What I’m Reading for the 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge

2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge

Three years ago, I was determined to get out of my reading rut. Enter: The Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge.

What I love most about the challenge is how simple it is–just read twelve books from twelve different categories in twelve months.

I credit the MMD challenge with helping me to rediscover my love of reading. I am a huge fan of memoirs and for years, that’s all I read. But this challenge expanded my reading horizons and inspired me to give books I wouldn’t normally read a chance. Side note: I will forever be grateful to Anne for introducing me to the wonderful world of translated books! Who knew I would end up loving them as much as I do?

In 2016, my goal was to read 100 books. I sat down with a notebook and jotted down a list of 100 books I wanted to read by the end of the year. I went a step further and shared the list on the blog to keep myself organized and accountable. It worked like a charm! I found the simple act of checking titles off my list deeply satisfying and by December 31st, I had read 82 books!

This year, life is wayyyyy busier than its been in a long time. I am juggling school and work and its been tricky finding time to rest much less read. So for 2018, I am focusing on quality over quantity. I want to devote the precious few hours I have to reading books that are worth my time.

If you’re looking to read more books this year alongside an incredibly supportive community of book lovers, I recommend jumping on board. After all, good books are meant to be shared!

You can sign up for the reading challenge here. You can also connect with fellow challenge participants and share (and get) book recommendations via the 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge Pinterest board.

After much deliberation, here are the books I’ll be reading for this year’s challenge…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A classic you’ve been meaning to read 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This one has been on my reading list for the past two years and I am soooo excited to finally cross it off my list.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

168 Hours_You Have More Time Than You Think

A book recommended by someone with great taste

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

Recommended by Anne Bogel. Thanks Anne!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are starved for time. We tell ourselves we’d like to read more, get to the gym regularly, try new hobbies, and accomplish all kinds of goals. But then we give up because there just aren’t enough hours to do it all. Or if we don’t make excuses, we make sacrifices- taking time out from other things in order to fit it all in. There has to be a better way…and Laura Vanderkam has found one.

After interviewing dozens of successful, happy people, she realized that they allocate their time differently than most of us. Instead of letting the daily grind crowd out the important stuff, they start by making sure there’s time for the important stuff. When plans go wrong and they run out of time, only their lesser priorities suffer. Vanderkam shows that with a little examination and prioritizing, you’ll find it is possible to sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, take piano lessons, and write a novel without giving up quality time for work, family, and other things that really matter.

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive

A book in translation

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist, translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch

My love for translated books runs deep and I try and read at least one every year.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House CanadaIn Every Moment We Are Still Alive tells the story of a man whose world has come crashing down overnight: His long-time partner has developed an fatal illness, just as she is about to give birth to their first child … even as his father is diagnosed with cancer.

Reeling in grief, Tom finds himself wrestling with endless paperwork and indecipherable diagnoses, familial misunderstandings and utter exhaustion while trying simply to comfort his loved ones as they begin to recede from him.

But slowly, amidst the pain and fury, arises a story of resilience and hope, particularly when Tom finds himself having to take responsibility for the greatest gift of them all, his newborn daughter.

Written in an unforgettable style that dives deep into the chaos of grief and pain, yet also achieves a poetry that is inspiring, In Every Moment We Are Still Alive is slated to become one of the most stirring novels of the year.

A book nominated for an award in 2018

To be determined

Guidebook to Relative Strangers

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection

Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy

This category gave me the most trouble to fill. After asking for recommendations and engaging in some heavy-duty browsing, I finally decided on this essay collection I spotted on Book Riot. It sounds like a good one!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. With a poet’s eye, she celebrates her daughter’s acquisition of language and discoveries of the natural and human world around her. At the same time history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers’ and investors’ dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.

With exceptional candor and grace, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds—the intimate and vulnerable experiences of raising a child, living with illness, conversing with strangers, and counting on others’ goodwill. Across the nation, she finds fear and trauma, and also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, Guidebook to Relative Strangers is an essential guide for a troubled land.

The Reason I Jump

A book you can read in a day

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, translated from the Japanese by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of autistic children.

Naoki examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy.

This book is mesmerizing proof that inside an autistic body is a mind as subtle, curious, and caring as anyone else’s.

New York

A book that’s more than 500 pages

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

This sweeping historical novel from the British author was on my 2017 reading list, but I never got around to it. I recently bought a copy and I can’t wait to dive in this winter.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: A blockbuster masterpiece that combines breath-taking scope with narrative immediacy, this grand historical epic traces the history of New York through the lenses of several families: The Van Dycks, a wealthy Dutch trading family; the Masters, scions of an English merchant clan torn apart during the Revolution; the Hudsons, slaves who fight for their freedom over several generations; the Murphys, who escape the Famine in Ireland and land in the chaotic slum of Five Points; the Rewards, robber barons of the Gilded Age; the Florinos, an immigrant Italian clan who work building the great skyscrapers in the 1920s; and the Rabinowitzs, who flee anti-semitism in Europe and build a new life in Brooklyn.

Over time, the lives of these families become intertwined through the most momentous events in the fabric of America: The founding of the colonies; the Revolution; the growth of New York as a major port and trading centre; the Civil War; the Gilded Age; the explosion of immigration and the corruption of Tammany Hall; the rise of New York as a great world city in the early 20th-century; the trials of World War II, the tumult of the 1960s; the near-demise of the city in the 1970s; its roaring rebirth in the 1990s; culminating in the World Trade Center attacks at the beginning of the new century.


A book by a favourite author

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Two years ago I read and loved Haruf’s novel Benediction and fell in love with his beautiful writing. Last January, I picked up Our Souls at Night and read it in an afternoon. I can’t wait to read his debut novel.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known.

From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together—their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.

The Boat People

A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

This award-winning new release comes highly recommended by one of my favourite bookstore employees. I trust his taste and I’ve discovered books I would never have picked up on my own thanks to him. (I LOVED his past recommendations like The Door by Magda Szabo and The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola.)

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is thrown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the “boat people” are members of a terrorist militia. As suspicion swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum.

Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer Priya, who reluctantly represents the migrants; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate, The Boat People is a high-stakes novel that offers a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Inspired by real events, with vivid scenes that move between the eerie beauty of northern Sri Lanka and combative refugee hearings in Vancouver, where life and death decisions are made, Sharon Bala’s stunning debut is an unforgettable and necessary story for our times.

Monkey Beach

A banned book

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

I didn’t want to read any of the popular banned books for this category so I asked a bookstore employee for a recommendation. He didn’t hesitate and raved about the Native Canadian’s first novel. He explained that it was banned in certain communities. This a book I probably would never have discovered on my own.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House CanadaMonkey Beach combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak. In the first English-language novel to be published by a Haisla writer, Eden Robinson offers a rich celebration of life in the Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia.

The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far. She recalls the time when she and Jimmy saw the sasquatch, or b’gwus – and this sighting introduces the novel’s fascinating undercurrent of characters from the spirit world. These ghostly presences may strike the reader as mysterious or frightening, but they provide Lisa with guidance through a difficult coming of age.

In and out of the emergency room as a child, Lisa is a fighter. Her smart mouth and temper constantly threaten to land her in serious trouble. Those who have the most influence on her are her stubbornly traditional, machete-wielding grandmother, and her wild, passionate, political Uncle Mick, who teaches her to make moose calls. When they empty fishing nets together, she pretends she doesn’t feel the jellyfish stinging her young hands – she’s Uncle Mick’s “little warrior.”

We watch Lisa leave her teenage years behind as she waits for news of her younger brother. She reflects on the many rich episodes of their lives – so many of which take place around the water, reminding us of the news she fears, and revealing the menacing power of nature. But Lisa has a special recourse – a “gift” that enables her to see and hear spirits, and ask for their help.

A Mother's Reckoning

A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Columbine was one of my favourite reads last year. It was a difficult read, but such an eye-opening and important one. My friend Sarah from Glowing Local said I need to add A Mother’s Reckoning to my list and I always, always enjoy the books she recommends.  I am really looking forward to this one!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

The Break

A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own

The Break by Katherena Vermette

This award-winning first novel from Métis author, Katherena Vermette has been recommended to me more times than I can count. I am starting with this one tonight!

Synopsis from House of Anansi Press: When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

Have you ever done a reading challenge? What are your reading goals for 2018? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


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


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.

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy weekend! How was your first week of November? I am SO ready for all this election drama to be over. Who’s with me? That being said, it’s 2016 and there are still countries around the world where people are fighting for the right to vote, so I hope all my American readers are registered to vote. Also, #imwithher over here in Canada because of her four years’ experience as the Secretary of State and her passion for women, children, and human rights.

How are you spending the weekend? It’s beautiful and sunny here so I plan on taking a long walk in the woods. A friendly reminder to turn your clocks back an hour before heading to bed tonight. If you’re looking for some weekend reading, I’ve got you covered with a bunch of my favourite links this week…

+ I love The Atlantic‘s video series, Women and Leadership. I especially enjoyed the third episode, Wendy Finerman on the Challenges of Being a Female Hollywood Producer. Finerman talks about the lessons she’s learned in Hollywood and how she keeps a work-life balance.

+ Bookmarking Grace’s thoughtful essay, 10 Things People Don’t Talk About in Business (But Should). I’m sure I’ll be returning to it again and again.

+ An American in a Strange Land. An incredible article by a New York Times foreign correspondent returning home after more than ten years abroad. “I worked for an American company, for American bosses, and I wrote articles trying to explain the world to a mostly American audience. All of this created the gentle illusion that we were still truly connected to home. Yet as the years passed, I realized that I had lost touch, that the country I left was no longer the same.”

+ The thought process of social media creeping made me crack up.

+ Behind the Scenes: Making a Magazine Cover. Three women share the behind-the-scenes of New York Times Magazine covers! So fascinating.

+ The Closer: Michelle Obama. Since speaking out against Trump’s treatment of women, the first lady has received a mass of emails. “Sexual assault victims recounted their trauma, fathers poured out anxieties about unhealthy influences on their sons, and a distraught parent agonized over how to explain rape to a 10-year-old. The next morning in the East Wing, a first lady who had spent years in the White House staying away from politics sorted through a thick sheaf of printed messages — a selection of the 600 she had already received, an amount that would triple by the end of the day — and realized there was an unlikely finale for her.” She will be missed.

+ A divorce lawyer, social worker, and book editor on the art of hard conversations.

+ Everyone’s talking about the new Netflix series, The Crown. Here’s the official trailer.

+ This week I finished reading Through the Glass and I’ve been thinking a lot about the criminal justice system. This article, Does the First Amendment End at the Prison Gate? is a really good read. “The original manuscript, which inmates at Monroe had long passed around in secret, was smuggled out of the prison by a volunteer English teacher in a stack of papers to be graded. Highly praised in The Seattle Review of Books, it chronicles a day in the life of a Washington state prisoner. Many scenes do not reflect well on corrections officers. On October 13, the Washington Department of Corrections officially banned the book, which meant the inmates who had ordered it would not be receiving their copy.”

+ Watch: The process of making bamboo matcha whisks by hand.

+ I watched this film last night. Have you seen it yet? It is a cinematic achievement.

+ Favourites on Instagram this week: Still planet Earth, believe it or not via @cocorocha, Happy Halloween from Poppy, Branch and lil Branch via @jessicabiel, Oh, New York, I love you via @brightbazaar

Reading update:

On Tuesday I finished Jojo Moyes’s latest Paris for One and Other Stories. I fell in love with the title story and enjoyed the other 8 stories in the collection. Worth reading.

On Wednesday I finally finished Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney and I can’t stop thinking about it. Moroney shares how she dealt with the loss of her husband, the publicity of the criminal investigation, the rejection and judgment from those in her community, and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. She takes us on an intimate journey inside prisons and courtrooms. A story about healing, compassion, letting go, and moving forward after trauma.

I also devoured Left Neglected by Lisa Genova in two days. It’s my favourite book from the author so far and I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

Last night I picked up Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices and I am LOVING it. An in-depth and entertaining look at her four years as Secretary of State.

(Photo snapped in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy weekend everyone. I hope you had a wonderful week and you’re ready for some rest and relaxation. The weather switched suddenly here in Toronto this week and I actually had to wear layers.

Got any fun plans this weekend? Whatever you end up doing, stay safe! As always, here’s a roundup of my favourite links this week…

+ How to Be Both. “This is what I grew up seeing, so that is what I grew up being: a young adult with a social consciousness to do what I could, and to, at the very least, speak up when I knew something was wrong.”

+ ‘I Live in a Lie’: Saudi Women Speak Up’. The New York Times issued a call-out on their site and on their Twitter to Saudi women, How Has Your Life as a Saudi Woman Changed? The response was overwhelming.

+ Ella shared her thoughts on social media and it was so honest and real. “Social media isn’t there to create a platform from which to try and emulate a stranger or aim for a photo-shopped image of virtual perfection. Don’t forget as you scroll through account after account that no one is or will ever be perfect, the concept of perfect is subjective and lies solely in the eye of the beholder.”

+ Turned down 18 times. Then Paul Beatty won the Booker. Added to my reading list. Have you read it?

+ Imagine a World Without Photography. An interview with Emmy award-winning filmmaker Alexandria Bombach.

+ Pete Wells Has His Knives Out. How the New York Times restaurant critic writes the reviews that make and break restaurants.

+ The perfect fall look in my favourite colour!

+ Zadie Smith: dance lessons for writers. On the connection between writing and dancing: “It feels a little neglected – compared to, say, the relationship between music and prose – maybe because there is something counter-intuitive about it. But for me the two forms are close to each other: I feel dance has something to tell me about what I do. What can an art of words take from the art that needs none? Yet I often think I’ve learned as much from watching dancers as I have from reading.”

+ Everything you hear on film is a lie. A fascinating TED Talk that had me reminiscing about my job in film and television post production.

+ Hellooooo pumpkin nutella hot chocolate.

+ My favourites on Instagram this week: But WHY, Mum, WHY must it be Morphin’ Time? via @evachen212, Soaring high above an ocean of autumnal hues via @brightbazaar, Dear Pretty Little Liars via @halfadams, This will be the drive into our house via @freshexchange

Reading update:

I am currently making my way through Through the Glass by Shannon Moroney.

This weekend I’ll be curling up with Jojo Moyes’s latest, Paris for One and Other Stories.

(Photo snapped in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love


Happy Saturday everyone. I hope you had a good week. If you follow me on Instagram, you would have noticed it’s been a busy and exciting week complete with movie premieres and celebrity sightings (Gerard Butler, Justin Timberlake, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson!) The film fest ends tomorrow; I had the best time and met so many people. I’m pretty exhausted from all the running around so I plan on curling up on the couch with my latest read.

Got any exciting plans? If you’re looking to catch up on some reading, here’s a roundup of my favourite links this week…

+ An incredibly helpful post from Village Juicery on the anxiety-anemia connection. “While anemia is not generally the cause of mental health issues, many symptoms of anemia may present as mental health-like in nature, including chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor memory, difficulty concentrating, energy loss, chest palpitations, insomnia and/or restless sleep, and so on.”

+ Bookmarking: 10 underrated travel spots you should book a flight to asap.

+ What Nobody Told Me: The Thrills and Perils of My First Fashion Week. “Back on Day 1, I was eyes so bright and tail so bushy as I hurried to my first-ever runway show, Hellessy. By the time I arrived, five minutes before its 2 p.m. start time, I was sweating profusely from the hot, broken subway – a physiological state I’d scarcely shake for the next week – and from running several blocks to Pier 59 out of fear of being late.”

TIFF captures a moment in the Festival experience of filmmakers, talent, and programmers using an iPhone 7. Pretty stunning.

+ Amy Adams reflects on her character in Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama, Arrival. “Any time you get a character that is well developed and emotionally vulnerable and yet intellectual… it’s a real gift as an actress. Because, it a reflection of what women are to me. They’re not one thing. They’re not purely intellectually, they’re not purely vulnerable. They’re fully fleshed out human beings. And to see that reflected so beautifully was a pleasure.”

+ Soooo many celebrity sightings during TIFF 16. My favourites from the red carpet: Leo at the premiere of his doc The Turning Point, Scarlett Johansson at the premiere of Sing, Colin Firth’s surprise appearance at the premiere of his film Loving, Tom Ford at the premiere of his film Nocturnal Animals, Ryan Gosling at the premiere of La La Land, Matt Damon at the premiere of his film Manchester By the Sea, Justin Timberlake at the premiere of JT & The Tennessee Kids, Gerard Butler at the premiere of The Headhunter’s Calling.

+ Architecture that’s built to heal. This TED Talk landed in my inbox this week. Such an innovative and inspiring concept!

+ What happens when there’s only one public defender in town. “Every Wednesday, she makes an all-day trip to the infamous Angola prison to meet with clients. Every other night, she visits inmates at the local jail. Every weekend, she works.”

+ I’ll be whipping up this layered chocolate, banana, and date shake this weekend.

+ Fall movie release schedule. I highly recommend watching Desierto which I caught during last year’s TIFF. An edge-of-your-seat thriller for sure. I can’t wait for The Dressmaker, Deepwater Horizon, The Accountant, American Pastoral, Arrival, Elle, Shut In, Manchester By the Sea, and Patriots Day.

+ Instagram favourites this week: In the running community, there’s a saying that goes – if you can’t race, you cheer via @melsays, Mission to Mars: Complete via @lesspressed, Fastest way to fashion week via @ iamsarahgrafferty, After hiking ten miles across the lava field via @brightbazaar

Summer reading update:

+ Last Sunday night I started The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The manager at my neighbourhood bookstore recommended it to me last year. I am so happy I finally picked it up. Soooo good!

+ Last night I started Noah Hawley’s new thriller Before The Fall. From the very first page, I was hooked. Vivid, dramatic, beautifully-written and perfectly paced; I am already halfway through. It’s like watching a movie you wish would go on forever.

(Photo snapped at the premiere of The Secret Scripture.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

Union Summer

It’s the weekend and after a busy week I’m looking forward to doing absolutely nothing. Here in Toronto, it’s been hot and sticky with temperatures reaching 100-plus degrees. I’ve been beating the heat with scoops of gelato (I tried strawberry thai basil juniper and piña colada. Yum!) and slices of juicy watermelon.

This week has been filled with so much tragedy and I’m still trying to sift through my thoughts and feelings. For now, I’m keeping those who have been affected by the senseless violence in my prayers.

I hope you have a good weekend. Whatever you end up doing, stay safe! And as always, the links I’m loving lately…

+ Must read: Misty Copeland’s exclusive interview with Washington Life Magazine. She reflects on her upcoming performance in “Romeo and Juliet” at Wolf Trap, her Time magazine interview with President Obama, and her dancewear line which launches this summer.

+ Be you, you are enough: our Salt Flats videos. Colour lovers, rejoice!

+ No-churn sugar roasted peach pie ice cream? Yes please!!

+ Listen: From Captive to Captor: A Journalist’s Journey from Prisoner to Prison Guard. Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer’s story “provides a rare, harrowing look at the closed world of private prisons — a system that holds 131,000 people nationwide. What he saw still haunts him: men stabbing each other with handmade knives as guards looked on; officers in tactical gear storming the prison’s dormitories; an assault victim writhing in panic as he pleaded for protection from a predatory inmate; a prisoner whose gangrene went untreated so long he had to have his legs amputated. But of all the alarming things Bauer experienced, perhaps the most frightening was the transformation he noticed within himself.”

+ Loved this post on Design Sponge: The myth of being busy: Making time off a priority.

+ A rookie film director takes on Salinger. “At the corner of Jersey and Crosby Streets in SoHo, during one of those New York City days when it suddenly feels way too hot, the sun was blazing down and a tang of urine wafted up. Traffic had been halted, passers-by were hoisting selfie sticks, and, huddled in a building’s shadow, a film crew was taking in a scene from a different time.”

+ Wendy’s photoshoot in Venice. Soooo dreamy!

+ Meghan shared 5 classic adventure books for your summer reading list.

+ Hydra, Greece sounds like a pretty perfect vacation spot.

+ Instagram stars share their secrets to an amazing feed. Will Taylor of @brightbazaar says, “Create a balanced feed by alternating between posting a perspective photo and then a close up image.”

+ Favourites from Instagram this week: Queen bee via @karolinakuras, Rise up. Stand for something, or you will fall for anything via @latonyayvette, Trying to fill this day up with so much love amidst so much tragedy via @jenpinkston, Racism in America is very real via @songofstyle, Just peachy via @karliekloss,  Welcome to my home for the next 24 hrs via @melsays, Mother daughter time via @reesewitherspoon

Summer reading update:

+ Earlier this week, I finished Elin Hilderbrand’s latest summer novel, Here’s to Us. Throw this one in your beach bag!

+ On Wednesday night, I finished My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh and I can’t stop thinking about it. A beautifully crafted mystery that grabbed me from page one and held on tight until the very end.

+ On Thursday night I cracked open No One Knows by J.T. Ellison and it’s safe to say I’m hooked!

(Photo snapped outside Union Summer culinary market at Union Station.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

Distillery District brick buildings

Happy Saturday everyone. I hope you had a great week! Earlier this week, Village Juicery moved into my neighbourhood and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s going to be a chilly weekend with tons of sunshine here in Toronto. I’m taking my goal to stay active in every season very seriously, so I’m off to dance up a storm at The Extension Room Open House. Got any fun plans this weekend? If you’re in the path of Winter Storm Jonas, bundle up and stay safe. As always, here’s a round-up of the links I’m loving this week…

+ An incredibly important read: This Verily article, A trafficking survivor shares how we can combat modern-day slavery. “Like Martin Luther King Jr., I too have a dream. My dream led me to co-found The Dreamcatcher Foundation, an outreach and education program that helps victims of human trafficking, the slavery of our time. I have hope that we will end trafficking.

+ Tips for using social media to tell your story. Love the Instagram and Pinterest tips!

+ Must read: The New York Times interviewed Dr. Lucy Kalanithi on keeping Dr. Paul Kalanithi’s voice alive. Brave and touching.

+ The 5 things I do to give my goals a fighting chance. “I love, love, love saying no, and logging my time gives me free-and-clear permission to do so, guilt-free. I’m a firm believer that we should say no to absolutely everything but the essentials in our life, and that we “need” to do far less than we really do.”

+ The best time to buy an airplane ticket. Bookmarked.

+ I thoroughly enjoyed Bri’s thoughts on taking DesignLoveFest in a new direction. “i talk to bloggers all the time that say they are feeling less motivated to put effort into their blogs because the engagement is so low now (people just want to hit “like” on something, they don’t want to sign in and comment.) here’s my hope. that we can bring back some of the engagement to this blog and make it more of an open forum, a community.”

+This Lucky Peach interview: Cooking for the Queen.

+ I can’t wait to catch up on the What Should I Read Next? podcast. Episode 3: Books that make you feel smart (and not so smart) came out on Tuesday.

+ Favourites on Instagram this week: Seeing double today and work out today was en pointe via @karliekloss

Winter reading update:

I am halfway through The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher and absolutely loving it. A beautifully-written family story.

I picked up The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith again. Last week, I got stuck on a graphic part and took a much-needed break. I’m hoping to finally finish it this weekend.

(Photo snapped in The Distillery District this week.)

Happy New Year + Links I Love

Ice Skating on NYE

Happy new year, everyone! I still can’t believe 2016 is here. Last year was a huge growing year for me filled with lots of highs and lows. I am truly grateful for another year of life and the innumerable ways God blesses me each and every day.

I made reading a big priority in 2015 and ended up reading a grand total of 57 books. I’m looking forward to reading even more in 2016. I also spent Christmas in New York and it was truly magical. I’m already planning my next trip!

On New Year’s Eve, I went ice skating with good friends down by the Harbourfront. How did you usher in the new year? If you’re spending the weekend lounging on the couch, here’s a roundup of my favourite links for you to click through…

+ I am so thrilled that Anne is hosting the MMD 2016 Reading Challenge. If you’re on Pinterest and want to read more in 2016, I highly recommend joining in on the fun! The 2015 reading challenge inspired me to stick to my reading goals and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and explore genres I wouldn’t usually pick up.

+ Instagram has been pretty amazing lately and I am a wee bit addicted. A few favourites: incredible sunset and waves in Hawaii and this stunning backstage shot.

+ That being said, I’ve never done this and I just might give it a shot. Why You Need a Digital Detox and How to Start One. “If going off the grid feels too scary, try just ignoring Instagram for a few days and see how it goes. You can also make a commitment to not check your phone in social settings. Start small and feel it out.”

+ Must watch: British Vogue takes us Inside the Wardrobe of the Vogue Fashion Editors.

+ This Darling magazine piece on what we can learn from businesses that depend on human decency. “If we can look at our society as a large village of strangers, trading what we have to offer, letting each other into our nests, and depending on technology to facilitate the processes, we can break our village of strangers into a community of givers, and maybe even make a few meaningful connections along the way.”

+ A guide to tasting olive oil (complete with illustrations!)

+ Surf and Rescue: Maui’s top helicopter pilot on saving skinny-dipping yogis and dodging 60-foot waves for Hollywood shoots. “Shearer, who has worked on films including Die Another Day, Water­world, and Riding Giants, pilots a helicopter as if it were an extension of his body and can dodge oncoming waves by a matter of feet.”

+ This NY Times piece: Matt Damon: You Could Call Him Down to Earth.

Winter reading update:

I started reading Tales from the Back Row on the plane last week and I’m already halfway through. Odell is absolutely hilarious and tells it like it is!

I also picked up 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas a few nights ago and I’m loving it. Bertino’s writing is a breath of fresh air. An utterly charming, witty, moving, delightful read packed with surprises.

(Photo snapped while ice skating down by Harbourfront on NYE.)

Happy Weekend + Links I Love

Distillery District Tree

Happy weekend everyone. ‘Twas the weekend before Christmas! Can you believe it? I’m keeping my distance from the malls. Have you done all your shopping yet?

The temperature dipped drastically this weekend here in Toronto (think: -10 celcius) and I spotted a few snow flurries this morning which made me jump up and down with excitement. Tonight, I’m thinking of heading to the Christmas Market one last time. Got any fun weekend plans?

As always, I’m sharing the links I loved this week…

+ Loved this New York Times piece, The Rise and Rise of Misty Copeland.

+ An important read: An Unbelievable Story of Rape. “In that way, rape cases were unlike most other crimes. The credibility of the victim was often on trial as much as the guilt of the accused.”

+ I’m adding this 2015 release to my winter reading list.

+ Up, up and away: The most incredible idea for a photoshoot set.

+ The perfect lipstick for the holiday season.

+ The melancholy before the merry. “I walk in darkness. I hope for the light. Weeping may linger for a night – sometimes for the very longest night – but joy comes Christmas morning.”

+ Anthropologie has the prettiest scented candles! Favourites: this one, this one, and this one. The perfect last-minute gifts, wouldn’t you agree?

+ And the list just keeps on growing and growing. Books to read before they hit theatres.

Fall reading update:

This weekend, I’ll be cozying up with my final fall read, Ruth Reichl’s memoir Garlic and Sapphires. Have you read it?

I’ll be sharing my winter reading list here on the blog on Tuesday, December 22nd. Stay tuned!

Have a good one!

(Photo of my favourite Christmas tree in the city.)