Tag Archives: reading

Book Report: One Brother Shy

One of my friends, Dave Fleet, used to work for the agency Thornley Fallis. That’s when I probably first heard about Terry Fallis. Then came the popular MeetUps I used to attend in Toronto around media, PR and social media.

I think I heard about his podcast, Inside PR. But I definitely became aware  of him when his novel, The Best Laid Plans, was made into a TV series of the same name.

And it’s taken me this long to finally read one of his book, One Brother Shy.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book so funny. The first book(s) I remember reading that made me laugh was Robert Ludlum’s Road to Omaha and Road To Gandolfo.

Thanks Terry for writing a wickedly funny book set (for the most part) in Canada.

I see a little bit of Alex MacAskill in me. Naturally, I’m an introvert. However, unlike Alex, I’m born this way. Also like Alex, I can be gregarious as well.

If you’re looking for a book about family, overcoming setbacks, and international adventure with a touch of funny this is the book for you. Pick it up at your favourite local bookstore, Amazon, or public library.

Book Report: Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

While reading Jason Zinoman’s book, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night . I was reminded of many moments that I got to watch over the years. You see, I was, and remain, a huge fan of David Letterman.

While I stopped actively watching TV in 2000 (I got married and we decided to not get cable) I still followed the Letterman and his show online. I remember sneaking down the stairs every night just before 12:30am to watch his 3 joke opening monologue, Stupid Pet Tricks, calling familiar strangers on the phone, drop stuff off the building and interview Richard Simmons for the hundredth time. I had both of his Top Ten List books and a framed Time magazine cover on my bedroom wall. I even once had tickets to go see his Late Night show in New York City. I wished I actually asked my parents to help me get there. Sigh. And even after I got married I still had his photo in my wallet. Yes. I was a huge.

However, some parts of the book upset me a bit. For example, I always thought the character of David Letterman that I saw on TV was just that. A character. Yet, Zinoman writes that that was actually the real Letterman. I struggle with the notion that Letterman was never satisfied with his show/success or was really angry underneath it all.

Letterman now has his popular Netflix show, My Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Thank goodness I don’t need TV to watch!

Thanks Jason for writing this book. And thanks Dave for continuing to make us laugh.

Book Report: The Marriott Cell by Mohamed Fahmy

We recently went back to visiting our local library branches.

The first book I borrowed was Mohamed Fahmy’s “The Marriott Cell.”

Fahmy is a former CNN and Al Jazeera  journalist who was wrongly imprisoned on charges of being a member of a terrorist organization. He would go on to spend over 400 days in prison including Egypt’s infamous prison for terrorists Scorpion Prison.

In today’s climate of “fake news” and the disintegration of local news his story is a chilling reminder that one of the main roles of journalists is to hold power to account.

To learn more about Mohamed Fahmy visit his Twitter account.

Going back to the library

We finally went back to the library this weekend. It’s been a while to be honest. We used to go a lot when Kahzmir was much younger and when I still used to watch movies on my DVD player.

Toronto Public Library

I used to spend lots of time at the library. In middle school I would go early to JB Tyrell and hang in the library. In high school I used to go to Fairview Public Library on the weekends. Yes, it was a place to do my homework. But it was also a place to socialize with my friends. In university I would travel over an hour to go to York University on the weekend. Yes, to do homework. Which I could have done at home. But also to hang with my friends.

Libraries are more than just a place that collects books. It’s a community hub.

The timing was right to get back to visiting our local library. We’re reading less. Yet, we know how important reading is. Both as entertainment and for learning. And Toronto’s libraries offer some really cool programming for kids and adults.

This weekend we visited Cedarbrae Library in Scarborough. Every weekend we’re going to try and visit a different library in Toronto.

Cedarbrae Library
Source: Toronto Public Library

Here are the books I took out:

The Marriot Cell

Let The Games Begin

If you have a book you’d like to recommend to me, please let me know in the comments section.

Tales From Beyond The Tap by Randy Bachman

Many of you who know me know that I am a huge Neil Young fan. To this day, he is one of Canada’s most successful and well-regarded songwriters and musicians. However, when it comes to Canadian rock royalty there is probably no one else who has penned and produced as many hits than Randy Bachman. He has fronted two of the biggest names is Canadian rock: The Guess Who and BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive).

I have had the opportunity to both hear him play as well as listen to him speak. Both live. And here in Toronto. Along with Canadian indie band, The Sadies, he opened for Neil Young a couple of years ago at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This past year, he published a book and was part of a speaker series at the Reference Library in Toronto.

#tbt with Randy Bachman. Canadian music icon and amazing storyteller.

A photo posted by @karimkanji on

Tales From Beyond The Tap takes an inside look at Bachman’s life. Everything from his songwriting process, his relationship with Burton Cummings and siblings, his popular CBC show Randy’s Vinyl Tap, and his thoughts on the future of the music business and everything in between are covered in this book.

Randy has penned some of rock’s most beloved anthems. Tales From Beyond The Tap is Bachman at his best. A must read for any rock and roll fan.

Book Review: Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story

Robyn Doolittle
Robyn Doolittle

To say that I was glued to this Robyn Doolittle’s book until I was finished reading it would be an understatement. It’s taken me longer to start (and finish) blogging about the book than it took me to actually read it.

Crazy Town us the perfect title for this book. It’s not so much as Toronto being a crazy town as it is a play on the bubble that the Ford family has created for itself over a generation.

Everything that you would expect to be in this book is there. Everything. Including the research process and behind the scenes meetings and conversations between Doolittle and her superiors at the Toronto Star.

What struck me the most about this book were two things that have nothing to do with Ford.

The first is the amount of research and discussions that occur before a word is even typed and subsequently printed. For every piece that Doolittle has written there is literally a team of editors, (sometimes) publishers and even lawyers (especially when reporting on Rob Ford) that need to go over her research and submission. Nothing is left to chance and all sides of the story are discussed and dissected. Reading her book gave me a new found appreciation for the news reporting process that the Toronto Star follows.

The second, and most disturbing, revelation has to do with the seemingly archaic laws in Canada surrounding access to information. Our public institutions (government and public services such as police) gather so much information in the name of the greater public good. However, accessing that information is next to impossible for ordinary citizens such as me. And the media? Well, they have the resources and the knowledge on how to ask and what to ask. Yet even they have the hardest time getting access to information.

As a book, Crazy Town has it all. And by all, I mean everything you could ever want to know about Rob Ford. His parents (enterprising), upbringing (silver spoon), siblings (crazy people usually influenced by drugs it seems), career before politics (nada), his brushes with the law (international and usually involving booze) and his current political life (unbelievable).

This October, Toronto will go to the polls to vote for who they want as their Mayor. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. Unless you ask me. However, I do have one suggestion: READ. THE. BOOK.

Book Review: Hatching Twitter

Back in 2010 in the initial iteration of this blog I did a short book review of Accidental Billionaires which was the book that inspired the movie, Social Network which were both inspired by Facebook.

hatching twitter
hatching twitter

Hatching Twitter is the story about how 4 friends came up with the idea for the 140-character “status” updater/social networking site/global phenomenon, who then became co-founders and then became sworn enemies.

Ev told Jack he had to “chill out” with the deluge of media he was doing. “It’s bad for the company,” Ev said. “It’s sending the wrong message.” Biz sat between them, watching like a spectator at a tennis match.
“But I invented Twitter,” Jack said.
“No, you didn’t invent Twitter,” Ev replied. “I didn’t invent Twitter either. Neither did Biz. People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists.”

Like Accidental Billionaires (which is a better book than movie) Hatching Twitter (which has just been optioned as a TV series) is about friendship, betrayal, success, business, love, hatred, loyalty, and almost any other emotion you can think of.

Although media and recent history tells a different story, I would like to thank Ev, Jack, Biz and Noah for creating a tool that has changed and continues to change the way people communicate and brands market.

Twitter has become the place where everyone from private citizens, brands and celebrities continue to compete for the attention and adoration of their friends, family members, consumers and marketers. Reading about how this successful company was hatched is a must for everyone. Especially if you’re an avid fan and user like myself.

Book Review: The funniest and most honest book ever was written by Rob Delaney

I was given Rob Delaney’s book by good friends of mine for my last birthday. I was putting it off as I tried to finish the book I was then reading. don’t ask me what it was.

Delaney has been described as the funniest man on Twitter. He just might be that if you are to believe what “they” say. However, he is undoubtedly one of the funniest writers as well. Delaney has written a book that is honest, funny, sad, reflective, challenging and thought provoking. Most of the time, I felt multiple emotions in one chapter.

This is one of those books that leaves you begging for more when you’re done. It is a quick read. not because of the length but because it’s a book you will never want to put down.

It is also a book that will make you reflect on what you’re doing in life. You may not change careers or start to believe in a God. But you may start to live a little out on the edge.

Pick this up as a gift. for yourself. you deserve it.

rob delaney
rob delaney

Book Review: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

I will admit right now that Malcolm Gladwell is my favourite contemporary author.  So this book review may be a little bit biased. Although, I have grown  in not taking everything that Gladwell preaches at face value and being a little more critical when I read his work (or listen to his talks).

David and Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell
David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell’s latest battle is now of biblical proportions. Many people believe that David’s win over Goliath was one where the underdog beat the favourite. However, citing numerous studies, Gladwell, puts this “urban myth” to sleep. Thus starts the latest book by Gladwell.

The rest of the book sees Gladwell attack our notions of:

  • how to choose the best college,
  • the history of civil unrest in Northern Ireland,
  • how the success of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King was influenced,
  • how traumatic childhoods can actually be a good thing, and much more.

Later this week, I’m heading over to the University of Toronto to listen to Malcolm Gladwell talk about his latest book. And hopefully so much more!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziGD7vQOwl8&w=420&h=315]