During my first year on Stargate, I put on fifteen pounds (The Freshman Fifteen!). I blame mostly the fantastic catering – Steve’s terrific cooking and Anthea’s extraordinary desserts.  At one point, we were producing two shows (SG-1 and Atlantis) and that meant TWO catering options.  Then script coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson would scout out the trucks and report back so that we could make informed dining decisions.  The SG-1 truck has schnitzel!  Or The Atlantis truck has hazelnut torte!  It wouldn’t be uncommon for us to walk from one end of the lot to the other to put together our ideal plates.  Between the fine food and the sitting around all day in the production offices, chatting with my fellow writer-producers (and, occasionally, writing) I tipped the scales at 180 lbs!

And then, over the course of a vacation, I lost a whopping 15 lbs on what I like to call The Snake Soup Diet.  Many of you may remember (if not, just do a blog search) that it basically consists of ordering the snake soup at the Hong Kong airport, then flying into Tokyo and being violently ill for a week.  The pounds just melt away!  Then, when you return home, you just start working out and keep the weight off.

Eventually, between eating right and exercising (at one point, I was doing a cardio workout in the morning and weights at night), I got down to my ideal weight of 165!

And then, last year, I moved to Toronto to work on Dark Matter.  No longer able to access my treadmill and weights, I was suddenly reliant on the condo’s health center and it’s weirdly inconvenient hours.   The demands of the production didn’t help either. There were times when I had to get up as early as 5:30 a.m.,  and got home as late as 10:00 p.m. – and the last thing I wanted to do was wake up even earlier to work out, or hit the gym after an exhausting day on set.

Toronto catering is, thankfully, nowhere near as good as in Vancouver.  However, our crafts service team (with the ever affable John Schieder at the helm) is very good – and very accommodating.  If you don’t like the breakfast options laid out for you on the crafts service table, just head over to John’s truck and he’ll whip you up a breakfast burrito.  Between breakfast and lunch, and then again between lunch and dinner, John’s crew serve up subs (aka “substantials”) to tide over the hardworking crew.  Options vary and range from homemade clam chowder to chicken burgers.  If we go late, the production will spring for dinner.  Eggplant parm sandwiches and pizza were popular offerings last year.  And, between that, are the catered lunches.

Staying in shape – and avoiding temptation – is hard when you’re working on a show.  But I’m determined to make this year different.

Forget the gym on weekdays.  I’ll kick off every morning with a 30 minute work out that will consist of stairs, lunges, calf raises, squats, burpees, tricep dips, push-ups, incline push-ups, decline push-ups, and crunches – 30 reps each.

Breakfast will consist of a protein shake (banana, whey protein, all-natural peanut butter, almond milk, berries, and steel cut oatmeal).  I’ll stick to lean options for lunch, have a healthy afternoon snack, and stick with a healthy dinner option.  The plan is to do three pescetarian days, two meat days, and two vegetarian days.

We’ll see if this game plan lasts past January.

They usually don’t.

So, that was my New Year’s resolution: To get back down to my fighting weight.

And yours?

Back in 2014, I read a whopping 180 books!  In 2015, distracted by scripts and work, I barely cracked 85.  As a result, my list of Recommended Reads isn’t quite as lengthy as last year’s Top 35 –


But there were nevertheless some real gems in both the ongoing comic series and book categories…



10. This Damned Band by Paul Cornell and Tony Parker

9. Ant-Man by Nick Spencer, Ramon Rosanas, and Jordan Boyd.

8. We Can Never Go Home by Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon, and Josh Hood

7. Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

6. Squadron Sinister by Marc Guggenheim and Carlos Pacheco

5. Jupiter’s Circle, vol. 1, by Mark Millar and Chris Sprouse

4. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack

3. Descender by Jeff Lemire

2. Arcadia by Alex Paknadel and Eric Scott Pfeiffer

1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.


MY TOP 10 BOOK READS OF 2015 (hardly any of which were actually published in 2015).

10. The Deep by Nick Cutter (Horror)

9. 419 by Will Ferguson (Fiction)

8. The Candlemass Road by George MacDonald Fraser (Historical Fiction)

7. The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Anne VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer (Science Fiction)

6. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (Fiction)

5. Cutter and Bone by Newton Thornburg (Crime Fiction)

4. Get Carter by Ted Lewis (Crime Fiction)

3. Lexicon by Max Barry (Science Fiction)

2. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (Non-Fiction)

1. Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell (Historical Fiction)

Honorable Mentions:

Half A War by Joe Abercrombie

Nightborn by Lou Anders

The Serpent’s Tale by Ariana Franklin

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Science Fiction)

The End of All Things by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley


What were your top reads of 2015?

24 thoughts on “January 1, 2016: Resolutions and reading recommendations!

  1. I don’t make resolutions, since I never stick to them. But I think this year I may make an exception…to try to make your most prolific commenter list for 2016! I’m not sure I can keep up with the activity level of #1 ponytail, but I sure will try for spots 2-5!!

    I’ve only got one book my list at the moment for 2016, it’s a long one and I start a new job on Monday. We’ll see how long it takes me to read it. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, in prep for season 2 of Outlander on Starz!

  2. I feel ridiculously bad for not having read any of those books … However, I did hear incredibly good things about the Saga! I’ve wanted to check that out for a while.
    Good luck with your resolutions! You seem very determined!

  3. Not nearly as many as you have read but here they are :
    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Language of the Bear by Evan Ronan & Nathanael Green
    A few Patricia Cornwall

    Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (Thank you for the recommendation)
    Dark Matter Graphic Novel

    The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald
    Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

  4. My main resolution is to actually follow through with my other resolutions because I never do, lol. As for books, I started reading George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (Game of Thrones) around March last year, and I still haven’t finished yet, lol.

  5. I hope you manage to make those resolutions part of your routine, Joe!

    My favorite books from last year:

    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
    Uprooted by Naomi Novik
    Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

  6. The only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made and stuck with was when I resolved to not make New Year’s resolutions any more. That was over 10 years ago and I’m batting 1000.

  7. I don’t believe in resolutions as much as some, but I do hope everyone has a good 2016. Let’s hope 2016 is the year of Dark Matter, and then 2017, 18, and so forth. Anyway I had a crazy amount of Vertigo recently which passed fairly quickly, what a weird sensation that was, happened at the exact moment I suffered an eardrum rupture. That said, it hasn’t really affected my hearing in the slightest which I thought it may.

    2016 looks like it will be a good year for anime too. Food Wars Season 2, Accel World Season 2, likely Sword Art Online Season 3(I think will be announced after the movie premieres like they did with the Extra Edition). And one that I’m looking forward too most, which is Macross Delta, which premieres in April. It takes place 7 years after Macross Frontier and is based in the same universe.

    And by the way Joe, if you ever feel like subjecting yourself to terrible anime, I suggest Comet Lucifer. Not only is the story so horrendously bad, the characters are barely what you’d call one dimensional. The main character especially has no qualities what so ever or any real motives to doing what he does. This is a series one should watch if you want to challenge yourself as to how long you’ll last lol.

  8. I am still reading The Time Traveller’s Almanac! It must be over 6 months since I started it. I didn’t read many books last year because I’m so slow and TTTA is so bloody massive but I did listen to quite a few audio books. My favourite would probably be The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher. I’m currently listening to the complete Sherlock Holmes which comes in at just over 58 hours. It was great to be able to pick up on several references to the original stories in tonight’s special episode of Sherlock on the BBC.

    As far as resolutions go, I don’t really bother. I do need to lose weight but I haven’t been too indulgent this Christmas so don’t feel too guilty . . . not guilty enough to rush to the gym anyway! 😛

  9. Happy New Year. Wish you and your family all the best. 🙂

    My New Year’s resolution is to keep up the good self care work i have been doing and change even more things for the better. That also includes healthier eating.

    Wow!!! 180 books? :O 85 books? for me that is also a big accomplishment. Thank you for sharing the list, i will sure check it out. 🙂

  10. resolutions… only thing I want to do this year is to lose some weight for a wedding in Aug, I guess I might actually have to do some exercise to accomplish this,, apparently just watching the exercise video does not count?!?hmmm, let me get back to you on that…

  11. Hey, what do you have against jazz? It is an art form that can be uplifting and moving as well as relaxing and soothing.

  12. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Sharpe’s Tiger. The next two are just as good, after that the series is hit and miss (some being good, some being only ok).

  13. Looking back, I didn’t read many books at all last year! I use books all the time for reference and ideas but rarely as a cover to cover reader. However these are the very few I did read
    ‘Earthsearch’ James Follet (oldie from my bookshelf)
    ‘Endymion and Falconet’ Benjamin Disraeli (Yeah! I know! An oldie which I read as it has references to where I work…)
    ‘1000 Years of Annoying The French’ by Stephen Clarke (because I’m English and I wanted to learn more about our bestest friends across the Channel 😉!)

    My NYRs?
    Be good
    Eat more healthily
    Drink less alcohol

    … well those went in the first few hours of 2016! Crap! So I’ll just have to go with this

    Enjoy what I have and because of that, be able to give out good vibes and share happiness with those around me. (ooh, does that make sense? Sounds a bit do goody don’t it?!). Blow it! I’ll just be myself… 😒

  14. Speaking of Stargate… I’d never actually watched the show before I started watching Dark Matter last year, I knew Jodelle had done a couple of episodes but I’d never seen them – however after watching DM and finding out you were involved with SG I figured it was time to watch it – so got all three series (SG-1, SG:A, SG:U) as box sets… and I’m loving it so far, and regret no giving it a chance sooner. So, anyway, bring on DM s2, I’m really looking forward to it.

  15. Resolutions? Um, just the same ones I’ve had for years now: Eat less, exercise more, take meds consistently, declutter the house…

  16. Interesting list Joseph. (If this is a repeat, I apologize) Here’s my top 3 per category.

    Black Tide Rising Series by John Ringo, although you could tell he was bored with the story by the 4th book.
    The Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell
    Cobra Rebellion Series by Timothy Zahn

    Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (technically I finished it Jan 1st)
    The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
    Coaching Basketball’s Blocker-Mover Motion Offense by Kevin Sivils

    Seal Team Six: Hunt the Jackal by Don Mann w/ Ralph Pezzullo
    The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor
    Black list by Brad Thor

    Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan (Up there with Jack Welch’s books)
    The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller
    Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, MD

    The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
    The Investment Answer by Daniel Goldie and Gordon Murray
    Rich Habits by Thomas C. Corley

    Runners Up:
    Any of the Marcus Buckingham business books (audio books I listen to every year)
    Any of the Steve Siebold books. (Read Several)
    Conquest by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard (New Series)

    My suggestion on exercising is doing it first thing in the morning at the start of the day. It could be just a 30 minute walk (take Bubba and Lulu) or you could play hoops with Alex Mallari Jr.

    Have a great 2016.

  17. You have a good metabolism, Mr. M. Losing weight shouldn’t be a problem for you. I’m fortunate in that regards, also. I inherited my dad’s skinny gene or I have thyroid problems (dr still debating that one).

    My resolution this year? Become more organized. I was so depressed after Harry died, I let a lot of things slip. I did a lot of binge junk food reading (you can see that from my list below) too. I don’t keep track of the amount of books. This is just a sample.

    Woman with gun by Phillip Margolin
    Broken by Linwood Barclay
    The Omega Force series by Joshua Dalzelle
    Half A War by Joe Abercrombie
    Nightborn by Lou Anders
    Thrones and Bones by Lou Anders
    All of John Scalzi’s books
    All of James Rollins
    All the new ones from David Balacci
    Murderer’s daughter by Jonathan Kellerman (that one haunted me, great read!)
    All the Pendergast Novels (I re-read them all)
    (R)Evolution by P.J. Manning

    Last year was a mixed bag. My beloved Harry was sick and died (that was the worst). My hubby started a new job and he had problems adjusting. Other than those things, life was good. I went with my best friend to her beach condo, twice! I love the beach!!!!!! I grew up poor and the only beach I had ever seen was the one in Chicago. My son is doing great in college. Life is good.

    Ruby is drinking a lot of water on her own. However, she’s still not eating. Fingers crossed, salt over your shoulder, prayers…..

    Das: Yes, it bothers me to see how many pets need homes on FB but those shares work sometimes. I’ve seen owners reunited by those posts. I strive for optimism. However, the abuse posts I hide from my view. They hurt my soul too. Hope 2016 is great for ya!

  18. “Get my shit together” sums up my NY thoughts. Got to be mobile for Burning Man in August. Oh, I’m home, time for the healing stretch.

  19. First of all, both Kathode and I agree: burpees are stupid. Otherwise: great workout. Very ambitious of you – keep up the good work and perhaps you’ll inspire the rest of us to exercise regularly instead of just eat. One day, you must share your secret as to how you can eat so much and still function.
    After our night with Peter, I could barely move yet you and Akemi suffered no ill effects!

    Yes, book club! Yes, comix!! Most definitely! Saga for sure, but also Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, or perhaps even some more of Brian K. Vaughn – Y:The last Man, or Ex Machina. Brilliant, yet so so depressing.

    Out of your top books it’s only the honorable mention/s that I’ve read – Joe Abercrombie’s Half a War and the First Law series. Those are in my top ten! 😀
    Perhaps the NY should start off with some of your other recommendations.. like The Time Traveler’s Almanac (after reading the Southern Reach trilogy, I must have more VanderMeer!). Many of the others sound familiar..
    Mia has a great idea of listening to audio books. They’re a great way to listen to a story yet still get Stuff Done. Or even listen while walking about. If the reader is good, an audiobook can be an absolute delight.

    Also: Hyperion-8? Don’t suppose that’s a nod to Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Series is it?

    Ps wordpress doesn’t like my passwords. Or maybe it just doesn’t like me. Ignore any duplicate posts, please!

  20. Some past year good reads:
    Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
    Storm Front & Deadline by John Sandford
    The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
    Sycamore Row by John Grisham

    Currently reading the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, on the 9th book. Love them. I can thank Anthony Lemke for this latest addiction. After watching Dark Matter, I did an IMDB search of his other works & found Still Life. After watching it, wanted to read the books and that’s all I’ve done since.

    Still working on those resolutions….coming in Feb 2016.

  21. I didn’t read as much this year, Netflix and Hulu encroach on my time with their fabulous shows.

    I did like Girl on the Train, but my fave books last year were A Discovey of Witches and the two sequels.

    I need to stay on my healthy regimen, it’s easier now the “have another slice” holidays are over. I’m finidng sugary stuff is jumping into my shopping cart of its own volition; today were something called Sather’s Red Twists made by the Sweetums factory in Illinois. My fave part of about these generic Twizzlers is the warning on the label “Small objects such as hard and soft candies may indavertently become lodged in the throat.” The hell?

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