2020 Reading List

From a reading perspective, I spent a lot of my time in 2020 revisiting already familiar stories. I’ve italicized books that were re-reads and have bolded the books I thought were the most interesting to me this year.

  1. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey : January 9, 2020
  2. How to be an Imperfectionist by Stephen Guise : January 14, 2020
  3. Pray Lied Eve 2 by Lydia Peever : January 19, 2020
  4. Sandworm by Andy Greenberg : January 20, 2020
  5. Do You Talk Funny? By David Nihill : January 23, 2020
  6. In The First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn : January 26, 2020
  7. Witch: A tale of terror by Charles Mackay : February 6, 2020
  8. Ice Ghosts – The Epic Hunt of the Lost Franklin Expedition by Paul Watson : February 7, 2020
  9. World War 1: The “Great War” by Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius : February 10, 2020
  10. Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin : February 15, 2020
  11. At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft : February 17, 2020
  12. Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov : February 18, 2020
  13. Why I’m not longer talk to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge : February 19, 2020
  14. The Martian by Andy Weir : February 20, 2020
  15. Invisible Man by H.G. Wells : March 1, 2020
  16. The Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels : March 3, 2020
  17. Chemistry and Our Universe by Professor Ron B. Davis Jr. : March 4, 2020
  18. Neuromancer by William Gibson : March 10, 2020
  19. Count Zero by William Gibson : March 12, 2020
  20. Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson : March 14, 2020
  21. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson : March 16, 2020
  22. The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter : March 22, 2020
  23. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells : March 26, 2020
  24. Tell me a story – Science Fiction One by Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, William Gibson, Robert Sheckley, Terry Bisson, Avram Davidson, and Philip K. Dick : March 27, 2020
  25. For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor : March 30, 2020
  26. Influence: Mastering Life’s Most Powerful Skill by Professor Kenneth G. Brown
  27. The Wrong Kind of Women – Inside our Revolution to Dismantle the Gods of Hollywood by Naomi McDougall Jones : April 3, 2020
  28. Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal : April 6, 2020
  29. Foundation by Isaac Asimov : April 10, 2020
  30. Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon : April 14, 2020
  31. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy : April 15, 2020
  32. Alien 3 Original Screenplay by William Gibson : April 19, 2020
  33. Light Falls – Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein by Brian Greene
  34. Part Time Gods by Rachel Aaron : April 20, 2020
  35. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson : April 22, 2020
  36. Magic Kingdom for Sale SOLD! By Terry Brooks : April 24, 2020
  37. The life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo : April 27, 2020
  38. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson : April 29, 2020
  39. Outland by Dennis E. Taylor : May 4, 2020
  40. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams : May 7, 2020
  41. Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer : May 8, 2020
  42. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving : May 10, 2020
  43. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty : May 11, 2020
  44. Hellgoing: Stories by Lynn Coady : May 12, 2020
  45. Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis : May 14, 2020
  46. Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps-Roper : May 14, 2020
  47. Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler : May 16, 2020
  48. Alexander the Great by Philip Freeman : May 19, 2020
  49. Alias Grace by Margret Atwood : May 23, 2020
  50. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy : May 28, 2020
  51. 419 – How Far Would You Go For Revenge? By Will Ferguson : May 31, 2020
  52. How the Earth Works by Professor Michael E Wysession : June 2, 2020
  53. Think Do Say – How to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world by Ron Tite : June 8, 2020
  54. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy : June 10, 2020
  55. Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer : June 14, 2020
  56. Becoming Superman – My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski : June 15, 2020
  57. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice : June 18, 2020
  58. Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham : June 22, 2020
  59. The Stand by Stephen King : June 28: 2020
  60. The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer : July 5, 2020
  61. Necronomicon by H. P. Lovecraft : July 8, 2020
  62. How We Learn by Professor Monisha Paspathi : July 21, 2020
  63. FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer : July 27, 2020
  64. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon : August 2, 2020
  65. The High Middle Ages by Philip Daileader : August 15, 2020
  66. The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy : August 17, 2020
  67. The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack : Aug 19, 2020
  68. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman , Dirk Maggs : August 22, 2020
  69. The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer : August 23, 2020
  70. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan : August 26, 2020
  71. A Quiet Life in the Country: A Lady Hardcastle Mystery, Book 1 by T E Kinsey : September 7, 2020
  72. Espionage and Covert Operations: A Global History by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius : September 9, 2020
  73. Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy : September 14, 2020
  74. Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson PhD , Jerry B. Jenkins : September 21, 2020
  75. The Persian Empire by John W. Lee : September 23, 2020
  76. Red Rising by Pierce Brown : September 24, 2020
  77. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman : September 30, 2020
  78. Executive Orders by Tom Clancy : October 3, 2020
  79. The Art of Closing the Sale by Brian Tracy : October 11, 2020
  80. The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster by Winston Churchill : October 16, 2020
  81. Ancient Civilizations of North America by Edwin Barnhart : October 22, 2020
  82. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne : October 27, 2020
  83. Build to Last by Keith Callahan : October 30, 2020
  84. Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant , Doug Naylor : November 2020
  85. A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1 by Ursula K. Le Guin : November 6, 2020
  86. The Dip by Seth Godin November 10, 2020
  87. Lovecraft’s Monsters by Neil Gaiman, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Karl Edward Wagner, Elizabeth Bear, and Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow (Editor)
  88. Breaking the Chains of Gravity: The Story of Spaceflight Before NASA by Amy Shira Teitel : November 20, 2020
  89. The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey : November 24
  90. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher : November 30, 2020
  91. 1066: The Year That Changed Everything by Jennifer Paxton : November 30, 2020
  92. A Promised Land by Barack Obama : December 4, 2020
  93. The Shadow over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft : December 12, 2020
  94. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn : December 14, 2020
  95. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan : December 19, 2020
  96. One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith , Richard Proenneke : December 27, 2020
  97. Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell and Craig Sanborn : December 29, 2020

Walking the distance

(or How to walk 8,207 kilometres in a year)

I think the realization that I was no longer a seemingly indestructible youth was when a close friend had a heart attack – thankfully, they recovered – but it did trigger something in my head.

It was obvious to me that I seriously needed to do something about my weight which had slowly crept up entirely too close to my previous peak of 127kg (280 lbs). I was worried that I’d possibly surpass that peak as many other crash-dieters had – back in 2005, I lost over 50kg (110lbs) in approximately a year.

Another indicator that I needed to do something was one day in early December 2017, my Apple Watch’s High Heart Rate notification warned me that I was experiencing a high heart rate while technically at rest – that freaked me out a bit, especially after reading up on the effects of tachycardia.

These led me to begin what my brother-in-law amusingly called my “mass reduction project” at the beginning of 2018 by doing all the things you’d expect; eating healthier and increasing exercise – which for me which meant more walking as it was easiest for me to incorporate into each day.

By the end of 2018, I had averaged 14.3 km per day, for a total 5,220 km.

Enter 2019 (I know, it feels it was forever ago), but I’m feeling retrospective.

Anyone that knows me or read this infrequently updated blog knows I love to walk. I’ve regularly been walking what most people would consider long distances for nearly a decade, and I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I can make the time to invest in my health like I have been.

I started 2019 off with an average of 17km in January, nearly 18km in February – typically my months with the lowest distance covered. March and April were around 21km (you may see where this is going). May and June were roughly 23 km.

Around the middle of July (of 2019), I realized that it would be possible – with some additional effort – bring my average daily distance for the year to over a half-marathon (21.1 km) if was willing to push myself harder and faster – to an average of 25km every day for the rest of the year.

So, I did.

It wasn’t easy. There were blisters, lost toe nails, powerful leg cramps, at least two pairs of destroyed shoes, all sorts of weather, and more.

August and September averaged 24km, October 25km, November – I really did great that month – averaged 28km(!), and December I squeaked by with 22km.

By the end of 2019, I’d walked over 8,207 kilometres (nearly 3,000km further than in 2018), an average of 22.49 km/day in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +47°C (including windchill and humidex, both of which factor heavily when walking outdoors for hours). I averaged about three hours and twenty minutes per day of walking.

For a sense of scale, the Trans-Canada Highway (the transcontinental federal-provincial highway system that travels through all ten provinces of Canada) is 7,821 km long.

The question I got the most often (after the initial “You’re bleeping crazy” comments) is what was the hardest walk?

By far the worst day was that 47°C day – I ended up with heat exhaustion after a 24 km walk. I knew I was in trouble when my heart rate reached 168 BPM while *walking* (admittedly, I do walk fairly quickly, but not that quickly). I stopped in some deep shade, used the Breathe app on my Apple Watch to get my rate down to something more reasonable and changed my route so I could stop in an air conditioned mall to cool off before heading home, showering, and napping curled up beside the air conditioner.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I don’t think I can pin down any one specific best walk – one really fascinating things I got to see walking these distances was how beautiful Ottawa is, how fortunate we are to have so many recreational paths, and how much the city changes over the course of a year, if only we make the time to look and see.

The second most asked question is what did I do during the walks. Listened to over one hundred audiobooks, tonnes of podcasts, listened to music, and, most importantly, let my mind wander while I walked, watching the world around me.

Everyone’s experience with walking is different, but for me, 2019’s walks were life-changing.  As I write this, it’s the fall of 2020, which has been a very different journey for me.

2019 Reading List

I really enjoyed nearly all the books I read this past year. There are a fair number of re-reads (if I have missed any,it’s because I’ve forgotten that I read them) which I’ve italicized and bolded the books I thought were the most interesting to me. Nearly all the books I read were audiobooks, with the rest being proper dead-tree books, rather than ebooks, which despite a few attempts, haven’t really engaged me the same.

  1. Getting to Yes, Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury : January 1
  2. Gilgamesh translated by Stephen Mitchell : January 3
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell : January 4
  4. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen : January 16
  5. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson : January 16
  6. 2001 by Arthur C. Clarke : January 23
  7. WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer : January 26
  8. WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer : January 28
  9. WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer : January 30
  10. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson : February 4
  11. SevenEves by Neal Stephenson : February 13
  12. Cujo by Stephen King : March 2
  13. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy : March 6
  14. Hominids (Book 1 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 13
  15. Humans (Book 2 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 15
  16. Hybrids (Book 3 of Neanderthal Parallax) by Robert J. Sawyer : March 16
  17. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving in by Roger Fisher and William Ury : March 19
  18. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer : March 23
  19. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy : March 25
  20. Becoming by Michelle Obama : April 2
  21. Verbal Judo, The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J Thompson and Jerry B Jenkins : April 9
  22. The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi : April 16
  23. The Indignities of Being a Woman by Merrill Markoe and Megan Koester : April 18
  24. Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga : April 23
  25. The Odyssey by Homer, translated by W. H. D. Rouse : April 28
  26. The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck : April 30
  27. Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick and William L Simon : May 03
  28. Escaping the Rabbit Hole, How to Debunk Conspiracy Theories Using Facts, Logic, and Respect by Mich West : May 7
  29. How to Survive the End fo the World as We Know It : Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley Rawles : May 18
  30. How to Build a Thriving Workplace; A Leader’s Guide by Beth Cabrera : May 20
  31. She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore : May 21
  32. The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick with Robert Vamosi : May 25
  33. Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist by Professor Michael Shermer : May 26
  34. Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle : May 27
  35. Still Procrastinating? The no-regrets guide to getting its done, by Joseph R Ferrari : June 2
  36. Redshirts by John Scalzi : June 3
  37. Act of Valor by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi : June 5
  38. How to Die; An ancient guide to the end of life by Seneca, edited and translated by James S. Romm
  39. 18 Miles – The Epic drama of our atmosphere and its weather, by Christopher Dewdney : June 7
  40. Anthropology and the Study of Humanity, by Professor Scott M. Lacy (Great Courses) : June 8
  41. The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security by Kevin Mitnick & William L. Simon : June 11
  42. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel : June 16
  43. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne : June 19
  44. Dracula by Bram Stoker : June 21
  45. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolf : July 22
  46. Inferno by Dante Alighieri, translated by Clive James : July 24
  47. Driven to Succeed: From Poverty to Podium by Kendal Netmaker : July 25
  48. Search Image by Julie E. Czerneda : July 26
  49. From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty : July 29
  50. Bitten by Kelly Armstrong : July 31
  51. Why Sh*t Happens: The science of a really bad day by Peter J. Bentley : August 05
  52. They Called me Number One by Bev Sellars : August 11
  53. The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron : August 13
  54. The Little Price by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry : August 13
  55. Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Robert C. Bartlett : August 14
  56. 5 Steps to Assertiveness: How to Communicate with Confidence and Get What You Want by S. Renee Smith : August 15
  57. A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi by Miyamoto Musashi : August 16
  58. Canadianity: Tales from the True North Strong and Freezing by Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens : August 16
  59. The Color Purple by Alice Walker : August 17
  60. Flight of the Old Dog by Dale Brown : August 18
  61. Heroes in My Head: A Memoir by Judy Rebick : August 18
  62. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout : August 19
  63. Moon of the Crusted Snow: A Novel by Waubgeshig Rice : August 20
  64. Medical School for Everyone: Emergency Medicine by Roy Benaroch : August 20
  65. The Theory of Everything: The Quest to Explain All Reality by Don Lincoln : August 22
  66. How to Deal with Difficult People: Smart Tactics for Overcoming the Problem People in Your Life by Gill Hasson : September 14
  67. Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Victory: June 6, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke : September 17
  68. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek : September 26
  69. Indian Horse: A Novel by Richard Wagamese : September 29
  70. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson : October 1
  71. The Radical King by Martin Luther King, Cornel West – editor : October 3
  72. All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World by Seth Godin : October 6
  73. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese : October 7
  74. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden : October 10
  75. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah : October 14
  76. Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein : October 15
  77. The Tell-Tale Heart & Other Stories by Edgar Allan Poe : October 18
  78. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson : October 18
  79. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker : October 20
  80. Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron : October 23
  81. Language Families of the World by John McWhorter : October 26
  82. Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese : November 6
  83. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson : November 7
  84. Starship Pandora: A Star Force Drama by B. V. Larson : November 08
  85. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris : November 10
  86. The Fall by Albert Camus : November 11
  87. The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson : November 12
  88. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel : November 16
  89. Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Edzard Ernst & Simon Singh : November 17
  90. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman : November 19
  91. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey : November 21
  92. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo : November 22
  93. Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James R. Doty MD : November 24
  94. Pray Lied Eve: Short Tales of the Untoward by Lydia Peever : November 28
  95. The Grays by Whitley Strieber : Dec 02
  96. Earthcore by Scott Sigler : December 06
  97. What Do You Care What Other People Think? Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman : December 08
  98. American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition by Neil Gaiman : December 09
  99. Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton : December 16
  100. Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Mark J. Ravina : December 19
  101. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks : December 25
  102. We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 26
  103. Fear the Sky: The Fear Saga, Book 1 by Stephen Moss : December 27