read, others I have heard of, and still others I have now added to my list of books to read in the future. I think that so far this has been a wonderfully crafted & thought-provoking project and I look forward to see what other works Martel chooses to send to Harper on a biweekly basis.

Next Book: Confessions of An Economic Hit Man by John Perkins


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