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tagged: 2020

Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown:

2020- My annual re-read of Essentialism, during No-vember, took me the entire month to read this time around. Sure, I wasn’t in a rush to read it, but for whatever reason I couldn’t find myself getting into it this year. Perhaps my brain was already mush having read so many books this year already. Then again, maybe the content and main point of the book is something I have consumed so many times that I simply glaze over much of the content. With that said, I was reminded that there is always room for improvement in how a person approaches an essentialist lifestyle and that no one is ever perfect. I am hopeful that in the future I will be in a leadership role where I have others looking to me for guidance & support and in turn employ some essentialist strategies to combat the very elements of leadership and management which drive me crazy.

2019- My annual re-read of this book as a reminder that it’s okay to say no, and not to feel bad about it. My realization in more recent months is this—taking things in life down to the most important is essential, but at some point yes’ needs to be said more often. I’ve excluded less important things for so long, to help me focus on what really matters, that I haven’t brought into my life some less-important things to help balance things out and to provide meaning and value to the things/experiences I cherish so very much. There needs to be a balance between the essential and the non-essential.

2018- An annual re-read, I took away this time around that saying no” sometimes is not enough. If an individual finds themselves saying no” long enough, without any yeses” to provide a necessary balance, both personal and professional lives may be unfulfilling. My anticipation is to re-read this again in early 2019 to provide some perspective for the year.

December 29, 2020 2018 2019 2020 reviews books

According to Need - 99% Invisible: An eye opening look at homelessness in California brought to the world by the 99% Invisible team. While I imagine the nuances of homelessness are different from one location to the next, I also imagine that much is the same. Talking about a housing first’ approach to tackling homelessness, the housing crisis that is ingrained with our economy, and highlighting the troubling systems that we offer as a source of help; this is a must listen to with anyone that has a sense of moral obligation deep within them.

December 22, 2020 2020 Reviews Podcasts

Hillbilly Elegy (2020): A compelling story about identify, family, place, and becoming one’s true self. I wasn’t certain what to expect of this film having read competing reviews (from competing newspapers, of course) but I was thankful we sat down to watch it. I have had the printed memoir on my future reading this; because of the film, I moved the book into my reading plan for 2021. Something I am not likely to watch again, but a watch I will remember and recommend.

December 13, 2020 2020 reviews movies

The Juror (1996): Although there’s already another movie called, Runaway Jury, this movie should be re-named to that. The first 80%, or so, of the film was reasonable and well put together. However, in the last 20% of the film it got away from itself. One film with about a creepy character and one women having to deal with the ethical battle of saving her family versus having a mobster go to jail quickly faded into the background as a new, shoot-em up killing movie ensued. Not a recommended watch whatsoever.

December 13, 2020 2020 reviews movies

The Queen’s Gambit: I’m not a big TV watcher, or historically I have not been–the Pandemic can change everything. But, if every television show was produced and delivered like The Queen’s Gambit I might develop an addiction problem. The story itself was deep and it was well adapted. If critical of it in any way, I would recommend it was either an episode or two longer, but likely one shorter. Some of the characters and relationships could use a bit more development, or be excluded altogether. Regardless, a highly engaging watch. Not a re-watch, but definitely a recommend.

December 13, 2020 2020 reviews TV shows

This American Life: Now into its 25th year, This American Life is a staple in my podcast listening rotation. While I am not always interested in the topics week to week, and can go lengths without listening to it, I enjoy: the consistent format, the regular voices, and the story telling narrative unique to TAL. As a listener before Serial made podcast a thing of the regular person’s lexicon (at least in North America) I encourage most people to start with TAL when diving into podcasts for the first time.

December 1, 2020 2020 Reviews Podcasts

California City: An interesting story of urban planning, but unlike any urban planning I have ever hear of. Listening to this podcast seems like I am taking in an infomercial for the world’s worst and most effective pyramid scheme ever.

November 13, 2020 2020 Reviews Podcasts

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: This, by far, is one of the most challenging books I have ever read. The language used, the perspectives shared, and the unpacking of the historically engrained stories we tell ourselves to be found un-true. If I am to be completely honest I must say that I struggled to complete this book. I found the need to investigate each sentence in an attempt to fully understand the thoughts being conveyed. Even when finished I feel like I did not give this book the attention it deserved. Whereas, White Fragility, was a wakeup call this book is the follow-up that dives deep into how we got to where we are today in a racist North American culture which offers some strategies to shift perspectives if we wish to undo all of the bad we have done over the years.

November 11, 2020 2020 race reviews books

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis: A short but intense read. A series of notes written after the author’s wife had passed, I particularly enjoyed—if one should enjoy reading such a volume—the thoughts on the existence of God, the dead, and the impact they can have on someone’s day-to-day life. Not a read I would normally pick up, I can imagine that this would be useful to individuals in certain circumstances where they are grappling some of life’s greatest challenges.

November 11, 2020 2020 reviews books

California Love: I just finished up this limited series and it’s worth a listen. It’s not a podcast but a work of art.
It’s about place, belonging, identity, race, and growing up. It is one of the best things I have consumed across all mediums in a very, very long time.

ps. the episode on parrots seems a bit weird in the beginning but it really is one of the highlights of the series.

November 2, 2020 2020 Reviews Podcasts

99% Invisible: By far one of my most frequently listened to podcasts. From the content to the hosts, and the superb production quality—99% Invisible is one of the top podcasts I’ve listened too. While sometimes the topics aren’t all that interesting to me, I love that one podcast can cover such a wide variety of topics yet tie the together almost seamlessly through the city and design. When individuals ask what podcasts I recommend this is more often than not at the top of the list.

November 2, 2020 2020 Reviews Podcasts

Hereditary (2018): Our pick for a Halloween watch, I wasn’t overly impressed. While by the end things came together this movie was neither scary or suspenseful aside from one moment (the beheading). Compared to the writer/director’s other film, Midsommar, it became clearer that this film was their first. I do think that the story line which surrounds the occult and the worshiping of a god made for a good story line, and that this story line became clearer at the very end, however the delivery and development of the plot and story could use some work.

October 31, 2020 2020 reviews movies

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West by Bryce Andrews: Picked from a box of books I purchased at a mega sale, I had hoped that this memoir would paint a vivid narrative of the connection between man and a place I know nothing about—the America west. While at times it seemed promising that I would be presented with the story I was in search of, that promise was left unfulfilled as I turned the last page. Often confusing the reader of why it was that they picked up this book in the first place, the author’s fixation with the wolves on the ranch where he worked seemed to be both the purpose of the book and an after thought at the same time. Becoming the focus of the book too late in its pages—except for some crudely written accounts, all in italics, between chapters which seemed to be wildly out of place—this memoir could have been a much stronger read and compelling story if the author stuck to other elements of his time on the ranch. I assume this to be the case, having never spent any time on a ranch myself. However, as an avid reader who welcomes new reads outside of his normal haunts, I was sadly disappointed with this book.

October 25, 2020 2020 reviews books

Voices from the Rust Belt by Anne Trubek: Picked up on a whim as a gateway read for starting a book club, I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this collection of essays. Hearing many different voices from those whom live in rust best cities in the USA has given me pause and has allowed me to reconsider the value of the city where I live and those which surround me within a couple hours drive. Looking for a way to recreate the learning opportunities which regular weekend trips to rust best city would offer, in the time of the pandemic we are living in where travel is out of the question, this book has helped to fill such a voice. For anyone that is interested in learning more about cities, or wants to hear different perspectives on growing up in changing places, this book is definitely worth the read.

October 18, 2020 2020 reviews books

Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey by Simon Armitage: Exactly what the book promises to be and nothing more—one man/poet’s account of his journey along a national trail. I picked up this book as I’m always curious about the reasons different individuals choose to embark on longer-than-normal hikes. While the premise of the author’s journey seemed to be intriguing, it got old very very quickly. A read of the first couple of chapters sets the reader up for the remainder of the book. Something I am not likely to read ever again, or recommend to another. Sadly, lacklustre in every way.

September 20, 2020 2020 reviews books

The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It by Richard Florida: I can’t recommend this book if someone has already read anything previously published by Florida. I can’t help to think that if I placed all of his books side-by-side and ripped off the covers that telling the difference between them would be impossible. I feel as if he’s re-publishing the same concept, over and over, simply by using new buzz words. The New Urban Crisis is no different than any of his works that have come before. If you’ve read anything else by Florida I’d recommend you skip this one and not waste your time.

August 25, 2020 2020 reviews books

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler: A must read. A book about race, neighbours, family, lovers, and the relationships which exists among all of these intertwined elements. An intense and moving fictional image, which seems all too real given how society is unfolding daily around us. Although I can’t remember why I picked up this book, I am thankful that I did. Upon finishing the book I found myself contemplating some of the more important questions surrounding my everyday existence and how I interact with those I engage with. A highly recommended read.

August 23, 2020 2020 race gender reviews books

Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf: This book wasn’t really what I was hoping for or expected. Why? The author chooses to include a fair bit of science related to how the brain works but fails to commit the inclusion of this information substantially enough. Meaning, the scientific information seemed like it was a half-thought afterthought. I would have preferred the author to rely more heavily on this perspective of reading and the brain rather than trying to sneak in a little bit regarding the science but not enough to have the impact it should. Also, there is a large focus in this book on children, reading, and as a result, parenting. Not that there is anything wrong with this as it is highly relevant, just that I wasn’t expecting such an emphasis to be placed on this. I admit, I glazed over these sections—which in turn exemplified how much of a non- deep reader I was, in relation to this book—and went to the letters’ (which makes up the structure of the book) which more closely resonated with my interests. Overall, the premise of this book is something I find deep connection with, and I think it is an important read to anyone considering, questioning, or defending the value of traditional reading materials as they compare to their digital counterparts.

August 19, 2020 2020 reviews books

Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister by John Ivison: Not a fan of Big-P’ Politics, I typically don’t concern myself with much related to political parties or politicians themselves. So, what led me to pick up this read is a little unclear. Regardless, it was eye opening. My takeaways from this book are the following: 1) I would make a horrible Politician, but I would likely be a politician that our country needs, 2) People, regardless of title, make mistakes, 3) Politicians (Big-P) aren’t leaders at all; they just like to hear themselves talk, and 4) The political landscape in Canada hasn’t changed all that much since the country’s beginning, and currently Politicians are likely to make any changes for the next 150 years. As for Justin Trudeau, he’s just another figure head for a few years. Meh.

August 10, 2020 2020 reviews books

Brother by David Chariandy: This book was the, OneBookOneLondon, read from a few years back. Had I read this work back when the rest of the community was I’m not certain I would have appreciated as much as I did today, or that it would have had the same impact as it has. While it is a work of fiction, it reads in many ways like a memoir of a young black man who great up in a suburb of Toronto. With all of the recent, race related, actions creating a watershed moment in society—both in North America and around the world—I couldn’t think of a better time to read this book. It’s themes are subtle but the realities that I can only imagine young black men face, and the challenges their mothers and families must overcome, are nothing but vivid and in some ways scary how real they feel. While not my favourite of all of the OneBookOneLondon reads, this one is worthwhile to read none the less.

August 8, 2020 2020 one book one london race reviews books

City Quitters: An Exploration of Post-Urban Life by Karen Rosenkranz: This book is what it is. While there was potential to have a book full of encouraging and eye opening stories what I feel this book offered was the same single story, told in a dozen or so different ways. As I was one third of the way through the book I felt like I could anticipate what I would be reading, and seeing, on the next few pages. I had hoped that there would have been a greater variety of stories, filled with different perspectives on the same topic. What I was presented with was what seemed like a single minimalist, city quitting story, re-told over and over, without much value add content beyond the first few pages.

August 3, 2020 2020 reviews books

Grit by Angela Duckworth: Having been on my to-read list for a while, I’m surprised that I haven’t picked this one up sooner. Building upon what was covered in Peak by Anders Ericsson, and Range by David Epstein, Grit’s author provides a lot of food for thought. How to purpose and passion align? How does focused and deliberate practice make us better at what we do? And how much does pure force of will help us succeed over skill? For anyone interested in how to do better, and support others in achieving goals, this might be a valuable read.

July 24, 2020 2020 reviews books

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: Another race related read. What I struggle with most when I read books on this topic is what I can do, as a white male, to better the conditions of society for all BIPOC people, and society at large, without it coming across as tokenism. I’m still working on this. I appreciated that Oluo brought her personal experiences as a mother and the interactions she has with her children into the book. These examples helped to make the arguments in the book even more real.

July 24, 2020 2020 race reviews books

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle: I can’t recall why I picked up this volume—it was likely a recommendation in The Globe and Mail—but I am thankful I did. This is an insightful into one man’s journey as a Métis Canadian, alcoholic, and drug addict, and the twists and turns presented to him throughout life. Although I do wish that the latter portion of the book wasn’t as rushed as it was, in how it uncovered the more recent experiences in the author’s life, this isn’t a fault that is unique to this work. Far too many of the books I read I feel don’t distribute their attention adequately enough across the entire spectrum of content. But I digress. This work but a Métis scholar is worth the read for anyone interested in starting to understand the various challenges that members of Canada’s Indigenous communities face as they navigate society.

July 20, 2020 2020 reviews books

They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up by Eternity Martis: One women’s commentary on life in London, Canada, and at Western University and all the racism it includes. Being from London myself, this read hit close to home and really resonated. While I am not a black woman, the challenges, fights, and indignities the author documents facing while a resident of my city and a student at my alma mater was hard for me to swallow but I couldn’t deny that what she outlined was anything but the truth. An important read for anyone that isn’t a visible minority, or visible minority alike. If anything, what I took away from this read is that I need to be more aware of the words I use and the actions I take—even if I do not have racist intentions, or believe that my words and actions are anything but genuine in intentions, there are likely to be some entrenched micro-aggressions within them and I need to be attentive to these while understanding not only their origins but how to remove them as best I can from all I do. If I have any criticism of this work it would be that it wasn’t long enough and didn’t go into adequate depth to have more of an impact.

July 20, 2020 2020 race reviews books

Deeds/Abstracts: The History of a London Lot, 1 January 1991 — 6 October 1992 by Greg Curnoe: It is ten years since I initially read this book. When I picked it up the first time I did so out of an interest for anything local; I read it but likely didn’t get” it, thinking it was too artsy or irrelevant. Now, with a more entrenched curiosity regarding place, and the histories that tell a version of a story of who we are today, this re-read was much more engaging than my initial pass. Giving consideration to all of the histories that make up the cultural history of the places we occupy, Curnoe takes a deep dive into his home/lot/property to understand how it came to be, including all of the surrounding and external factors that shape a specific parcel of land, and the broader region it is situated within.

July 15, 2020 2020 reviews books

Ten Cities: The Past Is Present by Wayne Johnston: I had picked this book up in my local bookstore as I thought it might have provided an interesting escape from the mundane every day of my home city. It did not have this effect. The memories the author shares, while important for him, offer little for the reader. There’s no insight into why they are important, why he remembered them, or why he thought it would be a good idea to publish them. To each their own, but this is not what I thought it was nor what I needed.

July 9, 2020 2020 reviews books

Becoming by Michelle Obama: It is clear that Michelle Obama has had an interesting life. A life where she’s overcome many obstacles and has achieved many great things. While I am certain that some of these things likely wouldn’t have happened without being the First Lady—like the publishing of this book—most of her accomplishments she can certainly take all of the credit for. While this book wasn’t written for me as an audience, and often while reading it I couldn’t think of it as anything other than an advertisement for Barack, I know that this book is what many people need to read and highlights the important work that a strong, female, black leader is doing in the USA and across the globe.

July 9, 2020 2020 reviews books

Columbine by Dave Cullen: A gruesome tale of something that should have never happened. While I do think that this book is longer than it needed to be—there’s a great deal of repetition that I believe is unnecessary—I thoroughly enjoyed it, if anyone can say such a thing about the documentation of a tragedy. If anything, this is an interesting perspective into the psyche of a pair of killers and how a community has had to work through their grief, sadness, and anger. It’s not the right book for most people, and I would never read it again, but it is worth the time for the right type of person.

July 9, 2020 2020 reviews books

Huron & Erie Regional Digest: A literary magazine for my liking. A collection of pieces about not the city I live in, but the region. For it’s first issue I’m thoroughly impress and I’ve come on board as a subscriber for the remainder of the year. I am interested to see how it continues to unfold, and just maybe I’ll have a feature in an upcoming issue.

July 9, 2020 2020 reviews books

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich: It’s easy for me to get behind the premise of this book–that schools have failed our individual needs and might not be the best place to encourage learning and develop the citizens which society needs. With that said, as is so often the case, the delivery of this idea is what I find difficult to accept with this book. Perhaps because of the prevailing dialog of the days of when it was published (1971) or the social and political structures the author was intending to take down–the critical discourse on education this book offers is, perhaps, too critical. Often times I believe that a more balanced approach to delivering a message might be met with greater update and understanding. Then again, this perspective is likely a result of my privileged upbringing.

June 10, 2020 2020 reviews books

They Won’t Demolish Me! by Roch Carrier: A hilarious read about a boarding house in Montreal. Written by the same author of the historic and iconic, The Hockey Sweater, the only thing I could think of while reading this book was how great of a small-stage adaption it would make. The characters are still vividly in my mind, and I continue to laugh about the ongoing escapades. The language of the book is certainly illustrative of the period it was written in / about. A short but entertaining read.

April 12, 2020 2020 reviews books

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin: I’m not certain why I started reading this piece, given that I was less than moved by the authors previous book, but I attempted to give this work an honest go. Meh. I found this read to be lacklustre at best. It’s superficial and lacks any type of depth. Perhaps there’s value in this book for someone who has yet to do any type of self reflection or introspection however, I found it to be more of an annoyance than any type of worthwhile read for myself.

April 12, 2020 2020 reviews books

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy: An important topic, told though a compelling story. The entire pharmaceutical sector (in the USA) is a bit unbelievable, but it’s a reality. This read opened by eyes to the how integrated the drug epidemic is to the economy, politics, and our every day social structures. I think this is an important read for most people. My only criticism is that it accomplishes its point early on in the book, with the remainder being highly repetitive and offering little additional value. This book could have been 1/2 the size and delivered the same message.

April 12, 2020 2020 reviews books

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink: Written in typical Pink style, following a very fluid problem-to-conclusion methodology, I really enjoyed this read. Basic in premise, and leading the reader to develop a curiosity about the larger concepts that are only touched upon, this book is a good tool to help individuals and organizations understand who timing of activities (or downtime) is so important, and that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to being productive.’ Easy, but highly worthwhile read.

April 12, 2020 2020 reviews books

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell: Not what I was expecting at all in terms of how I was interpreting the title, this recent Gladwell book was an interesting read. I think I pulled something valuable out of it, but as with most of the author’s works, I find it hard to take him serious or believe what he writes because I feel like it lacks the necessary depth to make a compelling argument, or excludes a certain aspect regarding the discussion that would negate the premise he’s trying to deliver on. What I found most interesting from this read was the theory of, coupling—that a behaviour is linked to a specific context. I think I’ll follow-up on this a bit more.

April 12, 2020 2020 reviews books

The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods by John McKnight: How do we shift our thinking, habits, and tendencies from those rooted in consumerism back to ones rooted in community; this is the central premise of this book. Having sat on my community development to-read list’ for far too long, I was happy to finally get to this work. While simple in concept, the message it conveys becomes complex when a person begins to evaluate their current situation in society and begin to understand the depth of community they may be attached to. How can we begin to re-form the connections we once had with others in our neighbourhoods and family that have been replaced overtime with services we pay for to absolve us from the very duties and actions that make us human? In the current world-wide public health crisis this book and its message is even more paramount.

March 23, 2020 2020 reviews books

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: Although I am not sure how I missed reading this while growing up, it’s a book I wish I had read sooner. As a fan of most all dystopian future works of fiction, I couldn’t put this read down. Clearly all of the raves and reviews Atwood has received in the past—and continues to receive—are well arranged. Now, I’m interested in exploring other books and stories that were probably presented to me in my youth but that I would have likely turned my nose up at. Here’s to being a (very) late bloomer.

March 19, 2020 2020 reviews books

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein: Relatively quick read that helps to validate a premise that I strongly connect with. Not without it’s faults, no argument is, this book offers a perspective on both generalists and specialists and what type of work and environments they may be best suited for. I’m not certain the depth of the research backing this book is adequately conveyed through its pages, so further reading into the academic side of the foundational arguments might be needed.

March 10, 2020 2020 reviews books

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer: I began listening to this as I thought it would be a compelling narrative about a pair of murders, what I got though was an overview of Mormonism, polygamy, and a narrow history of the united states. Having read other works by Krakauer before I knew that I was going to enjoy the delivery of the content, but I did not expect the path that the delivery would take. Feeling like I could better appreciate the hit tv show, Big Love, after listening to this book, my eyes were opened a bit more to the vast and complex world of religion. I’m not exactly sure who is book is best suited for, and thus can’t make a recommendation. I wouldn’t read it again, but I am thankful I did.

March 3, 2020 2020 reviews books

Joker (2019): Disturbing. That’s certainly the best way to describe this film. Anyone who watches this film that has the slightest understanding of the world of Batman quickly forgets the comic book escapes and becomes lost in an intimate study of a troubled individual. Phoenix is one of only a handful of people who could have pulled this role off. Feelings of sadness, anger, and disbelief ran through me as I watched this film. Highly recommended but probably not for the reasons most people would suggest it—I think it’s an interesting human study story, even if it is fiction.

February 18, 2020 2020 reviews movies

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Not the book I initially thought I was picking up from the library, but a sequel of sorts, I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Taking his theory of flow and applying it to one’s life, Csikszentmihalyi helps to uncover the essence of engagement in one’s daily activities and how to identify what type of work someone should be doing, what they should avoid, and how to get through the boring, routine, and monotonous work we all must face. Although I have yet to read the author’s initial work, Flow, I imagine this read would be more applicable to most people.

February 17, 2020 2020 reviews books

Deepening Community: Finding Joy Together in Chaotic Times by Paul Born: A re-read in anticipation of some work with the author’s community engagement organization, this book isn’t as deep as the title would leave you to believe—and that’s perfectly ok. Providing an entrance into the idea of community, and community building, this book is a short survey of what defines community and how one can differ from the next. Full of anecdotal stories, and personal experiences, Born is attempting to speak to those on the cusp of deepening the relationships they have with those closest to them geographically. A good primer for someone new to the field of community development, or a helpful reminder to those who are already invested in this work of why it is important work, Deepening Community is anything but deep, and that’s exactly what it should be.

February 7, 2020 2020 reviews books

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo: I’m not certain I have the words to express what I feel now that I have completed this read. The authors approach to putting such a charged and historically entrenched topic into perspective may not sit well with some. However, it’s an important topic regardless of opinion. Making a distinction between—being a racist and being complicit in racism—caught my attention early on in the book. While I would never label myself as a racist (does anyone actually call themselves this?) I certainly can see some of the ways which I contribute to ongoing racism. I still haven’t processed all of the thoughts I’ve had since reading this book, but know that this work certainly deserves another, closer read, with some guidance to fully unpack and appreciate what its offering.

January 27, 2020 2020 race reviews books

MIDSOMMAR (2019): A beautiful and weird movie both at the same time. I really enjoyed this film but I can’t pinpoint exactly why. Perhaps it was the cinematography, the colouring, or the soundtrack. Maybe it was the intersection of a horror and cultish film. Again, I can’t say exactly what it is. This movie certainly isn’t for everyone—it’s weird, really weird at times. But, it left a lasting impression on me. In some ways, it reminded me of, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, although a very different type of film altogether.

January 25, 2020 2020 reviews movies

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond:
Housing is a problem everywhere. It’s next to impossible for anyone to purchase a home anymore, including those who live in places of relative privilege in society. Renting in North America is becoming as bad, with rents much more than what most people can afford. There is a crisis. If, Evicted, offered anything—in addition to it’s compelling format and delivery of this important topic—it was a descriptive look into some of the most depressing living conditions in America. While at times the format of this book threw me for a loop, whereas I thought I was reading a work of fiction, its delivery of such an important and very real topic was a welcomed treat in comparison to other non-fiction reads on the same issue. Although after a while the stories captured seemed repetitive in nature, and proved to be more depressing—and real—than I initially thought the book would be, I was thankful I continued the book to the end. It’s epilogue on the idea of, home and hope was a highly compelling wrap up to the read and forced me, as a reader, to really think about what home’ means to me, and more broadly what the ideas of belonging, identity, and place really come down to for an individual. I highly recommend this read to anyone interested in cities, social issues, poverty, or those concerned with how America is failing Americans in building the American dream.

Long live trump.

January 16, 2020 2020 reviews books

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg: The library is by far one of my most favourite places in the community. Along with the local art gallery/museum, I can’t image what my hometown would be like without them. It’s no surprise then that, Palaces for the People, struck a cord with me. Whether the library, the garden, soccer pitch, local cafes, our schools, places of worship, or simply the sidewalk; these places that bring us together with those we share common space with are often forgotten when it comes to planning, and paying for our cities. More than anything, this read reminded me of how social infrastructure levels fields of power, and affords each and every citizen an opportunity to be considered equals. Bringing us together, to build and re-build community, these spaces are undervalued, under funded, and under recognized. Palaces for the People is a great read for anyone who is looking to further understand the value of the social infrastructure all around them, and to encourage each and every one of us to connect with our neighbours and fellow citizens more often than we do.

January 16, 2020 2020 reviews books

Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik: I stuck with this book to the very end because I was interested in learning the innermost details of the everyday stuff around me but felt like the book didn’t deliver in the end. Neither focused on the highly technical elements of the makeup of stuff, or the delivery of broad ideas in general terms, this book felt like it was having an identity crisis and as if the author didn’t have a specific audience in mind when he wrote it. I have no doubt that the author is knowledgeable on the subject matter, but I wish he would have enlisted someone else to write this book for him.

January 16, 2020 2020 reviews books

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport: As my first read of the new year, this was a helpful reminder of many of the concepts I’ve come to regard as essential in living a more intentional life. Cal Newport is an author and scholar I have come to respect, and I find that his worldview, and that on the role technology plays in our lives, to be one which echos the values I have come to hold close to me. If anything, this read was a reminder of the the habits I should continue with daily, and some new practices I might find worthwhile to begin. The concepts in this book aren’t overly complicated or mind blowing, but for those who don’t have a handle on the role of technology in their daily lives this book is a good place to start. For others, like myself, who feel that they have a good relationship” with technological and digital things, this book is a reminder that at the end of the day we are human and always have room to grow.

January 5, 2020 2020 reviews books