Tagged: 40 Below

Reading Roundup: November 2013

Is there a statute of limitations on monthly roundups? Let’s hope not! Already 20% into December (and #Middlemarch13,) so let’s do this.

Book Events:
40 Below Official Launch #1: 
I’m really impressed by the continued buzz around this local, indie book. I only attended one of the two official launches, but it seems everywhere I turn I’m hearing about a TV appearance, or seeing the book on the bestseller list – really well done, 40 Below crew!

Dani Paradis reads her contribution to 40 Below

Dani Paradis reads her contribution to 40 Below

I got my book signed straightaway by mastermind Jason Lee Norman and contributors Michael Hingston and Dani Paradis. Dani read her poem about her hippy parents, which may or may not be based on a true story.  There were a few awkward moments when people asked me to sign their books because they thought I was her – I guess I can see how brown hair + glasses + purple sweater + sitting as same table was confusing. I’ll take it as a compliment as Dani is much younger and more fashionable than I!

Vernon R. Wishart was my favourite reader. His story about his wife’s speedy Christmas Day labour and delivery was even funnier read aloud. I learned that it was a true story, as that Christmas baby, now in her 50s, was in the audience.



Don Perkins didn’t read, but he did write my favourite sentence in the whole book, and signed right next to it with a real fountain pen! Check out his take on the event here.

Martin gets extra points for signing books with a real fountain pen.

Before heading home, I bonded with fellow 40 Below reject Matthew Stepaniac and had a good chat about book blogging. Watch for a post very soon about his Bookstravaganza project.

(I also attended a little event with Margaret Atwood this month, which you can read about here.)

Books Read:
For once I actually posted about most of the books I read this month, thanks to Novellas in November and #ReadWilkie. Here are the two exceptions:

  • Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann: I was let down by this book, which was billed as The Great Gatsby meets The Talented Mr. Ripley. It’s a character study that moves through five people’s perspectives, and unfortunately, each narrator is weaker than the last. 
  • Why Here? by Michelle Ferguson: Similar thematically to her debut From Away, Why Here? is a better written sophomore novel but has a terrible title. Full review to come.

Books I Want to Read:EatIt
I suddenly have a slew of non-fiction books to read. I’ll probably wait till January to get to them, given my Middlemarch ambitions. Non-Fiction New Year? More about those later, but let’s give a quick shout-out to Eat It, a collection of women’s writing on sex and food, for having a great title. I also added On Beauty by Zadie Smith, my Classic Club Spin pick (was to lazy to do a post) and discovered it’s the only Smith book that doesn’t appear to even exist at the library.

Coming up on the blog:

  • Middlemarch Read-Along hosted by Too Fond: Intro post coming soon (hopefully no statute of limitations on those, either) but so far, so good. I feel like I’m learning a life lesson on every page.
  • Storytellers Book Club: Finally getting into this! I’m reading Alice Munro’s The Progress of Love. I’m five stories in and each one is better than the last.
  • 2013 Wrap Up: Might do another vlog. Hope I can do it in fewer than five takes, unlike last time.

In the interests of time, I’m skipping the list of blog posts that usually appears here. Tell me all of your December reading plans! Are they ambitious like mine, or are you taking it easy for the holidays?

40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology edited by Jason Lee Norman

40 Below: Edmonton's Winter Anthology edited by Jason Lee Norman | Published in 2013 by Wufniks Press | Paperback: 205 pages | Source: Review copy from the editor

40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Anthology edited by Jason Lee Norman | Published in 2013 by Wufniks Press | Paperback: 205 pages | Source: Review copy from the editor

My rating: 4/5 stars


40 Below is Edmonton’s Winter Anthology. Stories, poems, and essays about or inspired by winter in Edmonton.

Like many (most?) book bloggers, I have some writerly ambitions of my own. Last winter, I spent the tail end of my maternity leave picking away at a submission for the 40 Below anthology. There’s nothing like a new baby and a two-year-old to make you feel the isolation of an Edmonton winter, so my story wasn’t particularly positive. Nor was it particularly good. Earier this year I received a very nice, personalized rejection email from editor Jason Lee Norman (author of Americas, my review here.) I have absolutely no hard feelings (it was pretty bad) and really enjoyed the whole process of writing and revising. If nothing else, it gave me something to do at 2am other than the usual dead-eyed scrolling through Twitter.

I was excited to find out who did make the cut. It’s a who’s who of Edmonton writers, including a whole bunch who’ve been reviewed here on Reading in Bed: Michael Hingston, Jessica Kluthe, Diana Davisdon, and Jennifer Quist. Not that it’s all #yegwrites establishment. There are plenty of authors I’ve never heard of, and even a couple of kids. Variety is the strong point of the collection. With that in mind, here are a few of my picks:

  • Story that I related to on a personal level: Sirens by Diana Davidson. It actually resulted in a Twitter therapy session as two other Edmonton book bloggers and I read it around the same time. They both happen to be pregnant, and Davidson’s story is about a first-time mother struggling with postpartum depression in the dead of winter. I brought my first baby home in literal 40 Below weather and went through postpartum depression too. Davidson gets it just right and I was shaking at the end.
  • Favourite very short story, I’m talking 9 sentences: Moon Calling by Don Perkins. Mostly for the last sentence: “But that moment of the infant embracing its own future ripeness, that’s the moon that calls.” You have to read the other eight, trust me.
  • Story that’s really a parenting lesson: A Winter Lesson by Alan Schietzsch. That lesson? Go outside. Your kids don’t feel the cold.
  • Story that reminds you exactly of being a kid: Sandwich Season by Margaret MacPherson. Kids are weird and do weird things, just like in this story.
  • Story that I didn’t want to end: Conversation by Ky Perraun. I read it and then read it again because I need to know what happened!

This book is an obvious buy for anyone who is into the arts scene here in Edmonton, but I think it has some crossover appeal too. It’s actually a great gateway drug for people who don’t read short stories. The pieces tend to be very short, and the theme is very accessible, so it’s easy to dip in and out. It would be so cool if people in other Northern climates, or even those who don’t talk about wind chill for six month of the year, picked up this book. I’d love to read some non-local reactions. I also think it would make a great bathroom book and I mean that as a compliment.  I am very picky about what books are kept in my bathroom.

Oh and if you were wondering, my story was about my memories of New Years Eve 1997, when we got the first snow of the year and the temperature dropped from zero to minus twenty over the course of a few hours. I was out without a coat (because: teenager) and made a rash decision based on getting out of the cold that affected my life for years afterward. Maybe I’ll try to fix it up someday!

 I hear winter’s about to hit Edmonton this weekend. Should be plenty of snow on the ground for the two 40 Below launch events:

Thank you to the editor for sending me a review copy of this book!

PS: Reading in Winter reviewed it too. 

Top Five: Fall 2013 Books by Edmonton Authors

I wrote about reading local last year, and why I think it’s important. I don’t know if there’s an exceptional crop of Edmonton books out this season, or if I’m just paying more attention, but I’ve got a short list that could rival any hoity-toity book award. Here are my most anticipated #yegbooks for Fall 2013. Which ones are on your To Be Read list?

1. Love Letters to the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist


The basics:

  • Release date: August 3, 2013
  • Goodreads
  • I received a review copy from the publisher, Linda Leith, but assure you it was my most anticipated book before that happened.

Why I want to read it:

  • I love Jennifer’s blog. Every post has me nodding my head in agreement. She’s a beautiful writer.
  • She got a great review in the Montreal Review of Books.
  • The novel is about a happy marriage. I like to read about dysfunction so much that maybe I need to change things up.
  • A personal connection. The set up is the death of the main character’s mother just before his wife gives birth. My husband lost his father just weeks before our first baby, and I didn’t deal with it very well. I’m looking forward to a fresh perspective on life and death (yep, my expectations are pretty high!) Continue reading