Monthly Archives: January 2018

Silent book club – another warm gathering on a cold winter morning

Our silent book club gatherings are growing … and everyone wants to take part!


(That envious reader wannabe is Milo, amiable canine assistant at the cafe at which we gather.)

On another cold (but brilliantly sunny this time) Saturday morning, we bundled up, grabbed our books and gathered once again at local cafe Press Books Coffee Vinyl for our third silent book club meeting. Four people attended our inaugural meeting in November, and five gathered for our second meeting in December. This time, after we scrambled a bit to push together another table and grab some additional chairs, our circle was comprised of nine booklovers.

We were together for about two hours or so, and as before, I came away feeling energized and enthused, and pretty confident that fellow attendees felt the same way. The hour of silent reading was both soothing and productive, during which I finished a short story collection over which I’d been lagging and struggling a bit during the week, and also read some poetry. I so enjoyed the discussion beforehand, during which I got to know some neighbours and acquaintances a bit better and learned about the authors and subjects that fuel their individual reading passions, across a range of fiction and non-fiction.



Here are the books the members our silent book club meeting read and/or discussed today:

Our next meeting is already scheduled for mid-February. Again, I can’t wait. The books, the discussion, the time spent in company with neighbours and devoted readers – it’s all so welcoming and infectious. As I predicted, the warmth of these gatherings is seeing me through this decidedly wintry winter.

What I read in 2017

As I mentioned last year around this time, I started a handwritten books diary in 1983. It’s coming apart at the seams a bit. Over the years, I’ve backed up my list in databases, spreadsheets, Goodreads and other book apps du jour … but I’ve always updated this little diary as part of my reading routine. This beloved diary grows ever more battered, but it has seen me through another year, and as it celebrates its 35th anniversary, I commit to treating it tenderly so that it will see me through another year of reading.


Here are the books I read in 2017, with links to reviews where I have them. Again, this is an exhaustive, “all of” list, not a “best of” list.

I continued my commitment in 2017 to a daily devotion to at least one poem … and usually more, as friends on Twitter continued to generously share their poem choices and reflections via the #todayspoem hashtag. We’re now heading into our seventh uninterrupted year of poetry tweets. I gathered up all my 2017 tweets here, if you’d like to take a look.

In recent years, I’ve welcomed some wonderful guest reviewers and correspondents to this blog. I extended some invitations again this past year, but the reviews didn’t come together for various good reasons. I’m going to try again in 2018 to add some guest pieces to the mix here.

Here are the books I read and read aloud in 2017. Wherever I go, I try to carry a book with me, so for each book, I’m also going to try to recall where I was when I was reading it.

  1. Being a Dog
    by Alexandra Horowitz
    (read aloud)

    As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of our reading aloud takes place in the kitchen, with my talented husband cooking and me singing for my supper. Quite appropriately, our Airedale terrier Tilly and beagle-basset Jake were often in attendance as I read this particular book.

  2. The Small Nouns Crying Faith
    by Phil Hall

    This poetry collection kept me company on several subway rides.

  3. Swing Time
    by Zadie Smith

    I recall devouring this book pretty quickly, curled up in bed on a few cold winter nights.

  4. The Two of Us
    by Kathy Page

    This short story collection kept me company on several subway and streetcar rides.

  5. Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book
    by Lawrence Hill

    I read this essay in a couple of sittings at home. I have a home office, and it’s often easy to just fix a quick lunch and eat it at my desk while continuing with my work. I do my best, though, to step away from my desk and computer, eat lunch in the dining room and read a book, magazine article or something not displayed on a screen for a break. I know I read this during one of those lunch breaks.

  6. My Brilliant Friend
    by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

    … and indeed, this Ferrante quartet took me through the winter and early spring. I read them everywhere.

  7. The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip
    by George Saunders, illustrated by Lane Smith

    I read this gorgeous book at home, carefully, at my desk. Later in the year, I was thrilled to meet George Saunders, and he seemed bemused to see the book when we asked him to sign it.

  8. The House on Selkirk Avenue
    by Irena Karafilly

    I read this novel during several subway rides.

  9. Minds of Winter
    by Ed O’Loughlin

    I initially read this rich, fascinating novel printed out in loose, 8 1/2 x 11 inch printed out pages at my desk in my home office, as I prepared the readers’ guide / book club questions offered by the publisher, House of Anansi Press. I was glad to get a proper bound copy later, as the book boasts a gorgeous cover … and oh, I imagine I’m going to read this one again.

  10. The Story of a New Name
    by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

    As I mentioned, I read the Ferrante books everywhere.

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  11. Transit
    by Rachel Cusk

    I tend to avoid taking hardcover books along when I’m out and about, so I read this book at home, not on transit (nyuk nyuk). I recall having a lovely Twitter conversation about this and Cusk’s previous and related novel, Outline.

  12. A
    by Andre Alexis

    This was a quick read, so I think it might only have accompanied me on one or two subway rides.

  13. On Turpentine Lane
    by Elinor Lipman

    This was a cozy curl-up-with-a-dog-nestled-with-you kind of read.

    Cozy quilt, snoring beagle, @elinorlipman's latest, bookish beloved nearby.

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  14. Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders

    This was a sit-up-straight-and-pay-attention read, mostly at the dining room table, finished not long before we went to see George Saunders read and be interviewed by the incomparable Eleanor Wachtel at the Toronto Public Library Appel Salon.


    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  15. Believing is not the same as Being Saved
    by Lisa Martin

    I took my time reading this poetry collection, and transcribed selections from it while sitting at my downstairs office desk.

  16. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
    by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

    Again, I read this everywhere, including by candlelight during Earth Hour.

  17. Mitzi Bytes
    by Kerry Clare

    This novel was definitely a good subway ride companion. I remember being quite absorbed in it and almost missing my stop when heading out one evening to meet friends with whom we were going to a concert.

  18. Silvija
    by Sandra Ridley

  19. Violet Energy Ingots
    by Hoa Nguyen

    I’m pretty sure I travelled by subway and streetcar with both of these poetry collections in tow, as I finished them within 24 hours of each other.


  20. The Story of the Lost Child
    by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

    In the spring, I bade farewell to these constant book companions.

  21. Falling Awake
    by Alice Oswald

    This poetry collection was often particularly perfect company in my travels around the city.

  22. The Lonely Hearts Hotel
    by Heather O’Neill

    This was another sit-up-straight-and-pay-attention read, again mostly at the dining room table.

  23. World of Made and Unmade
    by Jane Mead

    I remember having this poetry collection with me once or twice when I was out running errands in the neighbourhood.

  24. Swallowing Mercury
    by Wioletta Greg, translated by Eliza Marciniak

    … and then there are the riveting reads that make you forget where you are when you’re reading them …

  25. Fever Dream
    by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

    Yes, I definitely remember reading this one on the streetcar.

  26. The Burgess Shale – The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s
    by Margaret Atwood

    I remember reading this piece in one sitting at the dining room table.

  27. So Much Love
    by Rebecca Rosenblum

    This novel made some subway and streetcar rides pass very quickly.

  28. Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy

    I was reading this absorbing novel during our trip to Dublin.

    #fridayreads Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (Hamish Hamilton / Penguin Canada)

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  29. A General Theory of Oblivion
    by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn

    We attended the Dublin Literary Award ceremony when we visited Dublin. Right after the ceremony, we walked down the street to Hodges Figgis bookshop and purchased one of the last copies of this book in the shop. I read and finished it on the flight home.

  30. Conversations With Friends
    by Sally Rooney

    This was another excellent Dublin purchase (from Winding Stair bookshop’s local recommendations table) which I also read on the flight home.

  31. 4321
    by Paul Auster

    At 800+ pages, this was a fascinating but not at all portable read. I did attempt to read it in bed a few times, but after it tipped over on my sleepy head one too many times, I stuck to reading it on the dining room table.

    Tilly, Jake and Paul Auster are good lunch company.

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  32. Little Sister
    by Barbara Gowdy

    This novel was topmost on a stack of cottage reading for one of our first extended cottage stays this summer.

  33. Swimming Lessons
    by Claire Fuller

    Another cottage read …

    #sundayreads Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (@houseofanansi)

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  34. Moanin’ at Midnight – The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf
    by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman
    (read aloud)

    We read this one aloud at home and at the cottage, always to a Howlin’ Wolf soundtrack, of course.

  35. Nuala
    by Kimmy Beach

    Another cottage read …

  36. spill simmer falter wither
    by Sara Baume

    Another wonderful purchase from our Ireland trip, I read this one slowly and carefully, both at the cottage and on the back porch in the city.

  37. The Pet Radish, Shrunken
    by Pearl Pirie

    This poetry collection was particularly good company during an extended and somewhat anxious wait for a delayed train at Toronto’s Union Station.

  38. Frontier City – Toronto on the Verge of Greatness
    by Shawn Micallef
    (read aloud)

    A lot of this one was read aloud (and thoroughly enjoyed) in our kitchen in, of course, Toronto.

    Next up on our #readaloud list: Frontier City by @shawnmicallef …

    A post shared by Vicki Ziegler (@vzbookgaga) on

  39. The Last Wave
    by Gillian Best

    I toted this novel all over, reading it at the nails place, at the cottage, out and about …


  40. England
    by Nia Davies

    I read this striking chapbook at my home office desk.

  41. In the Cage
    by Kevin Hardcastle

    I had to read this novel and two others (The Prisoner and the Chaplain by Michelle Berry and Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz) on very short notice to host three book club events at this year’s Toronto Word on the Street book fest. How fortunate that all three books were compelling, infectious reads. I gobbled this one up in about 36 hours at home on a sultry September weekend.

  42. The Original Face
    by Guillaume Morissette

    I remember reading this novel in a parkette near Skydome before meeting my beloved to take in a Blue Jays baseball game.

  43. The Prisoner and the Chaplain
    by Michelle Berry

  44. Men Walking on Water
    by Emily Schultz

    Toronto’s Word on the Street book fest was on a sweltering day in late September. I’ll remember that, and that the authors and I all managed to wear black clothes that day, and that their books were all superb.

  45. Pockets
    by Stuart Ross

    I read this wee, beautiful book at my home office desk.

  46. The Theory of Hummingbirds
    by Michelle Kadarusman

    I purchased this exquisite book at Toronto’s Word on the Street and started reading it on the streetcar ride home that afternoon.

  47. I Am a Truck
    by Michelle Winters

    This novel was fine company on several subway and streetcar rides.

  48. Brother
    by David Chariandy

    I devoured this book on a cottage weekend.

  49. Bellevue Square
    by Michael Redhill

    This novel was also a cottage read.

  50. The Curious History of Irish Dogs
    by David Blake Knox
    (read aloud)

    Another fine purchase from our Ireland trip, this was a great read aloud choice.

  51. If Clara
    by Martha Baillie

    This was meant to be a book suitable for toting along on transit, but I’m pretty sure I read it swiftly at home.

  52. Next Year For Sure
    by Zoey Leigh Peterson

    This book was fine company for our first neighbourhood silent book club meeting.

  53. Son of a Trickster
    by Eden Robinson

    I read this novel at home, on home office lunch breaks.

  54. H(A)PPY
    by Nicola Barker

    I read this singular book at home, giving it my full attention, as Nicola Barker books always demand.

  55. No TV For Woodpeckers
    by Gary Barwin

    I read this poetry collection at home and on the go, and transcribed at least one striking poem into my journal.

  56. A Line Made By Walking
    by Sara Baume

    This book was such good company for our second neighbourhood silent book club meeting.

  57. Panicle
    by Gillian Sze

    Like Gary Barwin’s latest, I read this poetry collection at home and on the go, and transcribed at least one striking poem into my journal.

  58. What We Once Believed
    by Andrea Macpherson

    I read this novel at home and on transit.

  59. Glory
    by Gillian Wigmore

    I pretty much inhaled this novel over the holiday season, at home and at my brother-in-law’s over Christmas.

  60. String Practice
    by Jan Zwicky

    I read this poetry chapbook at my home office desk on the last day of 2017.


In 2017, I read a total of 60 works (a new record for me): 43 works of fiction (novels and short story collections), 11 poetry collections and 6 works of non-fiction. I did not re-read any books this year (but commit to doing that again in 2018), read 7 works in translation, and read 36 works by Canadian authors. My husband and I read four books aloud to each other this year and have another one in progress as we greet the new year.

I also kept track this year of the publication dates of the books I read. (I think this is fairly easy to track in Goodreads, so I want to go back to previous years to see what my mix of current versus older reading is year over year.) In 2017, the oldest book I read was published in 2000. I also read books published in 2004, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, and more than half of what I read in 2017 was published in that year. Even before I go back and explore publication dates in previous years, I know right now I want to try to read (or re-read) more of a selection of older books in 2018. Let’s see how that works out …

Currently in progress, heading into 2018:

  • Stranger
    by David Bergen

  • The Left-Handed Dinner Party and Other Stories
    by Myrl Coulter

  • Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies
    by Tabatha Southey
    (read aloud)

For another year, I’m looking back fondly on my 2017 reading, looking forward eagerly, with anticipation and even some curiosity to my 2018 reading, I’ll simply conclude (as I always do) …

It’s not how many you read that counts. It’s that you read that counts.

2017 #todayspoem tweets – poetry every single day

For now six years running, I have not missed a day during which I’ve selected and read a poem (discovered in many different ways, which I should perhaps write about separately one day), chosen an excerpt and tweeted it, including the #todayspoem hashtag. When I click the hashtag every day, I’m thrilled to see other poetry lovers, including poets and poetry publishers, sharing poems they love, that have spoken to them, that have helped them mark a day or occasion. The shared poetry comes from around the world, so it surfaces at all hours of the day and night. #todayspoem is always there, providing insight, enchantment, solace, amusement and much more.

I gathered up all my 2017 #todayspoem tweets in month-by-month Twitter moments, then I threaded them all together in a series of tweets, starting here:

Here is what the individual months look like. Twitter Moments are particularly fun to page through on mobile, where you can swipe your way through each slideshow.

Not as studiously compiled is a running Pinterest collection of #todayspoem pins.

I’m going to do my best to keep it up again in 2018. I’m excited and intrigued to see who will join me and what they will share.