Tag Archives: read reading

Hot Summer Reads: How Can I Help? A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist By: David Goldbloom and Pier Bryden

A humane behind-the-scenes account of a week in the life of a psychiatrist at one of Canada’s leading mental health hospitals. How Can I Help? takes us to the frontlines of modern psychiatric care. How Can I Help? portrays a week in the life of Dr. David Goldbloom as he treats patients, communicates with families, and trains staff at CAMH, the largest psychiatric facility in Canada. This highly readable and touching behind-the-scenes account of his daily encounters with a wide range of psychiatric concerns—from his own patients and their families to Emergency Department arrivals—puts a human face on an often misunderstood area of medical expertise. From schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder to post-traumatic stress syndrome and autism, How Can I Help? investigates a range of mental issues. What is it like to work as a psychiatrist now? What are the rewards and challenges? What is the impact of the suffering—and the recovery—of people with mental illness on families and the clinicians who treat them? What does the future hold for psychiatric care? How Can I Help? demystifies a profession that has undergone profound change over the past twenty-five years, a profession that is often misunderstood by the public and the media, and even by doctors themselves. It offers a compassionate, realistic picture of a branch of medicine that is entering a new phase, as increasingly we are able to decode the mysteries of the brain and offer new hope for sufferers of mental illness.


Book Report: ‘Love Style Life’ By Garance Dore

“The guardian of all style” (The New York Times Magazine) shares stories on life, love, style, and career, from Paris to New York, and inspires readers to cultivate an effortless chic that is all their own.

Garance Doré, the voice and vision behind her eponymous blog, has captivated millions of readers worldwide with her fresh and appealing approach to style through storytelling. This gorgeously illustrated book takes readers on a unique narrative journey that blends Garance’s inimitable photography and illustrations with the candid, hard-won wisdom drawn from her life and her travels. Infused with her Left Bank sensibility, the eclecticism of her adopted city of New York, and the wild, passionate spirit of her native Corsica, Love Style Life is a backstage pass behind fashion’s frontlines, peppered with French-girl-next-door wit and advice on everything from mixing J.Crew with Chanel, to falling in love, to pursuing a life and career that is the perfect reflection of you.


My little blog is a little blog that could in comparison to Garance Dore’s (http://www.garancedore.fr/en/).  I’ve always been fascinated with Dore’s view on fashion, travel and beauty.  In her book ‘Love Style Life’ she takes us deeper into her web of ‘beautiful things’.

I had my doubts about ‘Love Style Life’. I really didn’t need another coffee table on how I should be living my life.  I’m doing just fine on my own.  I like how I dress, I always need to improve my make-up game and there are always life goals that are in different stages of development.

Let’s just say ‘Love Style Life’ is not a dust collector. It is cheeky, robust in knowledge and will whisper you secrets of what you should have figured out by now.  But sometimes if you are not a well-travelled North American – well, yeah.  It’s hard.

I used to live in England and my ex-boyfriend taught me one thing. Well one that stands out that is worth relishing.  He taught me that it’s okay to wear and have nice things – the ‘Elegance’ chapter in ‘Love Style Life’ is all about this.  Before I was just a sales rack girl who didn’t care.  In my late 20’s to now in my 40’s I have learned to yes still buy on sale but to buy really nice, quality, road worthy and time less pieces.  It’s taking me time – but I have no problems taking back returns that were just delivered to my house the night before.

I loved Dore’s nod to Zara in ‘Love Style Life’. “Avoid getting overly excited about the piece that looks a little too “inspired by.”  I know, it’s tempting, but if it looks too much like Marant, Celine, or Valentino, step away.  If nothing more, out of respect for the designers.  But also because wearing a copy doesn’t send the best message.  Not to ourselves or to others.  As with everything – staying chic is knowing when to resist temptation.’

The Real Love Chapter of this book is the best words of love encouragement I have read in ages. Simple, to the point and easy to digest.   Sometimes we don’t need all fluff and clouds but the cold hard facts, which we already knew didn’t we?  “In seduction, sometimes absence is better.  Give space, give distance, don’t call.  Trust the process:  if it’s meant to be, it’ll come to you.”

Chapters on healthy family and personal relationships were also very informative and gave me some awesome food for thought. Be it love, ending a relationship that isn’t working, carefully confronting toxic situations and the like.

Lastly, I also giggled when I thumbed through the ‘The Thank You Note’ chapter. I’ve always been a fan of the thank you note.  I have a huge Rubbermaid box at home full of thank you notes, cards and stationery that I enjoy writing friends and family as necessary.  It’s nice to know after reading ‘Love Style Life’ By Garance Dore, being classy is not a dying art.


Stocking Stuffer:  ‘Mãn’ by Kim Thuy  

Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband–a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears. Mãn is a mystery–her name means “perfect fulfillment,” yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair. Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.


“Before her mother died, though she’d had time to learn how to extract the milk from a coconut by squeezing chunks of crumbled flesh saturated with hot water.  When mothers taught their daughters how to cook, they spoke in hushed tones, whispering so that their neighbours couldn’t steal recipes and possibly seduce their husbands with the same dishes.  Culinary traditions are passed on secretly, like magic tricks between master and apprentice, one movement at a time, following the rhythms of each day.  In the natural order, then, girls learned to measure the amount of water for cooking rice with the first joint of the index finger, to cut “vicious peppers” with the point of the knife to transform them into harmless flowers, to peel mangoes from base to stem so they won’t go against the direction of the fibres…”

It is very rare that you can find a book that reads like poetry.  ‘Mãn’ by Kim Thuy is silky smooth and still fraught with a cultural thread that will leave you feeling enriched and wondering what you have been wasting your time reading all this time.

‘Mãn’ by Kim Thuy  is translated from Vietnamese into English.  To keep you on your toes, Thuy inscribes Vietnamese words in the corners of each page along with its English definition.  She ensures the reader is immersed into Vietnamese culture while also providing a gentle framework to do your own work once her book has been read.

‘Mãn’ is a slow reveal and is keen to take you the long way around.  Like small appetizers served on palate cleansing spoons, Thuy gives us snapshots into Mãn’s lifetime and leaves it to the reader to string together her fragile as rice paper motifs.  Mãn is hardly a perfect heroine but rather a woman with insecurities, sadness and a need to keep her cultural roots well manicured.

“During the three days of my husband’s fever, I fed him, a mouthful at a time.  In Vietnam, when we don’t know what has caused a death, we blame the wind, as if catching an impure wind could kill us.  That’s why I asked him to take off his shirt so I could chase away the bad wind by scratching his back with a porcelain spoon moistened with a few drops of tiger balm.  I had never looked at a man’s skin so close up.  I drew his skeleton on it by rubbing between the bones and the length of his spine.  Dark red blotches emerged on the surface, eliminating the heat and perhaps all the pains that had never been felt.  I repeated those ancient movements to care for a stranger who had become my only anchoring point.  I would have liked to know how to comfort him, run my hand over his skin.  All I could do was warm him with the blanket that still smelled of the long journey from the Chinese factory to our apartment.”

‘Mãn’ is a perfect read for that hard to gift friend or family member.  If they are a creative soul who likes to savour their reads and have debriefs on the writer’s process and deep characterization – ‘Mãn’ by Kim Thuy  is for them.

If you need a challenge and want to start the New Year with a book that will inspire you, shake you at your knees and leave you in a state of wonderment, pick up ‘Mãn’ by Kim Thuy.  It’s a must read.


Stocking Stuffer: Carrie Brownstein ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’

From the guitarist of the pioneering band Sleater-Kinney, the book Kim Gordon says “everyone has been waiting for” and a New York Times Notable Book of 2015– a candid, funny, and deeply personal look at making a life–and finding yourself–in music.

Before Carrie Brownstein became a music icon, she was a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest just as it was becoming the setting for one the most important movements in rock history. Seeking a sense of home and identity, she would discover both while moving from spectator to creator in experiencing the power and mystery of a live performance. With Sleater-Kinney, Brownstein and her bandmates rose to prominence in the burgeoning underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s. They would be cited as “America’s best rock band” by legendary music critic Greil Marcus for their defiant, exuberant brand of punk that resisted labels and limitations, and redefined notions of gender in rock.

HUNGER MAKES ME A MODERN GIRL is an intimate and revealing narrative of her escape from a turbulent family life into a world where music was the means toward self-invention, community, and rescue. Along the way, Brownstein chronicles the excitement and contradictions within the era’s flourishing and fiercely independent music subculture, including experiences that sowed the seeds for the observational satire of the popular television series Portlandia years later.

With deft, lucid prose Brownstein proves herself as formidable on the page as on the stage. Accessibly raw, honest and heartfelt, this book captures the experience of being a young woman, a born performer and an outsider, and ultimately finding one’s true calling through hard work, courage and the intoxicating power of rock and roll.


‘If nothing else, I was living in a town that had once been home to Kurt Cobain. The simplify version of his story could be reduced to a guy who signed to a major label, got so famous that he felt alienated from his audience, and then killed himself.  And Nirvana had done it right – they had changed the weather, they had rewritten the rules, their music had mattered.  And then:  death.  This tragedy was now in the figurative guidebook – it functioned as a cautionary tale.  To wish for more was to wish for something potentially, crushingly horrible.  So if you did wish for more, you had to keep it a secret.

We chose Kill Rock Stars. We stayed close to home.

The thing is, Sleater-Kinney was ambitious. We didn’t only want to preach to the choir, to the already-converted.  We knew there was a potential audience in parts of the country that didn’t have a ‘scene’, an infrastructure.  That there were people who wouldn’t hear about us via word of mouth or fanzines or independent records stores.  Some people might only be exposed to our band if we were featured in larger magazines or sold our albums in big-boxes stores.  Eventually, I started to cringe at the elitism that was often paired with punk and the like.  A movement that professed inclusiveness seemed to actually be highly exclusive, as alienating and ungraspable as many of the clubs and institutions that drove us to the fringes in the first place.  One set of rules had simply been replaced by new ones, and they were just as difficult to follow.’

I was never a huge fan of Sleater-Kinney in my grunge years. Only recently did I fully acquaint myself with SK after getting overly giddy with Carrie Brownstein in her co-written series (with Fred Armisen) Portlandia.   If a band at 42 can still make me bust it in my kitchen on a Sunday a.m., it’s SK. Better late than never.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a fanatic ode to a time where Brownstein and her and mates were trail blazing punk rock with a west coast tinge. In SK’s case their music is and was politically charged, filled with lyrics of verbose intent and knocking on doors with their knuckles that were refusing to budge.  ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ speaks of turbulent on the road journeys, romantic explosions, conundrums with their record company and how Sleater-Kinney, Washington made them and broke them.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ gives the reader an excellent snapshot into Brownstein’s childhood in Washington and how it shaped her into a rocker with a sensitive side and a comedy writer with a field of depth we would have never have guessed was a part of her deep personal fabric.

‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a perfect stocking stuffer book for the music geek in your family. It is also a neat book to pick up for that loved one who is avid punk rock fan.  ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is a wonderful encyclopedia on the behind the scenes of the riot girl movement, the historical fine details of the Seattle scene and highlighting those players who carved out a time that brought us more than plaid and Doc Marten’s.

Brownstein’s written voice is profound, well read and introspective. ‘Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl’ is brimming with sage reflection and moments that are still raw to the touch.

Catch Carrie Brownstein at Toronto Reference Library Bram & Bluma Appel Salon on Thursday Dec 17, 2015 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.. This event has been rescheduled for December 17. All customers with November 17 tickets have been given priority and offered tickets for this new date. If you are interested in attending please add your name to the waitlist HERE http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=EVT206528.