The Reading List

July 20, 2023 (last update)

Some of my recent reading (that doesn’t include SEC filings).

  • Britt-Marie was here
  • Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus – I really enjoyed this book,  which has a lot of threads that all come together too neatly at the end.  It is a book about a strong woman overcoming misogyny in the middle of last century.   Not at all realistic but very empowering and well written. (Read July, 2023]
  • if We Were Villans: A Novel – M.L. Rio – it took a while to get into it and much of the Shakespeare was tedious and frequently unnecessary, (to be fair, if you know Shakespeare’s work it may have made this book better and I just didn’t recognize it!) yet the book, in the end, was a good read. (Read May, 2023)
  • Book Lovers – Emily Henry – I am embarrassed to say I read this book. Entirely predictable and also easy to read. It has passed through the family like a virus and we (mostly) found it entirely enjoyable and predictable and a worthy waste of time. (Read May, 2023)
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- Rebecca Skloot – I picked this book randomly because it was supposed to be a great science/human interest story. It’s better than that. An amazing story about a woman who died, her family’s struggles, and the wealth, knowledge and monetary, that has come to others due to her death. Easy science and a great examination of the world of medicine and medical research. (Read February, 2023).
  • 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2021 edition) – Eric Cline – Another awesome book about humanity’s evolution. While reading this book, it occurred to me that everything I was taught as a child about this period of history (Egyptian mummies and pyramids encompassed most of it, but also I remember some Old Testament stuff too) has now been substantially changed by recent methods, new discoveries and a view that is less focused on religion. It is a bit hard to read in places but enlightening and very informative. (Read February, 2023)
  • the curious incident of the dog in the night-time – Mark Haddon – an autistic boy tries to figure out who killed his neighbour’s dog and grows a lot in the process. Really unique and touchingly well written. (Read November, 2022)
  • An Island – Karen Jennings – a novel about a man’s life as colonial powers sweep him up, churn through his world and the aftermath that allows him to survive. It is neatly packed and well written, although some parts are overdone and others maybe rushed. The author focuses on the history of ‘uncharted people’. (Read November, 2022)
  • The Humans – Matt Haig – a somewhat funny, somewhat wistful and a tiny bit preachy, story about a god like interstellar traveller who comes to earth and tries to integrate with the strange inhabitants of this planet. Worth the read. (Read September, 2022)
  • Ain’t Nothing But A Stranger In This World – Bruce Sudds – This is the first book from a neighbour of mine.  It is uneven, very personal, and reminds me of JD Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy which was just a way to introduce himself to the world before running for public office (overcoming personal hardship etc.).  It is a local (to me) book, and that made it interesting.  (Read July 2022)
  • Hail Mary – Andy Weir – from the author of Mars (not shown on this list, but one of the best books I’ve read in a long time), this novel is a bit more technical and involved, but a very good story about how a high school science teacher works to save the planet, with most of it while in space. (Read June 2022, thanks to Bob W)
  • A Brief History of Earth: Four billion years in 8 chapters – Andrew Knoll – I love these books that take the reader through an arc of history to describe our place in the world in sufficient detail to keep the reader moving but not too much to bore us to tears. This is a fabulous book. And unless you think that the story of Noah’s Ark is literally true, you should read it. (Finished reading in June 2022)
  • Fight Night – Miriam Toews – Another finalist in the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, When I started it was tough, by the end it was impossible to stop. A wonderful story of a trio of crazy women from the perspective of the youngest, the grand daughter. Not making this the prize winner would have been a tough call. (Read February, 2022)
  • The Listeners – Jordan Tannahill – Another finalist in the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this was a good read, although it was not very tight prose.   The story is about a woman who hears a low level buzz and the result is that her life falls apart.   (Read February, 2022)
  • What Strange Paradise – Omar El Akkad – The winner of the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this was a great read, not just for the story and writing but for the social context.   The story of a young boy, a migrant and his difficulties on the journey and at his destination it was a well packaged examination of the issues related to human migration. (Read February, 2022)
  • The Son of The House – Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onubia – Finalist for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this was a good book.   The prose was interesting and was a window into an interesting culture of which I personally know nothing.   It’s a story of two women struggling through life in Nigeria over the past 50 years with the men and boys ruling their lives being a counterpoise.   (Read February, 2022)
  • Glorious Frazzled Beings – Angelique Lalonde – I was gifted this book as part of a collection of nominees for the the Scotiabank Giller Prize (kudos to Scotiabank for supporting the arts!) and it was a very tough read.   A bunch of short stories written by an emerging author who seems to be of native descent (possibly Metis, I don’t know) or at least is very aware of the difficulties in that culture.  The book is full of suffering as well as versions of love which don’t seem to sustain the storyline.   The prose is very nice, the storylines are uneven, and it is heavy to read. (Read January, 2022).
  • The End of The Ocean – Maja Lunde – A wonderful, fictional story highlighting the damage being done to the world by those of us living woven together with a peak into a future when our children and grand children try to survive while the fresh water of the world disappears.  Better than ‘The History of Bees’ which I read last month and well worth the read. [read November 2021]
  • The Shepherds Life – James Rebanks – a nostalgic look at Sheparding in northern England by a guy who is still doing it. Not my favourite read, but I can feel his pride in the words he writes. All the more interesting because our land home is very close to some of Canada’s largest traditional sheep farms and we see and hear the sheep daily. [read October 2021]
  • The Pull of The Stars – Emma Donoghue – It was many years ago that I read ‘Room’, one of the author’s best known books and it remains a very memorable and amazing book in my mind.  When a friend suggested the Pull of The Stars, I had to read it.   I didn’t realize that Ms. Donoghue is now a Canadian, living in London, ON, so “Go Canada!”.  This book was also tightly written, had way, way, way more details on childbirth than was good for my brain and all set in a hospital in Ireland during the Great Flu of 1918.   The interesting bit is that one of the characters in the book, is based on a real life doctor and hero of the Sinn Fein movement during that period.  I won’t say more, but the history was interesting.  The book is good, but doesn’t live up to ‘Room’. [read October 2021]
  • The New Farm – Brent Preston – Brent and his wife Gillian Flies along with their two children give up life in Toronto to buy a farm in Creemore and go organic, while trying to make a business of farming.  They succeed and have a wonderful story to tell.  Worth the read, but a little preachy in places and a solid reminder that farming is really, really, really hard work although quite fulfilling in this account. [read Sept 2021]
  • The History of Bees – Maja Lunde – an interesting book (a novel, though, with some creative license on facts) about bees, bee culture and peering into a future where pollination becomes a problem. [ Read Sept 2021]
  • Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – For a period, this was one of the best selling books in America, but it was bizarre in every way.   I may never read another one of his books because of it. [Read Spring 2021]
  • Kudos – Rachel Cust – Okay, I admit it.  I was hoodwinked into buying all three books of the trilogy, but there really wasn’t any point at all.  There was never a conclusion, a point of reference or even a message.   The first one (Outline) was interesting because it took me through Athens and along the water to Sounio (all very beautiful) but nothing ever happened.  It progressed to less powerful along the way.   A lot of snippets of stories with no conclusion, just a lot of prose.   Don’t bother reading Transit or Kudos.   Outline . . . maybe, but I may just have been personally engaged because of the geography. [Read in January 2021]
  • Transit – Rachel Cusk – Another interesting read, but I am still not sure what the point is.  It seems to be a bunch of dialogue to allow Rachel to tell about events in her life while sharing the emotional and philosophical thoughts surrounding her evolution.   An interesting method, but there is little point to the stories.   Still I will read the third book to see if there is any point at the end.  The prose is good at least. [Read in January 2021]
  • Outline – Rachel Cusk – An interesting book and I went through it in a few hours, as it was pretty easy to read.  The story takes the reader to various parts of Athens which are now quite familiar to me, even the parts on the water. [Read in January 2021]
  • East of Eden – John Steinbeck – A classic – It was long but worth the read really.  Timshel, is my new favourite word. [Read spring of 2021]
  • Take Me With You – Catherine Ryan Hyde – I forgot that I read this book.  An excellent story of loss and redemption set in the Western USA.   Well written and easy to read. [Read Spring of 2020]
  • Too Much and Never Enough – Mary Trump – An inside view of Trump, his lies and cheating, and efforts to take power in the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ world we are living in now.
  • Sapiens – Yuval Harari – this is the book that I wish I wrote. I should have read it five years ago, but now is better than never. Many might find it difficult (it took me a month actually) and those who have a God may find it either offensive or enlightening but it is a great ‘brief history’ account of our place on earth.
  • Bel Canto – Ann Patchett – Another very well written story that I really enjoyed.   [Read Fall of 2018]
  • In The Garden of Beasts – Erik Larson – I read this a few years ago, but with Trump’s actions, I wish all of my readers would read this historically accurate account of Hitlers’ first years in power. It is a great example of how powerful forces can slowly alter the balance of society by raising up some and diminishing others. When done without a conscience, the outcome can be both disastrous and unintended.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – The latest edition has a nice forward from Margaret Atwood. It is an interesting dystopian examination of misogyny and how fanatical beliefs can lead to unintended loss of freedom for ‘non-believers’.
  • The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway – A Classic Novel.  One of many that I expect to attack this year . . . we will see if I get through them. [Read fall of 2019]
  • I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella – A nice little love story. [Read Fall of 2019]
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – A wonderful story from the bogs and swamps of North Carolina.   [Read Summer 2019]
  • 1984 – George Orwell – A reminder from my days in high school and well worth re-reading.  This is particularly meaningful in the age of Trump, Putin and Xi.  [Read Fall of 2019]
  • Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami – A Japanese coming of age novel.  The official English translation was an excellent read but the novel was emotionally taxing.
  • Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
    • The author has a few mental issues (truthfully, that’s why her blog is a big hit), and this book made me laugh out loud a number of times.   It is not a novel, it’s a series of short essays and a bit over the top at times, and a bit of a downer at others.   Sounds a bit like the author’s disease.  It was an easy and enjoyable read. [Read January 2018]
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a family and Culture in Crisis
    • What started out as an interesting story quickly became a ‘make me famous’ story of success and stamina to overcome a very troubled past.  Interesting, but then you realize he was contemplating a run for the US senate just after it’s publication and well . . .
  • The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway – [Read Winter of 2018]
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson – [Read Winter of 2018]
  • Educated – Tara Westover – Wonderful story about overcoming history and the family that doesn’t want to let you out.  [Read Fall of 2018]
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House
    • Reading this tome has given voice to all of my inclinations about Donald Trump. For years while he has been building his image I have stated emphatically that he is a terrible businessman and an idiot and the machinations uncovered for this book clarify my assertions. Enough said. It’s a good read, but only if you are interested in the internal workings of a dysfunctional, budding dictatorship.
  • Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
    • This book meanders through the life story of Kathy H. The prose is very appealing and the book is an easy read, but it lacks any real excitement, just a sustained level of modest intrigue for what will happen to Kathy and her friends.
  • Bad Girl, by Mario Vargas Llosa
    • As I started this book I got the feeling it was a biography, and the details are magnificent, if somewhat distracting, but certainly lend an air of authenticity to the characters. A great story about love, social climbing and the vagaries of time.
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
    • This is one of the best selling books of all time and I can understand why, but really, don’t bother reading it. It’s just blather about mystical reasons for justifying whatever path your on. A good book on planning would be more helpful.
  • Red Notice, by Bill Browder
    • This book should be read by everyone who wants to understand the dangers of dealing with Russia, their corrupt regime and the consequences for the world at large. This small bit of modern corporate and political drama is still playing out on the international scene (Canada recently passed the Magnitsky Act). [Read Fall of 2017]
  • Londongrad, by Mark Hollingsworth & Stewart Lansley
    • Just starting this one, but it looks to be a nice bit of research along the lines of Red Notice.   If you weren’t already worried about Putin, Xi, Trump and the rest of the leaders seeking absolute control of their country and indeed the world, these stories should scare the crap out of you.  Certainly they should cause you to use your freedom to vote!! … [Update – August, 2018]  Finally finished.  This is not an easy book to read, with lots of details regarding the oligarchs, their minions and their transactions.   I am particularly interested in the effects of this money trail on everyday citizens.  With the ‘easy money’ pushing up prices on assets and causing distortions in sovereign markets.   This book details effects on housing, autos, art and other luxury goods, but also does a good job of describing how the middle class was moved out of the way by this surge of spending.   Also some notes regarding the inefficient taxation caused by these actions. [Read Fall of 2017]
  • The Immortalists, by Chole Benjamin
    • An interesting read about a group of children and how their fates are all intertwined and seemingly controlled by a gypsy fortune teller.  An interesting depiction of the gay scene in San Francisco in the 70’s as well as a depiction of life for an artsy high school drop out and her struggle to achieve her dream.   The overall story isn’t very realistic, but these depictions were well done.
  • Broken For You – Stephanie Kallos – Another memorable book that I forgot to list previously.  It meanders a bit and is perhaps a bit overwrought in various places, but the book and writing are still memorable.  [Read Summer of 2017]
  • The Organized Mind – Daniel Levitin – This is one of my favourite books ever. The confusion of modern society may make winners of some but others are paralyzed by the same environment. I constantly talk about these concepts with my friends and family when I see them struggle with simple things. It’s a must read to avoid being overwhelmed no matter how your think! (Read 2017)
  • The Art of Vanishing (A memoir of Wanderlust), by Laura Smith
    • So I bought this book because it was to be an examination of what drives someone to drop everything and leave . . . it was not at all as expected.   This is a story of author Barbara Follett who wrote two books before the age of 16 and then suffered through much of the rest of her (known) life until she (apparently) walked away from her life at 25 and has never been seen or heard from again.  It is intertwined with the author’s own story about wanting to avoid societal norms and her attempts at the same, including trying an ‘open marriage’ with her husband.   This book was nothing like what I expected and a fascinating read.  I read it in 24 hours and had to know what happened to Barbara Follett.  I would tell you what I know, but that would spoil the book.

4 thoughts on “The Reading List

  1. .. and to think I thought Freezing Order was a new way to get anti-freeze for my car and Red Notice was a fine you got after racing through traffic lights on stop until I finished my MI6 induction program by studying Bill Browder’s books and the epic non-fiction stand-alone spy novel, Beyond Enkription (misspelt intentionally) in The Burlington Files series. These books are all must reads for espionage cognoscenti. Do look up the authors or books mentioned on Amazon, Google The Burlington Files or visit and read the news article Bill Browder would have loved to have written dated July 21, 2021 (updated since) about FSB infiltration of and influence in the British and US governments.

  2. I read a lot of Ken Follett. His latest Never is a present day political thriller with a bad ending… hit a bit close with the current goings on in the world.

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