Finding his escape during free time

Read. Watch. Listen. introduces you to the personal side of our faculty, staff and alumni. Participants are asked to answer three simple questions about their reading, viewing and listening habits – what one book or newspaper/magazine article is grabbing your attention; what one movie or television show has caught your eye; and what album/song, podcast or radio show are you lending an ear to.

David Spence is a Neurology and Clinical Pharmacology professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and a Robarts Research Institute scientist, and newly named Member of the Order of Canada.

Today, he takes a turn on Read. Watch. Listen.

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I spend many hours a day reading and writing scientific papers, so my free time reading and watching tend to be escape – the books I read are mainly detective stories. Michael Connelly, John Grisham, Colin Dexter, Ann Cleeves, Peter Robinson, Sarah Paretsky, Alafair Burke, Ian Hamilton, Jo Nesbo, Ian Rankin, Sue Grafton … I have read all or most of their books. I have also read all the books of WEB Griffin (U.S. military historical novels from the Second World War to Vietnam ). I have more than 300 books on my Kobo reader – much lighter for travel – because I re-read books at times.

What caught my attention recently was Greenland’s ice sheet is melting unusually fast, a June 22 story in The Economist: “That sheet holds enough water to raise the world’s sea level by more than seven metres, should it all melt and run off into the oceans. … The latest data show that the area of melting ice is unusually high this year. On June 12, 712,000 square kilometres of the sheet (more than 40 per cent of it) were melting. That is well outside the normal range for the past 40 years.”

Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland reckons that if this year is anything like 2012 (which set the current record for ice melt), melting ice from Greenland will raise the sea level by a millimetre. That is on top of the 2.5 mm-a-year rise brought about by other causes, such as thermal expansion of the oceans in response to global warming.”

It’s no joke when people say we should visit places like Venice and the Maldives before they are under water. Our great-grandchildren will see a very different world – if mankind survives global warming.


The Fall on Netflix is a gripping three-season story of a truly evil serial killer in Ireland (played by Jamie Dorman), and the beautiful/intelligent/brave woman detective (played by Gillian Anderson from The X-Files), harassed by her male bosses, determinedly tracking him down. It was too gruesome for my wife, but I kept watching ‘til the last show.


I listen mostly in the car and almost always CBC Radio 2 (100.5 FM in London) where two of my favourite shows are Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap and Backstage with Ben Hepner. However, I also enjoy Tempo with Judy Nasrallah, “your Girl in the Chair with the Big Hair”; This This is My Music, where famous musicians discuss why they chose to play certain pieces and reminisce about their teachers and careers; and Shift with Tom Allen, with his eclectic musical tastes, insightful and musically knowledgeable commentary, and quirky sense of humour. Recently, Allen has been featuring interesting interviews with musicians who perform popular music, explaining their roots in and passion for classical music.

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