what I read in December 2018

The A-Z Guide of Wildlife Watching by Lonely Planet
Bertie Wooster Sees It Through by P.G. Wodehouse
The Best Mexican Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen
Calypso by David Sedaris
Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten
Gross Anatomy by Mara Altman
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K White
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Where the Ghosts Are by Steve Vernon

what I read in November 2018

The Destiny Thief by Richard Russo
Fear by Bob Woodward
Half Spent Was the Night by Ami McKay
Landwhale by Jes Baker
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Libertarians on the Prairie by Christine Woodside
Medical Medium: Life-Changing Food by Anthony William
Textile Nature by Anne Kelly
This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves

what I read in October 2018

Bag of Hammers by Edward Riche
Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen
Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White
French Exit by Patrick deWitt
Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor
Origins of a Story by Jake Grogan
Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore
Unhinged by Omarosa Manigault Newman
Wellmania by Brigid Delaney
Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

From the back cover:

“Frances Price—tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature—is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son, Malcolm, is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Prices’ aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.”

The first thing I need to say about this book is that I liked it a lot. It’s funny and sad and strange and unsettling and everything I like in a novel. Take another look at the clues in that teaser: tart widow, dire straits, beset by scandal, arrested development, immoral litigator, world-class cad, gruesome death, social outcasts. Come on! All that in the hands of Patrick deWitt = A+.

The second thing I need to say is that, in thinking about what to write about it, I have struggled. For more than a week. I haven’t been struggling with trying to come up with good things to say about it (see point #1), but struggling with the idea of heaping more praise upon a book that is already on the Giller short list and upon an author who is a genuine CanLit superstar.

Where does this come from, this reluctance to further celebrate the highly successful? Is it the Canadian in me? (No one should ever be too big a deal – it’s unseemly.) Or is it the mother in me? (Stop hogging all the attention, Patrick, and let everyone else have a turn, too.) Or is it the woman in me? (Please please please do not someday reveal yourself to be a sexist jackass and make me regret having touted your work.) Who knows?

All I can say for sure is that when I was reading French Exit, I had to keep telling myself to slow down and savour it. And that when I wasn’t reading it, I wished I was. And that I’d happily read it again.

what I read in September 2018

100 Days of Real Food on a Budget by Lisa Leake
A Wholesome Horror by Brenda Thompson
Beautifully Real Food by Sam Murphy
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
Easy Home Sewing Projects by Charlie Moorby
Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey by by Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs
Influencer by Brittany Hennessy
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam
One Day Room Makeover by Martin Amado
Platform by Michael Hyatt
Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
This Messy Magnificent Life by Geneen Roth
The Visitors by Catherine Burns

This Messy, Magnificent Life by Geneen Roth

From the inside cover: “…This Messy, Magnificent Life is a personal and exhilarating read on freeing ourselves from daily anxiety, lack, and discontent.”

Spoiler alert: the solution to daily anxiety, lack and discontent is mindfulness. I don’t think Roth ever actually uses the word, but it’s definitely what she’s talking about. Noticing and questioning our rampaging thoughts. Remembering to feel gratitude for all that is good about our lives. Dropping distractions to really, truly feel, hear, see, smell and taste. Being kind to everyone, especially ourselves.

I enjoyed her friendly yet brutally honest writing style and think this is a great book on the value of (and, so often, the difficulty of) trying to bring moments of mindfulness into our days, especially for those who might be turned off by the Buddhist-y overtones of books with similar messages.

I haven’t read any of Roth’s previous books, but will definitely be checking them out now.

Highly recommended.