My June Reads

Summer arrived in time for the solstice on June 21st. That made everyone, plants included, happy! Finally, there’s warmth in the sun (finally, there is sun). So last weekend, beach umbrellas were pulled out, wading pools were filled, and bike tires were pumped.

We cycled the Big Qualicum Fish Hatchery trail last Sunday, a first for us on that particular route. We went early in the morning before the heat got too extreme, and it was glorious. Not too strenuous, great peekaboo views of the river and virtually deserted for twelve kilometres. Other than a few nerve-wracking signs of wild (heavy emphasis on wild) life, but I’ll leave that for another blog. Let’s just say I was happy to get home in one piece and relax with a book. And here’s what I’m reading this month.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

Colour in Your Garden by Penelope Hobhouse

The Soulmate Equation by Lauren Oliver

Books read to date in 2022: 36

My May Reads

May is as busy as I suspected it would be. Everyone is grumbling about the weather. It’s been cooler and wetter than normal for this time of year; records have been broken. On the upside, the flowering dogwoods have been in bloom for much longer than usual, and the flowers on the rhodos and azaleas are slow to show and lasting longer than they usually do too. But the squash and cucumber I seeded have been lost to bad weather, and the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are still languishing in the greenhouse, waiting for the temperatures to climb. It sounds like perfect reading weather. However, if I’m not writing, I’m outside dodging raindrops and working in the garden. My reward at the end of the day is a good book. And here’s what I’m reading this month:

Eyes Like a Hawk by Lea Tassie

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Books read to date in 2022: 30

My April Reads

Spring continues to flirt with us. One minute the sun is shining, and the next minute, the hail falls. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a spring this cold. We’re weeks, if not an entire month, behind on outside tasks, which means May will be crazy busy. In the meantime, however, the cold, unpredictable weather leaves more time to read. And here’s what I’m reading this month:

The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis

The Almost Wife by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

After by Bruce Greyson

Books read to date in 2022: 25

My March Reads

It was mild enough the first week or so of March that I was outside pruning, weeding, and doing some garden clean-up, which meant I didn’t have as much time to read. Now, though, the wind is blowing, the rain is falling, and sprinting from the house to the greenhouse and back again leaves me shivering. All I want to do is curl up by the fire with a cup of tea and a book. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Quarks of Light by Rob Gentile

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Books read to date in 2021: 19

Freedom to Read Week

 This is Freedom to Read week. While we may not give it much thought, the freedom to read can never be taken for granted. Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border. Schools and libraries are regularly asked to remove books and magazines from their shelves. Those requests rarely make headlines – they often don’t even make the news – but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read. They also have a direct and sometimes devastating impact on the livelihoods of writers.

If you have the time and the inclination, you might like to check out the following links.

Here, Victoria author and friend Robin Stevenson details what happened when her book was banned in the middle of a book tour in Illinois. Ultimately, the experience gave her more of a platform to get her message out:   https://www.freedomtoread.ca/articles/canadian-author-of-kid-activists-speaks-up-about-school-cancellation-controversy/

Next, is YA author Bill Konigsberg responding to parents who have called to have his books banned from school libraries:  https://billkonigsberg.com/an-open-letter-to-parents-who-wish-to-ban-my-books-from-school-libraries/?fbclid=IwAR3VxJkkc4E3Kg_dJfvhkTYe-3QeseXYmvsi7H7YNEU7_Rsv8sbOxxrkeas

And finally, if you’d like to dig a little deeper, here are additional details on some of the challenged works in Canada.  https://www.freedomtoread.ca/challenged-works/

Happy Freedom to Read (whatever you choose!) Week.

My February Reads

The heather is in bloom, the snowdrops too, and the primulas are strutting their colours on the windowsill. We’ve had sunshine the last few days, and though it’s cold and we have another month of winter, it’s starting to feel like spring. Even the seeds I ordered have arrived, which means I need to get them started. It’s a busy time of year, but not too busy for a good book. And here’s what I’m reading this month:

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant

Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray

Books read to date in 2022: 14

My January Reads

                                                                     

In terms of my reading habits, 2021 was pretty typical (it’s nice that something was typical last year!). I read 95 books, close to my average of reading two books a week. If you follow my blog, you may remember that my reading fell off in 2020. I only read about 70 books that year which surprised me because, with Covid restrictions, I had more quiet time at home. However, back then, libraries were locked down for long stretches at a time, and I couldn’t borrow electronically. At least not easily (my Kindle is not library compatible) or in a way that would have made reading enjoyable. Thankfully, that issue is behind me, and I’m now able to borrow both physical and electronic books from our library system. And thank goodness. While lockdowns seem to be a thing of the past, Covid is still with us, so who knows what the future holds? One thing is certain, though, there will be plenty of good books to read. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Lovish by Karen Rivers

Jackpot by Michael Mechanic

Books read to date in 2022: 2

Holiday Reading

Christmas is just around the corner, and that has me thinking about books. Books I might want to give as well as books I might want to read myself over the holidays. This week’s blog focuses on some 2021 non-fiction recommendations. While I generally love a serious read, this year I’m gravitating to lighter reads, or at least books that leave me feeling somewhat hopeful at the end. I seem to need that these days. First, two non-fiction recommendations for the kids on your list, followed by suggestions for more advanced readers.

For younger readers:

Finding Home: The journey of Immigrants and Refugees, written by Jen Sookfong Lee and illustrated by Drew Shannon. There are many reasons why people leave their homes in search of a new one. This book explores the history of human migration and how it has shaped our world, as well as current issues facing immigrants and refugees. Profiles of immigrants and refugees across the globe are also included. Ages 9 – 12.

The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Culture by Christian Allaire. As a fashion-obsessed Ojibwe teen, Christian Allaire rarely saw anyone that looked like him in magazines or movies. As the current Fashion and Style writer for Vogue, he is working to change that. Clothes are never just clothes; style is self-expression, representation and transformation. Topics range from cosplay, makeup and hijabs to culture, politics and social justice. Ages 12 and up.

For the rest of us:

These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett. When novelist Patchett sits down to write a book, she knows how it will end. Life, however, often takes unexpected turns and it is this truth that Patchett touches on in this collection of essays, all of which have been published before. You’ll find reflections on writing and publishing, insights into living and dying, friends and family, as well as lighter pieces on knitting, Snoopy, and surviving a year without shopping.

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl. The Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman takes us behind the scenes of his life as a rock star while also pulling back the curtain on his personal life. Entertaining, engaging and insightful. Perfect for the music fans on your list and even those who aren’t necessarily fans because Grohl is a master of the anecdote.

London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency by Kate MacDougall. A wonderful memoir about a young woman who left her job at Sotheby’s and started her own business as a dog-walker for busy London pet owners. The theme of this uplifting coming-of-age book is about chasing your dreams in spite of facing challenges. It’s charming and funny . . . and there are lots of dogs!

Winter Pasture: One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh by Li Juan, Jack Hargreaves (translator). A bestseller in China for years and the winner of the People’s Literature Award, this tale follows Li Juan, a Chinese journalist, as she joins a family of Kazakh herders – and their camels, sheep, cattle and horses – to spend winter on a winter grazing spot in Xinjiang Province where the population density at that time was one person per every square mile. This blend of memoir, travelogue and nature writing gives us an incredible picture into a remote part of the world.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. As you’d expect, this book is Tucci’s life through food – from his childhood growing up in Westchester, as a young actor in New York, through marriage and children, and on movie sets. As well as sharing some of his favorite food memories over the years, Tucci doesn’t shy away from discussing some of the more difficult times in his life, notably his first wife’s death from cancer and his own recovery from the same disease, but he can also be irreverent and sharply funny, particularly as he discusses feeding five kids through the pandemic. Bonus: there are recipes.

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor. Some great insights here into health and mindfulness. Nestor is a journalist who began his journey into the world of breath reluctantly, and only because of health issues. Along with being part memoir, Breath also looks at breathing traditions throughout history, presents some thought-provoking research and offers practical takeaway tips too. Though it was published in 2020, Breath impressed me enough that I’m including it on my 2021 list.

Next week, some fiction recommendations.

My November Reads

 The news has been filled with images of the flooding we’ve recently experienced in B.C. While we’ve had our share of flooding here on the island, and subsequent road washouts or infrastructure collapses, we’ve been lucky compared to other areas of the province. Last week, we opened our home to evacuated friends when their road flooded and the Little Qualicum River threatened to spill its bank. Thankfully, their home stayed dry. Another set of friends on the Englishman River were also evacuated, and their home too was spared the worst of it.  However, as I write this, more rain – atmospheric rivers as they’ve termed them – is forecast. It’s unnerving at best and heartbreaking for those areas that are still flooded. All we can do is stay indoors, stay close to home (unless we’re in a flood zone!) and hope for the best. And while we wait out the rain, books provide a good escape. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Solitude by Michael Harris

Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever

Books read to date in 2021: 79

My October Reads

And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees and changing leaves.” Virginia Woolf

To me, fall is a time of simple pleasures like going for a walk and observing the leaves changing colour. The change seems to start like a slow dance with a touch of red here and a dash of gold there, but then if the wind stays down, it picks up speed, and the colours change daily.  Before long, the trees are dancing at the last party of the year, shimmering with brilliant reds and oranges and golds. I love coming home after my walk and sitting in front of a cozy fire. I love the smell of soup simmering in the kitchen and knowing dinner is taken care of too. I especially love knowing there’s a stack of books waiting for me at the end of the day. Here’s what I’m reading this month.  

An Island by Karen Jennings

Memorial Drive, A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Books read to date in 2021: 71