books I read in 2023

1. Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries (re-read)
2. Margaret Lawrence, The Diviners (re-read)
3. Dexter Palmer, The Dream of Perpetual Motion
4. Lawrence Hill, Some Great Thing
5. Souvankham Thammavongsa, How to Pronounce Knife
6. Zadie Smith ed., The Book of Other People
7. Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster
8. Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
9. Nick Cave, The Death of Bunny Munro
10. Alexander Boldizar, The Ugly
11. Joan Barfoot, Exit Lines
12. Homer, The Oddyssey (re-read), Emily Wilson, translation
13. Selçuk Altun, Songs My Mother Never Taught Me
14. Anouk Markovits, I Am Forbidden
15. Camilla Gibb, This is Happy
16. Timothy Findley, The Piano Man’s Daughter
17. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
18. Johanna Skibsrud, The Sentimentalists
19. Alan Watts, TAO: The Watercourse Way
20. Joan Barfoot, Charlotte and Claudia Keeping in Touch
21. Lori Lansens, The Wife’s Tale
22. Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome
23. Herta Müller, The Appointment
24. Sunil Yapa, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
25. Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses
26. Joan Barfoot, Getting Over Edgar
27. Doris Lessing, The Summer Before the Dark
28. Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans
29. Shirley Jackson, The Lottery and other stories
30. Yasuko Thanh, Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountain
31. Rudy Weibe, Sweeter Than All the World
32. Joan Barfoot, Critical Injuries
33. Leila Slimani, Adèle
34. Isabel Allende, The Infinite Plan
35. Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
36. Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
37. Q Hayashida, Dorohedoro
38. Salman Rushdie, Fury
39. Sharon Bala, The Boat People
40. Nino Ricci, Where She Has Gone
41. Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost
42. Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave

hello shorty

a black squirrel with a short tail creeping towards the leg of a white woman, in the foreground, on which is a tattoo of two squirrels and a cherry branch.

This wonderful tattoo of my two short tailed squirrel friends, Shorty and Stubby Jr., was done for me earlier this year by the amazing Suzie Woodward (instagram link: Suzie Woodward tattoos). We finished up in late July and I spent the next month sitting on the concrete front steps in my jean shorts, nuts in one hand and phone in the other, waiting for Shorty to visit so I could try to get a photo of her next to her portrait. I got loads of photos, because Shorty is comfortable enough to take nuts straight out of my hand, but sadly she’s not very photogenic so this one is the best. Please ignore her embarrassing bald spot; Shorty is at least three years old, a pretty advanced age for an urban squirrel. She has enjoyed life and it shows.

Unfortunately I don’t think Stubby Jr. lives in our neighbourhood anymore; also pushing three, she showed up for the last time in May, about a week after we had finished the outline on this piece. That was the first time that both Shorty and Stubby visited me on the front porch at the same time and both accepted nuts (Stubby only from a distance, Shorty right up in my face as usual).

Here’s a photo of the two of them together at the backyard buffet, taken in August 2021 when they were young and bald-spot-free and our cherry tree, around which they’re chasing each other in their tattoo portrait, was also young and still needed a rope in case it toppled.

view of a backyard with flagstone patio in the foreground, steel vegetable beds in the background, and a young cherry tree in the middle with a bird feeder and two black squirrels.

And here’s Shorty last summer, viewed out the dining room window, demolishing a sunflower that, admittedly, she probably planted there herself.

a black squirrel sitting on a sunflower head, eating seeds, while suspended over a flagstone patio viewed from above.

books I read in 2020, 2021, and 2022

Might as well get caught up, I guess.


1. Yann Martel, Self
2. Carol Shields, The Republic of Love
3. D.A. Lockhart, The Gravel Lot That Was Montana
4. Nadia Hashimi, When the Moon is Low
5. Bernard Assiniwi, The Beothuk Saga (trans. Wayne Grady)
6. Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children
7. Lynne Kutsukake, The Translation of Love
8. Shyam Selvadurai, Cinnamon Gardens
9. Jonathan Clements, The Samurai: A New History of the Warrior Elite
10. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
11. Gil Courtemanche, A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali
12. André Alexis, Childhood
13. Ian McEwan, Black Dogs
14. JT Leroy, The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
15. Tony Kushner, Angels in America
16. Angela Carter, The Passion of New Eve
17. George Sansom, A History of Japan to 1334
18. Waubgeshig Rice, Moon of the Crusted Snow
19. Emily St John Mandel, The Glass Hotel
20. Shane Neilson, New Brunswick
21. Cherie Dimaline, The Marrow Thieves
22. George Sansom, A History of Japan 1334-1615
23. Zhang Wei, The Ancient Ship
24. Sarah Moss, Ghost Wall
25. M. G. Vassanji, The Assassin’s Song
26. Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
27. Sophie Mackintosh, Blue Ticket
28. Peter Høeg, The History of Danish Dreams
29. Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore
30. T.C. Boyle, Tooth and Claw
31. Heather O’Neill, Daydreams of Angels
32. Miriam Toews, Summer of My Amazing Luck
33. Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
34. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
35. Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
36. Sarah Moss, Cold Earth
37. Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In
38. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot
39. Rob Spillman (ed.), Gods and Soldiers: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing
40. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
41. Sarah Waters, Fingersmith
42. Natsuo Kirino, Out
43. Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard
44. Michael Chekhov, A Tale About Lies and How Swiftly They Spread Across the Earth
45. Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
46. Amos Tutuola, Feather Woman of the Jungle


1. Merilyn Simonds, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
2. Umberto Eco, Baudolino (re-read)
3. Jay Rubin (ed.), The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
4. Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase
5. Angela Davis, Woman, Race, & Class
6. Laura Pursell, Bone China
7. Michel Basilières, Black Bird
8. Idra Novey, Those Who Knew
9. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (re-read)
10. Arthur Manual and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson, Unsettling Canada
11. Sean Michaels, Us Conductors
12. Shauna Singh Baldwin, What the Body Remembers
13. Rudy Rucker, As Above, So Below
14. Orlo Miller, The Donnelys Must Die
15. Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood (re-read)
16. Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Last Crossing
17. Yejide Kilanko, Daughters Who Walk This Path


1. Colm Tóibín, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border
2. Casey Plett, A Safe Girl to Love
3. G.B. Sansom, Japan: A Short Cultural History
4. Josh Weil, The Great Glass Sea
5. André Alexis, The Hidden Keys
6. Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
7. Casey Plett, A Dream of a Woman
8. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World
9. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
10. Russen Hoban, Riddley Walker
11. Jane Urquhart, The Night Stages
12. Anita Amirrezvani, Equal of the Sun
13. Jamen Gould Cozzens, The Just and the Unjust
14. Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear it Away
15. José Saramago, Journey to Portugal
16. Colm Tóibín, Brooklyn
17. Carol Shields, Swann (re-read)
18. José Saramago, The Cave (re-read)
19. Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer
20. Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (re-read)
21. Colm Tóibín, Nora Webster
22. Carol Shields, The Box Garden
23. Kim Fahner, Emptying the Ocean
24. Drew Hayden Taylor, Take Us To Your Chief

books I read in 2019

1. Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap
2. Madeleine Thien, Do Not Say We Have Nothing
3. Brooke Davis, Lost & Found
4. Zadie Smith, On Beauty
5. Sarah Dunant, The Birth of Venus
6. Aurelie Sheehan, History Lesson for Girls
7. James Ngugi, Weep not, child
8. Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth
9. Heather O’Neill, lullabies for little criminals
10. Wayson Choy, The Jade Peony
11. Jeannette Walls, The Silver Star
12. Mary Lawson, The Other Side of the Bridge
13. Tom McNeal, Goodnight, Nebraska
14. Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
15. Erica Ferencik, The River at Night
16. Jane Urquhart, A Map of Glass
17. Casey Plett, Little Fish
18. Heather O’Neill, The Lonely Hearts Hotel
19. Wayson Choy, All That Matters
20. Imbolo Mbue, Behold the Dreamers
21. Timothy Findley, Stones
22. Ha Jin, Waiting
23. Lisa Moore, February
24. Joy Kogawa, The Rain Ascends
25. Shilpi Somaya Gowda, The Golden Son
26. Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse
27. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Nest
28. Katherena Vermette, The Break
29. Kim Echlin, The Disappeared
30. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
30. Miranda Hill, Sleeping Funny
31. Kim Edwards, The Lake of Dreams
32. Jane Urquhart, Away
33. Kim Fahner, These Wings
34. Mary Swan, The Boys in the Trees
35. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
36. Eowyn Lemay Ivey, The Snow Child
37. Jamie Zeppa, Beyond the Sky and Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan
38. Sue Miller, The World Below
39. Padma Viswanathan, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao
40. Nino Ricci, Testament
41. Mona Awad, Bunny
42. Paul Howarth, Only Killers and Thieves
43. Miriam Toews, Women Talking
44. Yasmina Khadra, The Swallows of Kabul
45. Joy Kogawa, Itsuka
46. David Benioff, City of Thieves
(in progress: George Sansom, A History of Japan to 1334)

books I read in 2018

1. Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water
2. Christina Schwarz, All is Vanity
3. Shusaku Endo, Silence
4. Anuradha Roy, The Folded Earth
5. Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark
6. Nadia Hashimi, A House Without Windows
7. Joy Kogawa, Obasan
8. Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
9. Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes
10. Andrea Levy, Small Island
11. Jane Urquhart, The Underpainter
12. Andre Alexis, Fifteen Dogs
13. Sue Miller, While I Was Gone
14. Anosh Irani, The Song of Kahunsha
15. Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero
16. Lori Lansens, Rush Home Road
17. Three plays: Yvette Nolan, The Unplugging; Kevin Loring, Where the Blood Mixes; Tara Beagan, Dreary and Izzy
18. Orhan Pamuk, Snow
19. Rachael Herron, How to Knit a Heart Back Home
20. Nadia Hashimi, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
21. Leila Slimani, The Perfect Nanny
22. Cintra Wilson, Colors Insulting To Nature
23. Miriam Toews, Irma Voth
24. Lawrence Hill, The Illegal
25. Saroo Brierly, Lion
26. Charlee Fam, Last Train to Babylon
27. Vincent Lam, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
28. Kim Fahner, Some Other Sky
29. Keigo Higashino, The Devotion of Suspect X
30. David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl
31. Roch Carrier, The Lament of Charlie Longsong
32. Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger
33. Chang-rae Lee, A Gesture Life
34. Tim Powers, Three Days to Never
35. Vinita Hampton Wright, Velma Still Cooks in Leeway
36. Margaret Mazzantini, Twice Born
37. Matt Haig, The Humans
38. Douglas Preston, The Lost City of the Monkey God
39. Andrew Taylor, The Ashes of London
40. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
41. Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love
42. Camilla Gibb, Sweetness in the Belly
43. Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
44. Cormac McCarthy, No Country For Old Men
45. Mary Lawson, Crow Lake
46. Miriam Toews, All My Puny Sorrows
47. Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Barefoot Dogs
48. Lawrence Hill, Any Known Blood
49. Laura Purcell, The Silent Companions
50. Dionne Brand, Theory
51. Lori Lansens, The Girls
52. Jessica Blank, Almost Home

a little corner

This is finally getting somewhere. On Sunday I did a bit of digging at the corner of the porch and sifted a hideous amount of rocks, most white marble chips (thanks, previous owners) out of the soil, threw in a few handfuls of tulip bulbs and then planted those hostas (hand-me-downs from Peter’s grandparents via his mother’s front yard, and having languished in an overgrown jungle corner of our backyard since we relocated them to put the new porch in). Then I stood up, exhausted, and loudly declared myself done working for the day.
And then I made this flagstone path! Because I overdo things. And it looks good and is worth the stiff back. I keep walking out of my way all the way around the house on arriving home from the studio just so I can happen upon it from around the corner like this and admire it and bask in my self satisfaction.