Novel Reactions: Dreyer’s English

This one captured my heart from page one. It held no punches, and Benjamin Dreyer wasted no time in telling me that I should really stop using filler words in my writing. (I did that on purpose.)

This book is a great guide and refresher to the rules of writing, and I plan to reread it (maybe) once a year to make sure I don’t fall back into my bad writing habits. With that said, Dreyer’s English is a reference book that I will definitely keep within arm’s reach especially whenever I need to make a point about the usage of “lay” as opposed to “lie.” Add on to this the non-use of apostrophes for pluralizing words. Please, stop and think, people. Perhaps I can give this book as gifts to those people just to get my point across? I will need to stock up on the book though, and it isn’t that cheap…

The target audience of this book is the adult American. This book talks about rules of American English and not British English. (Yes, these are distinct.) I noticed while reading that Filipinos blend the two English languages, so if you don’t live in America, don’t feel too affected by some of the rules in this book—unless, of course, you are writing in American English then by all means, yes, please follow these rules.

All in all, this was a highly informative and entertaining read. Who said learning can’t be fun? (Correct answer is no one—learning is always fun.)

Short Bites: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” (the title story of this compilation) is about the generation(s) of Jewish Americans that grew up after the holocaust. For the most part, they’d lived generally worry-free lives, with some members of the generation eventually moving “back” from the US to Israel.

Speaking of US and Israel, this story does touch on some differences in culture between those in the US and in Israel. While those difference may exist in the details, some things, such as love and family, are universal.

Nathan Eglander spent the first part of the story creating context and building out this little world. Yes, it can get a little specific, but this story focuses on the universal things—things that anyone regardless of race and religion can relate to. While you need to know of Anne Frank and of the holocaust for context, the question asked at the end of the day is quite universal: do you trust your neighbors?

Novel Reactions: The Saturday Night Ghost Club

I found The Saturday Night Ghost Club when I was browsing in bookstores in Toronto. At first, I was hesitant to buy this book. Ghost Club? No, thanks. I already know I don’t like horror, but I was intrigued: The Saturday Night Ghost Club was set in Niagara Falls—how quintessential Canada can you get? (See: A Taste of CanLit)

And what a great decision it was. This book was a short yet powerful read, and, frankly, I would have finished the book within a day if it were not for a cute dog trying to get my attention. (Yes, there are things other than mobile phones that distract your typical millennial population, too.)

Well, fine. I also voluntarily paused halfway through because I kept feeling like something really bad was going to happen, and I wanted to delay the impending doom as much as possible. Funnily enough, although I was suspicious that something was wrong, I didn’t get that something right! Nice try, brain; the story’s twists and turns weren’t that obvious.

I’d say Craig Davidson kept me on my toes for all ~250 pages of the book. He also managed to break my heart and then mend it in the same number of pages. What a ride.

Supply Scheduling

A few months ago, I decided to invest more in the hungriest reader to (1) brush up on my writing skills; (2) keep my mind sharp while I was on vacation; and (3) learn a little bit of marketing. Over the past four months, I came up with a reasonable schedule for my posts: Wednesdays for Short Bites, Thursdays for Novel Reactions, and Sundays for Curious Travels (and others). I had no work obligations then, so it was fairly easy for me to keep up with my self-imposed schedule.

Today I am two weeks into my new job, and so far, so good. I have been learning a lot, and, mission accomplished: reading books kept me sharp and (the nonfiction ones) prepared me for my new job. Managing the hungriest reader has also been a great way for me to keep share my interests, reading and traveling, so instead of shutting this down, I’ve decided it’s time to readjust to my new lifestyle.

TL;DR, here’s my new posting schedule:

  • Short Bites: First and Third Wednesdays
  • Novel Reactions: Every Thursday (until further notice)
  • Curious Travels (and others): Second and Fourth Sundays

If this doesn’t work out, I’ll readjust again. Better to start now than have everything crashing down later. (I’m pretty much stretching the lean startup mindset and applying it into managing my blog, no big deal.)

A Taste of CanLit

During my grand detour, I picked up a few CanLit reads from my two favorite bookstores, Bakka-Phoenix Books and Indigo. I couldn’t purchase too many because (1) I had (and still have) a large pile of books to be read; and (2) I couldn’t fit too many books in my luggage. I ended up a total of four books, and I loved them all. Slightly wish I could have picked up more, but luggage restrictions did not permit…

A lot of the CanLit books on Indigo’s We the North shelf touched on immigration. This wasn’t too surprising, and it reminded me of the new immigrant welcome-ish posters I used to see around Toronto. Anyway, a disclaimer: the We the North shelf was not big enough to accommodate all CanLit works. I also looked for (what I thought were) less mainstream books since I wanted to broaden my scope. The ones I picked up only cover a small portion of CanLit.

Here’s my list of CanLit reads in order of date read.

Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight

Thank you, Don Bassingthwaite, for bringing us Derby Cavendish. Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight (see: Short Bites: Special) is a short story collection that features Toronto’s LGBT community, with Derby Cavendish and friends saving Church Street’s butt every holiday.

Radicalized

Another story collection, Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized (see: Novel Reactions: Radicalized) touched on a lot of what if scenarios. This one didn’t seem to be set in Canada (or exclusively in any state), but it was a great read nonetheless.

Children of the Moon

Children of the Moon (see Novel Reactions: Children of the Moon) is an immigrant story of sorts. It focuses on the hardships faced by two characters, both of whom have reached old age by the time they were recounting their stories. It was quite the emotional read, so be ready to decompress after finishing this book.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club surprised me. I’m still not over it. Based on the title, I was expecting the story to be more along the lines of Goosebumps (remember that?), but it was totally different. I loved it so much that if I could only recommend one among the four books, I would pick this in a heartbeat.