2021

reading goal: 30 books - at least 5 non-fiction books - no more than 5 re-reads.

january

Cover of Entangled Life - detailed illustrations of various fungi surround the title.

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

read

⭐⭐⭐⭐

a carryover from 2020. thanks to a particular fungiform dome, I got rather interested in fungi last fall. then I happened to come across this book and its gorgeous cover. (plants, and mushrooms especially, were my favourite subjects when I was learning to sketch.)

since I hardly ever read non-fiction, I thought I'd give this a try. the language on a purely aesthetic level is gorgeous. as for the content, it was surprisingly compelling. then again, perhaps it isn't so surprising—I am fascinated by community, connection, and communication, which are all ideas central to the world of fungi.

Cover of the English translation of Vi

Vi by Kim Thúy translated by Sheila Fischman

read

⭐⭐⭐⭐

a short book I chose because it is this year's One eRead Canada pick. definitely not something I would have picked up on my own and gosh I'm glad I found my way to it. this is a book about Vietnam, about being an immigrant, about family, about growing up.

it's broken up into vignettes, some as short as a page, which I vibed with—my brain can focus for long periods of time, but it's easier to do so if I have an off-ramp every five minutes. I don't know why I'm like this, but these bite-sized "chapters" were perfect. I devoured this thing.

here's a metaphor: there's this fancy crepe place downtown. my favourite thing to get is a simple, sweet crepe with strawberries and banana. the ingredients are fresh, the crepe is warm, and they serve it to you elegantly wrapped in a napkin. that was this book. warm and sweet and precious. brief, but utterly lovely.

february

Cover of Burnout

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski

read

⭐⭐⭐

a friend was reading this and thought it might appeal. certainly there's a lot of "yes, I know," but just as soon as I feel like I can walk down the street without looking, I bang into a lamp post. oof. that's how the revelations hit, like walking into a post and having two kind strangers rush up to help.

I think the "compassionate older sister" vibe the authors were going for comes through in the book. it's a handy guidebook, sprinkled with stories and science. the first couple chapters felt the most revelatory—but then, I've been writing about cycles for the past ten years. they come up again and again in my fiction, characters feeling stuck in some cycle...and the solution is not, perhaps, to break out of that cycle, but to complete it. hmm.

Cover of A Hat Full of Sky

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

read

⭐⭐⭐⭐

back into the world of Tiffany Aching and witches and the Wee Free Men. the philosophy of Pratchett's witches is something to be admired. each witch comes at her craft in a different way, and we recognize all of them: there are the ones in it for the aesthetic, with their sparkling cloaks and sky-scraping hats; there are practical witches, who do their best to teach sense and help out; and then there are great witches who don't let truth get in the way of a good story—because people find it easier to believe in goblins and wee mike-row-skop-ick beasties who live in the water and make you ill.

a proper page-turner this. not for an particularly tense cliff-hangers, but simply because I cared, and I liked the story, and I wanted to know what happened next. Terry, I think I will owe you a thousand thank yous before I finish even ten of your books.

march

Cover of Wintersmith

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

read

⭐⭐⭐⭐

sometimes, in stories, things happen to the main character. external pressures change their life. Bilbo leaves Frodo a ring, which turns out to be The Ring, and well...

but this is a book about consequences. Tiffany makes a mistake, and spends the rest of the book trying to sort it out. this is a book about responsibility. what it means to be a witch and the duty you have to others.

on the face of it, Pratchett's Discworld universe is a bit mad. I mean, any universe that has Feegles in it has got to be a bit mad. but though this is a world with tiny blue men and a Goddess of Things That Get Stuck in Drawers and witches who attend their own funerals, it is a world in which I think you'd be able to work out your place and make sense of it. whether you are witch or prince or god or shepherd, you have certain responsibilities and the world needs you to keep on turning.

Cover of In Five Years

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle (audiobook narrated by Megan Hilty)

read

⭐⭐⭐

for an audiobook I picked up on a whim, expecting a run-of-the-mill romance, this book surprised me. it subverted the usual romance novel tropes to create an unexpectedly pleasing story about love, friendship, expectations, and desire. nicely done. after growing up on Sarah Dessen novels, this was a welcome read.

on the shelf

Cover of Paingod and Other Delusions

Paingod and Other Delusions by Harlan Ellison

currently(ish)

started in february and continuing with, like, a story a fortnight.

a stretch read for me; outside my usual genres. never read any Harlan Ellison before (except maybe "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"? can't remember) and not sure I will again. "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" was excellent. perhaps it appealed to me as a chronic procrastinator. reading experience in general has been at least educational when not entertaining. a nice grip on dialects. bold style choices.