Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Savage Crows

Crows: Encounters With the Wise Guys of the Avian World / Candace Savage  
Vancouver: Greystone, c2005.
113 p.

I noticed this book when Raidergirl reviewed it for the Canadian Book Challenge -- my library had it on the shelves -- so I picked it up as a small lunchtime read. Over the last couple of weeks I've been reading small bits of it while on my lunch breaks; it's a perfect book for this purpose.

Made up of short chapters interspersed with myths and illustrations of corvids, this provides intriguing facts and stories about crow behaviour. From tool making to family ties to intentional deception, these birds are clever and so fascinating.

It's a short book but with lots of fun information, as well as a lengthy bibliography and further reading at the end. It reveals a lot about how crows can be considered intelligent right up there with apes and humans. 

I really love crows -- there is a family of them in my neighbourhood with a baby who seems to be hanging around for longer than we thought it should -- we've named this one Crokinole. It makes odd sounds and wants to be taken care of, even at a year old. Reading this book revealed that this is not quite usual for crows but also not unheard of. Often a fledgling will hang around home for a year or two. We'll keep our eyes on Crokinole this summer to see what happens! Armed with the new crow facts from this book I'll watch a little more carefully.

In any case, this was a great little book to get you started on crow facts -- it's small and brief but still informative and curiosity inducing. The author has other books on both birds and bees, so perhaps I'll be checking out some more nature writing this year as well. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

When The English Fall

When the English Fall / David Williams 
Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, c2017.
242 p.

This is a post-disaster novel with a difference; it is told from the point of view of an Amish family, who are already living without the modern conveniences that are propping up civilization -- and which lead to chaos when they fail.

Jacob narrates this story, in a series of diary entries. This structure allows for time to reflect and ponder, with room for philosophy and ideas to grow naturally. The author is a minister so there are also some theological discussions, but as the characters are Amish this also feels natural and believable.  

Jacob's daughter Sadie has been having seizures and seeing strange visions; this is Jacob and Hannah's biggest concern, until the day in which her visions of the English falling comes true. In a huge solar storm, the electrical grid around the world is knocked out. Planes fall from the sky; transportation fails, and so therefore does the food supply. Outside of this solid Amish community in Pennsylvania, denizens of the cities are getting desperate and hungry. Chaos begins to take hold, with people walking out of the cities trying to find a place to live and grow food. Armed gangs begin to roam, and danger grows.

But Jacob's community is not totally isolated. He has a relationship with a local man named Mike, who was the distributor of his handmade furniture, and who comes to Jacob for help once the troubles start. In this relationship with people outside of their faith community, the family's adherence to the principles of caring and empathy really shine. 

There are some terrible events in the story, but it never becomes graphic and horrible for the sake of it. And something else that is very different about this apocalyptic story which I really appreciated was the lack of misogyny. In this small community, people may have different roles, but Jacob repeatedly says how much he loves and respects his wife, and admires her for her character. The women talking together make many decisions for the community, and are treated as equal participants in their lives. This is quite refreshing in this genre. 

The writing is calm and thoughtful, and the story feels plausible because of the lack of hyperbole. There are a few loose ends and perhaps I'd have liked a little more detail. However, I read this very quickly but have been thinking about it ever since. Really interesting read. 

I picked this up from my library, but was inspired to do so through reading this essay written by the author, found via twitter, on finding out that his book was suggested as an alternative for Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in a Florida school. It's a strong and moving essay about the value of reading to challenge us in our preconceptions. Well worth a look. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Painted Girls

The Painted Girls / Cathy Marie Buchanan  
Toronto: HarperCollins, c2012.
357 p.

A book that has been on my to-read list for years, I finally picked this up over the holidays this year. What an engaging read! Set in Paris of the 1870s, it follows three sisters from "the gutter" as they themselves put it, who aim to better themselves through dancing for the Paris Opera. 

The middle sister, Marie, is the heart of the book. She is Marie van Goethem, the model for Degas' now infamous Little Dancer Aged 14. Buchanan has done her research on this family and includes some information about their future lives in an afterword, although there isn't much out there.  So there are a lot of real people populating this novel, from the three girls, to Degas himself, to some criminal elements who attach themselves to the eldest sister Antoinette. I"m usually not a fan of real people as fictional characters but somehow I felt it worked in this book. 

The perspective jumps between Marie and Antoinette, and so we see both Marie's progression in the ballet world and her work modelling with Degas, and Antoinette's life finding piecemeal work and being beguiled by Emile Abadie (who Marie immediately pins as a nogoodnik). The characters of their little sister Charlotte and their absinthe-addicted laundress mother are more nebulous, as they are not narrators, even if they do play important parts. As Marie grows and develops in the ballet, she also attracts an abonne -- a gentleman supporter who is just what you might imagine. Meanwhile Antoinette is getting further entangled with the emotionally abusive and secretive Emile. 

The story is suspenseful, moving, and heavily infused with sensory detail. From laundering to dancing, the physical experience of life colours the reading. The setting is also a strong element and adds to the appeal of this novel. The emotional relationship between Marie and Antoinette is the throughline of the story, and it pays off.

Buchanan was herself a ballet dancer for a while and it shows in the description of the rigorous training required from a young age. Her research and presentation of the lives of the young corps of dancers at the Paris Opera in the 1870s does not shy away from the physical and sexual exploitation of these girls, either. This is a novel which feels drenched in reality, with a conclusion that is unexpected if you know nothing about this real life family (which I didn't) but which is tied together very believably using the known historical facts. It feels as though this is the real story.

You can see a gallery of images of Degas' work, of the Paris Opera, and a reader's guide at the author's website if you wish to learn more.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Time of Mute Swans

The Time of Mute Swans / Ece Temelkuran; translated from the Turkish by Kenneth Dakan.
New York: Arcade Publishing, c2017.
404 p.

This beautiful, heart-breaking book was illuminating, moving, and harrowing to read. Set in 1980, in Ankara, Turkey, it reveals the warring elements of Turkish society -- between democratic leanings or communism, and the harsh crackdowns of a dictatorial government; between rich and poor; between beauty and terror. It reveals the reality of life in Turkey in the 1971-1980 era with two coup d'etats and a bloody social history. 

But it does so by following two families, from the viewpoints of their children, Ayşe and Ali. These two children tell the story from their naive and nearly comprehending perspectives, and the story is stronger because of it. Their hope and optimism in the face of larger events, which the reader can parse in a way that the children can't, is compelling.

The children believe that they can affect circumstances, whether it's by Ayşe's conviction that they need to get butterflies inside parliament, or their growing need to rescue a swan from the city park from which swans have been disappearing to serve as adornment for the government's private properties, with their wings clipped so they can not fly away.

In this summer of 1980, mute swans have migrated from Siberia to the Black Sea for the first time in decades. This unusual occurrence and the resultant swan kidnapping stands as metaphor in the book, for the Turkish people's freedom. But it is also a powerful theme because of its internal logic, and the way that the children come to their plan naturally.

As the story progresses and the quirks of both children are shared, the reader becomes very attached to both of them. They are each complex characters with intense internal lives that the adults around them overlook.The innocence of their narrative places the horrors around them in higher relief. And yet the conclusion is uplifting, with both  a sense of possibility and of closure.

This book was both illuminating in an historical sense, and a wonderfully done narrative. Although it can be difficult to write from a child's perspective, I felt that Ece Temelkuran captured something in her depiction of these children, and these families, that was ephemeral and fleeting and as likely to evade being pinned down as Ayşe's butterflies. A beautiful, powerful read. Recommended.

For a more complete and detailed review of this book, check out this article at the Turkish Literature Blog, including music. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

The 11th Canadian Book Challenge - The Halfway Point!

Following in John's footsteps, I present here the traditional halfway roundup of titles read thus far for the 11th Canadian Book Challenge!

You've all done very well indeed, and given me a lot of titles to gather up -- lots of variety -- some interesting debut authors, fiction in translation, nonfiction, children's books, graphic novels, just to mention a few. And not many duplicated titles -- I'm actually quite amazed at how many different authors and titles have been read with hardly any doubled up!

The first author to have had more than one title reviewed was Sarah Mlynowski. The author with the highest number of different titles reviewed so far is Mordecai Richler. The title with the most reviews so far is Glass Houses by Louise Penny. Strangest author so far? Twitter account @stats_canada!

If you find any missing or incorrect links please let me know either in the comments or a quick email. Thanks!

-150 Years of Stats Canada! (Red 5)

Abdou, Angie
-Between (Naomi)
-The Bone Cage (Naomi)
-The Canterbury Trail  (Naomi)

Abel, Jordan 
-Injun (John Mutford)

Agg, Jen
-I Hear She's A Real Bitch (Teena)

Aguirre, Carmen
-Mexican Hooker (Lara Maynard)

Alexis, André
-Fifteen Dogs (Pussreboots)

Allenby, Victoria
-Timo Goes Camping (Shonna)

Ali, S.K.
Saints & Misfits (Pussreboots)

Anderson, R.J.
-Knife (Heather)
-Rebel (Heather)
-Arrow (Heather)

Armstrong, Kelley
-Missing (Kristilyn)
-Bitten (John Mutford)

Asher, Damian
-Inside the Inferno (Swordsman)

Assiniwi, Bernard
-The Beothuk Saga (Buried in Print)

Atlee, Harold Benge
-Black Feather (Brian Busby)

Atwood, Margaret
-Angel Catbird (Lara Maynard)
-Moral Disorder (Eric P.)
-Stone Mattress (Lara Maynard)

Bailey, Linda
-Carson Crosses Canada (Pussreboots)

Baker, Carleigh
-Bad Endings (John Mutford)

Barber, Terry
-Laura Secord (Irene)

Barclay, Linwood
-Chase (Heather)
-The Twenty Three (Shonna)
-Parting Shot (Luanne, Teena)

Barr, Robert
-Revenge! (Brian Busby)

Bass, Karen
-Two Times a Traitor (Shonna)

Bennett, John & Susan Rowley
-Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut (John Mutford)

Bergen, David
-The Retreat (Wendy)

Berkhout, Nina
-The Mosaic (Heather)

Best, Gillian
-The Last Wave (Shonna)

Boone, Gabriel
-Skitter (Darlene, Luanne)

Bordeleau, Virginia Pésémapéo
-Winter Child (Shonna)

Bourgeois, Paulette
-Franklin in the Dark (RIEDEL Fascination)

Boutilier, Alicia & Tobi Bruce
-The Artist Herself (Buried in Print)

Bowen, Gail
-A Colder Kind of Death (RIEDEL Fascination)

Burnford, Sheila
-The Incredible Journey (RIEDEL Fascination)

Braithwaite, Max
-The Mystery of the Muffled Man (Brian Busby)

Brandt, Gerald
The Courier (Crystal)

Britt, Fanny
-Hunting Houses (Shonna)

Brooks, Martha
-Queen of Hearts (Darlene)

Brown, Karma
-In This Moment (Teena)

Bruneau, Carol
-A Bird on Every Tree (Naomi)

Butler, Paul
-The Widow's Fire (Naomi)

Cameron, Claire
-The Line Painter (Wendy)
-The Last Neanderthal (Crystal, Buried in Print)

Cameron, Janet E.
-Cinnamon Toast & The End of the World (Mary)

Capogna, Laurie & Barbara Pelletier, Drs.
-Eyefoods (Red 5)

de Castell, Sebastien
-Tyrant's Throne (Swordsman)

Caulfield, Timothy
-The Cure for Everything (Teena)

Champniss, Kim Clarke
-Skinheads, Fur Traders & DJs (Teena)

Chapman, Brenda
-Shallow End (Shonna)

Chariandy, David
Brother (Teena, Naomi, Luanne)

Choy, Wayson
Not Yet (Raidergirl)

Choyce, Lesley
-The Thin Place (Teena)
-The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander MacNeil (Naomi)

Cole, Trevor
-The Whiskey King (Teena)

Comeau, Joey
-Malagash (Shonna)

Coupland, Douglas
Marshall McLuhan (Raidergirl)

Crate, Joan
-Black Apple (Red 5)

Curtis, Christopher Paul
-The Madman of Piney Woods (Sherrie)

Curtis, Sky
- Flush (Melwyk)

Cusk, Rachel
-Transit (Naomi)

Cutter, Nick
-The Troop (Darlene)

Davidson, Craig
-Cataract City (Wendy)

Davies, Robertson
-The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies (Mary)

Delisle, Guy
Burma Chronicles (Barbara)

Demchuk, David
-The Bone Mother (Melwyk)

Dent, John Charles
-The Gerrard Street Mystery (Brian Busby)

Dimaline, Cherie
-The Marrow Thieves (Buried in Print)

Donaldson, Chelsea
-Chris Hadfield (Sherrie)

Donoghue, Emma
-The Lotterys Plus One (Pussreboots)

Doyle, Alan
-A Newfoundlander in Canada (Teena)

Dunn, Philippa
-Mysterious Rescue (RIEDEL Fascination)

El Akkad, Omar
-American War (Crystal)

Engel, Howard 
-A Victim Must Be Found (RIEDEL Fascination)

Engel, Marian
-The Tattooed Woman (Eric P)

Enns, Karen
-Cloud Physics (Eric P)

Faber, Sarah
-All is Beauty Now (Naomi)

Fallis, Terry
-Best Laid Plans (Lisa)

Ferguson, Will
-419 (Red 5)

Ferrier, Ryan
-D4ve (Pussreboots)

Findley, Timothy
-You Went Away (Eric P.)

Fleming, May Agnes
-Edith Percival (Brian Busby)

Florence, Elinor
-Bird's Eye View (Lara Maynard)

Forsberg, Lois
-Prairie Ghosts (RIEDEL Fascination)

Fortier, Anne
-The Lost Sisterhood (Shonna)

Gallagher, John
-Big League Babble On (Teena)

Gallant, Mavis
-Montreal Stories (Lara Maynard)

George, Stephen R.
-Grandma's Little Darling (Brian Busby)

Graham, Genevieve
-Tides of Honour (Red 5)

Green, Shari
-Macy McMillan & the Rainbow Goddess (Pussreboots)

Griffin, Daniel
-Two Roads Home (Buried in Print)

Gunnery, Sylvia
-Road Signs That Say West (Shonna)

Hadfield, Chris
-An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (Crystal)
-The Darkest Dark (Sherrie)

Halle, Karina
-After All (Marie)

Hardcastle, Kevin
-In the Cage (Naomi)

Harlick, R.J.
-Purple Palette for Murder (Shonna)

Hart-Green, Sharon
-Come Back For Me (Lara Maynard)

Heras, Theo & Renné Benoit
-Baby Cakes (Shonna)

Hill, Dan
-The Comeback (Brian Busby)

Hill, Lawrence
-The Illegal (Red 5)

Hilton, Kate
-Just Like Family (Shonna, Kristilyn)

Hornby, Lance
Toronto and the Maple Leafs (Teena)

Howe, Murray
Nine Lessons I Learned From My Father (Teena)

Humphries, Helen
-The Ghost Orchard (Irene, Shonna)

Hynes, Joel Thomas
We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night (Naomi)

Igloliorte, Heather, ed.
-Sakkijajuk: Art & Craft from Nunatsiavut (Buried in Print)

Iskwé & Erin Leslie
Will I See (John Mutford)

Jennings, Maureen
-Under the Dragon's Tail (Pussreboots)

Johnston, E.K.
-Exit, Pursued By a Bear (Sherrie)
-That Inevitable Victorian Thing (Crystal)

Johnston, Lyla June & Joy de Vito
-Lifting Hearts Off the Ground (Red 5)

Kaan, Michael
-The Water Beetles (Buried in Print)

Kearsley, Susanna
-The Firebird (Red 5)

Khan, Ausma Zehanat
-The Unquiet Dead (Red 5)

Kidman Cox, Rosamund
-Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25 (Pussreboots)

King, Thomas
-The Back of the Turtle (Buried in Print)

Klassen, Jon
-Triangle (Pussreboots)

Kureluk, William
-A Northern Nativity (RIEDEL Fascination)

Leach, Norman S.
-Cavalry of the Air (Swordsman)

Leach, Sara
-Slug Days (Shonna)

Lee, Nancy
-Dead Girls (Eric P.)

Lemire, Jeff
-Descender: Tin Stars (John Mutford)
-Roughneck (Pussreboots)
-Black Hammer (Pussreboots)

Lethbridge, Ann
-More Than a Lover (Shonna)

Lloyd Kyi, Tanya
-Nova Scotia (RIEDEL Fascination)

Lorinc, John et al
-The Ward (Swordsman, Teena)

Lyttle, Alex
-From Ant to Eagle (Pussreboots)

Mackenzie, Lee
-Charming Predator (Teena)

Maclear, Kyo & Kenard Pak
-The Fog (Pussreboots)

Maharaj, Rabindranath
-Homer in Flight (Eric P)

Majumdar, Anita
-The Fish Eyes trilogy (Eric P.)

Mandel, Emily St John
-Station Eleven (Crystal)

Marais, Bianca
-Hum if you don't know the words (Naomi)

Marie, Annette
-The Red Winter trilogy (Crystal)

Marquis, Greg
-Truth & Honour (Teena, Swordsman)

Marshall, Debbie
-Firing Lines (Shonna)

Mastai, Elan
-All Our Wrong Todays (Pussreboots)

Matejova, Maria
Wherever I Find Myself (Irene)

Mayr, Suzette
-Dr. Edith Vane & the Hares of Crawley Hall (Melwyk)

McGrath, Robin
-Coasting Trade (Lara Maynard)

Mclayne, Alyson
-Highland Promise (Heather)

McMillan, Rachel
-The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Sherrie)
-The White Feather Murders (Sherrie)

McNamee, Graham
-Acceleration (Heather)

Melick, Angela
-We Are the Engineers (Pussreboots)

Merasty, Joseph Auguste with David Carpenter
The Education of Augie Merasty (Red 5)

Michaels, Sean
-Us Conductors (Pussreboots)

Michaud, Andrée A.
-Boundary (Naomi)

Mlynowski, Sarah
-Fairest of All (Heather)
-Ten Things We Did (Pussreboots)

Montgomery, L.M.
-After Many Years (Melwyk)
-Anne of Avonlea (Red 5)

Morgan, Lael
-Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush (John Mutford)

Nemat, Marina
-Prisoner of Tehran (Irene)
-After Tehran (Irene)

Neuvel, Sylvain
-Waking Gods (Shonna)

Norrie, Helen
-He Saw Himself in All His Creatures (RIEDEL Fascination)

O'Loughlin, Ed
-Minds of Winter (Naomi)

O'Neill, Heather
-The Lonely Hearts Hotel (Lara Maynard)

Oppel, Kenneth
-Skybreaker (Pussreboots)
-Airborn (Raidergirl)
-The Boundless (Sherrie)

Ozeki, Ruth
-A Tale for the Time Being (Heather, Raidergirl)

Penny, Louise
-Glass Houses (Luanne, Shonna, Raidergirl)

Peterman, Michael
-Sisters in Two Worlds (Raidergirl)

Peterson, Zoey Leigh
-Next Year For Sure (Naomi, Crystal)

Plett, Casey
-A Safe Girl to Love (Pussreboots)

Poplak, Lorna
-Drop Dead (Teena)

Porter, Helen
-Below the Bridge (Lara Maynard)

Poulin, Jacques
-Volkswagen Blues (Pussreboots)

Preston, Brent
-The New Farm (Teena)

Pyper, Andrew
-The Only Child (Lisa)

Raughley, Sarah
-Fate of Flames (Shonna)

Redhill, Michael
-Bellevue Square (Luanne, Naomi)

Reichs, Kathy
-Devil Bones (Lisa)
-Cross Bones (Lisa)
-Grave Secrets (Lisa)

Reid, Iain
-I'm Thinking of Ending Things (Wendy, Pussreboots)

Richler, Mordecai
-Joshua Then & Now (Mary R)
-O Canada, O Quebec (Mary R)
-The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Eric P)
-The Street (Eric P.)

Robinson, Eden
-Son of a Trickster (Naomi)

Robinson, Peter
-Sleeping in the Ground (Luanne)

Rosenblum, Rebecca
-So Much Love (Naomi)

Rotenberg, Robert
-Heart of the City (Teena, Luanne)

Sadai, Jenn
-Cottage Cheese Thighs (Shonna)

Savage, Candace
-Crows (Raidergirl)

Schatzker, Mark
-The Dorito Effect (Raidergirl)

-Dominion (Eric P)
-Wimbledon Green (Eric P)
-GNBCC (Eric P)

Shields, Carol and Patrick Crowe
-Susanna Moodie: Roughing It In The Bush (Raidergirl)

Sibbeston, Nick
-You Will Wear a White Shirt (John Mutford)

Simpson, Anne
-An Orange from Portugal (Red 5)

Snyder, Scott & Jeff Lemire
-A.D. After Death (John Mutford)

Spence, Janis
-On the Beach in Spanish Room (Lara Maynard)

St John, Dennis
-Yellowknife (John Mutford)

Stevens, Chevy
-Those Girls (Sherrie)

Stratten, Scott
-Unmarketing (Teena)
-QR Codes Kill Kittens (Teena)
-The Book of Business Awesome/UnAwesome (Teena)

Szalay, David
-All That Man Is (Shonna)

Talkington, Bruce
Boo To You, Winnie the Pooh (RIEDEL Fascination)

Tamaki, Jillian
-Boundless (Pussreboots)

Thomas, Mike
-You Might Remember Me (Teena)

Timmer, Julie Lawson
-Mrs. Saint and the Defectives (Pussreboots)

Todd, Jack
Rose & Poe (Naomi)

Toews, Miriam
-The Flying Troutmans (Pussreboots)

Trotter, Kathleen
-Finding Your Fit (Teena)

Urquhart, Doug
-Eyes of the Husky (John Mutford)

Urquhart, Jane
-Night Stages (Lara Maynard)

Vermette, Katherena & Scott B. Henderson
-A Girl Called Echo (John Mutford)

Wagamese, Richard
-Embers (Red 5)
-Indian Horse (Red 5)

Wallin, Pamela
-The Comfort of Cats (RIEDEL Fascination)

Walsh, Mary
-Crying for the Moon (John Mutford, Teena)

Walter, Emmanuelle
-Stolen Sisters (Red 5)

Watson, Sheila B.
-Cadillac Couches (Pussreboots)

Watt, Alison
-Dazzle Patterns (Naomi)

Watt-Cloutier, Sheila
-The Right to Be Cold (Red 5)

Webb, Phyllis
-Peacock Blue (Eric P)

Wees, Frances Shelley
-Where is Jenny Now? (Brian Busby)

Whitehead, Ruth Holmes
-The Mi'kmaq (Lara Maynard)

Whittingham, Jane & Noel Tuazon
-Wild One (Shonna)

Wilkshire, Nick
-The Moscow Code (Teena)

Willis, Deborah
-The Dark and other love stories (Shonna)

Wilson, Ethel
-Hetty Dorval (Leaves & Pages)
-Swamp Angel (Leaves & Pages)

Winters, Michelle
-I Am a Truck (Naomi)

Wolfe, Margie
-150 Fascinating Facts about Canadian Women (Teena)

Wynne-Jones, Tim
-Blink & Caution (Sherrie)

11th Annual Canadian Book Challenge: January Roundup

1. Click on the icon above
2. Add a link to your review. (Please link to your specific review, not an entire webpage.)
3. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book, such as Melwyk (Anne of Green Gables)
4. In the comment section below, tell me your grand total so far. (ex. "This brings me up to 1/13")
5. In the comment section below, note whether you've read a book which meets the monthly challenge set via email for participants.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of the Year, 2017

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Already time for the yearly roundup of some of the best reads this year. I always wait until the very last possible moment to post my list; you never know what you'll come across around Christmas! I like to give every book I've read this year a chance to appear on my favourites list, no matter if I read it in the first week of January or the last few days of December. 

I also create a statistical summary each year, mostly for my own geekish pleasure. As I've said before, I don't think of reading as a competition -- I keep track of numbers and various stats for my own interest, not to prove anything or compare myself to anyone. 

Here are my reading stats for 2017:

Total Reading: 157


Female: 138
Male: 18
Both/Neither: 1

Genre etc.

Fiction: 82
Non Fiction: 53
Poetry: 10
Graphic Novels: 8
Short Stories: 4 

In translation: 11

French (Quebecois):3
French (France): 1
Italian: 2
Norwegian: 1
Dutch: 1
Japanese: 1
Hebrew: 1
Turkish: 1 

My Own Books: 38
Library Books: 105

Review Copies: 14

Rereads: 0
E-reads: 2
E-Audio: 5
Author who I read the most fromMary Burchell (7)

2017's Weird Random Stat - Books with a Proper Name in the Title: 15


It's interesting to see that the ratio of fiction to nonfiction is quite different this year -- I've read a lot more nonfic than usual, most of it connected to the textile arts which I've been studying for the last half of the year. 

Once again Mary Burchell comes out on top as the author with the most titles read. This could have something to do with the big score of a stack of vintage Burchells I found while thrifting this summer. 

I read fewer books in translation this year, but they were spread over a much wider range of languages. This is an area to keep working on increasing. 

And I'm kind of happy to see that the number of review copies has been halved since last year. I've been trying to take on less 'necessary' reading, and I do think that finishing up with some library committee work has made a difference here. 

How has your reading year looked?


And now on to some of my favourite titles of the year! I read less fiction this year, and found fewer spectacular reads in those I did read. But there were some standouts which I really enjoyed, either for the style or characters or concepts, and here they are:

Specimen by Irina Kovalyova 
This short story collection was a wonderful discovery; as I said at the time, it felt like a breath of fresh air. The focus on international settings and stories with overt political content, plus the fine writing, made this a hit for me this year.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A classic that I finally read, it was also a really great book on its own -- compelling story and wonderful characters. Glad I finally read it!

Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson
A 2017 Canadian novel set in BC, this indigenous, magical, blackly funny/sad novel was a standout! And it is only part one of a projected trilogy which I am really looking forward to now.

Come Away by Anne Hines 
This little novel was quite literally a surprise -- I found it on my shelves with no memory of how it got there. Switching between the distant past in Babylon and current day academia gave it a vibrancy I enjoyed.  

Monoculture by F.S. Michaels 
My only nonfic pick on my final list, this simple read covers the idea that we are operating under a monoculture, a 'master story' if you will, that colours everything our civilization does. It's an economic story, and Michaels lays it all out clearly for those new to this discussion, with many examples. Thoughtful and engaging.

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence
Another classic that I finally got to this year, and another outstanding read. I loved this book about Morag Gunn, her past, her present, and her future as represented by her daughter. So good. 

The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby
A YA novel by a Canadian author I've enjoyed in the past, this one dealt with fashion and two high school students trying to get into an elite school via this route. Great characters, love and lust, high style, family dysfunction, drama and more.

The Purple Swamp Hen by Penelope Lively
One of my very favourite writers, Penelope Lively, released this book of short stories this year. I knew I'd read it, and as it turns out I really enjoyed it, and was surprised by some of the edgier content -- a fun collection.

Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto 
Another favourite writer, I picked this one up for August's Women in Translation month. Such a slow moving, thoughtful, book with lots of heartbreak and hope in it. I like her writing style, and her sense of life passing away before our eyes.

The Bone Mother by David Demchuk 
This was a surprise to me -- a horror novel that I loved? Weird! This collection of connected tales was mysterious, magical, dark, evocative -- all the things I love, without being too gory. 

So there you have it. Some of my faves of the year -- hoping I'll be more on my usual reading track next year and able to find more great reads to share.

Happy Reading in 2018!