2021 Reading List

A slight decline in reading (largely audiobooks, with a few dead-tree and digital books thrown in for measure) due to some changes in my podcast load and increased time simply listening to music — or nothing at all. Another year of a number of re-reads, seeking some comfort in the familiar and excursions into unfamiliar literary territory including my yearly attempt at something Russian — Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy was a real slog for me to get through, but I did finish it.

  1. The Pragmatic Programmer: 20th Anniversary Edition: Your Journey to Mastery by David Thomas and Andrew Hunt : January 01, 2021
  2. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer : January 05, 2021
  3. In the Black: My Life by B. Denham Jolly : January 08, 2021
  4. Chernobyl 01:23:40: The Incredible True Story of the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster by Andrew Leatherbarrow : January 12, 2021
  5. The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis : January 16, 2021
  6. The Dark Forest (The Three-Body Problem Series, Book 2) by Cixin Liu
  7. Seven Truths by Tanya Talaga : February 01, 2021
  8. Black Holes, Tides, and Curved Spacetime by Benjamin Schumacher : February 03, 2021
  9. They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada by Cecil Foster : February 08, 2021
  10. Death’s End (The Three-Body Problem Series, Book 3) by Cixin Liu : February 15, 2021
  11. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi : February 27, 2021
  12. The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai : March 01, 2021
  13. All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 by Dennis E. Taylor : March 4, 2021
  14. The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly : March 6, 2021
  15. Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer : March 18, 2021
  16. The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem : March 22, 2021
  17. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy : March 27, 2021
  18. A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market: Everything You Need to Start Making Money Today by Matthew R. Kratter : April 04, 2021
  19. NPC by Jeremy Robinson : April 04, 2021
  20. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison : April 07, 2021
  21. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green : April 12, 2021
  22. The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone by Matthew Pollard : April 14, 2021
  23. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher & William Ury : April 15, 2021
  24. Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative by Danielle Krysa : April 19, 2021
  25. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks : April 20, 2021
  26. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks : April 24, 2021
  27. Without Remorse by Tom Clancy : April 25, 2021
  28. Juno Beach: Canada’s D-Day Victory: June 6, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke : May 01, 2021
  29. How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism by Stephen Guise : May 06, 2021
  30. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir : May 09, 2021
  31. The Art of War by Sun Tzu : May 10, 2021
  32. The Assault on Reason: Our Information Ecosystem, from the Age of Print to the Age of Trump – 2017 Edition by Al Gore : May 11, 2021
  33. It by Stephen King : May 15, 2021
  34. The Martian by Andy Weir : May 28, 2021
  35. Artemis by Andy Weir : May 29, 2021
  36. My Mother Was Nuts, A Memoir by Penny Marshall : May 30, 2021
  37. At The Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft : June 2, 2021
  38. Of Dice And Men, The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt : June 11, 2021
  39. The Collapsing Empire: The Interdependency, Book 1 by John Scalzi : June 21, 2021
  40. The Consuming Fire: The Interdependency, Book 2 by John Scalzi : June 23, 2021
  41. The Last Emperox: The Interdependency, Book 3 by John Scalzi : June 24, 2021
  42. Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer : June 25, 2021
  43. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson : June 26, 2021
  44. Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland : June 28, 2021
  45. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman : June 30, 2021
  46. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker : July 5, 2021
  47. The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov : July 6, 2021
  48. The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov : July 10, 2021
  49. The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov : July 12, 2021
  50. Infinite by Jeremy Robinson : July 16, 2021
  51. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov ; July 19, 2021
  52. Devolution : A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks : July 23, 2021
  53. All Gifts, Bestowed by by Joshua Gayou : July 26, 2021
  54. Provenance by Ann Leckie : August 2, 2021
  55. Planetfall by Emma Newman : August 7, 2021
  56. Cosmos : Possible Worlds by Ann Druyan : August 10, 2021
  57. Dune by Frank Herbert : August 20, 2021
  58. Click Here to Kill Everybody by Bruce Schneier : August 23, 2021
  59. Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by Brandon J. O’Brien & E. Randolph Richards : August 31, 2021
  60. Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (introductions & narration by Stephen Fry) : September 4, 2021
  61. Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living by Bruce Lee : September 29, 2021
  62. Robopocalypse: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson : October 5, 2021
  63. The Stand-In by Lily Chu : October 10, 2021
  64. Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson : October 12, 2021
  65. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy : October 18
  66. Letters to My Lover From Behind Asylum Walls by Robin Sinclair : October 19, 2021
  67. The Cave by Ksenia Murray : October 21, 2021
  68. Command Line Kung Fu by Jason Cannon : October 24, 2021
  69. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir : November 15, 2021
  70. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García & Francesc Miralles : November 16
  71. We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 by Dennis E. Taylor : November 18, 2021
  72. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-it-Like-it-is Guide to Cleaning Up in Business, Even if You Are at the End of Your Roll by Mike Michalowicz : November 19, 2021
  73. The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway: The History of the Captain Who Went Further Than Any Had Before by Una McCormack : November 21, 2021
  74. The Peloponnesian War by Kenneth W. Harl : November 22, 2021
  75. Wolves and Werewolves in History and Popular Culture by Shannon Scott : November 29, 2021
  76. Zero Day Code: End of Days, Book 1 by John Birmingham : November 30, 2021
  77. Shell Scripting by Jason Cannon : December 4, 2021
  78. For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 5, 2021
  79. All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 6, 2021
  80. Heaven’s River: Bobiverse, Book 4 by Dennis E. Taylor : December 7, 2021
  81. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix : December 8, 2021
  82. Anathem by Neal Stephenson : December 15, 2021
  83. Python Programming for Beginners by Jason Cannon : December 25, 2021
  84. A Change of Plans: A Short Story by Dennis E. Taylor : December 29, 2021
  85. The Guilty by James Patterson & Duane Swierczynski : December 30, 2021

RIP Brendan Roche

Brendan RocheRIP Brendan Roche – he was one of my first roommates when I moved to Ottawa in 1990. He was the kind of person who you wouldn’t see for six months, and pick up right where we left off, like no time had passed. He was a father to three, loved by his partner Christina, special friend of Maryanne and Austin, and the wider RK and KG family. Tracey and I are thinking of you all.

He was a pillar of his community, one of my co-conspirators back in the day, and a text-based gladiator who wielded his singular wit like an axe in the days of BBS’ who never stopped learning.

I was never able to articulate how much his close friendship in those early years in Ottawa meant to me, or how often I’d wonder what he was up to, but I like to think that he knew, and that he knew what I was incapable of saying.

The Serendipitous Runner

By nearly all metrics, 2020 was a raging dumpster fire of a year, but I can say that I ended the year in the best physical shape of my entire life: I walked 4,818 KM and ran over 4,245 KM.  Yes, I said ran.

All this running is the result of a chance meeting.

I’ve been a committed distance walker (or perhaps a distance walker who should be committed, depending on your point of view) for many years. For those of you new around here, in 2019, I walked over 8,200 KM – and I suppose I should point out that I love numbers.

Late in the afternoon of Tuesday, October 29th (2019), I was in the last five KMs of my daily walk, came across my friend Sonia, whom I’ve known for many years through Kung Fu, as she was about to start a run on along the Rideau Canal and she encouraged me to give it a try.

So, I did.

I managed a bit over two kilometers before I had to stop, with my heart jackhammering in my chest at over 160 BPM.

Had I been even one minute faster along my route, I would have missed Sonia and I don’t believe that I would be running today – the thought of trying to run distances at all honestly hadn’t occurred to me as I was fairly sure I *couldn’t* run.

Two weeks later, I met her to make another attempt, managing a bit over three kilometres.

The seed was planted.

I decided to try running occasionally on my daily walks through to the end of the 2019, mainly focusing on running up and down the hills along my route, figuring if I could do those, I could manage running on the flat sections.

At the beginning of 2020, I decided that I would give running a more serious try. Three and a half kilometres non-stop on January 1, Six KM on January 4th, 8.6 KM on the 8th, and the full distance – 21.1 KM on January 22nd – although slowly. It took a while to do it again, alternating running as far as I could, then walking until I could resume running.

This seemingly fast progress can be attributed – I think – to that the year before I’d already been pushing my walks faster and faster; clocking a half-marathon distance (21.1 KM) in around three hours, helping build my leg muscles.

An observation I made early on is that runners are friendly and encouraging folks.  Early on, I noticed when a runner was coming from the opposite direction, they’d make a gesture of some sort; head-nod, a friendly wave, thumbs-up, etc – the first few times, I would look behind me to see if they were waving at someone else – because I can be slow at social things, I realized they were waving at me, so I started waving back. 

One spring day – I was running along the path through a lovely forested section, really struggling to keep my pace up, and felt quite defeated.  Then this young university student comes around the bend, sees me and gives me a big double-thumbs-up with a grin. I waved back and managed to run for another thirty minutes before slowing to a walk.  I find it fascinating how small positive actions from others can really help.

By the end of June, I was running a full half-marathon nearly every three days and July averaged a half-marathon every two days.

From September onwards to the time of this writing (March 4, 2021), I was running a half-marathon Monday to Friday and a 10k on Saturday and Sunday (although I did take a “break” between Christmas and New Years where I ran 10 KM per day).

Somewhere in the summer, I listened to the episode of the Optimize Yourself podcast with guest Wes Plate talking about his personal journey of being overweight, deciding to do something about it, starting to run, and moving on to running ultra-marathons (any distance over 42.2 KM) including running the Moab 240 mile (384 KM!) ultramarathon.

Needless to say, I began to wonder how far I could run.  In late September, I gave it a shot. I got up early, stuffed food into my belly, and went out the door.  I learned a lot that day; that I could run over 30 KM without needing food or water, that I could finish a marathon in a bit over five hours, that the day was too hot to be out running, and that by the time I got home, I was completely burned out at 66.4 km. So, I slowly walked up and down the driveway util I hit 66.66 km because it amused me.  My amazing partner Tracey kindly went out and got some celebratory hamburgers and poutine from Koven for dinner.  I haven’t repeated an ultramarathon run… yet. I think early this spring I will before it warms up too much. I repeated the run on March 27th, finishing the 66.66 (which I’ve decided to call the Hellish Run because I’m silly) in a bit under nine hours, and covering the full marathon distance in under five hours.  I really run out of steam a bit after the marathon distance.  I didn’t need water until I got a bit dizzy at the 38km mark, and ate a couple of energy bars once I covered the marathon distance.

Running in many ways can be as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, even now, hundreds of runs later. When my brain wants to stop, I am reminded that it’s The Blerch speaking (Thanks, Oatmeal!), I ask myself if I “can run just a bit further” and eventually finish my KMs for the day.  There has been trip and falls, an alarming number of bloody nipples, lost toenails, muscle pulls, and sore body parts.  There has been high heat, pouring rain, thunderstorms, ice, crazy wind, deep snow, and intense wind chill. 

Even with all this challenges, it’s all worth it to me.  There is a sense of self-satisfaction upon completing every single run, regardless of the conditions.  Every run – like every walk – is different, and I get to see our beautiful city, its people, and myself change over time.

Today marks 190 days of continuous running on the schedule I set myself (a daily half-marathon Monday to Friday and 10 KM on Saturday and Sunday), and I still love it. Some days are harder than others, like today’s run with -27°C windchill and winds gusting to 39 KM/hr, but I also get to start my day with an accomplishment.

My journey from a daily walker to a daily runner was a serendipitous event that changed my life, and I am so profoundly grateful it happened.

The support and encouragement I’ve received from my partner Tracey, my off and online friends, and family have been so very helpful. Thank you all!

2020 By the numbers:

Distance Walked: 4,818 KM
Distance Run: 4,245 KM
Total distance: 9,063 KM

Average distance per day: 24.76 KM

140 half-marathons (123 non-stop)
81 10 KM runs
64 4.2 KM “loop runs”
31 runs of “other distances” including the 66.66 KM ultramarathon

If you’d like to see my progress as I continue my daily runs, you can follow me on Instagram where I post each run result, good, meh, or bad.