What I Read – March 2018


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday Canada, 2011)

More style than substance though I enjoyed it while I was reading it. A month (or less) later, I can’t remember much but it entertained me at the time.

And No Birds Sang – Farley Mowat (McClelland & Stewart, 1979)

Mowat is a Canadian classic and I’ve read a few of his books now, all ranging broadly in subject. This is his memoir of his time serving during World War Two. It was recommended to me by a friend who has served in the Canadian armed forces. It’s an honest and brutal book.

(I reviewed a young adult novel by Mowat, The Curse of the Viking Grave, here.)

Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger (Bantam Books, 1986)

A re-read. Sometimes you just need some quick, interesting short stories, you know?

A Mariner’s Guide to Self-Sabotage – Bill Gaston (Douglas & McIntyre, 2017)

I wrote a review for this one! Read it here.

The Icarus Girl – Helen Oyeyemi (Nan A. Tales/Doubleday, 2005)

And another review! Read it here. Maybe I’ll actually start writing real reviews again.

Our Endless Numbered Days – Claire Fuller (Anansi, 2015)

Still hoping to write a real review for this book. Stay tuned…

Didn’t Finish:

The Gift of Rain – Tan Twang Eng

(After hearing multiple recommendations of this book I was really disappointed. I just could not get into it and found the beginning dragged on and on until I gave up. What clinched its abandonment for me was also the repeated negative portrayals of all things Chinese. As far as I could see, it wasn’t necessary and added nothing to the story other than making me dislike the narrator.)

Currently Reading:

The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was a Child I Read Books – Marilynne Robinson

Funny Once: Stories – Antonya Nelson

Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains – Yasuko Thanh


What I Read – February 2018

2018 has obviously not been a great year for book reviews thus far but I am sneaking in lots of reading time. Here’s what I read in February and the quickest reviews I can manage at this moment:

The Hut Builder – Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Books, 2010

New Zealand novel. I likely would have abandoned this one partway through if it hadn’t been a gift. Quite frankly, I found this one boring and the characters uninteresting.

Night Film – Marisha Pesl (Random House, 2014)

Definitely creative. Fairly creepy. Character development and voice, etc are fairly limited but the mystery at the heart of the novel will keep you reading.

Rest, Play, Grow – Deborah MacNamara (Aona Books, 2016)

I hope to find the time to write a more detailed review of this parenting book because it’s been hugely helpful to me. I highly recommend this to parents of toddlers.

What every young child would tell us if they could is to please hold on to them, to not take their actions personally, and to love them despite their immaturity.

  • Deborah MacNamara, Rest Play Grow

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Day Sijie (Anchor Books, 2002) (translated from the French by Ina Rilke)

Easy read. Nothing terrible but nothing amazing here.

The Professor and the Madman – Simon Winchester (Harper Perennial, 1999)

Fascinating read if you’re interested in history and/or language and/or dictionaries.

The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis (Harper Collins, 2001)

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

  • C.S. Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?”

Collection of sermons by Lewis. I always enjoy Lewis’ work, whether fiction or non. His perspective and wisdom are endlessly valuable.

It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God.

  • C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

Moonglow – Michael Chabon (Harper Collins, 2016)

Pseudo-memoir of the author’s grandparents. Or is it? What’s fact and what’s fiction here? And does it matter when it’s well written and fun to read? 20th century history, World War II, space race, and a giant snake.

Indian Horse – Richard Wagamese (Douglas & McIntyre, 2012)

Why did it take me so long to read this book? Beautiful and heartbreaking. Every Canadian should read this book. And if you’re not Canadian you should read it too.


The Silmarillion – j.R.R. Tolkien

…there were green things even among the pits and broken rocks before the doors of hell.

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

When I Was a Child I Read Books – Marilynne Robinson


My current reading habits mean I generally have three books on the go. The first is a classic that needs a decent amount of focus to be read. (Example: The Silmarillion) I read this in the evening after the girls are in bed. The second is something of a thoughtful nature, usually non-fiction, maybe something religious in nature. (Example: essays by Marilynne Robinson) The third is a more compulsive read. Almost always fiction, hopefully paperback. Something that I can read in the middle of the night while struggling to stay awake and feed a baby. (Just finished Indian Horse and will probably start The Night Circus tonight since I got it from the library today.)

What are your reading habits like? How many books do you typically have on the go? How do you decide what to read and when?

What I Read – January 2018

For although a man is judged by his actions, by what he has said and done, a man judges himself by what he is willing to do, by what he might have said, or might have done – a judgment that is necessarily hampered, not only by scope and limits of his imagination, but by the ever-changing measure of his doubt and self-esteem.

– The Luminaries

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more classics. As such, I re-read The Power and the Glory, an amazing classic that I read several years ago but so many things in it felt like I was reading it for the first time. I’ve also (finally) begun to tackle The Silmarillion. I think my dad will be proud of me.

And, as always, I want to read more from my own library (Meaning read some of the stacks of books that I already own but have not yet read.) 84, Charing Cross Road, Rules of Civility, The Luminaries, Purple Hibiscus, and The Painted Girls all fit into that category.

I managed a couple of book reviews (titles are linked) but hope to do better in February. Feel free to share your favourite reads of the month in the comments!


  1. 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff (Penguin Books, 1970)
  2. The War that Saved my Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Penguin Books, 2015)
  3. Rules of Civility – Amor Towles (Penguin Books, 2011)
  4. Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist – Martina Scholtens (Brindle & Glass, 2017)
  5. The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton (McClelland & Stewart, 2013)
  6. The Power and the Glory – Graham Greene (Penguin Books, 1979)
  7. Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2012)
  8. The Painted Girls – Cathy Marie Buchanan (Harper Collins, 2012

There was silence all round him. This place was very like the world: overcrowded with lust and crime and unhappy love, it stank to heaven; but he realized that after all it was possible to find peace there, when you knew for certain that the time was short.

– The Power and the Glory

Currently Reading:

  1. Rest, Play, Grow – Deborah MacNamara
  2. The Silmarillion – J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. The Hut Builder – Laurence Fearnley

But Ilúvatar knew that Men, being set amid the turmoils of the powers of the world, would stray often, and would not use their gifts in harmony; and he said: “These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work.”

– The Silmarillion

*Friendly reminder that you can follow me on Instagram @karissareadsbooks if you’re into that sort of thing. Mostly pictures of what I’m reading as I’m reading and my kids.

What I Read – 2017

My Favourite Reads of 2017:

Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien

The Break – Katherine Vermette

The Lonely Hearts Hotel –  Heather O’Neill

Silence – Shusaku Endo

All We Leave Behind – Carol Off

The Golden House – Salman Rushdie

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie

The Good People – Hannah Kent

Bellevue Square – Michael Redhill

Barrelling Forward – Eva Crocker

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

Thoughts and Observations:

  • My total number for the year is 72. Which comes in slightly below last year’s 76 so I’m pretty pleased.
  • Last year included 5 re-reads and I didn’t have any this year, despite intending to re-read a couple of classics
  • Speaking of classics, I read very few this year. That’s a goal I’ve set for 2018. Including (maybe) Ulysses…
  • Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of my reading is Fiction (61 fiction versus 11 non)
  • More surprisingly to me, I read very few theological type books this year. My non-fiction tended to be memoirs in 2017.
  • Female authors won out again this year with the women pulling ahead by a larger majority. (I counted 41 women and 28 men. So I obviously missed a few but I’m not going to go back and re-count.)
  • It surprises me to see that the U.S. is so highly represented with 31 authors. Canada, which usually wins this round, comes in next with 21 authors.
  • Also represented are: England, Ireland, Japan, Nigeria, India, Scotland, Russia, New Zealand, Chile, Spain, and Australia.
  • That said, only three books this year were translated from other languages. This is a category I know I always need to work on.
  • Other numbers:
    • 3 books were mysteries
    • 3 books had more than 500 pages.
    • 10 books were short story collections
    • 1 book was on parenting (Expect this number to increase in future!)
    • 7 were young adult or middle grade books
  • I abandoned 5 books without finishing them. (I don’t count these in my overall total.) This is actually a fairly high number for me but I am becoming more selective as I get older/my reading time becomes more limited.
  • I reviewed all but 6 of my 2017 reads, a number I’m pretty proud of. I had a 100% success rate until mid-November. I’m going to blame Rose for the drop off but I am hoping to catch up in 2018.

The Complete List:

1. The SelloutPaul Beatty (Picador, 2015)

2. Reflections on the PsalmsC.S. Lewis (Harvest Book, 1958)

3. I Carried You Home – Alan Gibney (Patrick Crean Editions, 2016)

4. Beauty Plus Pity – Kevin Chong (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011)

5. The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey (Regan Arthur/Back Bay, 2012)

6. When She Was Electric – Andrea MacPherson (Polestar, 2003)

7. Perfect Little World – Kevin Wilson (Harper Collins, 2017)

8. Such is My Beloved – Morley Callaghan (McClelland & Stewart, 1994)

9. Fates and Furies  – Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, 2015)

10. The Conjoined – Jen Sookfong Lee (ECW Press, 2016)

11. Here I Am – Jonathan Safran Foer

12. Barrelling Forward – Eva Crocker (House of Anansi, 2017)

13. The Best Kind of People – Zoe Whittall (Anansi, 2016)

14. What is not Yours is not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi (Hamish Hamilton, 2016)

15. Eileen – Otessa Moshfegh (Penguin, 2015)

16. The Dark and Other Love Stories – Deborah Willis (Hamish Hamilton, 2017)

17. How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen – Joanna Faber & Julie King (Scribner, 2017)

18. The Break – Katherena Vermette (Anansi, 2016)

19. Garden of Eden – Ernest Hemingway (Scribners, 1986)

20. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday, 2015)

21. The Dinner Party and Other Stories – Joshua Ferris (Little, Brown, 2017)

22. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf Canada, 2017)

23. The Unwomanly Face of War – Svetlana Alexievich (Random House, 2017)

24. Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien (Knopf Canada, 2016)

25. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray, 2017)

26. A Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin (Farrar, STrauss and Giroux, 2015)

27. The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman (Northfield Publishing, 1995)

28. Silence – Shusaku Endo (Picador Classic, 2015)

29. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (Viking, 2017)

30. The Collected Stories – Grace Paley (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2007)

31. Holding Still For As Long as Possible – Zoe Whittall (Anansi, 2009)

32. Spoonbenders – Daryl Gregory (Alfred A. Knopf, 2017)

33. Trust No One – Paul Cleave (Upstart Press, 2015)

34. Everything was Good-Bye – Gurjinder Basran (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2010)

35. Harmless Like You – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Sceptre, 2016)

36. The Red Pony – John Steinbeck (Penguin Classics, 2009)

37. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown and Company, 2017)

38. The Tennis Partner – Abraham Verghese (Harper Collins, 1998)

39. The Japanese Lover – Isabel Allende (Atria Paperback, 2015)

40. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (Cardinal Editions, 1960)

41. Autobiography – G.K. Chesterton (Hamish Hamilton, 1986)

42. The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill (Harper Collins, 2017)

43. Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf, 2017)

44. Meddling Kids – Edgar Cantero (Blumhouse Books, 2017)

45. Himself – Jess Kidd (Atria Books, 2017)

46. The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (Hogarth, 2017)

47. The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden (Del Rey, 2017)

48. Teardown – Clea Young (Free Hand Books, 2017)

49. Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 – Naoki Higashida

50. The Golden House – Salman Rushdie (Random House, 2017)

51. The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina – Kara LaReau (Amulet Books, 2017)

52. The Good People – Hannah Kent (Little, Brown, 2017)

53. The Wind is not a River – Brian Payton (Ecco, 2014)

54. How to Breathe Underwater – Julie Orringer (Vintage, 2003)

55. All We Leave Behind – Carol Off (Random House Canada, 2017)

56. Lost in September – Kathleen Winter (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2017)

57. Bellevue Square – Michael Redhill (Doubleday Canada, 2017)

58. A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles (Viking, 2016)

59. The End We Start From – Megan Hunter (Hamish Hamilton, 2017)

60. Ghost Warning – Kara Stanley (Caitlin Press, 2017)

61. Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin (A Harvest Book, 1983)

62. A Boys’ Treasury of Sea Stories (Paul Hamlyn, 1968)

63. The Lifters – Dave Eggers (Alfred A Knopf, 2018)

64. Wonder – R.J. Palacio (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

65. Beloved – Toni Morrison (Plume, 1998)

66. My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier (International Collectors Library, 1952)

67. Next Year For Sure – Zoey Leigh Peterson (Doubleday Canada, 2017)

68. See What Can Be Done – Lorrie Moore (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018)

69. Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien (Harper Collins, 2015)

70. The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novellas – Henry James (Signet Classic, 1962)

71. Late Nights on Air – Elizabeth Hay (Emblem, 2007)

72. The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid – Colin Meloy (Balzer + Bray, 2017)

Books I Didn’t Finish:

The Travelers – Chris Pavone

Green Mansions – W.H. Hudson

Gork, the Teenage Dragon – Gabe Hudson

The Wonderling – Mira Bartok

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

What I Read – November 2017

The Lifters – Dave Eggers (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018)

Wonder – R.J. Palacio (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

Beloved – Toni Morrison (Plume, 1998)

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier (International Collectors Library, 1952)

Currently Reading:

See What Can Be Done – Lorrie Moore

Rest, Play, Grow – Deborah MacNamara

The Turn of the Screw and other short novels – Henry James

Next Year for Sure – Zoey Leigh Peterson

What I Read – October 2017

Bellevue Square – Michael Redhill (Doubleday Canada, 2017)

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles (Viking, 2016)

The End We Start From – Megan Hunter (Hamish Hamilton, 2017)

Ghost Warning – Kara Stanley (Caitlin Press, 2017)

Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin (A Harvest Book, 1983)

All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfect blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but as something that is. – Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale

A Boys’ Treasury of Sea Stories (Paul Hamlyn, 1968)

Currently Reading:

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

The Lifters – Dave Eggers

What I Read – September 2017

(My dad felt that my summer reading level had dropped off so I have done my best to boost my numbers this September. However, please keep your expectations low for October.)

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina – Kara LaReau (Amulet Books, 2017)

The Good People – Hannah Kent (Little, Brown, 2017)

The Wind is not a River – Brian Payton (Ecco, 2014)

How to Breathe Underwater – Julie Orringer (Vintage, 2003)

All We Leave Behind – Carol Off (Random House Canada, 2017)

Lost in September – Kathleen Winter (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2017)

Didn’t Finish:

The Wonderling Mira Bartok (Candlewick Press, 2017)

Currently Reading:

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

Bellevue Square – Michael Redhill

What I Read – August 2017

The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden (Del Rey, 2017)

Teardown – Clea Young (Free Hand Books, 2016)

Fall Down 7 Times, Get Up 8 – Naoki Higashida (Random House, 2017)

The Golden House Salman Rushdie (Random House, 2017)

Currently Reading:

The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf

The Wind is not a River – Brian Payton

The Wonderling – Mira Bartok

What I Read – July 2017

Woefully lately but in the interests of keeping track (for myself because I’m sure no one has been waiting with baited breath), here is what I read in July:

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill (Harper Collins Publishers, 2017)

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Knopf, 2017)

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (Blumhouse Books, 2017)

Himself by Jess Kidd (Atria Books, 2017)

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Hogarth, 2017)7

What I Read – June 2017

This felt like kind of a strange reading month for me. I started off by reading Alexie’s memoir and Verghese’ back-to-back, while also working my way through Chesterton’s autobiography. While I enjoyed each one, it also felt like a lot of male experiences and I was itching for some feminine perspective to balance it out. Something that hasn’t really happened to me before. I was eager to read Allende, an author I’ve also heard highly of but haven’t read before. A ferry ride and a night away on my own was the perfect opportunity. Then some Agatha Christie and I was ready to finish tackling Chesterton (reviews to come).

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown and Company, 2017)

The Tennis Partner – Abraham Verghese (Harper Collins, 1998)

The Japanese Lover – Isabel Allende (Atria Paperback, 2015)

Autobiography – G.K. Chesterton (Hamish Hamilton, 1986)


And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (Cardinal Editions, 1960)

Didn’t Finish:

Gork, the Teenage Dragon – Gabe Hudson (Knopf, 2017)

Currently Reading:

The Lonely Hearts Hotel – Heather O’Neill