Category Archives: books

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall TBR (September 22)

I’m actually managing to post one of these lists for the second week in a row. Maybe I’ll manage something different before next Tuesday comes around. I’ll just have to wait and see how I get on.

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 2020 TBR.’ I’m not always good at getting through my TBR piles, but I’ll see how this one goes. Some of these are ones that I’ve had a long time, some are recent acquisitions, while others are ones I’ve started before, but not finished. Hopefully I’ll manage to get most of these read by Christmas, although I’m sure others will come across my path to distract me from these. On a brighter note, though, I have managed three of the six books I put on my TBR list for September, so there is hope for me yet!

Here are the ten in no particular order:

  1. Letters from an Astrophysicist – Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is a fairly recent purchase and it is one that I already started. It’s a light read that you can dip in and out of, so I’m slowly enjoying it and getting through it.
  2. Finding Chika – Mitch Albom. I started this one earlier this year, but accidentally packed it for the m ove before finishing it. I’ll get back to it soon.
  3. If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis – Alister McGrath. I’ve had this for a few years, so it’s time to get it read. I started it last weekend and so far so good.
  4. Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Stories. It’s been a while since I read any of the Sagas and they’re always fun reads, so I’m looking forward to this one.
  5. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People – Pete Greig. I just got this one in the mail today. I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year and this is the first of the four books for this. I’m looking forward to being a part of this again, as it’s been three or four years since the last time I joined.
  6. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Peter Scazzero. I recently started listening to Pete’s podcast and remembered that this book has been on my shelf for too long, so I decided it is time to give it a read.
  7. The Toynbee Convector – Ray Bradbury. You can never go wrong with a collection of Bradbury short stories, so this should be an enjoyable read.
  8. The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan. The author was a promising young writer with a bright future ahead of her, but her life was cut short by a tragic accident. This collection of short fiction and non-fiction was published posthumously by one of her professors, with the help of her parents.
  9. The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man – Jonas Jonasson. I have no idea why this has sat on my shelf unread for so long, because I’ve enjoyed all of Jonasson’s other books, especially the one that this one is a sequel to. His books are always smart and funny, so I’m hoping for more of the same here.
  10. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart. I started this memoir, by the late Rush drummer, a couple of years ago, got halfway through it and never got back to it. I really need to finish it now, as it is a very engaging read.

That’s my ten, and I really hope to get all of them read, because I think they all have something different to offer.

Top Ten Tuesday – Covers (September 15)

It has been a long time since I posted anything here and I would hate to see this blog fizzle out completely, so I thought I would try again to resurrect things here. I am hoping to post more often and this is a start.

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 ‘Cover Freebie.’ Although a book is obviously more than what is on the cover, appearances can be important. An eye-catching cover may encourage one to pick up a book, but if the words inside do not keep one’s interest then it could be seen as just a pretty package. For this week’s top ten I have chosen ten of my favourite covers from ten books that I also really enjoyed. There is no theme here, other than they are all covers that have caught my eye in one way or another.

  1. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess. I like the simplicity of this cover and the vibrant colours. All I know about the picture is that it was designed by David Pelham. I have another copy of this book, the cover of which is simply white with an orange circle on it. I like it, too, for its simplicity, but I like this one slightly more.
  2. The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. This cover was designed by Laura Klynstra, with the illustration by Eric Thunfors. This is one where the cover actually drew me in. I saw it in Costco and had to have it.
  3. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard. I saw this for the first time in a used bookstore and the picture reminded me of Orkney, where I grew up. I read the back cover and figured it might be one I’d enjoy, and it was. The picture is by the author herself.
  4. Book Love – Debbie Tung. A book with lots of books on the cover, what more could you ask for! This is a fun little read and the cover is an illustration by the author, who is a cartoonist and illustrator.
  5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick. All of Selznick’s books have great art on them like this, but I like this one the most. It is also an illustration by the author. The book itself is filled with his art as well, as it is part graphic novel.
  6. Porcelain: A Memoir – Moby. This cover is a picture of the ‘little idiot’,  a character drawn by Moby, that appears as artwork on a number of his releases and projects. Moby is an interesting person and this is a fascinating read.
  7. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell. There are so many different covers available for this book, but the simplicity of this one and what the image evokes make this one of my favourites. It was designed by Carroll & Dempsey Limited.
  8. The Great Divorce – C.S. Lewis. This is a book that you never seem to hear much about, but it’s in my top 5 of Lewis’ books. There’s something about this cover that always draws me back in. It’s a photo of a painting in St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, called ‘The Ladder of Judgement’.
  9. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve written about this a lot, but this is my favourite book. I have a few different versions of it, all with (mostly) great covers, but this is my favourite, because this is the first copy I owned. It’s an illustration by Tolkien himself and also contains a number of his other illustrations inside. Unfortunately, this copy is now falling apart, so whenever I reread this story I use one of my newer copies.
  10. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. This is another one of my favourite reads. Again, what I like is the simplicity of it. The art was by Joseph Mugnaini.

On another day, I may have picked some different covers, but these are the ones I was thinking about today.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About

It seems like forever since I posted anything here, but I think that it might be time to start doing so again. I’ll see how things go and if I can stay motivated enough.

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 I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About.’ The following are all books that I really enjoyed, but for some reason I failed to talk them up as much as other books.

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  1. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson. Physics was one of my favourite subjects in school, so much so that I almost went to university to study. However, my life took a different direction and the rest is history. This is a great little book that offers an understandable introduction to astrophysics. I really need to read more books like this.
  2. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo. This was the first Endo book I read. I had to write a review of it for an ethics course I took a long time ago. I found it hard to put down and it introduced me to part of Japanese history that I previously knew nothing about.
  3. The Stranger – Albert Camus. I bought this book at Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound on a trip home to Elliot Lake. Then I read it in the car in one sitting, as it wasn’t my turn to drive.
  4. How Soccer Explains the World – Franklin Foer. This is a great read that is about so much more than soccer. You don’t have to be a fan of the game to enjoy it. It truly is a fascinating read.
  5. Imperfect Harmony – Stacy Horn. I received this one from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and it was so much more than I expected it to be. It’s a book about music, community, history and so much more.
  6. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much – Allison Hoover Bartlett. Who knew that a book about someone who steals rare books because he loves them so much could be so engaging. I love books, but nowhere near as much as John Charles Gilkey. This is a great read, though.
  7. 1929: A Crisis That Shaped The Salvation Army’s Future – John Larsson. This is a fascinating look into events that are not spoken about too much. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m glad I gave it a go.
  8. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. Vanderhaeghe is a Canadian master storyteller, who doesn’t get the exposure or credit that he deserves. This collection of short stories is one of my favourites.
  9. In From the Cuithes – edited by Howie Firth. This eclectic collection of writing from Orkney, by a variety of writers, is one of my favourite books, but it’s one I really haven’t written much about. I should really give it a another read soon.
  10. The Search to Belong – Joseph R. Myers. It’s been a few years since I read this book. Although I don’t mention it very much, it really challenged my thinking on a number of things and is worth the read.

There were probably a lot of other books I could have added to this list, but these were the ones that jumped out at me as I perused my shelves. What are some of the books you have really enjoyed, but not talked about much?

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.

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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