Books That Will Push You: ‘Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them)’ By Sallie Tisdale and ‘Many Love – A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s)’ By Sophie Lucido Johnson

If you are looking for some interesting books that will not only push you out of your comfort zone, but are important topics to flush out with friends and family – ‘Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them)’ By Sallie Tisdale and ‘Many Love – A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s)’ By Sophie Lucido Johnson are your books. Daring, fascinating and eye brow raising.  Get your favourite hot drink or cocktail and get ready to absorb a new way of thinking.


Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them) – A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying

By Sallie Tisdale

“In its loving, fierce specificity, this book on how to die is also a blessedly saccharine-free guide for how to live.” —The New York Times

We Are All Future Corpses

Former NEA fellow and Pushcart Prize-winning writer Sallie Tisdale offers a lyrical, thought-provoking, yet practical perspective on death and dying in Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them). Informed by her many years working as a nurse, with more than a decade in palliative care, Tisdale provides a frank, direct, and compassionate meditation on the inevitable.

From the sublime (the faint sound of Mozart as you take your last breath) to the ridiculous (lessons on how to close the sagging jaw of a corpse), Tisdale leads the reader through the peaks and troughs of death with a calm, wise, and humorous hand. Advice for Future Corpses is more than a how-to manual or a spiritual bible: it is a graceful compilation of honest and intimate anecdotes based on the deaths Tisdale has witnessed in her work and life, as well as stories from cultures, traditions, and literature around the world.

Tisdale explores all the heartbreaking, beautiful, terrifying, confusing, absurd, and even joyful experiences that accompany the work of dying, including:

A Good Death: What does it mean to die “a good death”? Can there be more than one kind of good death? What can I do to make my death, or the deaths of my loved ones, good?

Communication: What to say and not to say, what to ask, and when, from the dying, loved ones, doctors, and more.

Last Months, Weeks, Days, and Hours: What you might expect, physically and emotionally, including the limitations, freedoms, pain, and joy of this unique time.

Bodies: What happens to a body after death? What options are available to me after my death, and how do I choose—and make sure my wishes are followed?

Grief: “Grief is the story that must be told over and over…Grief is the breath after the last one.”

Beautifully written and compulsively readable, Advice for Future Corpses offers the resources and reassurance that we all need for planning the ends of our lives, and is essential reading for future corpses everywhere.


Now you maybe wondering, why do I want to read a book on corpses and dying? Well guess what?  It’s never too late to go there whilst planning for our final stage of life.  I almost lost my dad a few years ago and not only was it a wake up call for him but it was a wake up call for us as a family.  I really enjoyed how ‘Advice for Future Corpses…’ spoke to me as a daughter of a senior on what type of conversations I need to be having with my parent, how do I take my ‘youthful’ mask off and look at what it means to be elderly and facing death head on with an aging body in tow as someone in her 40’s and really what it is like to age and die.  The planning sheets that come with the book are a wonderful guide on how to prepare for not only your last will and testament but also your funeral wishes – the soft, textural and yet emotional stuff that we may not want to face, but is an essential piece of literary reflection that should be a part of your summer reading list.


Many Love – A Memoir of Polyamory and Finding Love(s)

By Sophie Lucido Johnson

“A fast-paced debut… A candid, modern take on polyamory for fans of memoirs and graphic novels, and anyone interested in stories of dating, love, and romance.” —Library Journal

After trying for years to emulate her boomer parents’ forty-year and still-going-strong marriage, Sophie realized that maybe the love she was looking for was down a road less traveled. In this bold, graphic memoir, she explores her sexuality, her values, and the versions of love our society accepts and practices. Along the way, she shares what it’s like to play on Tinder side-by-side with your boyfriend, encounter—and surmount—many types of jealousy, learn the power of female friendship, and other amazing things that happened when she stopped looking for “the one.”

In a lot of ways, Many Love is Sophie’s love letter to everyone she has ever cared for. Witty, insightful, and complete with illustrations, this debut provides a memorable glimpse into an unconventional life.


Gone are the days of those ‘traditional’ relationships we once saw poised in John Hughes’ teen films from the 80’s. Love affairs can take on so many different shapes and forms in this digital age and the pull for ‘open mindess’ in sex, relationships, intimacy and love is changing every second.  ‘Many Love…’ will test your moral barometer and will perhaps in moments leave you aghast with what the book’s revelations could look and feel like.  I enjoyed the lovely illustrations in this books to accompany the text.  If you are looking for a reprieve from the story telling, and also a visual image to reflect upon – ‘Many Love…’ will present you with disclosures in a sensitively curated manner that is brimming with gentle education.


Reflection Reads: ‘Silence In the Age of Noise’ By Erling Kagge and ‘Original Highways’ By Roy MacGregor

I’ve been doing a lot of travelling and as a result reflecting lately. The following reads have come at a good time especially when I have been wrapping myself up with some much needed silence.  My usual go to when I travel is to pack an iPod to keep my grounded.  I’ve noticed since I have been home I’ve been doing a lot of reading, cooking without the stimulus of music in the background.  There’s been a shift of late and it feels good.

The following books have made a mark on my reflection time.


‘Silence In the Age of Noise’ By Erling Kagge

What is silence?

Where can it be found?

Why is it now more important than ever?

In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica, becoming the first person to reach the South Pole alone, accompanied only by a radio whose batteries he had removed before setting out. In this book. An astonishing and transformative meditation, Kagge explores the silence around us, the silence within us, and the silence we must create. By recounting his own experiences and discussing the observations of poets, artists, and explorers, Kagge shows us why silence is essential to sanity and happiness—and how it can open doors to wonder and gratitude.


An easy read with a lot of room for quiet reflection. I spend most mornings in my condo drinking tea and listening to the buses and cars below scurry by.  This is a new thing for me, I usually have music playing during my mornings and as a result have missed the wonderful nuances of silence.  It’s only in the last few years when I have been dealing with grief that I keep my home a silent space.

In ‘Silence In the Age of Noise’, I enjoyed the mention of Bronx and Harlem women going to work early in the morning before commencing their department store jobs so they could find a nook to read in silence. A perfect visual image for me to reflect upon as I enter a busy time this Fall.  Finding time in the morning to read for leisure!  The cultural component of how people choose to use silence in Iceland and Japan was of interest.  I noticed how the Japanese use long pauses when in discussion whilst I was on holiday and not feeling the need to fill silences with unnecessary chatter.  The mention of Jesus and Buddha finding their inner silence (Jesus in the wilderness and Buddha in the mountains and rivers) so they could hear and listen with a silent heart while also waiting with an open mind was awe inspiring.  I have found a similar space in nature of late.  I find that when I travel I like to dwell on art in museums and galleries more with an open mind then when I am in work mode and filled with distractions.  Silence is truly a luxury and can be incorporated well beyond just ‘holiday mode’.  Read this book!


‘Original Highways’ By Roy MacGregor

Expanding on his landmark Globe and Mail series in which he documented his travels down 16 of Canada’s great rivers, Roy MacGregor tells the story of our country through the stories of its original highways, and how they sustain our spirit, identity and economy–past, present and future.

No country is more blessed with fresh water than Canada. From the mouth of the Fraser River in BC, to the Bow in Alberta, the Red in Manitoba, the Gatineau, the Saint John and the most historic of all Canada’s rivers, the St. Lawrence, our beloved chronicler of Canadian life, Roy MacGregor, has paddled, sailed and traversed their lengths, learned their stories and secrets, and the tales of centuries lived on their rapids and riverbanks. He raises lost tales, like that of the Great Tax Revolt of the Gatineau River, and reconsiders histories like that of the Irish would-be settlers who died on Grosse Ile and the incredible resilience of settlers in the Red River Valley. Along the Grand, the Ottawa and others, he meets the successful conservationists behind the resuscitation of polluted wetlands, including even Toronto’s Don, the most abused river in Canada (where he witnesses families of mink, returned to play on its banks). Long before our national railroad was built, our rivers held Canada together; in these sixteen portraits, filled with yesterday’s adventures and tomorrow’s promise, MacGregor weaves together a story of Canada and its ongoing relationship with its most precious resource.


A wonderful book to push your ‘silence’ barometer a little further. A book that could be quite heavy as you start flipping through its early pages so silence to stay focused could be necessity.  Be patient with this one.  MacGregor paints a wonderful portrait off the fabric of what has stitched our country, Canada, together in its inception.  Rivers being the main blood line that not only brought over our first settlers but the bricks and mortar of what built Canada into the country that it is today.  I would have appreciated more a nod to our First Nations people and how their establishment helped in curating the mapping of early Canada.  Lean into the silence as you read ‘Original Highways’.  It is a nice change up of a read and lens into Canadian history and geography.

Balcony/Garden/Park Reads: Sharp Objects By: Gillian Flynn, Bellevue Square By: Michael Redhill and Resurrection Bay By: Emma Viskic

If you are feeling hard pressed to pick up a thriller of sorts from your local bookstore for the weekend, I recommend the following delicious reads to sink your teeth into.

Sharp Objects By:  Gillian Flynn

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.


I had high hopes for Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – especially after the dessert of ‘Gone Girl’ is still on my palate. Flynn has an impeccable way of drawing you in as a reader and delivering the most finite detail.  You can’t help but begin to put together the puzzle of the crime and its characters instantly within the first chapter of the novel.  Murky, dark and small town vibes with big town crimes – a quick read if you need a suspense filled kick.

Bellevue Square By: Michael Redhill

*Winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize*

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. She’s never seen her, but others swear they have. Apparently, her identical twin hangs out in Kensington Market, where she sometimes buys churros and drags an empty shopping cart down the streets, like she’s looking for something to put in it. Jean’s a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving bookstore in downtown Toronto, and she doesn’t rattle easily—not like she used to. But after two customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate.

She begins at the crossroads of Kensington Market: a city park called Bellevue Square. Although she sees no one who looks like her, it only takes a few visits to the park for her to become obsessed with the possibility of encountering her twin in the flesh. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she’ll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants—the regulars of Bellevue Square—are eager to contribute to Jean’s investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, she fears her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate much stranger than death.


Dive into Bellevue Square and let it take you on a tour of Trinity Bellwood’s, Kensington Market and several of your favourite chill Toronto haunts. You will also be tasked to unravel a nail biting tale that is sure to keep you wondering who Jean’s doppelganger, Ingrid Fox, is and where this wicked caper is truly leading us.

As clinicians our spidey senses will go up as we encounter themes of confusion, science fiction and some deep seeded mental health issues/clues. Keep your chin up – it only gets worse as we start to slide down the rabbit hole with Jean all within a familiar cityscape that is the 6ix.

Bellevue Square is an easy read and will be sure to make you question if what you are reading is based in reality or indeed a ghost story.

Pick up this first of a planned triptych by Michael Redhill and try out a different type of creepy story to enjoy on your dinner break in the quiet room of your choosing. Boo!


Resurrection Bay By: Emma Viskic

The acclaimed debut thriller from Australia’s most exciting new crime writing talent.

The 2nd Caleb Zelic title, AND FIRE CAME DOWN, will be published October, 2018, and the author is already writing a 3rd installment.

Caleb Zelic can’t hear you but he sees everything.


Caleb Zelic’s childhood friend has been brutally murdered – fingers broken, throat slit – at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.


Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speak volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail.


Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone – including his murdered friend – is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets…?


A different kind of crime fiction told with a true Aussie lens. Resurrection Bay reads like The Wire television series.  It is brimming with those ‘duh duh duh’ moments while also slowly unveiling clues to riddles at the end of every chapter like an old school crime thriller would.  Play close attention – Resurrection Bay can quickly be digested but also has some interesting layers to it that may require you to go back and re-read if you aren’t careful.

Americana Crime: ‘Presidio’ By: Randy Kennedy and ‘Ohio’ By: Stephen Markley

I’ve been in delving into the world of the Golden State Killer investigation online these days. It’s a slippery slope of horror and such a fascinating look at the clinical forensic science that informed the evidence that led authorities to Joseph James DeAngelo.  That time in U.S. history was so interesting.  A true age of innocence cloaked in darkness with hideous crimes that took advantage of people’s good nature and sense of safety within their own homes.

I picked up the following books to educate me about that period of our past and where we are now as a result. These books paint a beautiful portraiture of the landscape that makes for the best kind of story telling and how it has shaped our Americana crime lens.


Presidio By: Randy Kennedy

Set in the 1970s in the vast and arid landscape of the Texas panhandle, this darkly comic and stunningly mature literary debut tells the story of a car thief and his brother who set out to recover some stolen money and inadvertently kidnap a Mennonite girl who has her own reasons for being on the run.

Troy Falconer returns home after years of working as a solitary car thief to help his younger brother, Harlan, search for his wife, who has run away with the little money he had. When they steal a station wagon for the journey, the brothers accidentally kidnap Martha Zacharias, a Mennonite girl asleep in the back of the car. Martha turns out to be a stubborn survivor who refuses to be sent home, so together these unlikely road companions attempt to escape across the Mexican border, pursued by the police and Martha’s vengeful father.

The story is told partly through Troy’s journal, in which he chronicles his encounters with con artists, down-and-outers, and roadside philosophers, people looking for fast money, human connection, or a home long since vanished. The journal details a breakdown that has left Troy unable to function in conventional society; he is reduced to haunting motels, stealing from men roughly his size, living with their possessions in order to have none of his own and all but disappearing into their identities.

With a page-turning plot about a kidnapped child, gorgeously written scenes that probe the soul of the American West, and an austere landscape as real as any character, Presidio packs a powerful punch of anomie, dark humor, pathos, and suspense.


Ohio By: Stephen Markley

The debut of a major talent; a lyrical and emotional novel set in an archetypal small town in northeastern Ohio—a region ravaged by the Great Recession, an opioid crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—depicting one feverish, fateful summer night in 2013 when four former classmates converge on their hometown, each with a mission, all haunted by the ghosts of their shared histories.

Since the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country’s forgotten pockets, where industry long ago fled, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed, fueled by suicide, addiction and a rampant sense of marginalization and disillusionment. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley’s brilliant debut novel, Ohio, inherit. This is New Canaan.

On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission, all of them haunted by regrets, secrets, lost loves. There’s Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park to New Orleans, and now back to “The Cane” with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting the mother of her former lover; Dan Eaton, a shy veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a dinner date with the high school sweetheart he’s tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel’s shocking climax.

At once a murder mystery and a social critique, Ohio ingeniously captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation through the viewfinder of an embattled Midwestern town and offers a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age.

Long Weekend Summer Reads from Simon and Schuster


We may have got through the Canada Day long weekend super quick but we have another one coming up in August.  Pick up these great books from Simon and Schuster in the weeks ahead for you to nestle up too with a cool drink to celebrate summer.

Dangerous Crossing: Rachel Rhys

Servants and socialites sip cocktails side by side on their way to new lives in this “thrilling, seductive, and utterly absorbing” (Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author) historical suspense novel in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile and Ken Follett’s Night Over Water.

The ship has been like a world within itself, a vast floating city outside of normal rules. But the longer the journey continues, the more confined it is starting to feel, deck upon deck, passenger upon passenger, all of them churning around each other without anywhere to go…

1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.

But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.


Belleweather: Susanna Kearsley

From the bestselling author of A Desperate Fortune and The Firebird, comes an entrancing new novel of love, war, and historical intrigue.

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

It’s 1759 and the world is at war, pulling the North American colonies of Britain and France into the conflict. The times are complicated, as are the loyalties of many New York merchants who have secretly been trading with the French for years, defying Britain’s colonial laws in a game growing ever more treacherous.

When captured French officers are brought to Long Island to be billeted in private homes on their parole of honour, it upends the lives of the Wilde family—deeply involved in the treasonous trade and already divided by war.

Lydia Wilde, struggling to keep the peace in her fracturing family following her mother’s death, has little time or kindness to spare for her unwanted guests. And Canadian lieutenant Jean-Philippe de Sabran has little desire to be there. But by the war’s end they’ll both learn love, honour, and duty can form tangled bonds that are not broken easily.

Their doomed romance becomes a local legend, told and re-told through the years until the present day, when conflict of a different kind brings Charley Van Hoek to Long Island to be the new curator of the Wilde House Museum.

Charley doesn’t believe in ghosts. But as she starts to delve into the history of Lydia and her French officer, it becomes clear that the Wilde House holds more than just secrets, and Charley discovers the legend might not have been telling the whole story…or the whole truth.

The Beloveds: Maureen Lindley

An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace.

Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.

Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband should have been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.

Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.


The Room on Rue Amelie: Kristin Harmel

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II.

When newlywed Ruby Henderson Benoit arrives in Paris in 1939 with her French husband Marcel, she imagines strolling arm in arm along the grand boulevards, awash in the golden afternoon light. But war is looming on the horizon, and as France falls to the Nazis, her marriage begins to splinter, too.

Charlotte Dacher is eleven when the Germans roll into the French capital, their sinister swastika flags snapping in the breeze. After the Jewish restrictions take effect and Jews are ordered to wear the yellow star, Charlotte can’t imagine things getting much worse. But then the mass deportations begin, and her life is ripped forever apart.

Thomas Clarke joins the British Royal Air Force to protect his country, but when his beloved mother dies in a German bombing during the waning days of the Blitz, he wonders if he’s really making a difference. Then he finds himself in Paris, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and he discovers a new reason to keep fighting—and an unexpected road home.

When fate brings them together, Ruby, Charlotte, and Thomas must summon the courage to defy the Nazis—and to open their own broken hearts—as they fight to survive. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

MUST SEE! The Royal Cinema: Krzysztof Kieslowski’s ‘Three Colors’ July 13-14, 2018



Catch some pretty special screenings of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s ‘Three Colors’ July 13-14, 2018 at the Royal Cinema. They are true cinematic masterpieces and worth catching on the big screen in the next few weeks. 

Here’s the scoop!

Many film directors have explored the possibilities of the trilogy— indeed, a series devoted to the three-part form has the potential to feature any number of great works from the history of cinema. This fall we offer a trio: Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors, and Marcel Pagnol’s Fanny Trilogy. Each includes films that can be seen as individual, self-contained stories or as part of a set, allowing filmgoers a chance to sample or revisit specific films or see the trajectory of characters, stories, and ideas across an entire trilogy.

Friday July 13, 2018

Three Colors: Blue

Krzysztof Kieslowski

France, 1993

After a tragic loss, a young woman (Juliette Binoche) seeks to liberate herself from all connections in the first installment (“Liberty”) of Kieślowski’s trilogy based on the symbolic colors of the French flag.

Saturday July 14, 2018

Three Colors: White

Krzysztof Kieslowski

France, Poland, 1993

Kieślowski returned to his native Poland for this earthy, very Eastern European comedy involving a beaten-down Pole who aims for “equality” and plots revenge against his beautiful French ex-wife (Julie Delpy).

Three Colors: Red

Krzysztof Kieslowski

Switzerland, France, Poland, 1994

A chance encounter brings together two solitary individuals—a model (Irène Jacob) and a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant)—in Kieślowski’s meditation on the need for “fraternity.”


New Beginnings


Happy Summer Readers!

It’s been a moment.   🙂

Some of you know, but I’ve been away on holiday.  Long overdue to work through some thoughts and get ready for a new year of change that’s happening  in September.  I have lots to share this summer – the big one is my holiday in Japan.

Anthony Bourdain amongst other chefs and travel writers inspired my time away and I’d be hard pressed not to mention Bourdain in the posts ahead.  His words pushed me to be a confident solo female traveller, eat with the locals, absorb art, live outside my head for 2 weeks, open up and meet people and just soak up culture at the ground level.  Amazing learning.  In the process, I learned so much about myself.

I wish the same for you in your travels this summer.  More to come!


Melanie @ thirtyfourflavours