Category Archives: reading

Reading List 2015

1. Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer
2. Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
3. Lovely to Look At: What Animals Should Know about Humans by Noreen
4. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
7. Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars
8. The Imaginary Girlfriend by John Irving
9. What You Need by Andrew Forbes
10. Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie
11. House Inside the Waves by Richard Taylor
12. Beetle by Matthew Henly
13. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
14. The Fatal Shore: The epic of Australia’s founding by Robert Hughes
15. The Western Home: Stories for Home on the Range by Catherine Cooper
16. Amelia Earhart by Kathleen C. Winters
17. The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende
18. A Different Shred of Skin by T. Anders Carson
19. Fury by Salman Rushdie
20. We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen
21. The Corner by David Simon & Edward Burns
22. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Reading List 2014

“When you think about it zoologically, Grimace is clearly related to the same species as Sesame Street‘s Cookie Monster. Both have similar body shapes – dark colors, mottled hides, those darting black eyes and, most significantly, both have an obsessive compulsion to consume one single item of American junk food. They’re practically twins. Of course – and this is crucial – Grimace is less of a moralist about the whole thing. Unlike Cookie Monster, Grimace doesn’t care if you can count from one to ten, he just wants his milkshake. “Ya, ya, C is for Cookie; J is for Just give me my fucking shake, okay?”
-“The Return of Grimace” in Certifiable, David McGimpsey

So… here goes. A new year with new books and maybe the return of a few favourites. Most of my books come as lenders from friends and the library, or from second-hand shops and the Sally Ann. It’s rare that I go out of my way to find a specific book to read, but that might change. I ordered my first two books online! The only thing I’ve ever bought online before were football shirts and winter boots with someone else’s credit card. And although I still don’t believe in credit cards, I was able to do it with a gift card. I’ve had a backlog of books I’ve wanted to read filed away in my brain… hoping to get to some of these this year.

2014 Readings

Dance of the Seven Dwarfs by Zsolt Alapi
Certifiable by David McGimpsey
Hellgoing by Lynn Coady
Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marques
Hero of the Underground by Jason Peter with Tony O’Neill
A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
Getting Naked with Harry CrewsInterviews | edited by Erik Bledsoe
Emerald City by Jennifer Egan
The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg
BabyWorld by Jonathan Martin Dixit
The World According to Garp by John Irving
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
The Rebel Angels by Robertson Davies
What’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies
Amelia Earhart by Kathleen C. Winters
All the Names by José Saramago

I would also like to read more than I did last year… but am happy not be in a reading paralysis. For a great list of reccomendations, check out Roxane Gay’s My 2013 in Reading

Reading List 2013

In the past I would post reading lists early in the year and add to them as months passed but after a long bout of reading paralysis, I felt hesitant. Alas, I have been reading steadily (perhaps not at the Ravenous Reader level) and have been privileged to read/edit/workshop several pre-publication manuscripts of writer friends. Most of the books thus far have been recommendations, lenders, and gifts which have landed with great success.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
A Complicated Kindness – Miriam Toews
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne
Nothing Man and the Purple Zero – Richard Scarsbrook
Daisy Miller – Henry James
The Remains of the Day -Kazuo Ishiguro
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
Night Shift – Stephen King
Retro Vol. 1 No 3: Selections from Joyland Magazine
The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
Nobody Looks that Young Here – Daniel Perry
The Sailor and the Pugilist – Nadia Ragbar
Stories for Ibarra – Harriet Doerr
Open – Lisa Moore
Dust to Dust – Timothy Findley
Post Office – Charles Bukowski
The Family Fang – Kevin Wilson
The Tale of One Bad Rat – Bryan Talbot
A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Reading Paralysis

Not only do I suffer from writing paralysis, but also from reading paralysis – long stretches where I am unable to read anything of substantial length that requires focus and memory.

This past year I wasn’t able to make it through novels. I kept short story collections by my bedside but even these were only read every so often.

It’s frustrating and somewhat embarrassing as a writer and editor to have trouble engaging in longer manuscripts. It’s happened throughout my life, but so has the opposite where I’ve found myself ravenously reading book after book.

What accompanies these dry spells makes matters worse. When I can’t read; I can’t write. At least not in any great capacity. I write first drafts like I read chapters, losing concentration quickly.

Recently wondering when and if this drought would break, I met a writer who is a voracious reader and a collector of first editions. I knew he admired Salman Rushdie, so I asked what book he would recommend to a first time reader of his work.

Instead of just offering a Rushdie title, he sent me a beautiful letter that expressed his gratitude and excitement for being asked. Then he went into detail why The Satanic Verses may not be the best place to start, and that most people recommend Midnight’s Children, but why he thought it wasn’t quite right either. He wrote about Rushdie’s craft of story and style, suggested two books, and ended with…

“…try it, and if you don’t like it, I always believe life’s too short to chug through books you’re not enjoying. There are too many others to read…”

His generous response to my simple question not only made an impression, but also gave me the courage to get reading again. He lent me The Ground Beneath Her Feet and I was nervous because I thought, what if I can’t get through it.

Well, I did read the book and loved Rushdie’s playful use of language as well as his beautiful storytelling narrative. I travelled through decades of rock ‘n roll alongside three characters caught in a love triangle, with the Orpheus myth threaded throughout. Highly recommended!

Finishing the book, I felt excited to work on my own fiction and to continue reading. The two are always intertwined. My new friend also inspired me to start a series of blog posts called Ravenous Reader which will ask avid readers to answer questions about their fondness for the written word, book collections, favourite authors, reading rituals, and yes, dry spells.

Reading List 2011

John Cheever Stories
Black Bile Press Chapbook Series #4
The Indifference League – Richard Scarsbrook
Can’t Lit – Edited by Richard Rosenbaum
All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy
All My Friends Are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman
Toronto Noir – edited by Janine Armin and Nathaniel G. Moore
The Crossing – Cormac McCarthy
Just After Sunset – Stephen King
the horn of a lamb – robert sedlack
Galveston – Paul Quarrington
Look Down, This Is Where It Must Have Happened – Hal Niedzviecki
This Cake is for the Party – Sarah Selecky
Late Nights on Air – Elizabeth Hay
Light Lifting – Alexander MacLeod
Stones – Timothy Findley
Cities of the Plain – Cormac McCarthy
Barnacle Love – Anthony De Sa
Dinner Along the Amazon – Timothy Findley
Chump Change – Dan Fante

Reading List 2010

For the last couple of years I have kept a record of the books I read. I like to observe the connection of what I am reading to what I am writing. Here is my 2010 list:

Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
The Manticore – Robertson Davies
World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
Joyland – Emily Schultz
The Monkeyface Chronicles – Richard Scarsbrook
Bullet Park – John Cheever
The Wine of Youth – John Fante
Dracula – Bram Stoker
American Stories from the Atlantic Monthly
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Happiest Man Alive – a Biography of Henry Miller – Mary V. Dearborn
Birds of America – Lorrie Moore
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
They Shall Inherit the Earth – Morley Callaghan
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Quentin Tarantino Interviews – Edited by Gerald Peary
Tropic of Hockey – Dave Bidini
Tempest-Tost – Robertson Davies
Leaven of Malice – Robertson Davies
The Golden Mean – Annabel Lyon
A Sane Man Vs. The Thing From The Woods And Other Pulp Fictions – Jeremy Milks
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories – Oscar Wilde
Blindness – Jose Saramago
Heroes and Villians – Angela Carter
Lullabies for Little Criminals – Heather O’Neill
Endangered Species – Lawrence Grobel
Pygmalion – George Bernard Shaw
Laughable Loves – Milan Kundera
Mary Shelley: Her Work, Her Fiction, Her Monsters – Anne K. Mellor
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Geek Love – Katherine Dunn
Cockroach – Rawi Hage
Pulpy & Midge – Jessica Westhead
Smoke and Mirrors – Neil Gaiman
The Stories of John Cheever