Cait86 in 2018
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Hello! My name is Cait, I live in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and I have been a member of Club Read since 2010, on and off. Some years I post more than others, and I often lose steam in September when the new school year begins. I'm a high school English teacher, and so the fall months make for some seriously slow reading. Hopefully 2018 is the year I break that pattern!
I love to read Canadian Literature, contemporary literary fiction, the odd Classic, and sometimes the YA novels that my students recommend. My favourite authors are: Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Louise Penny, and Sarah Waters; I'm also a massive Harry Potter fan, and I do my best to follow the Booker Prize every summer.
Besides reading, I also love to travel (I am taking students in France and Italy in March, and I have a Maritimes road trip planned for this summer), attend the theatre (I'm lucky to live within an hour and a half of the Stratford Festival), and cook. I have a Siamese cat named Ariel, and the best friends and family that a girl could ask for :)
In 2017, I made a list of twelve of my favourite books, and planned to reread them. I read an interesting blog post on BookRiot that argued that a book can't really be a favourite unless you've read it multiple times, at different ages and stages of life. Of my twelve favs, I reread six, and all six happily remain on my favourites list. I've listed them below, along with the age I was when I first read them (I'm now 31):
1. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery - first read at age 6 or 7
2. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King - first read at age 8
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - first read at age 13
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - first read at age 16
5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - first read at age 18
6. Atonement by Ian McEwan - first read at age 22
As of January 1, 2018, I have 192 books on my TBR shelves (down seven from the beginning of 2017!), and so like last year, one of my goals is to end 2018 with a smaller number of unread books.
In 2017, my favourite new-to-me books, in reverse order, were:
7. The Betrayal by Helen Dunmore
6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
5. The Girls by Emma Cline
4. Autumn by Ali Smith
3. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. The Siege by Helen Dunmore
1. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
I was surprised to note that no Canadian novels made my best of list, and that I only read eleven books in 2017 by Canadian authors. This realization has led to my second goal of 2018: read more CanLit. Listed in a post below is all of the books on my TBR by Canadian authors. I'm going with a loose definition of Canadian - we're inclusive like that ;)
CanLit on my TBR Shelves
1-6. Atwood, Margaret:
7-8. Boyden, Joseph: Through Black Spruce; The Orenda
10. Connor, Ralph: The Man from Glengarry
11. Cusk, Rachel: Outline
12. Edugyan, Esi: Half-Blood Blues
13-14. Endicott, Marina: The Little Shadows; Good to a Fault
15. Findley, Timothy: Pilgrim
16. Fong Bates, Judy: Midnight at the Dragon Cafe
17. Galloway, Stephen: The Confabulist
18. Gibson, Graeme: Perpetual Motion
19. Grove, Frederick Philip: Settlers of the Marsh
20. Johnston, Wayne: A World Elsewhere
21. King, Thomas: Green Grass, Running Water
22. Lam, Vincent: Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
23. Laurence, Margaret: The Diviners
24. Lawson, Mary: Crow Lake
25. LoveGrove, Jennifer: Watch How We Walk
26. MacLeod, Alistair: Island: The Complete Stories
27. Michaels, Anne: Fugitive Pieces
28. Mistry, Rohinton: Family Matters
29-32. Montgomery, Lucy Maud: The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery, Vol. 1: 1889-1910; The Story Girl; The Golden Road; Further Chronicles of Avonlea
33. Moore, Lisa: Alligator
34. Mootoo, Shani: Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab
35. O'Loughlin, Ed: Not Untrue and Not Unkind
36. Ohlin, Alix: Inside
37. Ondaatje, Michael: Coming Through Slaughter
38. Ozeki, Ruth: A Tale for the Time Being
40. Richards, David Adams: River of the Brokenhearted
41. Rothman, Claire Holden: My October
42. Roy, Gabrielle: The Tin Flute
43. Rubio, Mary Henley: Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings
44-45. Shields, Carol: The Stone Diaries; The Collected Stories of Carol Shields
46. Stenson, Fred: The Great Karoo
47. Toews, Miriam: All My Puny Sorrows
48. Urquhart, Jane: The Stone Carvers
49-50. Vanderhaeghe, Guy: A Good Man; The Last Crossing
51. Viswanathan, Padma: The Ever After of Ashwin Rao
52. Wiersma, Robert J.: Before I Wake
53. Zentner, Alexi: Touch
Thank you for this nice list of Canadian literature! I thought Rachel Cusk was English. Der.
>5 nohrt4me2: Cusk was born in Canada, but she lives in England (and has for most of her life).
Love your rereading goals! I enjoy rereading but admit to not always making time for it. I do agree that for me I need to read a book at least twice (and often 3 times or more) to consider an all-time favorite for myself.
Looking forward to your 2018 reading!
>7 japaul22: Thanks Jennifer! I'll be following along on your thread too!
Welcome back, Cait! I loved The Luminaries, so I'll be eager to see what you think of it.
>10 kidzdoc: I'm really enjoying The Luminaries, though it is definitely very slow-moving at the beginning. I'm about 200 pages in, and the central mystery is still being set up. The historical elements and the character descriptions are rich in detail, which I like -- I'm just waiting for the plot to get going!
>1 Cait86: Cait, one of my daughter's favorite books in Anne of Green Gables (I'm guessing you might be close in age). However, Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books; and certainly one that has had a great impact on me. I can't even tell you how many times I have read it since the mid-80s -- at least every 5-7 years, I think.
I'm also reading some CanLit: Jeanne's Road by Jocelyne Saucier, a book I picked up in Quebec City (the bookshop had very little Quebecois lit translated into English...).
The Luminaries was one of my favorite books in 2014. I’m glad you are enjoying it.
Editing to add, that the slow build up is worth it. As each chapter gets shorter, you will find yourself racing to the end.
>14 OscarWilde87: I'll be following your thread too!
>15 NanaCC: Hi Colleen! That's good to hear about The Luminaries, because I've not progressed much in the last few days, and I would really like to finish this before I go back to work on January 8. I have a few hours today before I have to go out, so I'm hoping to make another dent in it.
Books Read: 49
New Reads: 33
Books by women: 38
Books by men: 11
Graphic Novels: 2
- 3 stars: 7
- 3.5 stars: 13
- 4 stars: 9
- 4.5 stars: 4
- 5 stars: 16 (13 of which were rereads)
Book #1: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries won the Book Prize in 2013; I bought it that winter, after having loved her debut novel, The Rehearsal, a few years prior. The Luminaries has sat, unread, on my bookshelf ever since. At over 800 pages, its size was off-putting, and I had a notion that my lack of astrological knowledge would make the book confusing.
I was wrong. Yes, I'm sure The Luminaries would be an even richer reading experience with some astrological knowledge, but putting that aside, it is a beautifully researched historical novel (did you know that there was a gold rush in New Zealand in the 1860s? I did not). The first chunk of the book (a quite slow 360 pages) sets up the mystery that is at the crux of the plot. It involves a dead man, a missing man, and a prostitute so terribly high on opium that she is charged with attempted suicide. Walter Moody, a new man in town, stumbles upon a secret meeting of twelve men who all have a portion of this story to tell. Together, they combine their pieces to unearth the deception occurring in the goldfields of Hokitika.
The Luminaries belongs to a genre I think is called "neo-Victorian" -- like with Sarah Waters' books, here Catton isn't just writing about the Victorian time period, she's using the conventions of the era: the plot is twisty-turny; the cast of characters is huge; little details come back in big, important ways; and the characters ruminate on issues of industrialization, class, and progress. However, Catton also gives these conventions a modern spin, as she structures her novel in a non-linear manner. The Luminaries blends the best of both literary worlds, and the result is a monster of a book that, once it got going, I could not put down.
Hello Cait. I'm Deborah, not sure if I commented on your thread in past years, though I'm sure I visited.
I have both The Luminaries and The Rehearsal on my Kindle, so I'm glad to see that you liked them both. I don't know why, but I thought Eleanor Catton was from New Zealand, so I was surprised to see that she is from Canada.
Reservoir 13 was also one of my favorite books of 2017.
I've read The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, and loved it. I recently purchased A Jest of God by her and want to read it soon. I purchased it because it was made into a movie called "Rachel, Rachel'' starring Joanne Woodward, and my husband and I went on our first date to see that movie---back in 1968.
>19 arubabookwoman: Hi Deborah, thanks for visiting! I don't know if I've often commented on your thread either, but I do know that I've been reading it for years. I'm going to try to comment more this year, but it is tough sometimes, to know if what I want to add is worth adding.
I'm finding it interesting to try and judge who is in fact "Canadian." Catton, for example, was born in Canada, while her father was here completing his doctorate (he is from New Zealand). She's lived in New Zealand most of her life. However, The Luminaries won the Governor General's Award in 2013, so if they have decided that Catton qualifies as Canadian, who am I to argue? ;)
I really enjoyed A Jest of God; it's part of the same "cycle" of books by Laurence as The Stone Angel, all set in the same town in Manitoba. I have another one of her books, The Diviners, on my list for this year.
Book #2: Glass Houses by Louise Penny
I'm not sure really how to comment on this book, the thirteenth in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, without giving away massive spoilers for the first twelve books. Suffice it to say, if you have enjoyed the series enough to get to book #13, you will continue to be charmed by the inhabitants of Three Pines in this instalment. Penny changes up her structure in this one a bit, and I enjoyed the way the jumping in time allowed the mystery to unfold. This break from linear storytelling, along with an action-packed dénouement, makes Glass Houses one of my favourites in this wonderfully Canadian series.
>21 Cait86: I loved this book. In the first book, I thought Ruth was too crazy to keep her character going. But she grew on me. In this book, she made me cry. Love her.
>22 NanaCC: Oh, me too!
>18 Cait86: - I'm glad you enjoyed The Luminaries so much. I liked, it, did not love it though, but that might have something to do with the hype that was going on at the time. That always does funny things for me.
>21 Cait86: - your review reminded me that I should get back to this series again. I read the first two and then they were not available for me anymore, so I abandoned the series, apart from The Beautiful Mystery that I read last year. But I remember I loved the atmosphere of the books.
>25 markon: Hi Ardene - yes, I'm starting Wilderness Tips tonight. I love Atwood, so I have high hopes for it!
>26 MGovers: I certainly understand what you mean about hype, Monica -- sometimes I think our expectations get raised so high that the book can't help but fall short. I hope you get back to Three Pines!
>27 avaland: Hi Lois! I loved Alias Grace as well; the last episode, in particular, captured the tone of Atwood's novel so well. Parts of The Handmaid's Tale were filmed only about 15 minutes from where I live (including the Commander's house).
Book #3: Molly's Game by Molly Bloom
I don't generally read nonfiction, but I'm interested in seeing the film Molly's Game, and so I decided to read the book first. Molly Bloom's tale of how she went from cocktail waitress to running the largest private poker games in both L.A. and New York was a fascinating one; the writing left something to be desired, but Molly's voice is frank and honest, and her gossipy portrayal of Hollywood A-listers such as Leo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Tobey Maguire was a fun read on a very cold day.
Hi Cate. I’m going to have to look up Molly’s Game on audio. Sounds fun. Also, great review on The Luminaries. All this talk of Catton here makes me more curious. And, finally, wanted to wish you a great year.
How is listening to Anna Karenina? I know people do it, but for me I can't imagine listening to a fiction book like that, with all the characters and their various names and nicknames.
>30 dchaikin: Hi Dan, thanks for dropping by! Molly's Game was definitely fun, and it would be an easy audiobook I think.
>31 ursula: I find classics to be the easiest to read via audiobook; in the past two years I've listened to The Count of Monte Cristo, Mrs. Dalloway, Oliver Twist, Madame Bovary, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, all of which were new to me, plus some Austen rereads. The linear structure of all of these (other than the Woolf) helps me to keep everything straight, and while the language is complex, the plot is not. I don't think I would enjoy a book with a more innovative structure on audio; something by Ali Smith, for example, would be a nightmare for me. I do always have a hard copy of the book, so that I can look something up or read a passage, if I get lost. The list of characters with all of their nicknames at the beginning of Anna Karenina certainly helped a lot! Plus, this listen is my third attempt at the novel - I read the first 100 pages last year, and a few years before that - so I went in with some prior knowledge of the characters. I am really enjoying it, especially the Anna side of things. Levin's musings on farming and class structure and religion can wear on me a bit after a while. I have about eight hours left, so I should be able to finish it on my drive to and from work this coming week. Next up is another giant: Thackeray's Vanity Fair.
Book #4: Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood
Wilderness Tips is an uneven collection of short stories. Some, like "True Trash" and "Death by Landscape," a pair of stories set at summer camp, are freaking awesome - complex, emotional, and well-structured. Others, like "Uncles" and "Weight," were pretty aimless and dull.
Book #5: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I am still trying to wrap my head around how what I want to say about this book. Comments coming at some point!
Anna Karenina is one of my all time favorites and a five star, as well. I look forward to your comments.
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