Category: Features

In the Year 2000…. (Choose the Year Booktag)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Oilers made the playoffs, but got eliminated in the first round. The Sopranos was on the air, but I had to watch it with my parents because I still lived at home. I was reading chick lit and dude bro memoirs, but not Harry Potter. Let’s take a closer look at the books of the year 2000!

Mel of the booktube channel Mel’s Bookland Adventures created a tag that’s more of an open invitation to explore books from a year of your choosing. Many on booktube are choosing their birth years, but there’s something quaint and strange about the year 2000 that I wanted to revisit.

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Literary Fiction Book Tag

In a book blog/booktube cross pollination initiative (sounds very official!) headed up by Rachel and Claire, this is a tag that originated on booktube, now making the rounds in blogland. If you have pivoted to video, you may watch me blather on for 17 minutes here:

And for reference, the original version of this tag is by Jasmine’s Reads:

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Clearing the decks and caveats: 20 Books of Summer 2019

Clearing the decks

We are less than a week out from the start of 20 Books of Summer, so of course I’m in the middle of a bunch of books. I’m trying to clear the decks so I can start my first book, Paul Auster’s Winter Journal, with a clear schedule (see my full TBR here). Here’s what I have to deal with first:

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

For Mel’s Read Around the World Book Club, which I am taking part in for the first time. Reading an author I’m familiar with, and who lives in my hometown, seems a little contrary to the spirit of “reading around the world”, but I’m glad to finally take part. Mel is a favourite on Booktube, and recently made a video just for me, after I publicly announced my incompetence when it comes to video editing. The book itself is a tricky one: I DNF’d it a few years ago, and this time around, I was well past 100 pages by the time the story started to click. I would recommend Son of a Trickster over this one.

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20 Books of Summer 2019

Cathy of 746 Books has been running the 20 Books of Summer challenge since 2014, and after watching the first five rounds from afar, I’m jumping in.

The idea is to read *and review* 20 books over the summer (June 3 – September 3). Cathy is quite reasonable about swapping out books if needed, adjusting targets etc. That said, I shall try to stick to the list below, which was created with a random number generator and a list of my physical TBR (currently sitting at 80 books), and some executive decision making – I stacked the deck in favour of Women in Translation month in August. I may substitute library ebooks or audiobooks for the paper copies, but will try to stick to the list and read in order, too.

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Literary Smut: An appreciation and some recommendations

Inspired by some recent racy reads, I made a video about smutty literary fiction (as opposed to smutty smut). I’ve blogged about sexy times in books a few times here on Reading in Bed, but talking about it with my voice (and my face!) is another prospect, and a little cringey. I’m glad I did it though, because I got some great recommendations for further highbrow smuttery in the comments. I’d like to share them with all of you, and of course, ask you for even more – I’ll update the post.

There’s not much Franzen in this video, this was just the best default thumbnail option and I’m too lazy to make my own

The books I mentioned are:

  • Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce (trigger warning for everything)
  • Smut by Alan Bennett (wonderful!)
  • The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous (an oldie but a goodie)
  • After Claude by Iris Owens (more trigger warnings!)
  • Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas (this one wasn’t great, nor is it literary fiction. In case you don’t make it that far in the vid)

The books other recommended to me are:

  • Stranger by the Lake (a movie, but including it, why not!)
  • Love Life by Zeruya Shalev
  • Skin Lane by Neil Bartlett
  • “Housewife” by Jenny Diski (in the collection The Vanishing Princess)
  • Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
  • House of Holes by Nicholson Baker
  • Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke
  • The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
  • The Pisces by Melissa Broder
  • Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes
  • Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger
  • The Change Room by Karen Connelly

Send me some recs, and let me know what you think of explicit sex in lit fic.

(Taking a) Break (from) the Internet

douglas-coupland-i-miss-my-pre-internet-brain-800x800

From Douglas Coupland’s “Slogans for the 21st Century”

This is a self-indulgent post (“as opposed to what?” you may well ask) meant to solidify my plans and give myself a little accountability, but it could be used it as a guide or jumping off point for anyone looking to take a break from the internet.

Yes, let’s go with that.

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Novellas in November 2018 Round Up #2

And wrap up, because it’s over!

Novellas read: 13
Goodreads Challenge: momentarily caught up, already behind again
Five-star reads: 2

Since my last update, I read eight more novellas. In the spirit of #NovNov, here they are, very briefly reviewed:

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

I thought this was a book about race, but it’s really about the relationship between religion and race and America, all in about 100 pages. Continue reading

Ten Rules for the Reader of Novels

Franzen serious

Franzen and I are judging you

With apologies to Jonathan Franzen and, to a lesser extent, Teddy Roosevelt and Lynn Coady.

  1. The author is not a friend, an adversary, nor a performer. I mean, they might be dead, for one thing. But a book can be a friend. So can other readers.
  2. Fiction that doesn’t inspire a reader’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth reading (unless you’re in the mood for something other than a personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown, in which case, go for it.)
  3. Cultivate a literary pet peeve. When you see it, underline it and write “UGH” in the margin. Mine is misuse of “begs the question”.
  4. Read The Catcher in the Rye and other first person coming of age novels while you’re young. Those stories won’t be as interesting when you’re older.
  5. Wikipedia rabbit holes are fun, but remember, novels are fiction. Even historical novels. Even novels that seem to portray real people.
  6. You can find yourself in a novel by matching up the author’s or main character’s socio-demographic profile to your own, but try to read novels that “find” you in places you’ve never been or experienced, too.
  7. You read more sitting still than chasing after. Unless it’s an audio book and you’re involved in a car chase?
  8. Reading and the internet go together in ways that are difficult for some to imagine. But for real, put your phone away after 9:00 pm and read for the rest of the night.
  9. Don’t discount novels written in simple language as simple, or assume a novel written in complex language is complex.
  10. You have to love an author before you can relentlessly make fun of them.

 

Novellas in November 2018 Round Up #1

I’m back in the saddle and my Goodreads challenge is officially ON NOTICE:

goodreadschallenge

I haven’t been within three books in a while!

We are not quite halfway though #NovNov and I’ve read five novellas totaling approximately 700 pages. In other words, over five books, I’ve read nowhere near the equivalent of this year’s summer read-along, The Count of Monte Cristo. I think I got more out of these pages, though. Read on for appropriately brief reviews, also coming soon to Booktube.

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Goodreads says this has 208 pages, but it doesn’t. It has 180 some and that’s including several illustrations and half-blank pages of verse. Split Tooth is a novel in the sense that Flights by Olga Tokarczuk is, in that it’s fragmentary, or like Han Kang’s The White Book is, in that it’s really poetry, and definitely reminds me of Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, in that as much as it’s a coming of age story, and universal, it’s nearly impossible to separate the art from the author here, and you wouldn’t want to. I’ve been advised that the audio book is essential, and when the book is read by the author, and the author is a Polaris Music Prize winning Inuit throat singer who’s collaborated with Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bjork, that almost goes without saying.

I’m also pretty sure this will be the best book I read in which a woman has carnal relations with the northern lights. Continue reading

A brief history of Novellas in November

“Novellas in November” was conceived of by Rick of Another Book Blog five years ago, in 2013. His original post is lost to the mists of defunct WordPress blogs, but you can read mine here. Over the years, others came along for the ride, notably our fellow Canadian book bloggers Naomi at Consumed by Ink and CJ at ebookclassics. I have probably been the most consistent participant, but I wasn’t really a host.

People have been asking (okay… one person asked and it was Novellas in November alum Rebecca) about the history of this event, and while I maintain that it has been sustained these past five years by the sheer power of alliteration, there is just a little more to it than that.

novellasinnovember2015

circa 2015

Rick wasn’t *quite* the first to pick up a novella in November. I can trace a “Novella November” challenge as far back as 2009. A blog called “Bibliofreak” seems to be the source, but it doesn’t exist anymore. Some past participants in this iteration include noted blogger, podcaster, Booktuber and Man Booker Prize correspondent Simon Savidge, new-to-me Lizzy’s Literary Life, and blogs I used to read, like Things Mean A Lot and Fleur in Her WorldContinue reading