A Star is Born… Again

It’s around this time of year when movie studios begin to release the films they hope will be in the running for next year’s awards season. One of the movies that is getting early “Oscar Buzz” is A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper also directed the film; his first one.

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Did you know that A Star is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake? It’s true. The original A Star is Born was released in 1937. It was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Each version tells the same basic story of a grizzled down-and-out celebrity who mentors a new, fresh talent, and as the popularity and success of the new talent rises, the career of the established character burns out. (Sorry about the spoilers for an 80 year old story that’s been told four different times).

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In the original, the action is based in Hollywood and tells the story of a young woman who rises out of obscurity and makes it big as a star of the silver screen. Fun fact: the 1937 version was the first colour movie to get nominated for Best Picture. You can watch on WPL’s digital services Hoopla and Kanopy. In the 1954 version, musical numbers abound as Judy Garland’s character transforms from the leader of a musical ensemble into a star of movie musicals. The following remake (1976) ditches Hollywood and makes the mentor character a drug-addled alcoholic rock star (Kristofferson) who discovers the titular star who gets born (Streisand) and the usual twists and turns insue.

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The newest take on this well-worn tale appears to have Bradley Cooper as a country singer and Lady Gaga as a pop singer. It played at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and goes to show that, like interesting covers of classic songs, some stories can be told again and again (and again).

-Trevor

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Let’s Go To Vegas

 

Las Vegas Sign

A few weeks ago I went to Las Vegas with some friends to celebrate a certain decadal anniversary. The destination wasn’t my first choice, but I decided to join along for the ride and experience a place I wouldn’t have gone on my own. It wasn’t my first choice because I felt I had already been there many times in books, TV shows, and movies.

Cover image for CSI: crime scene investigation. The first season [Blu-ray videorecording]

 

 

I’ve been all over the city with Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows, investigating gruesome and almost unsolvable crimes scenes in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

 

Cover image for Ocean's eleven [DVD videorecording].

 

I’ve visited the hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip—from the fountains in front of the Bellagio in Ocean’s Eleven (the remake), to the casino floor in the Palazzo Resort in Ocean’s Thirteen (the filming location) and Caesar’s Palace in The Hangover.

 

 

Cover image for Wanna get Lucky?

I’ve visited many other casinos while following Lucky O’Toole, the head of customer relations at the Babylon Mega Casino and Resort, whose job entangles her in odd crimes and murders that seem to keep happening in Las Vegas. The series, Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure by Deborah Coonts, gave me a good sense of what Vegas was like, to the point that once there, I could imagine Lucky O’Toole walking hastily across the casino floor to stop a disaster from happening before any visitors would notice.

Cover image for The goldfinch

 

In The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I discovered, along with Theo Decker, many different sides of Las Vegas, both the strip and the places tourists never see. While his time in Las Vegas was brief, Tartt’s wonderful narrative style gave me a good sense of what it’s like to live there as teenager.

 

Cover image for The Rough Guide to Las VegasNow I know that authors, movie-makers and TV producers can exaggerate a place for entertainment’s sake, so I made sure to check out some travel books for a more realistic perspective of what I should expect. The library had all the newest travel books, and each gave me good directions on where to stay, what to see, how much I should budget, and general logistical information for travelling there.

While I definitely did not do the same things in Las Vegas as the characters did the books and movies (e.g. crazy parties, robbing casinos, solving murders), the city has its reputation and the nickname Sin City for reason. Gambling, alcohol, sex, and every kind of thrill is advertised just about everywhere. It’s extravagant, it’s excessive, and, in the words of Theo Decker when he first arrived, “it’s wild”.

If you want to check out a place you’re interested in visiting, a place you want to go back to, or even just a place you don’t think you’ll ever go in person, make sure to ask staff at your local library for suggestions on how we can transport you there with books or movies from our collection (eBook and streaming available too!).

– Rémi

It’s Okay to Read YA

I am running through a decaying city, being shot at while I run. I know I am headed to a dilapidated area of a city. I am getting closer and closer. As I approach a large transport truck jackknifes in my path. Robotic animals emerge from the truck, running, trying to chase me down. I get away. I find the house I am looking for.  I enter looking for the machine to get me out of this simulation. As I find it, I feel I am safe. They’ve never caught me here before. I am wrong. Just as I teleport to reality I am interrupted, sending me to an unfamiliar place.

Then I wake up.… This is a dream I have had.

I attribute it to reading and watching too many young adult books and movies. Call it a job hazard!

Young adult books are usually fun, smart, and dynamic. After all they need to grab the attention of young people. Many adults feel embarrassed when reading YA, like there is something wrong with it, or it is somehow inferior to more adult novels. These books are not always full of teenage angst, of twisted love triangles. Teen books are full of characters questioning sexual identity, prejudice, and mental health issues, while using straight forward language.

I will start my recommendations with a book full of teenage angst and twisted love triangles!

A Thousand Pieces of You. I don’t know why this has not been made to a movie yet. I read this book with my Youth Advisory Counsel. It has everything a good movie needs: a beautiful heroine, traveling thorough dimensions, and a juicy love triangle. I would recommend (and have) this book to anyone looking for the next Hunger Games, Maze Runner, or Twilight.

 

Half Bad is the story of Nathan, born half white magic and half black magic, making him a half-breed who is shunned by both. He must escape his captors, receive his gifts before his sixteenth birthday, and save the girl he loves. With just a hint of teenage angst, this was a book I could not put down.

 

I’ll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson, is the story of twins Noah and Jude who are inseparable from birth, torn apart by their mother’s death. Noah struggles with his sexuality, falling for the boy next door.  Jude, struggling with school, meets a new mentor, who may change the course of her life.

 

Maus I & II are a fantastic and accessible way to learn about the holocaust. In this book Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish holocaust survivor, tells his story to his son.  Maus uses cats (Germans), mice (Jews), dogs (Americans), and pigs (Poles) to recount Vladek’s memories. You can also look for MetaMaus, an in-depth look into the process of writing the book.

What would you do if you found out you were one of Thirteen Reasons Why someone would commit suicide? This is what Clay has to figure out.  It is a beautifully told story of mental health, of trying to see the pain of someone else.

 

 

I hope this post will give you permission to pick up a Young Adult book and give it a try! You will not be disappointed.

— Andrea

 

It’s time to read: Walkaway

Welcome, dear readers! It’s that time at the beginning of the month when you should check your podcast feeds because a BRAND NEW EPISODE of WPL’s podcast, Time to Read is now available wherever you find your podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang talked about Cory Doctorow’s book Walkaway, set in a dystopian/utopian near future. We pondered if we’d be brave enough to walk away from society (spoiler: Alan is not), or if any of us were interested in “uploading” a version of ourselves (spoiler: Kirsten is not.)  And of course Trevor found us a handy-dandy list to discuss (what was the list about? Tune in to find out!)

If you want to get in on the fun, pick up next month’s read, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Set in a fictional universe, Rosemary Harper escapes her old life (and accompanying secrets) and joins a multi-species crew of a spaceship called The Wayfarer. It’s Erica’s favourite book! So, be sure to let us know what you think of it. Do you agree with Erica? Even better, do you NOT agree with Erica? Email, tweet or facebook us your comments – we really love hearing from you.

Watch for our discussion questions later this month, and you can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast generally to us anytime.

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

  • Kirsten and the rest of the Time to Read team

Random Acts of Reading

Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.

Ben Casnocha

Reading a series (in order of course) is an experience like no other. It plunges you into an ongoing saga that can take you from one side of a world to another, over the edge and back again. There’s a progression and a certain left brain logic to following the suggested reading order that my list-loving side really enjoys. But what about just reading anything? No logic, no order, just a right brain intuitive leap into whatever looks good at the time. I do that too, generally after finishing a long series of books. Theories differ as to how much influence the left and right side of the brain have on personality and decision-making, but I like to think that I’ve achieved a state of relative balance between the two.

Throughout the winter I pretty much lived and breathed Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I read through them all, some of them more than once, listened to them on audiobooks, and talked about them with anyone who would listen. After a time I finished with the series, much to the relief of my nearest and dearest, who were thrilled to have a conversation that didn’t contain references to the brilliance of Sir Terry. Having come from a prolonged period of regulated reading I was ready for some more random book choices, which led me to a right brain dominated summer reading season of picking up whatever looked good at the time.

I guess I wasn’t ready to leave the whole fantasy by British authors experience, because my next reading choice was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy which comes in five parts, by Douglas Adams. Cruising through the universe with Arthur, Ford Prefect, and his semi-half cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox was the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster my brain needed to move on from the Discworld.

 

After my around the galaxy tour I was ready for something more down to earth, which led me to the books by James Herriot which are about as far from fantasy as you can get. The stories James tells about his time as a rural vet in Yorkshire are sweet and engaging, and somehow make shivering in freezing cold to deliver a lamb and being up to your ankles in manure seem appealing. The television series has breath-taking views of the Yorkshire countryside, and the actors do a good job of transitioning the characters from the page to the screen without losing the charm of the original.

 

I haven’t gone on any road trips yet this year, but reading Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire made me glad that I was staying home. The main character, Rose, is the source for the urban legend of the Phantom Prom Date. She was tragically killed in an car crash on her way to the dance, and now travels the highways and byways as a ghost, saving those who she can from suffering the same fate she did. This paired nicely with the Supernatural binge I was on, although I think that Sam and Dean Winchester would probably have had a different reaction to Rose than I did.

 

I moved from the open road to underground caverns for my next random bit of reading. A World Below by Wesley King is the story of a group of students on a field trip to the Carlsbad Caverns when an earthquake suddenly traps them underground. But the dangers the students face go beyond surviving a natural disaster. There’s an entire civilization living deep in the caverns, and they aren’t happy about having visitors from the world above.

 

Left brain or right brain, random or planned, what’s your next act of reading going to be?

 

-Lori

 

Can you tell me where your Horror section is?

Multiple times a day I receive a question similar to this. If it isn’t about horror it might be about short stories or historical romance or thrillers. I would love to say to our customers “it is just right here, follow me”, however unlike book stores we do not have a section devoted specifically to horror or these other subgenres for many reasons. This is of course not to say that you can’t search for books that are horror novels, you just may have to go about it in a different way. First, you can ask our fabulous library staff who would be more than happy to find books that will scare the pants off you, or, you can browse our online catalogue at the library, on the bus or in the comfort of your own home (as long as it is not haunted).

From our online catalogue you have the power to search for these subgenres that aren’t always on display at the library, and I will show you just how to do so.

I recently finished the excellent horror novel Kill Creek by Scott Thomas. This novel was of a “haunted house” variety and I am interested in books that take place in haunted houses, or books in where a haunted house is an important aspect of the novel. How do I find more books that have haunted houses? Well there are a few ways to find them in our catalogue. One way would be to go into the record of the novel Kill Creek. From that record we see the following information: Title, Author (you can select the author’s name to find more books written by them), Publication Information and finally Subject Term. Beside and underneath “Subject Term” we have the following: Authors – Fiction. Haunted houses – Fiction. Halloween – Fiction.

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What is so wonderful about this feature is that the books that fall under these subjects are grouped together by these subject terms. If you select “Haunted houses – Fiction.” you will be taken to a list of books that have been given this subject term.

Now this list is by no means exhaustive. Some older books don’t have these detailed records and sometimes only “Genre” is listed, but it is certainly a start. Following this, you can also look under “Genre” and go to the listing of “Horror fiction.” and find all sorts of different books under the genre horror fiction, for a much broader search result. Or, simply search “horror fiction” in the general search bar, you will get over 1800 items but you can narrow them down using the limiters on the left-hand as is shown in figure 2 below, especially if you wanted further subgenres of horror like vampires, occultism etc. Your choices are endless, but it helps seeing what subject terms we use in our catalogue to be able to find exactly what you are looking for.

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General search bar

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Fig. 2

 

Finally, if you really enjoyed a particular book and would like further suggestions of read-alikes, look no further than the book’s record page. Scroll down to the bottom and where the tab says “Novelist Content” simply click on it and voilà, there will be read-alike titles, authors, reviews, etc. Just like having your very own librarian at your fingertips! If you haven’t checked out NoveList, a database we subscribe to and you have free with your library card, do so! There are tons of reading suggestions that will help you find exactly what you are looking for, and with links to our catalogue it makes it easy to find and place a hold on your book.

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Of course with anything like this, don’t hesitate to ask staff at your local library, we love to help!

-Aileen

What’s New in the Local History Room?

 

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Fall programming is now upon us and the Winnipeg Public Library wants to invite you to come and learn about an exciting new resource now freely available to all Manitobans.

Our World on the Manitoba Research Gateway provides access for everyone within Manitoba to unique collections of millions of pages of digitized historical content including newspapers, maps, photos, pamphlets, manuscripts and more.  The library will offer two information sessions this September so you can learn how to navigate its collections of historical newspapers and periodicals, and resources related to LGBTQ history, slavery and anti-slavery movements, and Indigenous peoples.  Come and learn all about it!

With the last days of summer it’s time to see what new titles have arrived in the Local History Room.

Cover image for Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, letters

Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Lettersoffers an intimate look at the professional relationship between two pillars of Canadian literature. Margaret Lawrence was at the height of her literary fame and Jack McClelland was one of Canada’s most important publishers – both of whom helped shape modern Canadian literature through their work. Over three decades of written correspondence found in this book, we eventually see a deep friendship developing through their shared passion and commitment to Canadian writing.  It’s interesting to see their initial formal writing evolve, growing in warmth and familiarity over the years.

Cover image for Drought & depression

The effects of the Great Depression in Canada has remained an under-studied aspect of Canadian history until recently, but we are now seeing renewed interest in it. Drought and Depression is the sixth volume of the excellent History of the Prairies Series and contains articles on a broad range of topics related to the “Dirty Thirties” in the prairie provinces. On the back cover of the book, one can read that “between 1929 and 1932, per capita incomes fell by 49% in Manitoba, 61% in Alberta and an astounding 72% in Saskatchewan. The result was enormous social and political upheaval that sent shockwaves through the rest of the country.” Familiar subjects like unemployment, ecology, strikes, and the new forces that arose in Canadian politics because of the Great Depression are covered, along with lesser known ones like soldier settlements for unemployed veterans, and the prairie novel.

Cover image for Threads in the sash : the story of the Métis people

In Threads in the Sash: The Story of the Métis People, historian Fred Shore draws on years of research and explores the history, culture and political development of Canadian Métis from the days of the fur trade to the present. The book is written in a approachable style and tackles questions such as: Where did the term Métis come from? Why are the Métis recognized as Indigenous people? How much of Manitoba did the Métis build? If you have ever wanted to know who the Métis are, this book is highly recommended.

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This next title is a treat for fans of flying and Cold War history from the experience of a local man. Retired RCAF Colonel Gordon Brennand recently published his memoir Farm Boy to Fly Boy. It tells the story of his childhood in rural Manitoba during the Great Depression, his enlistment in the air force to become an accomplished jet fighter pilot in the decades following WWII, and his years being a base commander in Portage La Prairie.

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On the fictional side, we have received A Fist around the Heart by Heather Chisvin, a story of love and trauma between two sisters, Anna and Esther Grieve, that begins with them being sent to Winnipeg to escape the persecutions of Jews in Russia in the late 19th century. While Anna moves to New York and starts a new life for herself, Esther remains behind, slowly succumbing to mental illness despite living among the city’s wealthy. When Anna receives the unexpected news of Esther’s possible suicide on “If Day”, an unusual day in 1942 when a simulated Nazi attack took place in Winnipeg in order to raise funds for the war effort, she must return and find answers to what exactly happened to her sister.

 

Louis-Philippe

Which way the wind is blowing

India is drowning, western Canada is burning… it’s starting to feel a little bit like a disaster movie out here.

Climate change and its effects have been on my mind this summer and not just because of the heat here in Winnipeg. On a family vacation earlier this year, we visited New Orleans for the first time and also stayed in a small beachfront Mississippi town that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I always like to read about places I travel, so I’ve been seeking out books about New Orleans; unsurprisingly, several of them cover the storm and its aftermath.

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink is a gripping, harrowing read that takes you inside Memorial Hospital in New Orleans as the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and its exhausted staff desperately tried to keep things under control. Fink discusses just how ill-prepared we are for large-scale disasters, and writes revealingly about human nature in crisis.

The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley (a New Orleans resident and professor of history at Tulane University) tells the story of Katrina from every angle. He covers how and why both the local and federal infrastructure was so ill-prepared for the storm everyone knew was coming, and shows how hard it struck not only the city, but the surrounding Gulf Coast.

If fiction is more your style, check out the titles below. Some of them are speculative fiction that extrapolates what a world riven by more destructive climate forces might look like; others are literary works that show the impact of this slow-moving disaster on ordinary people today.

New York 2140
The waters rose, submerging New York City–every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island–but the residents adapted and it remained the bustling, vibrant metropolis it had always been, though changed forever.

 

Cli-fi: Canadian tales of climate change
These stories of climate fiction (“cli-fi”) feature perspectives by diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works.

Loosed upon the world
An anthology of twenty-six short stories exploring the future of climate change and its effects on life on Earth that includes contributions from Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Kim Stanley Robinson.

South Pole station
Cooper Gosling is adrift at thirty, unmoored by a family tragedy and floundering in her career as a painter. So she applies to the National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica — the bottom of the Earth — where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own.

The floating world
When a fragile young woman refuses to leave New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, her parents are forced to go without her, setting off a chain of events that leaves their marriage in shambles and their daughter catatonic, the victim or perpetrator of some unknown violent act.

Danielle

Lisbeth for the Win

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The Millennium series is Sweden’s most important export. No doubt the Swedes have contributed to the culinary arts, music and fine arts – but the novels (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) written by Stieg Larsson are brilliant. These books bring one of literature’s most important heroines to life.

Drawing from his experiences as a journalist Larsson creates Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who works for Millennium magazine. A charming womanizer, Mikael is devoted to his craft and as such in the midst of a story he loses touch with everyone around him. Erika Berger is the editor-in-chief of Millennium as well as Mikael’s friend and lover. Erika is a tough, no-nonsense editor who fights for the survival of the magazine and its employees. Then there’s Lisbeth Salander. A force unto her own, Lisbeth does not shy away from danger. Criminals, bikers, corrupt government officials – it doesn’t matter. Once you cross a line she will put you down.

A former ward of the state, Lisbeth is a victim of government negligence. Institutionalized as a youth she was drugged and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluation. No one cared to listen to her, neither did anyone care to investigate the reason why she was institutionalized. After her release, Lisbeth remained under the care of the Swedish state and a guardian was appointed to look over her and manage her finances. While another person may have been crushed from this kind of experience Lisbeth survived and she fought back. Unbeknownst to anyone she also has another life, online she is known as Wasp – a legend within the hacker community. Wasp is cunning and ruthless. Armed with a computer she can look into your finances, or uncover your darkest secrets.

At the beginning of the series, the story revolves around Mikael Blomkvist. The well-known journalist is sued for libel and sentenced to three months in prison. Meanwhile, Lisbeth is hired to investigate Mikael’s background. After he discovers that his computer was hacked, Mikael tracks down and hires Lisbeth to assist him in a murder investigation. As the series progresses, Lisbeth becomes more important to the overall plot. I was pleased to see Larsson’s development of both Lisbeth and Erika’s character. At first, both characters seemed rather simple; Lisbeth has tattoos and is emotionally withdrawn, while Erika is Millennium’s editor and Mikael’s lover. Fortunately, Larsson doesn’t write simple characters. Over the course of The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Larsson gives both characters more depth. Both Lisbeth and Erika have important roles to play and despite their initial appearances neither should be underestimated.

The Millennium series explores organized crime, the sex trade and violence against women. It is the story of one woman’s quest for revenge against men who abuse their positions of power. Lisbeth isn’t a damsel in distress, she is empowered, a fighter that isn’t willing to compromise. She is out to destroy her enemies. At a time when misogynistic men continue to exert their influence over the world – Lisbeth Salander is the protagonist we desperately need.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – are available at a bookstore and library near you.

 

– Daniel Bohémier

It’s Time to Read: Son of a Trickster

It’s podcast day! This month the panel increases to 5 as we invite Monique from Information Services at Millennium to join in on the discussion for Son of a Trickster.

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You can find the latest episode, along with all of our previous episodes in your favourite podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, or at our website at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca.

This month the discussion includes favourite pet stories, whether we think MAGIC IS REAL (or not), and how much vomit is too much vomit in a story. We even get around to discussing Governor General Awards Finalist Eden Robinson’s novel for a bit too.

We hope you enjoy it. Please give us a rate and review on iTunes. A good rating and review really helps to make future readers and listeners find our podcast in the ocean of info out there.

Now’s the perfect time to get a jump on next month’s book. It’s Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow writes about a dystopian near future where “Walkaways” are people who leave the default world of tech behind, and live and create in a frontier-like makerspace world where objects are created through 3D printers and group-wiki style decisions. With the recent opening of the ideaMILL on the 3rd Floor of the Millennium Library and the issue of “ghost guns” and 3D printers in the news, Doctorow’s world isn’t that far away from our own.

We’ll send out some discussion questions before we record our next episode at the end of August, but feel free to email, tweet or facebook us your thoughts ahead of time. We love hearing from you and will include your comments as part of the discussion on the show.

Until then, happy reading!

Trevor and the Time to Read gang.