Tag Archives: books

My next 100 books?

I think this might be my next 100 books.

I was attracted to this pretty book at the library, and I think I might make it my next book list, since I’m  Atlantic Canadian and all.

Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books itself is lovely, in full colour,  and well curated, with a short well-written analysis of each book, including it’s cultural impact, time and place in history, a description, and an author bio.

I’m impressed, because while it’s easy to write scathing reviews, it’s not easy to write good reviews that don’t sound the same, and this book is essentially that- 100 rave reviews of superlative books.  It takes some creativity to avoid “This is a really great book!…This is another really great book!”  Or at least, it does for me.

I love the variety of genres represented, too.

I think it might supersede my previous ambition to read my way to approximate the English Lit degree I never got:

This might be easier going. “Edification” can wait a year.

For one thing,  I’d be happy to have the excuse of “a project” to read Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes and Hugh MacLennan’s Barometer Rising.

One of the titles is  the first novel I ever read.  Several I read as a child or had inflicted on me as a teenager in school.  I’ve already read ten of the list.  That is, if you count having the Dictionary of Newfoundland English at home for my entire life.  That brick of a book is not exactly “readable” in the traditional sense.

I glad to have ten down, because I’d never again want to read Fall on Your Knees or Two Solitudes, sheesh!

Besides that, most of the books look interesting, or are already on my hefty running list, as Canada Reads and the XCountry Checkup book show, and well, as CBC in general keeps telling me what Canadiana I must read now, over the years.

It’s ok that Come Thou, Tortoise isn’t in the book, because it’s too new.  It can be in the 101 greatest books sequel:)

I think I’ll get my Atlantic Education.



One year. 100 books. Check.

I did it.  100 books in one year.

Not only that, I was done early at 10 months and a couple days.

I first tried to hit the hundred book in 12 months mark starting in 2009, and never managed it, til now (?!).

I cannot fathom how I was able to do it this year, of all years, after moving across the country, starting a garden, building a shop, a place to live, a greenhouse, working, and all else that went on our first 10 months off-grid in Nova Scotia.  I still can’t see how this could have been the year.  My best guess is that my health was not the greatest this year, and down time means, usually, I can still read.

So to recap the best of the books I (randomly) chose to read in my year:

Read the best of 2015 list


I started this post as an extended review of a book called The Happiness Project, that got my wheels turning over the active and determined pursuit of happiness.  Turned out that it was a much bigger topic and focus of my life than just one little essay.

Reading the book made me realize how happy I am right now, in my life exactly the way it is. I’m well aware that many other people would not at all be happy with this, perhaps would not even be able to endure it.  I’m often perched on the edge of broke, when I work for money it’s at a job I don’t love, I’m living in my very unfinished converted barn without running water, windows or constant heat.  But in downward comparison, I have more than some of the wealthiest Cubans have.  Cuba is much better off than a lot of Africa.  Relative poverty in Canada is still unattainable riches to the  third world, and the great thing (that I’m quite grateful for), is that I rarely forget it.  I feel rich, almost all the time.  I have an abundance of time, good credit, my health, the unflickering love of friends, wood to burn and a stove to start fires in, beautiful wheels, plenty of food, clean air and water. I live in one of the most beautiful chunks of the most beautiful countries, and I really love the things I do for free.

The few aspects of my life that aren’t ideal don’t bother me that they’re not ideal, and I think that that is the real definition of happiness.  The non-ideal elements don’t throw you off the balance.  One is never going to get every aspect of your life into total alignment with your ideal vision, certainly not living as small pieces of a greater whole that is collectively terribly out of ecological harmony.  At the very least, putting off happiness until arriving at some ideal is an unreasonable expectation.

I also realize I’ve done a huge amount of work to become what I think is pretty damn happy.  I am deeply proud of being in this place, now, with a quick backward glance at struggle that at times, I barely survived.  It is not an exaggeration to say I am lucky to be alive, several times over.  But beyond luck and endurance, I am here and happy, and that is my own doing.  It does take work, and deliberate attention, and that is the gold of this book.
Oh, there’s lots more

Book Love I – Library

I love books.  I love books with a deep irrational passion.  I love touching them, smelling them, organizing them, being surrounded by them, and even reading them.  I enjoy shopping for them, reviewing them, even considering reading them and deciding against it.

My mom taught me to read very early (four), and I’ve been borrowing books from the library by the boxful ever since.  I read so much, all the time, and my brother did the same.  Since neither of us thought eating was worth putting a book down for, my dad eventually invented the Bookhug to serve our needs.  Among other things, once he got going.

It’s an incredible pleasure to work at the library now.  Just to be surrounded by books is enough, but in some small way to perform book husbandry is another level.  Continue reading Book Love I – Library

My newest prize possessions

The Prophet in Icelandic!  In Icelandic!  The Prophet!  I cannot describe my joy at this.

Closely followed by the delight of The Handmaid’s Tale in Icelandic (Saga of the Handmaids).

I can report that used bookstores are the same everywhere; I want to stay in them all day and cart home a box of books.

The logic of the high prices of books in Icelandic revealed itself today: any foreign book translated into Icelandic is being translated, published, and printed for a total audience equaling maybe the population of Victoria, BC.  So that’s a very expensive prospect and it’s only done for a few of the most popular books.  “Eat Pray Love” is prominent in bookstores right now.  Most books don’t get translated into Icelandic- most Icelanders will just read them in English if they want to.

Complete story of my Iceland adventures

I drove to Ontario with my cat.  I was going to stay a month so I had to bring her.  I also brought two passengers from the rideshare board, to mitigate the environmental impact, maybe.  I just couldn’t be a single occupant vehicle for 3000 miles.

It was just during the coldest snap of the winter, when Regina was seeing -35C.  Almost miraculously, we didn’t see one speck of precipitation the whole transit.  And the coldest weather was scuttling away in front of us, or something, because the coldest my outdoor thermometer ever read was -22C. 

My right hand drive caused a bit of a frenzy at a truck stop in Northern Ontario.  A half dozen friendly natives were swarmed around, looking at everything inside, asking questions all at once and exclaiming in amazement.  They were just thrilled.

We drove the north route as one of my passengers was headed into Quebec.  After we left him, the girl and I were sitting up front talking when we passed a big billboard proclaiming “Book Store 75% off” .  We sighed together and looked at the time.  It was just after six, there wasn’t a chance that a small town book store would still be open.  Sigh, alas.

A half hour later, she bursts out, pointing to the right, “Hey that was it!  The lights are on!  And there’s cars.”  I screeched to a halt and whipped a Uey (or the transCanada equivalent), and we went back to it.  Open!  Until eight!  Oh frabjous day!

What. A. Bookstore.  Continue reading