Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

I hadn’t read Bird by Bird in years so when the 25th anniversary edition popped up on Overdrive, I checked it out. I didn’t love it quite as much as I did the first time, but only because her voice and advice weren’t the revelation now that they were way back when.

Lamott isn’t perfect (and I’m positive would never ever claim to be), but her advice is practical and caring and inspirational all at the same time. How I wish I’d had a creative writing teacher like her.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

I confess I didn’t expect to like this book. New York Times bestsellers with blurbs by Katie Couric on the cover don’t tend to be my cup of tea. No offense, Katie.

But I did like it. Gottlieb has a clear and honest writing voice and her recounting of her personal misfortunes and interesting career arc – or career zigzag, I should say – is every bit as compelling as her stories about the patients she sees.

Definitely recommended, but be prepared to get a little teary from time to time.

Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

Beautiful, colourful, inspiring photographs, but I found the text a bit flat and vague and so kept skimming through it to look at the next set of photos. It’s less a book of advice than Stanton’s portfolio, which is fine, but anyone looking for practical tips and advice will probably be disappointed.

The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket

Jane Brocket’s idea of domesticity is a lot like my own: making, baking, reading, gardening and looking for the beauty in everyday objects and happenings.

I first read this book not long after it was published in 2007 and was both thrilled and depressed to discover there was someone out there living the kind of life I wanted to lead while I was still so bogged down with child care. The idea of having time to pursue my own interests seemed a long way off – and it was – but the kids are grown now and it’s my time to fool around with yarn and experiment with recipes and take a ridiculous number of photos and read as many books as possible.

This is not a how-to book, although it does contain a few recipes. I’d call it inspirational or aspirational, perhaps, because Brocket has a great eye for colour and composition and, it seems, the budget for very high quality materials. Highly recommended for anyone interested in pursuing a creative life.

The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

Audiobook, perfectly narrated by Richard E Grant.

I checked this out after watching the Joan Hickson version on VisionTV one night and not only was it better than the tv adaptation (this should go without saying), but it was even better than I’d remembered from my first read however many years ago. Ideal treadmill listening.

UnDo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases by Dean Ornish MD and Anne Ornish

I don’t have a chronic disease – as far as I know, dun dun DUNNN – and hopefully I never will since I already follow most of the advice in UnDo It!

For anyone living the standard North American lifestyle (heavy on the animal products, light on the exercise), however, this might be able to convince them to change their ways.

The early chapters on the science were good, but after that, there was a little too much advertisement of their workshops and weird insistence that group therapy would be helpful for everyone. Frankly, I’d rather have the chronic disease.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Audiobook, narrated by Anna Wilson-Jones

A fictional account of the brief period between Victoria’s ascension to the throne and her engagement to Albert. It’s a light, easy, inoffensive story (except for Albert and Victoria being cousins, gross, but that isn’t the author’s fault) with a couple very mild social scandals, a doomed crush on an older man, and lots of talk about fancy hairstyles, dresses and balls. For an audience who craves this kind of thing, I bet it’s amazing. Personally, I found it a little underwhelming.

what I read in October 2020

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous

Part memoir and part exploration of what happens when you portray a fictional character on Twitter. Like with @DuchessGoldblatt, I really wanted to enjoy the book, but her style doesn’t land with me. Also, for someone who claims to have no friends and low self-confidence, the author spends a lot of time detailing conversations with famous friends and boasting about her productivity and growing popularity.

The Big Book of 30-Day Challenges by Rosanna Casper

I borrowed this because OverDrive suggested it when another book I wanted was not available. It’s essentially a list of good habits (go to bed at a regular time, exercise, meditate, etc) with the recommendation to do it for 30 days. How this magazine article justified a book is beyond me.

Cauliflower Power by Lindsay Grimes Freedman

Some good recipes to try, but I’ll pass on the cauliflower-as-dessert ones, thanks.

Didn’t See That Coming: Putting Life Back Together When Your World Falls Apart by Rachel Hollis

The book equivalent of getting advice from that over-confident, know-it-all acquaintance who somehow thinks you want to emulate her. The advice about always putting on a smiley face for your kids, no matter what is going on in your life, is garbage.

Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J Trump by Michael Cohen

Yet another memoir by a former member of Trump’s inner circle trying to come to grips with the fact that he is a greedy, lying, sleazy thug. To Cohen’s credit, he owns it. There are no lame excuses, just a straight-up list of all the shady things he did in the service of a sociopath. How does Trump find these people?

Draw Your Day: An Inspiring Guide to Keeping a Sketch Journal by Samantha Dion Baker

I love the idea of adding drawing to my journalling repertoire, but Baker’s illustrations are SO good, I think I’d only be disappointed in my lack of skill. A nice book, but only if you’re more confident in your artistic abilities than me.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

Absolutely nauseating. It’s hundreds of pages of non-stop bragging about how perfect Megan is in every conceivable way. I went into the book fairly sympathetic to Meghan for the rough treatment she received for daring to marry into the royal family while Black and American, but came out of it disliking her intensely. Talk about a monster ego. And the idea that the book was written without Meghan’s cooperation is laughable. Could your anonymous friends speak at length about what you were thinking in situations where you were alone? Would your anonymous friends find it impossible to find any hint of a fault in your character? And if these anonymous people really were your friends (and not, say, you) why wouldn’t they speak on the record?

Happy Hour: A Novel by Marlowe Granados

I wasn’t sure about this one since the story of two party girls living it up in NYC one summer is not really my thing, but the writing was great. For instance: “I realize now, the older you get, the harder it is to be impressed because people make you feel ashamed of ever being impressed by anything at all. I keep many glowing remarks to myself because of this.”

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Really, really good short stories. Definitely recommend.

Rage by Bob Woodward

Yet another list of all the reasons Trump shouldn’t be President. Why do I keep reading these? And why does Bob Woodward keep writing them when he doesn’t have anything new to add?

Skinnytaste Meal Prep by Gina Homolka

I checked it out because it was available, but considering I have no recollection of it, I’m thinking I wasn’t terribly impressed.

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!: Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion by Gloria Steinem

A short book of quotes interspersed with some brief essays. Enjoyable and thought-provoking, but my god the formatting. No professionally published book should be a font sampler.