Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 Reads: September, October and November

I completely fell off the writing about books I've read train this fall. I've already blathered on about up in the air and full of change my life has been since September, so no need to hash that out again. I will say that I feel like my reading progress came to a halt, and probably won't pick up again: I may be a librarian, but that generally tends to mean that I have very little time for reading. And any reading I do is work-related: combing abstracts for relevant texts, reading articles related to the profession, reading books related to the profession, reading memos and minutes for meetings...I actually love it, but it does mean that I'm not reading for fun a whole lot. Again.

One of the shelves in the new place.

54. Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The follow up to Freakonomics, which I really enjoyed. I liked the breakdown of links between seemingly unrelated events. This was just as interesting and riveting as the first one.I actually recommended it to a patron recently. Good stuff. It's both challenging and easy to read.

55. Yes Please - Amy Poehler

I love Amy Poehler. I think she's funny and wise and entertaining as all hell. I've been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, and someone recommended this to me. I laughed. I cried. I felt a strange sadness when I finished it - so much of what Amy wrote about resonated with me. I liked the all-over-the-place style and the mix of essays, personal stories and general zaniness. 

56. Annabel - Kathleen Winter

This has been on my to-read list for years, when it was a Canada Reads finalist. It's about gender identity and relationships and family and acceptance, set in small-town Labrador in the 1970s. Born in 1868, an intersex child is raised as a boy named Wayne. His parents' struggles with trying to raise him as a boy, hiding his hormone treatments as something else; the only family friend's struggle with the way he was raised, and Wayne's own struggles as he learns who he is - it's a beautifully written story. I felt very deeply for all the major characters while reading this: the father who tried to encourage rugged masculinity in a child he didn't understand; the mother who tried to accept her child and give him a safe space to learn; the family friend and teacher who tried to give Wayne a world outside of Labrador; and Wayne, who is so sweet and uncomplicated for all the turmoil his very existence brings. This was a truly fantastic book. I read it all in almost one sitting (the hammock at my partner's parents' house was comfy and perfect for falling into a book).

57. The Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson

Reading Bill Bryson's books is something that my dad and I do together. In later years, it's usually one asking the other if they've seen his latest. This time, I got to this one before my dad. We are in agreement, however, that Bill Bryson's best work is behind him now, as he's sixty-five and rather prone to strange and rambly tangents in his work. In the past, these were much briefer and quite funny. Now, they are quite long and not quite as funny. I did enjoy The Road to Little Dribbling more than the last new one I read. This one is a return to his travel writing, following how journey along a route he made up, that he called the Bryson Line. Parts of it were really good and other parts just sounded like a cranky old man in some of the most stereotypical and kind of nasty ways. I'm mixed.

58. After You - Jojo Moyes

The sequel to Me Before You. And just as sad as the first one. Lou's life is falling apart after the first one, which I kind of like: grief is hard. And this is a story of confused, bewildered grief and learning to live with the sadness. It's a bit goofy, and sad, and generally endearing - it's a good, sad Sunday afternoon cry kind of read. It's zany. It's sad.

59. Hand Drawn Halifax - Emma FitzGerald

I picked this up on one of my last days in Halifax. I wanted to take a piece of Halifax with me, I guess. It's a book of sketches about different areas of HRM, and stories from each place. Sometimes just descriptions of the neighbourhoods, sometimes a little interview or a recipe. I miss Halifax, and not just because I'm living in batshit nowhere New Brunswick. I genuinely loved living in Halifax, and I like having this little slice of Halifax to pick up and look at. It could be a coffee table book. I have space for a coffee table now. I should get on that.

60. The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day that Almost Was - Chantal Hebert with Jean Lapierre

As someone who studied and loves reading and researching both constitutional politics and language politics in Canada, this book was like heaven. It features interviews and recollections from almost all of the major players during the 1995 Quebec Referendum. A friend actually recommended this to me shortly after it came out, but it got shoved back in my mind during grad school. It was magnificent. I thoroughly enjoyed the perspectives from all sides, even if I was a little horrified at how insubstantial some plans were.

61. Maphead - Ken Jennings

My partner originally downloaded this onto my Kindle and started reading 2011. While cleaning up the contents of my Kindle a few weeks ago, and decided to read it. It was interesting, though I'm not a map geek on the level that Ken Jennings is. I do remember, when I was eight or nine, I was at this great toy store that used to be near our house with my dad, where he insisted upon buying me a world map for my room, because :all kids need a map." I loved that map until the population counts on the border became noticeably dated. Anyway. I liked the different geographic hobbies and interests and fields that were talked about in the book. It was quite interesting.

62. The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's latest novel finally got read. I am a long-time Atwood fan. I think it's the slightly befuddled state of deep reflection her work always leaves me. This one is darly funny dystopia, kind of ridiculous and over the top yet also not totally out of the realm of possibility. The story follows Stan and Charmaine, a couple who enroll in the Positron Project, a city where you spend one month living and working in the city, and one month in the prison, allowing double the population to live in the same place. It's sad and funny and ridiculous and creepy - Atwood has a way with creating a future that is disturbingly possible. `

63. Humans of New York: Stories - Brandon Stanton

This is a compilation of a bunch of photos and their quotes from the Humans of New Yrok Facebook page. I like the Facebook page, but Facebook continues to make it harder and harder to go back in page histories. This was also 50% off through the magic of stacking discounts. It's another good coffee table book (really, I need that table). A lot of the stories are sad, but so it goes.


  1. #55 and #56 are on my list to be read, thanks for the heads up on rambly Bryson (#57) - shall avoid, and I nearly caved to #63 but I enjoy HoNY best on Instagram and wouldn't get the best use out of the book version. I envy your stacking discounts!

    1. It was a wonderful moment of discount serendipity!

      It's a shame about Bryson, as I really do enjoy his older work.

      December is turning into a month of Christmas novels, it seems.


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