And the Winner is…

A few months back, the Time To Read podcast book-club conducted a survey among its listeners to see what GENRE of book we should read next. It was a tight race and came down to Historical Romance and Armchair Travel.

Armchair Travel won out.

I’ve enjoyed Armchair Travel and other types of travel writing for many years, but during COVID I’ve seen an increase of people asking for this type of book. Armchair travel is different than a guide, although you can find many of them shelved in the same section. While guidebooks are designed to give the reader practical advice on places to stay, visit, and eat in a given country or city, Armchair Travel is all about seeing the world filtered through the eyes of a particular writer. Keen observation, a yearning for adventure, and a wry sense of humour are the traits of some of my favourite travel writers. It’s not enough to learn dry facts and figures about other countries/cultures; fans of travel writing enjoy seeing the world through another’s eyes, and the more the writer can blend in to their surroundings, the better. Like Paul Theroux says, “The greatest justification for travel is not self-improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace.”

So with this in mind, we’re going to read In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson.

Bill Bryson’s first travel book, The Lost Continent, came out in 1989 and chronicled his somewhat aimless road trip across America. After living in England for almost 20 years, he decided to move back to the United States. Before doing so, he takes one last trip around the country using only public transportation. You can read about that trip in his Notes from a Small Island.

In a Sunburned Country is Bryson at the height of his powers. His astute observations, historical anecdotes, and wry sense of humour are all present here. At least they were twenty years ago when I first read it. Some books hold up, and others have a sneaky and disappointing way of NOT AGING WELL (I’m looking at you: Love in the Time of Cholera). I wonder in which category Sunburned Country belongs? You’ll have to tune in on September 2 to find out.

While you’re waiting, why not listen to one of our past episodes? In our latest episode we discuss All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews.

And as always, make sure you find plenty of TIME TO READ. -Trevor

Get Inspired with Indigenous cooking

If you are interested in Indigenous cooking and recipes Winnipeg Public library has a number of awesome selections for you! There is a resurgence of amazing Indigenous chefs and cooks and you can find restaurants, food trucks and caterers everywhere and especially right here in Winnipeg.

Where People Feast: an Indigenous People’s cookbook

“One of the very first cookbooks dedicated to Native North American food, mother and daughter team Dolly and Annie Watts have created a truly original recipe book. Recipes include such culinary exotica as oolichan, grouse, pemmican, bannock, elk, venison, seaweed and salmon bellies. It also features substitutes taking into account what is readily available in global markets.”

Cooking with the Wolfman: Indigenous Fusion

“As a classically trained chef of First Nations heritage, David Wolfman has a passion for bringing these traditional food sources together with European cooking techniques. In Cooking with the Wolfman, he and his wife, Marlene, share recipes gathered from David’s career as a caterer, culinary professor and host of a popular cooking show, as well as a few family favourites, like an updated version of Marlene’s great-grandmother’s recipe for pemmican.”

Tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine

“Containing over seventy-five recipes – including Chartrand’s award-winning dish “War Paint” – along with personal stories, culinary influences, and interviews with family members, tawâw is part cookbook, part exploration of ingredients and techniques, and part chef’s personal journal.”

Fisher River Cree Nation English-Cree cookbook

An absolute gem of a cookbook that we are lucky to have in our collection! This is published by the University of Winnipeg and has a ton of information about how to preserve foods safely as well as many favorite recipes from Fisher River Cree Nation. Written in English and Cree.

Nirjutit imaani: edible animals of the sea

This is a collection of seal and fish recipes collected from across Nunavut. The recipes are printed in English and the Inuktitut dialect of the community represented. It also includes specific techniques for preparing seal and arctic fish.

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is a rich education and a delectable introduction to modern indigenous cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories, with a vision and approach to food that travels well beyond those borders.

A feast for all seasons: Traditional Native Peoples’ cuisine

“Traditional North American Native peoples’ cuisine has existed for centuries, but its central tenet of respecting nature and its bounty have never been as timely as they are now. Andrew George, of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in Canada, is a well-respected Aboriginal chef and instructor who has spent the last twenty-five years promoting the traditions of First Nations food. In A Feast for All Seasons, written with Robert Gairns, he has compiled aboriginal recipes that feature ingredients from the land, sea, and sky, elements of an enduring cuisine that illustrates respect for the environment and its creatures, and acknowledgment of the spiritual power that food can have in our lives.”

-Kim

“Hot” Titles to Read Outside

It’s hot, but it’s never too hot to read—these nature-filled novels and nonfiction favourites are the perfect companions for road trips, sunbathing on a beach, or just sitting on a park bench. Most of them are available in both print and ebook/eaudiobook formats for easy outdoor reading. Find a spot in the shade and open one of these books, along with a cold drink!

Braiding sweetgrass
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer is trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, she brings these two lenses of knowledge together, drawing on her life as an Indigenous woman and a scientist to show how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons.

cantoras

Cantoras
In 1977 Uruguay, a military government crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In this environment, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression to be punished. And yet Romina, Flaca, Anita “La Venus,” Paz, and Malena somehow, miraculously, find one another. Together, the five women discover an isolated, nearly uninhabited cape, Cabo Polonio, which they claim as their secret sanctuary. Over the next thirty-five years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone.

A geography of blood
Following literally in the footsteps of U.S. author and environmentalist Wallace Stegner, who lyricized his Saskatchewan upbringing in the memoir Wolf willow, Candace Savage explores the same Cypress Hills landscape with fresh eyes and a keen awareness of all that was lost or destroyed in the process of settlement. If you enjoy this personal book from a veteran nature writer, try Prairie, Savage’s acclaimed and beautifully written guide to the ecology of the Canadian prairies, as well.

greenwood

Greenwood
A magnificent generational saga that charts a family’s rise and fall, its secrets and inherited crimes. Throughout there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Michael Christie’s effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival. Greenwood is a rain-soaked and sun-dappled story of the bonds and breaking points of money and love, wood, and blood—and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.

In a sunburned country
In this deliciously funny, fact-filled and adventurous book, Bill Bryson takes us on a grand tour of Australia, the only island that is also a continent, and the only continent that is also a country. Despite the fact that it’s the most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with animal life, and Aboriginal peoples have made it their home for millennia.

river

river woman
Divided into four sections, and written in her distinctively lean and elegantly spare style, river woman explores Winnipeg poet and novelist Kate Vermette’s relationship to nature — its destructive power and beauty, its timelessness, and its place in human history.

Upstream
In this collection of essays, poet Mary Oliver contemplates her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully, intelligently, and to observe with passion. Oliver encourages us all to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative urges within us.

Under the Tuscan sun
Written in evocative, sensory language, this beloved memoir tells the story of how Frances Mayes—poet, gourmet cook, and travel writer—bought and restored an abandoned villa called Bramasole set against the spectacular Tuscan landscape.

– Danielle

Naomi Novik: a recent obsession

What if…

you had the power to destroy the world, and every indication of your destiny was trying to push you towards that?

everything in your school – including some of your classmates – was trying to kill you?

your own family had cast you and your mother out – had tried to hunt you – because of your great-grandmother’s prophecy?

What kind of person would you be?

The Scholomance Series

For Galadriel, or El, from Naomi Novik’s Scholomance series, the answer is complicated. She’s grumpy about it. She’s careful, and she’s worried – she doesn’t want to be evil, despite her innate aptitude for it. When she asks the void for a spell to light her room, it gives her a spell for a scorching fireball, because the ether itself recognizes her power. This would be super useful if she were hunting monsters, or maleficaria, but it’s useless for the mundane goal of surviving her school years. And, despite her immense power, she does indeed need to try to survive.

The Scholomance school itself was designed to protect its students as much as possible, but a building can only do so much in the face of monsters attracted to the vitality of young wizards. Magic – or mana, in this framing of the world – is a finite resource that can be renewed only through effort on the part of the would-be spell caster. It can be shared, but that requires the trust and consent of those you’re sharing with. It can also be taken, but there are consequences to using another living thing that way.

This isn’t Novik’s first foray into fantasy. She’s well-known for her Temeraire series, which is a revisionist history of the Napoleonic wars (with dragons!) and her retelling of ancient fairy tales. However, the Scholomance trilogy feels special. A Deadly Education, The Last Graduate, and The Golden Enclaves (coming September 2022) are a masterful collection that turns the tradition of magical education stories on its head. Fraught with inter-personal politics and danger, the construction and destruction of community, and laced with a dry wit, I highly recommend you give the Scholomance a try.

– Kira

Up next with the TD Summer Reading Club

Summer has arrived, and with summer comes the TD Summer Reading Club (TD SRC) at the Winnipeg Public Library. Kids can visit any library branch and pick up a free TD SRC Reading Club kit, which has an activity notebook, stickers, and a calendar to track reading. Children can colour in each day that they read on the calendar, and for every five days of reading receive a ballot to enter to win great prizes including books, swim passes, or tickets to a Winnipeg Goldeyes game.

After getting an activity kit, what else is there to do? Lots – there are tons of great summer programs at the Winnipeg Public Library for families and children of all ages (all programs are free and require registration). The TD SRC website also has lots of great recommended reads which you can borrow from the library. In fact, you could pair a great book with a great program for a whole pile of fun.

For example – our Here Be Dragons program is for children ages 5-8 and features dragon stories, games, and creating your own fire breathing dragon. If that sounds interesting, you would probably love the book Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang and Charlene Chua, a fantastic story about a young girl who creates her own amazing dragon.

Fairy Tales are tons of fun and so is Fairy Tale Fun for children ages 3-5 and a caregiver. There will be stories, songs and rhymes and a fairy tale wand craft. There are so many wonderful Fairy Tale books recommended by TD SRC, but I particularly like The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette which tells a different version of the little red riding hood story where a large grey wolf helps a young girl learn to survive and find her family when she becomes lost in the woods.

Our Tales for Toddlers programs are all about sharing fun rhymes, songs, and stories while building pre-reading skills in toddlers (ages 19-36 months). If you have a little toddler who likes stories they would love if you read to them from the book Read to Your Toddler Every Day: 20 Folktales to Read Aloud by Lucy Brownridge and Chloe Giordano.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed these program and book pairings. You can find lots more great programs in our Program and Events Calendar, and lots more TD SRC recommended reads in our library catalogue.

Tegan

Welcome Back to the Local History Room

The Local History Room fully opened in late June. This means you can come on in, and read and research the rich collection of books from local authors, vertical files of newspapers articles, Henderson Directories, telephone directories and local magazines. Also, the Micromedia Section moved right next to it which means you can also consult the Winnipeg newspapers on microfilm, along with the daily copies of The Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Sun and The Globe and Mail.

Many new titles of local interest have recently arrived in the collection. Here are some noteworthy additions for you to discover.

My Privilege, My Responsibility by Sheila North

Known as a “bridge builder,” Sheila North is a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation. She was the first woman to be Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a role she held from 2015-2018. “North’s work in advocacy journalism, communications, and economic development harnessed her passion for drawing focus to systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls. She is the creator of the widely used hashtag #MMIW. In her memoir, Sheila North shares the stories of the events that shaped her, and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her achieving her dreams. Through perseverance and resilience, she not only survived, she flourished.” (Provided by the publisher) 

Heart of Gold: a History of Winnipeg Music by John Einarson

Music historian and author John Einarson, a longtime member of the Winnipeg music community who has written about Neil Young and Randy Bachman (to name a few), presents a compelling case for Winnipeg being the center of Canadian music for more than a century. This book is an exhaustive exploration of multiple genres including Indigenous, francophone, country music, folk and roots music, classical and opera, dance bands and jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. Singers and musicians of all musical stripes have gone on to shape and influence music across the country and around the globe.” (Source: A History of Winnipeg Music)

Listening to the Fur Trade: Soundways and Music in the British North American fur trade, 1760-1840 by Daniel Laxer

“As fur traders were driven across northern North America by economic motivations, the landscape over which they plied their trade was punctuated by sound: shouting, singing, dancing, gunpowder, rattles, jingles, drums, fiddles, and – very occasionally – bagpipes. Daniel Laxer unearths traces of music, performance, and other intangible cultural phenomena long since silenced, allowing us to hear the fur trade for the first time. While the fur trade was propelled by economic and political interests, Listening to the Fur Trade uncovers the songs and ceremonies of First Nations people, the paddling songs of the voyageurs, and the fiddle music and step-dancing at the trading posts that provided its pulse.” (Provided by the publisher)

Tales from the Homestead: a History of Prairie Pioneers, 1867-1914 by Sandra Rollings-Magnusson

The book is a compilation of thirty-six personal homesteader stories, providing unique insight into the daily life of prairie pioneers, highlighting the voices and personal stories of early immigrants who arrived in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “The book includes stories of surviving periods of near starvation and natural disaster, and describes the challenges of navigating Canada’s nascent immigration process, building a sod home and establishing a farm, and adapting to the norms of a new country. Along with these tales of difficulty, fear, and sadness are the many stories of happiness and wonderment at the beauty of the land. Community events and parties are thoughtfully remembered, as are accounts of attending one-room schoolhouses.” (Provided by the publisher)  

Of Pork and Potatoes: a Memoir by Bill Massey

Finally, author Bill Massey has had a multi-faceted life. He is a farmer, educator, and advocate, and he offers in this biography the story of his childhood growing up in a troubled home in rural Manitoba in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bill’s personal story explores his life growing up and working on farms around Kelwood and Elma, and about he and his community’s more than 15 year struggle against business (specifically industrial hog farming) and bureaucracy at a number of levels. Never giving up, he managed to survive and use his skills to help others, becoming a teacher, principal, and advocate for disadvantaged children. 

Come and check it out.

Louis-Philippe

Puny Sorrows, Giant Heartaches

“I, too, a sister had, an only sister —
She loved me dearly, and I doted on her;
To her I pour’d forth all my puny sorrows.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Time To Read Podcast Bookclub is reading All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews in July. Most of you are probably already very familiar with Miriam Toews and some of her beloved novels like A Complicated Kindness, The Summer of My Amazing Luck, and The Flying Troutmans.

All My Puny Sorrows is Toews’ sixth novel, published in 2014. It recounts the tumultuous relationship of the Von Riesen sisters, Elfrieda and Yolandi. Elfrieda is a gifted, beautiful, happily married, and much celebrated concert pianist, and Yolandi, the novel’s narrator, lives in her sister’s shadow. Despite all of Elfrieda’s outward success, she suffers from chronic Depression and attempts suicide on the eve of an international concert tour. Yolandi rushes to her sister’s side and “circles the wagons”, determined to help her sister recover and survive, despite the fact that Elfrieda wants Yolandi to accompany her to a Swiss clinic for a medically assisted death.

Margaret Atwood praised the novel, calling it a “high-wire act”: “What do you do when your beloved and brilliant sister wants you to help her leave this world because she finds her existence too painful? How do you make that into a believable, excruciating but sometimes wildly funny work of fiction?” Somehow Miriam Toews pulls off a story that’s been called “shockingly funny, deeply wise, and utterly heartbreaking”.

In the meantime, please give a listen to one of our recent episodes. You can find them all here.

And until next month, make sure you find some Time To Read. -Trevor

Indigenous Peoples’ Day – every day.

cw: Residential schools / cw: Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Two-Spirit Peoples

A little over a month ago my family and I got on a plane (for the first time since August 2019) and flew to Saskatoon for a family member’s wedding in The Battlefords in Treaty 6 Territory. The dearly loved couple were wed under tepee poles adorned with flowers and ribbons, members of the Northern Cree Singers sang while our cousin, the bride, walked down the aisle. The wind was blowing gently, and they were surrounded by loved ones. The site chosen for the wedding had previously been an industrial school, and nearby were the graves of 74 First Nations children. This is but one of many experiences where extreme joy and celebration intermingle with a recognition and honouring of incredible loss.

After the wedding and before the reception, we visited the Allen Sapp Gallery. Allen Sapp was born on January 2, 1928 and walked forward on December 29, 2015. To see his art in person was an incredible experience. The way he captured moments in time from memory – moments showing his life and loved ones and community – was something to see. Really, any description I share will not do them justice, so if you want to learn more about him, check out these resources from the library or browse his art online. Here are a couple of books in our collection.

“Renowned Cree painter Allen Sapp’s inspired and stunning artwork beautifully complements this sweet story of a young First Nations boy preparing for his first pow-wow. The young boy’s Nokum, his beloved grandmother, guides him through the exciting day and watches over him as events unfold. David Bouchard’s rhythmic and informative text is based on remembrances from Allen Sapp’s childhood.”

This book celebrates Allen Sapp’s portrayals of his Plain Cree culture and Plains Cree people.

A week later, we went to the Manito Ahbee Pow Wow and you could feel the excitement in the air, as Elders, dancers and drummers, family and friends young and older, and those wanting to learn came together in-person to celebrate and experience Indigenous cultures and traditions.

Today, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation is having the grand opening celebration of their multi-use arbour and powwow grounds. Maamawittaawiinan (“gathering place” in Anishinaabemowin) will be used to host powwows, Treaty Days, workshops, cultural teachings and other traditional ceremonies and celebrations.

So what does all of this have to do with Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Everything, really. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is every day.

No matter where you go in this country, you do not have to go far to connect with and learn about the history of the lands we live on and the Indigenous Nations who have been here since time immemorial. There are more than 50 Indigenous Nations and 50 Indigenous languages spoken here. From coast to coast to coast you can learn about histories, languages, foods and traditions, listen to stories and music, look at art, and participate in recognition, celebration, and reconciliation efforts. And the Library is one of many places where you can get started.

Connect with books, films, music, and more from the Indigenous Resources Collection.

Explore an Information Guide (or two or three…)

There are also many places and events that you can visit in the city.

Go to (or mark your calendar for) these events:

Visit these places:

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day to our family, friends, and community members far and wide.

~ Reegan

The Winnipeg Public Library is located in Treaty One Territory, the home and traditional lands of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Ininew (Cree), and Dakota peoples, and in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis. Our drinking water comes from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, in Treaty Three Territory.

TD Summer Reading Club (TD SRC) has started!

Summer has finally arrived! I’m excited for warm weather, cool treats and spending lots of time outdoors in the sunshine. I’m also excited for the start of the TD Summer Reading Club (TD SRC) which runs all summer until September 2nd.

Participating in TD SRC is a great way to keep kids motivated to read all summer long. Reading during the summer helps reduce summer learning loss, and encourages kids to become lifelong readers. The TD Summer Reading Club is Canada’s biggest bilingual summer reading program for kids of all ages, interests and abilities. The Club celebrates Canadian authors, illustrators and stories, and inspires kids to explore the fun of reading their way.

You can visit any library branch and pick up a free bilingual TD Summer Reading Club kit.

Each TD SRC kit comes with an activity notebook, stickers, and a calendar to track reading. Children can colour in each day that they read on the calendar, and for every five days of reading receive a ballot to enter to win great prizes including books, swim passes, or tickets to a Winnipeg Goldeyes game. 

There are two different activity notebooks, one for school-age children and one for pre-readers.

The school-age notebook has STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) challenges based on popular fairy tales, comic-captioning and drawing activities and a summer bingo challenge.

The pre-reader notebook is designed for parents and caregivers to use with children age 0-5. It has activities to encourage talking, singing, playing, reading and writing, all of which help children practice the skills they will need to read. There are also fun challenges, and an illustration that can be completed with the stickers in the kit. Pre-readers can participate in the club by being read to by their parents, siblings or caregivers.

Once you’ve got your reading kit, be sure to visit TD Summer Reading Club or Club de lecture d’été TD website.

The TD SRC websites are packed with awesome activities. On the website kids can write their own jokes and stories, choose their favourite books in the battle of the books, and read free eBooks. My favourite part of the website is the web comic Night at the Library which features a mischievous cat and was created by artist Soyeon Kim. There are also online workshops with Canadian authors and illustrators, including one with Soyeon Kim where she shows you how she creates incredible diorama artwork.

After picking up a reading kit, and visiting the TD SRC website – what’s next?

Children can take part in fun programs at Winnipeg Public Library all summer long. All programs are free, and require registration. For more information about summer programs for families, children, and teens please see the What’s On at Winnipeg Public Library for Children and Youth brochure or visit the Events Calendar

~ Tegan

Adult Summer Reading Challenge

For many of us, summer is a fun mix of revisiting favourite activities and haunts, and making new discoveries. Summer might mean an annual trek to the Folk Fest, but include discovering a new band. Maybe it is about a week-long road trip, but to a fresh destination each time—or just a regular visit to the same ice-cream stand, meeting with different friends each time.

So your summer reading might follow the same pattern: a stack of books from some tried-and-true authors or in a favourite genre, with a few wildcards thrown in. If you need ideas, visit our online Adult Summer Reading Challenge to get started. Print or download the challenge cards, which offer prompts for some categories you may not have considered. While you’re online, check out the other Info Guides for titles to help you fill in those squares. Your Next Great Read provides links to lists in several categories. There are specific guides if you are looking for Local Authors, Asian Heritage authors, Black History . . . you get the idea!

The Summer Digital Challenge showcases five of the digital library services accessible with your card. You might want to stick to the written word with eBooks or magazines, so OverDrive, PressReader and Cantook Station offer many choices. If you need a rainy day movie or some music, Kanopy and Hoopla are the way to go. We probably don’t need to mention this, but yes, it is all free with your library card.

~ Brenda