Reading Slumps, the Month of May & a Reading Comeback

Oh, hey, remember me.

I use to blog here.

Well, here’s what’s been happening. I took a reading break… well kind of. We book bloggers always have a lot of books on the go, we always have a looming pile of books that should be read and sometimes we have people look at us and say “you haven’t read that before?” But let me tell you something about readers, sometimes breaks are needed. So even though I wasn’t really planning on taking a break, I did and it was amazing. Here are some of the reasons I took a much needed break:

  • The weather has been incredible here in Toronto and I’ve wanted to get out and enjoy the sunshine with friends.
  • My family was in town for a few days.
  • I’ve been at events celebrating books. So even though, I may not have been reading books, I’ve been out celebrating their release and success.

But here’s where the “kind of” part comes into play. I’ve been listening to books. Each morning, I wake up at about 6:00am and now that it’s getting warmer, I like to walk around the park near my home and instead of listening to my local FM station or Beyonce’s album for the 103rd time, I’ve been obsessed with the Harry Potter audio books. This revelation has been exciting to me for two reasons. One, who would have thought I’d fall in love with a series I so actively avoided for years. Two, I love audiobooks. It’s so fun to do an activity, whether it’s walking, doing dishes or commuting and have someone read to you. This is why I feel like taking a break from “reading” is iffy, because I’ve still been reading… or technically I’ve been listening to books. Either way, I may not be physically turning pages, but I’ve been flying through J.K. Rowling books! You’ll be happy to know that I just started the sixth book and it’s fantastic – I know you know that, seeing as how you probably read the book 10 years ago, like a normal person. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on this in a future post.

All that being said, I miss the smell of books, I miss the feeling of turning pages, I even miss lugging around a book all day, even if I only read 15 pages on my commute. So, I’m stopping the “reading break” and I’ll be back in full swing starting this week. Expect to see lots of tweets, shots on Instagram and future posts about books in no time.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I might not have read books, but I went to lots of book events, many of which are documented in my most recent Document Your Life video. David Mitchell, The Tastemakers, Pongapalooza, a sighting of TIM RIGGINS and my Dad dancing. <– that one’s a bonus.

Have YOU ever taken a reading break? If you have, how long did it last?

 

[Book Review] Jason Priestley: A Memoir by Jason Priestley

07-jason-priestley-memoirMy favourite line from that Icona Pop song that everyone loves is,

You’re from the 70’s, but I’m a 90’s bitch.

I think I love it so much because I am a HUGE fan of the 90’s. I was seven years old in 1990 and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to grow up in a decade of boy bands, the Spice Girls and of course, Beverley Hills 90210. I remember begging my Mom to let me stay up and watch show with her on Sunday nights, even though I didn’t understand much of what was happening. I did know that Brandon and Dylan were hot and I, like many other girls my age, had both of their faces plastered all over my walls. I also invested heavily into the Beverly Hills 90210 merchandise; dolls, a hairdryer, a makeup mirror. So you can imagine my delight when I heard that Brandon Walsh, er, um, Jason Priestley had written a memoir.

Now in recent years, the 90210 cast have each taken their own paths.

  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Reality TV
  • Star in another hit show
  • Marry Megan Fox

But one of the shows biggest stars has kept a very low profile… or at least that’s what I thought until I’d read his self titled memoir, Jason Priestely. Starting with his childhood in Vancouver, we meet a young (and by looking at the photos) a very adorable Jason Priestely. Aspiring to be a person that “lives inside the box”, Jason was quickly swept up by the acting bug and started doing films for the CBC was fun, be he knew as a teen that if he was going to actually pursue this dream he’d have to make the leapt to Hollywood. So at seventeen years old, with his diploma in his back pocket, he made the big move to the States to make a go of it.

In the beginning, he had to do lots of commuting between the US and Canada, as Canada seemed to be calling with the job offers. That was until he got the opportunity to star in the show, 21 Jump Street. Starring in this show, as well as a show called, Sister Kate opened many new doors, one that included the chance to meet and try out for a new Aaron Spelling show, aptly titled Beverley Hills 90210. It’s clear that reading the pages about getting his start in Hollywood, that Jason had a strong admiration for Aaron Spelling and never once took their bond for granted. He knew when he was hired for the role of Brandon Walsh that learning from the best in the “biz” was a chance in a lifetime and he took it, getting the chance to direct many times for the show, including the episode we all waited for… ‘Donna Loses Her Virginity’

With a dose of 90210 gossip… it turns out everyone was sleeping with everyone and everything you’ve heard about Shannen Doherty is true… she really isn’t nice. Jason Priestley explains the impact the show had on him and how it help shape him into the man he is today. He, of course, explains lots and lots of details with the reader which is a real treat and I can promise you that you’ll want to text your friends and your Mom about all the things you find out. But the thing that warmed my heart the most (in this section of the book) is that he regrets leaving the show when he did and wished that he could have ended the Kelly & Brandon story in a more fulfilling way. Say it with me now… ahhhhhh.

What follows after his 90210 days is the budding of his 11 year relationship with his wife, makeup designer Naomi Lowde-Preistley and the birth of their two children. As well as the horrific race crash he endured that nearly cost him his life. And of course, the relationship he now shares with his fellow 90210 alumni. There’s also a great chapter about the roles he’s chosen post 90210 in an effort to shed the Brandon Walsh “good guy” image… see his new show, Call Me Fitz.

This is a well written, fun and nostalgic memoir from a man that ironically really did end up “living inside the box”. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to pick up this great read!  I also encourage you to check out this great article in Vulture, titled 9 Things 90210‘s Jason Priestley Remembers in His New Memoir. It was one of the many reasons that made me decide to pick up this book.

[Book Review] Lazy Days by Erlend Loe

Loe - Lazy DaysYou know how you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover? Well I broke that rule when I saw the cover of Erlend Loe’s Lazy Days. Then I read the description on the back of this beautiful package of a book and I knew I was hooked. It reads,

From the bestselling author of Doppler, a wry and very funny look at the pitfalls of human existence . . . and the charms of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.

Aspiring playwright Bror Telemann loves all things British. His wife, Nina, loves everything German. So a family holiday at the foot of the Alps, south of Munich — which Bror believes to be the birthplace of Nazism — is bound to cause tension. Especially when Bror spends the whole time virtually stalking (and constantly fantasizing about) his greatest obsession, British chef Nigella Lawson.

Can Telemann continue to bear the pressure of his empty existence? Or will his long-suffering family be the first to snap?

We’re all different people when on vacation. We let our guards down, stress goes out the windows and sometimes you do things a bit out of character. Lazy Days is the story of a Norwegian family’s holiday to Germany. Telemann isn’t a fan of Germany, his wife, Nina is a big fan. This obviously creates a lot of tension, but tension hits an all time max when you mix in an extreme crush on Nigella Lawson. Using his love and passion for theatre as an excuse to have alone time to “think”, takes the reader on a strange and sometimes hilarious journey. 

While reading Lazy Days, I was reminded of the movie, ‘This is 40′, starring Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. You know at the end of the day they love one another, but you’re pretty sure that they can’t stand each other. I remember seeing this movie in theatres and thinking that it was funny, but kind of sad at the same time. That two people have disconnected in such a way that they end up resenting one another. The same premise applies in this book, you know that they have love for one another, but it’s very obvious to the reader that they’ve become disconnected, in an obvious and sad way. At one point, Nina whole-heartingly believes that she’s allergic to Telemann.

Reading this book was an interesting experience, because I found myself enjoying the writing, but not loving the characters all that much. I think that’s okay though, I think sometimes we’re not supposed to connect with the characters, so that we can learn something new and possibly look at things a little differently. Charming, smart and witty; Lazy Days is a great Saturday afternoon read.

 

It’s Time to Get Your Pong On and Support First Book Canada!

Most nights we publishing folk spend our evenings reading manuscripts, but they’ll be none of that this Tuesday night. On May 13th, the people that make decisions about which books end up in your local bookstore will be taking a night off for a good cause. Because we’re all going to…

1688059_578779365546635_333824003_n

From the First Book Canada website,

SPiN Toronto will once again host a night of epic ping pong on May 13th in support of First Book Canada where thirty-two teams of four will battle it out for the 2014 Scotiabank Pongapalooza Cup.  Will Scotiabank’s Kung Fu Pandas, with honorary team captain David Chilton (The Wealthy Barber) come out on top once again?  Join us amidst the battlefield of swinging paddles and stray balls, where guests can bid on some remarkable raffle prizes, play some recreational ping pong, taste SPiN’s amazing hors d’oeuvres and cool off with Hop City beer.

Last year’s event, sponsored by Scotiabank, raised over $30,000 helping First Book Canada give away more than 850,000 brand new books to children in need across the country.  First Book Canada is elevating the quality of education for children in need on a permanent, sustainable basis – but they cannot do it alone. Their partners in ending illiteracy represent some of the smartest, most generous organizations across the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and they want you to join them in this epic ping pong event.

Help us reach thousands of Canadian children who want to experience the joy of reading and owning their very own first book.

Smack talk, authors and a chance to watch a bunch of us get really serious about the game of ping pong sounds like a perfect way to spend your Tuesday night. If you’re interested in attending, ticket information can be found here: http://www.firstbookcanada.org/pong/spectator-tickets

Tickets are $25.00 if you buy before May 13th; and $35.00 at the door. 

Need further convincing? Watch this hilarious video of what kind of competitors you can expect to run into that night:

I look forward to seeing you all there!

[Book Review] Crimes Against My Brother by David Adams Richards

IMG_4757Being from the East Coast of Canada and not reading David Adams Richards seems like a bit of a crime (no pun intended), but in my case, it’s the truth. In full disclosure, I was tasked with having to read Mercy Among the Children for a Canadian Literature course, but I didn’t get around to it… I know, I’m a bad English Major. So when everyone in our office was raving about the new David Adams Richards novel, Crimes Against My Brother (on sale next Tuesday), I wanted to finally get on the DAR train and hear what all the fuss was about and I’m so glad I did, because now, I get why people classify him as a literary great. Crimes Against My Brother was a complex, smart, sad and wonderful novel.

Here’s a brief description from Goodreads:

Harold, Evan and Ian are inseparable as boys–so much so that one night, abandoned in the forest by the careless adults around them, and raging against society and the uncaring gods others worship, they seal their undying brotherhood with a blood bond. But soon after, a horrific accident scars each of them in a different way, testing their bonds and leaving each with a debt to be paid. As adults, seeking to rise above debt and advance in life, each man decides upon a very different path–but over time, all three discover they are tied to each other in intricately tangled, sometimes violent, and surprising ways that none of them has been wise enough to foresee.

Debt is the recurring theme in this 416 page novel and as we all know, debt can make people do unimaginable things and act in unthinkable ways. As the description states, all three boys share a blood bond, but the bond quickly falls apart when money gets involved. The town hustler, Lonnie Sullivan, has a system down pat when it comes to making money. He gives the boys (never men, he learned that lesson the hard way) an advance and those poor boys are forced to work long, hard hours to try to pay it back. Of course, they are never able to get ahead.

The sign of a well loved book.

The sign of a well loved book.

The act of wanting and needing more grows as the boys get older. Now with relationships with women forming, these young men take different paths to form a quick buck. There were times while reading that I was frustrated with the characters. For instance, each character (in the first part of the book) is vying to get their hands on a fortune that one man by name of Fitzroy, has piled up in his home. None of the men have earned this money, they haven’t worked for it at all, but Ian, Evan and Harold feel entitled to receive it. The whole time I was reading this part, I kept thinking, “but why do you think you deserve that money?” but as I continued to read on, I quickly realized that I think that was the point David Adams Richards was trying to make. It’s not their money, but their sense of entitlement comes from greed and their greed blinds them of any moral obligation.

I’ve been chatting about this book a lot with my pal Shona (be sure to follow her on Twitter @wayfaringreader). After three separate discussions, we both discovered that this book has a little something for everyone in it; Canadian backdrop, small town, love, greed, mystery and intrigue. We actually have so much to say about this book that we’re going to be recorded ourselves chatting about the book and our reactions on audio. Give it a listen here.

I felt smarter for having read this novel and I was disappointed in my twenty year old self for not having read David Adams Richards sooner. It was a complex, fascinating read that will leave you wanting to put it a friend’s hands just so you can discuss it with them when you finish.

*It’ll be on sale on May 13, 2014.