Novel Reactions: Dreyer’s English

This one captured my heart from page one. It held no punches, and Benjamin Dreyer wasted no time in telling me that I should really stop using filler words in my writing. (I did that on purpose.)

This book is a great guide and refresher to the rules of writing, and I plan to reread it (maybe) once a year to make sure I don’t fall back into my bad writing habits. With that said, Dreyer’s English is a reference book that I will definitely keep within arm’s reach especially whenever I need to make a point about the usage of “lay” as opposed to “lie.” Add on to this the non-use of apostrophes for pluralizing words. Please, stop and think, people. Perhaps I can give this book as gifts to those people just to get my point across? I will need to stock up on the book though, and it isn’t that cheap…

The target audience of this book is the adult American. This book talks about rules of American English and not British English. (Yes, these are distinct.) I noticed while reading that Filipinos blend the two English languages, so if you don’t live in America, don’t feel too affected by some of the rules in this book—unless, of course, you are writing in American English then by all means, yes, please follow these rules.

All in all, this was a highly informative and entertaining read. Who said learning can’t be fun? (Correct answer is no one—learning is always fun.)

A Taste of CanLit

During my grand detour, I picked up a few CanLit reads from my two favorite bookstores, Bakka-Phoenix Books and Indigo. I couldn’t purchase too many because (1) I had (and still have) a large pile of books to be read; and (2) I couldn’t fit too many books in my luggage. I ended up a total of four books, and I loved them all. Slightly wish I could have picked up more, but luggage restrictions did not permit…

A lot of the CanLit books on Indigo’s We the North shelf touched on immigration. This wasn’t too surprising, and it reminded me of the new immigrant welcome-ish posters I used to see around Toronto. Anyway, a disclaimer: the We the North shelf was not big enough to accommodate all CanLit works. I also looked for (what I thought were) less mainstream books since I wanted to broaden my scope. The ones I picked up only cover a small portion of CanLit.

Here’s my list of CanLit reads in order of date read.

Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight

Thank you, Don Bassingthwaite, for bringing us Derby Cavendish. Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight (see: Short Bites: Special) is a short story collection that features Toronto’s LGBT community, with Derby Cavendish and friends saving Church Street’s butt every holiday.


Another story collection, Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized (see: Novel Reactions: Radicalized) touched on a lot of what if scenarios. This one didn’t seem to be set in Canada (or exclusively in any state), but it was a great read nonetheless.

Children of the Moon

Children of the Moon (see Novel Reactions: Children of the Moon) is an immigrant story of sorts. It focuses on the hardships faced by two characters, both of whom have reached old age by the time they were recounting their stories. It was quite the emotional read, so be ready to decompress after finishing this book.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club surprised me. I’m still not over it. Based on the title, I was expecting the story to be more along the lines of Goosebumps (remember that?), but it was totally different. I loved it so much that if I could only recommend one among the four books, I would pick this in a heartbeat.

Celebrating All Fathers

Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers and father figures out there! Today I thought it would be interesting to talk about fathers in some of my favorite books. Fatherhood comes in different shapes and sizes, and no father (or parent for that matter) is perfect, but we live and we learn.

Here are three books I really liked that also made me think a little differently about fathers:

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

In The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, Samuel Hawley is dedicated to his child, Loo. The father and daughter have a charming relationship; they move around from place to place that all they have is each other. But Hawley isn’t the type to talk much, and Loo is flabbergasted when, at some point, Hawley decides that it’s time to settle down.

This is a story in which father and daughter are putting down roots despite a mysterious past that is finally catching up to them.

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

In Last Night in Montreal, the father takes a kind of a backseat because the plot is all about Lillia. She spent much of her childhood moving from place to place with her father without really knowing why, but it seems she has taken their lifestyle to heart. Fast forward to adulthood: Lillia has gotten so used to moving around with her father that she cannot stay in one place for too long. She leaves hurt ex-lovers behind as she creates new beginnings with each move.

There are more characters involved in this story, and it’s made all the more interesting because Lillia cannot remember her life before she and her father began their life on the road. This is a great story about obsessing over things and uncovering the truth.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, we find that Oskar’s father has passed away tragically. The story is set a year after the incident, and Oskar must come to terms with grief and loss. (He and his father were very close, and we get glimpses of Oskar’s father through recollections.) This is a story about family—how its members cope and move forward. Although the father is no longer present, Oskar’s remaining family will make it through the rain work.

(This is the book that officially made me a fan of Jonathan Safran Foer, so I made it a mission to grab Here I Am when it was released.)