Books of 2014

2014-1

2014-2

So, each year I attempt to read around 45-60 books. And since I’ve started keeping track in 2012, I’ve nailed those numbers last year and this year (2012 saw me read a piddly 39 books). It’s fun to keep track of, although, I find that any time I do this kind of thing I find myself pushing myself a little too hard. But this year has been fun and I’ve read 55 books to date, with 3 more that I hope to finish by the end of the year.

So, even though I have 3 to go, I feel that I can definitely do a top 10. Before the top ten though, I would like to share with you The Best book I read this year, and The Most Important book I read this year.

The Best Book of 2014 (IMO)

This year it is a toss up for me between A Prayer For Owen Meany and 2001: A Space Odyssey. These books are amazing, and I am glad that I took the plunge and read them this year. John Irving and Arthur C. Clarke are outstanding writers who use language in a delightfully simple and fluid way that can capture your imagination and titillate your senses.

The Most Important Book I read in 2014…

It’s a tough one this year. I read a lot of books, and some incredibly insightful and important ones (which you’ll see on my top 10 down below). But I think I’m going to have to say that Matt Taibbi’s The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap is my choice for most important book I read this year. His insights are quietly disturbing. At times you wonder how he’s going to bring some of his narratives together, they seem so disparate, but when he does…BAM! it’s like a bolt of lightning! This book is blindingly illuminating.

So, without further ado, here’s my…

Top 10 For 2015 (in no particular order)

  1. The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  3. A Prayer For Owen Meany
  4. In Search of April Raintree
  5. Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation
  6. Oryx and Crake
  7. The Emperor’s Soul
  8. Blasphemy
  9. Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past
  10. Persepolis

Well, there you have it, my top books of 2014. I love feedback so if there’s a book you’d like to recommend to me, please leave the title and author in the comments below and I will try to read it in the coming year! Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for my top movies/tv shows of 2014 πŸ™‚

End of Year lists…

end of year list image

That’s right. It’s that time of year when EVERYONE has their end of year lists: books, movies, beer, restaurants, etc…

I will be compiling my own lists for the end of this year even though I haven’t updated this site in eons.

So, stay tuned my loyal (and few) followers!

p.s. some fun media facts about this year so far… 104 movies watched & 55 books read (which, according to goodreads.com, is 16,308 pages read!!!)

“10th Anniversary Showcase”

I haven’t officially posted on this yet because I’ve been too busy with producing, directing and assistant stage managing it. So, instead of actually posting about the show, I’m just gonna share with you the flickr slideshow of the best of our archival shots from last night. Enjoy πŸ™‚

(Oh you can enjoy a post by one of the actors, ‘Manda Whitney, on her blog about CheezWhiz)

Orphan Black

My 2013 watch list…

Last year I watched 101 different movies/tv shows. You can check out the individual titles by clicking on this link –> http://www.imdb.com/rg/s/1/list/uIQNhRyj7RI/ that will take you to my public 2013 watch list.

Here are my top 10 list from what I watched last year.

Caveats:

  • This is a list of what I watched, NOT what came out last year
  • I have not included ones that I have already seen, otherwise at least half of this list would look the same from year to year πŸ˜‰
  • I do not necessarily recommend all of these movies. We all have different sensibilities. I recommend looking at the IMDB.com information on the movies listed below to see if there’s anything in there you may find offensive.
  • These are not even the highest rated of what I watched last year, just my favourites πŸ™‚

Pina

My Dinner with Andre

Frozen

Breaking Bad

Pacific Rim

Orphan Black

Winter's Bone

ParaNorman

The Gatekeepers

The World's End

My Privilege

hard to see racism when you're white
I have been, emotionally, going through a lot these past number of years. It’s a journey that has taken on a new intensity recently, but in all honesty, this journey, around privilege, is one that began while I was dating my wife (before she was my wife that is).

There was a moment, which I think she’ll remember, a moment in a coffee shop when I was talking rather loudly about something which was probably best for me not to talk about so loudly (or publicly). She then calmed me down, and drew my attention to someone listening whose posture reflected how they processed what I had said: sadness and disappointed. I was brought low, crashing into the reality of the situation, and realized my mistake. I went over to this person and apologized. It wasn’t easy. It was probably one of the single most difficult things I’ve ever had to do (next to being a parent, which NEVER STOPS and also happens to have the most wonderful surprises on a daily basis).
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American Gods – my dream cast…

American Gods - Neil Gaiman
The more I hear about American Gods being made into a TV series the more excited I get. However I also get antsy about casting and direction and stuff like that. So, I’ve decided that, for all it’s worth, and that’s not very much granted, I am going to share with the internet my dream cast for the rumoured show. Please note, this is not an exhaustive cast list, there are so many side stories and characters that I couldn’t possibly do this for all of them. However, there are a lot here and this was fun to think about πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy my speculations as much as I enjoyed making them!
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Books of 2013

My Reading Challenge 2013
Last year was a banner year for me in terms of book reading. I use goodreads.com to track my book reading progress and they have this nifty Book Challenge widget for each year in which you can set yourself a challenge for that year and as you read books you add them to your profile and it marks them against that years goal. In 2012 I logged 39 books (my goal was 20), and somewhere in the realm of 10,000 pages. You can view my list of books read here –> 2012 Reading Challenge.

This year I constantly revised my goal. Initially I think it was at 40, but then in September I upped it to 45, then 50 and then 55. I ended up reading 60 books this year, which was somewhere in the realm of 15,000 pages! HUZZAH! You can view my list of books here –> 2013 Reading Challenge. It was an awesome reading year!

Some highlights:

The Chronicles of Prydain
I devoured the Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, a delightful fantasy series about the coming of age of a young pig keeper. I would say that the second book was the best of the series, however they were all very fun to read. I was a little disappointed by the under development of a potentially amazing female character. In a couple of the books she showed so much command of her life in spite of her status. I really liked her and would have liked to see her do more. Although, she does more than other female characters do in some more recent books, that’s for sure.

Babel 17
It was supposed to be my year to focus on reading Samuel R. Delaney, however that got a bit sidetracked by my desire to learn more about the First Nations people of Canada. However I did read The Einstein Intersection, Babel 17 and Empire Star. Sam Delaney has a delightfully bizarre way of telling stories and while it took me a while to get into his books, they were very rewarding reads! Babel 17 was probably my favorite of the 3, and The Einstein Intersection was the most unusual.

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
With the happenings last fall of the #IdleNoMore movement and the fact that there is a good segment of the community I work with who are First Nations, I decided to read up on some of the history of Canada and the treaties that were made. I read three books specifically on the treaty process and what happened, from the eyes of the First Nations people involved and from academics on both sides of the issue. I then proceeded to read several books by First Nations authors. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King was made me laugh out loud several times, and was a refreshing take on the “history” of what it means to be Indian in America. It’s by no means objective; in fact it is quite subjective and makes no apologies for that, and so when I read some reviews by people coming down hard on King for his lack of objectivity, I just laughed to myself and enjoyed the book all the more. I followed that with Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, which made the Canada Reads 2012 final five selection. It is the kind of book that makes you cry and laugh out loud no matter where you are. It’s a well paced and very touching tale that invites the reader into a much talked about but little understood moment in time regarding the residential school system in Canada. Wagamese is a master storyteller and I am very disappointed that this didn’t win Canada Reads 2012. My final reads in the First Nations literature this year were three novels by Joseph Boyden, Through Black Spruce, The Orenda, and Three Day Road. Boyden is another master storyteller, but different than Wagamese. Boyden is much more loquacious than Wagamese, which in Three Day Road served him incredibly well, but failed him in The Orenda. Through Black Spruce is similar to Indian Horse in that it takes place in a modern setting, but has a different theme and isn’t quite as touching.

Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce
I read several series this year as well which was a joy. I mentioned the Chronicles Of Prydain above. I also read The Guardians Of Childhood series by William Joyce. They are the books the movie Rise Of The Guardians is based on. They are incredibly imaginative and are probably the most enjoyable fairy tale books I’ve read in a LONG time. It was also a joy to read them to my eldest son who is a lovingly attentive listener. I read the Kenneth Oppel bat series, Sliverwing, Sunwing and Firewing; another delightfully imaginative series that was incredibly intense and I can’t wait for my boy to get old enough to read them. I was however disappointed by the Lois Lowry Giver series (Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son). I read these on the recommendation of a friend and while there is nothing alarmingly bad about them, they just did nothing for me. The characters are bland without being yucky, the stories are formulaic to a fault; the only thing that I genuinely liked was the world these stories inhabited, that was pleasant (and a bit frightful as well).

I was also disappointed by Neil Gaiman’s latest offering, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. Again, not a bad book, it’s full of trademark Gaiman imagination and magic, and full of vivid images contrasted with starkly desperate relationships. I just expected more. Which is perhaps unfair of me, but hey, what can you do when you love an author and he hits it out of the park 9 times out of 10 and, for me, this just happened to be that odd tenth time.

Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Tattoos On The Heart by Gregory Boyle
Three other books that were stand outs for me: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Tattoos On The Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle and Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey. Ready Player One was the nerdiest book I read and I devoured it! It was chalk full of geek and nerd references from the 70’s to the 90’s and it was good! Tattoos On The Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle is all about his work in LA among the most gang involved youth there. He is a Jesuit pastor who has worked there for a couple decades now, developing work opportunities for gang involved youth, to help them out of their place in life, helping them to recognize their potential and their loveliness as sons and daughters of God. There wasn’t a single chapter where I didn’t cry. Kenneth E. Bailey’s book (which is actually 2-in-1) Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes is an engaging and eye-opening journey through some of the most difficult parables in the New Testament. Especially the parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13). This parable has plagued theologians for a couple thousand years. Bailey offers some fresh insight after having lived for decades in Egypt, Lebanon, Jerusalem and Cyprus and getting to know the Palestinian peasants. It’s his specialty in the cultural backgrounds and literary forms used in the New Testament that give him a delightful and fresh take on the parable of the Unjust Steward. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has the slightest interest in trying to understand Jesus’ words from a perspective much closer to the original.

5 signs it’s not time to move on

love
Artwork by Kritzelkrabbe (c)

So, I just read this article on Divorce over on Huffpost, posted it and then had a delightful challenge from a friend to write something in response. So, here goes, but before I begin, let me make this perfectly clear that I am not against divorce. I simply don’t like it. I have seen the extreme damage that has resulted from divorces that have gone incredibly bad, and from ones that haven’t gone incredibly bad but still not good. There are the select few that I know of where the separation is completely amenable and is done in a very healthy way. These divorces though, the people in them, have gone through a lot to get to that point. I have a great deal of respect for the people involved and the hard work they went through. I also know of divorces of survival, where the signs below just don’t play into it at all, it’s simply about survival.

So, that having been said as a preface, here goes. Be patient with me friends, thank you.

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