Happy Weekend + Links I Love

evening-skies-at-concord-cityplace

Happy weekend, friends! Got any fun plans? Seriously, where is February going? I really wish the year would slow down just a little bit.

Have you filed your taxes yet? I plan on filing mine online this Sunday. I can’t wait to get it out of the way. Also, will you be watching the Oscars? I don’t think I’ve watched any of the movies in the running, but I’ll be tuning in nonetheless. We used to do an Oscars pool at my old workplace and it was so much fun!

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you have a good one! If you’re looking for some reading, I’ve got you covered with my favourite links…

+ Watch how movie sound effects are made. Just in time for this Sunday’s Oscars!

+ Sip on these gorgeous lemon raspberry sorbet prosecco floats while watching the big show.

+ The best of New York Fashion Week street style illustrated. Love love love.

+ I discovered Griffin on Instagram this week and I appreciated her super honest post, Loving the Body I Hate. I wrote these words on a Post-It and stuck it on my bathroom mirror: “But, if you struggle with loving your body, like me, remember that love is first an action. One of the best things you can do is act in a way that’s loving to your body, even if your mind is telling you otherwise.”

+ Instagram’s newest feature is without a doubt the best one yet. You can now share up to 10 photos and videos in one post.

+ When everything is not enough. I read this post at the perfect time.

+ This made me laugh. “I want to grow up and be like my mom because I really like her.”

+ This short film is not to be missed: 109-year-old veteran and his secrets to life.

+ I could devour a couple of these beautiful scallion and sesame tuna burgers right about now.

+ Love this monochromatic look.

(Photo from last spring.)

Happy {Long} Weekend + Links I Love

winter-sunset

Happy weekend, everyone! Got any fun plans this weekend? It’s feeling like spring in Toronto and I’m looking forward to hitting the trails this weekend.

I hope you have a good one. As always, here’s what I’m loving this week…

+ A brave and moving love story.

+ The wait is over! Big Little Lies premieres this Sunday on HBO.

+ This weekend I plan on catching up on New York Fashion Week Fall 2017. This year, there were 180 shows! I loved Anna Wintour’s recap of trends spotted on the runways. “I also thought it was an optimistic week and a joyful week. I do feel when things are tough being positive is the best revenge.”

+ What Should I Read Next is one of my favourite podcasts. In this week’s episode, Anne talks books with Megan of the Sorta Awesome Podcast.

+ Hosting an Oscars party this year? Oscar bingo sounds like such a fun way to entertain your guests. (Thanks Emily!)

+ Pixar launched free online lessons in storytelling and filmmaking featuring the studio’s directors and story artists. I am definitely checking this out.

+ LOVED this. Life Inside the Lifestyle Blog.

+ I just discovered Elle‘s series This Woman’s Work. I’ll be catching up on the features this weekend.

+ On repeat: Bruno Mars’s tribute to Prince.

+ A great interview with British author Clare Mackintosh. Her response to the question, “Who is your fashion icon?” made me laugh out loud in public: “I’m a writer. Find me a celebrity who advocates spending all day in stretchy lounge wear, fingerless gloves and fluffy slippers, and there’s my fashion icon.”

Reading update:

This weekend I’ll be starting Heather O’Neill’s new historical novel The Lonely Hearts Hotel.

(Winter sunset snapped in the neighbourhood.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

snow-covered

Happy Sunday, everyone. It’s been snowing nonstop since this morning and a foot has fallen already. I plan on making the most of it. How are you spending the rest of the weekend?

If you’re in the mood for some reading, here’s a roundup of my favourite links from around the web this week…

+ The Grammys are on tonight. Will you be watching? Here’s a rundown of what to watch for.

+ This indoor skydiving freestyle routine took my breath away.

+ This photo shoot on Iceland Black Sand Beach is nothing short of magical.

+ Teenagers who vandalized the Asburn Colored School in Virginia sentenced to read. The list of 35 books includes The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Night by Elie Wiesel, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

+ Will shared the most stunning photos from his NYE trip to Stockholm.

+ This New York City ballet dancer’s new role is being bad.

+ Pardon my French is one of those podcasts I listen to regularly. This week, Garance had best selling author Jessi Klein on the show.

+ Did you see this story about the flight attendant who saved a young human trafficking victim on an Alaska Airlines flight? “Something in the back of my mind said something was not right. He was well-dressed. That’s what got me because I thought why is he well-dressed and she is looking all dishevelled and out of sorts?”

+ I downloaded this app this week and I can’t wait to try it out. 10 tips for taking an awesome Boomerang. Do you use it?

+ I am heading back to ballet this week after a 5-month break. Halfway through every class, my calf muscles cramp up. I wish I’d known about these tips to avoid or minimize them sooner.

+ Favourites on Instagram: From Reese to Madeline via @reesewitherspoon, Magical morning moments via @thebalancedblonde, Having a princess moment wearing Dior via @songofstyle, Who says you can’t do ballet in a formal gown? via @mystylepill

Reading update:

I am still reading Columbine. I am hoping to finish it tonight.

I’m in the mood for historical fiction so I’m starting The Belly of Paris.

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

alexander-muir-memorial-gardens-2

Happy February, everyone! I hope you’re having a great weekend so far. How are you spending it? This evening, I’m meeting friends for a Winterlicious dinner followed by the Toronto Light Festival in the Distillery District.

Hope you have a good one! As always, I’m sharing my favourite links with you…

+ Loved reading this so, so much. Harry Belafonte Knows a Thing or Two About New York. “It’s my last chance to say whatever I feel the need to say. And I think I’m formulating what that utterance should be. What have I not said that needs to be said more forcefully and more precisely? There are times we mute ourselves, we censor ourselves because we have this false pride, this need to be liked. Rather than worry about being liked, are you telling the truth, putting your best foot forward?”

+ Have you heard about Sincerely, X? TED and Audible debuted this audio series this week that features speakers sharing revealing stories anonymously.

+ Speaking of TED Talks, this one: My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story landed in my inbox this week. I am currently reading Columbine so I found it quite timely.

+ I am loving this new literary lifestyle magazine.

+ Tips for handling difficult conversations online. We need this more than ever these days.

+ Airbnb’s CEO offers free housing to refugees. Interested in helping? You can make a donation here.

+ These words from the head of communications for the UN Refugee Agency: “My job is to make people care about the sixty million displaced people in the world. I wish I could tell every single one of their stories. Because if people knew their stories, I don’t think there would be so many walls. And there wouldn’t be so many people drowning in the seas.”

+ These caramelized banana, Nutella, and candied pecan pancakes make me so happy!

+ This strawberry milkshake cake is almost too pretty to eat.

+ 6 favourite Brooklyn restaurants.

Reading update:

I am slowly making my way through Columbine by Dave Cullen. It’s a difficult, well-executed read that belongs on everyone’s reading list!

I am also reading Tracy K. Smith’s memoir Ordinary Light and I can’t put it down. She reflects on race, faith, family, her childhood in Northern California, her relationship with her mother, and her journey to becoming a writer. Beautifully written, thoughtful, and engaging.

What I Read in January

January was a pretty good reading month for me. Here are the 6 books I read and loved this month…

you-will-not-have-my-hate

You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris, translated by Sam Taylor

This short memoir is one of my favourite January reads. I’ve never read anything more beautiful and it had me in tears.

On November 13 2015, Antoine Leiris’s wife, Hélène was killed by terrorists while attending a rock concert at the Bataclan theater in Paris. Leiris was left to care for his seventeen-month-old son. Days after the attacks, he shared an open letter to his wife’s killers on Facebook. Here’s a snippet from his post: “You want me to be scared, to see my fellow citizens through suspicious eyes, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have failed. I will not change.”

With grace, honesty, and vulnerability, he shares the story of his grief and struggle in the days and weeks after his wife’s murder. A gorgeously written, incredibly moving memoir about love, loss, and our power to choose love over hate.

fractured

Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Catherine McKenzie is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Her latest novel is psychological suspense at its finest. Bestselling murder mystery author Julie Prentice and her family move from Tacoma, Washington to a picture-perfect Cincinnati neighbourhood to escape a stalker. Told from the perspectives of Julie and her new neighbour John, the story is brilliantly structured and packed with twist after twist. You know something horrible has happened in the neighbourhood, but you don’t know exactly what or to whom. I read it from cover to cover in one weekend.

fig

Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

Schantz’s debut novel was my pick for the “book with an unreliable narrator” category for the 2017 MMD Reading Challenge. I don’t usually read young adult novels, but this one came highly recommended by the teen librarian at my local library. Narrated by Fig, from ages six to nineteen, it’s a painfully accurate portrayal of life with mental illness and a mother-daughter relationship. Fig’s voice is so authentic and I can’t stop sharing it with everyone. Highly recommended for both teens and adults.

love-loss-and-what-we-ate

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

I love memoirs and I’ve added quite a few to this year’s reading list. I kicked off the year with Lakshmi’s bestselling memoir. In it, Lakshmi opens up about her childhood in India, moving to the U.S. at the age of four, her immigrant experience, and her journey to self-acceptance and feeling comfortable in her own skin. She talks candidly about her family life, marriage, divorce, and of course, her love of cooking and hosting Bravo’s Emmy award-winning Top Chef. Bonus: Lakshmi shares some of her favourite recipes throughout the book. Vivid, beautifully written, bold, and brave.

our-souls-at-night

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

In his final novel, Haruf transports us to the fictional small town of Holt, Colorado. Addie Moore and Louis Waters have lived in Holt for decades. Both their spouses died years ago and they have been living alone in empty houses. One day, Addie unexpectedly shows up on Louis’s doorstep with an invitation to spend the night at her house. After some thought, Louis accepts. As Addie and Louis get to know each other through their nightly conversations, a beautiful and honest relationship blooms.

Told in plain English, it’s a story about love, companionship, grief, and second chances.

suffer-love

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

Sam and Hadley meet at high school. Sam falls for Hadley, but then he finds out her last name. I read this in an afternoon. Blake does an excellent job of exploring the impact one choice has on two different families. Written in stunning language, this is an achingly beautiful and realistic love story for our times.

What did you read in January?

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

snow-day

Happy Friday! Can you believe it’s the final weekend of January? It’s cold and grey and snow flurries are on the way. If it’s not too cold out, I plan on checking out the Toronto Light Festival in The Distillery District. It looks like such an amazing event!

Got any fun plans this weekend? As always, I’ve rounded up my favourite links from around the web this week…

+ The right way to fall. “The key is to not fight the fall, but just to roll with it, as paratroopers do.”

+ Real perspectives from the Women’s Marches in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

+ Watch New York City Ballet dancers take over a subway station.

+ A new Netflix documentary series about design is coming in February.

+ LOVING the 2017 Oscar nominations by the numbers.

+ Invisible Wounds. Humans of New York’s new series tells the stories of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

+ The Taste of Emotion. Dominique Crenn on the poetry of cooking, the power of memory, and rejecting limits for women in the male-dominated culinary industry.

+ Bri shared an amazing Stockholm travel guide.

+ 9 documentaries to add to your must-see list this year.

+ Stay warm with this matcha honey hot chocolate.

Reading update:

I finished Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night this week. It was the late author’s final novel and I really enjoyed it.

I’m starting Columbine this weekend.

(Photo snapped in Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens last winter.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

winter wonderland on Manor Road

I am in the mood to curl up on the couch in my pajamas and binge-watch documentaries. Any recommendations?

Whatever you do, I hope you have an amazing one! As always, my favourite links this week for you to click through…

+ Don’t miss out: This weekend, you can download these 7 eBooks for free in honour of the Women’s Marches!

+ Bryan Stevenson: A Civil Rights Hero for the Age of Trump. Stevenson shares his thoughts on justice, race, America, and the importance of books. His book Just Mercy is a necessary read for our times. I finally read it last year and I’ll be rereading it soon.

+ A final thank you from Obama. How can you not love him?

+ And designers wrote the sweetest thank you notes to Michelle Obama.

+ This was a fascinating long read. To Obama With Love, Hate, and Desperation. The director of presidential correspondence, Fiona Reeves “looked for stories. Not pro-this or con-that, not screeds, not opinions about what someone heard on N.P.R. The president needed to hear the stories — that’s what he couldn’t get himself. She thought of the letters as a periscope outside the bubble, as a way for him to see as he used to see, before Secret Service protection and armored vehicles and a press pool and the world watching.”

+ Love this interview. Why the world needs more women sound mixers.

+ The brilliant question LinkedIn’s head of recruiting asks every job candidate.

+ This timely Ted Talk landed in my inbox this week. Ashley Judd: How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control.

+ An anti-smoking billboard that coughs. Seriously?

+ Must watch: Ellen’s tribute to the Obamas.

+ The perfect dinner for cold winter evenings: Slow roasted citrus salmon and winter citrus butter salmon.

+ Loving this social media cheat sheet for 2017.

+ Favourites from my Instagram feed: The beautiful in-between via @tuulavintage, Steamy with a chance of flurries via @laurenswells

+ In case you missed it, I shared the 100 books on my 2017 reading list.

Reading update:

This week I finished Padma Lakshmi’s memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate. Vivid, brave, moving, and brutally honest.

The 100 Books I’m Reading in 2017

Last January I shared a list of 100 books I wanted to read by the end of 2016; by December 31st I’d read 82 books. While my list changed as the year progressed, I found the list to be a great starting point. By the end of the year, I knew the exact number and titles of books I’d read.

I enjoyed tracking my reading progress so much that I am doing it again this year. I am sure this list will change as I discover new books along the way. After much editing, here’s my 2017 reading list…

books-for-living

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
The Door by Magda Szabo, translated by Len Rix
New York by Edward Rutherfurd
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
NW by Zadie Smith
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by Ann Goldstein
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola, translated by Mark Kurlansky
Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

ordinary-light

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith
Smoke by Catherine McKenzie
Fractured by Catherine McKenzie
Hidden by Catherine McKenzie
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris, translated by Sam Taylor
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
By Gaslight by Steven Price
Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

better-now

Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians by Dr. Danielle Martin
Transit by Rachel Cusk [January 17, 2017]
Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz Frost [January 24, 2017]
Unbound: Finding Myself on Top of the World by Steph Jagger [January 24, 2017]
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller [January 28, 2017]
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill [February 7, 2017]
The Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk Toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen [February 21, 2017]
Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz [March 7, 2017]
So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum [March 14, 2017]
The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep by Steven Heighton [March 14, 2017]
Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris [April 4, 2017]
Where I Live Now: A Journey through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope by Sharon Butala [April 4, 2017]

life-on-the-ground-floor

Life on the Ground Floor by Dr. James Maskalyk  [April 11, 2017]
The Weekend Effect by Katrina Onstad [April 11, 2017]
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara [April 15, 2017]
The Slip by Mark Sampson [May 20, 2017]
The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan [June 24, 2017]
Outline by Rachel Cusk
Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe
The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
In a Different Key: The Story of Autism by John Donvan & Caren Zucker

my-life-my-love-my-legacy

My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King
Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD by Romeo Dallaire
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell
With Malice by Eileen Cook
Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake
Weightless by Sarah Bannan
If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body by James Hamblin
A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
In the Woods by Tana French
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

columbine

Columbine by Dave Cullen
A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Juliet’s Answer: One Man’s Search for Love and the Elusive Cure for Heartbreak by Glenn Dixon
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Around the Way Girl by Taraji P. Henson
How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, translated by Chi-Young Kim
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow by Rita Leganski
I Found You by Lisa Jewell

nothing-to-prove

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard by Jennie Allen [January 31, 2017]
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Break by Katherena Vermette
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu
Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

how-can-i-help

How Can I Help?: A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist by David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden
Endurance: My Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly [November 7, 2017]
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti
The Dry by Jane Harper
All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg [March 7, 2017]

What’s on your reading list for 2017? Have you read any of my picks?

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

discovery walk through Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying what’s left of the weekend.

If you’re in the mood for some Internet browsing, I’ve got you covered with my favourite links from this week…

+ In case you missed it: President Obama’s farewell address. (Keep a box of tissues handy.)

+ And why President Obama’s tears matter. “For the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good humor.”

+ Reese Witherspoon on sexism in Hollywood. “I feel like I constantly see women of incredible talent playing wives and girlfriends in thankless parts, I just had enough.” I am looking forward to the premiere of Big Little Lies next month!

+ My cousin got me hooked on this Netflix series. I find it really strange, but I can’t stop watching. Have you watched it? Thoughts?

+ I started listening to The Lively Show again this week. I found this episode incredibly relatable and inspiring. Energy, Flow, and Finding Adventure in Your Own Hometown with Rob Lawless.

+ Stolen good books: why Canadian thieves outclass the British. “They have a better class of book thief in Toronto. Whereas in the UK, Potters Harry and Beatrix, as well as travel guides, top the list of titles most likely to be stolen from bookshops, thieves working the aisles in the Canadian city are targeting Haruki Murakami’s work.”

+ I bought this book last year and I finally started reading it yesterday. It is SO good.

+ If you’re looking for recommendations, I shared my winter reading list this week.

Reading update:

I finished reading Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. I don’t usually read young adult novels, but this debut novel grabbed me from the opening line. Narrated by Fig, from ages six to nineteen, it’s a painfully authentic portrayal of life with mental illness and a mother-daughter relationship. One of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a while; I can’t stop talking about it.

I also read You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris. After his wife Helene was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks, Leiris is left to pick up the pieces and care for his seventeen-month-old son. With honesty and vulnerability, he shares the story of his grief and struggle in the days and weeks after Helene’s murder. I was blown away by his decision to choose love over hate. A beautiful and important little book.

Most Anticipated Canadian Books of 2017

Last year, I was determined to read more books written by Canadian authors and I did. Each year, approximately 10,000 Canadian books are released by publishers and their imprints from coast to coast. Putting together my 2017 reading list just got a wee bit more difficult, but I’m not complaining!

Here are 17 books from Canadian authors I can’t wait to read in 2017. These titles will be hitting shelves between January and June.

better-now

Better Now: Six Big Ideas to Improve Health Care for All Canadians by Dr. Danielle Martin, Publisher: Allen Lane

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Dr. Danielle Martin see the challenges in our health care system every day. As a family doctor and a hospital vice president, she observes how those deficiencies adversely affect patients. And as a health policy expert, she knows how to close those gaps. A passionate believer in the value of fairness that underpins the Canadian health care system, Dr. Martin is on a mission to improve medicare. In Better Now, she shows how bold fixes are both achievable and affordable. Her patients’ stories and her own family’s experiences illustrate the evidence she presents about what works best to improve health care for all.

transit

Transit by Rachel Cusk, Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Synopsis from HarperCollins Canada: In the wake of family collapse, a writer moves to London with her two young sons. The process of upheaval is the catalyst for a number of transitions—personal, moral, artistic, practical—as she endeavors to construct a new reality for herself and her children. In the city she is made to confront aspects of living she has, until now, avoided, and to consider questions of vulnerability and power, death and renewal, in what becomes her struggle to reattach herself to, and believe in, life.

Filtered through the impersonal gaze of its keenly intelligent protagonist, Transit sees Rachel Cusk delve deeper into the themes first raised in her critically acclaimed novel Outline, and offers up a penetrating and moving reflection on childhood and fate, the value of suffering, the moral problems of personal responsibility, and the mystery of change. In this precise, short, and yet epic novel, Cusk manages to describe the most elemental experiences, the liminal qualities of life, through a narrative near-silence that draws language toward it. She captures with unsettling restraint and honesty the longing to both inhabit and flee one’s life and the wrenching ambivalence animating our desire to feel real.

steal-away-home

Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz Frost, Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Synopsis from HarperCollins Canada: In this compelling work of narrative non-fiction, Governor General’s Award winner Karolyn Smardz Frost brings Cecelia’s story to life. Cecelia was a teenager when she made her dangerous bid for freedom from the United States, across the Niagara River and into Canada. Escape meant that she would never see her mother or brother again. She would be cut off from the young mistress with whom she grew up, but who also owned her as a slave holder owns the body of a slave. This was a time when people could be property, when a beloved father could be separated from his wife while their children were auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the son of a white master and his black housekeeper could become a slave to his own white half-sister and brother-in-law.

Cecelia found a new life in Toronto’s vibrant African American expatriate community. Her rescuer became her husband, a courageous conductor on the Underground Railroad helping other freedom-seekers reach Canada. Widowed, she braved the Fugitive Slave Law to cross back into the United States, where she again found love, and followed her William into the battlefields of the Civil War. Finally, with a wounded husband and young children in tow, she returned to the Kentucky she had known as a child. But her home had changed: hooded Night Riders roamed the countryside with torches and nooses at the ready. When William disappeared, Cecelia relied on the support and affection of her former mistress—the Southern belle who had owned her as a child.

Only five of the letters between Cecelia and her former mistress, Fanny Thruston Ballard, have survived. They are testament to the great love and the lifelong friendship that existed between these two very different women. Reunited after years apart, the two lived within a few blocks of each other for the rest of Fanny’s life.

unbound

Unbound: Finding Myself on Top of the World by Steph Jagger, Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Synopsis from HarperCollins Canada: Steph Jagger had seen the ski-lift sign thousands of times—“Raise Restraining Device,” it read—but one day she took it personally as a rallying cry to shake off the life she had for the life she wanted. She had always been a force of nature, so why was she still holding herself back? Dissatisfied with the passive, limited roles she saw for women when she was growing up, Steph emulated the men in her life—chasing success, climbing the corporate ladder, ticking the boxes, playing by the rules. She was accomplished. She was living “The Dream.” But it wasn’t her dream.

In a moment, the sign on the ski lift became her mantra, and she knew she had to change her life. So Jagger walked away from the success and security she had worked long and hard to obtain. She quit her job, took a second mortgage on her house, sold everything except her ski equipment and her laptop, and bought a plane ticket. For the next year, she followed winter across five continents on a mission to break the world record for most vertical feet skied in a year. What hiking was for Cheryl Strayed, skiing became for Steph: a crucible in which to crack open her life, melt it down to its elements and get to the very centre of herself. An emotional story of courage and self-discovery that will appeal to readers of Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, Unbound will inspire readers to remove their own restraining devices, whatever they may be.

swimming-lessons

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller, Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Publication Date: January 28, 2017

Synopsis from House of Anansi Press: In this spine-tingling tale Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but she never sends them. Instead she hides them within the thousands of books her husband has collected. After she writes her final letter, Ingrid disappears.

Twelve years later, her adult daughter, Flora comes home to look after her injured father. Secretly, Flora has never believed her mother is dead, and she starts asking questions, without realizing that the answers she’s looking for are hidden in the books that surround her.
the-lonely-hearts-hotel

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill, Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Synopsis from HarperCollins Canada: Exquisitely imagined and hypnotically told, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a love story with the power of legend. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, it is an unparalleled tale of charismatic pianos, invisible dance partners, radicalized chorus girls, drug-addicted musicians, brooding clowns, and an underworld whose fortune hinges on the price of a kiss. In a landscape like this, it takes great creative gifts to escape one’s origins. It might also take true love.

Two babies are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in the winter of 1914. Before long, their true talents emerge: Pierrot is a piano prodigy; Rose lights up even the dreariest room with her dancing and comedy. As they travel around the city performing for the rich, the children fall in love with each other and dream up a plan for the most extraordinary and seductive circus show the world has ever seen.

Separated as teenagers, both escape into the city’s underworld, where they must use their uncommon gifts to survive without each other. Ruthless and unforgiving, Montreal in the 1930’s is no place for song and dance. But when Rose and Pierrot finally reunite beneath the snowflakes, the possibilities of their childhood dreams are renewed, and they’ll go to extreme lengths to make those dream come true. After Rose, Pierrot and their troupe of clowns and chorus girls hit the stage and the alleys, the underworld will never look the same.

With extraordinary storytelling, musical language, and an extravagantly realized world, acclaimed author Heather O’Neill enchants us with her best novel yet — one so magical there is no escaping its spell.

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The Way of Letting Go: One Woman’s Walk Toward Forgiveness by Wilma Derksen, Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Maybe it was the sting of remarks from a relative or friend. Maybe a miscarriage ended your hopes for a family. For all of your heartbreaks, maybe you wished there was someone to help you through. For Wilma Derksen, letting go of the 15 misconceptions about grief led her back to hope. In this book she tells how you can do the same.

Wilma’s world collapsed when her teenage daughter, Candace, was taken hostage and murdered. Wilma now shares her choices to “let go” of heartbreak, which gave her the courage to navigate through the dark waters of sorrow. Like Wilma, maybe your heartbreak forced you to retreat from happy expectations, of believing that life is fair, of finding closure for every circumstance. She encourages patiently: let go of the happy ending, let go of perfect justice, let go of fear, and let go of closure. Wilma’s wisdom will help you overcome your broken heart, and her advice will enable you to break free of pain to live a life of true joy.

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Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz, Publisher: Knopf Canada

Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Men Walking on Water opens on a bitter winter’s night in 1927, with a motley gang of small-time smugglers huddled on the banks of the Detroit River, peering towards Canada on the opposite side. A catastrophe has just occurred: while driving across the frozen water by moonlight, a decrepit Model T loaded with whisky has broken the ice and gone under–and with it, driver Alfred Moss and a bundle of money. From that defining moment, the novel weaves its startling, enthralling story, with the missing man at its centre, a man who affects all the characters in different ways. In Detroit, a young mother becomes a criminal to pay down the debt her husband, assumed dead, has left behind; a Pentecostal preacher brazenly uses his church to fund his own bootlegging operation even as he lectures against the perils of drink; and across the river, a French-Canadian woman runs her booming brothel business with the permission of the powerful Detroit gangsters who are her patrons.

The looming background to this extraordinary story, as compelling as any character, is the city of Detroit–a place of grand dreams and brutal realities in 1927 as it is today, fuelled by capitalist expansion and by the collapse that follows, sitting on the border between countries, its citizens walking precariously across the river between pleasure and abstinence. This is an absolutely stunning, mature, and compulsively readable novel from one of our most talented and unique writers.

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum, Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: When Catherine Reindeer vanishes from the parking lot outside the restaurant where she works, an entire community is shattered. Moving back and forth from her outer circle of acquaintances to her closest intimates, So Much Love reveals how an unexpected disappearance can overturn the lives of those left behind: Catherine’s fellow waitress now sees danger all around her. Her mother seeks comfort in saying her name over and over again. Her professor finds himself thinking of her constantly. Her husband refuses to give up hope that she will one day return. But at the heart of the novel is Catherine’s own surprising story of resilience and recovery. When, after months of captivity, a final devastating loss forces her to make a bold decision, she is unprepared for everything that follows.

A riveting novel that deftly examines the complexity of love and the power of stories to shape our lives, So Much Love confirms Rebecca Rosenblum’s reputation as one of the most gifted and distinctive writers of her generation.

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The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep by Steven Heighton, Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Elias Trifannis is desperate to belong somewhere. To make his dying ex-cop father happy, he joins the military – but in Afghanistan, by the time he realizes his last-minute bid for connection was a terrible mistake, it’s too late and a tragedy has occurred.

In the aftermath, exhausted by nightmares, Elias is sent to Cyprus to recover, where he attempts to find comfort in the arms of Eylul, a beautiful Turkish journalist. But the lovers’ reprieve ends in a moment of shocking brutality that drives Elias into Varosha, once a popular Greek-Cypriot resort town, abandoned since the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Hidden in the lush, overgrown ruins is a community of exiles and refugees living resourcefully but comfortably. Thanks to the cheerfully corrupt Colonel Kaya, who turns a blind eye, they live under the radar of the Turkish authorities.

As he begins to heal, Elias finds himself drawn to the enigmatic and secretive Kaiti while he learns at last to “simply belong.” But just when it seems he has found sanctuary, events he himself set in motion have already begun to endanger it.

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Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris, Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: The capacity to be alone–properly alone–is one of life’s subtlest skills. Real solitude is a contented and productive state that garners tangible rewards: it allows us to reflect and recharge, improving our relationships with ourselves and, paradoxically, with others. Today, the zeitgeist embraces sharing like never before. Fueled by our dependence on online and social media, we have created an ecosystem of obsessive distraction that dangerously undervalues solitude. Many of us now lead lives of strangely crowded loneliness–we are ever-connected, but only shallowly so.

Award-winning author Michael Harris examines why our experience of solitude has become so impoverished, and how we may grow to love it again in the frenzy of our digital landscape. Solitude is an optimistic and encouraging story about discovering true quiet inside the city, inside the crowd, inside our busy and urbane lives. Harris guides readers away from a life of ceaseless pings toward a state of measured connectivity, one that balances solitude and companionship.

Rich with true stories about the life-changing power of solitude, and interwoven with reporting from the world’s foremost brain researchers, psychologists and tech entrepreneurs, Solitude is a beautiful and prescriptive statement on the benefits of being alone.

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Where I Live Now: A Journey through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope by Sharon Butala, Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: When Sharon Butala’s husband, Peter, died unexpectedly, she found herself with no place to call home. Torn by grief and loss, she fled the ranchlands of southwest Saskatchewan and moved to the city, leaving almost everything behind. A lifetime of possessions was reduced to a few boxes of books, clothes, and keepsakes. But a lifetime of experience went with her, and a limitless well of memory—of personal failures, of a marriage that everybody said would not last but did, of the unbreakable bonds of family.

Reinventing herself in an urban landscape was painful, and facing her new life as a widow tested her very being. Yet out of this hard-won new existence comes an astonishingly frank, compassionate and moving memoir that offers not only solace and hope but inspiration to those who endure profound loss.

Often called one of this country’s true visionaries, Sharon Butala shares her insights into the grieving process and reveals the small triumphs and funny moments that kept her going. Where I Live Now is profound in its understanding of the many homes women must build for themselves in a lifetime.

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Life on the Ground Floor: Letters from the Edge of Emergency Medicine by Dr. James Maskalyk, Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In this deeply personal book, humanitarian doctor and activist James Maskalyk, author of the highly acclaimed Six Months in Sudan, draws upon his experience treating patients in the world’s emergency rooms. From Toronto to Addis Ababa, Cambodia to Bolivia, he discovers that although the cultures, resources and medical challenges of each hospital may differ, they are linked indelibly by the ground floor: the location of their emergency rooms. Here, on the ground floor, is where Dr. Maskalyk witnesses the story of “human aliveness”–our mourning and laughter, tragedies and hopes, the frailty of being and the resilience of the human spirit. And it’s here too that he is swept into the story, confronting his fears and doubts and questioning what it is to be a doctor.

Masterfully written and artfully structured, Life on the Ground Floor is more than just an emergency doctor’s memoir or travelogue–it’s a meditation on health, sickness and the wonder of human life.

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The Weekend Effect by Katrina Onstad, Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Synopsis from HarperCollins: A persuasive, practical, and much needed manifesto that makes the case for reclaiming our weekends to increase joy, creativity, productivity, and success in our lives.

Award-winning journalist Katrina Onstad’s The Weekend Effect asks us to reconsider the role of the weekend in our lives—often lost to overbooked schedules, domestic chores, shopping, pinging devices, and encroaching work demands—debunking the belief that you have to be on 24/7 in a 24/7 economy to be successful, and revealing the extensive benefits of a well-lived weekend.

We’re working more hours that we did a decade ago, and worse, we allow those hours to slide over seven days a week, leaving no space or time to tune out and recharge. We don’t need the research to tell us that this is hurting us. Our health is deteriorating, our social networks (the face-to-face kind) are weak, and our productivity is down. It wasn’t long ago that working less and living more was considered an American virtue. So what happened?

Digging into the history, the positive psychology, and the cultural anthropology of the great, missing weekend, Onstad, herself suffering from Sunday-night letdown, pushes back against the all-work-no-fun ethos, and follows the trail of people, companies and countries who are vigilantly protecting their weekends for joy, adventure, and most importantly, for meaning.

Onstad offers real-world strategies for wrestling back this lost time with how-to practices in making the most of the weekend. Readers of The Happiness Project, All Joy and No Fun, and Thrive will find personal and business inspiration in this well-researched argument to save the weekend, and as a result, save ourselves. A well-lived weekend, filled with face-to-face socializing, idleness, and nature, is the gateway to a well-lived life.

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After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara, Publisher: Dundurn Press

Publication Date: April 15, 2017

Synopsis from Dundurn Press: A daughter’s search for her mother reveals her family’s past in a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War.

Lily Takemitsu goes missing from her home in Toronto one luminous summer morning in the mid-1980s. Her daughter, Rita, a high-school art teacher, knows her mother has a history of dissociation and memory problems, which have led her to wander off before. But never has she stayed away so long. Unconvinced the police are taking the case seriously, Rita begins to carry out her own investigation. In the course of searching for her mom, she is forced to confront a labyrinth of secrets surrounding the family’s internment at a camp in the California desert during the Second World War, their postwar immigration to Toronto, and the father she has never known.

Epic in scope, intimate in style, After the Bloom blurs between the present and the ever-present past, beautifully depicting one family’s struggle to face the darker side of its history and find some form of redemption.

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The Slip by Mark Sampson, Publisher: Dundurn Press

Publication Date: May 20, 2017

Synopsis from Dundurn Press: In this wickedly funny novel, one bad afternoon and two regrettable comments make the inimitable Philip Sharpe go viral for all the worst reasons.

Dr. Philip Sharpe, absentminded professor extraordinaire, teaches philosophy at the University of Toronto and is one of Canada’s most combative public intellectuals. But when a live TV debate with his fiercest rival goes horribly off the rails, an oblivious Philip says some things to her that he really shouldn’t have.

As a clip of Philip’s “slip” goes viral, it soon reveals all the cracks and fissures in his marriage with his young, stay-at-home wife, Grace. And while the two of them try to get on the same side of the situation, things quickly spiral out of control.

Can Philip make amends and save his marriage? Is there any hope of salvaging his reputation? To do so, he’ll need to take a hard look at his on-air comments, and to conscript a band of misfits in a scheme to set things right.

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The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan, Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Publication Date: June 24, 2017

Synopsis from House of Anansi Press: Warren Botts is a disillusioned Ph.D., taking a break from his lab to teach middle-school science. Gentle, soft-spoken, and lonely, he innocently befriends Amanda, one of his students. But one morning, Amanda is found dead in his backyard, and Warren, shocked, flees the scene.

As the small community slowly turns against him, an anonymous narrator, a person of extreme intelligence and emotional detachment, offers insight into events past and present. As the tension builds, we gain an intimate understanding of the power of secrets, illusions, and memories.

Nicole Lundrigan uses her prodigious talent to deliciously creepy effect, producing a finely crafted page-turner and a chilling look into the mind of a psychopath.

Which books are you dying to read in 2017? I’d love to hear in comments!