Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

The reading tally

I was SO CLOSE to my 75-book goal for last year. I tried a final sprint to the finish line, but then the kids were off school and snowshoeing called and… 73.

It’s really all Naomi Klein‘s fault. (Though she was worth it.)

I read 12 non-fiction books. The ones with the biggest impact were This Changes Everything and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. I read the two at the same time, and it was a nice balance. That is to say, Big Magic kept me from jumping off a cliff while I struggled through This Changes Everything.

Other non-fiction books I loved: Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide, about Edward Snowden; Caroline Moorehead’s Village of Secrets, about a tiny region in France that sheltered Jewish refugees during World War II; and Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about a community in the slums of Mumbai. All amazing books, well worth any reading-goal delays.


In the world of adult fiction (20 books), I loved Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. If you haven’t read it, you should get a copy immediately.


The rest of my books were middle-grade and young adult fiction (41). And I have so many favourites in that category, it’s hard to choose. Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, definitely, because of its wonderful mash-up of realistic romance and inventive sci-fi. Also Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener (deliciously creepy) and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger (contemporary perfection). For the younger set, I choose Jordan Stratford’s The Case of the Missing Moonstone, which made me wish I lived in London in the early 1800s. In a house with a maid, a butler, and a hot-air balloon.


I’ve been reading up a storm these last few weeks. My tracking website predicts I’ll hit 123 books this year. But let’s keep our expectations realisttic and say 74, shall we? If you have recommendations for me, leave me a comment.

My reading friends, may every rainy day in 2016 find you curled on a window seat with a cup of tea and the perfect book.

How to keep an idea

Ideas are slippery little suckers. One can be thrashing around in your head as if it will live forever. The next thing you know, your great aunt calls. By the time you’re off the phone, the idea has slipped the hook and you can’t remember a single wiggle of it.

[Whew… enough with the fishing analogy. I think that will be my first and final of those.]

My point is: when you have an idea, you have to catch it. (Incidentally, you should watch this Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk for the description of the poet who felt poems coming like freight trains across the fields.) You have to write your idea down. Over at Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh talks about keeping a pen in her shower, and taking a notebook on runs.

I have not resorted to either of those methods. I have, however, been known to run naked from the shower directly to the computer. My family’s quite used to it. Probably the neighbours are, too.

My point is this: ideas might be infinite. They may keep arriving like freight trains throughout your entire life and if you miss a few, well… you can always grab the next. OR, they might be finite. And if that’s the case, you don’t want to let the big one get away.