My Favourite Things: 2020

For the past few years, I have begun my annual favourite things post by talking about what a hard year it has been and how glad I am it’s over. You would not be wrong in expecting me to start this year’s post the same way. After all, it is 2020. But although it’s been a difficult year (perhaps the most difficult), I have found much for which I am grateful.

My small family has always been close. We’re separated from our relatives by continents and oceans, and so used to celebrating holidays alone. To being three of us against the world. We didn’t, therefore, find isolation all too hard. We had moments of friction, as all families do, but I’ve never been more grateful for my husband and daughter. We held each other up this year. We forgave more easily, learned to communicate more clearly, and have almost mastered the art of letting each other exist in their own space for a while. (Or I have. Sometimes.)

I’ve also been amazed and delighted by the joy others have found over the past year. The news has often been universally bad, and yet someone, somewhere, has always had something to share. The wonder of small things has never been more true. 

The other aspect of being home all year has been more time to devote to my hobbies. And what I read and watched and listened to is a reflection of that. 

As always, we’ll start with what I read.

Continue reading “My Favourite Things: 2020”

What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for November was: a book debut author. Bryan Washington isn’t a debut author, but Memorial is his first novel, so I’ve decided it counts. Also, I really want to talk about it.

Memorial was my November Book of the Month Club selection, and I picked it because it reminded me of the beautiful movie, Lilting. I also really enjoy stories about people who wouldn’t choose to spend time together. This is that, twice over.

Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading”

What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for September was: a book I wished I’d read in school. I’ve written before about books I’d like to see on high school reading lists. It’s a subject I’m passionate about, so I was determined to read something I really, really wished had been recommended back when I was in school.

When I researched current high school reading recommendations, I was pleasantly surprised to find a more diverse list than what I’d expected. Although there were titles I’d replace (ugh, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I both love and hate you), there were several exciting choices. I’d just about settled on The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela when a title farther down caught my eye—A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute.

I was born in Australia but attended high school in the United States. My knowledge of Australian history and culture, therefore, has gaps. I grabbed a copy of Alice from the Free Library of Philadelphia and started to read. Half an hour later, the app I use to read library books posted an alert: The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg was ready for me to borrow.

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What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead theme for March was children’s and middle-grade novels. I chose to read one of my daughter’s most beloved books, Holes by Louis Sachar.

I have around 3000 books sorted onto shelves around my home. The books I’ve read are housed in a room we call the library (read: The Library Project). Upstairs, my daughter has two crammed bookshelves, my husband has one, I have another in the bedroom I call my TBR shelf (over 300 titles and counting) and our guest bedroom hosts two bookshelves, one full of books from my childhood and one called the denial shelf. The books on the denial shelf don’t actually exist.

What may surprise you, however, is how few books there are on the children’s bookshelf Before the age of twelve, I didn’t really like to read. What happened when I was twelve? Our family took a vacation to Lake Michigan and over the bed, in the room I shared with my sister, was a shelf of well-read paperbacks. Bored to distraction by the rain that prevented us from swimming, I picked one at random (probably the skinniest) and read it. The book? Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. And so began my love affair with science fiction, dystopias, and by extension, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. Forty years later, I’m still going. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading”

What I’ve Been Reading

The #WritersRead prompt for February was a book set in the future. I chose to read Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks.

I approached the book with a lot of misconceptions. I had expected it to be a long and difficult read, full of stuff I just didn’t get. But while the world Iain M. Banks has created (The Culture) is thoughtful and Consider Phlebas contains many literary themes, it is, at its core, an entertaining novel of high stakes adventure.

I have long wanted to read the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks but kept putting them off for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I started with the wrong book. I tried to read The Algebraist (not part of the Culture series) and had a very difficult time. I didn’t finish the book. Being so long ago, I barely remember anything but being mystified and bored (most likely due to being mystified). But there was something about the book that made me keep trying until I eventually put it aside, figuring I’d try again on audio sometime. Continue reading “What I’ve Been Reading”