Summer Reads

Disclaimer: I rarely preorder books. But somehow, this summer I have preordered 3! All by authors I love to follow and whose books I know I will love without even reading the description. 

Cultivate by Lara Casey

I really enjoyed Lara Casey's first book Make It Happen. She goes through her own personal story, and breaks down how she sets good goals to make what matters happen. Her second book, Cultivate (which releases tomorrow!), is 'a grace filled guide to growing an intentional life'. As someone who struggles with intention, I could not be more excited to read Lara's story and how she cultivates this life. (Bonus: she is offering tons of preorder goodies!)

Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons

This is Ruth Chou Simons first book, but I have long loved following her on Instagram and reading her posts. I love her way with words and her beautiful art. I can't wait to read her words in a full book format and delight in the artwork inside.

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

I truly couldn't tell you how long I have been reading Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series - probably 10 years? (I remember it was around the time Dead Cold/A Fatal Grace came out.) Somehow every book is still magical and mysterious. The characters, the settings, the story - she truly is an exceptional mystery writer and I'm not making any plans for the week this book comes out so I can read it immediately.

Any books you've preordered or are excited to read this summer? Let me know! My summer reading list isn't quite finalized yet :)

Best Reads of 2015

Hello 2016! This little old blog started 5 years ago today, which seems so crazy to me. I started Gallery No. Eight on a whim - a notion of wanting a place online to talk design and build a potential portfolio for future work. And while I'm sure I had ideas of where I hoped it would go, this little space has exceeded so many of my expectations of what blogging can do or become. No matter how long you've been following along, THANKYOU! This little space is all mine, but it wouldn't be the same without you.

On to the post! I added so many gems to my bookshelf last year, it would not be fair to keep them to myself. Whether you're looking to tidy up, love others, solve a mystery, or make it happen, there's something here you'll like.

  1. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
  2. Daring Greatly
  3. Love Does
  4. For the Love
  5. The Finishing School
  6. Make it Happen
  7. The Nature of the Beast
  8. The Nightingale
  9. All the Light We Cannot See
  10. Suite Française
  11. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

I'm starting to build my reading list for this year, so if there's any books you loved last year, please share! Or if you have any thoughts/questions on the books above, I would love to chat more with you.

Cheers to an amazing - and well-read - 2016 ;) 

xo

Winter Reading List

Along with the cold weather always comes this deep desire to curl up in front of the fire with a good book :) Here's what I've been reading lately & what's on my to-be-read list...

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust - Alan Bradley
I adore the Flavia de Luce series & the newest release is just as good - maybe slightly better simply because it's set in Canada! If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend it!

A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson
I read & loved 'Life After Life', and when I saw this on the pre-order list I was intrigued simply because it was by the same author. Turns out it's a companion novel to 'Life After Life' which just has me even more interested...

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
This one was recommended to me, and after reading the description I had to put it on my list. "Just what goes on in the houses you pass by every day?" I'm thinking I might have to pick this one up tomorrow to devour all weekend :)

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
A novel that weaves a story so beautiful, it has to be recommended! I read this over the holidays and so enjoyed it.

What are you reading? Any books you're looking forward to this year?

xo

On My Bookshelf: People of the Book

I've been on a bit of a reading kick lately :) I wandered into a bookstore in Stratford the other weekend and picked up several books they had on sale. Once I was home I promptly started reading them, then I finished them, and wanted to keep reading. I wandered over to my 'unread' books pile and this one, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, which I've been meaning to read since Christmas!

Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Good Reads
From the publisher:
   In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding - an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation.
As with many books, there were a few bits in this one I didn't love (the mother-daughter relationship was a bit annoying), but I did really enjoy reading the 'history' of the book in the title, the Sarajevo Haggadah. Brooks has taken the few facts known about it and embellished upon them to create a sweeping story that covers hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend.



You should read it if:

1 // You love knowing the history of things. This book traces the history of another, ancient book and the stories it has to tell are fascinating.

2 // You like stories that span across time/space. Jumping back & forth between the 'present' of the book and it's history, Brooks successfully weaved them together in a way that told the story so well.



What are you reading lately?

xo,
B

On My Bookshelf: Quiet

Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Good Reads
Confession: I started this book at Christmas. And I finished it in the spring. It wasn't for lack of interest in the book, almost the opposite - there was so much to take in that I needed to step away.

Quiet isn't a new book. Author Susan Cain has been featured in many places (including her own TED talk) and is working on a 'Quiet Revolution' - her introverted manifesto is perfect.

From the publisher:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.
I was mildly hesitant to read the book at first - would it be worth my time? Was it full of things I already knew about introverts? - but I was excited too. And after reading it, I was so beyond glad that I had!

It is so well researched and thought out, and it explains not only why some people are quieter than others, but also how the world isn't as accepting of these quiet people. There's so much good stuff packed into this tiny book, I could talk about it for days. 


You should pick it up if:

1 // You're introverted or extroverted (yes, I think everyone should read this!)
While it is a book mainly about introverts, it's impossible to talk about one and not the other. It's full of great research on both sides and I think it would be incredibly insightful to anyone reading.

2 // You want to learn more about why introverts are the way they are and why the world is the way it is. You won't regret it!



Let me know in the comments in you've read Quiet, or want to now!

xo,
B

On My Bookshelf: The Interestings

Last month when I posted my Spring (more like summer) reading list, I had only read a few chapters of The Interestings. Now I'm back with my full review & thoughts! 

Amazon.ca, Chapters Indigo, Good Reads, Amazon.com

From the publisher:
    The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
    Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

It was...interesting? In full disclosure, I didn't buy this book. My book blogger friend Brenna won it for me on Twitter (#penguinexpress) and I was genuinely interested to read it after I read the description. Having gone to university for the arts, I definitely have a fascination with what happens as artists of all skills get older & how that transition works. Who makes it, who gives up, who surges later in life - that aspect of this book I did enjoy.

The trajectory of each character was very different, and was in ways fascinating to watch. And that's maybe where my enjoyment of the book ended. (I did enjoy seeing NYC through the years - that was definitely neat.)

Without spoiling anything, the characters all go through a lot of crappy stuff. Things that I didn't really enjoy reading about. I finished the book to see what happened to them all, but I was left feeling a little 'blah' about the whole thing.

I know this hasn't been the most positive of reviews, but sometimes that happens. There are definitely people that will really enjoy this book, it just wasn't for me in the end.


You should pick it up if:
1 // You have any interest in the arts/the careers of artists. It is fascinating from that standpoint.

2 // You love the backdrop of New York City. I need to visit!!!

3 // If you liked The Goldfinch. They are definitely very different books, but I feel like people that enjoyed the one would enjoy the other.



Have you read The Interestings? Does it seem like a book you'd pick up?

xo,
B

ps, what are you reading right now? Always need some good recommendations :)

Spring Reading

A change in the weather has me yearning for lazy summer days spent reading in the sunshine. I might not have as much free time as I did when I was a kid, but spring/summer reading is always a good thing. I've finished a few books recently & am looking to pick up a few more, so I thought I'd share what's on my list :)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I read this last month after a good friend recommended it, and I finished it in one sitting. The length and the story kept me hooked so check it out if it looks interesting to you :)

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The same good friend #PenguinExpress-ed me this book on Twitter, and I'm a few chapters in. Having graduated from 'art' school (new media has way too many definitions), this intrigued me right from the start. I'm curious to see where it will go & will report back once I've finished!

Pursue the Intentional Life by Jean Fleming
This is Bloom's current book study, and it looks really good. I haven't picked up the book yet, but am hoping too soon.

The Bees by Laline Paull
Ok, I have to admit, this one seems a little out there. But it's got tons of great reviews, so I'm willing to give it a go.

What are you reading/hoping/planning to read?

xo,
B

On My Bookshelf: Bury Your Dead

Good Reads, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com
I've been a fan of Louise Penny's books since 2007/2008 when I read Dead Cold. It was her second novel in the Inspector Gamache series, so I immediately went and found the first, Still Life, and have been hooked ever since.

As you can probably guess by some of the titles, these are crime/murder mysteries haha Some of the older covers are very 'crime-y', while the more recent ones are much more subtle.

The Inspector Gamache series is usually set within the small Quebec village of Three Pines (which sadly does not exist in real life), but Bury Your Dead strays a little with it's three part storyline. Part takes place in Three Pines, part takes place in Quebec City, and part is an event that happened in the past - if that makes sense. The three storylines are woven together beautifully.

Like any series, the books can be read out of order - there's enough backstory that you'll understand what's happened - but they are best read in sequence.

From the publisher:

As Quebec City shivers in the grip of winter, its ancient stone walls cracking in the cold, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache plunges into the strangest case of his celebrated career. A man has been brutally murdered in one of the city's oldest buildings - a library where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their history. And the death opens a door into the past, exposing a mystery that has lain dormant for centuries . . . a mystery Gamache must solve if he's to catch a present-day killer. 

Reasons to read:

1) If you're a mystery/crime fan, you need to read this series. SO good - I promise you'll be hooked :) And maybe more than any other book in the series, you need to read this one before the ones that come after.

2) The historical/current mystery. There's a good bit of Quebec history woven into the pages of this book. It's pretty fascinating to read, especially if you've been to Quebec.

3) The characters in this series are some of my favourite, ever. They are talented and smart, but they also make mistakes. The making of and learning from mistakes are two of the big themes of the book. They make it feel very real and honest, these imperfect characters, and you'll love them even more after.

Also, Still Life (the first in the series) has been made into a TV movie, airing this Sunday (Sept 15) at 8pm on CBC. So if you've never read the books, it would be the perfect introduction to the village of Three Pines & Inspector Gamache :)

Are you a mystery fan? Have you read any of Louise Penny's books?

xo,
B

On My Bookshelf: 7


It's been a little while since I've done one of these! Clearly my summer reading plans are not working out haha

When I finished 7 last week, I knew I had to share. It's been around for over a year now, and I was both nervous and excited to read it. Excited because after reading this post of Jen's, I knew it would be hilarious. And nervous because I knew it would challenge me.

I've been working through The 7 Experiment study this summer, but what I was missing from it were Jen's personal thoughts on the whole process. And that is exactly what 7 is - Jen wrote the book while doing the fasts, not afterwards. It is her real, honest, hilarious and insightful commentary as it happened.

I think the study and the book need to go together. Because if you just read the book, you'd be left wanting to know how to do it yourself and if you just do the study, it leaves you wanting to read about someone who's done it - does that make sense?

The one thing I loved was that in no way does Jen 'push' this on anyone. It would be so easy to with a book like this - "I'm fasting from 7 things for 7 different months, why aren't you??" - but Jen keeps it so  real (spoiler alert: she messes up her own fast) that it never feels preachy.

You should read this book if:

1) You want to learn. Jen did her research y'all. 7 is full of personal stories, yes, but it is also full of relevant information for each of the areas she studied. Really eye opening.

2) You want to laugh. Jen's hilarious. If you have any doubts, go read her post titled, "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever" and the follow up post "That Time I Was on the Today Show".

3) You want to be inspired (and maybe a little challenged). It will probably make you rethink a lot of the ways you do things. How much we waste, how much media we consume, how much we own. This is not a recipe for doing it yourself, but an inspiring way to think about the excess we consume.

I highly recommend this book, even if you have no interest in fasting from anything, 7 is a good read.

Have you read 7? Is it on your need-to-read list?

xo,
B

Chip Kidd is awesome.


You've heard of TED, right? Good.

Last weekend I had a painting project to work on, so I listened to a bunch of TED talks in the background, one of them being 'Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is' by Chip Kidd. I'd never heard of him, didn't know what he'd designed, but I like books and I like design and designing book covers sounds like an awesome job, so I listened. Video is embedded below, but you can also view it here.

And this is what I realized:

1) Designing book covers wouldn't be an awesome job, it would be the BEST job. Seriously. Can someone write a book so I can design the cover? Kthxbye.

2) Chip Kidd is awesome. How have I not heard of him before???

via
'Dry' (below) might be my favourite cover, because it is just so brilliant. But the 1Q84 cover (below) is also pretty genius. Chip Kidd is also the one that designed the original Jurassic Park cover (above) - recognize that dinosaur? You can view more of his covers in this Time slideshow.


So. If you have ever wondered what goes into designing a book cover or even if you just like books or design, you should most definitely check out his talk.

Any other TED talks I need to watch?

xo,
B

On My Bookshelf: The Daughter of Time


I'll be honest: I bought this book mostly for the cover. It was a $1.50 at the book fair and said something about a 'detective story' on the inside cover, and it has that classic penguin cover in green(!).

I had vague plans to maybe-actually-probably-should read it one day. But after a quick Google, I discovered that it was "selected by the British-based Crime Writers' Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time" (source) in 1990. Now I had to read it!
Goodreads, Wikipedia, Amazon
From Goodreads:
        Without leaving his bed, Inspector Alan Grant investigates the evidence in the case of Richard III & the Princes in the Tower, arriving at a convincing solution by means of acute historical detection. A critical piece of evidence in this unabashedly Ricardian tale is the Bill of Attainder brought by Henry VII against Richard III, which makes no mention whatsoever of the princes—certainly suggestive to Grant of their being alive at the time.
        Critics point out that this is a work of fiction. Rightly so. Despite that, in the decades since it was printed it's turned many of the idly curious to devout Ricardianism. Anthony Boucher called The Daughter of Time “one of the permanent classics in the detective field”. Dorothy B. Hughes termed it “not only one of the most important mysteries of the year, but of all years of mystery”.

The rest of my thoughts after the jump!

When I found out that it was a mystery novel set in 1950's England and the mystery dated back to Richard III, I was so intrigued. Firstly, I love everything British and especially their history. I took 3 or 4 courses in university that covered several periods of English/British history and loved them.

Now, the premise of a bed-ridden detective solving a centuries old crime might not sound very thrilling, but Tey tells the story beautifully and I was so hooked and excited to find out what the characters discovered.

It is the 5th Alan Grant novel by Josephine Tey, but I certainly didn't feel like I was missing a ton not having read the previous books. I am definitely interested in reading them though and now know not to pass on any Josephine Tey books I might find at book sales!

I was definitely surprised by this book, but in the best way. I love finding little gems and this book definitely was one. I kind of like that the cover didn't reveal the story to me (some have portraits of Richard III) and I could discover and enjoy it on my own.

If you love all things British, or historical, or even just a good bit of detective work, then you will thoroughly enjoy this book!

xo,
B