Saturday, December 31, 2022

Annual Reading Stats 2022

I like to look back on my reading at the end of the year, to see how well I'm doing in regards to my goals, which are to prioritize books authored by women, Indigenous, People of Colour, queer, and Canadian. In my efforts to read diversely, I also look for works in translation. I aim to maintain fluency by also reading books written in French. To that end, here are my stats in tasty pie charts:

*translated from 17 different languages

A couple more interesting stats:
I re-read 10 books that I'd previously enjoyed
and abandoned (did not finish) 19.

December 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

Nineteen out of the 42 books that I finished in December were so good that I gave them 5 stars on Goodreads. That's what I call an excellent reading month! My favourite books are listed below, roughly in order of preference, starting with the best.

Fayne by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka

Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi

The Short Story Advent Calendar, edited by Michael Hingston

Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams, audio read by the author

Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich

Amazona by Canizales

Why Indigenous Literatures Matter by Daniel Heath Justice, audio read by the author

Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote, audio read by the author

How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water by Angie Cruz, audio read by 

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver, audio read by Charlie Thurston 

Thrust by Lidia Yuknavitch

Maya's Song by Renee Watson and Bryan Collier

Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family by Erika Hayasaki

Charlie Muskrat by Harold Johnson

The Invisible Siege: The Rise of Coronaviruses and the Search for a Cure by Dan Werb, audio read by Jason Culp

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell, audio read by Genevieve Gaunt

Indelicacy by Amina Cain

Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, audio read by the authors

My stats for December:

There were two that I did not finish, and in both cases it was because I could tell that it was the wrong time for me to be reading that book, not because I didn't like it:

Booktube uploads:

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Timmies 2022

Here are a dozen new literary references to Tim Hortons, which is my idiosyncratic ongoing personal project. For previous collections, click here.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton


Take the Long Way Home by Jon Claytor

was no place to put the trash - no bins, no Dumpster - and pickup was every other week. If you put trash outside, Bugsy [the racoon] got into it, so there was just an industrial-sized communal bag in the kitchen. With three people living there - sometimes four or five, as there was always a rotating cast of girlfriends and buddies and other persons of various origins washing up on our couch or on the floor - it piled up quickly, and the house often had the wet, rotten smell of hot garbage.
    One night I took the trash out, but the bag was too full and too heavy; it ripped as I tried to take it down the porch stairs, spilling garbage down over the steps. I ran inside, cursing, to get a broom and a dustpan, but when I came back out I stopped, confused; there appeared to be mounds of white rice all over, cups and cups of it.
    I leaned in closer to examine it. It wasn't rice - it was maggots. Thousands and thousands of writhing, fat, white maggots which, disturbed from the warm, edible loam of the trash, were now wriggling all over the deck and down the stairs.
    Horrified, I raced inside, grabbed a bottle of bleach and poured it, raw, over the mess; the larvae writhed in agony as they died and the smell of bleach and garbage was so unbearable I staggered back into the apartment and vomited in the kitchen sink. After that we started sneaking our garbage, one household bag at a time, into the unlocked Dumpster behind the Tim Hortons several blocks away, disposing of it at night when no one was around.

This Has Always Been a War: The Radicalization of a Working-Class Queer by Lori Fox

We didn't know much about addiction, about homelessness, but we knew how it could look. We'd watched a man nod into his own lap in the Tim Hortons on Abbott Street, had seen kids hawk lone red and white carnations in plastic sleeves to drivers on the interchange offramp. We'd heard the spellbound murmurs of the woman who sat all day at the bus shelter on Fillmore. 

    We offered these people things we thought they'd want. Some days, one said yes to a cheeseburger, or a filet o fish, or a hot coffee, and other days, no one wanted anything but whatever coins and cash we had.

Agatha of Little Neon by Claire Luchette
"What's that?' she said, picking up a different wad of papers.
    "Some stories I'm writing."
    "Don't you have anything better to do?"
    "Well, not really." I shuffled some of my other papers, hiding them out of sight. Our whole group had culture and language classes during the day, and I was about to start my calligraphy homework.
    "You wrote this?" She cleared her throat and began reading from one of the papers: "'Our first kiss was in a twenty-four-hour Tim Hortons. She came back from the restroom and' blah blah blah."
    Holly looked up from the paper with a frown, her shoulders sagging, heaving air out of her lungs like she had finished a marathon.
    "Aren't you going to keep reading?" I said. "That's just two lines."
    "More than enough." She handed the papers back to me.

'The Bicycle Thief,' in Taobao: Stories by Dan K Woo

    It would be nice to cut the place some slack, really it would, but the trio of young mothers she faced off with was the last straw. Sprawled on a bench beside the
 [Hope, BC] town square, they were chatting and smoking up a storm, keeping half an eye on their youngsters in the sandpit, when Charlotte pulled up and asked through the lowered window of her idling SUV where a person could get a decent latte.
    "Whaddya mean decent?" rasped the fat platinum blonde. Pack a day minimum was Charlotte's bet.
    "I don't know. Someplace with good espresso. Maybe independently owned?"
    The blonde pursed her lips, her pencil-thin eyebrows sharp vees, and drew deeply on her cigarette.
    What? Too many syllables? Charlotte brought it down a notch. "As long as it's not Tim Hortons, I'm easy."
    Three sets of eyes hardened. The blonde elbowed the skinny one beside her, who flicked her butt to the ground and withdrew into the hood of her black sweatshirt. "Hey, why you driving around looking for lattes?" Platinum asked. "Like, don't ya know there was an earthquake?"
    For the life of her Charlotte couldn't connect the two comments, so she chose to ignore them. "If you could just tell me where the nearest cafe is."
    Again Platinum jabbed her friend's bony side. "Back the way you came, lady, right beside the gas station off the highway. Unless you want McDonald's, you'll hafta drink Tims like the rest of us." Her eyes widened innocently, but her mouth twisted into a smirk.

The Broken Places: A Novel by Frances Peck

    My father felt the vehicle shake from the intersecting mid-city track spines. The old coal town grids remained part of the roadway, holding up traffic now and then for flour cars and even causing a few traffic deaths. He watched familiar landmarks and their darkened corridors and intersections pass by in the gloom. The dingy old mill, Overpass #1, Overpass #2, Emmett Card's Dodge Chrysler dealership, the first shopping mall ever built in Ezra, the northside Safeway converted into the Garfield Hockey Arena, the Ninth Avenue bridge and traffic circle, the roof of the homeless shelter down the slope near the old train junction, McDonald's, Tim Hortons, Walmart, Chinatown, and the three-storey boarding house. Arteries led out to the endless spill of fields -- wheat, canola, potatoes, mustard, barley. Where urban ended and rural began in Ezra was a mystery.

'Ghostfly' in Ezra's Ghosts by Darcy Tamayose

    The air was cold in the shadow of the tall buildings along King, but when I stepped into a patch of sunlight, it was summer again. The great rust bulk of Scotiabank rose like a megalith, flanked by the black standing stones of the TD Canada Trust and pale phallus of BMO. I walked past antique stores and Thai restaurants, cathedrals and parks and shops selling Persian rugs, and payday-loan companies, and ragged men urinating against trees. I walked past the warehouses on the rail line, where the slaughterhouses had stood when Toronto was still called Hogtown past identical burger restaurants competing for business on opposite street corners, past grocery chains and ATMs and the old St. Lawrence Market, where people had been bought and sold, and the flatiron building that was the same as the one in New York, only smaller. I walked past a vodka bar called "Truth" and a park named for a colonial administrator and a cafe named for a hockey player and a performing arts centre built entirely of rubble, and in the colonnades I heard my own footsteps echo back into the centuries, back into Italy and Spain and the British Empire. [...] Above it all, the syringe of the CN Tower punctured the blue vein of the sky.

In the City of Pigs by Andre Forget

    Black Friday, and we'd left Jeff's parents' to drive to Ontario after Thanksgiving. I didn't need to be back for work until the next night. He hadn't been to Niagara since he was a kid. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
    The Surfside Inn was right on the Welland River, between a water treatment facility and a Tim Hortons. Old-timey sign on the roof, triangular planter boxes stuck with fake flowers between each room. The timber on the exterior was painted a shocking blue, the brickwork the colour of clotted cream. Jeff protested only a little before relenting. Through he didn't understand my affection for outmoded, cheesy Americana -- It just reminds me of being a kid, he'd say -- he had no more appetite for chain hotels than I did.

Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down


    O Tauro maxed out at a buck twenty-five an hour and turned the radio knob until he got Rock 95 and blasted it nice and loud. The two of us hummed along and he butted a third or fourth or fifth cig into the hot clipping Highway 11 winds. We took an exit and joined a procession of cottagers who arrived on the north side of Sunshine City, where a morass of corner gas stations and townhouse rows, apartments and plazas greeted us. 
    We continued along to West Street, where a convenience store, a doughnut shop, a Little Caesars, a store called Big Apple, and other unassuming businesses formed a semicircle plaza. The only place that had any consistent traffic besides the gas station was a slow burning Timmys drive-thru and a stucco-themed KFC beside it.

Half Bads in White Regalia: A Memoir by Cody Caetano


    After Bonnyville and to-go coffees from Timmys, we scoop south, down to Wainwright, and while we catch our breath from running from the parking lot to get close enough for our photo, we admire the big, fake bison. It's here because the real bison used to be here, and it's massive, and it makes me sad. But there's no time for sadness, to think about what we did to this earth, and the things living here. To think about what it was like when we were at the front of this thing, when we were on our first date, and not at the end.

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson


    I suggested we meet at Timmy Ho's.
    "Timmy Ho's?" the Posner impersonator queried, as if he was some guy from Chicago who had never heard of the place.
    "Yes. Tim Hortons on Sixth."
    "All right," he said, after a pause.
    What did he think, I was going to suggest Starbucks and blow my grant money on a venti mocha frappuccino with him taking notes?
    Mr Posner's cover was so blown. Plus that fake American accent was plain goofy. In any event, my dog noticed a squirrel on the windowsill and started barking incessantly. I couldn't hear anything else so I hung up.

'Vacuuming the Dog,' in Western Taxidermy by Barb Howard

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November 2022 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

An Indigenous readathon called Skoden took place on booktube in November and I joined in with enthusiasm. I usually read a few books by Indigenous authors every month, but this month I read 21! That's more than half of the 40 books I read in November. I'm pleased to say that I learned a lot and also enjoyed the many new perspectives offered by reading a wide variety of Indigenous literature. See my video links below for further details.

Here are this month's stats.

Here are the covers of all 40 books that I finished in November.

These are the eleven best books of the month:

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm; David Robertson; Richard Van Camp; Katherena Vermette; Chelsea Vowel and others

H of H Playbook by Anne Carson, translation and adaptation of Heracles by Euripides

Our Colors by Gengoroh Tagame, translation by Anne Ishii

The Power of Story by Harold R Johnson 

Rave by Jessica Campbell

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson 

The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley

The two books I tried and then abandoned in November:


Links to booktube videos I uploaded in November:

Finalists for Canada's GG Award for Fiction 2022

Friday Reads Nov 4

Friday Reads Nov 11

Indigenous Reads Nov 12

Friday Reads Nov 18

Recent Reads Nov 22

Friday Reads Nov 25

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.


Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill

    Be serious, Jean. You have just looked into the woman's brain. What did you see?
    Just meat. Red and yellow and white meat, like you'd see in a butcher's window.
    We used a medical auger. It's like a drill. We put a three-quarter-inch hollow bit on it. The bone popped right out.


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: