Fave books list from “Read all Over” in Vancouver is Awesome

Book shelf

Background: They say, “Read All Over (as in read all over town or the literary pun joke, what’s black and white and re(a)d all over… ) is about celebrating the booknerd in all of us, highlighting book lovers in Vancouver and is published in Vancouver is Awesome.” Indeed, my contributions were included in the series and archived here for convenience.

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Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.

Poet, podcaster, pundit and chronic documentarian from his earliest days, Dave Thorvald Olson spends his time writing, painting and listening to vinyl albums on the back porch while gazing at Lynn Valley’s mountains and trees. He’s traveled to 25+ countries working very odd jobs including mushroom farmer, grape picker, college librarian, submarine tour guide, beach club host and now, dot-com community wrangler. He enjoys hot springs, counter-culture, collecting ephemera and swilling microbrews. You many have caught his stories at SXSW, Northern Voice, TEDx, or Pecha Kucha.  Literature fans will enjoy his spoken word podcast series calledPostcards from Gravelly Beach.

Photo courtesy of Dave Thorvald Olson

How do you like your books served up best – audio books, graphic novels, used paperbacks, library loaner, e-reader…

I especially like tracking down hardback vintage editions of my favourites and set them on the top shelf of my case alongside dog-eared paperback versions. Example: a rare Catcher in the Rye with photo of Salinger; an unedited version of Kerouac’s On the Road scroll; andDr. Zhivago in Russian (just for fun). While I usually travel with paperbacks, I hauled a massive edition of War and Peace to Belize just to enjoy it more on the porch. I also buy lots of library cast-offs. Never tried an audio book, or an e-book for that matter.

The one book you always recommend is…

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke – elegant soliloquies, devoid of pretension, about pulling the best out of oneself – particularly when writing.

What books have changed your life?

Walden/Civil Disobedience – Thoreau showed me that words are the source of public and private revolutions rather than violence.

The Catcher in the Rye – Salinger’s renegade first-person, colloquial narrative is nuanced & powerful and still underestimated in ability to transform.

Dharma Bums – Kerouac’s chops & sincerity shine through in this earnest story which coaxed millions to put their boots on!

The Backcountry – Following Gary Snyder’s steps in a Kyoto train station shaped my journey and trueself while heading into the Japanese hills.

Desert Solitaire – Crusty Ed Abbey’s seasonal treatise is both elegant and bombastic plus ecologically important for the past & future.

War and Peace – Satisfyingly critical life lessons tangled within Tolstoy’s epic cast of thousands in a revolutionary soap opera of class & honesty.

Bonus: Siddaharta by Herman Hesse; Rommel Drives Deep into Egypt by Richard Brautigan; Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce; Post Office by Charles Bukowski; Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis; and, Walking Up and Down in the Worldby Smoke Blanchard.

Where is your favorite place to crack open a good book in Vancouver?

On a Crab Park bench – glancing up at tugs and freighters – continued on the Seabus as needed.

What book makes you feel like a kid again?

The Adventures of Tintin. I have a complete collection of the stories (including the previously banned “Soviets” and “Congo” escapades) about this renegade Belgian reporter and his eclectic band of co-conspirators.

The story about the creator Hergé is equally compelling as he started the series for a Catholic newspaper and carried on during Nazi occupation.

Your life story is published tomorrow. What’s the title?

Trips to Elsewhere: A Shoebox of Anecdotes and Incidents


Photo courtesy of Dave Thorvald Olson

Whatcha think?