Monthly Archives: December 2018

Hygge Do You do?

The other day I was talking to a friend who was overjoyed at the prospect of a cold, gloomy Sunday. Turns out that when your idea of a good time is sitting down with a stack of books, it doesn’t matter if it’s a “nice” day – it’s all good.

Are you familiar with the term hygge? (It’s pronounced hoo-ga, in case you’ve been saying it wrong all this time like I have). It became all the rage a couple years ago, although your Scandinavian friends will likely tell you they’ve known all about it for much longer than that. The word itself refers to the mood of coziness, happiness, and contentment that abounds when you’re settled into a plush armchair under a soft blanket with a cup of tea or hot chocolate while the candlelight flickers and wind howls outside.

If you’re thinking “yes, please!,” then look no further. Winnipeg Public Library has plenty of wonderful hygge-related books to get you through the season of snow with a smile!

How to Hygge by Signe Johansen

Let’s start with the basics! How to Hygge by chef and author Signe Johansen is a fresh, informative, lighthearted, fully illustrated how-to guide to hygge. It’s a combination of recipes, helpful tips for cozy living at home, and cabin porn: essential elements of living the Danish way—which, incidentally, encourages a daily dose of “healthy hedonism.” Who can resist that?

Making Winter : A Hygge-Inspired Guide to Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Embrace this warm-hearted philosophy with 25 creative crafts and recipes, from gorgeous trinkets to snuggly woolens and tasty treats. Make vintage ornaments, bake plum and orange blondies, crochet boot cuffs, and more–you’ll feel hygge warming you no matter how cold it is outside.

Scandinavian Comfort Food : Embracing the Art of Hygge 
by Trine Hahnemann

Trine Hahnemann is the doyenne of Scandinavian cooking, and loves nothing more than spending time in her kitchen cooking up comforting food in good company. This is her collection of recipes that will warm you up and teach you to embrace the art of hygge, no matter where you live.

The Joy of Hygge : How to Bring Everyday Pleasure and Danish Coziness into Your Life by Jonny Jackson

The Joy of Hygge is packed with recipes to warm you on a winter’s evening, craft ideas for decorating your home, and inspirational suggestions for enjoying the magic of everyday pleasures.

Live Lagom : Balanced Living, the Swedish Way by Anna Brones

Following the cultural phenomena of fika and hygge, the allure of Scandinavian culture and tradition continues in the Swedish concept of lagom. Instead of thinking about how we can work less, lagom teaches us to think about how we can work better. Lagom is about finding balance between aesthetics and function, a holistic approach for the body and mind, including connecting more in person, caring for self, managing stress, keeping active, and embracing enjoyment in daily routine. Live Lagom inspires us to slow down and find happiness in everyday balance.

And there you have it, just a few ideas to ride out the winter in comfort and style! What will you do to make the most of our Manitoba winter?

Happy reading,

Megan

No Apologies

Courageous, strength of character, outspoken – none of these qualities should be seen as intimidating. But when a woman is seen as possessing some, perhaps all of these qualities,  people may feel threatened and their cries of insecurity are echoed by hundreds, sometimes thousands of others. There isn’t enough time to discuss the patriarchy and how women have been oppressed and subjected to a sexist, double standard which their male counterparts seldom if ever have to endure. Fortunately there is time to read Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman,  by Anne Helen Petersen, who discusses the challenges that women face when they threaten the status quo.

The book is divided into ten essays that explores a different woman and how she’s too much; whether it happens to be an artist or writer, each individual is too much. Hillary Clinton’s assertiveness is too much which makes her shrill, while Serena Williams’ strength makes her too masculine. It’s a fascinating look at how double standards are applied so easily when a woman is found to be threatening.

Serena Williams has made headlines since her debut in the 90s.  In September she lost to Naomi Osaka at the US Open. Ms. Williams`outburst was not only ridiculed but an Australian newspaper had the nerve to publish a racist cartoon of the incident. Would this kind of thing ever happen to a male player? Doubtful. Anne Helen Petersen tells us of Ms. Williams’ meteoric rise in the tennis world, and how the media has portrayed her as anything but feminine. For someone who doesn’t care about tennis, I really enjoyed learning about Serena Williams.

Too Gross explores Broad City, a sitcom that follows the misadventures of Abbi and Ilana, two twenty-something year olds in NYC. Broad City is funny and vulgar, neither Abbi and Ilana are looking for love. These BFFs want to hang out, get stoned, hook up and then Skype later to talk about the day they spent together. The fact that Abbi and Ilana would rather do these things than get married and have a family challenges society’s perception of what women should be and what they should be doing.

At times these essays are shocking because it deals with race, body shaming and sexism. I was frustrated to learn about Madonna being labeled too old? Too old for what? Entertaining millions of fans – which she’s been doing since the 80s? In other instances I was laughing out loud, I’m a big fan of Broad City and I really enjoyed learning about the creation of the show, and how its creators (Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer) had a difficult time conveying to a TV network there was no long-term romantic objective for either of the protagonists. Girls want to have fun – what’s so difficult to understand? Too Shrill discusses Hillary Clinton, it was a tough read, because two years later I’m still upset with Americans who voted for a rich, misogynistic, racist, xenophobe. But I did enjoy learning more about her.

If you`re ready for something different, I highly recommend Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman.

Daniel Bohémier

 

 

A Glass of Wine and a Good Book

Like cheese and crackers, kittens and tea cups, needles and thread, some things go perfectly together. For me, it is good wine and a great book. I called on the help of Rick Watkins, Branch Head of Cornish Library and part-time sommelier to help me write this post, to pair some of my favorite books with perfect wine.  So grab some wine glasses, a cozy blanket, and try some of these perfect pairings for yourself!

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (sweet, bitter)

Jamie Ford is an author that just simply does not write enough books. Songs of Willow Frost is the story of an orphan boy named William Eng who is looking to find his place in the world. He is convinced his mother is still out there. During a rare outing to a movie theatre, he sees an actress named Willow Frost, and he sets out to find her.  Songs of Willow Frost is sometimes bitter sometimes sweet.  Rick, for sweet/bitter I would do an orange wine – a white wine that is left on its grape skins to pick up more flavor and colour.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce (light, bubbly)

The latest book from Rachel Joyce, The Music Shop is a light hearted love song to music. Set in 1988,  (Arguably the best era in music! Okay at least they had the best hair!) record shop owner Frank can always find the right music for every person, even if they don’t know what they are looking for. It was a light and bubbly read, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.   Rick, for light/bubbly I would do the hottest style of wine right now in our market “Prosecco” a bubbly from northern Italy.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (dark, mysterious)

The Night Circus is probably my favorite book of all time, and I can’t say enough about it. I recommend this book so often I am starting to repeat myself to customers.  The circus that shows up out of the blue and opens only at night is the setting of a competition between two magicians, who use Celia and Marco to duel each other in a magical competition. This book had the right blend of dark and mystery.  Rick, for dark/mysterious I would go with a big Aussie wine that is from non-traditional grapes.

My Real Children by Joe Walton (sharp, zesty)

Patty is born in 1933, grows up in a traditional family, goes to a traditional school, and lives a traditional life. When her boyfriend asks her to marry him, her world is split in two. Does she say yes or no, does she live in a loveless marriage, or does she live her life with her partner Bee?  In the end she is old, living in a nursing home and is “confused today”. This book was an interesting look at people living with dementia. My Real Children shows the sharp contrast of Patty’s two worlds, while never giving up on her zest for life. Rick, for sharp/zesty you have to go Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman (aged, complex)

A Man Called Ove is a light read, but not an easy read. Ove is a curmudgeon, and extremely unlikeable. He is trying to shut out the world after the loss of his wife, until the day he meets a cat, and everything changes.  I would never have picked up this book if it was not for book club, and I am glad I did.  Ove is an aged and complex man.  Rick – for aged/complex I would do an older Bordeaux from a good vintage like 2005 or 2010.

Andrea

“Everyone Counts or Nobody Counts”

Sometimes you just want a grilled cheese sandwich. You know it’s not that great for you, and there might not be a whole lot to it, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will hit the spot.

grilledcheese

I feel the same way about Michael Connelly’s books. Look, he’s not going to ever win the Pulitzer or Man Booker prizes, nor is he ever going to Stockholm to get the Nobel Prize in Literature. AND THAT’S OKAY, because sometimes you just feel like a grilled cheese.

blackecho

 

Michael Connelly mostly writes police procedurals, and the majority of his books revolve around LAPD detective Harry Bosch. First appearing in 1992 in The Black Echo, Bosch is featured in 21 novels (as of this writing), with the most recent being the recently published Dark Sacred Night. In those 21 books, Bosch cycles through a series of partners, love interests and villains. It’s one of those series where reading them in order matters, as major events in one novel have repercussions in later ones. Picking up a new “Bosch” is like reconnecting with an old friend and spending a few days together. In this case, there’s usually also  a murder involved.

darksacrednight

Michael Connelly is really great at using real world locations in his novels, and I can’t stop myself from going onto Google Maps and Streetview as I am reading his novels so I can look up different locations. I even sometimes question Bosch’s driving routes, like “Why is he taking the 101? Wouldn’t the 5 be faster?” I know, I’m weird.

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Connelly a few years ago at a book signing. I shyly waited in line, and when I got to the front I told him I worked in a library. I explained that I often recommend his books to people who are looking for a good read. He seemed genuinely pleased and when he handed my book back it was inscribed, “To Trevor, Thanks for pushing Harry Bosch at the library! Michael Connelly”. It’s my favourite inscription!

Sometimes a grilled cheese is just what you’re looking for, and when you feel like literary grilled cheese, may I recommend a double serving of Bosch?

Everyone counts or nobody counts“. Harry Bosch

Bosch

Titus Welliver as the titular character in Amazon Prime’s series based on the books.

-Trevor

Our best of the year

‘Tis the season for lists: shopping lists, gift lists, and most of all–“best of the year” lists.

Librarians love lists as much as anyone, so in our own contribution to the madness, Winnipeg Public Library staff have put together our annual list of favourite reads. Many of these titles are brand new; some are a bit older; but all are available at WPL and well worth a look.

If you’re interested in catching up on previous years, here are our picks for 2017 and 2016. Need more lists? Be sure to check out Largehearted Boy’s ongoing compilation list of lists.

Fiction

Aaron‘s top book of the year was The Mount by Carol Emshwiller, the story of a budding friendship between a boy and an alien during a time of revolution – “think The Horse and his Boy meets The Fox and the Hound.”

Aileen was truly scared “in the best way possible” by The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp, which is a nail-biter and even a comedy at times thanks to the unreliable narrator.

Brian chose Sinclair Lewis’ semi-satirical polemic It Can’t Happen Here, written during the Great Depression and the rise of populist Louisiana politician Huey Long, which has been called the novel that predicted Donald Trump.

Cyrus picked The Man of Steel for Brian Michael Bendis’ story, great for people new to Superman but with plenty of fresh elements for long time fans, and its beautiful visuals from some of the best artists in superhero comics.

David recommends the Christmas-themed Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox: it’s quirky, it’s romantic, and most importantly it’s set in a Devonshire dog kennel with lots of adorable pups.

Derek says that Miriam Toews’ new novel, Women Talking, is masterfully told, with deft humour and keen insight.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was Jennifer‘s “absolute favourite” of the year.

Kira became slightly obsessed with Octavia E. Butler this year, and chose her duology Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

Like Circe herself, Madeline Miller’s novel enchanted Rémi with its poetic style and absorbing story drawn from Greek mythology.

Toby enjoyed The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, an ambitious, exceptionally written novel that deals with the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s and its present-day repercussions.

Non-fiction

Elke says that Why We Sleep by Matthew P. Walker tells you everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about sleep, packing two decades of sleep research results into one book.

Ian picked At Home in the World, a collection of reminiscences from the Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh which is inspirational, fun, thought-provoking, and timeless.

Josie Appleton’s Officious: Rise of the Busybody State made Jacob re-think the existing purpose behind state regulations.

For Kelly, reading Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was time well spent. An honest take on striving for work/family balance and finding her own voice while still supporting her husband’s vision.

Kim‘s selection I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya is a short book full of stories of Shraya’s experience as someone who doesn’t fit into society’s gender norms.

Larisa suggests comparing your own understanding of happiness with all those smart minds’ views which Frédéric Lenoir has collected in Happiness: a Philosopher’s Guide.

Laura found She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer a completely fascinating study of genetics and inheritance, from the extraordinarily problematic history of eugenics to modern biotech advances like CRISPR and much more.

Melissa chose Ceremonial Magic, a book on magical traditions by Israel Regardie, a brilliant occultist who was once Aleister Crowley’s private secretary.

For young readers

Andrea recommends The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress for Lemony Snicket fans. A light read full of twists and turns, it all starts with a pig in a teeny hat…

Colette selected Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (a companion book to the Seraphina series) for its great female character, beautiful language, and strong world-building.

Jordan enjoyed the whole Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, especially the first book Cinder, which features a handsome prince, evil step mother and two step-sisters… oh, and Cinderella is a cyborg.

Katherine picked Tara Sim’s Timekeeper, in which Danny is meant to fix the clocks that control time around London, not help the spirits within them–even when one of them falls in love with him.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones cracked Lori’s heart by illuminating the soul crushing choices so many Indigenous youth have to make… but it also mended it with beautiful and touching love scenes.

Madeleine loved the incorporation of a podcast into the narrative of Sadie by Courtney Summers, which made her think critically about our desire to hear true crime stories that are often about violence being done to women.

Sydney thinks that Dragons Love Tacos will entertain adults as well as children with its beautiful illustrations, absurdity, and attention to detail. Plus it’s also available in French translation!

 

Stress-less Cooking

cookbythebookWhat will we do when we find ourselves, stumble over ourselves, encounter ourselves, once again, in the kitchen?”   Dana Velden

Eating is something we all have to do, but in order to eat, we must cook – or get take out! But really, who can afford that everyday? Everyone’s lives are so busy these days, and cooking often becomes a tedious and stressful activity. If you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, check out Dana Velden’s book, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen; Kitchen meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook. The author recounts her time living in a Buddhist monastery and working in their Zen kitchen, where she re-discovered the simple joy of being in the kitchen, creating a meal. If that doesn’t work, have a look at the Cook by the Book’s latest cookbook reviews!

Harriet Chicken dishHarriet liked the straight forward and easy approach of Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin. Harriet Buttermilk biscuits #2The book provides the science behind slow cooking which was helpful in making the Honey Hoisin Garlic Chicken. The Flaky Buttermilk biscuits turned out really well and were very tasty.

 

kerry2Kerry discovered that deep frying a Reuben sandwich is a terrible idea! The Spicy Hot Russian dip that accompaniedKerry1 the sandwich was really good, though, and so was the Tangy Lemon Chicken from Bruce Weinstein’s The Kitchen Shortcut Bible.

Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick & Easy Food cookbook has lots of pictures of all the ingredients you need, which Sandra really liked. She tried the Lemony Zucchini Linguine recipe, which was so easy to make and delicious!

Jackie kungpaoEasy Chicken Dishes by Addie Gundry uses a lot of prepared foods and dairy and very little seasoning, which Jackie didn’t like. Jackie lemonThe Kung Pao Chicken was easy, but required a lot of chopping and could have been spicier, although the heat did build when it was sampled the next day. Unfortunately, they couldn’t taste the lemon in the Lemon Chicken.

Anita pastaAnita loved the gorgeous pictures in Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry and appreciated the simple recipes that all take under 20 minutes to prepare. This book is all about comfort food and the Rigatoni Pasta was the BEST THING EVER!

 

The New Easy by Donna HayPrasanna pork contains a lot of unusual ingredients, but Prasanna would recommend this cookbook. She liked that the author shows how one recipe can be revamped and used for other occasions. The Sticky Korean pork with apple and cucumber pickle took 20 minutes to put together and was really good.

Shirley scallopsShirley enjoyed the little jokes that The Best of Bridge are known for in their latest Weekday Suppers cookbook. With new writers on board, you’ll find this cookbook is more adventurous than their previous books. The Thai Scallops Stir Fry turned out very well.

 

Tatiana dipTatiana drinkAlton Brown’s Everydaycook features what the chef likes to cook for himself. Tatiana tried the Sardine dip and the Barley Water, which is purported to be very good for you. She didn’t like that you discard the barley at the end, which seemed a bit of a waste.

Joanne lasagnaJoanne loved Uncomplicated by Claire Tansey and would gladly pay full price for it! It contains the best Bran muffin recipe she has ever had, as well as this delicious Ravioli Lasagne, with a tasty tomato sauce.

 

Cathi2Cathi dessertAll New Fresh Food Fast has beautiful pictures, but called for a lot of ingredients Cathi didn’t have on hand. She tried several recipes, including the Steamed Halibut with Leeks (fabulous!) and the Peanut Butter Truffles with Ritz Crackers (not so fabulous!)

Sherri turkey soupSherri tomato soupThe Turkey Spaetzle Soup and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup from Fast From Scratch Meals by Betty Crocker, were simple to follow, with ingredients on hand and they were both delicious. The cookbook has tasty recipes that are simple to follow.  It’s a great cookbook for preparing after work meals with fresh ingredients and kitchen staples. Sherri also tried the Greek burgers, which were a big hit with her family.

Lynda Tofu Bahn Mi cutLynda Fideos with Chickpeas2The recipes in Dinner Illustrated from America’s Test Kitchen all take 1 hour or less to prepare and were really easy to make. Lynda and Maureen pickled their own vegies for the Tofu Ban Mi and declared the recipe a keeper. For the Fideos with Chickpeas they toasted the pasta first, giving it a nutty flavour. This recipe is a close cousin to Paella.

Cathy udonCathy shrimpCathy liked that The Smart Dinner by Betty Crocker used ingredients she already had at home and gave lots of substitutions. The Udon Noodle Bowl was a little too spicy for her taste, but the Spicy Chili Garlic Shrimp Pasta was excellent.

carole turkeyThe Eggplant and Turkey Stir fry from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy was full of flavour and is definitely a dish I would make again. The cookbook is a typical celebrity cookbook with lots of pictures of Gwyneth and her family, but I have to say I liked all of the recipes I tried.

Happy cooking!

Carole

 

It’s Time to Read: Beartown

Hello, dear readers.  It’s that time again! No, not the holidays. What I have to say might help you if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the season. It’s that time when I tell you what the Time to Read podcast book club will be reading in December. It’s Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

 Though I haven’t read it yet, I know the book takes place in a tiny forest community on the ropes that has all of its hope riding on the local junior hockey team and a violent act that “leaves the town in turmoil.”

I’ve thought a lot lately about how geography influences culture and life and I’m sure I’ll continue to do so while reading this book. I touch a little bit on that in our latest episode of Time to Read, available today. But I’m looking forward to thinking about those ideas further while reading Beartown as I grew up in a northern Manitoba town in which hockey was woven tightly into the fabric of community life. In fact, I already know what my “Book you would also like” will be, but you’ll have to listen to the episode when it releases in January to find out.

But what I’m most excited to know is what you, dear readers, think about the book. Do you have any experiences with small town life? And if so how do they compare to the book? Or are you a lifelong urbanite? If so, in what ways do you relate to stories about rural life? And if none of these questions appeal to you, let us know what your liked (or didn’t) about the book.

Reach us by email at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca or leave a comment on our website.

~ Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

DIY Book Stack Management

I can never read all the books I want.
Sylvia Plath

I love books, the more the better. The mere thought of being somewhere without something to read is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Fortunately this doesn’t happen very often, given where I work and the size of my book collection. Sometimes, though, too much of a good thing is simply too much. My TBR (To Be Read) book stacks, reading lists, wish lists and downloads can and do get out of hand at times. I’ve discovered a few tricks that work for me to wrestle my TBR to a manageable size, at least until the next time it gets out of control.

I’ve spent many fascinating hours in the world of the Seven Kingdoms, created by George R. R. Martin. But at a certain point I simply had had enough, and I have yet to finish reading the entire series. I might be the only fan out there who isn’t concerned with when the next book comes out, but I refuse to feel guilty. Alright, maybe I feel a little guilty, but not enough to continue the series until I’m ready for it.

Ian Rankin’s Rebus character is one of my favorite literary detectives, to the point where I found myself craving Irn Bru, bacon butties and brown sauce on chips, even though I’m not entirely clear on what brown sauce is. I mourned the end of Rebus’s career when Ian Rankin retired him, but I still appreciated all of the great writing. When Rebus returned I found I didn’t have much interest in reading his new stories. I’m sure that the quality of the writing is excellent, I mean we are talking about Ian Rankin, after all, but sometimes you just have to let a character go. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it, at least for now.

Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix is an amazing picture book that uses die cut shapes to reveal a surprise on each page. It’s absolutely beautiful, but I’ve never been tempted to find more books by this author. This stems partly from a fear of being disappointed, and partly as a means to stop myself from adding yet another book to my stack.

 

The first time I read Rainbow Rowell’s book Eleanor and Park I was enchanted, and I only became more enchanted each time I read it. Despite all of the tempting reviews and recommendations I’ve gotten about her other books I haven’t rushed to read them. Sometimes it’s good to wallow in the undiluted greatness of one book for awhile before picking up another one by the same writer. I have read several of her books, and plan on reading everything that she writes, but for me having a bit of a hiatus lets me savor the stories that much more deeply. Plus it keeps the book stack just a wee bit shorter.

Other book stack management methods that work for me are suspending my holds, editing the lists on my library account, clearing out my Goodreads lists, and periodically moving the stacks of books in my house from one room to another. Somehow, even with all of this, I never seem to have enough time to read everything that I want, but on the bright side I never have to worry about running out of books, either.

-Lori