Tag Archives: books

It’s Time to Play…

What books does Toby have checked out from the library!

You reading anything interesting lately?

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New Book: Skin Cleanse

all my books are from the library

all my books are from the library

I recently picked up the book “Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin” by Adina Grigore. Grigore believes diet plays a crucial role in skin health and advocates for a super minimal routine that includes everyday pantry staples (think olive and coconut oils, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda) and very little (natural) make-up.

While there is a lot of sense in Grigore’s ideas, I think, like many things, they may be best used in moderation. I love my junky processed foods and gin and tonics too much to give up on them, but I’m going to try to be more mindful of my dairy intake. I really like using a variety of products and make-up, but perhaps I will work on paring things down a bit. While not entirely practical, Grigore’s book is a good reminder that healthy skin starts from the inside.

Have you read this yet? Would you ever replace all your beloved skin care products with pantry staples?

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Another Book Post

Currently reading: The First Bad Man by Miranda July. In true July form, this book is quirky and funny and super unique. So far, so good.

Cookbooks I have out from the library: Momofuku and Momofuku Milk Bar which are beautiful to look at, but too complicated to actually make something from. The Portlandia Cookbook which is for fans, not foodies. Mark Bittman’s VB6 (the tofu jerky is amazing!) and the aforementioned Joyous Health.

On the to-read list: Michael Crummey’s Sweetland. Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on the Train. Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

Reading anything good?

p.s. Have you seen this hilarious tumblr of actual Kindle covers?

p.p.s. As always, I review the books I read on my instagram.


The Books I Read in 2014

2014 books

Last year I did pretty well with books. In total, I read 39 books. This breaks down into:

  • 6 short story collections
  • 9 graphic novels
  • 4 non-fiction titles
  • 6 young adult novels, and
  • 15 novels

(In case anyone’s counting, that equals 40, but one book was a young adult graphic novel, so it went into two categories.)

This further breaks down into:

  • 22 books by women, 17 by men
  • 11 books by Canadians, 28 by people of other nationalities.

And, in no, particular order, these were the best books I read last year:

  • Tenth of December by George Saunders
  • Hellgoing by Lynn Coady
  • The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Bark by Lorrie Moore
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
  • Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart
  • This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, and
  • Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

A short review of most of these books can be found on my instagram @toby_ann.

How was 2014 for books and reading for you?


Books, Books, Books


I’ve read a few duds lately, but seem to be back into a good book groove. I read E. Lockhart’s young adult novel We Were Liars which was dark and poetic and fabulous. I just finished the beautiful and heartbreaking graphic novel This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (they also did Skim which is equally amazing), and now I am breezing through Lena Dunham’s very real and relatable memoir, Not That Kind of Girl.

Next up in the book cue is Francis Itani’s Tell, which has been shortlisted for the Giller prize (though I read two other shortlisted books – Us Conductors and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night – and they were both pretty disappointing). I’m also really looking forward to reading Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage as I’ve been reading her blog for years and I feel like we’re best friends. I’m also waiting to get The Portlandia Cookbook from the library, which looks sort of silly, but could be quite good.

Have you read anything good recently?

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Days of the Bagnold Summer

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I am in Morocco! So here is another instagram book review.

Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart. A beautiful graphic novel that tells the story of the Bagnolds – mother Sue and teenage son Daniel – during an uneventful summer. Sue, a library assistant with a tragic past, is desperate to find a way to connect to the increasingly apathetic Daniel whose interests lie in heavy metal music and his loser friend, Ky. Quietly heartbreaking, this story made me look back regretfully on my selfish teenage years and want to call my mother. Ten black hoodies out of ten.

For more reviews, or for a peek into my Moroccan adventures, follow me on instagram @toby_ann.

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Bits and Bobs (and a Giant Bug)

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Can you believe that bug? I should have put something beside it to gauge it’s size, but it was at least two inches. I found it outside of the mall on Thanksgiving and some Googling revealed it to be a giant water bug. I had no idea bugs of that magnitude existed in Canada. Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it!

My husband and I went to see Ryan Adams this past Sunday and it was a great show. Adams is pretty weird, but he may have just been very stoned. He played this as his encore, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop since.

I’ve been reading Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe after finding it in the new book display at the library. It’s about how terrible the fashion industry is on the environment, people, and animals and how you, as a consumer, can make better choices about what you put on your body. While I don’t know how much I’m going to change in regards to my shopping habits, this is still something that is important to be aware of. I seek out local, organic, and sustainable food; I’m concerned with the ingredients in my soaps, moisturizers, and make-up; and yet I’ll peruse The Gap or Joe Fresh or Zara without a thought to the child labour and/or the terrible pesticides that were used to grow the fibres and/or the toxic dye that was used to colour the fabric, etc.

I doubt I’ll have time to blog again before Thursday when we’re off to Morocco! I’ve scheduled some posts and can’t wait to catch up when I return.
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Odds and Ends

  • My husband and I have always been surprised, that for a city with so many Jews, Winnipeg does not have good bagels. He has decided to take matters into his own hands and made a pretty decent first batch of Montreal-style bagels.
  • I leave for Morocco in 12 days! I’m so excited to get out of the country and experience a place totally different from home. Wishing I could look forward to a travel experience like this one.
  • Just finished Ann Patchett’s book State of Wonder and love love loved it.
Local bits:
  • Before I leave, I need to remember to vote. It’s exciting that we will be getting a new mayor soon, I just hope we get a good one.
  • The husband and I were super excited that The Tallest Poppy was going to re-open in a new space in West Broadway and tried it out as soon as we could. Unfortunately, it was sort of mediocre. The space is awkward, and the meal was just so-so. I’ll give it a few months before going back and hope that they get their shit sorted out.
  • I’m excited that a new music venue, The Good Will, is opening soon. There hasn’t been a good, small venue since the Lo Pub closed down and I have high hopes for this one.
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A Slow Week

I harvested this from my garden last week. As a first time gardener, I'm pretty proud of myself.

I harvested this from my garden last week. As a first time gardener, I’m pretty proud of myself.


Hello internet.

I’ve been having a low-key week. I’m starting a new job soon and decided to take a couple of weeks off in between my old job and new job so have been trying to relax and get some shit done.

Some bits:

  • I’m reading Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music which is pretty disappointing, particularly as it follows up the wonderful, award-winning Room.
  • I’m watching the second season of Parenthood and am getting more and more into it. (I also get very excited every time a character from Friday Night Lights shows up.)
  • I’m wondering if I should buy this blazer for my new job. Kendi pulled it off so well.
  • Making a Thai red curry with tofu for dinner tonight. This is one of those easy weekday meals I make way too often.
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Books on Instagram: Self-Help by Lorrie Moore

Lately, I’ve been instagramming all the books I read. Is it redundant to cross-post the same thing on two different social media platforms? Meh.


It’s a strange thing to re-read a book you fell in love with years ago. When my MA advisor recommended Lorrie Moore’s first collection of short stories, I had never heard of the author and dove in, finally discovering a writer whose voice was so close to what I hoped to do with my own. On re-read, it fell short of my memory. Sure, “How to Be an Other Woman” is probably one of my favourite short stories ever, and Moore’s wit and wordplay still makes me smile, and often there are sentences that are so perfect that I have to stop, pause, and re-read them. But, this isn’t the same book I fell in love with. It’s still a wonderful collection of often second-person stories offering cheeky advice on being a mistress, talking to your mother, and becoming a writer, but I don’t think Moore really hit her stride until her follow-up, Birds of America, which is probably my favourite book of short stories ever. Eight and a half slightly off-kilter thirtysomethings out of ten. 

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