Tuesday, November 1, 2022

October 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

Grateful as I have been for online events during the covid pandemic, I was so happy to attend the Vancouver Writers Fest in person this year. I went to 8 events and walked a lot. Vlogs of my Vancouver biblioadventures are linked at the bottom of this post.

These are my favourite books of October:

Alberta and Freedom by Cora Sandel

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make by Michael Hathaway

Attack of the Black Rectangles by Amy Sarig King, audiobook read by Pete Cross, Jane Yolen, AS King, Maggi-Meg Reed et al

Finding Edward by Sheila Murray

Aki-Wayn-Zih: A Person as Worthy as the Earth by Eli Baxter 

Mina by Matthew Forsythe

Time Zone J by Julie Doucet

Here are my October stats:

Covers of the 30 books I finished:

This is the only book I bailed on in October (not in the right mood):

Uploads on my booktube channel, Lindy's Magpie Reads:

Friday Reads Oct 7

Friday Reads Oct 14

Whateverday Reads Oct 16

Vancouver Biblioadventures 1

3 minutes of highlights from a 3-hour walk through Stanley Park

Vancouver Biblioadventures 2

Vancouver Biblioadventures 3

Vancouver Biblioadventures 4

Vancouver Biblioadventures 5

Vancouver Biblioadventures 6

Friday Reads Oct 28

Fiction Finalists for Canada's GG Awards

Saturday, October 1, 2022

September 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Links

Having placed pressure on myself to read as many Giller-eligible titles as possible, I was missing the variety that I usually have in my reading life. No picture books, no poetry, few graphic novels, not enough nonfiction and fiction in translation. I'm determined to change that next month! Still, in the final week of September, I read five 5-star novels, so I finished the month feeling good.

The Giller shortlist was announced on September 27 and it is a strong one, even though some of my favourites aren't on it. (Alexander MacLeod's Animal Person didn't even make the longlist!) Anyway, I've read all five and am considering which one I think deserves to receive top honours.

These are the best books that I read in September:

My September stats:

Covers of the 26 books I read in September:

Booktube videos I created during the month of September:

My sole DNF in September is one audiobook that I gave up on halfway through (because it would be better in print):

Sunday, September 4, 2022

My Personal Picks for the 2022 Giller Longlist

I've been shadowing the Giller again this year and have read 36 eligible books so far. (Previous Shadow Giller coverage.) Time is running out because the official longlist will be announced in two days, on Tuesday September 6. Instead of trying to guess which books the esteemed official jurors will choose, I've gone ahead with my own selections, ignoring everything I haven't read, including those that are yet to be published. (The official cut-off date is September 30, 2022.)

Here's my top dozen:

And here's a link to a video I made about this: My Giller Prize Longlist

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

August 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Links

I decided to read as many Giller-eligible titles as I could in August and I'm pleased with how that turned out: 11 out of the 30 books that I finished this month fall into that category. As far as predictions go, however, I am throwing my hands in the air. I recognize that many of the books this year that are stand-outs for me are not every reader's cup of tea. So, instead of trying to predict what the judges will choose for the Giller longlist next week, I will soon put together my personal favourites. Watch for it!

Highlights from August reads, starting with two Giller possibilities:

Ezra's Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose

Remnants by Celine Huyghebaert, translation by Aleshia Jensen

These next two are on the Booker longlist:

The Colony by Audrey Magee, audiobook read by Stephen Hogan

The Trees by Percival Everett

I only read three nonfiction books in August. This is the one I've been telling everyone about:

The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration by Sarah Everts, audiobook read by Sophie Amoss

Kae Tempest's long poem is a reread and also a re-listen (I did both):

Let Them Eat Chaos by Kae Tempest

I checked a digital edition of this graphic novel out from the library and read it three times:

A Gift for a Ghost by Borja Gonzalez, translation by Lee Douglas

And lastly, a wonderful Indigenous picture book about a two-spirit child:

47,000 Beads by Koja Adeyoha, Angel Adeyoha and Holly McGillis

Did Not Finish: Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Booktube video links:

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Literary Trepanations, again

It's been a while since my last post about trepanations encountered in my reading. (You can find it here.) Do you need these like a hole in the head? Perhaps, but here they are, anyway. 

The Animals in the Country by Laura Jean McKay

    "You're registered, all official. Here's a couple of armbands. Not compulsory, just a handy reminder that you've been diagnosed correctly. Okay? Next, thanks."
    "Wait up. I'm sick. I need medical support."

    "The doctors are busy with the psychotic," the nurse says quietly. "Those who are displaying psychotic tendencies, in danger of trepanning, talking to insects et cetera." We glance down the line to where the little girl is pawing at the ground. "Are you talking to insects?" The nurse is up in my face now, filling the world.
    One of the people outside runs her mouth along the windshield of the flat front of the van, leaving a trail. The dust we've collected on all the roads browns her teeth like she's been chowing down on chocolate cake. She wanders off. Ange is always telling Kimberly not to stare at different people, but I'm staring.
    "What's wrong with her?"
    The man makes a rat-a-tat motion on his noggin. "Bless them. Our do-it-yourselfers can get excited, turn nasty."
    "Do-it-yourself what?"
    "Do-it-yourself trepanning. Hand drill to the skull, relieve the pressure caused by the flu. Stops all the critters talking to you. You must have seen the video. I can do it for you, if you want."


The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel by Philip Pullman, adapted by Stephane Melchoir and Clement Oubrerie, translated by Annie Eaton


Fight Night by Miriam Toews

    Grandma is trying to find someone who will drill a hole in her head because she's heard that's the most effective way of getting rid of trigeminal neuralgia, which is nicknamed the suicide disease because it's the most painful physical experience a human being can have and you just want to kill yourself. But nobody wants to drill a hole into Grandma's head because of her age. They stop drilling holes into people at around age sixty. Remember that, Swiv! Grandma said.


Matrix by Lauren Groff

    But there is a disease in the grain, or perhaps it is cursed by the devil, and after eating it, some dance uncontrollably and sing naked in the streets. Others scream with terrified visions. Others go stiff and barely breathe.
    Nothing can drive out the disease. Not praying, not bathing them in holy water, not tying them to their beds, not leaping out from the night to frighten them, not holding them by the ankle in the cold river, not beating them around the head with a yew branch, not burying them crown to toe in warm manure, not hanging them upside down from a high tree and spinning them until they vomit, not drilling a tiny hole through their skulls to let the bad humours out of the brains.


The Air Year by Caroline Bird

It's like being a windmill in a vacuum
packed village. Weekends are the worst.
The taste of nothing is like licking dew off plastic.
Floppy soul, they call it. Slack spirit. Neurological
pins and needles. Someone has drilled a hole in the crown
of my head, inserted a funnel, emptied
molten margarine into my plumbing. [...]
-from the poem 'The Deadness'


Haven by Emma Donoghue

    Cormac's fingers go up to the little crater above his left ear. "A slingstone stove my head in."
    "In battle?"
    That seems too grand a word for it. "Well, we were disputing with another clan. The blow sent me out of my senses.
    But my brother's wife had heard the Christians had strong medicine" -- he almost said magic -- "so my people brought me to Cluain Mhic Nois. A monk called Fiach, he saved me."
    "How?" Artt asks.
    "Cut the scalp and peeled me like an apple. With a hand drill he bored holes until the smashed piece came right off. Then he sewed the skin back over the hole, and poulticed me with herbs, and prayed till my fever broke."
    "You were quite well again?"
    "Better than before, in fact, Deo gratias." Cormac makes a cross on his forehead. "Wits a bit sharper and memory roomier."


Mad Honey by Katie Welch

    He leaned over and kissed her neck. She swung around, hair delicately brushing his face, kissed him full on the lips, and returned her attention to the front of the hall. Beck stared at the back of her head, wishing he could burrow through her soft brown hair, trepan her skull and examine her thoughts.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

July 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Links

Lots of queer books and lots of Canadian authors this month. 
Here are the all-star reads:

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

Spear by Nicola Griffith, audio read by the author

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, audio read by Aidan Kelly

Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, audio read by Soneela Nankani

Avenue of Champions by Conor Kerr

The Rental Heart and Other Fairy Tales by Kirsty Logan

Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir by Jon Claytor

But I Live: Three Stories of Child Survivors of the Holocaust edited by Miriam Libicki

How Beautiful by Antonella Capetti and Melissa Castrillon

Nour's Secret Library by Wafa Tarnowska and Vali Mintzi

These last three are all rereads:

The Small Way: Poems by Onjana Yawnghwe

Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar

Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

The one that I didn't finish this month is a good book for the right readers (teens):

Booktube videos:

Friday, July 15, 2022

Samples of Recent Canadian Writing, Via Tim Hortons References

My project - collecting references in Canadian literature to Tim Hortons - continues. See prior posts here.

    Cory swung his prize daughter into the passenger seat of his car. Now was his chance to warm it up. Get it nice and toasty; point all the vents toward his princess, and blast hot air at her. As the windows defrosted, Cory ran his rough hands, his dirt-stained hands, through her frozen strawberry blond hair and sobbed openly. Through his wailing he blubbered, "We're gonna pass by Timmy Ho's and get you a hot chocolate. Warm you right up. Daddy loves you. Were you in there for long, Laura? I'm really sorry. I would have come sooner, but Mommy just called me." He wasn't sure how much she understood, but her gaze was steady on his weepy eyes.

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez


    Sunday, October 25
    I'm driving south on Main Street. A Black Woman waits to cross outside a Tim Hortons. She's wearing snowpants although its not very cold by Canadian standards. New immigrant? I feel ashamed at this snap assumption.

Disorientation: Being Black in the World by Ian Williams


    My second job was at Tim Hortons: more yelling. The owners were a husband and his wife; the husband did spot checks to make sure we kept the bathrooms locked, and then yelled at his sixteen-year-old workers about "crack whores" and needles when we didn't. Once, I cried after the wife yelled at me; my supervisor told me not to let her catch me crying, or things would get worse. (I try to picture, now, being in my forties or fifties and screaming at teens; I can't picture it.)


    When I worked at Tim Hortons in the early 2000s, the milk and cream came in ten-litre sacs with built-in spouts. The sacs were rectangular, made of clear plastic, slick with condensation. They were heavy, difficult enough to carry from the fridge to the front of the store that the only real way to do it was to hug the sac against your chest. The whole rest of the day after replacing the cream or milk, I'd smell waves of soured dairy emanating from my striped polycotton blend shirt. This smell returned a few days after Sinclair was born.


    Tim Hortons was the worst job I'd ever had, and Adbusters was the second-worst. One of my first tasks was to read through a book the magazine was producing and offer feedback; I came across a picture of a desert with one line floating mid-air, something like, "It takes a thousand years to produce one inch of soil." When I flagged it for fact-checking, a senior editor told me not to bother: the page had appeared in the magazine before, the same concern had been raised, and the publisher didn't care if it was true. The greater truth was that it sounded good. And that it felt true.

Like a Boy But Not a Boy: Navigating Life, Mental Health, and Parenthood Outside the Gender Binary by Andrea Bennett


    But for all of Canada's territorial instincts and actions around the stories told here, in its denials of a proper voice for Indigenous peoples it has ruined any chance at telling its own story truthfully and completely. Indigenous communities are as crucial to the story of this place as their English and French counterparts, so in attacking the narrative sovereignty of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, Canada has torn a hole in itself. That absence is the root of this nation's ongoing identity crisis. As it attempts to fill the void with hockey, Tim Hortons, and jean jackets, it ignores the truth that what has been and remains missing from Canadian culture are the stories of Indigenous peoples, the stories that have been told on this land for thousands of years.

Unreconciled: Family, Truth and Indigenous Resistance by Jesse Wente


    I take a taxi to the Northern Store to buy groceries. We drive to another house to collect a family of four on their way to a birthday party. In the car, we make small talk about our favourite types of cake. In the Cree spirit of egality, all the taxis operate like buses: the cars pick up as many passengers as possible, with everyone paying four dollars regardless of the destination.
    Hungry, I decide to stop at one of the local stores a few metres away to grab a chocolate bar and coffee. Most of the stores sell Tim Hortons with Coffee Mate. I stand by the counter, and sip.

Invisible North by Alexandra Shimo


    His mother who might say anything, who had the capacity to startle with drilling questions, or flummox with shards of raw honesty that made people see themselves in new ways, his mother could only think to ask where Lily got her dress.
    Lily had said, Online. A one-word answer that did nothing to crack the bizarre electricity between his date and his mother, both inert, unable to move. Lily was into girls, but she and Xavier had been partners on a science project, and they fell into going to the prom together without really talking about it much, because she was such a laugh.
    I expect you to take care of him tonight, his mother blurted. I expect you to make sure, she was telling Lily, that nothing bad happens to him or to you. I trust you in this. Do you think you're able to do that? It was a bizarrely sexist thing for his mother to say. Stella had gone to her prom in a dress that had been strategically ripped and torn, a pair of army boots. It had been necessary to make sure neither of the grandmothers heard about it.
    Lily's face instantly became the way Lily's face usually was, full of being up for anything. Her face had been as still as a lake, and glassy with the too-dramatic makeup, because she seemed to think she owed something to the dress, which had cost a fortune of her own money from working the counter at Tims. But his mother had busted out of the doleful stillness that had taken over her face, and instead here was his mother's ordinary rapacious need for intimacy or cutting the crap.
    That's exactly what I plan to do, Lily said. I'm going to keep an eye, don't you worry. I has every intention of making sure we has a good time.

This Is How We Love by Lisa Moore


Now we line up in cars at the drive-thru as we double-double down,
while our ahistorical children play under the backyard tree
(those darling digital citizens of our wombs).
Meanwhile, broadcast across glass, phosphor, cerium, plastics, copper,
tin, zinc, silicon, gold & chromium: The spectacle of human migration,
displacement as entertainment industry,
kitten videos as news of the day,
plus the variation, mutation, competition & inheritance of memes
despair has become --
"things have to be named properly."

from 'Nothing Beside Remains'
Nothing Will Save Your Life by Nancy Jo Cullen


    Inside the Tim Hortons, a cat is the least of anyone's worries. It's packed in there. One side of the eating area has been completely taken over by homeless people. They're spread out on the benches and on the floor, under tables and in the aisles. Prairie and I find a spot under one of the only free tables and settle in. I use my backpack as a pillow. It's uncomfortable as fuck and the floor is sticky, covered in something that's definitely not double-double. But shit, it could be, too. At this point, I'm tired and my mind is clogged from eating only scraps and smoking cigarettes all day. I put Prairie right next to me. I'm not worried about anyone taking her since everyone here has their own problems to deal with. At this moment, we all just want to get through the night and this cat is the only thing bringing me any sort of comfort.
    I never truly sleep in a situation like this. I'll get a bit of rest and then I'm awake again, constant vigilance, you know. Never comfortable. Cold and sticky, fluorescent lights burning down, and a stream of people from the university hospital and kids from the residence buildings coming in for coffees and Timbits. They all avoid looking at our little camp. Which is probably for the best, as I don't want to see anyone I might be in a class with. It's already embarrassing enough having a cat in class. Now I have a cat and I'm sleeping on the floor of the Tim Hortons. Classic fuck-up right here.

Avenue of Champions: A Novel by Conor Kerr