I'm really going to make a better effort to read more this year. I've already read Nick Cave's The Death of Bunny Munro (Sadly, I didn't really like this, sorry Nick!), Atwood's Hag-Seed (I enjoyed this, but I've never read The Tempest so I think I "missed" a lot of what it was talking about), and Nabokov's Pnin (The first Nabokov novel I've ever read, and I really fell in love with how he's able to describe mannerisms. I often found myself saying aloud, "That's such an interesting way to describe that!" to myself. Because I'm a weirdo.)
I'm currently halfway through Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (a throwback recommendation from my pal, Ben Gordon) and REALLY enjoying it so far. It's set in Toronto, and is about a bunch of dogs that acquire "human intelligence" from a couple of gods that place a bet on whether any of them will die happy. It's wild and insanely original and I can't wait to finish it. (Edit: A couple hours and a bag of chips later, I finished it and I cried at the end. What a brilliant little novel.)
On another note, I've also joined a Mixtape Club. I got an invite from a friend's husband to be a part of a secret group with an aim to share playlists and essentially become friends with strangers over music you all like. It's been a great way to meet people and find new music.
On the topic of new music, I'm sticking to my New Year's resolution of seeing more local shows this year. Previous to January, my knowledge of Toronto's local music scene was practically nil. Like, I probably could not have named a single local band if you asked me to. I didn't like that feeling, and I love music, so this just didn't make sense to me. I didn't even know what half the venues of Toronto looked like on the inside.
I started off the year by attending a "Toronto Women in Music" show at The Baby G, with acts Nyssa, Peeling, Vallens, and Beliefs on the lineup. Jesse Crowe of Beliefs is actually my hairdresser, a wonderful person and (I can now confirm), excellent musician. I think she's got a billion projects on the go at once and totally does it while somehow also being the coolest person I know.
I also stepped into The Silver Dollar Room for the first time. I know. I KNOW. An institution. Which is now closing down. I'm sorry! The good news is, now due to my new-fangled obsession with local shows, I'll be supporting venues across the city much more over the next couple of months.
I saw The Highest Order play there on February 25, and it was SO GOOD. I became sort of enamoured with the music of The Highest Order over the holiday break (Thanks to a blog post from June Records, only the best record store in the city...) and jumped on the opportunity to see them live in a venue with such historical impact. Lesley and Cameron came along even though they'd never heard them before and I think they had a good time. The band played a double set, the sound was amazing, the room was packed. It was perfect.