Readathon: October 2016 Wrap Up

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Surprisingly none were super daunting – I may even have been able to stay up the entire 24 hours if I hadn’t had to go to bed because of a baby shower for a family friend in the morning.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is always a fantastic choice, as was Cass’ recommendation of poetry.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? None, loved it as it was
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I thought it all worked well.
  5. How many books did you read? I read 6 books and 1427 pages. All but one were re-reads.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? I read Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, How to Be Alone by Tanya Davis, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange, The Mothers by Brit Bennet, Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Because all but one were rereads, I really couldn’t choose! The Mothers was fantastic, and the others were all books or collections that I read specifically because I loved them.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? See above 🙂
  9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’ve got the next one already marked in my calendar! I would plan to do the same, although do a bit more blog cheering (which is my favorite place to cheer). I hope that next year the list of blog readers is provided again!

Also, I won a prize in hour 14!! Woohooo!

Did you readathon? Do you plan to join next April? (April 29th, 2017!!) If so, let me know and I’ll know whose blog to go check out during that time 🙂

Readathon: October 2016

It’s Readathon time again!! Are you joining in the fun today? I won’t last the full 24 hours, because I never do, but I will get as much reading time in as I am able, although with a few planned breaks. I’ll be updating this post as the day goes on.

Hour 20

Reader friends, I can’t believe I’m still up. I just finished my sixth book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik – another reread. This has definitely been the readathon for rereading, and also the latest I’ve stayed up for one. We have a baby shower tomorrow to attend but I feel like I’m so close to the finish line… 😀 (But I’m still throwing in the towel and going to bed now…)

Hour 13

Over half way through!

1. What are you reading right now? I just finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett (so good!!) and am about to dip into a reread of Milk and Honey.
2. How many books have you read so far? I just finished my fourth book – one comic / graphic novel, two poetry collections, and one novel. All but the novel were rereads.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I haven’t made a pile of books, so not looking forward to anything in particular.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? So many kitty cuddles – they keep interrupting me and I just can’t say no!
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Not a thing 🙂

Hour 8.5

Not a lot to report here. I spent some time with the boyfriend (I got home yesterday from two weeks away), and I took a mid-afternoon walking / Pokémon Go break with a friend (Dacey). I completely spaced on taking a picture, but it was a lovely time. Plus I got to meet Betel! I’ve put on some food, and now am back to reading.

Hour 3

Hard to believe it’s three hours in already! I ate some crepes, cuddled with the kittens, and checked out Twitter a bit. After seeing Cass’ great reading choices, I read two short poems. First I read Tanya Davis’ illustrated How to Be Alone (watch a video of the poem at the link), and then Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf.


Hour 1.5

I was having trouble updating my site, but it seems to be working now, so I’m posting the opening survey a bit late. I just finished a lot of kitten snuggles (I’m so happy to have kittens this readathon!) as well as Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I have so much love for Nimona, and spent forever trying to push it on everyone, and am SO HAPPY it exists.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am in Toronto, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t really made a stack, I’m going from my whole library today!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? My boyfriend just woke up and is making crepes for breakfast. It doesn’t get much better than that!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’ve been pretty inactive on the blogging front for the last couple of years, but have still been reading as much as I can. Readathon is always a great excuse to get back on here and interact more.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I’ll be doing the same as usual, reading some books and generally enjoying the day.

Recommended Reading: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Let me tell you a little story:

I had about 40 minutes to kill before an eye exam, so I decided to start a new book. I took a look at my TBR shelves, and picked up Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I had never read anything by Holly Black, and I really didn’t know anything about the book – I got it as part of a Bunz trade for some makeup I didn’t use, and it had been sitting on my shelf since late last winter.

I sat on the edge of my bed with my phone beside me and started reading.

When my boyfriend came home and interrupted me, I was still sitting on the edge of the bed reading. I jumped up, looked at the clock, and THREE HOURS had passed. So much for my eye exam.

So… if you’re looking for a thoroughly engaging book with great characters and world building, you can’t go wrong with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

Happy reading!

Readathon – April 23

Another readathon is here!! Life sure is good, here on the blog. Life just seems to go from readathon to readathon, as if that’s all there is. I have been reading all kinds of great books in between, I just haven’t been posting any reviews or details here. These days, my only social media presence is Instagram. If you want to see what I’m up to and what I’m reading, that’s the best place to go!

I’m home, and I’ve gathered my potentials for #Readathon! #readathonstack who else is excited for tomorrow??

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Opening Meme, 8am EST

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I made a pile of books, though I don’t always tend to stick to my pile. I’ve tried to chose a varied list of non-fiction, fiction, and young-adult, as well as a couple of romance (which is a new thing I’ve been reading lately!). I’m quite excited for everything in the stack today!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t planned them out in too much detail, but I did pick up some ginger lemon cream cookies, which I’m very excited about.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a project manager with an IT company, and am spending every second week or so in New Orleans this year – any tips for me while I’m there?
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I have to admit that I am shamefully nervous about this year – I’ve LOVED cheering in the past couple of readathons, but this year all of the cheering is on Twitter. I’m hardly on Twitter anymore, and have no idea how to cheer nearly as well there! Silly, right? I shouldn’t be so sad about missing cheering on blogs when I can’t even be bothered to update mine all year long! 😉

Happy reading everyone!

 

Readathon – October 2015

Hello dear readers! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I last posted. Then again, when I think back on the past year, I find it hard to believe that October is here again. The past year has been ridiculously busy at work, and I’ve not really done a lot else. I am working on changing that, however, and getting back to more normal hours.

I had so much fun last year with the reading and cheering, and so when I found that I was free (semi-free, I am on-call all weekend, boo) I knew that I wanted to participate again!

Readathon Oct 2015 Reading Stack

Readathon Oct 2015 Reading Stack

Opening Meme, 8am EST

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is chilly today with a current temperature of 1* Celsius (34* Fahrenheit) and SNOW possible for later today. I am not a fan of this, and hope to spend most of the day curled up with my electric blanket!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I have a pile of comic trades, as well as a few library books to read. I’ve also added in a few fiction books from my tbr shelves. I am quite excited for all of them, and may or may not even stick to the pile. I find certain books can spark a desire for other topics or types of books, and I love following that trail.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t planned them out in too much detail, but I do have some leftover dahl from my boyfriend’s parents that I’m looking forward to for lunch!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Hmm… almost-thirty reader, who works too much. Lover of cats, travel, tea, and wine.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I think I’ll spend the day the same way as last year! Lots of cheering, lots of reading, a trip to the library (which is about a 5 minute walk from my apartment), and hopefully I’ll manage to stay up later this year!

Update hour 2: 9:30am

I’m cheering with Team Dogwood this readathon, and completed my first round of visits to each of the blogs. I’ve also participated in the Cover Escape mini-challenge hosted by Unabridged Chick.

If I could escape into any book cover… This would be my pick! Beach > cold. #readathon

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

On this cold, fall day, I chose the lovely beach on Paradise, by Abdulrazak Gurnah, which is also a fantastic read. Update hour 3: 10:30am I’ve had some breakfast and tea, finished reading The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, which was as fantastic as I expected it to be. I thought I’d start off the morning with a few of the comic trades I have, and dig into a book in a few hours. This hour also features the Diversity Shelfie mini-challenge, hosted by Pam at An Unconventional Librarian.

Obviously I couldn’t pick just one, but I couldn’t hold more than four at once, so you know. I guess it’ll have to do 🙂 And now all I want to do is reread The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin…

Update hour 6: 1pm

Lunch has been eaten, and I’ve powered through four more comic trades: Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth, Ms. Marvel: Generation Why, Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max, and Sex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop. I have two more comic trades, but I think I’m going to circle back and finish the book I started last night, Assata Shakur’s autobiography, which I was really enjoying. After that, I’ll do another round of cheering.

I hope you’re all enjoying your readathon!

I’ve finished a few comics, now it’s book time. #readathon #amreading #books

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Update hour 8: 3:45pm Phew I can’t believe it is already hour 8 – how did that happen?! I’ve finished Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, which was really interesting. I’ve also completed another cheer-leading round for Team Dogwood! I really enjoy the cheer-leading and finds it gives a nice break from reading. I love seeing what everyone else is reading. I’m now going to take a short break and wander to my library, and pick up a few more snacks. Because one can never have enough snacks.

Update hour 12: 7:15pm, Mid Event Survey

The library and snack excursion was a nice break, however… it SNOWED while I was out, which was not my favorite at all! I made up for it by buying extra tasty snacks. Since my return, I’ve finished another book: An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah, a collection of short stories set in Zimbabwe.

1. What are you reading right now? I’m about to start Hinges, another comic trade.
2. How many books have you read so far? I’ve finished five comic trades, one non-fiction book (102 pages, the rest I read last night), and one collection of short stories.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I’m not sure, really. I haven’t decided yet how late I will continue reading, or what I will read after the next two comic trades.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? No surprises yet, except possibly how quick time seems to be flying by!

How about you, are you still awake and reading?

Update hour 16(!): 11:45pm

If you are shocked that I’m still up and reading, don’t worry, I am as well. I just did a third cheering round and am pretty happy about that (44 blogs, each visited 3 times!). I’d like to get a fourth cheering round in, in another 6 hours or so, but I’m not going to make any promises of being awake at that time!

Prior to that, I finished two more comic trades: Hinges (volume 1 of Clockwork City), and Bitch Planet. I also had some supper, and a wonderful bath paired with a book. That book was Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu, and which I just finished. Given how work has been going this year, it was a book I was very interested to read!

About to begin my next #readathon book and a bath.

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Update, Post Readathon: 8:15am, Closing Survey

Well. As I had mentioned, I was on-call for work all day yesterday, and I am again today. I saw some emails come through and knew I would have to be up and working at 8am, so I figured at 1am that I better get some sleep.

Which hour was most daunting for you? Well, I had to give up at 1pm and go to sleep, with 7 hours left, so I suppose that one.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Comic trades worked really well for me!
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, it’s always fantastic as it is 🙂
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? It all worked!
How many books did you read? I read 7 comics and parts of four books – one I had started the day before and finished, two I started and finished, and I started another book but didn’t finish it.
What were the names of the books you read? I read:

  1. The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles – comic, 168 pages
  2. Rat Queens: Thte Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Sejic – comic, 136 pages
  3. Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona – comic, 136 pages
  4. Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen – comic, 112 pages
  5. Sex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky – comic, 128 pages
  6. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur – non-fiction, 102 pages read
  7. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah – short stories, 224 pages
  8. Hinges: Clockwork City Book 1 by Meredith McClaren – comic, 112 pages
  9. Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro – comic, 136 pages
  10. Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu – non-fiction, 188 pages
  11. Untwine by Edwidge Danticat – young adult fiction, 100 pages read

Which book did you enjoy most? Hmmm I don’t know if I can answer this, I really enjoyed everything, and it was a varied list of books!
Which did you enjoy least? Hmmm I quite enjoyed everything, but the comic Hinges was a bit harder to follow with very little text, so perhaps itt.
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Moat cheering!! I tend to open a few tabs at once and cheer on all off them before going back and updating the spreadsheet, working top to bottom. I also try to go straight through and hit everyone at once, starting reading the next post as my comment is still posting on the last. Efficiency is key 🙂
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’m a big fan of reading and of cheering, so I’d stick to the same thing!

Brief Thoughts on November Nonfiction Reads (2)

As I get back into blogging, one thing I’m going to have to keep reminding myself is to keep reading what *I* want to read. During my time away from blogging world, I read fairly widely and diversely. I find as I get back into the blogging world, I’m getting all kinds of great sounding recommendations that I’m searching out – but the end result is that my reading is threatening to become less diverse. Where you get your recommendations matters, as does the echo chamber that blogging often creates.

In the past week I’ve read another 4 non-fiction books. Here are some brief thoughts on each of them.

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson

This collection of essays was not at all what I imagined it was going to be. I tend to like going into books with little to no advance knowledge of their subject, because I like the surprise. Generally with nonfiction, however, I pick books based on their subject. In this case, I added the book to my hold list at the library based on a couple of tweets on her writing and how fantastic it was. Obviously I gravitated toward the nonfiction offerings, and this collection appeared to be about books and reading and so I requested it.

Imagine my surprise when I begin reading and find a collection of essays on religion, divinity, theology, history, anthropology, science, culture, politics, and more! The writing is beautiful and the ideas are expansive and kind and marvelous. Her take on religion is one which grants every human the highest level of intelligence. She dissects many texts on religion and atheism and science, bringing up different opinions or aspects, looking at anthropology and history, and comparing what we say to how we act. A key point she makes a few times on the subject is that all authors have their own biases and start from certain assumptions, and so even the most objective nonfiction books should be read skeptically. This is a great point that we should all remember, and is a great reminder on why we should read widely.

A truly remarkable collection of essays that, while I didn’t agree with in all parts, I still enjoyed reading.

I am convinced that the broadest possible exercise of imagination is the thing most conducive to human health, individual and global. (page 26)

Since it is intelligence that distinguishes our species and inventiveness that has determined our history, by what standard should an unconventional act or attitude be called unnatural? (page 145)

When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

I’m not sure what is dangerous about reading fifty books, but Miller does make a case that the reading that he did changed his life, reminding him of the pleasures of reading and bringing more happiness into his life. The book chronicles his decision to actually read many of the books he claimed, throughout his life, that he had actually read. From that list of 12, he continued on to read another 38. The titles are varied but ranging mostly from classic to male cult favorites.

At one point the author remarks on the internationalism of his list (which contained only British, American, Irish, Russian, and German authors…) while bemoaning the sparsity of female authors on the list. That tells you something, perhaps, of my thoughts on the books he chose – I found the lack of diversity and gender ratio (5 to 1) disappointing. While there are titles I want to read from among his list, some of the books didn’t interest me at all.

The idea of books having an impact on your life is of course something I would agree with. Miller’s constant assertions on the imminent death of libraries and paper books I agreed with less, as with his comments on giving up on a book, or his frequent disparaging comments on Dan Brown. He seemed to go back and forth on what could or couldn’t be included as a “great book”, often seeming rather dismissive of things he didn’t particular enjoy.

Could someone honestly call themselves well-read without reading Middlemarch, Moby-Dick, and Anna Karenina? Probably not. (page 53)

I frequently yearned to escape from my dull routine and a great book – of any stripe – offers us a cheap getaway from reality. But there are all sorts of holiday destinations and a multitude of ways to travel. (page 101)

Stitches by David Small

Another graphic memoir! (I swear I usually read a lot less memoirs…!) This book takes us through Small’s early life growing up in Detroit, his family troubles, and the results of a harmless operation. Beautiful illustrations and an interesting story.

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig

I have some feelings about this book as well. It was interesting and informative, and I highly recommend it as a great historical look at an important scientific breakthrough that affects so many of us. That being said, I think it, as with any book, contains some biases.

As the author mentioned a few times, the results of some of the trials and tests may have gone differently if more women had had a say in what were acceptable side effects. Along the same line, I wondered if a woman or a person of color might discuss some points in more detail that Eig seems willing to brush aside. For example: Sanger was a remarkable lady who accomplished much, but Eig seems a bit forgiving of her part in the eugenics movement, almost arguing that she said the things she did and allied with groups that she did solely to advance her own cause. As well, the trials in Puerto Rico are still a point of bitterness and contention, and when I’ve read about them in the past they’ve been used as examples of how trials should not be done. Again, Eig almost brushes this off, as if it were necessary to do the trials in the way they did.

While an interesting read, I recommend reading with an open mind and then doing some independent research. I haven’t read it, but one book on my wish list dealing with this subject is Sonia Shah’s The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients.

What have you been reading for nonfiction November?

Brief Thoughts on November Nonfiction Reads

I had plans to actually get some longer thoughts posted on a few books I read and loved recently, but work got busy, and now my mom and aunt are visiting for a few days. My mom flew in from PEI with oysters and mussels so we’ve had a seafood feast, and now we’re entertaining ourselves with food and shows and more tasty food!

Since November 1st I’ve read 5 non-fiction books. That number is so high because three of them were graphic novels (which seems to be a bit of a theme this year in my reading, and in the nonfiction reading of others this month), one was a cookbook, and one was a book of poetry (which perhaps shouldn’t count, but I think do). Here are my thoughts on all five of them.

Dinner: The Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach

I picked this book up because I LOVE Dinner: A Love Story by Rosenstrach. It is basically my food bible. I’ve gifted it a number of times and each time I have, I get back rave reviews. It is a good story, but also packed with simple yet truly delicious (and complicated tasting!) meals. Unfortunately I didn’t love The Playbook nearly as much. It is written as a challenge – to cook 30 new meals for your family in 30 days, as a way to get out of the rut of eating the same thing and of kids being unwilling to try new things. The recipes look good, but if you’re already happy enough with your cooking and variety, I recommend her first instead of this one. If you need a challenge to help you out, then try this one.

Fun Home: A Tragicomedy & Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Odd fact about me: I am generally very uncomfortable with memoirs. People are writing about their own lives, without the distance that an outside third-party might bring to their story, and they are writing while other inhabitants of their stories and worlds are still alive. This always leads me to wondering what those being written about actually think, and how much their lives may be disrupted by the publication.

Bechdel, in her defense, does talk about this. Are You My Mother? includes various discussions between her and her mother about the writing of Fun Home, about her mother’s thoughts on it, and about her mother’s thoughts on writing a book about her. It also included conversations with girlfriends and with therapists, and was really as much a look at the psychoanalytical theories on growing up and the bond between mothers and daughters, the effects of growing up in abusive homes, and so on as it was a true story about her and her mother.

Fun Home, rather than tackling the subject of the effects of family on later life, is all about her father, their life growing up with him, some of his history, and his death. It discusses his violence, his time in therapy, his brush with the law, and his sexuality. Bechdel compares her coming out as gay to his closeted gayness. I’m just going to say that the parts about her dad and his, basically, grooming of younger men did put me off slightly, as the power imbalance (he was a teacher) could have affected consent. Did anyone else wonder on this, or was that just me?

Both books are graphic memoirs, broken into different chapters which don’t necessarily flow in a chronological order. I found them both to be slightly disjointed, although interesting. Decent reads, though not favourites.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

Another graphic memoir, although this one, being more about the author herself and not disparaging of others in her life, didn’t make me quite as uncomfortable as memoirs generally do. In Relish Knisley discusses memories and food, and how the two are often linked for her. Her family is heavily involved in food and the food industry, and so food made up a large part of her life. Through the memoir she shares different memories through her life of food, cooking, and travels. Each chapter ends with a short recipe, which all looked interesting and delicious. I again found it decent but not a favourite.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppernann

I saved the best for last – this collection of poems was incredible. The collection starts with an opening poem titled The Woods:

The action’s always there.
Where are the fairy tales about gym class
or the doctor’s office of the back of the bus
where bad things also happen?
Pigs can buy cheap building materials
just as easily in the suburbs.
Wolves stage invasions. Girls spit out
cereal, break chairs, and curl beneath
covers like pill bugs or selfish grannies
avoiding the mess.
No need for a bunch of trees.
You can lost your way anywhere.

So many lines and stanzas and whole poems in this collection really resonated and could become quotable favourites. Heppernann does a great job bringing the fairy tale to every day life, showing the ways the stories we are told as children continue to both resonate through our lives and haunt our lives. She expertly skewers the beauty myths and expectations placed on young women throughout, in unsettling, dark, and beautiful poems.

You can feel free to skip the rest, but I highly recommend you pick up this one!

What have you been reading through the start of nonfiction November?

Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction

I am a huge fan of nonfiction, so am ridiculously excited about Nonfiction November! The event is being hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Leslie (Regular Rumination), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rebecca (I’m Lost In Books). The opening meme is being hosted by Kim – go on over and participate!

While I read a variety of types of books, nonfiction usually makes up between 30-40% by year-end. Right now it’s sitting at around 36% of my reading for the year so far. I’ve read 56 nonfiction books so far this year. Of those: 16 male authors, 44 female authors, 2 with trans or genderqueer authors (some were anthologies which contained multiple authors). 15 were by authors of color, another 9 were international (outside of US or Canada), and 14 included LGBTQ authors and topics.  Without really trying, mainly due to my interest in sociology and social justice, my reading tends to fall to at least 25% non-white authors and GLBTQ authors and topics.

New this year, 8 of the nonfiction titles I read were cookbooks or craftbooks. In the past I’ve not read many of these types of books. (Unsurprisingly, they skewed toward female authors, but white and het- cis- authors.) This has been due to my increased time for cooking and crafting. Another 7 could be classified as memoir – most of which I wasn’t a huge fan of (more on this later this month, I’m sure). Three were graphic novels.

Overall, quite a variety. You can see the full list of what I’ve read here.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

I am having a hard time trying to pick just one or even just a couple. I want to list over a dozen here… But let me try to at least keep it only to a dozen! Here they are in order read:

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

As has Kim, I’ve recommended The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison many times! I’ve also recommended A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory From a Prairie Landscape by Candace Savage and Israel / Palestine and the Queer International by Sarah Schulman to various friends.

(I cheated by taking these off of my favourites list and moving them here – they are all also very high on my favourite reads of the year list!)

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

Hmmm… to be honest, I think I’ve read fairly widely so far this year. I hope I can just continue that trend!

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’m mainly excited to see more bloggers talking about nonfiction – it just doesn’t get nearly enough love! I’m also hoping to help ease myself back into blogging with it.

Readathoning

Good morning, fellow readers! I decided one way to jump back into book blogging was to join the readathon, which I have only done once before, in 2010. I’m not sure how long I’ll last today, but it should be fun while it lasts anyway.

Readathon Books (1) Oct 2014

Opening Meme: 8am EST

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I’m in the lovely city of Toronto, in Ontario, Canada.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Hmm… I’m kind of winging it today, no separate stack from which to read. I did decide to start the day with three short novellas though: Never Again by Flora Nwapa, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? As with a reading stack, I’m winging it here as well. I’ll be searching the house to see what I can find shortly!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Well, I’m back to blogging, semi-regularly, for the first time in a few years, after taking a few years off because of work and personal reasons. It feels really great to be back!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? It’s been a long time since I last participated in a readathon (2010!) so I’ll probably make all the same mistakes this time. For example, in my wrap up post last time I said I’d plan better with the snacks… Oops 🙂

Happy reading!

Mini-Challenge, Coffee or Tea: 9am EST

Well, an hour in, and I’ve left a few comments, chatted a bit online, and am 50 pages in to Never Again by Flora Nwapa. It’s a short novella by the first woman novelist from Nigeria about the Biafran war in the 1960s. The novella was published in 1975.

For the mini-challenge, I’m obviously always #teamCSLewis – I have a terrible addiction to David’s Tea, with a cupboard full of at least fifteen different types of (mostly non caffeinated) teas! This morning I’m having a cup of Coco Chai Rooibos, which is a delicious chai made with rooibos, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and red peppercorns.

Readathon (2) Oct 2014

(Funny story – there is a kid’s book called My Mother is Weird, by Rachna Gilmore (author) and Brenda Jones (Illustrator) about a kid whose mom is some kind of weird monster until she has her morning coffee. We had it in both French and English when we were growing up! If you are a coffee lover, as my parents were, and have children, they might need this book!)

Quick Update: 10am EST

I’ve finished Never Again by Flora Nwapa (85 pages). It was a great examination of war, and the coercion and propaganda that go along with it. The story is told from the point of view of Kate, a mother and wife, who is realistic and dealing with the realities of being on the losing side in a war, when any realism (as opposed to optimism and patriotism) is treated as sabotage.

Now I’m moving on to The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

Another Update: 12pm EST

Well, another two hours have passed. I’m still reading The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and am 43 pages in – really enjoying it so far, as I assumed I would!

During the last two hours I also took a break to return some library books and pick up some new ones (I also couldn’t resist sharing a photo of my beautiful library on instagram), and also made some stops for snacks – the bakery for scones and the grocery store for Halloween treats, hummus, pita bread, and raspberries!

Readathon (3) Oct 2014

 

Another Update: 2pm EST

Time sure flies when you’re having fun! I’ve finished The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, which was fantastic. It is comprised of two essays, one written for his nephew, and another longer one on religion, love, the state of race relations in the United States, and more. Baldwin really was a remarkable man, as his works can attest. Despite all that he saw and all that he lived through, he advocates, in these essays, love for one another and working together, and for both white and black Americans to grow and learn. For African Americans to simply try to be like whites wasn’t, he argues very eloquently, a great aspiration or solution.

I’m now 20 pages in to At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, and so far it is slower reading, but still enjoyable. I’m not sure what I’ll pick up next!

Update: 4pm EST
It has somehow been 8 hours already, and we’re on hour 9! In the last hour I had a lot of fun creating a twitter cheer, and posting a picture of my most prized book possession (a signed first edition of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked). I’ve finished  At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, a collection of short stories which were really more like prose poetry than stories.

I’m now struggling to settle on what to read next, having picked up and set aside a few different books so far. I’m leaning toward The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, as it comes very highly recommended.

Break Time Update: 6:30pm

I’m 62 pages in to The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and really enjoying the tales so far. But, the boyfriend has arrived (he was away for a week) and got super shocked by my new hair colour, and is going to take me for fooooooood glorious food 🙂 Back to reading later!

Mid-Event Survey: 8:30pm EST

Over half-way! Spent the last two hours out eating and socializing, and now I’m back to the reading!

1. What are you reading right now? I’m still working on The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
2. How many books have you read so far? I’ve read three and a half – but all are under 110 pages 🙂
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Hmm… I’m probably going to end up sleeping for a few hours, I hate to admit it. I’m not really looking forward to it, but I’m not looking forward to anything else too much because I suspect I’ll be interrupted by sleep!
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Nothing that I wasn’t expecting!
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? Not much!

Throwing in the Towel: 11pm EST

Well, I made it to hour 16, though with a two hour break for food from 6:30-7:30. I read four (short) books: Never Again by Flora Nwapa, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, and At the Bottom of the River by Jamaica Kincaid, and The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. Together, these add up to a total of 399 pages. I also chatted a bit on twitter, shared some photos on instagram, and visited some blogs to leave comments. A successful readathon, if I may say so!

To all those with more stamina and late night abilities than I – happy reading!

Thoughts on Finding a Way to the Heart: Feminist Writings on Aboriginal and Women’s History in Canada

I picked this book up from the library because I read a review of it somewhere and thought it sounded really interesting. Here in Canada we like to have this holier-than-thou attitude where we congratulate ourselves on how well we treat minorities, and on how great we were historically to our First Nations populations as well as to black Canadians (we were the terminus of the underground railroad you know!) The truth, however, is not so rosy. While we were accepting American slaves and guarding their freedom, Canadian slaves were escaping south of the border to freedom, for example. And the most recent example of Canada being the only member country in the UN to reject an Indigenous Rights document should tell you something about our treatment, historically and in the present, of First Nations people.

Finding a Way to the Heart: Feminist Writings on Aboriginal and Women's History in Canada edited by Robin Jarvis Brownlie and Valerie J Korinek

I thought Finding a Way to the Heart: Feminist Writings on Aboriginal and Women’s History in Canada edited by Robin Jarvis Brownlie and Valerie J. Korinek would be essays on the history of women and First Nations people in Canada, for obvious reasons. While it was, but it also wasn’t what I expected either. The essays came out of a conference in honour of Sylvia Van Kirk, and revolve as much around her legacy and work as they do about specifically Canadian First Nations and women’s history (plus some New Zealand, Australia, and US history as well). The first three essays especially talked about her legacy and her life, and the remaining referenced her work in various ways while also advancing it in discussions more relevant to what I thought the book would be about.

Sylvia Van Kirk is known primarily for her thesis, published in monograph form in 1980, titled Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670-1870. It was one of the first examples of foregrounding women, especially women of colour, and the domestic sphere, in works of history – showing examples on how to locate these people within traditional archives. The work is well known and still referenced regularly, along with her later work on First Nations women in Canadian history.

Whether one studies the fur trade era or the modern western experience, sexual relationships and societal perception of those experiences are significant to understanding those societies. (page 61, ‘Daring to Write a History of Western Women’s Experiences: Assessing Sylvia Van Kirk’s Feminist Scholarship’ by Valerie J Kolinek)

There were some really interesting points made in the essays in the collection, but there were also some problematic aspects. On the positive side, I found especially great the essays regarding miscegenation laws and power in various colonies, on the ramifications of gender on maintaining status and the women protesting against the sexism in the system, and on the use of media in colonial time to perpetuate the national narratives. Overall, the essays were all well written and researched, and provide important and interesting pieces of our history.

On the other side of the coin, I found problematic the language throughout. First Nations people were sometimes referred to as Natives, as Indians, as Aboriginal (as in the title), and (very rarely) by actual tribe names. When quoting source documents, keeping the same language and naming as the source document makes sense. Within the essays outside of direct quotes, however, there didn’t seem to be much consistency, or much care to what might be the preference of those being discussed. Related to this, it seems that most of the essays are written by non-First Nations scholars. While that was raised once – on the importance of not only scholarship on First Nations history, but on the importance of First Nations scholars – the rest of the collection seemed to ignore this point, or not find it important.

Although not what I expected, and dealing more with the legacy of a scholar than with history in general, most of the essays in the collection still give it enough depth and history on the topic titles to make it worth a read – if you’re interested in things like alternate readings of history, First Nations women in Canadian history, and the importance of sexual and domestic histories.

Recommended online reading: CBC Opinion article What’s in a name: Indian, native, aboriginal or indigenous?