At the beginning of 2017, I set my reading challenge on Goodreads to thirty books for the year. I was doing pretty well for the first six months, staying at least two-three books ahead of schedule, but in the second half it petered off as I went into a reading slump in the fall, and I ended up finishing at only twenty-two. Twenty-two books isn’t exactly a whole lot of selection to choose from when choosing a Top 5, but there were a few that stood out to me. When considering which books made it to this list, I looked at the rating I gave it on Goodreads, how fast I finished it, and how memorable it was for me. The books are in no particular ranking order.
From the minute I heard about this book on an episode of The Next Chapter CBC podcast, I knew I wanted to read it. Barbara Gowdy’s Little Sister has quite an intriguing premise, not to mention a rather creepy, enticing cover. It takes place in Toronto, Ontario and follows a third-person narrative of Rose Bowan. Rose is in her thirties and owns an old movie theatre with her mother, who is gradually losing herself to dementia. Something strange begins happening to Rose during that summer; every time a thunderstorm occurs in the area, she finds herself losing consciousness and has vivid, realistic encounters whilst inhabiting another woman’s body. Rose sets out to find this other woman to see if she’s real, in hopes that she can come face-to-face with her eventually.
When I was working at Chapters, I kept seeing this book on the shelf in the fiction section, staring out at me for weeks, and finally decided to get it. It follows the story of teenage Linda, living with her parents on a lake in northern Minnesota. On summer, a family with a 4 year old son named Paul move in across the lake, and Linda begins to babysit Paul. Over the course of that summer, “Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life.”
From that synopsis, I was prepared for some sort of epic, tragic revelation and subtle but crazy events at every turn. There’s this whole build up to what happens to Paul; you know something bad is going to happen to him (it’s revealed in the first page), but you don’t know what. Then finally when it does happen, I was a bit shocked but it all happened so fast, I expected more to come. And then when it ended later without much else happening, I was just super underwhelmed. It was not what I was expecting; it was subtle to the point of being almost so subtle I missed what the point of it was. Continue reading
Yep, that’s right. I now work in a publishing house!
Back in mid-May I was surfing the job boards online, hoping to find another part time job to go along with my part-time job at the bookstore – but I ended up stumbling across a posting for a full-time job at a local publishing house. Funnily enough, this was the same publishing house I’d looked at last summer right after I’d graduated. I had seen then how awesome it looked with its team of friendly looking people and the laid back but professional nuance of their website. I desperately wished they had some sort of job opening – but alas, they did not, and so I moved on to other things. Continue reading
You’ll be scared, but you won’t know why – that’s what I kept hearing people say about this book, and they weren’t wrong.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Canadian author Ian Reid follows a first person narrative of a young woman and her boyfriend driving on the road, headed towards the house of the boyfriend’s parents. On this drive, it becomes clear from the first line in the book that the girlfriend is thinking of ending her relationship with the boyfriend. Sounds harmless enough, right? It possibly even evokes expectations of some sort of rom-com or chick-lit plot – but you couldn’t be more wrong. From the first page onwards, things just get exponentially bizarre and creepier, more than you would ever think, and it keeps it up, right until the final page. Continue reading
I read Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham over a month ago, and figured I should probably get around to reviewing it…someday…maybe (cue eye roll).
I first heard about this book when I read Lauren Graham’s memoir Talking As Fast As I Can last November. I had no idea she had written fiction as well, and I really enjoyed her memoir, so I decided to pick this one up.
Someday, Someday Maybe follows a rather cliched sounding story: a young woman, Franny Banks, is pursuing an acting career in New York City while working as a waitress part time – but that’s one of the things I liked about this book. Even though is was a storyline we’ve seen before, it still managed to be unique on its own and even challenged the cliche a little. Continue reading
From my experience of reading The Vanishing by Wendy Webb, I’ve devised this handy list of How Not To Write A Gothic Ghost Story, though it could easily also be known as How Not To Write Any Story.
First, begin with a promising premise: Julia’s life is turned upside down after her husband’s suicide and societal uproar against him conning thousands of people out of their life savings. Alone and estranged from society, Julia hides in her own home when a man shows up on her door step, presenting a solution to her situation. She is whisked away to start a new life out of the public’s eye, working as a companion to a cooky, elderly horror novelist in a haunted mansion – but strange things start happening, and Julia questions why she was really brought to the house. Once you have that, proceed to ruin it by following these crucial steps (WARNING: minor spoilers): Continue reading
I spent the better part of today going on a big walk with Sophie. First we went down to the Starbucks in the village, where we sat for over an hour at a shaded table. I had tea and a chocolate croissant – Sophie had some of the non-chocolate parts. Then we continued on down to the water where Sophie enjoyed a swim and played with the rocks (I know, she’s a weird dog). While at Starbucks I read my book for a bit, but mostly I worked on brainstorming a bunch of ideas and plans for my Leuchtturm bullet journal. Continue reading
Today at the store, a customer asked me if we had a certain book in stock – a fantasy book by Robin Hobb called Assassin’s Fate: Book 3 of the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy. I checked the computer to find it was just released May 9th and we had 10 copies. I showed her to the section and she was so excited to see it, she picked up the book and hugged it. We chatted briefly before she left. I mentioned I had never really read much fantasy or sci-fi before – she looked at me in shock – I explained it was because I just didn’t know where to start and didn’t know what was good. She nodded solemnly, saying there can be a lot of crap to get through, but it’s so worth it because eventually you’ll find gold. Continue reading
I once heard someone describe this book as ‘hipster’ poetry, and I can see why. It discusses a lot of mainstream issues: love, relationships, sex and feminism, but from the author’s personal, sometimes dark experiences. Milk and Honey was written by young Canadian author Rupi Kaur and has been incredibly popular in the book world lately. Kaur, you might recall, is the young woman responsible for the photo essay that explored menstruation taboos. When she shared one of the photos on Instagram, it was deleted, proving the exact point that Kaur was trying to make: “A majority of people, societies, and communities shun this natural process. Some are more comfortable with the pornification of women, the sexualization of women, the violence and degradation of women than this. They cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that, but will be angered and bothered by this” (Kaur, Instagram post, March 24, 2015).
I fully support what Rupi Kaur stands for and what she’s trying to do with her work, and I think Milk and Honey is very relevant to today’s society for the exact reasons Kaur mentioned above. But is it good poetry?
Since I’m not very familiar with how to analyze or review poetry, I sought out the help of my best friend, Tess Lund, who has a double major in English and Writing. She gave me a little lesson in poetry and after a quick flip through and analysis of the first few poems, she informed me that no, Milk and Honey in her educated opinion, is not the amazing piece of poetic literature everyone seems to think it is. After hearing her reasoning, I have to say I agree.