Best book reviews of 2015

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Get cozy and read some of the book lounge's best reviews.

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It has been another excellent year in the rabble book lounge. I mean rabble doesn't just review books, we review books. Our reviewers dig down deep and deliver reviews that offer thoughtful analysis and excellent insight.

This year -- the whole, damn year -- was completely consumed by the election. So we brought the heat and stoked the flames of the Harper-heaving fire with plenty of books on Harper and Canadian politics.

But, we did manage to pull ourselves away from the election frenzy and delve into books on post-secondary education, Indigenous rights, poetry, economics and more.

I have had the pleasure and privilege to edit the books section for three years now and every year I'm beyond proud of the work rabble's reviewers produce. All the original reviews are beautiful gems, but here are some that sparkled in 2015!

Happy reading!


'Captive Revolution' liberates narratives of Palestinian women by Azeezah Kanji

Why it's great: The Israel-Palestine conflict is not a new issue. This book's look into Palestinian women's participation in the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist and national liberation movements is a much-needed perspective on a complicated situation. Azeezah reviews this with an exceptional understanding and knowledge of the conflict and human rights.

Why you should read this: Ever since Azeezah first graced rabble with her words, I have been a huge, huge fan of hers and have tried to get her writing into just about every section of rabble. Her analysis is spot on and her writing is crisp and bold. She wrote multiple reviews this year, all of which are a must.


Refugee stories: Flight, freedom and Canada by Sarah Hipworth

Why it's great: This book asks the important questions about Canada's humanitarian legacy and allows the answers to illuminate the immigration policy under Harper. Now in our new era under Justin Trudeau this book takes on even more urgency and the book's editors tell us why in their own words.

Why you should read this: The care and respect Sarah brings to her reviews is outstanding. She is another repeat offender in the book lounge, with this review going above and beyond asking questions about Canada's humanitarian legacy.


Corporatization of Canadian universities leaves students and faculty on the brink by Michael Stewart

Why it's great: The ongoing corporatization of Canadian universities is a huge issue in post-secondary education. This book documents -- in impressive detail -- the corporate influence on these institutions and how students have been bamboozled into massive debt and precarious employment.

Why you should read this: With a little arm-twisting, slight crying and outright begging, I was able to convince rabble blogs coordinator to write this review. Kidding! When you ask "Who can write about the corporatization of Canadian universities?" Michael Stewart always answers "I can."


Oh, Canada: Harper's systematic attack on democracy and media by Amira Elghawaby

Why it's great: Two reasons: 1. Harper's attack on democracy and media was so egregious that is was completely unbelievable and needed to be exposed and stopped. 2. Harper is no longer our prime minister.

Why you should read this: Amira absolutely tears it up in this review and tears down Harper's legacy into little piece, which we used as confetti as he was voted out. Amira is one of my go-to Canadian political reviewers -- she is another serial reviewer -- and after reading this review, you will know why.


Capitalism must die! Your economic guidebook to revolution by Aaron Leonard

Why it's great: Spoiler alert: capitalism is terrible. How do we know? Because author Stephanie McMillian's colourful cartoons definitely told us so! Her playful blend of colours and style is inviting and brings us in to the serious message that capitalism is definitely destroying the world.

Why you should read this: Aaron Leonard conducts a very illuminating interview with the author where she candidly discusses why we so urgently need to defeat capitalism. Couldn't be a better time to read it.


Amber Dawn connects luxury and logic between body and soul by Tiana Reid

Why it's great: Amber Dawn is a powerful voice in Canadian writing and this book, her first poetry collection,  adds to that reputation. Her poems are pleasurable, passionate and personal and infused with a literary influence that makes everything magical.

Why you should read this: It is always a pleasure to have Tiana write in the book lounge. Always. Her discussion of this poetry collection is incredibly thoughtful and nuanced and really reflects the luxury and richness felt throughout the book.


Hands off Africa: Canada's 300 years of intrusions exposed by Daniel Tseghay

Why it's great: Canada has a mythical relationship with Africa states reviewer Daniel Tseghay and author Yves Engler does everything he can in this book to set the record straight and expose the lies. This book needs to be read by all those who believe Canada is not perpetrating harm in Africa.

Why you should read this: Daniel grounds this review in his personal experience as Eritrean immigrant to Canada and his activism exposing the brutal actions Canadian mining companies are practicing in African countries.

Hope betrayed? The Nova Scotia NDP's rocky fall from power by Joy Woolfrey

Why it's great: Oof. The Nova Scotia NDP had a hard fall from power in 2013 and author Howard Epstein decided to write about it in full detail. The read is particularly interesting now given the current context of a federal party that shall not be named.

Why you should read this: Joy was new to the book lounge this year, and brought her immense knowledge of the events leading to the Nova Scotia NDP's fall from power. It made for a truly fascinating read.


The miseducation of Augie Merasty by Christine Smith (McFarlane)

Why it's great: Exposing the realities of residential schools and telling the stories of survivors is hugely important, especially in 2015 with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission releasing its recommendations and final report. This book told the personal story of Augie Merasty and is one of the standout books of 2015.

Why you should read this: Christine is a repeat review in the book lounge, but she breathes a particular life into this review as she tells the heartbreaking tale of Augie Merasty.


'Night Moves' brings new light to the shadows of Canada's North by Lauren Scott

Why it's great: Oh Richard Van Camp. rabble -- the entire organization -- has had a huge, giant crush on RVC for many years and he only makes us love him more with each new book. Night Moves continues his Fort Simmer series and brings back many characters that we were aching to hear from.

Why you should read this: Former book intern Lauren Scott returns with a bang because her review just boils over with excitement for this book, not to mention her experience interviewing RVC.


The real legacy of Stephen Harper by Meg Borthwick

Why it's great: In the months, weeks, days leading up to the election we were all getting a little... nervous. What if Harper won again? What if he won a majority again? We published this review in the eleventh hour and like to think it was the final nail in the Harper government's coffin.

Why you should read this: Meg Borthwick pulls zero punches in this review. You think Harper was a good prime minister, well Meg -- not to mention this whole book -- has got a few choice words for you.


If you are interested in reviewing books for rabble (yay!) please contact our editor's box [email protected]

Photo: flickr/ quattrostagioni

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