Blue titles link to my reviews

 

Fiction

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout / Absolutely beautiful writing, moved me to tears several times. 

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro / Meh. Started well enough, but I was eventually bored.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins / Mystery and murder, lots of fun.

Outline by Rachel Cusk / Canadian – Giller  Prize nominee / Really good, very different, brilliant writing.

Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout /I enjoyed this book, Strout is an amazing writer, but it didn’t have the depth of Olive Kitteridge which I loved insanely, so I may have been expecting too much. It was one of my “save for the perfect moment” books, which often disappoint because I have put them on a pedestal before opening the cover.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante / I know Ferrante’s novels have received great praise and a great following, but I found myself very bored halfway through. Perhaps the hype had me expecting something different.

Birdie by  Tracey Lindberg / Canadian / Beautiful book illuminating the the life of a young Cree Woman. Moves around in time as if you are in a dream state. Very touching. 

The Children Act by Ian McEwan / Wonderful, complex story. It’s Ian McEwan for goodness sakes, he never disappoints.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue / Canadian / It doesn’t have the emotional depth of her novel Room, but it’s a really good read. It will make a terrific movie.

13 Ways of Looking at  Fat Girl by Mona Awad / Canadian – 2016 Giller Prize finalist / I really thought I would like this book; I’m a fat girl, and it’s a Canadian book that was nominated for a Giller. I didn’t like it at all. Weight and body image are definitely issues in our culture, I have my own weight issues, but this book was too heavy handed for me. It struck one chord over and over. The main character  has zero interest in any life goals. Every character is either fat and miserable or thin, miserable and hating on those who are fat. The scene where she shops in the plus size store is so stereotyped, and wildly inaccurate, that I found it insulting. Can Mona Awad write? Absolutely. Her descriptions are vivid, her dialogue is fresh, her dark humour amusing at times, but this story, as I said, hits one note, for 212 depressing pages.

Smoke by Dan Vyleta /Canadian / I liked this strange novel about London, but I had to push myself to finish it, it’s a bit slow moving.

 

Personal Essays

The View From The Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman / Wonderful, funny, smart essays on many things, by a master writer.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett / Ann Patchett finds beautiful stories everywhere. If you enjoy personal essays I recommend this book highly, (especially if you also write).

Holidays on ice by David Sedaris / I love David Sedaris – but this collection of personal and fictional essays made me more uncomfortable than amused for some reason – I actually think it may be because some of the characters, especially in stories like Christmas means giving, and Season’s greetings to our family and friends, seemed suddenly less satire and more glimpses of a mindset that elected Donald Trump, and just didn’t seem as funny anymore. I’ll have to guard against the world ruining my ability to laugh.

People I Want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann / I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. I skimmed a lot of it. She is funny, she is brash, I was amused at times. But I’m a little tired of brash. I think it’s just me at this point in my life, in a world that feels increasingly ugly. My sense of humour is tired.

 

Creativity and Writing

Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel (a re-read) / One of my “Bibles.”

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert / Wonderful, wish I had this book when I was 20 years old. Added to my list of “Bibles.”

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey / A look at the working rituals of writers, painters and composers. An OK read. Nothing that useful. The reading equivalent to a bag of potato chips. Enjoy by the handful, then read something more mentally nutritional.

Startle and Illuminate – Carol Shields on Writing edited by Anne Giardini and Nicholas Giardini / Canadian / This is a beautiful collection of insights on the writing life from writer Carol Shields. I really enjoyed it. Highly recommended to anyone who writes or is a Shields fan.

The Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn / I really like Joanna Penn, she has a lot of great advice for people interested in being authorpreneurs.

Still Writing – The perils and pleasures of a creative life by Dani Shapiro / Love this book, joined my personal “Bible” list.

Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel / Great book when the creative struggle feels like a weight. I re-read parts of this book probably once or twice a year.

Naked, Drunk and Writing by Adair Lara / Fun and instructive look at writing.

 

Self-Help, Mindset, Psychology

The 52 Weeks by Karen Amster Young and Pam Godwin / Don’t bother 

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin / Lots of insights into what makes a habit stick. I like her conversational writing style. Less a dry expert, and more like a smart friend who has read a lot of stuff.

The End of Average by Todd Rose / I enjoyed this book. Very interesting.

Deep Work by Cal Newport  / Very good book.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha /  Canadian / A bit fluffy but if you like these sorts of self help books, ( I do) I think you will find this one pretty good – but if you want really great books about happiness check out Shawn Achor. 

The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks /I may have just read too many of these books, I didn’t read anything new here. But if you are new to the change your mindset/change your life genre, this is as good a place as any to start.

Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth /I didn’t like this book at all. I found it to be a narrow view of success. Perhaps I didn’t like it because I scored poorly on the Grit scale.

Mini Habits by Stephen Guise / Another look at habit, a good book if you want to make tweeks to your routines.

Why Smart People Hurt by Eric Maisel /In my opinion, anyone who struggles with life from time to time should read the work of Eric Maisel. This book is good, but more theory based, I would suggest starting with Van Gogh Blues.