Friday, December 02, 2011

Iceberg Tea

Iceberg Tea /Annelies Pool
Yellowknife: Prelude Books, c2010.
176 p.

This is a charming book. I received it via John's Canadian Book Challenge, quite a while ago, and have finally finished it! (John's review can be found at his blog as well) It's made up of light essays originally published as columns in magazines and newspapers, all about the life of a woman in the Canadian North. Pool discusses Northern-ish things like the Ice Road, snow, stockpiling firewood, the Northern Lights, and iceberg tea (tea made with water gathered by chipping chunks off of handy icebergs, of course!) But she also reveals details about herself and her marriage, as her husband Bill makes regular appearances in her tales.

One of my favourite essays was -- no surprise -- about her love for books. She recalls how she saved up to buy herself Nancy Drew novels at the thrift store as a child, and how this habit of reading has formed her. She states that she may not be "a great or important writer, but I have been able to make a living with words." There's another bookish tale about a time she freaked herself out by reading Stephen King into the wee hours and thought a vampire was at the window....I'll relieve your anxiety by telling you it wasn't a vampire.

There is also a delightful essay about immigrating to Canada at the age of four (they were Dutch) and her mother's challenges adapting to the language and to the strange customs in Canada -- repeating "Oh, that's how they do it in Canada", a phrase the author finds herself saying even fifty years later!

The writing is down-to-earth, often very funny, and Pool has a great sense of gentle self-mockery. She talks about everyday events and things we're all familiar with (Facebook, imaginary lotto winnings) and yet makes her observations amusing and/or touching.

Through her writing you get a glimpse at an everyday life in Yellowknife and the very sweet relationship shared by Pool and her husband. It is a book that I think people interested in normal, average lives (as much as any of us are average) would love. It's written honestly, clearly, and with great affection for living itself. Pool has an eye for the small things of life, and a gift of appreciation. Really an enjoyable book, very suitable to pick up and read one or two brief pieces with a cup of (regular) tea each day.

I appreciate John's CBC Challenge for introducing me to a book I am certain I wouldn't have uncovered otherwise! So many interesting tales have been shared through the five years of the Canadian Book Challenge -- this is the latest wonderful discovery.


For this year's Canadian Book Challenge I've chosen as my theme "Small-Press-Palooza" Thus, for each book I'm including a link to the small press who has published it. Take a look -- there are wonderful small presses all over Canada!


  1. Oh, this sounds lovely. I was just about to place a call to my bookseller... now I'll add this to the list. Even happier to know it's from a small press. (You've also reminded me about the Canadain Book Challenge which for some reason I got away from last year...)

    So, on a couple counts, thanks!

  2. csrin - I hope you'll like it! And I hope that you'll join up with the Canadian Book Challenge again - still lots of time to read 13 Canadian books. I find it is always my favourite challenge :)

  3. Hello from cold, snowy Yellowknife! Thank you so much for the kind words about "iceberg tea." It is always a surprise to me to see how my book is making its way through the world. The Stephen Kind piece has always been one of my favourites. A few weeks ago, I broke my boycott of his novels and read his new book, "11/22/63." Couldn't resist when I saw it in the bookstore. A wonderful romp through the late 50s and early 60s and not scary at all. As an older writer, I appreciate the insights of other older writers. So glad you enjoyed "iceberg tea."

  4. Annelies - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad that I found your book via John.

    Brave of you to pick up Stephen King again ;) Glad to hear it was a good choice -- I know lots of people are commenting on how enjoyable it was.


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