Making your way through change

Times of change can be stressful and difficult. Often, even when you’ve got some idea of what’s happening next, navigating uncertainty can be a challenge. How do you start a new career, or end one, or start a family, or move to a new city, or make your way through a global pandemic? How do you deal with a significant loss? How do you learn in a new environment? If you want some resources to learn about making your way through change, we here at the Winnipeg Public Library can connect you with many.

Pregnancy during a pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been sequestered in spaces with those nearest and (hopefully) dearest to us. It’s not altogether surprising that being pregnant or giving birth during this time might be accompanied by challenges that wouldn’t be present in a non-pandemic year. Without the ability to have visitors in the form of family helpers and friends to give you some “adult time”, having a baby might feel like an isolating, overwhelming, and lonely experience right now.

There’s a lot to navigate: from understanding how the embryo grows into a fetus and the physical effects of pregnancy, to picking a name for the child and preparing other children within the household for the change, to deciding on childcare options, and when or whether you or your partner will return to work. Here are some resources to help you navigate this time:

If you’re looking for other books about navigating pregnancy, check out this book list. Your doctor may also have recommendations for resources for you to check out.

Maybe you learn through stories

Stories can help us to understand another person’s point of view, or help us feel connected. If you’d prefer to read accounts from others on experiencing pregnancy, carrying children, and living in their bodies from a variety of perspectives, you could give these a try:

How do you name a baby?

If you don’t have a family name you’d like to pass along, or a name that you’ve had picked out since you learned it was possible to add children to your family, we’ve got a book list that might help!

Some of my favourites from this list include:

Life with a new sibling

If you already have a child (or two, or three, etc.) in your life, they might be curious or confused about this whole process. I have a few favourite picture books for this – Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby? is one of them, followed by Sex is a Funny Word for slightly older kids.

We’ve got tons of books that share stories of characters anticipating the arrival of, or adjusting to a new sibling:

Feel free to call the library if you’re looking for something else! Our librarians are available to help you find the information you need for this period of change.


Evvie Drake Starts Over

“…you wake up one day and you need a whole new plan.” Evvie Drake

After her husband’s sudden death, Evvie Drake is living alone. She rarely leaves her house that is both too big and too full of memories. When her best friend, Andy, asks her to rent the apartment behind her house to Dean, his childhood friend, Evvie is grateful for the extra income. Dean, a disgraced former major league baseball pitcher, is looking for a quiet place to sort out his life away from New York and the constant hounding of reporters. Small town Maine seems like just the place to clear his head.

Evvie Drake Starts Over is the first book from NPR radio host, Linda Holmes. Evvie Drake started off as a writing exercise associated with The National Novel Writing Month Project, commonly called NaNoWriMo, and developed into this full-fledged delight of a novel.

The Time To Read gang thought it was time to take on a ROMANCE novel, and when better to read a romance novel than during the cold, dark, dreary days of February? Think of it as a “beach read for a snow drift”.

We can’t wait to hear what you think about Evvie Drake. In the meantime, check out our most recent episode where we discuss Vi by Kim Thúy.

Until next time, make sure you find….Time To Read!


Get Swept Off Your Feet

Looking for your next book to fall in love with? Come make a date with our Romance Fiction guide and find a title to get cozy with by the fire. Whether you enjoy historical romance (stories that take place in the past), contemporary romance (stories that takes place in modern times), or other-wordly romance (stories with a supernatural element) we’ve plenty of titles to tug at your heartstrings.

One of my favourite things about romance is the tropes. I can read so many stories where characters who are friends or become friends at the beginning of the story realise there is something more to their relationship (friends-to-lovers). There are characters who decide to date for reasons other than romance and then start to realise they have real feelings for each other (fake dating/relationship). There are characters who find themselves working/living in close proximity and end up falling for each other (stuck together). Even though I know perfectly well how the story is going to end up, it doesn’t take away from my enjoyment because there are so many ways that different characters react to these kinds of situations. I especially like when I get to read these tropes with characters with diverse backgrounds and identities who until recent years didn’t feature in very many of these kinds of stories. (There are definitely tropes that I don’t enjoy and tend to avoid, but that’s easy to do when there are so many I do like!)

I enjoy all kinds of romance though contemporary is my favourite. If that piques your interest, give A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole a read. It’s the first book in her Reluctant Royals series. There’s humour, vibrant and diverse characters, and a character who finds out they are in line for the throne in a distant country. (One of my favourite kinds of royal romances, as it reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Young Adult book series, The Princess Diaries.)

If you prefer your romance to take place in times long past, check out the new book from Olivia Waite, the second in her Feminine Pursuits series called The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, a story of science, beekeeping, and forbidden love.

If you like a little supernatural mixed with your romance, check out Nalini’s Singh’s Guild Hunter series. One of the latest is Archangel’s War, which continues the epic saga of a world where angels rule over humans and vampires.


A Novel Perspective

While Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “pandemic,” I’ve been thinking a lot about a different word lately – “novel.” For, 2020 really has been a novel year in more ways than one. It was a novel coronavirus that turned our world upside down and took away many of the activities we usually count on to occupy our evenings and weekends. Theatre, festivals and concerts have been out of the question for months but with these absences has come a greater need for a classic entertainment option – the novel. Of course, reading is more than just something to do – it acts as an escape, and a particularly important one during this uncertain and anxious time. Due to our unprecedented library closures, many of our patrons have discovered novel ways to access reading materials, like with eBooks and eAudiobooks. 

We’ve also taken a novel approach when it comes to discussing books (have I exhausted this word play yet?). In person book clubs have not been able to meet so instead, we’ve pivoted to an online version. Since July, the Perspectives Online Book Club has been using Zoom to chat each month! It’s exactly like a regular book club, except you can wear pajama bottoms and no one will be the wiser.

This book club is called Perspectives because we read and discuss diverse books from authors who write about life experiences similar to their own. Each month brings a novel perspective (last one, I promise) on topics such as genders, abilities, cultures and more. You register for each title separately so you’re only committing to a single month – not an entire year.

We started the club off with There There, a personal favourite that I’ve recommended before. Cheyenne and Arapaho author, Tommy Orange writes 12 compelling characters with interwoven narratives who are all making their way to the same pow wow. Like Orange, each character has a connection to the Oakland, California area and is exploring what it means to be Indigenous in an urban setting. Next, we read Corinne Duyvis’ novel called On the Edge of Gone, a young adult science fiction pick that most members said they wouldn’t have chosen themselves but ultimately enjoyed. This apocalyptic novel is set in Amsterdam during the year 2034. It follows 16-year-old Denise and her family as they deal with the impact and aftermath of a comet that hits the Earth. Duyvis, like her protagonist, is on the autism spectrum.

In September, we read Behold the Dreamers, a narrative reflective of author Imbolo Mbue’s life as a Cameroonian immigrant to New York City. Mbue and her characters continually question if the American dream is still attainable. Next up was another book set in NYC – Adam Silvera’s YA novel, History is All You Left Me. This book follows Griffin, a gay teen who is dealing with a lot – complicated relationships, grief and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Refreshingly, Griffin’s sexuality is never the book’s focus, as his family and friends accept him for who he is. Silvera writes from a place of understanding because he identifies as gay and has OCD.

Recently, we’ve been exploring the local literary scene. First we spent time with the always heartbreaking and humourous words of Miriam Toews. It was my second time reading All My Puny Sorrows, but I was still a blubbering mess by the end. Toews writes of her personal connection to suicide, questioning how one navigates a reality where a family member wants to die. Finally, we moved to another heavy Manitoba-set story. In The Evolution of Alice, Cree author, David Robertson writes strong Indigenous characters. This story revolves around Alice, a single mother raising her daughters on a Reservation, in the midst of unthinkable loss.

Our first meeting of the new year takes place from 7-8 p.m. on Thursday, February 4th. We’ll be discussing Kim Thúy’s Vi, a novel that looks at the experience of being a Vietnamese refugee and immigrant in Quebec. Vi is this year’s selection for Un Livrel/One eRead Canada, a national and bilingual digital book club. For the month of January, there will be unlimited access to the eBook and eAudiobook formats, meaning no holds or waitlists! We also have many physical copies that you’re welcome to request and pick-up during our holds service. If you’d like to join the discussion, please register here.


Un Livrel/One eRead Canada

“Exquisite from start to finish” Tara Henly, The Toronto Star April 6, 2018


This month, the Time to Read Podcast book club will be joining WPL and 300 other libraries across Canada for the Un Livrel/One eRead Canada digital book club initiative. This is the first time that the Un Livrel/One eRead Canada will feature a title available in both English and French. The title will be available between January 1 and 31 on Overdrive and Cantook Station with unlimited borrows and no waitlists. For those of you who would prefer a paper copy, WPL has several of those as well in English and French. You can order these paper copies and pick them up at one of our 10 locations currently open for contactless holds pickup.

“And what is the title?” (I hear you all murmuring to yourselves if you’ve gotten as far as the second paragraph.) Well! It’s Vi by Kim Thúy. Originally published in French in 2016, it was later translated into English by Sheila Fischmann.

January’s Read

Set in Saigon during the Vietnam war, Vi tells the story of a young girl’s journey from war-torn southeast Asia as she escapes with her family to Quebec as a refugee. Full of detailed, sensuous imagery while exploring what it means to be a dutiful daughter in a changing world, Vi is sure to captivate us and lead to some interesting discussions. We hope you join us!

And in the meantime, why don’t you check out our latest episode where we discuss towels, babel fish, and the perils of interplanetary travel with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams?

Until next month, I hope everyone finds some TIME TO READ.


Paris is always a good idea

Once upon a time, my 2020 plans included a trip to Paris. For obvious reasons, 2020 did not include a trip to Paris. And it turns out, that’s ok! Over the year, I have found many books in the catalogue that have allowed me an opportunity to get a small taste of Paris while saving on the airfare and hotel costs (not to mention avoiding jetlag!). If you’re looking for a chance to experience the City of Light from the comfort of your own home, here are some of the titles I used to explore this famous city from a distance.

Paris is always a good idea is a fun romance which follows 30 year old Chelsea Martin as she repeats her year-long post-college European adventure. As she bounces through Ireland, Italy, and France, she tries to remember what it is like to be happy, in love, or enjoying her life. As she goes, she learns some surprising truths about herself and, of course, finds love in the last place she expects it. 

Very few things stir the imagination the way the court of Versailles in its heyday manages to, with its truly mythic appeal, but add a dash of magic to intrigues and dazzling shows of wealth and power, and you have the teen novel Enchantée by Gita Trelease. With the French Revolution on the horizon, Camille must use all her cunning and magic to provide for her and her sister after the death of her parents. Using her magic to transform herself into a baroness and gain entry to the gilded courts, Camille finds herself in over her head almost immediately. If the combo of Versailles and magic appeals to you, you may also want to check out In the Shadow of the Sun by E.M. Castellan.

And is Paris even Paris without the food? These are just a few of the cookbooks I flipped through while travelling in my mind. I’m still working on mastering the macarons, so these were enjoyable afternoon reads… about as much effort was involved as would be involved with ordering these delicious foods at a Parisian restaurant!

French Pastry 101 A Taste of France My Paris kitchen

Just because travel isn’t feasible right now doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning for the real life experience! Grab yourself a travel book and start dreaming!

What location, near or far, have you been dreaming of? Have you found a way to make your dream destination feel a bit more real, even when you can’t go in person?

Happy dreaming,


A few good things about 2020

As the year comes to an end, I have good news: Winnipeg Public Library staff have put together our annual list of favourite reads! Many of these titles are brand new, while some are a bit older; but all are available at WPL and well worth a look.

If you’re interested in catching up on previous years, here are our picks for 2019 and 2018.

Need more lists? Be sure to check out Largehearted Boy’s ongoing annual list of lists compilation.


According to Aileen, The Patient by Jasper DeWitt is a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat novella with an intriguing concept and format.

Carolyn enjoyed following the life of the titular character through 1990s Nigeria in The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi.

Cyrus found Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel Essex County “a beautiful mix of disappointment, lack of connection, (sometimes) gaining of connection, faith, and small things being the best things.”

David went with an intriguing thriller: Code Name: Liberty by Marshall Thornton, about the Iran Hostage Crisis and a DC waiter recruited to spy on a prominent Persian family.

Elin chose Beatlebone by Kevin Barry, a “delicate, fine and odd” story about John Lennon just trying to get to his private Irish island.

Ian‘s pick is The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ Years Old, which covers a year in the life of a man in a Dutch long-term care home; the pages are filled with stories of aging and death, but the book is all about dignity, friendship, and love.

Kaite finally decided to give the ‘In Death’ series by J.D. Robb (beginning with Naked in Death) a try, and with 50+ books in the series, they’ve been keeping her busy throughout the pandemic!

Kelsey fell in love with Cats of the Louvre by Taiyo Matsumoto, a dreamy graphic novel about a small family of cats secretly living inside the attic of the Louvre Museum in Paris. A very cozy read!

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel taught Lauren about the importance of forgery during World War II.

Leanne couldn’t put down Hideaway by Nora Roberts.

Monica selected Fauna by Christiane Vadnais, the best climate fiction book she’s read, a beautifully written (and terrifuing) tale of nature adapting to the damage that has been done and reclaiming the earth.

Toby loved The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, a beautiful thought-provoking novel about twin Black sisters and the different paths they take.


Baljinder chose two involving memoirs: An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff, and Educated by Tara Westover.

After reading Glow from Within by facialist and dermatologist to the stars Joanna Vargas, Brittany felt like she’d had an in-depth skin consultation (without the bill).

Kelly says Compassionate Conversations by Diane Musho Hamilton “is so relevant to help people navigate the difficult and potentially polarizing conversations of 2020.”

Kristen found Jesse Thistle’s memoir From the Ashes a difficult but rewarding book about addiction and drug use, and the hard roads its author travelled. (Bonus: the audiobook version is read by Thistle himself.)

Madeleine‘s favourite is Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, who hasn’t lost her ability to make funny stories even funnier as well as skillfully infuse humour into incredibly sad ones.

Marina says that The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller is “an insightful and timely read for these difficult times.”

Owen chose Futures of Black Radicalism, edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin, because in a year of revolt and radical imagination, it nourishes our capacity to remake the world.

Phil enjoyed 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson and says the chapter on how to raise kids was “particularly memorable.”

Randy found On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder relevant for anyone who cares about human rights and personal freedom, particularly this year.

Rémi heard about How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci and was fascinated by the applicability and relevance of this ancient philosophy during this difficult year.

Steve enjoyed reading the paired autobiographies of a certain well-known married couple: Becoming by Michelle Obama and A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

For younger readers

Derek enjoyed George by Alex Gino, the story of a transgender girl who wants to play Charlotte in the class play (Charlotte’s Web) and “an exuberant tale of a youngster’s growth in the assertion of her identity.”

Dog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson made Leanne cry.


Don’t Panic

“We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway.”

(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

This month, the Time to Read Podcast Book Club will be reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Originally presented as a radio drama in 1978 on the BBC and picked up by NPR and the CBC in North America, the story became an instant hit and prompted Douglas Adams to rewrite the first four episodes as a novel the following year. The series expanded eventually to include six books, although it is often intentionally misidentified as a “trilogy”.

For many of us, there’s no need to summarize the familiar story, but for who don’t know it, “DON’T PANIC’. (I’m looking at you, Kirsten!)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its sequels follow the adventures of an unremarkable Englishman, Arthur Dent, and his pal, alien journalist Ford Prefect. Arthur Dent is introduced to the wonders of “life, the universe and everything” when he is rescued from Earth moments before it is destroyed to make room for a hyperspace bypass. To Dent’s dismay, his friend of several years, Ford Prefect, is not an out of work actor from Guilford, but is in fact a seasoned galactic hitchhiker who was assigned to research Earth for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, a guidebook of sorts for the galactic traveller.

Dent and Prefect soon meet Zaphod Beeblebrox, the extra-limbed and two headed president of the galaxy, Marvin, the paranoid android, and Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend and only other human survivor of Earth’s destruction.

To say any more would be saying too much. I just remind you to locate your Babel fish, make sure you always have your towel handy, and whatever you do, please “Don’t Panic”.

In the meantime, please listen to our most recent episode where we discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Water Dancer.

Until next month, make sure you find some “Time to Read”.


New local history reads

Looking for some local history to read? Here are some new ones to join the collection. Place your hold!

Spanning from the beginning of organised sports in the 1870’s to the present day, Iconic stories from 150 years of sport in Manitoba by Sean Grassie is a comprehensive, richly illustrated reference work for anyone wanting to learn about the history of sports in the province and the great athletes that emerged in our first 150 years. The book highlights a large diversity of sports as well as athletes who excelled in them, from the early pioneers of sports like lacrosse, curling, rowing and hockey, the first olympic (and later paralympic) champions, the emergence of women professional athletes, right up to the 2019 Blue Bombers’ Grey Cup victory.

With over 140 photographs of a city constantly re-inventing itself, Old Winnipeg: a history in pictures by Christine Hanlon is a delight to browse through if you are interested in a trip back in time to buildings and locations that are no longer in existence. You can re-visit or discover for the first time places like the Beachcomber restaurant, Happyland Park, the early fortifications of Fort Garry, the Stevenson Aerodrome or Winnipeg’s first City Hall through this fascinating work, with many photographs never published before. A definite must-see title to see Winnipeg as it once was.

Mennonite Village Photography: Views from Manitoba 1890–1940 — Mennonite  Historic Arts Committee

Mennonite village photography: views from Manitoba, 1890-1940 is the work of four young Mennonites from villages in Southern Manitoba at the turn of the 20th century, who started pursuing a new hobby but ended leaving an enduring record of a unique period in the history of Mennonites in the Prairies. They captured formal portraits as well as candid humorous shots, images of childhood and funerals, of everyday work and play. The book helps shed a new light on Mennonite life in rural Manitoba back when they were themselves new to the province.

Radiant shards: Hoda’s north end poems is a “narrative poem” by Ruth Panofsky telling the story of the struggles and sacrifices of Russian parents recently immigrated to Winnipeg in the early 20th century, joining throngs of new Canadians trying to survive in a period of turmoil and poverty. The work incorporates historical photographs of Post-WWI Winnipeg that grounds the lyrical tale with the reality of time. Also a focus of her narrative is the life experience and inner world of their tenacious daughter Hoda, who is based on an actual resident of the neighborhood, who works as a sex worker in the North End, reflecting on the experiences of her complicated life.

The author of Latvian pioneers, socialists, and refugees in Manitoba, Viesturs Zarins set out to chronicle an overlooked topic: the experience of the Latvian community that settled in Manitoba starting in 1895 in the areas of Lac Du Bonnet and Sifton. Many of them were farmers and workers who fled their Baltic home because of persecution from Czarist forces following a failed revolution in 1905. Many continued to be activist and local politicians for socialist causes in their adopted home. Filled with intimate memories about their experiences settling in and pride for their achievements as entrepreneurs, this is another welcome addition to the diverse collection of stories from new Canadians in Manitoba.


Read Local!

Amidst the Code Red restrictions, we’ve been encouraged to support our small businesses and shop local. But why stop there? Why not read local as well?

I’ve been a fan of Prairie Literature for a long time but it only occurred to me recently that Laura Ingalls Wilder is mostly to blame. As a devoted library-goer, my Mom rarely let me purchase anything from the book orders but I somehow convinced her that I needed to become a member of the Little House on the Prairies Scholastic Book Club. I’ve actively sought out university and employment opportunities where I could read and write about Prairie Literature so, naturally, I jumped at the chance to create the Local Authors Info Guide.

The “genre” may have once been defined by farmhouses and blizzards but it now showcases more than just a rural way of life. These books are about Indigenous, immigrant and LGBTQ+ experiences, to name but a few. The guide has a whole section devoted to stories that are set in Winnipeg, highlighting our city in all its cold, complicated and compelling glory. There are also tabs for Manitoba and Canadian writers, calling attention to everything from the classics to the newly published.

Below you’ll find a handful of books that have shot to the top of my to-read list – some I’ve been meaning to read for years, others are hidden gems I didn’t even know existed.

Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi
I went to university with John Elizabeth Stintzi and distinctly remember them reading a poem at a department colloquium that left everyone in the room with goosebumps on their arms and tears in their eyes. Their success comes as no surprise and I feel pretty lucky to have witnessed an early reading from one of Canada’s new literary stars. Vanishing Monuments is about Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher. They have recently returned to Winnipeg in order to visit their estranged Mother whose dementia is worsening. Alani stays at their Mother’s empty home, trying to reconcile painful memories of growing up, all the while, afraid of losing them.

Mistik Lake by Martha Brooks
To be honest, I totally judged this book by it’s cover – I was hooked by the neon colours. But after reading the synopsis, the plot seems just as intriguing as its visual representation. It’s 1981 and Sally McLean is in a car that shatters through the ice, to the bottom of Mistik Lake. Sally is the only survivor. Years later, Sally’s daughter, Odella, begins to question if it was this accident that caused her Mother’s pain and subsequent drinking problem. With her Mother having recently run off to Iceland, Odella tries to hold her family together, all while beginning to unravel family secrets.

Vikings on a Prairie Ocean by Glenn Sigurdson
Equal parts memoir, history and myth, this book explores the author’s life growing up around Lake Winnipeg. The book discusses the arrival of Icelandic settlers in 1875, specifically focusing on how fishing has informed a culture and community. Of particular interest are the relationships formed between Cree, Ojibway and Icelandic settlers who often worked and lived together in isolated settlements and fishing camps at the north end of the lake.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle
This is one of those books that pops up on my radar constantly and yet, I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. The novel is narrated by Mink, a shape shifter who is drawn to follow the story of Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. Celia is a seer who, with her family’s support, must help her community heal from generations of trauma, the legacy of colonialism. The novel takes place during a moment of crisis when one of the village’s youngest residents is violently attacked by another community member. This is a book about healing and hope.

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Panic over grocery store essentials is a reality that many of us have had to face over the last 9 months. This book touches on similar feelings of fear. When a small northern Anishinaabe community is suddenly cut off – from both technology and resources – there is a struggle to maintain order and calm. This is only exacerbated by visitors from the south who are looking for resources and eventually try to take over. The answer to the chaos is found with the land and Anishinaabe traditions. Rice, a former Winnipegger, is currently writing a sequel!

If any of these books have caught your eye, please know that there are many more like them on the Local Authors Info Guide. Happy reading!