Wine Girl

Book #3 down, and I’m not even out of January. The latest was Victoria JamesWine Girl (goodreads) which was a very compelling but tough read. I thought it would be more about wine; it ended up being more about her very difficult childhood and experiences — both brutal and educational — in the restaurant industry.

As for what’s next, I’ve decided to switch it up a bit and finally read Dune, which my dad was a huge fan of. I watched the (new) movie with him while I was home at Christmas, and it made me want to delve into the real thing. Given the length and density I reckon this will slow my rate somewhat, but that’s okay.

The second symphony

Near the beginning of the pandemic I backed a new kickstarter project by someone I’ve followed on Twitter for quite a while named Matt Brown. I used to listen to mamo, a podcast he co-hosted. I know he lives in Toronto, maybe even roughly the same area as me. I know we’ve traded tweets a few times. I know he works for TIFF. He’s in that sphere of people I feel like I know, but we wouldn’t recognize each other on the street. Or he wouldn’t recognize me, certainly.

Anyway, he launched a kickstarter to self-publish a collection of essays about Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie I very very much liked. I backed it, and the book arrived in the fall of 2020. Because I’ve been sucking so hard at reading I left it in my living room, not in the study with the rest of the books, a victim of my best intentions to read it “next” despite my throughput being zero.

But this year, with my love of reading feeling renewed — I’ve now finished two books in three weeks, as many as I’ve read in the past two years combined — I’ve read Brown’s book The Cinema Of Survival this week and really liked it. You can read reviews and buy it here, or buy it non-Amazonly here.

[A side note: I’ve never really embraced Goodreads, but it made me think of an earlier book-sharing site which Amazon bought and folded into Goodreads called Shelfari. I don’t know why it popped back into my head, but it did.]


Cover photo from the kickstarter page


A few years ago, on a flight to London (which seems as exotic as a rocket ride to the moon now) I watched the third installment in a documentary series, called Somm 3 (imdb | rotten tomatoes). It didn’t seem to matter much that it was out of order.

Earlier this week I finally got around to watching the first installment, Somm (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Some of the faces were familiar as they appear in the third documentary, but other than that it was an interesting, and nerve-wracking, journey on the obsessive torture tour that is the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Good god. I’m hoping the second one, Somm: Into The Bottle (imdb | rotten tomatoes), is a little less harrowing.

Also: while I’m fascinated by the wine subject matter, it’s been rather difficult to watch — many allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape have been levelled at members of the court since the documentaries came out, and several characters featured in one or more of the docs were expelled. One looms very large over the whole series: Fred Dame, who the candidates revered as some sort of god and who sat at a place of honour with Jancis Robinson and the late Stephen Spurrier in the third episode. Judging by the filmmakers’ instagram account another installment in the series is coming; I hope it addresses the toxicity in which these compelling stories were unfolding.

Cover photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash


After several years of reading few books, if any, I’m making an effort to get back to it instead of spending endless hours reading only feeds & tweets.

Since wine seems to be my current obsession, I’m leveraging that to keep up my momentum. I’m currently reading The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace (link), and have a few more — Godforsaken Grapes by Jason Wilson (link), Wine Girl by Victoria James (link), and Wine & War by Don Kladstrup (link) — lined up. I might even break open Wine Folly (link) for reference a few times, as I’ve also signed up for WSET level 2 and plan to go for level 3 after that.

Or maybe I’ll alternate wine books with others…I have plenty of non-fiction, and a few fiction, in the backlog of books sitting patiently in boxes in the study while we think about how we want to redesign it.

This isn’t some I-must-improve-during-COVID thing, mind you. I don’t buy into that. I just forgot how much I miss reading books, and am figuring out that the perpetual social scroll isn’t always the most helpful activity. Plus, Lindsay’s voracious appetite for books lately has inspired me (and, probably, shamed me just a bit) so I’m easing into it, tentatively aiming for a book a month this year. Wish me luck.


Cover photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash