What We’re Reading: Christmas Break

Everywhere we look, there are glittering lights and ugly jumpers—it must be Christmas time!

Which means lazy days curled up by a sparkling tree with a good book in hand. And at Words, Pauses, Noises, it also means that we the editors are getting ready to hand the blogging torch over to two new MA students. What better way to transition from old to new than with a book list?

Here’s what we’re reading over the break.

Christmas Books

Karly’s Picks

All My Puny Sorrows
by Miriam Toews

Miriam ToewsI’ve been a big admirer of Toew’s work since reading her 2004 novel A Complicated Kindness. That novel won a multitude of Canadian writing awards (The Governer General’s Award for fiction, CBC’s Canada Reads, among others), and All My Puny Sorrows is following suit, having been shortlisted for 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize and winning the 2014 Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction prize. But in truth, I don’t care much about the accolades—it’s the storyline that’s drawn me in. This is a novel of a girl who loses her sister to suicide, loosely based on Toew’s own experience, and it is sure to be a beautiful, clever, and heart-wrenching read.

The Last Asylum: A Memoir of Madness in Our Times
by Barbara Taylor

Barbara TaylorThe Kingston Writing School was lucky enough to have Barbara Taylor read from her intensely interesting memoir The Last Asylum as part of their weekly Reading Series last year, and I’ve been wanted to read it ever since. The story of Taylor’s own experiences with mental illness, The Last Asylum is both a personal memoir and a historical account of the asylum system in the UK. I’m only fifty pages in—and I’m hooked.

Karly Stilling small.jpgKarly Stilling is a Canadian writer who currently lives in London, UK. She writes literary fiction and poetry and is in the second year of the MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. Her work has been published in Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine, Chrysalis Zine, nickel95 Zine, Beyond Borderlands, Halcyon, Ripple 2015, and A Common Thread. Her short story collection-in-progress Ways from Home was awarded the Myriad Editions 2015 First Drafts Competition prize. She is currently working on Ways from Home and her first novel.

Erin’s Picks

No One Belongs Here More Than You
by Miranda July

miranda july1.jpgHaving just finished The First Bad Man by July, I cannot wait to read her collection of short stories. The First Bad Man was strange and heartbreaking and shocking all at the same time, and includes one of my favorite lines: “Applause like rain.” Her prose is utterly captivating. I’m always interested to see if a novel writer can also nail the brevity of a short story, and I have no doubt that Ms. July can make me feel anything and everything, no matter ten pages or two hundred pages.

by David Sedaris

David SedarisDavid Sedaris is by far the best humour writer I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I can’t put him down. Naked is among the very few of Sedaris’s books that I have yet to read. I can’t get through a single page without laughing out loud. In many of Sedaris’s memoirs, he writes about his tumultuous college years, his slightly neurotic father, and, my personal favourite, his adult French class in Me Talk Pretty One Day. He takes a terrifying situation like his sister being attacked late one night and makes his audience howl with laughter. Although impossible to be truly imitated, Sedaris’s writing offers an excellent example of humour in its finest form.

Erin.pngErin Hamill is a graduate of Penn State University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Here at Kingston, she is working toward a Master’s in Creative Writing. In the future, she would like to write and direct short comedy films.


Ruth’s Pick

First & Then
emma mills.jpgby Emma Mills

This is a debut YA contemporary novel that is described as Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights. I heard about First & Then because I watch the author’s video blog and have been for years. I’m reading it because she writes for the same age group I do and to support the author.


Ruth Day is from the USA and has lived all over America because her father was in the Army. She got her undergraduate degree in English with a Minor in Creative Writing at Rollins College in Orlando, FL. She is currently in her first year of an MFA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. She writes primarily young adult fantasy novels.



It’s obvious we are all going to spend some quality time spent reading this holiday season and we hope you get to do the same. We’ll be back next year with more wonderful works of poetry, prose, and creative non-fiction.

Happy holidays to all-and to all a good read!

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