You Can Read #95BOOKS This Year

Take the #95BOOKS Challenge in 2018

The following is an excerpt from my free eBook YOU CAN READ #95BOOKS THIS YEAR — sign up for the full eBook and consider joining the #95books challenge in 2018!!! I’ve also created a new website,, filled with book reviews/recommendations.

Sign up for a FREE ebook of reading tips — “YOU CAN READ #95BOOKS THIS YEAR” — plus news & reviews in your email!

What Is #95books?

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. Out-reading a writer working on a PhD in literature!

What was my excuse? No matter what you think about Bush, one thing cannot be disputed: he was America’s president, and more busy than me.

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 … ) and 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
2010: 128
2011: 140
2012: 112
2013: 95
2014: 109
2015: 95
2016: 78
2017: 95

(I failed in 2016 because I was struggling with a family emergency, had a new baby in the house, and a pregnant wife/second baby on top of it all. My free time suddenly disintegrated. Even so, I read 78 books that year.)

In 2018, I will plan to read #95books again. So can you. This #95books handbook will give you 7 tips to help you meet your goal. But first, let’s talk about why you should read #95books this year.

Why Read #95books?

The best reason to read more is for the sheer joy of reading itself. That said, there are a host of practical advantages to reading more.

If you are a writer, like me, or aspire to become a writer, then you need to read. You need to read a lot. Reading isn’t a distraction: it’s fundamental to your creativity and productivity. Even though reading takes time, I accomplish more when I read more.

If you’re not a writer, reading remains fundamental to your success. Put aside the value of the information you can gain through reading, which is not unimportant, but still put it aside for the moment. What you read matters somewhat, but even more important than what you read is the act of reading. Reading calms the body and trains the mind to focus, process, and analyze. No matter what you read, reading more will improve every area of your life.

But why 95? Seems excessive, doesn’t it?

Basically, it is excessive. It’s an excessive, lofty, but achievable goal. I’m a busy husband and father with two jobs, and I read 95 books every year (except that one year my two babies basically tore them out of my hands).

Do I sacrifice other things to accomplish this? Sure. I barely watch any television — I don’t have any channels and I don’t have Netflix. You can still watch television if you want, although maybe not as much. You’re going to have to prioritize reading over other things. That’s the point of this, right? You are deciding to set a reading goal in order to prioritize reading more highly in your life. Be honest with yourself. Wouldn’t you be better off reading more and doing less of other things?

The point is, if you want to read more, why not start with a lofty, seemingly ridiculous goal? It won’t seem so ridiculous when you hit it, and if you fail then you will still achieve your root goal of reading much, much more than you have in the past.

Just last week, somebody reached out to me on social media to say that she “only” read 70 books this year. 70 books is more than most people read in their whole lives! She had the right attitude, though — she wasn’t bummed about it, she was excited, because it was more than she ever imagined she could read in a single year.

95 is a number, so the goal is quantifiable. You read all the books in a year-long period, so there is a definite start/end and you know clearly whether you succeed or fail. It’s attainable, but ambitious, so motivating. Other people are doing it, so you can feel bolstered by that, and accountable to your social circle. Just pop onto Twitter or Facebook and search for the #95books hashtag and you’ve found some like minds.

Think of reading #95books like an intellectual marathon: pretty much everyone could do it, but it is hard, and so almost nobody does. You can read #95books this year, and you should.

Join us!!! Sign up for the rest of my free eBook YOU CAN READ #95BOOKS THIS YEAR and start reading!!!

Don’t forget to visit my new website,, for books reviews/recommendations.

Sign up for a FREE ebook of reading tips — “YOU CAN READ #95BOOKS THIS YEAR” — plus news & reviews in your email!

New Short Fiction in JOYLAND!

Joyland Magazine
5 May 2016

I have a new short story in Joyland! It contains the best sentence I ever wrote:

“Dudes are always fucking with other dudes in Shakespeare.”

Read it!

The Nightmare Ballad of the Drunken Brand Identity with a Cameo by Shakespeare and a Title that Cannot Get Worse

(Thanks to Kathryn Mockler, William Neil Scott, and Natalee Caple for their feedback on its drafts. And thanks to Jessie Taylor for her poem about King Lear, which inspired me to write this story in the first place.)

Here’s an excerpt for you:

“Gimme a gun, I need to kill myself quick.”

The clerk blinks and squints. “You can’t just walk into a gun store and say something like that and expect to get a gun quick.”

“Why the hell not?”

The man spits. “Permits.”


“You don’t need to tell me, buddy.”

“Look, I gotta end this thing. Drinking yourself to death is too slow and requires too much storytelling. A gun would be nice and quick, you just need a motivation, and I’m the kind of character that pops his own head off with a gun so I don’t even really need much in the way of that.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, which is another reason I can’t sell you a gun today.”

“Shit. Well, I gotta go then.”

The fun continues in December with a second Toronto reading, at the Rowers Pub!

Date: December 7, 2015
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Event: Rowers Pub Reading Series
Sponsor: Rowers Pub Reading Series
Venue: The Central
Location: 603 Markham St.
Toronto, ON

Excited for Lit Live, where I’m reading alongside Donna Langevin, Pearl Pirie, Ron Schafrick, Maureen Hynes, and Ruth Roach Pierson!

Date: December 6, 2015
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Event: Lit Live Reading Series
Sponsor: Lit Live
Venue: Homegrown Hamilton
Location: 27 King William St.
Hamilton, ON

Excited to be reading at the PIVOT reading series alongside Laura Clarke and Amina Farah! See you in Toronto!

Date: December 2, 2015
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Event: Pivot Reading Series
Sponsor: Pivot Readings at The Steady
Venue: The Steady Café
Location: 1051 Bloor St West
Toronto, ON

These are 11 of My Favourite Things

While the site is on hiatus, check out some of my greatest hits

I am in the midst of a combination of vacation and work, and need to put this site on hiatus for a few weeks. When I return, things will have changed — I am working on some cool secret projects, two of which mean BIG changes here at Writing the Wrong Way.

While you wait, I’ve selected 11 of my favourite posts for you to enjoy. You can also browse my archives and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get a free ebook and notification when the site returns to regular updates (at that time I’ll send you a second cool free ebook, which is one of my secret projects).

My Top 11

1 My Interview with Frank Black from The Pixies

I’ve strayed away from interviews here, with one exception, because otherwise this would just be a list of interviews. (My favourite thing about the site is other people!) But hey, I don’t mean to brag, but like in 2002 for about five minutes Frank Black thought I was cool and thanked me for saying something. Frank Black!

2 My Visit to the set of Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World

Oh wait, you know what was cooler than talking to Frank Black? That time I met Isabella Rossellini and then got scared and ran away. Man, I kind of suck and am cool at the same time.

3 The Haunted House

Ever want to read the first poem I ever wrote? No? Well, never mind then.

4 Write a Lot by Writing on Schedule

The most popular post ever on this site. Elisabeth de Mariaffi liked it, so you should like it! Peer pressure!!!

5 4 Simple Editing Tricks That Are All The Same Trick

I wrote this for my daughter, Jessie Taylor, because she asked me for some editing tips that would help her on her high school exams. And she got, like, an A+ and is the coolest and you should be more like her! She helped me make the cool green mug in the photo up top (it says “VENOM” on the side and has a snake on it).

6 Advice to Graduate Students

Another reader favourite: survival tips for graduate students. I did my PhD in 4 years, and also wrote 5 books in that time, which is maybe your goal?

7 Read 95 Books This Year

Ryan Fitzpatrick and I created the #95books hashtag, which you may have seen, and anyway here are my tips on how writers (and less deviant dudes and dudettes) can read more.

8 Don’t Attribute Dialogue

A reader non-favourite. Lots of people think I am the devil for writing this. I’m not the devil though! I just wish I was.

9 How I Wrote Clockfire

My favourite post about the idea development part of the creative process, using my favourite of my own books, Clockfire as an example.

10 Introduction to Why Poetry Sucks

Ryan Fitzpatrick and I co-wrote this lengthy and hopefully not too dry introduction to our anthology Why Poetry Sucks: An Anthology of Humorous Experimental Poetry.

11 Introduction to Tony Burgess’s The Bewdley Mayhem

I say it all the time: Tony Burgess is the best writer in Canada, and you probably never heard of him. One day, I will write a book about this dude. In the meantime, here’s an introduction to his three-book omnibus edition.

By the time you read all that, I’ll be back in the saddle of evil! Later, gators.

I will be a panelist at a CV2 symposium concerning the importance of Canadian literary magazines. I am on the second panel at 4:00, but come early (at 2:30) for the first panel (I’ll be in the audience for that one).

Jonathan Ball
Clarise Foster
Ray Hsu Maurice Mierau
Ken Norris
Jennifer Still
& More


1st Panel (2:30 – 3:45 p.m.)

40 years and still counting: the importance of CV2 and Canadian literary magazines.

In 1975, when CV2 was established in Winnipeg, Canadian literary magazines had a very important role in promoting new creative writing and new creative writing, but in the past 40 years the literary landscape has changed. This panel will discuss the traditional role of literary magazines in the Canadian literary landscape and how the rise of independent literary presses has changed that role over the past forty years and what this has meant for writers. This development has not only changed what literary magazines do but also how they do it. Issues of cultural exclusivity, literary innovation and other concerns will be discussed. A key focus of this panel will be why literary magazines are still important to the promotion and support of new writing and new writers.


Break (3:45 – 4:00 p.m.)


2nd Panel (4:00 – 5:15 p.m.)

Moving forward-the next 40 years

The expectations of literary publishing have change tremendously over the past few years—new technologies—new ways of looking at poetry and over genres—what does this mean for the future of writing—for literary publishers and magazines like CV2 and where might we all be going. Panel will discuss digital publishing, self-publishing, on-line publishing, collaboration as well as new and divergent styles and forms of writing and genre, what they mean for writers and publishing. Discussion will also discuss concerns over diversity, social media and other challenges that writers and literary publishing face in the future.

Date: November 13, 2015
Time: 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.
Event: CV2: A Putting Down of Roots Symposium
Sponsor: CV2
Venue: Room 2M70, The University of Winnipeg
Location: 515 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB

Excited to read as part of CV2‘s 40th anniversary celebrations! My first professionally published poems appeared in CV2 so it means a lot to me. Come out and support this wonderful literary journal!

Date: November 12, 2015
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Event: CV2 40th Anniversary Launch
Sponsor: CV2
Venue: McNally Robinson -- Atrium
Location: 1120 Grant Avenue
Winnipeg, MB