Time To Switch Up

Greetings blog friends! Autumn officially arrived here on September 22 as per my wall calendar. The weather from September 20 to 26 inclusive was good, with mainly sunny skies and some rain on one of the afternoons. Daily high temperatures ranged from 16C to 26C (62F to 79F). A nice transition from summer to autumn.

Autumn arrival

When I go cycling and walking around my neighbourhood, the grassy fields and many trees are still green. Some of the late summer flowers are in full bloom. Look at these pink cosmos and dahlias. Aren’t they gorgeous?

The maple trees are changing colours though. Every morning I see more and more of the yellow, orange, and red hues that are part of the Canadian autumn splendour. It’s like Mother Nature has done her painting overnight and touched a dab of red here and a dab of orange there.

More signs of autumn are at the grocery stores: Potted mums in assorted colours and pumpkins in orange and white. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten white pumpkin yet, have you?

Potted mums and pumpkins.

I love having four seasons. Every time a new season arrives, it’s a reminder for me to review and switch things up in my daily routine. Each season lasts about 13 weeks. That’s a nice period of time to try something new and see results.

Haircut

I started making changes at the top, literally, my head. I went for a haircut. First time since COVID-19 pandemic started here in mid-March. Same hair salon, same hairstylist, new procedures: Temperature check, hand sanitizer, masks, bigger space between chairs, contact tracing sign-in sheet, and less talking.

I was the only customer in the salon at the time. After having a few inches of my hair cut off, I feel lighter and ready for the new season. My hair length is now the same as in my profile photo.

Fitness

  • Swimming: The long range forecast is calling for a nice autumn season so I anticipate to continue my cycling and walking outdoors. Paddling on the water is going to end soon. I may resume indoor swimming as a substitute for paddling since the pools are open.
  • Resistance bands: My resistance band broke after I’ve got so much good use out of it. I replaced it with a 4-pack resistance band set that comes with a door anchor and different resistance levels: Light, Medium, Heavy, and X-Heavy. I love that resistance bands are light, portable, inexpensive, and good tools for home workouts or when I travel.
  • Boxing: I’m going to add no-equipment boxing workouts to my fitness routine to spice it up. I tried boxing before and liked it so this autumn is time for me to bring boxing back into my life. I’ve seen some good boxing workout videos on YouTube. I’m saying Yes to jab, cross, hook, keep moving, stay focused, and have fun while doing it.

Reading

It’s a coincidence that while I’m thinking about switching things up, I received a Skip the Line notification that one of the e-books I put on hold became available. This novel is titled The Switch, written by Beth O’Leary. The Skip the Line option lets me jump the queue and borrow the book for 7 days only, as opposed to the usual 21 days.

The Switch book cover.

The Switch is a story of generational location swapping. It showcases how it’s never too late to change your life and pursue your dreams.

The Switch is funny, positive, warm, an easy and enjoyable read from beginning to end.

I had read O’Leary’s debut novel, The Flatshare, and enjoyed it a lot, too.

Overall a good first week of Autumn. It’s time to switch up a few things in my daily routine to keep me active and happy. No drastic changes, just a dash of spices here and there to challenge my mind and body.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 11: August Smiles

Hello blog friends! How are you doing? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space so we can share our news over a cup of coffee or tea.

Summer Week 11

Summer week 11, from August 30 to September 5 inclusive, delivered another stretch of good weather. Daytime high temperatures ranged from 22C to 27C (72F to 82F) with mainly sunny days and some rain mid-week.

Beach Visit

I cycled to Cherry Beach early one morning to get my quiet beach time. Cherry Beach typically achieves annual Blue Flag certification where water quality is safe for swimming. It was nice to walk along the beach and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Cherry Beach.
Cherry Beach

There are picnic sites, restroom facility, parking lots, and dogs off-leash area outside the beach entrance which make this beach popular, especially on summer weekends.

Cherry Beach picnic site.
Cherry Beach picnic site

Family Visit

My sister and nieces came to visit on Tuesday. We sat outside 2 meters apart by the lake to chat and catch up on our news. My nieces resume their university studies next week so I was glad to see them before they get busy with school.

Lake view.

Park Visit

On another beautiful day, I went for a long walk and paused at Larry Sefton Park. The United Steel Workers of America funded this park creation in 1977 to honor the memory of their director, Larry Sefton. I liked how the deep terra cotta wall provides a nice backdrop to the steel sculpture.

Larry Sefton Park

August in Numbers

August ended a few days ago so this week I completed my usual monthly review and month-end digital file back-ups. How did I do in August? Let’s see what the numbers have to say:

  • 1 family visit (and a repeat baking success: a coconut loaf).
  • 1 stand up paddling excursion.
  • 2 canoe excursions here and here.
  • 2 coffee meet-ups with friends.
  • 2 movies: Cake and The Boy Downstairs.
  • 3 digital concerts.
  • 5 blog posts.
  • 12 yoga sessions.
  • 13 strengthening workouts.
  • 20 books (see list below).
  • 21 cycling trips.
  • 24 walks.
  • 31 French and Spanish online sessions.
  • 31 meditations sessions.

Overall August was an excellent month for me. I enjoyed the good weather, had coffee chats with my siblings and friends outdoors, did a lot of cycling, paddling, walking, exercising, learning, reading, and writing.

Reading in August

By switching to e-books and not visiting the library, I gained time to read and enjoyed twenty fiction novels in August. These novels are all really good page-turners and once I start, I want to read to the end. During the day, I’m active and on my feet a lot so by evening time, I’m happy to sit down and get lost in a book.

Here’s my list in order of preference:

  1. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes.
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
  5. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson.
  6. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.
  7. 9 Days and 9 Nights (sequel to 99 Days) by Katie Cotugno.
  8. After You (sequel to Me Before You) by Jojo Moyes.
  9. Still Me (sequel to After You) by Jojo Moyes.
  10. One Day in December by Josie Silver.
  11. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.
  12. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
  13. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker.
  14. Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker.
  15. Four Seconds To Lose by K.A. Tucker.
  16. Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker.
  17. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.
  18. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.
  19. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory.
  20. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.

Novel #1: The Sense of An Ending blew my mind. I read this e-book in one evening as the story is engaging and it’s just 160 pages long. When I finished, my reaction was “Whoa, I didn’t see it coming“.

Novels #1 to #5: Even though love shines in all the novels I read, the deaths of bright and young people in my top five novels made me feel really sad after I finished the books. I had to do long bicycle rides and long walks to clear my head of thoughts about grief and unnatural deaths.

Novels #6 to #16: I usually don’t read sequels or multiple books from the same author in one month. Breaking my own rule, I read and enjoyed the young adult fiction sequel by Katie Cotugno, the trilogy by Jojo Moyes, and the series by K.A. Tucker. Novels #11 and 12 are good thrillers.

Novels #17 to #20: Just because I place the books last on my list, it doesn’t mean #17 to #20 are not good reads. I like all the 20 novels that I read in August. I’m glad to discover new-to-me authors and appreciate all the hard work that these authors put in to write their books. I hope my reading contributes to the overall encouragement for them to write more.

Conclusion

I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. My family and friends are safe and well. I continue to follow public health measures to stay safe and well, too. I look forward to making the most of September.

How did your week go? How was your August? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 9: Spontaneous Outings

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

Summer week 9, from August 16 to 22 inclusive, delivered a beautiful stretch of good weather, sunny skies and pleasant temperatures. Daytime high ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 84F).

I received a couple of quick messages and phone calls from my friends. My spontaneous response “Yes, let’s do this!” rounded my week with two in-person coffee chats and one Stand Up Paddling afternoon on Toronto islands.

Coffee Chat #1

Friend #1 who lives in the suburb and who has been working from home had to go into the city centre for business on Tuesday. I was flexible with my time so we met up for coffee and catch up. I walked to our meeting place and back home, got 5K done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone.

We sat outside on a beautiful day, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, and in a nice public square with plants and flowers. Our chat was non-stop with laughs and smiles. After our meeting was over, I got a photo of this pretty monarch butterfly. Not bad for a cell phone!

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower
Monarch butterfly on a butterfly brush flower

Coffee Chat #2

Friend #2 who lives in the west end of the city and who has been busy taking care of an elderly parent was available on Thursday. So we agreed to meet at Humber Bay Arch Bridge. I rode my bike there and back, enjoyed my ride on the scenic waterfront trail, got 20 kilometers done before and after our coffee chat, two birds one stone again.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge
Humber Bay Arch Bridge

We sat outside at Sheldon Lookout, 2 meters (6 feet) apart, on another gorgeous day, with stunning views of Humber Bay. Part of the bay, where the sun light hit the water, sparkled like a million diamonds.

The view from Sheldon Lookout
The view from Sheldon Lookout

Our chat was full of news exchange, laughs, and smiles. On this sunny day by the lake and with nice green space around us, we focused on the present and the good things in life.

A view from Sheldon Lookout
A view from Sheldon Lookout

Stand Up Paddling (SUP)

Friend #3 was asking me about my Stand Up Paddling excursion in July. So we booked to rent two SUP boards. Each rental includes a return trip on a pontoon boat to where the SUP boards are stored on the islands, a board, a paddle, a life jacket, and a flexible leash with Velcro straps to keep the board attached to our ankles. We did stand up paddling on Toronto islands for about 2.5 hours.

My cherry red SUP board...Love the starfish!
My cherry red SUP board…Love the starfish!

The lake water will be cooler in September and SUP season will be over soon so I was glad to squeeze in this SUP outing. The photos from this trip are a bit unclear because I took them while my phone was secured in a clear waterproof case!

We saw many swans and ducks during our paddling. The cherry-on-top for me was a great blue heron that stood quietly by the water as we left the islands to head home, and the fiery sunset over Toronto Harbour, signaling the end of another stunning day.

Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Great blue heron on Toronto Islands
Sunset over Toronto Harbour
Sunset over Toronto Harbour

Spontaneity and Flexibility

These outings came together on different days with different people and minimal planning. They gave me many joyful moments. One ordinary week became extra-ordinary. I’m glad I have the flexibility in my day to say Yes, let’s do this!

After all the physical activities, I’m ready to sink into one of these big comfy Muskoka chairs and read a good book. Care to join me? I’m about half way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Muskoka chairs and lake view
Muskoka chairs and lake view

Once again, nature, sunshine, exercises, friendship, and good books are my not-so secrets to a healthy and enriched life. Summer week 9 was fantastic. I look forward to making the most of summer week 10.

How did your week go? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 8: Gone Canoeing

Toronto Islands scenery

Hello blog friends! How are things going? I hope all is well with you. Come on in to my blog space and let’s share our news over a cup of tea or coffee.

The weather during Summer week 8, from August 9 to 15 inclusive, was warm and pleasant. The high temperatures ranged from 26C to 32C (79F to 90F). I’ve got all my planned activities done. The highlights? A canoe outing, my siblings’ visit, and several good reads.

Canoe Outing

My friend and I rented a canoe that came with two paddles, two life jackets, and a return trip on a pontoon boat to the islands where the canoes are stored. We spent about six hours paddling on the Toronto islands with a lunch break around mid-day.

Sunlight-dappled canoes
Sunlight-dappled canoes

The weather on the day of our excursion was perfect with sunny skies, light wind, low humidity, and high temperature around 26C. We paddled in the calm and clear water and had so much fun exploring the wetlands and the islands. Here’s some of my photos:

Canada geese
Canada geese and island scenery
Water lily
Water lily
Painted turtle on a tree trunk
Painted turtle on a tree trunk
Canoe paddling on Toronto Islands
Canoe paddling on Toronto Islands

It was a beautiful day and a wonderful excursion. Nature, sunshine, peace, and friendship…All “addictive” ingredients for a good life. I have high hope to go canoeing again later this month, weather permitting.

Family Visit

Coconut loaf

My sister and brother came for a visit so I baked a coconut loaf for them. The recipe is a winner because both my siblings liked the loaf.

We sat outside to chat and enjoy a glorious afternoon by the lake. I was happy to see my siblings in person with uninterrupted time to talk and laugh together.

Reading

I’ve eagerly continued my “bookworm” status, reading seven books: two by Jojo Moyes, two by K.A. Tucker, one young adult fiction by Katie Cotugno, one psychological thriller by Gillan Flynn, and one spy fiction by Lauren Wilkinson.

The spy fiction titled American Spy, a debut novel by Lauren Wilkinson, was on Barack Obama’s 2019 Recommended Reading List. The story covers a lot more than spy missions, such as human emotions, relationships, ideology, and social issues.

American Spy prompted me to learn more about Thomas Sankara, his family, and his presidency in Burkina Faso, a country in Africa, before he was assassinated.

It also took me to Martinique, an island located in the eastern Caribbean Sea and a place that I wanted to visit.

This novel led me to more exploring and learning something new. I’d recommend it.

Summer week 8 was excellent. I’m grateful for all the good things that happened. I look forward to making the most of summer week 9.

How did your week go? I’d like to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 7: Coronation Park

Hello blog friends! How are things going? Hope all’s well with you. Come on in to my blog space, feel free to have a coffee or tea, hot or cold, and let’s catch up on our news.

Summer week 7, from August 2 to 8 inclusive, means we just passed the half point of summer here. We had heavy rainfall on Sunday, rain on Monday afternoon and Tuesday then sunny weather the rest of the week. The high temperatures ranged from 24C to 29C (75F to 85F).

Cycling

I cycled along the Waterfront trail from one to two hours most mornings this week. One of the parks that I stopped by is Coronation Park. Coronation Park was built in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI. It’s located at Lake Shore Blvd West & Fort York Blvd, just east of Ontario Place or Trillium Park.

Coronation Park highlights

Beautiful oak and maple trees: The park design consisted of grouping trees around a central Royal Oak, symbolizing the King. An inner ring of oak trees, known as the “Empire Circle”, represents the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the Crown Colonies.

To the north, the Imperial Service triangle of trees represented the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army. On either side of the ring are separate groves of maple trees representing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canadian divisions, Siberian troops, and Corp Troops to the east and west.

Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees.
Royal Oak in the centre of the Empire Circle of oak trees

Lake view: The south side of Coronation Park offers stunning views of Lake Ontario and the marina. It is a beautiful spot to sit along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and enjoy a picnic on a warm summer day. Coronation Park also has three softball diamonds on the north side and a nice-sized dog off-leash area on the east side.

Lake view from Coronation Park.
Lake view from Coronation Park

Victory-Peace Monument: It’s a permanent war memorial built in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. There are two sets of bronze walls, arranged like ship prows. Between the walls are maple leaves. One is engraved “Sacrifice” and the other “Hope”. The walls surrounding it has artwork depicting information about Canada’s involvement in World War II.

Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park.
Victory-Peace Monument designed by artist John McEwan at Coronation Park

Reading

Coronation Park is also a perfect spot for reading. There are benches, Muskoka chairs, grassy field, and picnic tables. The lake views, however, may be a distraction. I finished five books this week and really liked the funny dialogues and heart-breaking love story in Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

Walking

I got to see so many beautiful flowers on my morning walks. Some of them attract more bees and butterflies than others. The colour choices are amazing and they brighten my day. I’m sharing two photos here even though I took many more.

Pink thistle
Pink thistle
A monarch butterfly
A monarch butterfly

Considering everything, it was a beautiful and enjoyable week.

How did your week go? I’d like to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

Summer Week 1 and 2020 Reading Update #2

Hello blog friends! How are you? I hope your day is going well. Come on in to my blog space so we can share a coffee or tea and catch up on our news.

If we were having coffee, I would share my first week of summer 2020 in pictures and what I’ve been reading in the second quarter of 2020. How have your reading habits been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you find yourself unable to finish a book or did you read more than usual?

Summer Week 1

The first week of summer brought warm temperatures, mostly sunny, brief periods of rain, heat and humidity. I got all my exercises done (meditation, language lessons, strengthening workouts, yoga) and enjoyed my walks by the lake or in a park.

My sister met me for another coffee date on Friday. We sat outside chatting, sipping coffee, listening to bird songs, smelling the light fragrance of flowers in the air, and relaxing on a beautiful sunny day with some clouds and a light breeze.

Here’s a look at my Summer 2020 Week 1 in pictures:

Gull by Lake Ontario.
Hello gull! It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.
Sailboats, lake view and maple trees.
Watching the sailboats in the harbour from under shades of maple trees.
Bright and showy daisy.
Bright and showy daisy.
Mother duck and two young ducks.
Mother duck and two young (teenager) ducks. Did the other 4 to 6 ducklings survive?
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Beautiful green space, perfect for a picnic by the lake.
Fragrant rose bushes.
Fragrant rose bushes attract many bees. Watch out for the bees and the thorns.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Lake view with clouds and sailboats in the distance.
Bright red flower.
Bright red flower.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
A patch of pretty white daisies.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
Another beautiful day with white clouds and a light breeze.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.
These pretty peachy roses brighten up any day.

Library Curb-side Pickup

In my 2020 Reading First Update in March, I mentioned that Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The library has been offering excellent digital services during the lockdown. Fast forward 12 weeks later, starting on June 8, Toronto Public Library re-opened for curb-side pickups by appointment.

My first curb-side pickup appointment went well. I was the only person there. The library staff wore a mask and asked me to place my library card on a table then step back to maintain a safe distance. He verified my account, delivered two brown bags of books to the table and stepped away. I picked up my library card and the book bags to go. All in less than one minute. Nice!

Books Read in 2nd Quarter of 2020

Books read in second quarter of 2020.

Here’s what I read from April to June 2020 by author’s last name:

  1. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.
  2. Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox.
  3. The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory.
  4. An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie, translated by Arielle Aaronson.
  5. Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt.
  6. How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green.
  7. Dear Life by Alice Munro.
  8. Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker.
  9. Embers One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese.
  • Number of books read: 9 books in the second quarter of 2020. This brings my Year-to-date total to 27 books from January to June 2020. My goal for 2020 is 36 books in various genres. I’m getting there.
  • A book by an Indigenous author: Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese is an excellent book to celebrate June which marks National Indigenous History Month. The book is full of wisdom packed in 176 pages.
  • A book that made me laugh: An Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renée Lavoie and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Two totally different novels, each with brilliant comedic moments.
  • A book by a Canadian writer and Nobel Prize winner: Dear Life by Alice Munro who illumines the moment a life is shaped in this collection of short stories.
  • A book about a real person: Lucky Man a memoir by Michael J. Fox who has been living with Parkinson’s Disease since his diagnosis in 1991, and Angela’s Ashes a memoir by Frank McCourt, a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • A book I picked because I liked the cover: How To Be A Good Creature: A memoir in thirteen animals by Sy Montgomery and nice illustrations by Rebecca Green.
  • A book about romance with strong-willed female lead character: Say You Still Love Me by K. A. Tucker and The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory. Both authors are new to me even though they’ve each written several novels.

Other readings

  • In addition to physical books, I also listened to actors’ readings of Chapters 1 to 11 of Harry Potter The Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling on Wizarding World web site.
  • May was Short Story month so I switched gear and read the first ten of the 73 short stories available free online. I hope to find time to read more of these short stories. I like the variety of writing styles and the stories themselves.

Week 1 of summer 2020 was beautiful. The weather forecast for the coming week is sunny and warm. I look forward to spending more time outdoors and doing something fun to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st.

How did your week go? What book(s) are you reading? I’d love to hear your comments.

I link up here.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

2020 Reading: First Update

Greetings! I hope everyone is staying safe and keeping a healthy routine. While at home this week, I took an inventory of what I’ve read in the first three months of 2020. I use the Toronto Public Library 2020 Reading Challenge as a guideline to read more widely and add a few categories on my own to make my reading more interesting.

Last year I read thirty two books in the first half and thirty books in the second half of 2019, or 62 books in total. This year I had set a modest reading goal of 36 books because I was planning to travel frequently. Well, with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel cancellations, I may be able to read more than 36 books after all.

Here’s a look at my year-to-date reading listed by author’s last name:

  1. Celestial Bodies, Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth.
  2. Wherever She Goes, K.L. Armstrong.
  3. Bad Move, Linwood Barclay.
  4. Elevator Pitch, Linwood Barclay.
  5. Stand On The Sky, Erin Bow.
  6. Love Walked In, Marisa De Los Santos.
  7. Bone Black, Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  8. At The Mountain’s Edge, Genevieve Graham.
  9. Comics Will Break Your Heart, Faith Erin Hicks.
  10. And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini.
  11. The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary.
  12. A Better Man, Louise Penny.
  13. Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  14. Snowmen, Mark Sedore.
  15. The Art of Racing in The Rain, Garth Stein.
  16. 26 Knots, Bindu Suresh.
  17. A Delhi Obsession, M.G. Vassanji.
  18. Starlight, Richard Wagamese.

Number of books read: Eighteen books from January to March 2020.

A book originally written in a language other than my first language: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth. Altharthi makes literary history as the first female Omani author to be translated into English and as author of the first novel written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize 2019. She shares that extraordinary success with translator and Oxford professor Booth.

A book by an Indigenous author: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese.

A book that made me laugh: Bad Move by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star, a Canadian daily newspaper. I used to read his column and enjoy his humourous writing style.

A book under 200 pages long: 26 Knots by Bindu Suresh at 151 pages and Snowmen by Mark Sedore at 170 pages.

A book over 450 pages long: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay at 453 pages.

A book for young adults: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks and Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.

A book to be made into a mini TV series: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A book with a dog’s view of life: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

A book written in three days: Snowmen by Mark Sedore. This is Sedore’s first published novel and the winner of the 32nd Annual International 3-Day Novel Contest.

A book that took me to other places in Canada:

  • British Columbia: Starlight by Richard Wagamese.
  • Nova Scotia: Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.
  • Quebec: 26 Knots by Bindu Surash and A Better Man by Louise Penny.
  • Saskatchewan: Bone Black by Carol Rose GoldenEagle.
  • The Arctic Circle from Canada to Russia: Snowmen by Mark Sedore.
  • The Yukon: At The Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham.

A book that took me overseas:

  • Afghanistan: And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.
  • India: A Delhi Obsession by M.G. Vassanji.
  • Mongolia: Stand on the Sky by Erin Bow.
  • Oman: Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi.
  • The United Kingdom: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto library branches have been closed since March 13 until further notice. I look forward to picking up a few books that have been on hold for me when the library reopens. In the meantime, I have a few books at home waiting to be read. Knowing that makes me smile.

What about you? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear your comments.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

What Have You Been Reading? Part 2

Back in June this year, I wrote about the thirty two books that I read in the first half of the year. Now that we’re in mid-December and 2019 is coming to a close, I thought I’d write another update to share the books I read in the second half of the year.

Books Read in 2nd Half of 2019

From July 1 to December 15 29, I read twenty eight thirty books. Not bad considering that I was traveling frequently during this time period. I list them by author’s last name as follows:

  1. The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom.
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou.
  3. The Christmas Train, David Baldacci.
  4. The Suspect, Fiona Barton.
  5. The Life Lucy Knew, Karma Brown.
  6. The Favourite Game, Leonard Cohen.
  7. Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan.
  8. The Bookshop on the Shore, Jenny Colgan.
  9. The Endless Beach, Jenny Colgan.
  10. The Moroccan Girl, Charles Cumming.
  11. Crimson Lake, Candice Fox.
  12. Less, Andrew Sean Greer.
  13. All Things Consoled, Elizabeth Hay.
  14. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway.
  15. The Chai Factor, Farah Heron.
  16. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gayle Honeyman.
  17. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini.
  18. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini.
  19. And Then You Were Gone, RJ Jacobs.
  20. Elevation, Stephen King.
  21. The Matchmaker’s List, Sonya Lalli.
  22. Happy People Read & Drink Coffee, Agnes Martin Lugand.
  23. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  24. Full Disclosure, Beverley McLachlin.
  25. Becoming, Michelle Obama.
  26. Dual Citizens, Alix Ohlin.
  27. The Black Jersey, Jorge Zepeda Patterson.
  28. Kingdom of the Blind, Louise Penny.
  29. Call Me Evie, J.P. Pomare.
  30. The Vanishing Season, Joanna Schaffhaussen.

P.S. I updated the above image and the list of books on December 29, 2019 to include two additional books that I read between December 15 and 29 (The Chai Factor and The Matchmaker’s List).

My Reading Goal for 2019

My reading target was three books per month or 36 books in 2019. My actual reading was 62 books in 2019 (32 in the first half plus 30 in the second half of 2019). I’ve unexpectedly exceeded my reading goal (yay me!).

Top Picks?

In case you’re looking for my “top picks”, it’s difficult for me to short list the books I’ve read this year. Each of the sixty two books that I read is a good read, many of them are award winners or bestsellers. The authors come from various countries around the world. Their bios, stories, and story settings are quite interesting.

Try Something New

I think reading choices, like music, depend on our mood. My suggestion is if you find one of the above book titles intriguing, look up the brief summary of the book on the internet and see if it appeals to you. Also be open to branching out from your usual book genres.

I’m thankful to have access to the excellent Toronto Public Library (TPL) system. I find the TPL 2019 Reading Challenge fun to do. The proposed categories introduce me to new book genres, new topics, and new authors. They make me read more widely. I look forward to reading more in the New Year.

What have you been reading in 2019?

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.

What Have You Been Reading?

I just got back from a two-week trip to Malta and Germany. My trip was part new exploration, to see the sights in Malta and Germany, and part family and friends, to see my cousins near Munich, and my longtime friend near Stuttgart.

I had an amazing time in both countries. The weather was sunny and warm, some days got to 37C (or 99F). I did a lot of talking with my family and friends, a lot of walking, sightseeing, eating, drinking (mostly water to stay hydrated and a few beers), and of course taking photos. More trip details to follow once I get myself organized.

In the mean time, in the Northern hemisphere we welcomed the first day of summer on June 21. Summer brings the promise of many outdoor activities, as well as easy living and reading. This prompted me to reflect on what I’ve been reading this year.

In January, I started using the proposed categories from the Toronto Public Library 2019 Reading Challenge as a guide to read more widely. This has led to getting me to read a bit beyond my usual mysteries and fiction.

What I’ve Enjoyed Reading: From January to date, I’ve enjoyed reading thirty two books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I had fun putting the thirty two book cover images into a photo collage. The books are listed by author’s last name below:

  1. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  2. The Widow, Fiona Barton
  3. Family & Other Catastrophes, Alexandra Borowitz
  4. The Rough Guide to Croatia, Jonathan Bousfield
  5. Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton
  6. Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
  7. The Choice, Dr. Edith Eva Eger
  8. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Nathan Englander
  9. 419, Will Ferguson
  10. Gone Girl, Gillan Flynn
  11. Panic Room, Robert Goddard
  12. Scrublands, Chris Hammer
  13. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  14. Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
  15. A Brief History of Oversharing, Shawn Hitchins
  16. Sea Prayer, Khaled Hosseini
  17. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  18. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  19. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  20. Defending Jacob, William Landay
  21. The Bishop’s Man, Linden MacIntyre
  22. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  23. Binti, Nnedi Okorafor
  24. In Pursuit of Excellence, Terry Orlick
  25. Love Dishonor Marry Cherish Perish, David Rakoff
  26. Bellevue Square, Michael Redhill
  27. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland
  28. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  29. Adèle, Leila Slimani
  30. The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani
  31. Ru, Kim Thúy
  32. Book Love, Debbie Tung

Book Categories: The Toronto Public Library proposed fourteen categories in the Reading Challenge. I’ve read all of them, and at least one book in each category, hence the total of thirty two books. When a book qualifies for more than one category, I count it in one category only.

Reading Habits: During the day, I prefer to be out and about so I save my book reading for the evening. I read most days but not every day. I usually read one book at a time to pay my full attention to the book. I’ve also been more careful with my book selection since I want to spend my time on good quality books.

Gratitude: I’m grateful to have access to one of the best public library systems in the world. Thanks to the library’s proposed book categories, I’ve been reading many new-to-me and award-winning authors from different countries. I’ve also read more book genres and learned more about international literary awards. I love that I’ve been reading these books without accumulating them in my home.

What’s Next: I enjoy the Reading Challenge and plan to continue for the rest of this year. I may use the additional eleven categories in the Advanced Reading Challenge to make my reading even more interesting. It would be a “wide” success for me if I could finish reading sixty books in more than fourteen categories in 2019.

Your Turn: What have you been reading? What are your reading habits? I’d love to hear your book recommendations.

Copyright © 2020 natalietheexplorer.home.blog – All rights reserved.