Who’s Your City?

I didn’t read much on my holiday (one book in total, on the return flight), but it was a matter of quality over quantity. After a week of thinking of nothing beyond my next trip to the swim up bar, I devoured Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City? The book examines how your physical place is very important to your health and happiness, and ranks among the top three decisions you make in life (along with your line of work and choice – or lack of choice – of a life partner).  Take a look at a short summary of some of the best cities in Canada, based on life stage.

As someone who is contemplating a move within the year, this book came at a perfect time. It’s interesting to note that today more people move for themselves or friends/family than for work, compared to the large numbers of people who moved for work in the past.  Despite this, today’s movers still hold the notion that they are moving to secure a better job.  Don’t we think we deserve to move for ourselves?

I’m curious.  Do you live in a city that brings out your talents and lets you shine? If not, would you consider moving to such a city?

Some Of My Favourite People Are Books

A couple of weeks ago, Lisa posted a collection of books that she read in 2011. I thought her use of Library Thing – a social networking site that lets you store and share book catalogues – was super rad. I also dug her idea of recording, and later reflecting on, a year of reading – so, I’m stealing it.

Linked is a peek at the books I’ve finished in 2012 (the key word is “finished”, a couple of them were started in late December).  I’ll add to the list as the year progresses. Have you read any of these titles?  Do you have any suggestions for my next read?

Click the bookshelf to review my reads.

A Backward Glance

This year, I made a note of some of the books I read in full. I wanted to be able to look back over a year of reading and see what kinds of stories attract me. This list is comprised of most of the titles I read this year, not including literary magazines, special issues, advanced reading copies, or other things not found online.

See my bookshelf

Linked is a peek at my 2011 bookshelf (not inlcuding the non-fiction books, like cookbooks, I’ve skimmed, read chapters of, referenced, etc.). Have you read any of these? What should I read next?

Click the bookshelf for my reads.

Reviewed: The Marriage Plot

Over last weekend’s rainy Sunday, I drank multiple coffees and finished reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Middlesex. I won’t summarize since the book is quite long and, in ways, complicated (but if you need a summary of the book, check out this review from The National or just head over to Indigo). The various theories, viewpoints and experiences in this book could be deconstructed in a number of ways, but what really stuck with me was the varying perspectives of one relationship.

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Rhythm and Beauty

Yesterday, we heard Irene recall the time that she and I met Tim O’Brien. It was a fabulous day, I have to say, and I enjoyed remembering it with her. Then I realized that many of our internet friends have not had the joy of hearing Tim’s wit and way with language (if you have – share your story below).

Once again, technology to the rescue. For your Friday viewing pleasure, kick back with a strong cup of coffee and learn a little something from the master (in conversation with Tobias Wolff at Stanford University on January 24, 2011).

A Conversation with Tim O’Brien on Writing & War

What we are in control of are trying to make good sentences, with some rhythm and beauty, that tell stories that have a resonance, and layers; and that’s what we can do.

A Story to Keep Us Together

Lisa and I write a lot about books and the way that shared reading experiences bring people together:  Books are a big deal around here, alright.  We’ve both made very pointed efforts to surround ourselves with fellow book lovers, people who understand and share our admiration for the written word.  As book nerds, our favourite authors are super stars deserving of total adoration.  Early on, I wrote a love letter to Margaret Atwood and Lisa wrote one to Tim O’Brien.  If you’ve read Lisa’s letter, you know that meeting O’Brien in 2010 was a high point in her life, one that she shared with fellow librarian, O’Brien-enthuiast, and all around kick-ass person, Irene, of Golden Gals Fashion.

The story that follows is Irene’s incredibly eloquent and heartbreakingly touching account of the day that she and Lisa met Tim O’Brien.

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Room Wins Evergreen Award

Every year, the Ontario Library Association holds a festival of authors and reading – the Forest of Reading program – and an award goes to the best adult Canadian novel published that year. The coolest thing about this awards program? The readers determine the winner from ten nominated titles, not critics or publishing houses. Readers and book clubs vote at their local public libraries during a specific voting week, the votes are tallied by the Ontario Library Association, and the winner is announced in the fall.

This year’s winner is Room by Emma Donoghue! Congratulations to Emma. I recommend this book too; it’s a gripping read about a woman and her child as they live a meagre existence in a one room shed. The story is told from the perspective of the 5-year-old son. Watch the book trailer below and then run out and read this book!

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Better Living Through Fictional Experiences

I’m crashing a book club tonight. I don’t usually join book clubs because I dislike reading on a schedule or finishing a book I am not enjoying. But it is nice to talk with like-minded people about literature, so sometimes I pop into friends’ book clubs for a book-talk fix.

What do book clubs read these days? I found this list at Book Movement (a pretty cool website for book clubs). The following are the most popular book club books during October 2011 (based on votes from readers and leaders of more than 32,000 book clubs registered at bookmovement.com). Continue reading

Science Fiction: A Cinderella Story

Lately, science fiction has been on my mind. Margaret Atwood’s latest collection of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, was recently released, and my book club selected Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness for our October read. As a group, book club tends to shy away from genre fiction. Sci-fi, in particular is heavily stigmatized and doesn’t appeal to the group at large. Let’s face it, (and I say this with love) elements of science fiction have practically become synonymous with geek – who among us hasn’t cracked a “Trekkie” joke at some time?

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Caught Up in Unbearable Lightness

This past weekend I read Unbearable Lightness, Portia de Rossi’s memoir detailing her struggles with an eating disorder. I don’t usually read memoirs or biographies, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this book. I was transfixed by her storytelling; Portia tells her very personal journey with refreshing frankness, never apologizing to the reader for the difficult moments. Her downward spiral is recounted in excruciating detail, starting slowly with a teenage diet and then escalating to a full blown eating disorder, all the while dealing with crippling anxiety and living as a closeted lesbian. Although dealing with dark times, the book carries a message of hope and happiness in being true to yourself. Continue reading