Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – E

Again – 2 instead of 3. I started reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco but then I remembered I am trying to read things I haven’t read before with an eye to whether I want to keep or give away. And well, I am NOT getting rid of my Folio Edition of The Name of the Rose!

A red hardcover book with thorn covered vines reaching towards the top from the bottom. Runes (astrological signs?) across the top.

So on we go…

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Storygraph tags: fiction lgbtqia+ literary; emotional reflective slow-paced

One of those books that travels along with someones life and it’s ups and downs and family histories and family secrets and the problems that always happen when people keep all those secrets.

At the time I posted on socials: I really love reading books about lives so different than mine. I know it’s a famous book (the damn cover says it won the Pulitzer after all) but I had no idea what I was in for. It was just beautiful and full of heart. So there you go.

I didn’t keep it though because I knew I wasn’t going to read it again. I think I put it in a local little free library. (It was almost a year ago. Sigh).

Cover of Middlesex; two adults and 2 children on the deck of a boat looking as they approach land.

The Sentence by Louise Erdich

The Storygraph tags: fiction contemporary literary; emotional reflective medium-paced

I liked this but not as much as I probably would have if I hadn’t been caught up in one of the blurbs saying “a wickedly funny ghost story.” I’m not sure I got the humour then.

I donated this to one of the local free libraries.

Cover of The Sentence - colour blocked, mostly triangles, some beaded triangles; colours are reminiscent of the Indigenous medicine wheel colours.
Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – 3 Ds uhm 2D

Oh I am so behind on this. And I wondered, do I continue with the Ds (where I stopped blogging about it) or jump to the Ks (the books I just finished up). I waffled. As expected. So I thought I would try to write the Ds and if it still came easily then I could keep going and if not then I would jump to the more recent. Let’s see what happens!

It definitely helps that I log everything I read – again, sometimes late but always eventually! I used to use goodreads but then I discovered it was owned by amazon now and I discovered The Storygraph at about the same time so I use that now.

And it turns out I only read 2 Ds. Oops

First up:

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

The Storygraph tags: fiction fantasy horror challenging dark mysterious medium-paced

Sooo good. So so good. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be keeping this on the shelf until The Mighty Q is a bit older. I think he’d really like the story though he’s still at an age where explicit sex scenes are “no thank you very much” and there is at least one that he would not appreciate at all.

And the other D… I swear, what the hell happened that I didn’t read three? Or at least didn’t log three. Maybe I’ll go stare at the shelf a little bit…

Nope didn’t help. If I read another D author I tossed the book. But I am guessing I just read 2 instead of 3.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

This I bought years ago from the remainder bin at the City Hall branch of the Toronto Public Library.

A picture of Toronto's city hall
By Arild Vågen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

My arrow shows where the library is; though you still enter through the main City Hall doors in the middle

The Storygraph tags: fiction historical adventurous emotional medium-paced

Again, not a usual choice for me. I am not a big fan of westerns. I mean they’re okay and all but not my usual jam. Holy hell this was good. Funny and also so so sad and funny. Toby said he watched the movie and it was very good. The book was too.

Definitely good enough that I picked up another one by DeWitt from a little free library.

Okay well, I definitely remembered enough to write about the Ds so I will just keep catching up.

Do you have a favourite author whose name starts with D? Toby might pick Roald Dahl or Phillip K. Dick. I’m partial to Dickens – he wrote amazingly well AND was a lefty 😉 And if I’m feeling pretentious I will lay claim to Dostoevsky as well.

Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – 3 Cs

I am a little behind on this too! But catching up on posts is kinda fun in a way… These were all read in 2022! Oops

In Cold Blood : A true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Truman Capote

The Storygraph key words: nonfiction classics crime true crime adventurous dark tense slow paced

Me: This is one of those books I’ve actually had for ages but couldn’t remember actually reading. It was really interesting to see how Capote told the story with the various viewpoints and shifting the narrative around. However now that I’ve read it, I’ve handed it off to my dad who also hasn’t ever read it. So it’s out of the house!

The Wealthy Barber: The common sense guide to successful financial planning by David Chilton

The Storygraph key words: nonfiction business informative fast paced

Me: It was pretty good for a financial book written in the late ’90s 😉 The basics are good and tie in nicely with my supposed focus on being more mindful with money. It talks about “paying yourself first” (we have automatic RRSP/TFSA account contributions on top of our workplace group plans) and those kinds of basics. I also have the sequel somewhere in the house but it can wait I guess: I’ve had this one for years and years. It went into a local free library as soon as I was done.

Nosy Parker: by Lesley Crewe

The Storygraph key words: fiction historical emotional funny lighthearted medium-paced

Me: this was a fun read. It takes place in Montreal during the expo. You definitely get the idea that family is what you make – friends become family and the “ideal family” just doesn’t exist. It’s told from the perspective of a middle-school-aged kid. I was a little nervous about this but it was actually quite good and not at all cutesy (as I feared). I gave this away on our local free group on FB ’cause I knew I wasn’t gonna read it again.

Diversions Food Review Toronto

Eating around the world

I do well with lists. I like checking things off.

Left to my own devices, I will stay inside and never leave the house. Now I have a puppy. I leave the house several times a day. I have spoken to more people – STRANGERS! – in the past 7 months than I probably have since 2012 when we moved into this house.

Toby likes going out. And Toby loves trying new and different places to eat.

So I thought I’d combine the two – a list and going out to eat.

What better list than ALLLL the countries of the world?!?

Well, probably lots. There are honestly loads of better lists to use to pick restaurants than “an alphabetical list of the countries of the world.”

First of all, not everyone agrees as to what is “a country.” And seriously, this is not at all supposed to be political (not the blog, the eating out!). But if the list didn’t have Palestine on it I wasn’t gonna use it. This is my favourite list though – it recognizes Palestine and Kosovo (to the Mighty Q’s great relief).

And second, wow there are a LOT of countries that start with A. And not a lot of restaurants for all of them in Toronto. So Toby suggested, 1 country per letter and just keep cycling through the alphabet. I think that’s actually what I’m going to work with.

But wait…why eat around the world at all?!?

Okay, let’s step back a minute. I was born in Toronto Ontario Canada. In the early 1970s. I basically grew up with the story that Toronto is the most multicultural place in the world.

It turns out it is actually not just a story – see here: BBC Radio – behind the stats; or here: BBC Travel: the city of 140 languages; about half our population comes from elsewhere AND half of the immigrants to Canada come here: wiki.

But of course it’s not all honey and love and equality. Most people have heard of Little Italy or Chinatown. But we also have a Little Jamaica, and a Chinatown East, and Little India. I live near Greektown. And then there’s Koreatown. And so so many more. So the idea came to me to get out of the house and explore the city a little more. To entice Toby, and maybe some friends too, I’d link it to food.

Start at the beginning

So – I started at the top. With Afghanistan.

Map Of Afghanistan And Surrounding Countries

I googled “best [country] food Toronto.” I relied heavily on reddit: specifically /FoodToronto. And this is obviously not a new idea. There are other blogs dedicated to this: Eat the World TO, Global Toronto Eats, even a food tour! But hey I am still gonna do it my way.

On January 14, Toby and I and the Mighty Q and some friends (people came along! wheeeee) met at Bamiyan Kabob on Overlea Blvd. in East York. Inexpensive and cheerful – think hard tables, plastic chairs, picking your food up on trays etc. – and the food was really really good and three of the boys (7, 11, and 48 years old) all really liked their mango smoothies too. It was busy. We grabbed a table for the 9 of us and almost all the other tables turned over while we were there. A mix of ages and races and genders and everything.

barg kabob on rice with some lettuce and chopped tomatoes
barg kabob
kofta kabob with rice, lettuce and chopped tomatoes
kofta kabob

Even Q ate it. Well, not the lettuce 😉 Turns out he liked the barg best. I ordered it because I had no idea what it was. According to the website it’s filet mignon. Kid has good taste.

And then across the “street” in the little plaza-type place, there was an ice cream shop. Remember we had 3 kids with us.

Anyway – why not have Afghan dinner and then Thai dessert?

Ice cream is rolled out on a tabletop that is chilled to -19 degrees Celsius. Then rolled up. That’s it in a nutshell. The Mighty Q got smores (complete with marshmallow). I got blueberry cheesecake with whipped cream and white chocolate. I don’t even remember what Toby got but I’m sure there was fruit involved. And no pictures even. Clearly we’ll have to go back.

Next up I think is Belgium. Moules…. lambics…ales… steak frites.

My brain is already thinking things like “so many different types of “Chinese” food – what the heck are we gonna do?!?!?” But one thing at a time I guess. January was Afghanistan. March will be Belgium. If you have a favourite “country” restaurant in the GTA let me know!

Around the house Book Diversions Reading Review

Bookish – 3 Bs

So, moving on to the Bs….

The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

A screen capture of the cover from the library app; There is a church steeple in the fog.

This sort of shouldn’t count for the decluttering / organizing part of this activity because it turns out the actual physical book I have is book two in the series so I read book one from the library.

Storygraph key words: fiction crime mystery darktense medium-paced

Me: while parts of this “written in the 70s” detective story were kinda painful to read nowadays (bosoms should just not be commented on okay?!?) the overall premise of this one is awesome and I will be reading more! I don’t want to spoil it – which is weird to say about a book as old as I am but still. Once I get through the alphabet I’ll come back to read the second one.

Milkman by Anna Burns 

A photo of the cover of Milkman, an evening sky in shades of pink and rose and a person walking by the water. The book is on Lisa's desk

Storygraph key words: fiction historical literary challenging dark reflective slow-paced

Me: if you want to read a book that seems to me like what my brain is like read this. Digressions all over the place (like for pages!), but always swinging back around to the point etc. Again, not my usual sort of thing but I LOVED it. So far it’s still on the shelf. And will likely stay there for a while.

Kindred by Octavia Butler 

A picture of the cover for Kindred. A Black woman wearing a light coloured blouse looking down; overlayed with an image of trees and houses

Storygraph key words: fiction classics historical speculative fiction dark emotional tense medium-paced

I loved this book first published in 1979. Usually Butler is lumped into science fiction but I far prefer The Storygraph’s use of “speculative fiction.”

I thought this was just beautifully done. And also so much of what I would do. She travels through time, but doesn’t understand how or why and she and her partner try to figure it out as the story progresses and I love that part of it. I will definitely read more by her. I have read Bloodchild and Other Stories – I love short stories and these were all fantastic.

So I was really happy that I read three A books and got 4 books out of the house. Less decluttering with B books – they are all still here. But ohhhh so worthy of staying on the shelf. On to C next!