The #95books reading challenge is simple: commit to reading 95 books over 12 months.
You can start anytime (although most people start January 1, as a New Year’s resolution) and you can post about your reading using the hashtag #95books.
How did it begin? On Dec. 26, 2008, Karl Rove published an article titled “Bush is a Book Lover” in The Wall Street Journal. Furious on a good day, I read this and became enraged — at myself. I was sure Bush was out-reading me. What was my excuse? I wasn’t as busy as the president. I was a writer completing a PhD in literature!
As 2009 began, I enlisted my friend Ryan Fitzpatrick in a resolve to read 95 books that year. Like Rove and Bush, we’d make it a competition (that’s where we ended the Rove and Bush emulation, I promise … ). The winner would buy the loser sushi. Shockingly, I read 119 books that year. Ryan read 110. We continued the competition every year. Here are my reading totals:
2009: 119 books
Even the one time I failed (family emergency, new baby, pregnant wife), I read far more than I might have otherwise read. In 2018, I will to read #95books again. So can you.
Below, you can find book reviews from some of my past #95books reading.
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You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Review copies may be sent to:
Dr. Jonathan Ball
PO Box 70043 Kenaston PO
Canada R3P 0X6
I cannot guarantee reviews, but I thank you for your interest.
Angeline Schellenberg's Tell Them It Was Mozart, her debut collection of poetry, concerns raising children on the autism spectrum. The Winnipeg author explores broad topics such as the conflicting and complex emotions of parenthood and how [...]
In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, from CanLit icon Margaret Atwood is a provocative but sometimes frustrating collection that gathers lectures, reviews, and other writings (including short stories and a novel excerpt, but [...]
2016 marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and to celebrate his legacy the Hogarth Press commissioned novelists to reinvent Shakespeare's plays for the modern reader. Jeanette Winterson tackles The Winter's Tale, one of Shakespeare's [...]
What if Jesus had a twin brother named Christ, and the Church was the idea of the latter, not the intention of the former? Pullman's short novel revels in this concept, mixing Christian mythology with [...]
Michael Helm's Cities of Refuge is a novel of precise characterization, muscled metaphors, and intelligent complexity. After 28-year-old Kim Lystrander suffers a brutal assault in downtown Toronto, she remains haunted by the apparent senselessness of the [...]
"What kind of story was this?" asks Lennart, one of Douglas Glover's many conflicted characters, concerning his overcomplicated life. Lennart has just learned from his frenemy Nedlinger, the celebrity forensic archaeologist, that the skeleton Nedlinger [...]
Many books of letters are scattershot, unfocused affairs, but the letters of Sinclair Ross (as selected, arranged, and annotated by Jordan and David Stouck) are compelling and laid out like a story. They build to [...]
Though Borges strikes a compelling and articulate figure in these interviews, I found it difficult to get much out of them due to the emphasis on Argentine political and literary culture, both of which I [...]
Whatever cash there might be to grab in the field of Bolano ephemera, this book attempts to grab that cash. After a strong introduction by Marcela Valdes, focused on Bolano's epic novel 2666, the disconnected [...]
[Previous publication: “The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar’s Eighteenth-Century Formosan Hoax by Michael Keevak.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature (Jan. 2007): 133-35. Print.] Michael Keevak. The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar’s Eighteenth-Century Formosan Hoax. Detroit: [...]
A coming of age story about youthful love and relationships wound around the tale of a possible Sasquatch sighting, starring poor "Disco Jimmy" (reluctant/unfortunate YouTube star). Extremely well-developed characters, especially Uncle Pierre, who's obsessed with [...]
Eichhorn's previous book, Fond, impressed me, but Fieldnotes moves far beyond it in both language and concept. Combining fragmentary, disjunctive phrases with a fractured narrative and parodies of television procedurals like Bones (that's right!), this [...]
This series really begins to pick up as Spider is directly threatened and actually has to engage in a continuing story, rather than sit on the sidelines and "report" on the world itself. Ellis gets [...]
It's strange to see a poet produce two very distinct, quite dissimilar books, especially in succession. And for them both to be quite strong and to stand out within their respective genres. Home of Sudden [...]
“Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun”: Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933 – 1986. (Eds. Jordan and David Stouck)
My review of this book is over at the Winnipeg Free Press site. One of the things I've forgotten about freelance writing is that editors alter your work. Normally it's not a big deal. But [...]
As this series progresses, it starts to come into its own and establish and develop the future world more intelligently and fully. I'm struck by how much television narrative seems to have borrowed from comics [...]
Joe Hill is producing a masterful comic series, one of the best I've seen, and it's just getting better and better as it goes. Hill's a master at pacing, something that I've been struggling with [...]
Although I was a bit disappointed by Joe Hill's first novel Heart-Shaped Box, after his excellent short story collection 20th Century Ghosts, this comic series Locke & Key seems like a perfect medium for Hill [...]
When this book came across my desk, I looked at it skeptically, and then thought "Why not? It's short, and I've certainly been stumbling over blocks lately, trying to work on this novel." The book [...]
This is an excellent book on the topic, and possible textbook material. Epstein gives a broad overview of television writing as a business, along with a narrower focus on the actual craft of writing for [...]
In Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis plops Spider Jerusalem, something of a Hunter S. Thompson with amped-up misanthropy, into the hyper-capitalist, corrupt future we all know from countless SF comics/novels/movies/etc. The premise and the world aren't that [...]
There is always some complaint one could make against an anthology, due to the nature of the beast. Poets included that shouldn't be, poets excluded that shouldn't be, a lack of quality in patches, and [...]
I will be teaching a course on television narrative and series design in the fall so I read this book as a possible future textbook. It provides a strong overview of the basics of the [...]
A Ragged Pen collects work by Robert Finley, Patrick Friesen, Aislinn Hunter, Anne Simpson, and Jan Zwicky. The bulk of the book is taken up with essays on the lyrical poem and its relation to [...]
Aside from the title, which I loathe, this is exactly what I have been looking for: a practical how-to book on the craft of writing fiction that I can adopt as a required text in [...]
I'm counting these two chapbooks as a single book (Names of the Lion is 46 pages and Game Show Reversed is about 20, so they're equivalent to a short book of poetry). Names of the [...]
I get a lot of books for free, because (1) I'm a writer with writer-friends, (2) I review books, and (3) I teach books and thus build course booklists. I got this book for free [...]
I read this book seeking exercises I could use in the Creative Writing course I teach. If you want exercises, it's an okay book. A few of them seem compelling enough to try. I'm not [...]
In academia, you get used to reading certain kinds of essays and forget that enjoyable, articulate, and often more intelligent essays are produced by literary authors. (Hey, I’m a literary author! I should write more, [...]
Michael Chabon, in the other book I'm reading now, notes that in the Sherlock Holmes stories, "the quality of the writing itself [is] so much higher than it ever needed to be." The Hound of [...]
Sinclair Ross may be Canada's greatest realist writer. Although best known for As For Me and My House, a brilliant book, his short stories are also stunning. In addition to well-known stories like "The Lamp [...]
This book contains a lengthy essay on O'Donnell's vision of a politically and socially engaged theatrical experience, which for O'Donnell is best achieved through an audience-involved, non-narrative theatre. He makes an impassioned call for artists [...]
I'm going to count these five chapbooks as a single title although together they are probably equivalent to two books (of poetry). The Sands of Dream (Therese Renaud) This is a BookThug reissue of the [...]
Wistful for the days when musicians had stage names like Rat Scabies? Then take a trip down memory lane, even if (like myself) you're not old enough to remember, with Stephanie Chernikowski, who bills this [...]
I reviewed Philip Pullman's new novel, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, for the Winnipeg Free Press: you can read the review here.
(Great minds think alike, Ryan, even outside of classes...)Degentesh has taken select questions from the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), “a psychological test consisting of 566 true/false questions that has been the benchmark for determining [...]
A murder occurs for which everybody in the town is culpable, if only through inaction. An excellent book, compelling and dark, although not as rich and engrossing as I expected it would be.
My Night Table Recommendations are the first in a planned series at the McNally Robinson website. Thanks again to McNally Robinson and all the staff at the Grant Park location for hosting my Ex Machina [...]