Birthday List Love #4: 25 Books I've Enjoyed This Year (So Far)

Books, books and more books!

Books I’ve bought, books from the library, books on order as I type. Books I’ve read, books waiting to be read, books I’m reading for a second time. Books I sought out, books picked up on a whim. Books that have graced my coffee, bedside and kitchen tables.

All of them have been flipped through, referenced or enjoyed during the past few months.

I chose to go for a round number of 25 books. I also chose to keep it simple: no reviews, just titles, authors and links for your perusal.

Happy reading!


  1. The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of “Enough”, by Julia Cameron with Emma Lively
  2. Soul Shifts: Transformative Wisdom for Creating a Life of Authentic Awakening, Emotional Freedom, and Practical Spirituality, by Dr. Barbara De Angelis
  3. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
  4. Illuminate: Ignite Changes Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols, by Nancy Duarte and Patti Sanchez
  5. slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, by Nancy Duarte
  6. The Information Design Handbook, by Jennifer Visocky O’Grady and Ken Visocky O'Grady
  7. Pocket Your Dollars: 5 attitude changes that will help you pay down debt, avoid financial stress & keep more of what you make, by Carrie Rocha
  8. Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together, by Pamela Slim
  9. Get the Right Job Right Now: Proven tools, tips and techniques from Canada’s career coach, by Alan Kearns
  10. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  11. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, by Michael Pollan and Maira Kalman
  12. A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book: 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends, Your World, and Yourself, by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman
  13. Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Photographs With Any Camera, by Bryan Peterson
  14. Understanding Close-up Photography: Creative Close Encounters with or Without a Macro Lens, by Bryan Peterson
  15. Finding Your Visual Voice: A Painter's Guide to Developing an Artistic Style, by Dakota Mitchell with Lee Haroun
  16. The Women of Beaver Hall: Canadian Modernist Painters, by Evelyn Walters
  17. The Beaver Hall Group: 1920s Modernism in Montreal, by Jacques DesRochers and Kristina Hunneault
  18. Vincent by Himself: A Selection of Van Gogh's Paintings and Drawings Together With Extracts from His Letters, edited by Bruce Bernard
  19. Gustav Klimt: From Drawing to Painting, by Christian M. Nebehay and Renée Nebehay-King
  20. Expressionism, by Norbert Wolf
  21. Witness: Canadian Art of the First World War, by Amber Lloydlangston and Laura Brandon
  22. The Backwoods of Canada, by Catherine Parr Traill (Note: My copy is a 1971 edition picked up at a used book store and has the funkiest cover art. Since I couldn't find it on Amazon, I linked to a version that has a $0,99 Kindle edition.)
  23. Anne Savage: The Story of a Canadian Painter, by Anne McDougall
  24. Les héritiers du fleuve, Tome 1: 1887-1893, by Louise Tremblay-D'Essiambre
  25. The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes and Julian Fellowes


Previously, on Birthday List Love:

Birthday List Love #1: Favourite Recipes

Birthday List Love #2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Birthday List Love #3: Four Female Canadian Artists

List #5 coming up next...

Birthday List Love #3: Four Female Canadian Artists

Following a desire to learn more about female artists - and Canadian artists in general, these four have captured my interest lately.

Their use of shapes and colour appeals to me and with the exception of Maud Lewis, their work is of a style and era that appeals to me overall which makes them all the more interesting in my eyes.

Each one really warrants her own post and study, but for now, I offer you this cursory introduction.


Maud Lewis

Maud Lewis was a Canadian folk artist from Nova Scotia, “Canada’s own Grandma Moses.” Despite having to overcome some pretty severe physical circumstances, she produced paintings that evoke a joyful simplicity and nostalgia. Maybe that’s why I like them.

Covered Bridge with Three Sleighs, by Maud Lewis, circa 1965

If you have 10 minutes, a 1976 short film called Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows offers insight into her life and outlook (via Canada’s National Film Board website).

Her story inspires and is a great reminder that fodder for art can be found right in our own back yard!


3 Women from the Beaver Hall Group:

Prudence Heward, Anne Savage and Lilias Torrance Newton

The next three women on my list were part of a Canadian group of modernist painters from Montreal formed in the 1920s, called the Beaver Hall Group. I've been reading a lot about the group these past several weeks and may dedicate a post to it in its entirety later, but in the meantime I'd like to highlight the three women below whose work caught my attention.

Prudence Heward

When I saw a photo of Heward's Sisters of Rural Quebec it immediately reminded me of another favourite female artist of mine, Tamara de Lempicka, so of course I was hooked. Many of her pieces involve bold and expressive figures coupled with rich colours. The Art Canada Institute offers a good glimpse at her work here, this is one of my favourites:

Rollande, by Prudence Heward, 1929

Anne Savage

I just finished reading a most delightful biography of Anne Savage (Anne Savage: the story of a Canadian painter, 1977) that complements what I'm learning about her in more academically inclined books. An “innovator in art education”, she taught art in Montreal for 26 years all the while breaking new ground with her own work. She seems like someone I would have liked to have met.

The Plough is one of her most-known pieces (link also includes a good bio) and I am absolutely smitten by Lake Wonish (for Don) that she painted shortly after her brother died in WWI. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me find an image of the latter online, but I will make up for it by offering you a soothing yet striking piece called Country Scene:

Country Scene, by Anne Savage, 1920

Lilias Torrance Newton

Having a penchant for painting portraits it's no surprise that I like Lilias Torrance Newton's work. She was mainly a portraitist, with a modern bent. If I had to compare her work to Heward's and Savage's I'd say that it has a more muted quality, but it's by no means less expressive. In 1957 Torrance Newton painted portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the first known Canadian commissioned to make a portrait of either subject.

Though there are more colourful portraits of hers out there, this particular one, Louis Muhlstock, caught my eye. I find it captivating.

Louis Muhlstock, by Lilias Torrance Newton, circa 1937


There is much, much more to discover about these four artists and there are many more female and Canadian artists to discover above and beyond this list.

What I’ve offered here is but a name and a few links to perhaps whet your appetite - and mine.


Did you miss out on previous Birthday List Love posts? No worries, voici:

Birthday List Love #1: Favourite Recipes

Birthday List Love #2: Personal Finance Books by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Stay tuned for List #4!