Alex Paxton-Beesley, star of CBC’s ‘Mennonite mob drama’ gives us her five books that matter


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Alex Paxton-Beesley in ‘Pure’

Alex Paxton-Beesley stars in the new CBC series Pure, billed as a “Mennonite mob drama,” premiering Jan. 9. She says what’s impressed her most is the stunning work of the ensemble cast. 

“This cast was an absolute dream,” says Paxton-Beesley. “Every single performer knocked my socks off. I couldn’t believe I got to go to work with them every day! The world that our creative team built for us was so interesting and complicated, it was a joy to inhabit — even on the hard days.”

Growing up next door to a library in Toronto meant a love of reading was instilled in her from an early age.

“I still dream of being a librarian someday. And we weren’t allowed to watch television when we were kids, so the habit was instilled very early,” she says. “As a result, I’m also a bit of a speed reader, so I burn through books pretty quickly.”

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
My older brother introduced me to these. Before I fell in love with Harry Potter, before I moved on to more contemporary fantasy, there was J. R. R. Tolkien. The world he created is unparalleled in its specificity, depth and myth, and it has informed every single bit of the genre ever since. These books are the canonical texts of the fantasy world, and I love them.

Run, by Ann Patchett
I’m drawn to books about love. And not just romantic love, the even more complicated kinds: the unconditional loves, the loves you’re born into, the love you can't explain and the love you just can’t shake. I also appreciate authors who trust a plot enough to tell it simply, and Ann Patchett is one of the best.

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi
Learning to become a doctor and then learning to become a patient — something I learn over and over is that, despite the best-laid plans, life is never ever what we expect it to be. This memoir absolutely destroyed me — especially the reflections from Paul’s wife — and I've bought it for just about everyone I know. 

To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Sometimes books come into your life at exactly the right time, right when you’re ready for them. I was lucky in high school. I had some incredibly nurturing, supportive and challenging teachers. I reread this book every summer and find myself weeping somewhere new every time.

The Way Of Baseball, by Shawn Green
One of my earliest memories is of wearing my Blue Jays pyjamas and watching our guys win the back-to-back World Series in ’93. I’ve been a sports fan my entire life and am often trying to express to friends why sports is bigger than just the games themselves. This is a reflection on a life, a career and a philosophy that encapsulates it pretty wonderfully. 

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Ron Johnson is the editor of Post City Magazines. Follow him on Twitter @TheRonJohnson.

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