Tag Archives: Books

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Reasons to Take a Reading Break


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

A few years ago, I blogged about the general benefits of taking a reading break. Today I wanted to take a different approach to the topic and discuss some of the specific reasons why it can be a good idea to stop reading or to read less often for a while.

Reason #4 will mention grief and Covid-19, so feel free to skip that one if needed.

A beautiful park filled with large, healthy trees that are brimming with green leaves. 1. Enjoying Good Weather 

Southern Ontario is a humid and often stormy place. That humidity translates into chilly winters and stifling summers, so one quickly learns to take advantage of mild temperatures and clear skies when they occur.

To me, reading is an activity that makes more sense when it’s -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) or 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) outside and it’s medically dangerous to be out there for long periods of time. If you’re lucky enough to have a balmy day in the15-20 Celsius (59-68 Fahrenheit) range, you’d better enjoy it while it lasts and go take a hike or enjoy a picnic or something.

2. Pursuing Other Interests 

I love my bookish and often nerdy interests, but that is not all that I am! It’s refreshing to switch between hobbies and interact with different social circles. Sometimes I also discover that there is more overlap between my various interests than I originally thought which is always cool to find.

3. Being More Physically Active

Yes, I know that some people listen to audiobooks while exercising, but that only works for me when I’m doing something like taking a brisk walk. I prefer to give my undivided attention to activities like weightlifting so that I can keep an eye on my form and stay focused on what I’m doing.

4. Resting My Mind 

This was especially true about eighteen months ago when a relative of mine caught Covid-19 and did not fully recover from it. (That is to say, they are still with us but have Long Covid now). Books can be a healthy distraction, but they can also be a little overstimulating when you’re waiting for news of even the smallest signs of improvement and do not necessarily get them.

5. Rediscovering the Excitment of Reading 

Nearly anything can begin to feel repetitive if I do it too often! As much as I love reading, taking breaks from it enables me to rediscover how exciting it is to crack open a book and once again anticipate what it will be like to discover all of its secrets.

 

 

 

 

What I Read in 2021

In JA cup of coffee, a tealight candle, and an opened book on a mirrored platter that’s lying in the snow. anuary of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 20202019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

The pandemic has continued to change my reading patterns. I finished more books in 2021 than I did during the few years before it. Now more than ever, I crave happy endings and lighthearted storylines over the more serious themes I used to enjoy.

I’ve nearly stopped reading horror entirely. The only type of it I can handle these days involves haunted houses or other places whose spirits resort to psychological horror instead of anything that spills blood.

Yes, i know that’s super specific. I have no idea why my mind can handle those sorts of frights but no other.

As always, I’ve included links to the books on this list that I’ve reviewed here or will be blogging a review of in early 2022.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Senior citizen gently touching a memory book. “American Bastard” by Jan Beatty

“No Cure for Being Human” by Kate Bowler

“Waves” by Ingrid Chabbert

“Fauci: Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward” by Anthony Fauci

“A Womb in the Shape of a Heart” by Joanne Gallant

“American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption” by Gabrielle Glaser

“One Pound, Twelve Ounces: A Preemie Mother’s Story of Loss, Hope, and Triumph” by Melissa Harris

“Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah” by Kathy Iandoli

“Natural Killer: a Memoir” by Harriet Alida Lye

“The Plague and I” by Betty MacDonald

“Broken Spaces and Outer Places” by Nnedi Okorafor

“Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love” by Rob Schenck

”Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth

“Shadow of the Workhouse” by Jennifer Worth

 

Fiction

Drawing of dark-haired woman reading a book. An evening sky scene streams from the open book onto the white surface behind her.

“Searching for Sam” by Sophie Bienvenu

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë

“Between Before and After” by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

“A Funny Kind of Paradise” by Jo Owens

“Gratitude” by Delphine de Vigan

”A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan

 

History

An abandoned stone castle on a hill. “White Unwed Mothers: The Adoption Mandate in Postwar Canada” by Valerie Andrews

“The Toronto Book of Love” by Adam Bunch

“The Secret History of Home Economics: How Trailblazing Women Harnessed the Power of Home and Changed the Way We Live ” by Danielle Dreilinger

“A Short History of Humanity – A New History of Old Europe” by Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe

“How to Survive in Medieval England” by Toni Mount

“Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age” by Annalee Newitz

“The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine” by Janice P. Nimura
“Ancestors: A Prehistory of Britain in Seven Burials” by Alice Roberts
“The Secret History of Food: Strange but True Stories About the Origins of Everything We Eat” by Matt Siegel

Poetry

“A Thousand Mornings” by Mary Oliver

“Blue Horses” by Mary Oliver

“Dog Songs” by Mary Oliver

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy

A space ship taking off from a planet that has a large moon hanging in its sky. “The Children of Green Knowe” by Lucy M. Boston

“A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers

Remote Control” by Nnedi Okorafor

“In the Company of Men” by Véronique Tadjo

Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

 

Science, Health, and Medicine

Close-up of a glowing strand of DNA.“Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices: The Invisible Influences That Guide Our Thinking” by  Jack Bobo

“Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-Made World” by Elinor Cleghort

“The Book of the Earthworm” by Sally Coulthard

“People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health” by Susan Landau

“Rituals & Myths in Nursing: A Social History” by Claire Laurent

“Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding” by Dan Lieberman

“A Story of Us: A New Look at Human Evolution” by Lesley Newson

“You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation” by Paul A Offit

“Beyond Soap: The Real Truth about What You Are Doin to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow” by Sandy Skotnicki

“Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health” by Dr. Leana Wen

“American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to Covid-19” by John Fabian Witt

 

Sociology and Psychology 

Silhoutte of a counsellor talking to a client. “The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town” by Brian Alexander

“The Comfort Book” by Matt Haig

“May We Suggest: Restaurant Menus and the Art of Persuasion” by Alice Pearlman

“The Lost Art of Doing Nothing: How the Dutch Unwind with Niksen” by Maartje Willems

“Veils of Distortion: How the News Media Warps Our Minds” by John Zada

 

Young Adult

Teenager who has placed a book on top of her head so that the spine is pointing towards the ceiling and the book is opened. “Dark Waters” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“Dead Voices” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“Small Spaces” by Katherine Arden (Review coming in 2022)

“The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot” by Marianne Cronin

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

”Prince Caspian” by C.S. Lewis

”The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” by C.S. Lewis

”The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis

”The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis

”The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis

”The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis

 

How did all of your reading habits change over 2021? Did you read any of these books?

 

What I Read in 2020

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and run blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 2019, 2018,  2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Over half of the books I read in the average year are for a review site that I volunteer for under a pseudonym. I always omit those titles from this post for obvious privacy reasons.

2020 was a below average reading year for me, even more so than 2019. This was particularly noticeable when it came to the sci-fi and fantasy genres. I started so many books that I never ended up finishing due to *gestures tiredly at the countless emotionally draining moments of this year that all of us are already keenly aware of.* 

For some reason, nonfiction was an easier read for me this year in general. I’ve included links below to the few SFF novels I not only finished but blogged about.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

Tombstone that reads "born" and "died"“Mrs. Beaton’s Question: My Nine Years at the Halifax School for the Blind” by Robert Mercer

“Republic of Shame: How Ireland Punished ‘Fallen Women’ and Their Children” by Caelainn Hogan

“Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son” by Richie Jackson

“Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson

 

Fiction

“The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue

 

A fountain pen lying next to old black and white photographs and a bundle of documents wrapped in brown paper and tied up with black stringHistory

“A Good Time to Be Born: How Science and Public Health Gave Children a Future” by Perri Klass

“How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York” by Jacob Riis

“Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present” by Frank M. Snowden

“Nobody’s Child: A Tragedy, A Trial, and a History of the Insanity Defence” by Susan Vinocour

 

woman wearing a white nightie holding a lantern as she walks through a wormhole. There is a space ship flying through from the other side of the worm hole.Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Greenwood” by Michael Christie

“The Ghost Child” by Sonya Hartnett

Everfair” by Nisi Shawl

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

“The Emissary” by Yoko Tawada

“Silver in the Wood” by Emily Tesh

 

Science, Health, and Medicine 

“Zombies Run!: Keeping Fit and Living Well in the Current Zombie Emergency” by Naomi Alderman

Photo of human skeleton in a teaching lab“The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behaviour, Health, and Happiness” by Emily Anthes

“The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having – Or Being Denied – an Abortion” by Diana Green Foster, Ph.D.

“High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected” by Chavi Eve Karkowsky

“Natural: How Faith in Nature’s Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science” by Alan Levinovitz

“Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” by Maryn McKenna

“Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes too Far” by Paul A. Offit

“Monarchs of the Sea: The Extraordinary 500-Million-Year History of Cephalopods” by Danna Staaf

“Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death, and Art” by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

 

Sociology and Psychology 

“The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America” by David Faris

Black and white sign that says "polling station"“The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free” by Julie L. Hall

“Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” by Katherine May

“The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival” by Kathy Labriola

“Librarian Tales: Funny, Strange, and Inspiring Dispatches from the Stacks” by William Ottens

“Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity” by Helen Pluckrose

“Strange Situation: A Mother’s Journey into the Science of Attachment” by Bethany Saltman

“Learned Hopefulness: The Power of Positivity to Overcome Depression“ by Dan Tomasulo

How were your reading habits affected in and by 2020? Have we read any of the same books this year?

Book Recommendations Based on Emojis

I borrowed the idea for this post from Ally Writes Things. Definitely do go check out her post to see which books she recommended. She came up with some very interesting ideas!

The premise was simple:

After tweeting about it, I waited for the responses to roll in and got to work.Whenever possible, I combined emojis in my responses to make things more challenging.

Berthold Gambrel requested a jack-o’-lantern, an alien, and a robot: 🎃👽🤖

 

Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns by R.L. Stine might be right up his alley for aliens and jack-o-lanterns. It’s a middle grade Halloween novel about sentient, shape-shifting jack-o’-lanterns who attack earth on the one night a year it wouldn’t be odd to see such creatures walking around.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is the quintessential robot story. It was about a cop who investigated a murder that may have been committed by a robot.  The 2004 film based on this book starring Will Smith was excellent.

 

A.N. Horton requested a skeptical emoji who was wearing a monocle: 🧐

Skeptical Music: Essays on Modern Poetry by David Bromwich seemed like a good match for this one. I was the sort of student who was really good at interpreting and discussing poetry. This is the sort of skill that can be taught and learned. Poetry is subjective by nature. You can have multiple right answers or end a discussion without finding at of them at all (for now).

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is my second recommendation for this emoji because something about it reminds me of Holden Caulfield. He was completely aware of his intelligence and honestly a little smug about it. I often wonder how differently this character would have been written if we could have met him twenty or thirty years later!

Emer requested an ocean wave: 🌊

The Deep by Rivers Solomon was my automatic response to this one because it was set in the Atlantic Ocean so far away from land that the mermaid-like characters in it barely even knew such a thing existed.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is another fantastic pick if you have any interest at all in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This book was written from the perspective of Mr. Rochester’s first wife many years before the events of Jane Eyre.

Tammy requested aliens, human brains, and strands of DNA: 👽🧠🧬

 

The Alien franchise of novels based on the  films are a nice combination of all of these emojis for reasons I’ll leave up to new readers and viewers to discover for themselves.

Species was a film and later a series of novels about a group of scientists who decided to create an alien-human hybrid after making first contact with what appeared to be a friendly alien species. It also used all three of these emojis in its storytelling.

An ereader tucked inside of a hardback novel. The novel is sitting on a wooden surface, possibly a table or floor.

I had such a good time putting this post together. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Which books would you recommend for these emojis?

If you’re not on Twitter or missed my tweets about this, leave one ore more emojis below if you’d like to participate. I’m happy to write another post on this topic in the future.

Happy reading, everyone!

Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter

A white rabbit sitting on grass next to coloured easter eggs.Two years ago, I wrote Are There Any Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter?

This is a follow-up to that post that has been slowly compiled over time.

Just like in 2018, I was interested in non-religious Easter stories that fit somewhere into the speculative fiction spectrum.

There were no other criteria. I was totally open to short stories, novellas, or novels. Something written in 1800 would have been just as welcomed as something that was published last week.

So it came as a surprise to me to see what a short list I came up with. The vast majority of the titles on this list are children’s picture books. This was after I trimmed out all of the storybooks about Cartoon Character X’s first Easter. I’m sure they’re adorable stories, but I didn’t want them to crowd out everything else I found.

Children’s Picture Books

These were the picture books that appealed most to me. My parents read The Runaway Bunny to us when my siblings and I were growing up, and it was lovely.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen

The Easter Rabbit’s Parade by Lois Lenski

The Easter Bunny That Ate My Sister by Dean Marney

Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

After coming up with these titles, I had some success with speculative fiction that was written for an adult audience. In order to add this section, I needed to loosen up my “no religion” criteria a tad. Both of their blurbs do make references to non-secular celebrations of this holiday, but they don’t appear to be written in a proselytizing manner from what I can tell.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

The Circle of Six: Emily’s Quest by Dan Sanders

What Would You Add?

What books can you add to this list? I’d love to write a follow-up post if or when the speculative fiction community realizes how much fodder there is in Easter for all sorts of different tales.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even write one myself!

Safe Haven: A Review of Everfair

Title: Everfair Author: Nisi Shawl Publisher: Tor Books Publication Date: 2016 Genres: Fantasy, Alternate History, Steampunk Length: 384 pages Source: I borrowed it from the library. Rating: 3 stars Blurb: From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo. What if the African natives developed steam power… Read More

What I Read in 2019

In January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime. I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track… Read More

An Imperfect Crime: A Review of The Ghosts Inside

Title: Dollar Tales from The Morbid Museum: The Ghosts Inside Author: James Pack Publisher: VaudVil Publication Date: 2019 Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Contemporary Length: 40 pages Source: I received a free copy from James Rating: 3.5 Stars Blurb: These Dollar Tales feature one or two short stories from the forthcoming collection of fiction by James… Read More

Choosing to Survive: A Review of Powdered Souls

Title: Powdered Souls, A Short Story: They Decided to Survive (Snow Sub Series Book 1) Author: Dixon Reuel Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: 2019 Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance Length: 22 pages Source: I received a free copy from Dixon Rating: 3 Stars Blurb: People together in close quarters – fraternization naturally follows. A military VR trainer,… Read More