Reading Roundup: August 2021

Each time we found solace in the companions that live in our bookshelves

Valeria Luiselli

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve finally gotten back into a decent reading habit. And all it took was taking some time off from blogging…

Not only was this month nuts in terms of long-postponed and awaited celebrations finally taking place, but it also marked the first full month that Louis was back at the office and I was officially home full time with Aria balancing fitness, work, household tasks and parenting as so many around the world have been doing forever. I’m slowly getting the hang of it, one day at a time, and every single day brings more appreciation for everything my parents did for us as kids. As enjoyable as most days are, this vocation is not for the faint of heart.

But I digress.

Perhaps you’re wondering where I’ve been? Or, more likely, you haven’t event noticed I was silent for three weeks as you’ve been juggling your own crazy beautiful life.

Regardless if you’re curious or not, I’m going to explain my absence.

Right after publishing my first post for August I had one of those lighting bolt moments of yore when I realized something needed to give. As much as I wanted to be a superwoman of my own making, I knew it was in my best interest to take the self-imposed productivity down a notch. So, I decided to take the month off from blogging and, honestly? It really helped me to take a step back and reevaluate my habits and how they fit into my lifestyle.

Don’t worry, dear reader, this intro is not to announce that I’ve given up blogging. Rather, it’s to joyfully proclaim that I’m back and I have a better and more reasonable plan to stay on top of my writing and reading goals.

Where was I going with this? Ah, yes, reading. I’m finally back into the habit. For real this time. And damn it feels good.

But before we get into the new-and-improved reading habits of one Erin of the Hills, let’s take a look back at the best things I read this month – shall we? After all, that is the purpose of these posts.

Continue reading “Reading Roundup: August 2021”

Book Review: Things Fall Apart

This one has been on my to read list for an embarrassingly long time. I’m talking a decade or so…I’m very pleased to have finally checked it off as read!

This is another book I read quickly (for me) – it brought me right back to my African Lit classes in University.

I am a huge advocate for expanding one’s shelf and reading works by authors from different cultures, countries, mother-tongues, etc… even if it means some of these reads will be more difficult to fully grasp. I definitely caught myself frowning at some of the villager’s practices as a white-middle-class-Canadian and I tried to take these moments to delve deeper into why these practices were in place instead of judging these people as backwards or “un-civilized” as the colonizers described them.

Regardless of bias, however, there are certainly some very disturbing scenes in the book – for those who have been relatively safe from witnessing violence first-hand – so be warned.

My one criticism is that the ending seemed to be rushed, with the coming of the colonizing forces only happening in the last quarter of the book or so but perhaps this was intentional in that it left the majority of the book free to devote itself to the people central to the novel. Perhaps I am just not used to reading books that don’t drive relentlessly towards some kind of climax. Looks like I need to read yet more widely!

Overall, would recommend approaching this book with an open mind and an understanding that some of the cultural practices may shock or upset you. Don’t give up on it, I think the message is worth it.

final rating

have you read this book? What did you think? Do you have any similar books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: The Peaceable Kingdom?

Disclaimer

The author of this book is my father. However, my review reflects my honest opinion of the book!


I read this book very very quickly. As someone who had fallen out of the reading habit for years before recommitting to it at the beginning of this year, I was surprised at how fast I devoured this book.

As Gurski writes, it is a practitioner’s look at the history of terrorism in Canada (including Canadians who committed acts of terror abroad) and it therefore reads almost more as a memoir of a life in counter-terrorism than a straight non-fiction history – which is a good thing.

Though not all of the experiences detailed were his own, Gurski adds interesting commentary to each of the anecdotes he includes. Upon finishing this book, I can honestly say I have a much better understanding of the impact terrorism has had on Canada over the last 160 years. More importantly, Gurski successfully emphasizes that when we talk about terrorism in Canada, we are not only referring to the Islamist variety (though this, of course, has been a main focus of counter-terrorism efforts since 9/11).

The writing is uncomplicated and fast-paced thus avoiding the trap of becoming a dry retelling of historical events. Though there were a few small editing errors and some possibly unnecessarily long quotes from his earlier books (which are also excellent), overall this was an interesting and engaging look at how Canada has not escaped the global terrorism scourge.

Highly recommend if you’re at all interested in the topic.

Final Rating

Have you read this book? Or do you have any other terrorism-related books to recommend? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Reading Roundup: May 2021

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Joseph Addison

I truly believe that reading is something that should be done daily. Even if you only read a page, or perhaps naught but a few sentences, it is such a good workout for your brain.

Don’t feel you have time to open a physical book? Try an audiobook, I tend to listen to mine while I’m cooking dinner or doing the dishes! It makes the work go faster and helps me get through my massive “To Read” pile faster.

Since becoming a Mom, I find I need to schedule reading into my day, much as I pencil in time to exercise. This way, I am sure to exercise both my mind and my body consistently. Otherwise it is much too easy to get stuck in the mindless scrolling or binge-watching loops that don’t bring me nearly as much joy as reading does.

And, on that note, here are the best things I read this month!

Continue reading “Reading Roundup: May 2021”

Reading Roundup: April 2021

Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land, grew especially strong in the spring

Vladimir Nobokov, Mary

Perhaps it is because it is springtime, or because this latest lockdown truly does feel as if it may be one of the last, but I found that Nobokov’s concept of nostalgia in reverse greatly influenced what kinds of articles and blogs resonated with me this month.

Whether it was a longing for a lifestyle I have never perfected (fitting writing into my daily routine); an urge to continue traveling the world…heck, even browse a bookshop at my leisure; or the deep desire to use my inherent privilege to help make a positive and notable difference in this world for those who have been marginalized for too long.

There truly is a theme here.

So, without further ado, enjoy!

Continue reading “Reading Roundup: April 2021”

Book Review: The Search for God and Guinness

While an interesting premise, the writing was not great.

I should have heeded my gut-feeling when the very beginning of the book started with an unlikely tale of the author being surrounded by adoring teenagers removing their headphones to listen to him wax poetically about the history of the brewery nearby.

And yet, I kept on reading.

The back cover describes it as “frothy and delicious, intoxicating and nutritious” and though I would agree that these words are accurate to describe Guinness as a beer (I’m a fan!) I’m not sure they apply to the book they ostensibly describe. The writing was certainly frothy, sure, but there was not much that was either intoxicating or nutritious in this book.

As someone who has studied history for over a decade, I realize I have a certain preference when it comes to non-fiction books about history. I recognize that there are many different ways to weave history in prose, and not everyone likes to wade through thousands of footnotes, but I found that in this book, the treatment of history was overly superficial.

It seemed to be that a lot of presumptions were declared as “likely” facts, and much of what was written seemed to be a re-hashing of what has already been explored in the books Mansfield praises glowingly in his bibliography.

I wanted to like this book much more than I did. Still, I did learn a few things!

Looks like I’ll have to pick up all the books he mentioned for a deeper dive into the history of Guinness and the family that created it.

FINAL RATING

Three out of a possible five quills