Category Archives: short stories

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 – 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 – 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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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2017, But Never Did (Jan 9)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 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 ‘Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totally plan to get to in 2018!!)’ All of the following books appeared on at least one of my many TBR lists last year. I managed to start a few of them, but none of them were anywhere near finished! I’d like to think that I’d manage to get them read this year, but I hope I haven’t cursed them by putting them on another list like this!

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  1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom. I’ve had this one for a couple of years or more and enjoyed all his other books, so I’m not sure why I’ve left this one unread for so long.
  2. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina – Michael Casey. It’s over three years since I purchased this book about lectio divina. I really looked forward to reading it at the time, but it still remains unread.
  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay – J.K. Rowling. I got this round about the time the movie came out. I loved the movie, but haven’t picked this up yet. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a long read. Maybe I’ll save it for this year’s Savvy Readathon.
  4. The Complete Robot – Isaac Asimov. I started reading this one, was enjoying it, then got distracted by other books. The fact that it is a collection of short stories means that I’ll be able to pick up easily from where I left off.
  5. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 – Joseph Loconte. I received this one a couple of Christmas’s ago and had great intentions of quickly getting into it. Hopefully I’ll do just that soon, especially as it’s a book about two of my favourite writers.
  6. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines – Ray Harris. I’ve started this one a couple of times, but on each occasion I’ve never gotten that far. This will be the year that I keep on going!
  7. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) – Stephen King. I read The Gunslinger earlier on last year with the intention of at least reading this book, the second Dark Tower book, before the end of the year. I’d even thought I might get round to book three. Lots of people have told me it’s a great series, so I need to try and get on with reading more of it.
  8. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I’ve written about my failure to read this on a fair number of occasions. I’m determined to get it read this year.
  9. Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars – Ray Bradbury. This collection of autobiographical essays has sat unread on my shelf for too long. I know it’s one that I’ll enjoy, so I need to read it soon.
  10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon. I promised my wife that I’d read this one, so I started it last summer. I got to about page 100 and neglected to finish it. I’m not sure why, because I was kind of enjoying it. I’ll try to get back to it soon, although when I do I may have to restart it. I’ll see how much of what I read I can actually remember!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Unique Titles (Oct 24)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 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 ‘Top Ten Unique Book Titles’. Quite often book titles tend to be bland or too similar to others already published.  Although it’s important that the actual content of the book be worthwhile, a unique book title can also draw a person in. Here are ten books from my shelves that have, in my opinion anyway, titles like this:

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  1. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
  2. Optimists Die First – Susin Nielsen
  3. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
  4. 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense – Michael Brooks
  5. When Did Wild Poodles Roam the Earth? An Imponderables Book – David Feldman
  6. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 – Joseph Loconte
  7. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession – Allison Hoover Bartlett
  8. The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
  9. The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: Original Short Fiction for the Modern Evil Genius – John Joseph Adams (editor)
  10. Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt

I haven’t read all of these yet, but for most of them it was the title that first drew me in. My favourites from the list would have to be the ones by Jonas Jonasson and Patrick deWitt, both of which were very funny and unique.

Happy Birthday Bilbo and Stephen

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If you’ve been reading any book blogs or visited bookstagram today, you’ll have realised that today is the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit and is also Stephen King’s 70th birthday. The Hobbit is, of course, my favourite book of all time, whereas Stephen King is someone I am slowly rediscovering again. He was my favourite author in my teen years, but I got away from reading him for about 25 years.

I discovered The Hobbit in the early 70s, when Bernard Cribbins read it on Jackanory for a week. I can remember rushing home from school to see it – no VCRs in those days – because I didn’t want to miss a word of it. The same year we read it as a class at school and I was hooked. In the early 80s we got a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer and one of the first games I got was The Hobbit adventure game, which came with the copy of the book pictured above. I don’t think I ever finished the game and seem to remember that things used to go awry whenever I got into Mirkwood. The Hobbit is a book that I read at least once every three years and I never grow tired of it. I haven’t watched the recent movies yet and have written enough about it here and elsewhere, so I don’t need to go over my reasons why again.

My first encounter with Stephen King came when I was about 14 or 15. If I remember correctly, I think the first book of his I read was Salem’s Lot. I had never read anything like it before and for the next few years I read anything of his that I could get my hands on. My favourite book of his at the time was The Dead Zone. I got it round about Christmas one year and read it in less than two days. I read it once again the following year, but haven’t read it since. I’d be interested in reading it again to see how much I like it now.

In the mid-80s I read Skeleton Crew and it is still my favourite King short story collection. Included in it is the story that still freaks me out, The Monkey. A character in one of the Toy Story movies brought back memories of it to me again and I had to search out the story again. Sure enough, it still freaked me out as much as it originally had.  Reading that collection again ignited my interest in King’s books again and I slowly got back to his books again. The problem is that in the ensuing years he has written so much more that I’m having a hard time catching up. My favourite book of his from recent years is the one in the above picture, 11/22/63, which is an awesome read. I haven’t seen any of the recent King movie adaptations yet, but I intend to watch them eventually. I’d like to read The Dark Tower series first and try to reread It as well, because it is so long since I read it.

So, happy birthday to two literary ‘giants’ that have had a huge impact on my reading life. I look forward to catching up on the Stephen King books I have missed and also to many more still to come. I also look forward to many more readings of The Hobbit, but I don’t think it will ever be knocked off the top of my favourites, although there are perhaps Stephen King books that come close.

Teaser Tuesdays – The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (July 18)

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Ambrosia at The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here are my teasers for this week:

bazaar of bad dreams.jpgFrom where he was standing, seventy yards away, Pete saw it all. He saw the state trooper reach out with the barrel of his gun to open the station wagon’s door the rest of the way; he saw the barrel disappear into the door as if the whole car were nothing but an optical illusion; he saw the trooper jerk forward, his big gray hat tumbling from his head.

From ‘Mile 81’ in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (page 45) by Stephen King.

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Top Ten Tuesday – I’ve Started, So I’ll Finish (June 6)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 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 ‘10 Books From X Genre That I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List.’ Rather than choosing a particular genre, I’ve chosen ten books on my currently reading list at Goodreads. These are books that I started a long time ago and for some reason or other I never got back to them. So I’ve made a separate TBR pile for them and hopefully this might inspire to pick them up and start reading them again. For some of them it’s been so long ago that I started them that I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Here are the ten I picked:

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  1. If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis:Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis on the Meaning of Life by Alister McGrath
  2. Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano
  3. Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs
  4. Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe
  5. The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines by Ray Harris
  7. In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  8. George MacKay Brown: The Wound and the Gift by Ron Ferguson
  9. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  10. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

It seems like a daunting list, but hopefully I’ll get some of them read soon.

Top Ten Tuesday – My Spring TBR (March 14)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 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 ‘Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR.’ I have so many books waiting to be read, that it might be hard to narrow it down to just 10, but I’ll try my best! I have started some of these, but I really need to get them read, nonetheless.

  1. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  4. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  5. Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
  6. Silence by Shusaku Endo
  7. Daddy Lenin and Other Stories by Guy Vanderhaeghe
  8. Grounded by Diana Butler Bass
  9. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  10. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida
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