what I read in July 2019

The 22 Day Revolution by Marco Borges (A decent introduction to plant-based eating, although his tone can be off-putting.)
The Cat-nappers – aka Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen by P. G. Wodehouse (I laughed. A lot.)
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (Audiobook. Too long, but the narration by Blair Brown was excellent.)
Food 52: Genius Desserts by Kristen Miglore (Many excellent-sounding desserts.)
Getting Things Done by David Allen (And I thought I was serious about lists. Some interesting organisational ideas to consider, but his vocab veered into management-speak at times.)
Girl Squads by Sam Maggs (Some of the language was trying a bit too hard to be hip for younger readers, but really great info on groups of women who have been outstanding in their respective fields throughout the centuries.)
Happier Now by Nataly Kogan (Audiobook. It was okay.)
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Audiobook, read by Stephen Fry. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but I did. Mostly.)
The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner (Think I’ll ask for this one for Christmas.)
The Inner City Mother Goose by Eve Merriam (Delightful and depressing at the same time.)
More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth (Audiobook. I’m not the target demographic for this, but her personal story of life and work success should be inspirational for younger women.)
Most of What Follows Is True by Michael Crummey (A meditation on the role of truth in fiction. Enjoyably thought-provoking.)
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (A bit of a hodge-podge of stories, but it’s Wodehouse, so who cares.)
Nora Murphy’s Country House Style by Nora Murphy (Lovely photographs, but physically too big. Unwieldy to handle.)
Remodelista: The Organized Home by Julie Carlson (Mostly a book of things to buy.)
Scandinavian Style at Home by Thames & Hudson (Too much boring text and not enough pretty pictures.)
Seamless Knit Sweaters in 2 Weeks by Marie Greene (I’ve long been a proponent of seamless knitting so this was nice.)
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (Audiobook. Highly recommended.)

what I read in June 2019

Celebrate by Pippa Middleton (I expected this to be a bit of celebrity fluff, but it’s a hefty book with lots of game, decorating and recipe ideas.)
The Collected Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne (Audiobook with full cast dramatisation featuring Judi Dench and Stephen Fry. LOVED it.)
Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones (The evolution of a friendship between two young women who’ve been chewed up and spit out by society’s love of fame and infamy. Definitely recommend it.)
Ghost Stories and Legends of PEI by Julie V Watson (Entertaining.)
The Gown by Jennifer Robson (A bit sweet for my taste. I’d have cut out the modern-day granddaughter parts and kept the focus on the women from the fifties, who were much more compelling.)
Let Me Feed You by Rosie Daykin (Entertaining commentary and beautifully styled.)
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (Audiobook, but I only listened to two hours of ten total because the narrator’s delivery was unbearable. I’ve seen so many reviews about how funny this book is, but I never so much as cracked a smile. Is it supposed to be funny because the main character is a taxidermist? Someday, maybe I’ll consider reading the paper version to see if it’s any better.)
Normal People by Sally Rooney (I’ve learned to be wary of the wildly praised books and this one proves the point yet again. It was okay. The characters were okay. I got bored sometimes. Maybe I’m too old for it?)
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie (Audiobook. Lots of fun.)
Simple Organizing Wisdom by Good Housekeeping (Put things where they belong. If they don’t belong anywhere, figure out where they should belong.)
Striped Crochet Blankets by Haafner Linssen (More than meets all my striped crochet blanket needs, which are, admittedly, small.)
Towards Zero by Agatha Christie (Audiobook.  Christie’s pure comfort reading/listening.)
Uncomplicated by Claire Tansey (Fine.)
Wild Mittens, Unruly Socks by Lumi Karmitsa (I admire, but do not share, her dedication to rendering wild animals in wool.)
Winter Knits from Scandinavia by Jenny Alderbrant (If only I had more hands to wear more mittens.)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Audiobook. More than twenty-three hours long, but I was completely captivated the entire time.)

 

what I read in May 2019

Abridged Classics by John Atkinson (Amusing cartoon summaries of famous novels.)
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte (Audiobook. Enjoyable.)
At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Audiobook. Okay.)
Branding for Bloggers by Zach Heller (One long ad for the author’s blogging course.)
The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen (Comprehensive.)
Create the Style You Crave on a Budget You Can Afford by Desha Peacock (Spoiler: get things at thrift shops, garage sales and from other people’s garbage.)
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg (Audiobook.  I’d hoped it was non-fiction, but it’s a collection of short stories. They’re okay.)
Doug Knockwood, Mi’kmaw Elder by Doug Knockwood (Quite the life story.)
Feel Free by Zadie Smith (Audiobook. Some really interesting essays, some not so much.)
Follow Your North Star by Martha Beck (Audiobook. A good introduction to thinking about what you want in life.)
The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (The author is lucky Mister Rogers is an interesting enough subject for readers to put up with his weak, repetitive writing.)
Head-to-Toe Winter Knits by Monica Russel (I had no idea boot cuffs were so in demand.)
Mittens from Around Norway by Nina Granlund Saether (Gorgeous.)
The Old Man and the Gun by David Grann (Three true crime stories, each crazier than the last. Really fascinating.)
Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin (Not as interesting as her other books, but good tips if you’ve somehow never heard decluttering tips before.)
A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie (BBC Radio Full Cast Dramatisation. Good fun.)
Reproduction by Ian Williams (I described this on Twitter as being like reading a dream and I stand by that description. Experimental.)
Small Space Living by Roberta Sandenbergh (This lady is a hard-core minimalist and I admire her, but I couldn’t do it.)
The Year of the Introvert by Michaela Chung (365 days of lame “advice”.)

 

what I read in April 2019

Aspects of the Novel by EM Forster (Snore.)
Bakeland: Nordic Treats Inspired by Nature by Marit Hovland (I would like to live inside of and eat everything in this book.)
The Clean Plate by Gwyneth Paltrow (A catalogue of Gwyneth-cavorting-on-the-beach shots with a few recipes scattered throughout.)
Educated by Tara Westover (Hands down, the most gripping book of the month. A fascinating read.)
Everyday Dorie by Dorie Greenspan (Some decent recipes.)
Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey MD and Jennifer Iserloh (A weird piggybacking on the softcore porn theme, except with kale.  I like kale, but not in that way.)
The Flavour Matrix by James Briscione (An extremely scientific way of approaching cooking. Not for me.)
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (Super interesting. I’m a questioner.)
French Vintage Décor by Jamie Lundstrom (Turns out my taste isn’t very French.)
The Fundy Vault by Linda Moore (First heard of it because of the local connection, but it read like a clunky first draft.)
George Hunter’s Canada by The National Film Board of Canada Collection (Short, but good.)
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis  (Her honesty about issues like child-care and cosmetic surgery are commendable, but all of her advice seems geared to women with life circumstances identical to her own.)
The Library Book by Susan Orlean (I almost gave up on this one a few times, but persisted because of all the glowing reviews. It was okay.)
The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young (I wasn’t interested in many of the recipes, but I always like book suggestions.)
Meaty by Samantha Irby (I preferred We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, but she’s a live wire and fun to read/listen to.)
Oversize Fashion Knits by Frechverlag GmbH (Knits for young women half my size. I would look like I was wearing all my other clothes underneath the oversize fashion knits.)
The Power of Pulses by Dan Jason, Hilary Malone and Alison Malone Eathorne (Good info on growing and cooking with beans and legumes. Will probably buy this one for reference.)
Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki (Meant for those with bigger business dreams than me, but still fairly entertaining. A shame the audiobook narrator pronounces it ‘entreprenyooor’.)
Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary (The same advice one sees in all books of this genre: Declutter. Appreciate the small things. Be mindful.)
Small Victories by Anne Lamott (I’m not religious at all, but I like Anne Lamott. I think we’d get along.)

 

what I read in March 2019

The Adults by Caroline Hulse (Light, but fun – considering someone gets shot with an arrow.)
Atomic Habits by James Clear (About on par with the other books on habits I’ve read. Little steps add up.)
The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner (Confirms the dietary choices we’ve made so that’s good.)
Bluenoser’s Book of Slang by Vernon Oickle (A good portion of which is just slang, not really Bluenoser-specific.)
Conan Doyle for the Defense by Margalit Fox (Super interesting.)
Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith (Spoiler alert: she gets rid of a bunch of accessories.)
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (Made me glad no one has ever asked me for a letter of recommendation.)
Design Your Next Chapter by Debbie Travis (She seems easygoing and relatable, but I didn’t learn much.)
The End of Procrastination by Petr Ludwig and Adela Schicker (Quite good. I took notes.)
Erebus by Michael Palin (Really good.)
Gmorning Gnight by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tweets for people who like rhymes and repetition.)
Historic House Names of Nova Scotia by Joseph M.A. Ballard (Need to name this place, stat.)
Let’s Go Exploring: Calvin and Hobbes by Michael Hingston (I wish I’d spent the time re-reading the actual cartoon instead.)
The Mating Season by P.G. Wodehouse (Can’t go wrong with a Wodehouse.)
Milk Street Tuesday Nights by Christopher Kimball (Too meaty for us.)
Minimalist Baker’s Everday Cooking by Dana Shultz (After two minutes of perusing the library copy, I knew I had to buy my own copy. So I did.)
Nobody Cares by Anne T. Donahue (Enjoyable in that confessional-essay sort of way.)
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi (I really should give eggplant another try.)
Simple Times by Amy Sedaris (The audiobook version. She is great, but her co-narrator didn’t do it for me.)
Small Space Style by Whitney Leigh Morris (Could my family live in a tiny house less than 400 square feet? No.)
Son of a Critch by Mark Critch (The audiobook version because the accent makes it.)
Witnesses to a New Nation by The Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia (Old houses, oh yeah.)
The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong (Totally fascinating.)

I feel bad about your book

I usually try to keep my big mouth shut about books I don’t enjoy, primarily because I can’t imagine how disheartening it must be to pour months and years of work into something, only to have it torn to shreds by a bunch of know-nothing blobs like me.

Instead, if asked my opinion on anything I don’t care for, I use my mother’s diplomatic line: ‘I’m just not the intended audience.’ I like this because it isn’t insulting the intelligence or taste of people who do like that book/movie/show/band/painting/fashion trend and it acknowledges that things can be good even if I don’t like them.

I read a lot, but life is short and reading time is precious, so I steer clear of works I’m 99.99% sure will not be to my liking, no matter how popular they may be. Like 50 Shades of Grey. Or Harry Potter. Or anything that has a cover bearing a shirtless man wearing a kilt. Sorry, but I am not the intended audience.

Every once in a while, however, a book slips through the net and I am astounded by my dislike for something I thought I’d enjoy. Like I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, which I finally got around to last week. It’s been in my reading queue for the entire thirteen years since its publication and based on all the great reviews and its presence on countless lists of ‘Top 10 Humour Titles’, I thought it would be a sure thing. Nope.

It turns out that despite also being a middle-aged white woman with a not-so-great neck, I am not her intended audience. The endless stream of procedures, grooming appointments and expensive creams and potions she describes as if they are all a necessity? Depressing. (And I don’t mean ‘oh, isn’t it depressing we women require all these interventions to keep looking passable,’ but that she seems to think that’s the case.) Griping about her enormous NYC apartment with rent that costs more per month than many people (including me) make in a year? Tone-deaf. Reminiscing how outrageously fat she grew when she went off to university and soared to (gasp) 125 pounds? Shut up.

Making the whole experience worse was that I listened to the audiobook version, read by the author herself. She…speaks…slowly. So slowly I kept looking for a way to play it at 1.25 speed. And she…approaches…a…punchline…by…slowing….down….even….more…..and……making……her……last……word……….[almost inaudible]. It made me crazy.

I know, I know, for someone who started this post bragging about keeping my snarky opinions to myself, this whole thing took an awfully negative turn. But believe me that even though Ephron died in 2012 and it’s impossible to hurt her feelings, I still feel a bit squeamish about openly criticising her work like this and I’ve been dithering for days about whether to say anything.

Is there value in sharing bad reviews and negative opinions? I’m not sure. Do I feel a teensy bit better about blurting my two cents? Actually, yes. Yes, I do.

what I read in February 2019

A Bird on Every Tree by Carol Bruneau
After Many Years: Twenty-One Long Lost Stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Big Three Knitting Techniques by Ann-Mari Nilsson
Bird Migration: The Incredible Journeys of North American Birds by Stan Tekiela
Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
Mr Wilkinson’s Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson
Set for the Holidays by Anna Olson
Shrewed by Elizabeth Renzetti
Skeletons in My Closet: Life Lessons from a Homicide Detective by Dave Sweet and Sarah Graham
You Are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero

what I read in January 2019

The Accidental Farmer: The Story of Ross Farm by Joan Watson
The Art of the Wasted Day by Patricia Hampl
Call to Order: A Miscellany of Useful Hierarchies, Systems and Classifications by Jackie Strachan and Jane Moseley
Catalan Food by Daniel Olivella
Cræft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands
Homebody by Joanna Gaines
Reading People by Anne Bogel
Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel