Top Ten Tuesday – Numbers (Oct 1)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic, which seems so random, is ‘Book Titles with Numbers In Them.’ So, here are ten from my shelves with no connection to each other rather than the fact they have numbers in their titles.

  1. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) – this dystopian classic is probably in my top 5 reads.
  2. Five by Endo (Shusaku Endo) – an enjoyable short story collection from one of Japan’s most revered writers, covering such topics as Christianity, death, and history. If you’ve never read any Endo before, this would be a great place to start.
  3. 1984 (George Orwell) – I first read this in high school in the early 80s and it has remained a favourite ever since.
  4. 501 Must-Read Books (edited by Emma Beare) – a book about books! Sometimes it’s hard to understand why a book makes one of these lists at the expense of others which may be seen by some as better. I put a list of the books included in this book on my previous blog, to see if I could get through as many of them as possible. So far I’ve only read 42 of them.
  5. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) – this is the book that first got me into Russian literature and it is also in my top 5 reads. It’s well worth the read and one that I heartily recommend.
  6. The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis) – one of my favourite books, from my favourite writer.
  7. The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson) – Jonas Jonasson is a great storyteller who always makes me laugh.
  8. 1929: A crisis that shaped The Salvation Army’s future (John Larsson) – I enjoyed this book about a turning point in the history of The Salvation Army a lot more than I thought I would.
  9. The Seven A.M. Practice (Roy MacGregor) – I never had to do the 7am hockey practice run, but there were plenty of early morning swimming practice runs, so I can identify with the stories in this little gem.
  10. 11/22/63 (Stephen King) – apart from The Dead Zone, this is almost my favourite Stephen King book. It’s a smartly written piece of historical fiction, with the added bonus of some time travel and plenty ‘what if’ questions.
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Top Ten Tuesday – Fall 2019 TBR (Sept 24)

I haven’t posted anything here forever, so I thought it was about time to get going again.

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Books on My Fall 2019 TBR List.’ The ones I’ve chosen are a variety of books. Some I’ve had for too long, others are ones that are fairly new to me, but are ones I really want to read soon. I’m not always the best at getting through my TBR piles, but hopefully I’ll get through more than half of these in the next few months.

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  1. The Way of Tea and Justice (Becca Stevens) – I got this one for Christmas last year and it looks like a really interesting read.
  2. Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black (Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, Alexis Deacon) – this is a review copy I got free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, so it’s about time I got it read. I am about 60 pages into it and enjoying it so far.
  3. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons (Sam Kean) – I got this one for Christmas last year as well. Sam Kean writes interesting and engaging non-fiction books, mainly of a scientific nature. This one on the history of the human brain really piqued my interest. I need to get to it soon.
  4. This is How it Always Is (Laurie Frankel) – I received this novel for Christmas last year and it looks lie one I’ll really enjoy when I get around to it.
  5. Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy (Anne Lamott) – yet another Christmas gift from last year and it’s Anne Lamott, so it needs to be read!
  6. Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
     (Rachel Held Evans) – it was so sad when Rachel Held Evans died earlier this year at such a young age. This was her last book and I’ve wanted to read it for a while. I will soon.
  7. The Humans (Matt Haig) – I haven’t read anything by Matthew Haig yet, so I need to remedy that. Plus I’ve heard lots of good things about this one.
  8. Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God (Lauren F. Winner) – I’ve had this one unread on my shelf for too long. I always enjoy reading Lauren Winner, so I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten to this one yet.
  9. There and Back Again: JRR Tolkien and the Origins of the Hobbit (Mark Atherton) – this is yet another of last year’s Christmas gifts. The Hobbit is my favourite book, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one.
  10. Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me (Janet Mock) – I got this last month and started reading it right away, but then I got distracted by other book. I’ll get back to it soon for sure.

Hello 2019

For a number of reasons, 2018 was not the best of years, so I’m quite happy to see the back of it. Last year round about this time I posted a New Year post, with a list of goals. It seems that I didn’t get too far with it. Ironically, the one I did fulfil was one that I’d rather not have fulfilled in the way that I did. One of the goals was to visit a new place. I said that I’d always wanted to visit Iceland, but that I didn’t think I’d visit it any time soon. Unfortunately, I got to stop in Iceland on the way to my Dad’s funeral in April. I’m sure I’ll get to go back there at some point, but I’d rather not have gone there last year for the reason I did.

Since I did such a lousy job on the list last year, I’ll post it again and see if I can do better this time. Here’s the list:

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Break a Bad Habit – Last year I said that I needed to curb my cynicism. That probably still is the case, so I’ll set that again for this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to do better this year.

Learn a New Skill – I still haven’t spent the $50 gift card I got for Michaels at Christmas 2017. However, this year one of the books I received was ‘The Joy of Scrapbooking’, so maybe I’ll use the card to try this out. Once I’ve read the book I’ll see if it’s something I can do.

Do a Good Deed – As I wrote last year, hopefully I’ll manage more than one good deed this year!

Visit a New Place – We’re not planning any big trips this year, but there are plenty of places in Ontario that I have never been to, most of which are within short driving distance.

Read a Difficult Book – I have a number of books on my shelf that could be considered difficult, so I’ll pick one at some time this year and try and get through it.

Write and Send a Letter – Last year I wrote:

I haven’t written a ‘real’ letter for many years. For sure I write emails quite often, but that’s not really the same thing. Maybe I’ll try and write and send at least one letter each month this year. It’s something I used to do quite often, so I’ll see how it goes.

I never wrote one last year. Hopefully I will this year.

Try a New Food – This should be easy enough. I am vegetarian, but there are plenty of vegetarian things I haven’t tried yet.

Take a Risk – I’ll need to think about this one. I seem to be less willing to take risks as I get older, but I’ll try and change that.

I think that last year I lost focus on this list and actually forgot about it. This year it will hopefully be different. I’ll post some updates as it all progresses.

2018 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

xmas spirit challengeMy blogging and reading haven’t been going very well so far this year. This is my first post since July and I have only managed to read 41 books. There’s a variety of reasons why this is the case, but it is what it is.

To try and get a few more books read before the end of the year I’ve decided to sign up for the 2018 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, which I just discovered last week. I have quite a few Christmas themed books still unread on my shelves, so it’ll give me an excuse to get a few of them read. I’ll probably sign up for the Christmas movie challenge as well, as we have quite a few Christmas themed movies we’d like to watch this year. I’ll add a link to my progress under my Reading Challenges tab.

I can’t promise too many more blog posts this year, but I should try and do better. I certainly can’t do worse anyway!

Stacking the Shelves (July 21)

Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! More details and about how you can participate can be found HERE.

I added the following seven books to my shelves this past week:

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  1. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I picked this up at the library stall during Heritage Day in St Marys last Saturday.
  2. The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton – I also picked this one up at the library stall.
  3. Lost Boy by Shelley Hrdlitschka – I received this ARC copy from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing. It’s due for publication in October.
  4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson – this is another one I got from the library stall.
  5. Ironclads at War: The Monitor vs the Merrimac by Dan Abnett, Ron Wagner (Cover Artist), Dheeraj Verma (Illustrator) – this little graphic novel was being given away by a friend, so I grabbed it.
  6. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Dan Rafter (Adapter), Bhupendra Singh Ahluwalia (Illustrator), Jules Verne – another small graphic novel my friend was giving away. Sometimes these little adaptations aren’t too bad, so I’ll have to see how this one is.
  7. Three Men in a Boat: The Graphic Novel by Nidi Verma, Jerome K. Jerome, K.L. Jones – this was also being given away by my friend.

I’ll probably get Lost Boy started soon, as I need to review it. The three graphic novels should be fairly quick reads, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to the others.

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WWW Wednesday (July 18)

I haven’t been posting much here lately and it’s been over a year since I did a WWW post, but I’d like to get back to regular posting again. So here goes…

www-wednesdayWWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

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These are two of the books I’m currently reading:

  1. My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation – Molly Haskell. This one is interesting enough, but probably not as good as I thought it might be. I’ll struggle on through to the end and see how it goes.
  2. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart. I’m really enjoying this one, but it’s taking me longer than I thought it would.

Recently Finished:

My reading has been very sporadic this year, but I’m hoping it will pick up or the rest of the year. I only finished one book in the past couple of weeks:

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson. I really enjoyed this one and I’d like to find some more books in a similar vein. It was a very informative read and what I really liked was that the author’s enthusiasm came through a lot, plus he never spoke down to the reader.

Up Next:

I’ll be on vacation soon, so I’ll need to sort out some books for reading then. I have a couple of review books from LibraryThing to read, but I’d also like to take something that has been on my TBR list for far too long:

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  1. The Fashion Committee – Susan Juby. This is a review copy of a Canadian YA book I received from LibraryThing.
  2. Lost Boy – Shelley Hrdlitschka. This is another Canadian YA book I received from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing.
  3. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This is a book that has been on my TBR list for far too long. I started reading it when I got it about 8 or 9 years ago, but got distracted by other things. I’m determined to read it this year, even though it seems like quite a daunting read.

Top Ten Tuesday – Short Stories/Essays (July 17)

TTT-Big2It’s been a long time, but it’s time to take part in Top Ten Tuesday again.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Favourite Novellas/Short Stories’. I kind of adapted it a bit and decided to do my top ten favourite short story or essay collections.

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  1. Night Shift – Stephen King. Of all the Stephen King story collections I’ve read this is probably my favourite, although it doesn’t contain my favourite short story of his, The Monkey. It’s hard to pick a favourite from this book, but it is probably between Graveyard Shift and Night Surf.
  2. Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo. This is a collection of five short stories by one of the most under-rated writers of the 20th century. They are all great, but Unzen stood out for me.
  3. Gristle: from Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat) – Moby (Editor), Miyun Park (Editor). I read this book not long after I became a vegetarian and it helped solidify my view that I hd made the right decision.
  4. Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown. An excellent collection of wintry-themed stories from Orkney’s most prominent writer.
  5. The Penguin Book of Russian Short Stories – David Richards (editor). It’s been a few years since I read this collection. I used to keep it in the car, so that I had something to read whenever I was going somewhere or had to wait for something/someone. One of my favourite Russian short stories, The Nose by Nikolay Gogol, is included in this one.
  6. Love Your Crooked Neighbour: Thoughts on Breath, Bread, Breasts and Brokenness – Ron Ferguson. I really enjoyed this collection of sermons, articles, and a short story. It also has an Orkney connection, as the author was the minister of St Magnus Cathedral at the tie of its publication. He also wrote a great biography on George Mackay Brown, which is worth checking out.
  7. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup – Matt Weiland (Editor), Sean Wilsey (Editor). This collection came out just before the 2006 World Cup and included 32 stories – one on each of the nations who participated that year. Each story has a different writer. Among them are Nick Hornby (England) and the USA (Dave Eggers).
  8. The Cat’s Pajamas – Ray Bradbury. I think that Ray Bradbury was one of the best short story writers of all time. I could’ve half-filled this list with collections of his that I’ve read, but I include this one as my favourite. Highlights of this collection include The House and A Careful Man Dies.
  9. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. I discovered this author, who is from Saskatchewan, when I lived in there about 20 years ago. My favourites here were King Walsh and Teacher.
  10. In from the Cuithes – Howie Firth (Editor). This is a great anthology of writing from Orkney. There are too many favourites in this one to single any out.

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Remembering

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Today has been a day for remembering. My dad would have been 79 today, so I spent much of the day remembering him and what he meant to me. It’s just over a month since he passed away and the emotions of that and my recent journey home are still fresh in my mind. Today for me was about trying to remember some of the happier times and things that he enjoyed.

My dad enjoyed many things in life. Two things in particular that he liked were music and taking pictures. When I was in Orkney last month for my dad’s funeral my mum gave me his most recent camera and his iPod touch, both of which are pictured above. Both of these items were never far from his hand, especially his camera. He took lots of pictures, something that was very evident in the fact that we found dozens of HD cards when we were sorting through some of his things last month. Wherever he went he loved to take pictures of almost anything and everything as a record of where he’d been and what he’d seen. His love of music was quite varied, although he amassed a large collection of Salvation Army music on tape, vinyl, and CD. When our children were younger they were quite fascinated watching him listening to his music with his headphones on, because he would really get into it in a big way. When I got the iPod I was very curious to see what music dad had loaded onto it. There is a fair bit of SA band and songster music on it, but there is also a huge variety of other stuff too – Paul Simon, Boney M, and even a little U2! One of the albums I was replay happy to see there was one by The Household Troops Band of The Salvation Army, called ‘Blue Book Favourites’. SA Bandos will, of course, recognize what the ‘Blue Book’ is. Growing up in Orkney, our band played a lot of stuff from that book, and quite a few of them are on this album.

I started off today by heading out for an early walk before work. I took both the camera and iPod with me. It was a beautiful morning, so I took a lot of pictures and I listened to the ‘Blue Book Favourites’ as I walked along. It might seem a bit melodramatic to say that it was a very special time, but I don’t really care, because it really was. Some of the pieces I listened to were ‘Star Lake’, ‘The Pilgrim’s Prayer’, ‘Lloyd’, ‘Constant Trust’, and ‘Montreal Citadel’. Some of the pictures I took were of places that my dad had already taken pictures of when he visited here. It was a moving and meaningful start to the day for me.

During the rest of the day dad wasn’t far from my mind and I listened to more of the iPod music at work as well. Obviously I miss my dad a lot and probably always will. I learned a lot from his life and example and hope that I can continue that legacy as I endeavour to be the person that he encouraged me to be.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (May 2)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

It’s hard to believe it’s May already, but not so hard to believe that I haven’t posted very much here in recent months. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I hope that I can do better at this in the months to come.

1. The above picture is the view from my mum’s house in Orkney. I spent a large part of April there due to the fact that my dad passed away in the first week of the month. He had been dealing with cancer for a number of years, but in late March was told that it was terminal. Thankfully his passing was very peaceful. I was just sorry that I didn’t make it there in time to see him one more time. I did have a great conversation with him on the phone about a week before his passing, talking about a number of things, including the state of Scottish football (soccer), Easter, along with a number of other things. He also, along with my mum, my sister and her husband, had a great visit with us here last October and was able to share in our daughter’s high school graduation. My visit to Orkney last month was one of mixed emotions, with plenty of tears, as well as laughter and memories shared. I was also able to catch up with many family members and friends whom I hadn’t seen for a while.

2. My reading has not been that great lately. I just haven’t really felt much like it. I never finished any books in April, so I’m well behind with my reading goals for this year. I have managed to get back to some reading again this week and I’m looking forward to finishing a few books this month.

3. One book I will definitely try to read soon is The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. When my dad visited in October he started reading my copy, but didn’t get it finished, so I bought him a copy to take home with him. We shared an enjoyment of reading Albom’s books. We came across his copy whenI visited last month. Unfortunately he didn’t get it finished, so I will read it and finish it for him now.

4. Last week was a bad week for a couple of my favourite Toronto sports teams. The Leafs lost game 7 of their first round match-up against the Bruins, and TFC heartbreakingly lost the final of the CONCACAF Champions League on penalties. On brighter note, Liverpool finished off Roma today, 7-6 on aggregate, to reach the final of the European Champions League. Their opponents there will be Real Madrid.

5. The fifth season of Father Brown is finally on Netflix, so I started binge-watching it this week. I’m still waiting for the third season of Better Call Saul to appear, as well as the third season of Fargo. I watched the first two seasons of Santa Clarita Diet, which was pretty good, but different. It certainly wouldn’t be for everyone.

6. It looks like this year is going to be a good year for movies. We already saw Black Panther, which was excellent and are now trying to work out seeing the Infinity War movie. Hopefully we’ll manage to work out something for this weekend. Other movies we’re looking forward to are Ant-Man and the Wasp, Solo, and the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

7. Or daughter also spent some time Scotland with me, once she hd completed her first year of university. This week she started a job at a local factory for the summer to make some money for her return to university in the fall. She seemed to have a good first year and is enjoying the break from studies, even though her summer job will be demanding physically.

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Never Have Your Dog Stuffed (March 23)

never have your dog stuffedIt’s almost been a couple of months since I did one of these Friday posts, so my determination to post more often isn’t really working, I guess! The book I’ve chosen for this week is Alan Alda’s memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned. I’ve had this book unread on my shelf for far too long, so it’s probably about time I read it. Added to this, we are big fans of M*A*S*H and have all 11 seasons on DVD, which we have just started watching again, but this time with our son for the first time. He, surprisingly, seems to be really enjoying it. One night recently we were watching the episode where Alan Alda’s dad was a guest star and I remembered having this book, so I thought it would be a good one to read as I don’t really know much about either Alan Alda or his father. I’m about half-way through at this point and finding it both entertaining and informative.

Goodreads has the following description:

He’s one of America’s most recognizable and acclaimed actors–a star on Broadway, an Oscar nominee for The Aviator, and the only person to ever win Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, during his eleven years on M*A*S*H. Now Alan Alda has written a memoir as elegant, funny, and affecting as his greatest performances.

“My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six,” begins Alda’s irresistible story. The son of a popular actor and a loving but mentally ill mother, he spent his early childhood backstage in the erotic and comic world of burlesque and went on, after early struggles, to achieve extraordinary success in his profession.

Yet Never Have Your Dog Stuffedis not a memoir of show-business ups and downs. It is a moving and funny story of a boy growing into a man who then realizes he has only just begun to grow.

It is the story of turning points in Alda’s life, events that would make him what he is–if only he could survive them.

From the moment as a boy when his dead dog is returned from the taxidermist’s shop with a hideous expression on his face, and he learns that death can’t be undone, to the decades-long effort to find compassion for the mother he lived with but never knew, to his acceptance of his father, both personally and professionally, Alda learns the hard way that change, uncertainty, and transformation are what life is made of, and true happiness is found in embracing them.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, filled with curiosity about nature, good humor, and honesty, is the crowning achievement of an actor, author, and director, but surprisingly, it is the story of a life more filled with turbulence and laughter than any Alda has ever played on the stage or screen.

Now for this week’s excerpts:

bb-buttonBook Beginnings is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader, who invites anyone to join in, saying: ‘Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.  Please remember to include the title of the book and the author. Leave a link to your post.  If you don’t have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.’

The beginning of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:

My mother didn’t try to stab my father until I was six, but she must have shown signs of oddness before that. Her detached gaze, the secret smile. Something.

This may seem at first read to be a funny beginning, but the reality is that it’s not, although I guess it is Alda trying to make light of things. Saying any more would just be spoilers, so I won’t!

friday-562.jpgThe Friday 56 is a book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice and the rules are as follows:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple.

From page 56 of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed:

I really scared her one day while she was out of town for a couple of weeks with my father. I wrote them a long, rambling, adolescent letter in which I talked about my obsession with books.

Coincidentally, Alda is talking here about his mother again. However, there is a lot more to this book than stories about his mother, thankfully. The unusual title of the book also makes sense when he describes something early on in the book that happened to him when he was a child. Anyway, I’m really enjoying this one and will probably get it finished this weekend.

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