Monthly Archives: July 2012

Reading the Summer Away

As an avid reader, it’s not unusual for me to maintain piles of books around the house, all waiting to be read. Thanks to eBooks, my iPad is always stocked, too. Summer is my time to get through all these books, and nothing brings me more pleasure than to sit on the deck with a few books and spend an entire afternoon reading (with snacks, beverages and sunscreen, of course). So far this summer, I’ve been extremely lucky. It goes without saying that I enjoy almost every book I read. I’m a librarian, it’s what we do. But so far this month I’ve discovered four books that I’ve fallen in love with, and that have touched me deeply. 

I read Jo Walton’s Among Others a few weeks ago, on a friend’s recommendation. Reading this book was like reading a love letter to science fiction and fantasy. This is the story of Mori Phelps, raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled and her twin sister dead. Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England, a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off.

One quote in particular spoke to me – actually sent shivers down my spine. Early in the book Mori writes, “It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” So true! I felt that the author had written those lines just for me. In fact, I loved this book so much I even wrote the author to thank her for writing it. Best part? She emailed me back! (Insert fan girl squeeling here.)

If Rio Youers’ Westlake Soul isn’t on your reading list, it really should be. I can honestly say I’ve never laughed and cried so much while reading a book than I have with this one. The titular hero, Westlake Soul, is a 23 year-old former surfing champion, as well as a loving son and brother. After a horrific accident, Westlake is left in a permanent vegetative state. He can’t move, has no response to stimuli, and can only communicate with Hub, the faithful family dog. And like all superheroes, Westlake has an archenemy: Dr. Quietus, a nightmarish embodiment of Death itself. Westlake dreams of a normal life, of surfing and loving again. But time is running out. Dr. Quietus is getting closer, and stronger. Can Westlake use his superbrain to recover… to slip his enemy’s cold embrace before it’s too late?

I could write my own gushing review of the book, but I’d rather quote from Tim Baker’s Goodreads review, as it sums up my thoughts exactly: “Westlake Soul is like nothing I’ve ever read. Not horror, but at times horrific, it’s fantasy in its most human form. It can be funny and charming, with language so simple and poetic, it sometimes slipped by me, affecting me in a deep way. So much heart, it almost bleeds. I sat in the back yard, finishing the last chapters, with tears.” Seriously, read this book.

Julia Stuart’s The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is the story of Balthazar Jones, who has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London. Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens erotica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens. When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away.

This book made me laugh out loud so many times that I stopped reading it on the bus, mostly because I got tired of the strange looks from my fellow passengers. This isn’t to say that the whole book is a comedy, as it also explores the breakdown of a marriage following the death of an only child. It’s an interesting exploration of the different ways we deal with grief. I can’t wait to read more of the author’s works.

I was very lucky to receive an advance reading copy of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. The best way to describe it is as a Swedish Forest Gump. Allan Karlsson, the titular man, decides on his 100th birthday that he’s tired of living in a senior’s home. Climbing out the window wearing only slippers, Allan not only manages to escape, but finds himself in various situations involving drug money, kidnapping, the occasional murder, and true love. Allan himself shares his life story, and we find that he’s been involved in, if not responsible for, all sorts of world changing events during the last half of the 20th century. His impressions of Stalin left me shaking with laughter. It’s not surprising that this book has sold more than 750,000 copies in Sweden. Get your name on the holds list now!

What books have you fallen in love with this summer? Let us know!


Singing a Different Tune

In an earlier era they may have been called Renaissance men and women, perhaps even polymaths, but it’s unlikely that these musicians turned writers would see the journey from song writing to fiction writing as anything less than natural.

Through the years many musicians have turned their talents to the world of letters.

Bob Dylan’s Tarantula — a work of prose/poetry penned in 1965-66 and released without his full consent in 1971—has met with varied reviews.

It won 1st place in Spin magazine’s 2003 article on the “Top Five Unintelligible  Sentences From Books Written by Rock Stars.”  Others have compared it to Rimbaud, Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Ginsberg.

Leonard Cohen worked the puzzle from the opposite direction producing several books of poetry and two novels before releasing his first album (Songs of Leonard Cohen) in 1967.

And many artists  – too many to mention – have penned (or co-penned) memoirs and autobiographies with differing degrees of literary and financial success.

Take Keith Richard’s Life and Patti Smith’s Just Kids, for example.  The first soared on  bestsellers lists worldwide, and the second won Patti the National Book Award.

But fewer musicians have made the trip from song writing to the art of fiction.   The ones that have, however, are truly worth a listen – and a read.

John Wesley Harding is the title of a seminal Bob Dylan album which contained the track All Along the Watchtower.  John Wesley Harding is also the stage-name of a British folk/pop singer who chose to use his given name – Wesley Stace – when releasing his fiction.

Are you confused yet?  No need to be, just look in the fiction section under Stace and you find this man of many names also has many talents. If you will pardon the pun, Stace/Harding did not miss a beat with the release of his first novel, MisfortuneIt was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award in the UK and was named one of Amazon’s best novels of 2005.

By George and Charles Jessold, Considered as Murderer, his second and third novels, have further proven this fellow – whatever name he goes by – can write . . . and sing.

I was a child in the 1960s so I knew Sylvia Tyson’s voice before I really knew who she was.  Who she was, of course, was the better half of  the folk duo Ian and Sylvia and the song writer of You Were on My Mind. She is currently a member of Quartette with Caitlin Hanford, Gwen Swick, and Cindy Church, and in 2011 she released her first novel.

 Joyner’s Dream is a multi-generational family saga that follows the “lives lived and the music played by the fiddlers” of the Joyner-Fitzhelms from the late 1700s till 2006. An epic tale and task, one might say, but one that she manages to carry off with great dexterity.

Globe and Mail reviewer T.F. Rigelhof compares the book favorably with those of Robertson Davies, no less, and grants her success in large part to her ear, saying “she recreates the diction of men and women of varying social circumstances in diverse times and places . . .[who] speak to us as individuals with small, fragmented stories to tell.”

As an added bonus check out the accompanying album of the same name.   I recommend them both and if you’re truly adventurous you could try reading one while listening to the other.

Steve Earle has lived more than a few lives in his 57 years.  He dropped out of school at 16 and learned to write songs and many other things at the feet of the legendary Townes Van Zant. Some of the many other things lead him to drug and alcohol addiction and eventually to prison where his life changed . . . for the better.

With the gift of many years of sobriety, Earle embarked on his fiction career with the 2001 release Doghouse Roses, a collection of  eleven short stories that runs the gamut of his own life as a musician, addict, and winner and loser at love.

In 2011, he released his first novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, a parable created from the story of the fictional Doc Ebersole, the ghost of Hank Williams, and the healing Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, who come seeking the services of the good doctor as a back room abortionist.

Miracles happen in this novel, and it won the praise of none other than Michael Ondaatje who characterized the book as “the work of a brilliant songwriter who has moved from song to orchestral ballad with astonishing ease.” The now happily married and 16-year sober singer/songwriter/political activist, is currently touring North America with an album of the same name.

To balance one talent with the other is no small feat, and I have to admit a tinge of jealousy of those with both. But it passes quickly, and once again I recommend both artistic outputs, and will end with one wish: Maestro, let the band play on.


The Lost Art of the Written Word

Recently, a Facebook friend wrote a post about penpals, and how it would be great to correspond with others through handwritten letters as you did when you were a child.  Before too long, she had comments back from several people who stated that they would love to correspond with her via snail mail- one woman was particularly excited about going out and purchasing stationery.  (The fact that they still sell stationery is reassuring; someone must still be writing handwritten letters!)   I haven’t sent an actual handwritten letter to anyone in years, but her post made me reminisce with fondness about the penpals I had as a child, the longest correspondence being with a girl from Finland.  Back in those days, there were ads in children’s magazines (such as National Geographic World) for organizations that would pair you with penpals from around the world.

Though I’m not a Luddite (I do work in Virtual Services after all!) and I love Twitter and Facebook, they’re just not the same as laying thoughts to paper.  In terms of Twitter, not everything can be said in 140 characters or less!  I also think that electronic correspondence is more superficial and trite.  Are you going to pair deep thoughts with LOLs and smiley faces?  I took some comfort in the fact that a Google search yielded sites devoted to pairing individuals with penpals, although many of them are geared to teenagers and students, and some charge a fee for this service.   The Pen Pal Project  contains posts written by teens and young adults who write about their interests and what their criteria are for a suitable penpal.  In addition to writing letters, several teens promised handmade goodies, mixed tapes and crocheted items.  Of geography, one teen wrote, “Distance does not matter, unless you live in another dimension, then some delivery issues might arise”.

What about that most intimate of letter, the love letter.  Does anyone actually write love letters anymore?  The idea of love letters recently gained popularity when Carrie from the TV show Sex and the City read to her sweetie Big from a book of love letters written by famous men.  There are 2 books in this series, Love Letters of Great Men and Love Letters of Great Women, and both are worth a read.  Do you know who wrote “I would never see anything but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happiness in your steps”?  If you guessed my husband you’d be wrong, but if you guessed John Keats you’d be correct!

There are also many books of authors’ correspondence.  Whether you like Carol Shields, Charles Bukowski or Charles Dickens you can get to know your favorite authors intimately through the letters they wrote.  In Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, Jack Kerouac wrote a letter to Ginsberg in 1950 which included the following: “Tonight while walking on the waterfront in the angelic streets I suddenly wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are. Please don’t dislike me. What is the mystery of the world? Nobody knows they’re angels.”  Definitely interesting to get another perspective on an author through his letters.

What about epistolary novels?  Epistolary is just a fancy way of saying that the story in the novel is told primarily through a series of letters.  And yes, epistolary is now my word of the week!  One epistolary novel I loved was The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is now being made into a movie.  This novel is told through a series of letter written to an anonymous stranger, and in it, 15 year old Charlie must deal with first love, a friend’s suicide and mental illness.  Another epistolary novel is Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin which was also made into a movie.  In this novel, Eva writes a series of letters to her husband about her volatile and dysfunctional relationship with her seemingly sociopathic son.  This one isn’t for the faint of heart!

There have also been a few charming movies made about the art of letter writing.  84, Charing Cross Road is both a book and a movie, about the 20 year correspondence between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, the owner of an antiquarian bookseller in England.  Helene would contact Frank to locate rare volumes for her, and they then forged an enduring friendship.  Of course, many know about the Meg Ryan/ Tom Hanks movie You’ve Got Mail in which an independent bookstore owner doesn’t realize she is writing to the owner of her competition, but what about the classic it was based on, Shop Around the Corner?  Starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan, 2 shop employees in Budapest (who detest each other) don’t realize that they’re writing letters to each other and falling in love.  An absolutely charming and delightful movie!

In case I’ve inspired you to take up the lost art of letter writing, you can even make your own stationery if you’re so inclined.  Self-Made Stationery, Paperie for Inspired Living and 1,000 Handmade Greetings: Creative Cards and Clever Correspondence offer ideas for making stationery for everyone from the novice crafter to those with more advanced skills.  But really, to take up the lost art of letter writing, you don’t require anything fancy.  A pen and a piece of paper is all you need to get started!


Reading on the Island

Of all natural forms, there are few I enjoy more than islands. Islands seem to naturally convey our yearning for serenity and solitude, a world apart – although always linked – from the chaotic complications of modern life. In our cultural imagination, they are also linked with mystery and enchantment, harbouring stories just waiting to be told. Maybe it’s only because I’m hard-wired  (my own name means ‘little isle’)  but it’s sure hard to beat islands!

Earlier this month from our cottage’s deck in the Whiteshell, I often looked out onto a tiny isle on High Lake. For an entire hour one day a majestic male bald eagle was firmly perched atop one of the few evergreen growing on this beautiful spit of land, a beaming sentinel at home in his world. Gazing through binoculars didn’t seem satisfying enough. But by the time Lydia, my wife, and I got the canoe  on the lake to see it close-up, the eagle had flown away into the mist. Still, what a sight!

What books and movies offer interesting narratives on islands, you ask? Here’s a few tantalizing samples, perfect for summer reading/viewing:

Robert Zemeckis’ movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks is actually a fine example of island storytelling. After a plane crash, a compulsed FedEx employee, with a volleyball as his lone friend(!?), learns to slow down and reflect on the state of his life on a remote tropical island. Good stuff if you’re watching eating popcorn with a cool drink by your side.

Treasure Island‘ by Robert Louis Stevenson is an old classic, maybe the first in fiction to describe the unmistakable allure of islands in detail. But have you read the updated graphic novel version? The Library has it for you to borrow, conventional versions too, including audio. (Another historical classic: Jules Verne’s ‘The Mysterious Island‘.)

Shutter Island‘ by best-selling American author Dennis Lehane is a wonderful thriller about two U.S. marshals in 1954 investigating a shady psychological facility on a Boston harbour island. After reading the book, why not watch the compelling 2010 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo?

‘The Island of Doctor Moreau‘ by science-fiction great H.G. Wells (this edition introduced by Margaret Atwood!) plumbs the depth of the ‘abyss’ of what can be construed as human nature. It is a devilish tale about animal experimentation, moral responsibility, and human identity. You may want to read this one with all the lights on!

One of my favourite islands, which I would love to visit, is Sable Island, 300 km off the southeast coast of Nova Scotia. Known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’, this notorious sandbar is home to wild ponies, seals, birds, sand dunes, only a few residents, and at least 300 years of shipwrecks. Bruce Armstrong’s Sable Island is a great introduction to the myth and the reality that is Sable. The great news is that this 42-km long island, as of this year, is a National Park Reserve! An alternative title is: ‘Sable Island: The Strange Origins and Curious History of a Dune Adrift in the Atlantic‘ by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hurtle.

Books and movies about islands have no end! A new mystery by Tracey Garvis-Graves, ‘On the Island’, released this summer, continues the long tradition. An English teacher and her student crash in the Indian Ocean. “Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an inhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return.” I think this might be another page-turner.

– Lyle

All Geared Up

On June 22, Winnipeg Public Library hosted 4 pit stops on Bike to Work Day. Over 4000 cyclists chose to bike rather than drive on that day. The Fort Garry Library pit stop offered coffee and donuts compliments of Tim Horton’s, cinnamon buns from our good neighbours at Cottage Bakery as well as free “Books to Go,” Winnipeg Public Library swag and Cycling Maps.

We were just one of 38 pit stops situated throughout the city and I am sure we shared the same feeling of camaraderie. There is solidarity among cyclists who understand the sense of exhilaration and connection with the urban environment which can’t be felt from behind the wheel of a car.

David Bynre on a bikeDavid Byrne, cofounder of the band Talking Heads, discovered that, from the seat of a bicycle, he became open to the rhythm of a city’s population and geography. Byrne began to take a folding bike on his travels around the world. Bicycle Diaries chronicles his panoramic view as he pedals through some of the world’s major cities including Istanbul, Buenos Aires and New York City.

Riders know that you can shed pounds as you save money. Ride Your Way Lean bills itself as the ultimate plan for burning fat and getting fit on a bike.  With soaring gym membership fees and gasoline prices hitting record highs who could argue that biking can transform your life.

On Bicycles lists the 50 ways that the new bike culture can change your life including new ways to design cities for bikes, bike friendly workplaces and bike-sharing programs.

Winnipeg is still a long way from being bike friendly. You need to learn some basic tactics to survive on its mean streets. The Urban Cyclist’s Survival Guide will teach you the perfect lock techniques to thwart thieves, how to share streets with road-raged drivers, fix a flat fast and much more.

If you need some assistance from local mechanics go to Wrench, a community bicycle education and repair organization. Its website lists a number of community bike repair shops  where you can do your own bike repairs with the help of tools, volunteer mechanics and recycled bike parts.

See you at a Pit Stop on Bike to Work Day 2013!



During the months of May and June we asked Winnipeggers to write and tell us about their favourite piece of writing by an Indigenous writer from Turtle Island (North America). The past few years have seen a real surge in new materials by Indigenous writers being published and our goal was to get the word out about all these amazing talents.

We had some terrific entries: you wrote to us about classic titles (April Raintree), new talents (Waubgeshig Rice‘s Midnight Sweatlodge ) and established writers (Will’s Garden by Lee Maracle). Your entries were touching and powerful and made for some great reading themselves!

In the end we managed to narrow it down to two winners: one in the adult entrant category and one in the youth (ages 12-17) entrant category. Each winner received a Sony eReader (so they can start using the Library’s e-book collection!) and a starter “library” of print books full of great Indigenous literature.

Thank you to all our entrants. We hope everyone continues to read and enjoy these writers. If you are stuck on what to read next remember that we are just a visit, phone call or click away! (Tip: try looking through this one search of our catalogue for some good suggestions for adult literature by Indigenous writers.)

And the winners are…

Adult category
photo of Jocelyn Boileau Adult winner of First Words contest with her entry about Blue Marrow


Name: Jocelyn Boileau
Entry: Blue Marrow  by Louise Bernice Halfe

Blue Marrow is one of my favourite narrative poems. I return to its pages to hear the voices of the ancestors speaking through Sky Dancer Halfe’s lyrical poetry. The images, unsettling and at times disturbing, come to life under a vast prairie sky. The land itself calls me to wake up and listen with – Up At Dawn Woman; Frying Pan Woman; Many Fingers Woman; Bundle of Bitches Woman; nohkomak and nikawiy, as “the women’s blankets spiral into the Northern Lights” and the Eternal Grandmothers speak. This is a story of love and betrayal, of healing and forgiveness. The beauty of words, Cree alongside English. The surprise transformation of rote prayer-responses brings hope, “Thy Creation come.” I love these lines by acimowinis [narrator]:

“When we weep her tears get up, become Blue Butterflies.”

Whenever I see a blue butterfly I think of the grandmothers’ abiding presence. Of tears turned to joy. Because this is also the earth’s story, Halfe’s particular details hold a universal truth, and I am drawn to remember with gratitude my own grandparents: my Welsh ‘Nain’ with her indomitable will, my maternal Grannie, stone deaf and crazy. Both gave me their unconditional love.

If you haven’t already discovered Blue Marrow, this haunting poetic meditation has my heartfelt recommendation. It will bring tears to your eyes. May it also bring you blue butterfly smiles. Blue Marrow sings of the resilience of life even through pain and injustice. It is a deeply moving tribute to the poet’s own grandmothers.

Youth category
First Words Youth Catagory winner Dakota and his entry of the play fareWel


Name: Dakota B.
Entry: fareWel by Ian Ross

The play fareWel by Ian Ross is very funny. The characters are very interesting and stuff they do is pretty crazy. They talk, fight and try to borrow money from each other while they wait for their welfare cheque.

I really liked the character of Sheldon Traverse. His story is intense because he has been through so much. He has been cut by a chainsaw, bit by a dog, hit by a police car and been punched in the mouth to remove a bad tooth.

I think the language used in the play is really funny. All the characters laugh at each other and all the ridiculous stuff they end up doing. I think this play is very good and people should read it. The characters encourage the reader. Even though they are in a bad situation, they keep laughing and trying.

Other titles suggested in the Last Word on First Words Contest:

An archive of this post, along with its additional reading suggestions, can be found in the new Aboriginal Services section of our website.  Head there to find out all that we’re up to as we serve and celebrate First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Winnipeg.  The section also features a great set of research links and listings of organizations in Winnipeg and Manitoba serving First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

TeenSRC 2012: Contests, Prizes and More!

Teen Summer Reading Club 2012

Hope everyone’s enjoying their summer so far! Here at Winnipeg Public Library we’re so excited to say that we’ve already received tons of entries for our TeenSRC summer-long contests and weekly quizzes!

So you may be asking what exactly is TeenSRC? It’s the 2012 Online Teen Summer Reading Club! It runs July 3 – August 26th, and is open exclusively to teens ages 13-17. TeenSRC is *THE* place to be for quizzes, contests, book suggestions, and fun things to do in Winnipeg all summer long! When teens sign up with an email address on our ‘JOIN THE CLUB’ page, they’ll be joining a group of other teens from across Winnipeg who also love to read, talk about books and share that love with other people!

What do you get for signing up?

Join the Club*8 Weekly Newsletters*

Every Monday you will receive an e-newsletter in your inbox. Each newsletter includes:

  • Weekly trivia contest (you have until the following Sunday at midnight to answer the question and 1 winner will receive a prize each week) 
  • The latest entries for the 4 summer-long contests
  • Suggestions for what to read next
  • A listing of upcoming teen programs and events

What do I read next?


This summer, we’ve put together a huge array of booklists of all sorts of genres and styles. We’ve included tons of new books but also many classics, series lists, ebooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, manga and more! Check ‘em out!  You’re bound to find something of interest!

Fun Stuff to Do*Fun Stuff to Do*

There’s always cool stuff for teens to do in and around Winnipeg, both in our library branches and around the city. Check out our nifty calendar of summer activities for great ideas for keeping busy and making the most of the summer!

Enter to win*4 Summer-Long Contests*

There are also 4 summer-long contests that you can enter this summer. Enter any of the contests as many times as you like! Get creative and show of your love of books or show off your creative talents. And if you  see a book review, top ten list or mash up on Booked  that you  like, don’t be shy to post your thoughts and comments either!

Best Book Review Contest (entries are posted to Reviews): We want you to tell us about a great book that you’ve read! Give us the good, the bad, and the ugly — whether you loved it, or hated it — and voice your opinion! It can be a book you just read, or a book you read a while ago. Just write a review, and share it with the world.

Best Top Ten “Read-Alike” list (entries are posted to  Top Tens): This summer, we want you to give us a top ten list of awesome read-alikes. Pick one of your favourite books, and then tell us about 9 other books that are similar in some way.  The list is up to you! The formula is simple: If you like (this book) then you’ll probably like (these books). Just don’t forget to tell us why!

Best Photography/Artwork Contest (entries are posted to  The Mashup):  Grab your camera, or pick up a paintbrush, and share with us what makes Manitoba “home” to you. Get in touch with your artistic side, and send us your best photo or original piece of artwork – and don’t forget, we want you to tell us WHY the photo/artwork is significant to you. Don’t leave us guessing!

Best Short Story/Poem Contest (entries are posted to  The Mashup): This summer, we want you to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), and tap into your creative side. Whether you end up writing a short story or a poem, we want to read your stuff! So go ahead, write about anything you want, and send it to us! We’re certain that Manitoba’s next great author is out there somewhere!

All contest submissions must be posted on our teen website, Booked. The best entries will be selected after August 26th, and the winner of the contest will receive an awesome prize pack!

Summer-long Contests – Rules and Regulations: Beginning July 3rd you can start submitting entries for the 4 Summer-Long Contests. All entries are submitted online to the Booked website. Submissions will be judged based on quality and creativity. The best entry will be selected after August 26th, and the winner of the contest will be notified by e-mail. The winner will receive a prize to be picked up at one of our 20 library branches. Participants may enter as often as they like. There is no limit to the number of entries each person may submit. The contest is open to teens ages 13-17. Children aged 12 and under are welcome to enroll in our Children’s Summer Reading Program. Staff of Winnipeg Public Library and their immediate family are not eligible to win prizes.

Prizes & WinnersBEST OF ALL… *All* contest entries (both from weekly quizzes and summer-long contest entries) will be entered in a final Grand Prize draw at the end of the summer. Check out our PRIZES page for details on what you can win!

The Pwnguin

And don’t forget to visit the TeenSRC website throughout the summer to see what’s new on our SRC Mascot Adventures page! We’ve got an adorable penguin who’s volunteered to pose for TeenSRC and keep us up to date on all the fun stuff he gets up to over the summer… who knows where he’ll turn up next?

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?? Register today! And if you’re not a teen aged 13-17, pass the info along to someone who is!

Join the Club

Questions or comments? Send them to!


Makin’ a List…

The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.
H. Allen Smith

Yes, yes, I know, it’s the wrong time of year to start humming Christmas carols, but it’s always a great time to make lists! In my case, being a list-maker is what keeps me out of trouble, at least for the most part. I also firmly believe that someday research will prove that there is a link between being a list-maker and working in a library.

One of the best parts about working in a library are the titles people recommend to me as being great reads, that’s where the lists come in. I have lists of books I want to read, books I have read, books I think other people might want to read, lists of titles, authors, subjects, the possibilities are endless! At one time, I attempted to read every book that was suggested to me, a project I had to give up on;  it was either that, or quit my job to find enough time to keep up with all of the wonderful suggestions people gave to me. However, those items did make it onto a list.

One of the (many) lists I keep is of the non-fiction books I’ve read. I challenge myself to read a minimum of two non fiction books a month on any topic, which has led me from extreme budgeting: On a Dollar a Day: one couple’s unlikely adventures in eating in America by Christopher Greenslate, to extreme parenting:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, to extreme knitting: Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini.

Not all of the books I’ve read are on an extreme form of something, though. I’ll read anything and everything Bill Bryson writes, on general principle. The one I’ve read most recently is At Home: A Short History of Private Life.  The book does start off with an extreme structure, the Palace of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (also called the Crystal Palace), which was built in 1850. At that time, it was the largest structure in the world. Bill goes from there to his home in Norfolk, which was built in 1851, and recounts the history of the house, from paint to pipes to pillows, in fascinating detail.

Looking For Calvin and Hobbes: the unconventional story of Bill Watterson and his revolutionary comic strip is Nevin Martel’s account of his efforts to gain an interview with the elusive Bill Watterson. While Nevin was unsuccessful in that quest, he did uncover a great deal of interesting behind the scenes information. After reading this book, I returned to my tattered copies of Calvin and Hobbes with a new appreciation for how profound a simple comic strip can be.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is about Henrietta Lacks, a woman who died of cancer in 1951. However, she lives on, as a result of the actions of the doctor who took some of Henrietta’s cells, without the consent of Henrietta or her family. These cells are still alive in laboratories all over the world. This is a book that should be read for many reasons: as an exploration of science and ethics, as a social commentary, and for the ongoing saga of Henrietta’s children, as they struggle to come to grips with what really happened to their mother.

I just finished my latest personal challenge, an intriguing book of essays by various authors called The Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, texting and the age of social networking , edited by Mark Bauerlein. I call it a challenge for a couple of reasons, one being that I find technology challenging on a personal basis, another in that I found several of the essays challenged my ideas regarding technology. Marc Prensky’s essay on digital immigrants and digital natives went a long way to helping me understand the differences between people when it comes to technology, and why I’ll probably always be a digital immigrant.

And of course, what is a list without a “to do” portion? The next couple of titles on my lists are Women from The Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us by Rachelle Bergstein, Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief by Gretta Vosper and The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer.

In between reading, editing and adding to my lists, you know what I’ll be doing – checking them twice!


Turn over to get On The Same Page

Voting for the fifth year of “On The Same Page” has begun!

All Manitobans now have a chance to read the four works on the shortlist and vote for the title you think should be chosen for the 2012-13 edition of the program. Which of these will it be (as the Winnipeg Free Press describes them): “an academic satire set in a fictionalized Winnipeg university, a young adult novel set in a tuberculosis sanatorium, a memoir of growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp or a collection of Manitoba aboriginal writing from Chief Peguis to today?”

A Thousand Farewells, by Nahlah Ayed




Queen of Hearts, by Martha Brooks




Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water, edited by Niigaanwewidam Sinclair & Warren Cariou



A Large Harmonium, by Sue Sorensen




A group reading from all four titles on the shortlist will be held at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue) at 7 pm on Thursday, September 13, just before voting ends on September 14. You can vote online at or by paper ballot, available at all twenty Winnipeg Public Library branches.

With generous funding from The Winnipeg Foundation and the enthusiastic participation of Manitoba libraries, bookstores and media, On The Same Page brings Manitobans together for a shared reading experience–it’s the province’s biggest bookclub.

After Manitobans have chosen the book they want to read, we’ll move into the next phase: putting together a Readers’ Guide to the book, figuring out the best ways to distribute hundreds of free copies across the province, and planning a wide range of events (including chances to meet the author) to take place during January & February 2013.

Happy reading!


Our Summer Music: The Polaris Prize

The Polaris Prize Long List was announced back in the middle of June and it recognizes the best in Canadian albums from the previous year. The jury is made up of musicians, music bloggers, journalists and others in radio and television. It’s a bit unique in that the jurors are told to look solely at artistic merit, not album sales, genre or record label. As a result, some really interesting musicians and albums have been honoured since this award’s inception in 2006. This long list of 40 albums will be reduced to a final list of 10 in July with the winner being announced in late September. The winner receives a $30,000 prize.

To me it’s refreshing to look at an album as a whole entity. In a time when it’s easy to buy a 99 cent (or $1.29) song off of iTunes, or to download three tracks a week through our Freegal music service, the idea of an album as a whole seems to be from a bygone era.

2011 Winner of the Polaris Prize

Last year’s winner, Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” truly is a complete concept album from beginning to end. The songs seem to bleed into one another and themes introduced in one song are picked up later. Consumerism, childhood nostalgia and modern angst all get visited and revisited throughout the album. The final track is a haunting echo of the opening title track. If you haven’t heard this album yet, now’s the time!

The Polaris Long List is made up of 40 albums. It’s too many to list, but if you’re interested you can check them out on their website.

Our library system has a number of these albums in our collection and I’ve linked to  just a few of them here. Why not check them out, and play them on your road trips, drives to the beach or just around town this summer? These albums and artists may not be what you hear when you stick the radio on, but you may just find a couple of hidden gems that become personal favourites. This is some of the best in the country, chosen for you by the Polaris Jury. Enjoy!


Blackie and the Rodeo Kings: Kings and Queens

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas

Drake: Take Care

Kathleen Edwards: Voyageur

Feist: Metals

Lindi Ortega: Little Red Boots

Dan Mangan: Oh Fortune