Jen Goertzen

Reading list

What I’m reading and some of what I’ve read.

Seeing like a stateby James C. Scott
Red Side Storyby Jasper Fforde
Hollyby Stephen KingAlways enjoy returning to this character.
Locklandsby Robert Jackson BennettAbandoned, wasn't what I was looking for at the moment.
Research for People Who (Think They) Would Rather Createby Dirk VisNice resource for thinking about research projects, will be coming back to it.
The Tainted Cupby Robert Jackson BennettGreat read. One of the best books I've read in a long while.
Fevre Dreamby George R. R. Martin
Quietby Susan CainI related to many stories in the book, lots to reflect on and put into use.
In the Company of Womenby Grace BonneyHad a copy in the past, got another to have on hand for moments of inspiration.
Sword Catcherby Cassandra ClareEnjoyed it much more than I expected. Both excited that there'll be more to come and disappointed that I couldn't get the rest of the story immediately.
Rare Flavours, books 1–3by Ram V (Author), Filipe Andrade (Illustrator)In love with the artwork: the lines, the shapes, the colours. The story is also fantastic, looking forward to future instalments.
Winter: Five Windows on the Season - CBC Massey Lecturesby Adam GopnickPaused, not the right prose for me these days.
Shubeik Lubeikby Deeba MohamedBeautifully done, art and story both.
Ascensionby Nicholas BingeQuick and captivating read.
Nettle & Boneby T. KingfisherA new fairy tale and a great one. Absolutely loved it.
The Fractured Darkby Megan O’KeefeReally enjoyed it as a continuation of the story.
Several short sentences about writingby Verlyn KlinkenborgMany good nudges that have helped me reframe what I'm doing or why I'm stuck.
The Sacred Balanceby David SukukiA lens that zooms in and zooms out to give you the details to appreciate the big picture.
The Joy of Abstractionby Eugenia ChengThe book is open but I've paused reading it. I'm still intrigued and determined to read it, but need the brain space.
The Blighted Starsby Megan O’KeefeFell into it. On the list of favourites from this year.
The Cartographersby Peng ShepherdI am a sucker for books about people being nerdy on a topic.
The Practiceby Seth GodinSome good nudges that helped me get back to creative work.
Dustby Hugh Howey
Number9Dreamby David MitchellA more experimental read. I wasn't in the best headspace for experiments, sadly.
The Ladies of Grace Adieuby Susanna ClarkeDelightful, reads like classic fiction from a parallel world.
Shiftby Hugh HoweyMoving away from the show, enjoyed the variety in perspectives in this installment.
Under The Sky We Makeby Kimberly A. NicholasGave me some tools and lenses with which to look at our changing and often on fire world. I'm still sad, I'm still scared.
Thistlefootby GennaRose NethercottBeautiful ideas about stories and how they interact with the world.
It's Lonely at the Center of the Earthby Zoe ThorogoodLove the multimedia approach. Also, "... Relatable is the word of the hour" because it's, well, relatable.
Woolby Hugh HoweyRead it too close to finishing the television series, "Silo", my memories muddled with what I was reading.
The Spear Cuts Through Waterby Simon JimenezIt reads like a legend. It was unlike anything I've read for so long, really, I don't have the words to describe it.
The Vanished Birdsby Simon JimenezFell into this book. There were some ideas that were beautiful for being perfect in the world created and their simplicity.
Shelterbeltsby Jonathan DyckA setting and cast of characters that is close to home. Difficult to read at times.
The God of Endingsby Jacqueline HollandThe opening paragraph still sticks in my head.
Green Grass, Running Waterby Thomas KingI've grown to appreciate a new kind of storytelling through Thomas King.
The Creative Actby Rick RubinGood for bites of inspiration or little nudges into action.
The Relentless Moonby Mary Robinette KowalI had a cold while reading this and it affected how much I took in. But enjoyed it all the same. The acknowledgements at the end of each book in this series add to the satisfaction I take from them.
The Roadby Cormac McCarthyStylized writing which gave a lot of power to the narrative.
The Fated Skyby Mary Robinette KowalFelt good to be back in these books. Inhaled the book.
The Book That Wouldn't Burnby Mark Lawrence
Recursionby Blake Crouch
The Calculating Starsby Mary Robinette KowalReally enjoyed it while at the same time found moments in it infruriating. Well researched, well written.
On The Shortness of Lifeby SenecaMany sentences that struck me, particularly for where I am right now.
The Ferrymanby Justin Cronin
Sensitiveby Jenn Granneman and Andre SóloI related to many parts of this book. Much to reflect on and take into different areas of my life, especially work.
Hell Bentby Leigh BardugoA welcome continuation of Ninth House, fell into and inhaled it.
Fifty Soundsby Polly BartonI found new ways to articulate the experience of living in a country where you don't speak the language.
The Housekeeper and the Professorby Yoko OgawaA peaceful read.
Of Mice and Menby John SteinbeckIt was interesting to read Steinbeck in a different format. Same voice, different space.
The Bluest Eyeby Toni MorrisonNew perspectives, new ways of seeing.
The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafiby Shannon ChakrabortyThe book I've enjoyed the most in a long while. Inhaled it.
City of Last Chancesby Adrian Tchaikovsky
Sulaby Toni MorrisonPowerful story. First time I've read Toni Morrison and I'll be looking for more.
The Coral Bonesby E. J. SwiftA good read, though helplessness around climate topics can't be avoided.
Her Body and Other Partiesby Carmen Maria MachadoSome new and some uncomfortable ideas. I think short stories are my newly preferred public transit reading material.
In Limboby Deb JJ LeeDifferent from what I expected and a different perspective on growing up than I've seen before.
Family Lexiconby Natalia GinzburgVery different narrative style than what I'm used to. It was well suited to remembering family.
From the Wreckby Jane RawsonQuiet, strange, with heart.
The Grapes of Wrathby John SteinbeckI took so many things from this book. I need more time to simmer on it.
Leechby Hiron EnnesIt was clever how you needed to put the pieces together yourself.
The Word For World is Forestby Ursula K. Le GuinIt's all it needs to be. New interpretations of dreaming and of gods.
Fairy Taleby Stephen KingDifferent from other King novels I've read. Good “before bed” read.
The Back of the Turtleby Thomas KingI felt the world reflected back at me, thoughtfully, kindly, and truthfully.
Ordinary Monstersby J. M. MiroIt crescendoed really well.
Houseboat Chroniclesby Jake MacDonaldA comfortable and comforting read, nostalgic, imagery of a place that feels like home.
The Truth About Storiesby Thomas King“Just don't say in years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had heard this story. You've heard it now.”
Braiding Sweetgrassby Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Spare Manby Mary Robinette KowalFirst heavy use of different pronouns without making the story about that.
The Great Mistakeby Jonathon LeeRich, compelling.
Ducksby Kate BeatonRich storytelling, infuriating story.
Dead Silenceby S. A. BarnesEerie for a time.
Babelby R. F. KuangMade for good conversations with my German tutor.
Learning to Talk to Plantsby Marta Orriols, Mara Fay Lethem (Translator)A quiet read I needed.
A Prayer for the Crown-Shyby Becky ChambersA nice continuation.
The Colour Out of Space and othersby H.P. Lovecraft
A Psalm for the Wild-Builtby Becky ChambersThe read I needed at the time, loved it.
Eversionby Alastair ReynoldsReminded me of something I could never put my finger on.
Klara and the Sunby Kazuo IshiguroI think this one will take two tries—as is common for me with Kazuo Ishiguro.
The Night Circusby Erin MorgensternLoved the imagery.
Drunk on All Your Strange New Wordsby Eddie RobsonA new idea, well paired with learning German at the time.
Sea of Tranquilityby Emily St. John MandelThe details.
The Watchersby A. M. ShineI called it! Then spent the whole book trying to prove it.
The Secret Commonwealthby Philip Pullman
La Belle Sauvageby Philip Pullman
Swimsby Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
The Wild Placesby Robert MacFarlaneA favourite, reminded me of my need for wild and where I can find it.
Turningby Jessica J. LeeClose to home in many ways, a good read to start the year.
Piranesiby Susanna ClarkeI expected something different—will have to read again to truly appreciate.
Where the Crawdads Singby Delia OwensBeautiful, inhaled it. Will never see the movie.
The Amber Spyglassby Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knifeby Philip Pullman
The Lost Spellsby Robert Macfarlane
The Golden Compassby Philip Pullman
Stories of Your Life and Othersby Ted ChiangBite size sci fi, some bites good, some bites less so.
High Output Managementby Andrew S. Grove
Utopia Avenueby David MitchellDifferent from the author's other work, but a quiet through line that told you it was still Mitchell.
Inby Will McPhailRich storytelling, will recommend to everyone.
Sleep walkby Adrian Tomine
Dare to Leadby Brené BrownChanged so much of how I see my world and myself.
The Art of Logicby Eugenia ChengChanged how I look at my work and at life.
Coaching for Performanceby John Whitmore
Billy Summersby Stephen KingStill Stephen King, yet straying from some of his usual tropes.
The Library of the Deadby T. L. Huchu
The Making of a Managerby Julie Zhuo
Slade Houseby David Mitchell
The Hidden Palaceby Helene WeckerFelt good to return to this world and see where the story would go.
Project Hail Maryby Andy WeirFell off, wasn't for me.
The Lost Apothecaryby Sara Penner
The Invisible Life of Addie Larueby V. E. Schwab
The Lost Future of Pepperharrowby Natasha PulleyI preferred the first one.
The Prince and the Dressmakerby Jen WangLovely story, illustrations inspired me to draw more.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Streetby Natasha PulleyDidn't go where I expected, really enjoyed it.
The Starless Seaby Erin MorgensterBeautiful
The Leader's Guide to Unconcious Biasby Pamela FullerGave me a new lens with which to look at my relationships, at work and in life.
A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L'EngleA childhood favourite, picked up again.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planetby Becky ChambersPleasant read, episodic
Sevenevesby Neal StephensonCould've ended earlier—so I stopped early.
The Uncertainty Mindsetby Vaughn TanChanged how I look at uncertainty, not knowing, and then moving through it.
Contactby Carl Sagan
Mistbornby Brandon SandersonIt was interesting to see this author in a new world (of his making).
Babylon's Ashesby James S. A. Corey
Rhythm of Warby Brandon Sanderson
Org Design for Design Orgsby Merholz & Skinner
Radical Candorby Kim ScottGood idea, but needs to be wielded properly.
Nemesis Gamesby James S. A. Corey
Cibola Burnby James S. A. Corey
Mismatchby Kat HolmesHad a large impact on how I think about inclusive design.
Fictionsby Jorge Luis Borges“The Library of Babel” is likely my favourite.
Post-Truthby Matthew D'Ancona
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonistby Adrian TomineHonest and lovely
Abaddon's Gateby James S. A. Corey
Rules of Civilityby Amor TowlesDidn't enjoy as much as “A Gentleman in Moscow” but still good.
Finderby Suzanne Palmer
Caliban's Warby James S. A. Corey
Calypsoby David SedarisAlways makes me smile
Leviathan Wakesby James S. A. Corey
The Left Hand of Darknessby Ursula K. Le Guin
A Wizard of Earthseaby Ursula K. Le Guin
The Glass Hotelby Emily St. John Mandel
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fictionby Ursula K. Le GuinChanged how I read fiction and thought about stories.
The Lies of Locke Lamoraby Scott Lynch
Early Risersby Jasper FfordeNostalic thoughts of winter turn peculiar sense of humour.
The Graveyard Bookby Neil Gaiman
Upheavalby Jared Diamond
Bird by Birdby Anne LamottWas exactly the read I needed at the time.
Kingdom of Copperby S. A. Chakraborty
The Empire of Goldby S. A. ChakrabortyDifferent cultural mythology from most mainstream fiction—a nice change.
A Sense of an Endingby Julian Barnes
Dead Astronautsby Jeff VandermeerFell off
Duneby Frank HerbertSecond time read, loved it more than the first.
So You Want to Talk About Raceby Ijeoma Oluo
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Raceby Reni Eddo-Lodge
The End of All Thingsby John Scalzi
The Ten Thousand Doors of Januaryby Alix E. HarrowLovely, bought copies for multiple people.
If It Bleedsby Stephen King
Once upon a riverby Diane SetterfieldBeautiful book. Was exactly what I needed.
Cage of Soulsby Adrian TchaikovskyA favourite, I've gifted it a few times now.
The Priory of the Orange Treeby Samantha ShannonSome nice changes from the usual fantasy worlds.
The Library of the Unwrittenby A. J. HackwithA unique and compelling idea.
Creative Confidenceby Tom Kelley
The Human Divisionby John Scalzi
Ninth Houseby Leigh Bardugo
Six Wakesby Mur Lafferty
Wanderersby Chuck WendigRead just as COVID-19 was coming into the news more. So many blurred lines between fiction and reality.
Radical Focusby Christina WodtkeGood to know if only to understand how others see work. But a reminder to not read books like this again.
Good Strategy Bad Strategyby Richard RumeltGave me the language and structure to talk about what I was seeing at work.
Zoe's Taleby John Scalzi
Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrellby Susanna ClarkeFantastic story, possibly multiple books in one.
2019 and earlier
Moby Dickby Herman Melville
The Obelisk Gateby N. K. JemisinGood, but the first story was apparently enough for me.
The Fifth Seasonby N. K. JemisinTruly unique story.
Children of Timeby Adrian TchaikovskySpiders!
The Last Colonyby John Scalzi
The Ghost Brigadesby John Scalzi
Skywardby Brandon Sanderson
The Instituteby Stephen King
Lock Inby John Scalzi
Redshirtsby John ScalziThis one wasn't for me.
The Unconsoledby Kazuo IshiguroThis book opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to quit my job.
Old Man's Warby John ScalziThe book where I discovered John Scalzi and then needed to read everything he wrote.
A Gentleman in Moscowby Amor TowlesLoved the prose.
Desert Solitaireby Edward AbbeyBeautiful imagery, though some elements showed their age.
The Sparrowby Mary Dorai RussellGripping, unsettling.
The Dark Forestby Cixin LiuFuck. Favourite of the trilogy.
The Bone Clocksby David MitchellWhen I decided I needed to read everything by David Mitchell.
The Name of the Windby Patrick Rothfuss
The Bird Kingby G. Willow Wilson
Travels with Charleyby John SteinbeckWonderful, human.
East of Edenby John SteinbeckPicked this up on a trip and fell in love with the prose.
Thinking, Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman
(An incomplete list)by
Where I haven't included “Thoughts”, it‘s because I can‘t recall my impressions of the book.


On the socials
  • LinkedIn
  • I'm not active on the following platforms, but the history can still be valuable (or at least interesting):

  • Twitter
  • Medium
Other fun stuff