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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The Year Ahead (2018)

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Today I was looking at the post I wrote last year outlining some of my goals for 2017 and wondering how I could come up with one for this year. I probably did better than I realize on some of the things there, but there are some I still have to work on. Maybe I’ll revisit some of those things in another post.

As I was looking for a quote about New Year, goals, resolutions, etc. I came across the above list and decided I might use it as the basis for this year’s goals post. I’ll list each point below, with a few points how I can achieve them.

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Break a Bad Habit – I didn’t really have to think much about this one as I’ve been talking about this for the past couple of days. Generally, I tend to be quite cynical at times, which can lead to quite a negative attitude. This often rears its ugly head when I’m talking about stuff connected with my work. So, I have decided this is something that needs to change for both the sake of myself and those I interact with. From this point forward I will endeavour to see the good in my situation at any given time and if there is something that is not good to approach it in a more constructive than destructive manner.

Learn a New Skill – One of the things I received for Christmas was a $50 gift card for Michaels. For those of you who don’t know, this is an arts and crafts store. I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do with this card yet, but it may inspire me to take up a new skill or hobby. Watch this space.

Do a Good Deed – Hopefully I’ll manage more than one good deed this year!

Visit a New Place – I’d really love to visit Iceland, but I don’t see that happening this year, unfortunately. It will happen some time, though. However, having said this, there are lots of places in Ontario that I have never visited yet, so I’ll see if there are a few I can get to this year.

Read a Difficult Book – It’s kind of obvious to anyone who knows me that I love to read. There are a few books on my shelves that I’ve avoided over the years because I’ve looked at them and decided that they are too difficult. So, I’ve left them unread there. One book that I seem to have avoided for so long because of this is In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I have started it a couple of times and each time have ended up abandoning it. It’s a fairly large book, with a long list of characters (listed in a number of pages at the start of the book) who have long Russian names, which is probably why I have given it up each time I have tried to read it. I think it would be worth reading and it intrigues me greatly, so perhaps 2018 might be the year I finally get over my fears and read it through to the end.

Write and Send a Letter – 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.

Try a New Food – I have been a vegetarian for almost nine years, but I’m sure there is something out there that I’ve never tried before. This one could be fun or disastrous. Nothing different comes to mind right now, but I’ll research it and see what I can come up with.

Take a Risk – As I’ve gotten older I seem to have lost the desire to take risks. Perhaps I need to reevaluate this aspect of my life, because I could be missing out on something exciting. I’m not sure exactly where to take this one, but I’ll start thinking about it anyway.

So, there you go – eight different tasks for the year ahead. Feel free at any time to challenge me on any of these things. Some of them seem easier than others, but they all need some kind of effort on my behalf or they won’t happen. What goals, if any, have you set for yourself this year?

Another year has come and gone

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Hello to 2018 and farewell to 2017. Last year wasn’t a bad year. It had its moments, but on the whole it was a decent one. In some ways it was a year of change for us, but in other ways there were many constants in our life as well.

The biggest change for us was our daughter leaving home and starting university. Thankfully she is only about an hour away, but it was still something to adjust to. She seems to have settled in well and is getting on fine there. With her not being too far away we see her fairy often and she has been home for the holidays these past couple of weeks, which has been great. Other than that, not much else has changed in our lives.

I was looking over my goals for last year earlier today and was surprised that I actually made not too bad progress on most of them. I actually managed to complete most of my reading challenges, which I’m quite pleased about. There was only one that I didn’t complete, but it was one that I wasn’t too bothered about anyway.

I still haven’t fully worked out my goals for 2018 yet, but hope to get them finalized in the next couple of days. I have pledged to read 75 books again and have signed up to do this at both GoodReads and the 50 Book Pledge. I’m also hoping to sing up for two or three individual book challenges as well, but haven’t worked these out fully yet.

Once I’ve worked out my personal goals and my book challenges I’ll post about them here. In the meantime, Happy New Year. May 2018 be a great year for you.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Dec 27)

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It’s been over two months since I did one of these. Time really must fly when you’re having fun, or maybe the last couple of months have just been too busy! ‘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.

1. We survived another busy lead-up to Christmas. With all the busyness, and stress that goes with it, each year where I work, I usually end up feeling fried by the time the 25th comes around. This often ends up in me feeling that my family have been cheated somehow. This year I was determined not to allow things to get to me, especially with things that I have no control over. It seemed to work and the last few days have been more relaxed than in previous years.

2. For a little while there in the fall I thought that I was going to fall flat on most of my reading challenges. I got over the slump and got back on track. I reached my target of 75 on the 50 Book Pledge with time to spare, and I completed two of my other four challenges, with the chance that I may still finish at least one of the other two. The one that I might not finish is the Mount TBR challenge, which I’m not that worried about. I am now trying to work out which challenges I’m going to enter in 2018.

3. For a change this year I gave my family a Christmas wish list of books from bookoutlet.ca to choose from. I was surprised by receiving nine of them on Christmas morning. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into them soon. I also received a $50 gift card for Chapters/Indigo, which I’ll get around to spending eventually.

4. Since I last did one of these posts I enjoyed watching two Toronto sports teams win their respective championships. First there was the Argos winning the Grey Cup at the end of November on a very snowy night in Ottawa. This was followed by TFC winning the MLS Cup a couple of weeks later. Her’s hoping the Leafs can go deeper in the Stanley Cup play-offs this year. Speaking of the Leafs, I have a couple of tickets for their game against the Sharks next Thursday, courtesy of a kind friend of ours from up north.

5. I seem to have watched a ton of movies this year, close to 120 movies at this point.  I still have to see the new Star Wars movie and have been trying to avoid any spoilers on social media. We are hoping to see it yet before the end of the year. As far as TV goes, I did manage to watch Stranger Things 2, which was awesome, and have binge-watched half of the first season of This Is Us on Netflix, which has been a lot better than I thought it would be. I started watching The Mist, but gave up on it as I found it to be too disappointing.

6. I haven’t done much blogging this year and at one point considered closing down this blog altogether. Maybe in 2018 I’ll try to get some inspiration and post here more often. One bonus in 2017 was that I wrote a small review on GoodReads of every book that I read.

7. Overall, 2017 hasn’t been a bad year. There have been some highs and some lows, but I think the highs outscored the lows. Our daughter left home to start university and seems to have settled in well. It’s been great having her home for the holidays. She’ll be returning to university next week, but at least she is only about an hour away. Work has brought some challenges, but we have been here over two years now and are starting to find our groove.

Here’s hoping that 2018 will be a good year and, if you have made it this far, I wish you a Happy New Year too!

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite 2017 Reads (Dec 12)

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 Favorite Books of 2017’. The following, in no particular order, are the ten books I enjoyed the most (so far) this year, but I still haven’t decided which one was the best:

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  1. Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
  2. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  3. 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
  4. Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living – Rob Bell
  6. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love So Much More – Janet Mock
  7. Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science – Mike McHargue
  8. Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism – Deborah Jian Lee
  9. The Marvels – Brian Selznick
  10. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR (November 28)

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 Winter TBR.’ Some of these are books I’ve had for too long, while others are ones I recently acquired. What they all have in common is that I’d like to get them read at some point in the near future!

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1. Everything Belongs – Richard Rohr. This one has been sitting on my shelf for over 3 years now, so it’s time. It comes highly recommended and I’m looking forward to finally reading it.

2. Blue Gold – Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos. I’m slowly working my way through the various Clive Cussler series. This is the next one I have to read in the NUMA Files series.

3. Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality – J. Philip Newell. This is one of the best books on Celtic Spirituality out there. I started it once before, but never got back to it and it got lost among other books during our move a couple of years ago.

4. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming – Henri J.M. Nouwen. I received this for Christmas a couple of years ago and it just seemed to get stuck on the back burner. I always enjoy reading Nouwen and know this will not be an exception to that.

5. Nutshell – Ian McEwan. I picked this one up at a recent library book sale. I’m fascinated by the idea of a mystery story told from the perspective of an unborn child.

6. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina – Michael Casey. This is another book that I’ve had for too long unread on my shelf. It was recommended to me at least three years ago, so it’s time I got round to reading it.

7. 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. This one was also a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I never grow tired of reading about Tolkien or Lewis, so this should be one I enjoy.

8. A Season to Dance – Patricia Beal. I won this book in a blog giveaway recently. I don’t know much about it, but I’d like to give it a try soon.

9. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. I picked this up for a dollar at a thrift store recently. I figured that if I’m going to watch the movie, I should really read the book first.

10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon. My wife love the Outlander books. I promised that I’d at least try the first one and see what all the fuss is about. I started reading it before the summer, but got distracted by other books. I need to get back to it and get it finished this winter.

The problem with lists like these is that I rarely get them accomplished. Even if I manage half of these in the next few months I’ll be happy. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

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.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Oct 4)

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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. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. It’s October already, but the weather has felt more like summer. This weekend will be one of our more warmer Thanksgiving weekends for a few years. Time flies on and before we know it Christmas will be here!

2. I spent last weekend building two more IKEA Billy bookcases and rearranging my books once more. The picture at the top of the post isn’t of my new bookcases, but is instead my rearranged Tolkien and Lewis shelves.

3. We’re looking forward to a couple of weeks of holiday from this Friday onwards. Some of my family members arrived from Scotland yesterday, so we’ll be able to spend some time with them. Also our daughter will be home on Friday for a five day break. Added to this is her high school graduation ceremony on Friday night.

4. I haven’t had that much reading time this past week due to getting things ready for our visitors and finishing off a number of things at work before our holiday time. I’m hoping I’ll get some quality reading time in during my time off. I have some books lined up I’d like to get into, so hopefully I’ll find the time.

5. It was a great opener for the Leafs tonight – a 7-2 road win against the Jets. Hopefully it’s a sign of a great season ahead. Added to this is TFC claiming the Supporters’ Shield last weekend. Unfortunately, the Jays didn’t make the playoffs this year, but maybe next year instead.

6. The shooting tragedy in Las Vegas earlier this week just makes me numb. It’s time for our southern neighbours to take a serious look at gun control. These kinds of shootings are becoming far too frequent.

7. I rewatched ‘Michael Clayton’ for the first time in a while last weekend. I’d forgotten just how great it is. It’s probably my second favourite George Clooney movie behind ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’

Book Beginnings and Friday 56 – Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (September 29)

This week I’ve chosen a book I borrowed from my son for my Friday combo post. The book is Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli and is one I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite a while now. GoodReads has the following description:

seven brief lessons on physicsIn seven brief lessons, Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli guides readers with admirable clarity through the most transformative physics breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This playful, entertaining and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, already a major bestseller in Italy, explains general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role of humans in the strange world Rovelli describes. This is a book about the joy of discovery. It takes readers to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. “Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”

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 Seven Brief Lessons on Physics:

These lessons were written for those who know little or nothing about modern science. Together they provide a rapid overview of the most fascinating aspects of the great revolution that has occurred in physics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and of the questions and mysteries that this revolution has opened up. Because science shows us how to better understand the world, but it also reveals to us just how vast is the extent of what is still not known.

I like this beginning. It’s a long time since I read anything scientific like this. Physics was one of my favourite classes in school. In fact, I almost ended up studying it in university, but instead I got a job with Royal Mail. It’s over 30 years since I left school and I don’t remember much about physics now. Hopefully this little book will rekindle my interest.

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 Seven Brief Lessons on Physics:

At first glance, the idea that our ignorance implies something about the behaviour of the world seems irrational: the cold teaspoon heats up in hot tea and the balloon flies about when it is released regardless of what I know or don’t know. Why does what we know or don’t know have to do with the laws that govern the world?

Hopefully I’ll fond some time over the weekend to get into this one. I’m really looking forward to it.

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Sept 27)

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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. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. September seems to have come and gone so quickly. In some ways it seems to have been a fairly busy months, but I’m not that sure if I’ve accomplished that much or not. We’ll be on holiday for a couple of weeks from the end of next week. I’m looking forward not only to the time off, but also the fact that we’ll get to spend the time with family visiting from Scotland.

2. I was under the impression that I was getting back on track with my reading, but I’ve only managed four books this month so far. According to 50 Book Pledge I’m on track for 65, which is a decent number, although I pledged to read 75. I’ve enjoyed doing my book challenges for the year, but of the four I’ve tried I’ll maybe only get two completed. I’ll see how it goes, because there are still three months to go.

3. Although we moved here over two years ago, we only finished unpacking last weekend. We finally managed to sort through the final ten boxes or so that had remained untouched since we got here. I was reunited with a lot of books and CDs, among other things. I also found the ornaments pictured at the top of this post that I had almost forgotten about. They are a reminder that I delivered mail in my previous life before moving to Canada. It’s hard to believe that it is 23 years this month that I moved to Canada and 34 years this December that I started my job with the Royal Mail.

4. We finally got around to watching Silence on Sunday. It was as good as I thought it would be. Now I need to get the book read, as it has been on my TBR pile for far too long. I have also started watching Ozark on Netflix. It’s pretty dark, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m hoping to be able to go and see It soon, but I’ll probably have to see it on my own, as my wife is definitely not interested in seeing it. It’s a long time since I read the book, but I don’t have time right now to reread it. I was a little surprised to find out that the latest movie is only part one.

5. I haven’t thought that much about my Christmas book wish list yet. There are a lot of good books due to come out in the next few weeks, but rather than latest releases, I’m toying with the idea of coming up with a list of books available from Book Outlet for my family to choose from. That idea may change, but it’s one I’m seriously thinking about just now.

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