Best Books of 2014

December 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

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For the past few years, I’ve set reading challenges for myself on Goodreads and this year I thought I’d play it safe by setting 15 books as my goal. Now – thanks to breastfeeding + my Kindle being best friends – I’m about to finish my 22nd book of the year.

I may not have had the chance to see many movies in the theatre this year, or even listen to enough new albums to be able to tell you which ones were “the best”, but one thing I did get to do a lot of this year was read. That’s why I feel confident enough to compile this one Best Of List this year.

#1 was released last year and #5 is a classic, but the rest were published in 2014. Here’s my Top Five:

  1. The Goldfinch – I recommend this book to everyone who asks me what they should read. It’s almost 1000 pages long, but I wished it were longer. An epic, beautiful, sad story.
  2. Station Eleven – A post-apocalyptic novel, partly set in Toronto. All the characters are tied to the one who dies in the first few pages. I was inspired by human nature’s desire to survive and looked at all my every day modern conveniences with new appreciation while I was reading it.
  3. The Silkworm – The second murder mystery novel by JK Rowling’s alias. Her talent for detail and character lives on in a very different way.
  4. The Secret Place – The new release from one of my favorite authors, Tana French. After many novels written with the same formula, this one was refreshing in the way that it played with time and the detective narrating the story wasn’t necessarily the main character.
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird – I didn’t read this one in school, but I wish I did so I could have written an essay on it. The sort of book that really sparks a discussion and makes you think. Written in 1960, but still appropriate for today.

What were YOUR favourites??? (Really! I am always looking for recommendations!)

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My Favourite Things of 2013

December 19, 2013 § 4 Comments

Can you believe there’s only a few weeks left of 2013? You know what that means: time for a recap!

Before I do my personal Year In Review, I like to do a round up of my favourite things of the year including books, music, and more. I know, I know, usually they each have their own post, but I’m a mom now and don’t have time for such things. So let’s get down to business.

ALBUMS:

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Atoms For Peace – Amok

Lorde – Pure Herione

Grouplove – Spreading Rumours

Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

Baths – Obsidian

Nick Cave – Push the Sky Away

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

On And On – Give In

Young Magic – Melt

BOOKS (not necessarily released in 2013, just read in 2013):

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Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple

FILMS:

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Blue Jasmine

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Sound City

This Is The End

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

(Note: In my opinion, this year’s offering of movies was pretty dismal. I’m guessing my actual favourite movie of the year is still to come. Possibly Anchorman 2 or Her.)

TV:

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Mad Men

30 Rock (for the series finale alone, which made me cry. Why did it have to end at all?!?)

Breaking Bad (ditto, minus the tears.)

Louie

Arrested Development

House Of Cards

Girls

Big Bang Theory

Orange Is The New Black

BLOGS/WEBSITES:

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A Cup Of Jo

Mind Body Green

Bunnyfood

Swiss Miss

New York Times

Refinery 29

Humor Train

The Wes Anderson Collection

October 9, 2013 § 3 Comments

Although I was invited to watch a black metal band with my husband last night in Manhattan, I opted for something much more suited to my interests, and right down the street. I went to a book launch and discussion with Matt Zoller Seitz, who just released a huge and beautiful hardcover book on Wes Anderson‘s movies at my favourite neighbourhood bookstore.

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It was simply an hour of listening to his in-depth observations on Wes’ super detailed movies and then a Q&A after where he knew the answer to every question. He said he could have spoken about the music chosen for the movies for an hour alone (and I wish he would have!).

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Matt was one of the first journalists/critics to embrace Wes Anderson’s movies, back when Bottle Rocket was struggling to find a distributor and couldn’t get into any film festivals. Since then, they’ve run into each other throughout their lives many times, including one morning in Brooklyn while on his way to work, Matt realized The Royal Tenenbaums was being filmed on his street.

Although the book was Matt’s project, Wes worked on it with him, providing him with a ton of behind the scenes photos, storyboards, sketches, and lengthy interviews about each movie. Here’s a peek inside…

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This was the perfect birthday gift to me, from me :) Highly suggested for any Wes Anderson nuts out there!

My Favourite Books Of 2012

December 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am proud to say I met my goal of reading 15 books this year! Of those 15, here are my favourites, not necessarily released in 2012.

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1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

This book was great. Almost a Japanese Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but with Fantasy and Science Fiction mixed in. Although I wasn’t very happy with the ending, the entire 900-page collection of all three books provided a great ride and really original story.

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Broken Harbor – Tana French

I read the first three books of the Dublin Murder Squad last year and couldn’t wait for the fourth to be released! I mean, I was so excited, I forgot to check which Kindle I was downloading it to the day it came out and accidentally sent it to Nick’s. Oops.

Each of Tana French’s novels features a characters you met in passing in another book and tells the story from their perspective. If you’re a fan of mysteries and thrillers, this page-turner is for you.

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Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

After voraciously reading Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, I wanted more mystery! The cover of this book grabbed me, and then I saw that Tana French herself gave it a glowing review. What an interesting story with a great twist. All the Best Of lists this year are right – definitely recommended.

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Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen

Don’t even bother with the Robert Pattison movie – Sara Gruen’s novel is fantastic and all you need. Water For Elephants was the perfect book to read in two sittings, on the plane ride to and from London this Spring. The characters are lovely and the story grabs you.

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Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

If you are a techie or an internet lover, you MUST read this book. Learning how much of a ridiculous person Steve Jobs actually was – how he’d actually cry and throw tantrums to get his way, how he created a “reality distortion field” to convince himself his daughter wasn’t his own amongst other things, how he refused to wear shoes and decided he didn’t need to shower because he was a “fruititarian” – was eye-opening, but also makes me respect him even more for allowing these things to be printed and made public knowledge. I’m not old enough to remember the first launches of Apple products in the 80s, but everything is so interesting to read about, especially the product launches for items like the iMac and iPod. I can’t wait for the movie!

What were your favourite books of 2012? I’m always looking for suggestions on what to read next! 

More: My Favourite Books of 2011

NYC + Brooklyn City Guide: Shopping

July 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

Like restaurants, New York has countless stores. Some people come to New York just to shop! With all the choices you have out there, sometimes you need a little guidance, someone to point you in the right direction. If you have taste similar to mine, I’m sure you’ll enjoy my Top 10 Places to Shop in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


1. Uniqlo – Manhattan

This store makes New York the envy of every other North American city. Well, maybe it’s just one of the reasons. Really though, with their incredibly affordable basics and great jeans, I can’t begin to tell you how many Canadian friends ask me to buy them things here to bring home when I visit. Do yourself a favour and make sure you hit up one of their three NYC locations when you’re in town and stock up on your favourites!

2. Strand – Manhattan

This legendary bookstore is a must-visit for bookworms visiting New York. It’s full of new and used books as well as great Strand and NYC merchandise.

3. Dalaga – Brooklyn

My personal favourite clothing store for the past three years. This boutique is owned by sisters Michelle and Mary, but every lovely lady who works at this store is friendly and helpful. Have a question about how comfortable that shoe is? Chances are, one of the girls working there is wearing that pair and can tell you all about it. The best part is that the clothes are gorgeous and unique, but are still affordable. I love to bring friends visiting here and watch them buy half a new wardrobe.

4. Catbird – Brooklyn

The mecca for cute, beautiful, and unique jewelry. Much nicer than costume jewelry, but it won’t break the bank. They also sell letterpress cards, Saipua soap, and summer hats.

5. ABC Carpet & Home – Manhattan

A perfect destination for window shopping, interior design lovers. Even if you can’t afford that $1500 end table, you will be inspired by their displays and merchandise.

6. Journelle – Manhattan

This lingerie shop is the anti-Victoria’s Secret. Find pretty underthings from Eberjey, Elle Macpherson, and Fortnight that make you feel beautiful instead of like you’re some kind of unfamiliar raunchy version of yourself.

7. J. Crew – Manhattan

I love J. Crew’s new, fresh, colourful, and fun looks these days. Great for bright jeans, cute tops, purses, shoes and more. A great place to go just to get outfit inspiration.

8. Madewell – Manhattan

Sometimes called “J. Crew’s little sister”, Madewell is a chain that’s clearly in-tune with the latest fashion trends. The store in Soho can be a little overwhelming as it fills up fast on the weekend. Just take your time and try to shop through all those racks of cute stuff while dodging people!

9. Word – Brooklyn

I’m lucky to have my favourite bookstore right in my neighbourhood! This shop is cozy and on the smaller side, but this just means quality over quantity. The staff gives great reading recommendations and their comment cards provide the perfect opportunity to get rid of your “reader’s block”. I buy almost all of my greeting cards here too.

10. Eastern District – Brooklyn

This beer and cheese shop is such a treat for food lovers. Order a turkey sandwich with gouda and bacon marmalade on fresh bread, pick up some tasty cheese, try some new craft beers, or take home some tasty treats (anything from chocolate to honey to pickles). You’ll be glad you did!

(photo: Benjamin Lozovsky)

Friends

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

I read an article today that I really identified with. The author visits the topic of friendship as it applies to age and reaching certain points in your life. “Why is it so hard to make friends over 30?” he asks. Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one who ponders this question!

After moving to New York from Toronto two years ago, I found I had a few American friends, but mostly, as the article calls them “kind-of-friends”. I came straight from spending the majority of my twenties in Toronto, where I met countless amazing people through mutual friends, my ex-boyfriend, and work. Not everyone was in a relationship or even felt the need to be, and we all spent time together at house parties, bars, parks, concerts, cottages, and the occasional planned food fight with little to no drama and everyone got along.

Now that I’m married and 30, I find my standards for friends are higher and the frequency of cravings to go out every weekend are lower. Luckily, I’m very fortunate to have a great husband who would rather spend time with me than anyone else and I’ve managed to make a few great NYC friends. I’m also happy to keep up the relationships I treasure most in Canada, but I now know that the volume of friends I have there will never exist here. And I’m okay with that because I’ve finally realized I have new things to look forward to.

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

Read: Friends Of A Certain Age

Who We Are

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Who we are is largely who we meet. Cities are machines that randomize contact. The Internet is a meta-city, meta-randomizing contact. I now “know” more people than I would ever have imagined possible, because of that. It changes who I am and what I can do.

– William Gibson, American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist

Thanks to Jacob for sharing! Read the whole interview here.

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