This post contains a chronological listing of the 40 READS portion of the 1970 Kiki Project, January 9, 2010 – January 8, 2011 edition.
40. Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, diet guide. Are you surprised by this choice? I never would have predicted this book’s inclusion in the project, to be honest. I picked it up on my Florida Trip this summer. I had heard so much about the advice and admonitions the authors give; this book has evoked strong positive and negative reactions. I was really curious to see for myself what Rory and Kim advocate for a healthy diet/way of life. Well. You’re at least Read #40 sparked an impassioned review!
I LOATHED AND DETESTED THIS GUIDE!! I found it insulting, rude/crude/vulgar, and I disagreed with much of the advice given.
Let’s start with the positive: every study and statistic is annotated with the professional source from where the information is found. The girls promote a sugar-free, whole foods based diet (they’re anti-caffeine, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, for example). Balanced and moderate exercise is promoted (cardio + strength training). The book is a quick n easy read: I can totally picture a 20-something female, reading on the subway commute to work, and completing the book from Monday-Friday.
Now, the downsides: the language is incredibly trashy. For sure, it’s meant to be funny and non-serious in tone, and maybe I’m just the wrong demographic. One chapter is entitled, “Pooping.” F-bombs are liberally dropped. Secondly, while they disdain dairy and promote a vegetarian diet, they also promote more processed foods than I would: for example Yves products get the thumbs up – have you seen the sodium in these fake meats? Also, nothing wrong, apparently, with (organic) purchased sandwich cookies. I’m just picturing all these Lululemon-wearing fake blondes flocking to their nearest Whole Foods and stocking up “because the Skinny Bitch authors said to…” Third, the book is quite the political rant. Since the authors are American, that’s the slant, of course, so laws and practices may not be applicable to us in Canada.
The book is easily and readily available (NY Times Bestseller for eons) if you’re interested. Heck, you can have my copy, gladly. But I can think of quite a few cookbook authors, nutritionists, even magazine publications from which you can obtain healthy living information without being sledge-hammered in the head.
That’s my rant.
This Project is COMPLETE!!!! :)
39. Unbearable Lightness, by Portia de Rossi, memoir. I watched the TV premier of Ally McBeal when it debuted back in 1997 and pretty much never missed another episode. I absolutely loved this dramedy: the quirky characters, the biting dialogue, the groundbreaking ideas (the “unisex,” anyone?!). Thanks to BFF Debbie’s FYI, I caught Portia on Oprah last week, discussing this memoir. Nelle Porter was one of my favourite characters, and I was eager to read more about de Rossi’s battle with anorexia and inner torment about being gay. Thanks to a couple of nights of insomnia this week, yes, I read this book in four days! Couldn’t put it down. Both the content and the writing style make it a page turner. Either de Rossi is a talented writer, or she had a cracker-jack editing team. The two main subjects – the eating disorder and the fear of being outed as gay - blend perfectly as de Rossi writes about her decline in health and subsequent healing/self-acceptance. I was fascinated by the “behind the scenes” details that de Rossi provides about her Ally McBeal days, both towards the show and towards her own role. Ally McBeal or Arrested Development fan? Hollywood celebrity watcher? Pick up this book – it’s a quick (though not necessarily easy) read and utterly spellbinding. Again, I really commend de Rossi on a superbly organized book, and honest, heart-felt reflection back on her journey to the happiness and balance she has in her life today. [Note: de Rossi is the wife of comedian Ellen deGeneres].
38. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, national best seller. It’s very fitting that I type this book review on the day of the New York City Marathon! I really hadn’t been that keen to read this highly-touted adventure epic, believe it or not, but when my friend Dan offered to lend it to me, (see Recipe #29 here), I thought I might as well see what the hype was about. I’d read the article upon which the book is based a few years ago in Runner’s World, and the story of the ultra-running Tarahumara really didn’t grab me. The same thing happened in this book: the parts that really interested me did not involve the author’s explorations of this mysteriously endurance-gifted tribe. It’s been said that this book will appeal to runners and non-runners alike – given the weeks it was #1 on the NY Times bestseller list, this must be true – but I’m not really sure why. I thought the book fragmented. Not only does McDougall discuss the Tarahumara, he also describes one of the Leadville 100 races (loved this); his search for Caballo Blanco(bo-ring!!!); Blanco’s staging of an ultramarathon race (anti-climatic). Just like trail-running, my interest peaked and bottomed out a few times – I almost gave up when Chapters 3-10 continually put me to sleep. My favourite parts included when the author discussed his own running woes and subsequent quests for professional answers, teh great Ann Trason’s race at Leadville, and the zany ultrarunners Jenn and Billy who tag along to Blanco’s ultrarace. Already a convert myself to minimalist footwear, this book will make you question your devotion to running shoes, and also make you wish you had access to wilderness trails out your front door. Glad I read it but I can’t rave about it. I do suggest runners pick it up; non-runners? Start running first, then read this book!
37. Real Simple magazine, October 2010 issue. Let’s keep this review real simple, shall we? I don’t think I’ve ever bought this magazine, myself, but have certainly read through it (I found this one in our condo magazine sharing area). It’s the perfect doctor’s office or hair salon magazine: you can page through the articles really simply, contributing very little mindful thought on your own part. This issue featured “secret ways to save every day,” and contained the usual assortment of cheap tips. I most enjoyed the look at “new uses for old things” – some of these simple ideas are really unique! I liked the suggestion to use the end of a bobby pin, dipped in nail polish remover, to touch up smudges. Otherwise, we find the usual assortment of home/food/health/money features of women’s magazines. Nothing earth shattering. Real Simple is a dumbed-down Oprah and a simplified House & Home. Put your brain on vacation, kick up your heels, and page really simply through this read.
36. Best Friends Forever, by Jennifer Weiner, novel. I admit to draaaaggging out the “40 Reads” portion of the Kiki Project – I totally could have wrapped this category up by now by sitting down with a few magazines. But I’ve got the time, so the focus is on book reviews! (Haha, I JUST picked up a magazine, though, so expect that review in the near future, for #37!). I’ve read Jennifer Weiner novels before and really liked them: In Her Shoes was my favourite, while Good In Bed was a close second (not as racy as the title suggests!). These books are definitely chick-oriented, beach-reads material. What I like is the characterization of the main protagonist: Weiner excels at creating female characters with whom the reader immediately sympathizes. Best Friends Forever disappointed me. I did like the primary character, Addie. I did not like her best friend, Val. The storyline is all over the place – Weiner is trying to mix chick lit with cop caper, the narration is an odd mix of first and third person, and the timeline jumps from past to present and back again with no rhyme or reason. Skip this one, and pick up In Her Shoes, instead.
35. Canadian House & Home, magazine, October 2010 issue. Thanks to some sort of SNAFU, SIL Ana received two issues of her subscription, and kindly passed the second copy on to me! Now, I did subscribe to this magazine a few years ago, for one year, so I’m familiar with the concept. And, mom, SIL Ana, and BFF Debbie all subscribe so I hear bits and pieces of decorating news from time to time. I really enjoyed reading this issue – and read it I did, cover to cover, so that I could *count* it for this project! (Back when I subscribed, I looked at the pictures and skimmed the text, only!). This magazine is very cultured: I feel classy when I read it! I love that it’s Canadian, so sourcing product is easy. The featured homes are drool-worthy and I appreciate the stellar photography. Even more than the major design articles, I like the monthly spreads like Style Files, Events, Ask A Designer etc. And it’s more than just home design: I liked the variety of topics offered by Entertaining, Food News and Artist File features. My one pet peeve: articles that are continued way in the back of the magazine (Oprah magazine does this, too). More mags should take a lesson from “Grand” magazine and keep all features together – more editing, perhaps?! Definitely a delightful, dreamy “divertissement,” as the French (cultured folk!) would say!
34. Living Oprah, by Robyn Okrant, biography. I think Robyn Okrant and I are soul sisters. This was a really FUN read. I loved the concept (following all of Oprah‘s commands for 12 months), the organization (each month is its own chapter) and Robyn’s writing style (I aspire to have a professional writing voice like hers). Call it fluffy, if you will, but I would totally embrace attempting Prjoect X for twelve months, and documenting it online (Kiki Project is but a small start!). This book is a pleasant mix of Robyn’s reflections on her experiment but also provides the nitty-gritty details of money spent, time devoted. Each chapter ends with a “spreadsheet” which chronicles the day-by-day assignments completed, the cost, the time and her notes. This organization jives with me! Robyn really lets you get inside her head as she ruminates on how the experiment affected her day-to-day life and relationships, and also shares her reflections on “bigger picture” issues like politics. As a blog reader, the book’s style is reminiscent of reading online posts – not surprising since this was the initial forum for the experiment. Robyn’s dedication to her task is admirable. A highly recommended easy read for both fans or naysayers of Oprah.
33. The Believers, by Zoe Heller, novel. Borrowed this book from the library. Renewed it after three weeks. Went to Florida and left the book at home. Came home and tried to renew it again. Attempt foiled as there was a hold placed on it. Had to return it. Placed my own hold. Waited 10 days, got the book back. Finished the last 50 pages. All these interruptions DID impact my enjoyment of this novel – I lacked flow. That being said, The Believers would have disappointed me even if I had read through it in record time. My favourite part was the 17 page prologue wherein I became quite entranced with Audrey and Joel. Couldn’t wait to follow their tale! Unfortunately, the novel then skips ahead 40 years. Joel spends the remaining pages in a coma. Audrey is brittle, bitter and frankly, terrifying! We meet their three children, Karla, Rosa and Lenny. Karla, I felt sympathy for and quite enjoyed her presence and storyline. Rosa is just not my type of person and I had little patience for her. Lenny is a bum, spoiled beyond belief by Audrey. Zoe Heller is a crackerjack at character development – these people are as real-to-life as you will find on any page. I just didn’t like them! I suggest this book to readers who liked Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, Ann Patchett’s Run, or The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. (Although you may be a little disappointed).
32. The Choice, by Nicholas Sparks, novel. I picked this book up at Walmart in Sarasota after I finished “The Wife’s Tale” (#30, below) and still had a week to go for my vacation. I wanted just a “beach read:” something harmlessly entertaining, character-driven, and cheap. For $5.97, this paperback fit the requirements. My opinion of the book evolved the more I read. It’s divided into two parts, each one has a distinct tone. The first few chapters annoyed the heck out of me: just another romance tale with two gorgeous, successful, protagonists. The book was like a Danielle Steel tale: light, flip, slightly amusing. Part Two of The Choice is the last 1/3 of the book, and is completely different in tone because the story arc takes a decided twist. Of course, tragedy has struck (I didn’t see this coming). The story alternates between flashback and the present as we find out why our protagnists are in their current situation. I give Sparks credit for leaving me guessing how the story would end, right until the final 10 pages. I became more involved in the novel as it progressed. And the title choice is perfect: it fits for both parts of the novel, but with different meaning. A good beach read? Definitely. Worth buying? Not if you have to pay more than $5.97. Will I read Nicholas Sparks again? Uh, no. I’ll take another peak at Danielle Steel, first.
31. The Tampa Tribune, newspaper, Sunday July 25 edition. Interesting how the local US papers I found publish on Sundays !(Naples, Sarasota, Tampa…). This was quite an interesting read – comprehensive national news coverage, lots of sports information, a few interesting lifestyle section pieces. I’ve noticed, too, in the newspapers that entertainment news receives very little space…when you think of it, that makes sense, as the younger population that is likely to want that news is NOT going to turn to a newspaper for it. Mentions of Canada? The Canadian Open golf tournament, that’s it. The cover story was a multi-page spread about members of the 1979 Bucs and the health issues they now face – both sad and cautionary. The level of writing in the Tribune was better than most papers I found in the US, but still quite behind what we have in Canada, for the most part.
30. The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens, novel. Remember when I did a list of summer reading ideas? Well, add this novel to one of the best THREE reads of my life. Wow and wow. I picked this up at the airport the morning of my flight to Tampa – it magnetically leaped into my hands, it seemed. And funny enough, there are some commonalities between the storyline and my own travel out of Canada. Was the perfect read with which to start my trip. How much did I love The Wife’s Tale? I finished it in one week. To do the novel justice, I would have to write a dissertation on why and how it is so powerful, beautifully constructed, moving…The novel includes mystery, human drama and most remarkable of all in terms of format, we never meet one of the main protagonists. Please just read the link I provided for a summary, then get your hands on a copy and read non-stop. I dreaded reaching the last few pages because I didn’t want this to end. If Oprah is smart, she will pick up the rights to make a movie out of the story. I sooo would love to have a book club discussion on this novel - it will be of equal appeal to male or female readers, so let me know if you read it!
29. Naples Daily News, Sunday July 18, 2010 edition. I thought I was going to read a lot of different newspapers while in Florida; surprisingly, this has not been the case! Each hotel where I have stayed has had free USA Today available (#27, below) and either the weekly editions of THAT paper are better than the weekend one I reviewed, or my brain is getting mushier…it’s proven to be quite satisfactory in terms of gathering news info. Back to the Naples paper: well…I appreciated the update about the BP oil spill – it seems Naples and this part of the coast may NOT see the oil wash up. I enjoyed reading the real estate section with all of the lush property and condo listings. The sports section contained three full pages of British Open golf coverage – can you tell what type of reader they cater to?! Nary a word about anything in Canada save for a brief article on the Toronto Indy race. Funny enough, there was absolutely zero Entertainment news…I’ve read better papers, I’ve read worse, and I won’t complain about any of the above observations…I’m on vacation, after all! Indepth news reports can wait!
28. Star magazine, July 19, 2010. My tradition whenever we travelled to Aruba, was to buy Star at Pearson airport and read it on the plane. These flights down south were the only times I ever picked up Star. I continued the travel+Star tradition by purchasing the latest issue before my flight to Tampa. Reading this rag is a guilty pleasure – but it’s ONLY enjoyable because I relate it to fun trips and read it so infrequently. My favourites? The photos of Hollywood celebs snapped as they grocery shop in their sweats, for example, (“Stars: Are They Normal or Not?”) …I also love “Major Fashion Violations – Worst of the Week.” This week, the big spread was on Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher’s wedding – ooo! And I love doing the celebrity crossword – this time I only missed three letters: my clue was “actress Susan” and it’s” _n_o_” – let me know if you can help!
27. USA Today newspaper, weekend edition, July 10-11. I picked this newspaper up for free in the hotel lobby here in Tampa. Oy…all I can say is that the level of writing is on par with the Toronto Sun, maybe even slightly more basic! The news is completely US-focussed. None of the articles have any real depth or analysis to them. Now to be fair, maybe the target audience is travellers wanting a quick run-down of the day’s events? A couple of mentions of Canada, though! I read about Regis and Kelly doing their show live from PEI this week; I read about a cooking school in Nova Scotia, and there was an item on Justin Bieber that failed to mention anywhere in it that he is Canadian. The longest article (actually there were two on this subject, one in Sports, one in Business) was the Lebron James trade to the Miami Heat. All in all, if I was an American who relied on USA Today to stay current on the world’s current events, I, too, would believe that Canadians live in igloos.
26. alive magazine, July 2010 issue - This is a free publication that can be picked up at a couple of our local health food stores. It’s been a few years, actually, since I last helped myself to an issue. Why have I been avoiding it? Because, frankly, alive used to have all the subtlety in promoting its views as a pitbull on the attack. With forceful zealtry, it had the power to make me feel either supremely virtuous (yes! i, too, believe in the sinful evilness of red meat consumption!) or woefully ashamed (i eat non-organic greens, i will rot in hell – imagine how I felt drinking aspartame Diet Coke daily, for example!). Happily, I found that alive has drastically quieted in tone! Might they even be flirting with mainstream design and subject matter! (This issue contained a couple of Top 10 list articles, a style so beloved by “popular” magazines). I would now classify it as an interesting read for general-public folk interested in a healthy lifestyle. I’m thinking there must have been a turnover of writers/editor/publishers; the previous guiding hands must be wringing their hands in despair over the current lack of “hippie” fanaticism in the magazine.
25. Heart and Soul – by Maeve Binchy; novel. Reading Maeve Binchy is just like watching Murder She Wrote on TV: you know what you’re getting, you’re thoroughly entertained by the plot and characters, and you end off with a happy sigh of contentment. I have to admit, though, that I am singing the Hallelujah Chorus for finally finishing this 522 page paperback! Holy schmoly, I thought I’d never finish. But I accept full responsibility – what do you expect when you read 3-5 pages per night before nodding off?! (Not the fault of the book - blame getting up at 5 a.m. and busy days!). Anyway, back to the book…if you’re looking for a light read, one step up from a beach read, choose this book. I most enjoyed that Maeve Binchy adheres to her usual style of including characters from previous novels (Evening Class, Quentins, for example) and telling the story from a different character’s perspective with each chapter. I love reading a Maeve Binchy about once a year. Heart and Soul was not my favourite MB book – I’d likely pick Scarlett Feather for that – but it’s a very enjoyable, comfy, warm read, and will not keep you up at night (as plainly evidenced by my situation!).
24. New York Times newspaper, Sunday edition – Talk about the ultimate in reading indulgences. Like Gucci is to watches, Mercedes is to cars, the NYT is to newspapers. Seriously. I subscribed to this weekly edition for about 6 months last year (a birthday gift from B) and after that amount of time, decided to discontinue because it was just too much newspaper on a weekly basis. Like very rich chocolate, I need to indulge in reading this paper as a treat, not as a regular routine. So it was the perfect choice for the Victoria Day long weekend – I can read at my leisure for the next 2-3 days. I love this paper because of the superior writing level (outdoes the Globe and Mail, even). I vicariously experience the luxe lifestyle of New Yorkers through the variety of articles. The NYT is classy yet slightly disdainful – this paper does have its nose in the air to some extent. I adore the Book Review section. And I’ll share my quirky, totally favourite part of the paper – the marriage announcements! I gobble them up. They alone are worth the exhorbitant price (yup, I paid $8.83 for this weekend treat). I should be satisfied now til autumn.
23. fitness magazine, May 2010 issue – Guess I learned my lesson to NOT mentally compose my reviews prior to reading the magazine! I was all set to diss “fitness,” based on my memories of issues past (regularly read this one in my 20′s, picked it up from time to time in my 30′s). Lump this issue in with “Shape” magazine (#20, below) - ie better than I thought it would be! My memories of “fitness”: a very shallow, rather flakey read for the 20-something pretty crowd where health was equated with looking good externally and flaunting a thin body. What I found instead: healthy snack and meal ideas based on real food; a more vast target readership (ages 25-40+), pleasant layout and “tone-of-voice” (not so shrill and hyper as I remember) tons of interesting content. This one I can see picking up again - kudos on growing up a bit, “fitness!” (Mon May 10)
22. MORE magazine, May 2010 issue – I knew when I read #13, below, “Most” magazine, that there was another mag out there geared to women over 40. What a pleasant surprise to find that it’s a Canadian publication! I didn’t realize that! So I decided to give it a try…the tagline states it is “Canada’s magazine celebrating women over 40.” Overall, I really liked this magazine. As per usual with the women’s ‘zines I’ve read thus far, there is a vast array of topics. I enjoyed finding articles by the usual suspects of favourite Canadian freelancers: Jacqueline Hennessy, Karen Von Hahn, Rona Maynard. I noticed how all of the quotes which appear in the articles are from women over 40, so the mag is being true to its target audience. I do think that the “for the reader over 40″ focus is a bit of a gimmick – the magazine is not all that different from Chatelaine, say. That being said, it is nice to read a magazine with a mature tone, articles of substance, and products that interest me – and it’s Canadian. A win all around. (Tues May 4)
21. SELF magazine – Am I the only one who has to take women’s magazines like Self, S hape, Fitness, Women’s Health etc. in small doses? (You’ll notice I read Shape, #20 below, two weeks ago). Too many too frequently is just too much focus on looks, make-up and be-a-better-you rah rah enthusiasm than I find enjoyable. That being said, I really enjoyed this issue of Self (it’s the April 2010 issue). I’ve read this magazine for a good 20 years, more frequently in my 20′s, I would say (it was also another Aruba staple for the beach!). Self is a lot like Shape, but more diverse in article topics. I really like the “Flash” tidbits that Self always does: a page each of news and tips on Healthy Living, Fitness, Eat(ing) Right…they’ve done this ever since I started reading Self. While I would not subscribe (12 issues a year would be an overload of same-same for me), I would read this a few times a year, for sure. (Tues Apr 6).
20. Shape magazine – A generous neighbour left the last two issues of Shape (Feb & Mar 2010) in our condo “lending library,” so I was able to score these for free! (always nice – have you priced women’s mags lately?) While Women’s Health mag (#18, below) was worse than I remembered, Shape was better than I remembered! (I used to read it regularly in my 20s, then only once a year in Aruba the last few years…) I still find each issue rather formulaic (a workout, a diet, a celeb’s workout and diet, etc) but the focus has shifted over the years from strictly featuring diets, workouts and fashion/makeup products to more healthy lifestyle features (mind and spirit also receive attention now, just just body). I would not want to subscribe to Shape – reading two issues necessitates a break now for a while – but it was a more enjoyable read than I thought it would be. (Tues Mar 23)
19. bold face names - by Shinan Govani; novel – This is quite possibly the most ridiculous book I have ever read. It makes Pamela Anderson’s novel, Star, seem like “elevated literature.” (yes, I read Star, I do admit – Aruba beach read, I think). I picked “bold face names” up at the library because I really enjoy reading Shinan Govani’s gossip column in The National Post newspaper. And he is by far the most entertaining and pithy (not to mention prodigious) Twitterer I follow. But his novel…oy…I honestly could not give you a plot summary because I don’t think there is a plot. He for sure lost me by the half-way point in the novel. With an overly-energized writing style and an adoration of ending! every! sentence! with an! exclamation mark! (aside: I know, I’m fond of them, too, but a blog is different than a novel!) :) he’s just tiring to read. So why did I stick with it? As the title indicates, celebs pop up all over the place, here. Some appear under their real names (Scarlett Johansson, Diana Krall, the Olsen twins). Others he has minimally camouflaged. I liked trying to pick these ones out (ex: Lord Ivory is obviously Conrad Black and Formidable Authoress is so Margaret Atwood). And it’s very au courant, for example, referencing the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a movie from 2008. Can’t believe I stuck this book out to the end. It made my brain mushy. (Mon Mar 22)
18. Women’s Health magazine (April issue) – Blech. Major disappointment here. I last read this magazine maybe 6 months – 1 year ago, and (I think I remember that) I quite enjoyed the variety of articles and fitness tips. But this issue was just the same old rehash that you find in Shape, Fitness, Self etc…in my mind, magazines that are ok for a mindless flip-through but nothing that captures my attention or knocks your socks off. I get tired of the “Shape Up! Drop weight! Change your Lipstick!” flimsy hype. Just not my bag. Maybe I got a poor issue? Or maybe….am I thinking of another magazine that I liked before?!! Did I buy the wrong one? All I know is I won’t be buying this one again…(Fri Mar 19)
17. Oprah magazine – I knew even when planning my Kiki Project that O magazine would have to be one of my 40 Reads. It’s too much of a family joke to pass up. Ever since Oprah started her magazine (coming up 10 years this spring) some members of this family have never failed to remark disparagingly, “who puts themselves on the cover of every issue of their magazine?!” However, I genuinely enjoy reading this magazine! I admire Oprah for what she has overcome in her life and the empire she has created in a business sense. Bizarrely, I rarely rarely watch her show – like once every 2-3 years, maybe! But I do like to pick up her magazine every once in while. Great variety of articles, lots of content/lots of pages, and the writing is of higher calibre than most women’s magazines. This issue’s yellow banner, “De-Clutter Your Life!” caught my attention as I can’t stand clutter and approve of minimalism and order. All in all, I was not disappointed at all in this month’s issue. The Easter Bunny could bring me the April “O,” mom! :) (Mon March 14)
16. Martha Stewart’s Living, magazine – (thanks for the loaner issue, Ana!) – While I don’t aspire to “be like Martha,” I do admire what she has accomplished as a business woman and how she makes “gourmet living” achieveable for the average jane. I enjoyed reading through this issue (March 2010), but once was enough. My favourite was reading the ads, actually! Sadly, Martha and I just don’t have a lot in common. I did enjoy the clean layout and organization of the magazine. My favourite was the “Ask Martha” column – I DID learn that I wash my towels the Martha-recommended way! :) So I may never cook a duck or make my own back deck planters but for those of you who do, Martha is here for you. (Tues Mar 9)
15. GRAND magazine – very near the top of my Favourite Magazine list. Considering it is brought to us by the same publisher (and features many of the same writers) as the K-W Record (as you know, not a fan of!) it is a fantastic read! I LOVE that it is locally-based. And I love finding people I know. Kudos for featuring articles on a wide variety of general interest topics (the usual fashion, decorating, health, small business etc). I even like reading the ads because they are for local businesses and retail locations. Happily, a huge pile of these magazines is delivered right to our building every second month (each issue encompasses two months, ie March/April), so not only is it free, but I don’t even have to make an effort to get a copy! A welcome read every time. (Sun Feb 28)
14. Good To A Fault – Marina Endicott, novel. *Sigh*of delight and contentment. What an absolutely wonderful read. I will not do a “book review” for this novel as I would hate to spill any beans for anyone. I loved every page and could not wait to resume reading every night. (Note: yes, this is the first novel I have read since January 9th. I only read at night before bed and 3-5 pages is my usual consumption before sleep overwhelms me). If you enjoy character-driven novels, this one will not disappoint. It is award worthy, book club selection-worthy, best seller list-worthy. Instead of a book review, then, let me just say that if you enjoyed any of the following novels, I believe you will enjoy “Good to a Fault”…(Fri Feb 19)
- A Complicated Kindness (Miriam Toews) (I can’t put “The Flying Troutmans” in the same category…)
- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Vincent Lam)
- Clara Callan (Richard Wright)
13. MOST magazine (Waterloo Region). How serendipitous that a free pile of this magazine appeared in our lobby this morning as the byline of this magazine is “Celebrating Women Over Forty,” and I am forty-plus-one-month today! I had heard of this magazine before, but never read it. Pleasant treat! At only 51 pages, it proves that quality trumps quantity. I really liked the variety of articles (everything from health to travel to fashion) and the local flavour. I know two people featured in the magazine and one of the writers – why I love local publications! I would say the target readership is probably “boomers,” but I enjoyed the maturity level compared to some magazines…Will definitely read again, should another pile magically appear in the future… (Tues Feb 9)
12. Fashion magazine. The cover model, Nicole Ritchie, for this month’s issue (March) pretty much epitomizes what you will find here: fluffy, trendy, light, forgettable reading. I receive this magazine because I subscribe to Toronto Life. I flip through each month’s issue then recycle it pretty quickly. It’s enjoyable to see the latest fashion forecast, but annoying because of the vacuous tone. Definitely promotes the materialistic philosphy of “you need x now! or else your life is not complete! don’t miss out! you will look fabulous!” It is nice, though, to see the fashion world from a Canadian point-of-view, and to see featured shops and labels that are Canadian. This magazine is proudly Canadian. (Mon Feb 8 )
11. National Post newspaper. Very nice…very nice, indeed. This newspaper rivals my Globe and Mail in terms of content, variety in news coverage, style of writing. The downside is layout – the pages look cluttered and busy, and there are too many snippets of news – it’s like news in ADHD style. Font is not great. As a big fan of “out on the town”-type event/photo coverage, I love that both the Financial Post and the Post Toronto sections have this gossip-type coverage! :) Another plus: “Scene” columnist Shinan Govani. He is the pithiest of Twitterers and the fact that he is a regular with this paper would entice me to read it regularly (yes, I adore “shallow” entertainment news). Rating the major Toronto papers, I would order them, best to worst: the Globe; the National Post; the Star; the Sun. (Sat Feb 6)
10. Toronto Sun newspaper. Can you believe I spent $1.58 on this rag today??? I am outraged! That is $0.08 more than I would have spent on buying my beloved Globe and Mail. I was highly embarrassed making this purchase, too. Would have scammed it off a park bench if I could have. Reading this….thing…makes me feel like I should be sipping a double-double Timmies and savouring a ciggie or two after my shift at the factory. The only positive and redeeming factor is the sports coverage – unbeatable! Are there bigger Leafs fans than these sports writers? Doubt it! I can guarantee this will be my one and only read-through of this paper this year. (Fri Feb 5)
9. SNAP Kitchener-Waterloo. There is just one word to sum up this free publication: cheese-y! Basically, the staff/photographers attend local events such as new store launches, fundraisers, school activities and take photos and do a brief write-up about the event. Boils down to little more than free publicity (and given that there is often an ad located close to the write-up about a featured store/restaurant, there is a beneficial trade-off for everyone). This must be a franchise-type operation as I have seen SNAP Beaches Toronto, for example. The main reason I read through this every month is to see if I can pick out people I know! (sometimes happens!) (Thurs Feb 4)
8. Chatelaine magazine. This may not be the best time for me to include this monthly in my list because I am miffed at the recent removal of Maryam Sanati as editor. I loved the magazine under her (too short) leadership…we shall see what happens under incoming editor Jane Francisco. She can be no better than Maryam or (Rona Maynard afew years ago), and certainly no worse than Kim Pittaway. I love that Chatelaine is Canadian. I love the mix of topics covered. Mostly, I love the tone: warm, friendly, more hip than Canadian Living. Chatelaine was always in our home growing up; I’ve enjoyed seeing its evolution over the decades. We’ll see what this next editorial era brings, I guess! (Tues Feb 2)
7. Canadian Living magazine. My main “beef” with this magazine: too many recipes! :) Canadian Living is Chatelaine‘s poor cousin when it comes to Canadian women’s magazines. Besides being too food-centric for me (and it’s not gourmet or trendy recipes, strictly family-appealing, stick-to-your-ribs fare), the articles and news bits are shallow and light. Definitely geared to the “mom” type woman as it can be read in spurts and is a quick read. Luckily, mom subscribes so I can just read her copy; I would not pick up in a store or subscribe myself. (Mon Feb 1)
6. The Waterloo Chronicle newspaper. This weekly is just one step above what I would classify as “community newsletter.” On the one hand, it has a very small-town vibe to it, and often comes across as quite amateur in tone, especially columns penned by weekly contributors. On the other hand, I would actually choose this paper over The Record as a way to get my City of Waterloo news and updates. The Chronicle does a commendable job of touching on local news, sports, culture and business. The Record includes The Chronicle in with its Wednesday edition; I mooched my copy off of mom and dad. You can purchase this paper at local kiosks, but I would not do so – not worth it, that much! (Wed Jan 27)
5. Toronto Life magazine. What the Globe and Mail is to newspapers, TO Life is to magazines. (Coincidence that they share many of the same contributors)? Pithy, bold, not afraid of stepping on anyone’s toes, this is always a delightful read. Been a subscriber for years, but the mag now has more relevance since beginning my Aunti Nanny days and spending more time in TO. Content includes indepth reporting on fashion, finance, food, real estate, politics…; regular columns like “1o Things (insert boldface name here) Can’t Live Without” and “Party Watch” are just plain fun. Directorship has remained strong under the guidance of editor Sarah Fulford; however, I do think the magazine was a little bolder, stronger, more biting when John Macfarlane held the job. Really, though, no complaints and eagerly await each month’s issue. (Sun Jan 17)
4. The K-W Record newspaper. Even though this is the hometown newspaper, I am no fan. Ah, the sacrifices I am making for this project!…I passed over my beloved Saturday Globe today for the Saturday Record, the only edition of week that is bearable. A mediocre calibre of writing, local sob story features, and items simply plucked from the Associated Press define this newspaper. I used to buy it just to keep up on local news items; I no longer bother because the bother is simply not worth it. (Sat Jan 16)
3. Runner’s World magazine. I have subscribed for don’t know how many years. Every month I complain to Dad that the articles are a rehash of ideas printed 12-18 months ago, yet I wouldn’t miss scouring and digesting this monthly magazine for anything. I always feel motivated after reading each issue, and I enjoy keeping up on the latest trends, race reports, and “who’s who/who’s hot” in the mainstream running world. This magazine is geared to the beginner/intermediate runner, I would say, so veterans may find it a bit ho-hum. How dedicated am I to this publication? I have my subscription on never-ending/automatic renewal! (Wed Jan 13)
2. The Toronto Star - Sunday edition, newspaper. I never read the Star except on Sundays. It’s a tolerable paper throughout the week – nothing too “high brow,” and the Saturday sections could keep you reading for hours, but I only buy the Star on Sundays. Mostly filled with general interest stories, it is just a pleasant read for a quiet Sunday eve. (Sun Jan 10)
1. The Globe and Mail newspaper- by far, my most favourite-in-this-whole-entire-world newspaper. I adore everything about it: the content, the high standard of writing, the weekly sections and columns…I read it most every day and miss it when i don’t. (Sat Jan 9)