My Favourite Reads of 2015

Another year has come and gone and while I didn’t get to read as many books as I normally would have this last year, I did read some behemoth novels that have been on my to-read list for a while.

These are my top favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2016:

Top Non-Fiction:

3) Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee: A heart-retching memoir of a man who sacrificed everything, including leaving his family, to escape the worn torn and intolerable country he grew up in to move to Canada.

2) The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King: An extremely relevant read for any Canadian. King’s writing is casual an approachable but gives you the perfect glimpse in to the real lives and issues that still exist for the Native American’s in Canada and the US.

1)  Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War by Che Ernesto Guevara: Picked up this book while I was in Cuba in order to learn a little bit about the country’s history. Che is an exceptional storyteller and he provides amazing details about a very turbulent time in Cuba’s history.

Top Fiction:

5) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: After a few recommendations, I caved and read this book and it was absolutely worth reading. The story is about regret, discovery and the rekindling of relationships, love and meaning.

4) Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives by David Eagleman: Short and sweet, this novella contains short stories about the afterlife that are sure to make you go “hmmm”.

3) The Martian by Andy Weir: Probably the biggest book of the year and it’s no coincidence. This book is clever, funny and absolutely riveting. If you’ve seen the movie, it truly doesn’t compare to the awesomeness of this book. Read me!

2)  And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier: One of the most beautiful books on death I’ve ever read. Part of the Canada Reads 2015 shortlist, this is one Canadian read you’ll want to add to your list.

1) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage OR 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: I hadn’t realized that I managed to read two books by Murakami this year! He is now one of my favourite authors. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is Murakami’s latest piece and I loved it. I can’t decide if I loved more than 1Q84, which is considered one of Murakami’s greatest works.  You either love Murakami or you don’t but the man’s work speaks volumes to me. Almost literally, since most of his books are absolutely massive. Add him to your reading list though if you’ve never tried anything by him; Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a reasonable length too and great place to start.

 

How to Read More – For Busy People

cat book

Want to know how to flatter me? Comment on my reading habits. I love it when people comment on their perception of how much I read . I’ve had co-workers ask me, “So how many books have you read this week?” and I can’t lie, I love it.  What they don’t know is that I don’t read as many books as they probably envision me reading, at least not in comparison to some of the heavy hitters in the reading realm. I usually read around 50 books a year. Give or take 5 or 10 books depending on what lengths of novels I chose to read that year. That’s almost a book a week which I don’t think is too terrible but it does however pale in comparison to the 100 to 200+ book readers that I envy on Goodreads.

With that being said, like many, I’m a busy individual. Which brings me to the number one question that I get asked: “How do you find time to read so many books?” Well, here are some easy tips on how to read more books:

  1. Carry a book with you everywhere. – Take your book off your night stand and start taking it with you. This way there is no excuse. Don’t want the bulk of a book? Get an eReader or download books onto your tablet or phone. Kindle and Kobo have apps that can be read on both.
  2. Turn smart phone time into book time – Waiting in line? Got 15 minutes to kill before an appointment or meeting? Before you pull out your phone, pull out a book instead.  Not only is this time more productive, it’s also more enjoyable. Heck, it’s also super sexy to see strangers reading a real book in public.
  3. Take your lunches – A lot of people I know work through their lunches which can be detrimental to a person’s productivity and stress levels. Take a book break. Find a quiet corner or step out of the office and get some fresh air on a bench or lounge in cafe. Or better yet, a pub. I can’t emphasize enough how great local pubs are for reading (and you can drink beer).
  4. Turn off the TV – After a long day of work, most people just want to relax right? People default to the TV for this unfortunately. Did you know that reading is the one the best methods of reducing stress? Out of TV, video games, drinking a cup of tea or going for a walk, reading topped the list by reducing stress by up to 68%! Also, another study says that TV can lead to feelings of guilt and failure. Just thought I’d throw in another reason to read more…
  5. Make it a social event – Have any bookish friends or some that are willing to spend some time with you while reading? Give it a shot! I mean, we watch movies and play games with friends and family, so why not with books? Even better, turn it into a book club. You  can also drink at these events well. Bonus.
  6. Join or start a book club – Looking for an incentive to keep you accountable to your reading goals? Start or join a book club. Most clubs have a set date a deadline the book has to be read by in order to discuss it.
  7. 20 pages a day – Set a goal to read a set amount of pages in a day. Make this goal attainable so that it doesn’t feel like a chore and if you miss a day don’t beat yourself up as you’ll be defeating the point.
  8. Set a time – Like all things that are important, you find the time in your day to make room for it. Like an exercise regime, make time to read. Make it your time, where you won’t be interrupted.
  9. Set a reading goal – If you get satisfaction in checking items of checklists and are goal driven, then setting a reading goal for the year might be a good idea for you. Goodreads has a goal setting feature that allows you to set the amount of books that you’re hoping to read in a year and will keep track of all of the statistics for you, including your previous year’s goal. Goodreads is also a great place to find recommendations and is highly addictive!

There you have it my book fiends. READ MORE BOOKS!

 

Canada Reads 2015

 Canada-Reads-2015

While it took me longer than I would have liked I have finished reading the 5 finalists in this year’s Canada Reads competition. The theme for this year is books that break barriers and the declared winner was Ru by Kim Thuy, a selection I actually agree with. In regards to the debates, I am happy with how this one panned out. I’m glad that When Everything Feels Like The Movies made it to the final round, despite and because of its controversy.  You can watch all of the debates on CBC’s website. In terms of how much I enjoyed the books though, this is how I would rank them (links to my reviews included):

1) And The Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier – One of the most beautiful books I’ve read in years. It’s the remarkable story of a few elderly characters who choose to die in their own way. Through their journey the characters start to find, that even at their age, there is still always something to be learned.

2) Ru By Kim Thuy – Poetic and moving, this book depicts the harsh realities of a refugees/immigrants coming to Canada. The book broke barriers with its writing style and harsh truths.

3) When Everything Feels Like The Movies by Raziel Reid –  The most controversial book in this series. In terms of breaking barriers,  I felt that this book topped them all. The book contains graphic and violent homosexual content involving the bullying of a teen. The book is relevant as the story mirrors an actual even that took place in Canadian history.

4) Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee – Another remarkable story of immigration and suffering. The writing style is what bumped this book down the list for me rather than the content. The sacrifices and guilt that the author has had to live with in terms of his choices for a better life are hard to imagine but make for an interesting read.

5) Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King – I wanted to rank this book higher but in terms of the other books in this series it just didn’t stack up as well. This book is a very important book for Canadians to read and King broke a lot of barriers with his brash honesty and style of writing.

Onward to 2016! I wonder what next years theme will be?