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