Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

Reading Local. Becoming Global.

I prefer to break down walls, thank you very much. In this time of dwindling empathy for refugees and antipathy towards global problems, we can open our eyes and hearts through reading. Books offer us an opportunity to walk in the shoes of those whose journeys are difficult, even deadly. Share some of these global stories, all written by Canadians, with your friends, children and students in the spirit of International Development Week, coming February 3rd – 9th, 2019 whose theme this year is “Breaking Down Barriers”.

Deborah Ellis is the author of the award winning and now motion picture, the Breadwinner series. She has written about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in The Cat on the Wall, forbidden love in Iran with Moon at Nine and taken us into the slums of India with No Ordinary Day. If you are looking for a great read-aloud for your classroom, start here where children who are sitting, stand up for themselves.

sit     Sit is a series of short stories about children who are stuck, sometimes sitting, as the adults in their lives make decisions for them. The novel takes the reader to a chair factory where Jafar is a child labourer, to Uzbekistan where Noosala waits to see what the refugee smuggler will do with her and to Auschwitz where Gretchen contemplates the lives of concentration camp victims. Somehow the children find the courage to make either a small change or an act of defiance that will help them get through their difficulties.


Sharon McKay’s passion for dramatic stories is evident in her body of work. She writes historical and realistic fiction with characters facing war situations. Her novel, Prison Boy was endorsed by Amnesty International and was short listed for the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award for its unflinching look at children who are orphaned, homeless and vulnerable.

prison boy Seven year old Paxton lives in a filthy slum in an orphanage called Pink House run by matron, Bell. When she refuses to rescue an abandoned baby, Paxton insists that he will help with the child. He names the baby Kai and takes on the role of an older brother and mentor. As they grow up, the two become inseparable. Then, one fateful day, Paxton discovers that Bell is planning to close the orphanage and send the boys to different homes. Pax is devastated but determined to stay with Kai so they decide to escape and live out on the streets, alone but together.


Cherie Dimaline is a Métis and Anishinaabe author from the Christina Island First Nation community. Cherie was the first Indigenous writer in residence for the Toronto Public Library and was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier’s Award in 2014. Her novel, The Marrow Thieves has taken Canada by storm and was the Governor General’s Literary Award winner and The Kirkus Prize winner. It has been short listed for the White Pine Award and for Canada Reads as well as being nominated as a best book of the year by School Library Journal and Quill and Quire.

marrow thieves    The Marrow Thieves follows the story of Frenchie and his brother Mitch who are on the run from the government recruiters who have a dark purpose for Indigenous people. Cataclysmic weather patterns have destroyed the earth and survival is risky without a community. When Mitch allows himself to be captured, it gives Frenchie a chance to escape. Frenchie sets off alone but his survival depends on whether he can find help, and soon.


Fartumo Kusow was born in Somalia in a farming family that put an emphasis on the girls getting as much of an education as the boys. She credits her father with giving her a journal to write in, which led her to write her first novel in the Somali language. When the civil war broke out, Fartumo fled the country and was granted refugee status in Canada. The transition was difficult but she knew she wanted to learn English so that she could continue on her path to becoming a novelist.

tale of a boons wife   Idil is a young Somali woman belonging to the upper class known as Bliss. As she grows up she observes the hardships that her mother faces and refuses to be a victim like her. When she falls in love with Sidow, a poor, lower caste Boon Man, they defy their families and society by marrying against their wishes. This choice affects Idil deeply and as the country’s political situation devolves into civil war, she must accept the consequences even as life becomes more and more dangerous.



Esi Edugyan is quickly becoming a Canadian superstar. With her previous novel Half-Blood Blues, she has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Roger’s Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize. Now with her new novel Washington Black, she is again nominated on the longlist for the Booker.

washington black Born into slavery, Washington Black is a gifted artist. His talent is noticed by the plantation owner’s younger brother, Titch who is currently trying to invent a hot air balloon. When Washington witnesses a death, he must escape to avoid punishment. Titch and Washington use the “Cloud Cutter” to leave the Barbados, but the real danger still lies ahead as Washington begins to realize that even if he is free physically, he may never be free, emotionally.


Become a global citizen by reading about these characters’ amazing journeys and follow the events in Manitoba for International Development week on the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation’s Facebook page. Or stop by your local library to pick up one of these novels that are guaranteed to move you deeply. Our enormously talented and visionary Canadian authors are lighting the way to a path forward for humanity. One that builds bridges instead of walls.


January: Looking forward with….

It is a new year!  Decorations have been stowed away, stray needles tidied up, empty chocolate boxes have been thrown in the blue box, and New Year’s Resolutions are still fresh in our minds.

I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions (in our family, my brother always made the resolution to not eat haggis that year- it was an easily kept one!)It may be because they often feel sort of empty or overwhelming (lose weight, work out more, be more organised).  But what if we focused on resolutions that helped those around us, either directly, or by helping us to be healthier and kinder people and therefore making our communities healthier places to be?

Thanks a Thousand

It is pretty well understood that grateful people are often healthier people. In Thanks a Thousand, New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs takes on a journey in which he endeavors to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The resulting journey takes him across the globe, transforms his life, and reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected. And by the end, it’s clear to him that scientific research on gratitude is true. Gratitude’s benefits are legion: it improves compassion, heals your body, and helps battle depression. Along the way, Jacobs provides wonderful insights and useful tips, from how to focus on the hundreds of things that go right every day instead of the few that go wrong. And how our culture overemphasizes the individual over the team. And how to practice the art of “savoring meditation” and fall asleep at night. Thanks a Thousand is a reminder of the amazing interconnectedness of our world. It shows us how much we take for granted. It teaches us how gratitude can make our lives happier, kinder, and more impactful.

Books for Living

For a book lover, starting the year off with some book lists/challenges is pretty common (and exciting!).  In Books for Living, Will Schwalbe presents us with a book about books. “I’ve always believed that everything you need to know you can find in a book,” writes Will Schwalbe in his introduction to this thought-provoking, heart-felt, and often inspiring new book about books. In each chapter he makes clear the ways in which a particular book has helped to shape how he leads his own life and the ways in which it might help to shape ours. He talks about what brought him to each book–or vice versa; the people in his life he associates each book with; how each has led him to other books; how each is part of his understanding of himself in the world. And he relates each book to a question of our daily lives, for example: Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener speaks to quitting; 1984 to disconnecting from our electronics; James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room to the power of connecting with people face to face; Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea to taking time to recharge; Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to being sensitive to the surrounding world; The Little Prince to finding friends; Elie Wiesel’s Night to choosing to do something in the face of injustice; Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train to trusting. Here, too, are books by Dickens, Daphne Du Maurier, Murakami, Edna Lewis, E.B. White, and Hanya Yanagihara, among many others. A treasure of a book for everyone who loves books, loves reading, and loves to hear the answer to the question: “What have you been reading lately?”

The Hidden Door: Mindful Sufficiency as an Alternative to Extinction

Thinking about consumerism seems like a pretty natural thing coming out of the holiday season. We are bombarded on all sides by ‘holiday shopping’- in our inboxes, on the radio, tv etc. Giving gifts to the ones we love can be a natural outpouring of that love, but most of us will feel that tug, or bad aftertaste of  consumer culture at some point. And it is a complex topic that can feel overwhelming at times.

In The Hidden Door : Mindful Sufficiency as an Alternative to Extinction, author Mark Burch gives us hope that what we do matters to our communities and to our collective future. Many people sense that consumer culture is dragging us toward extinction. We feel trapped in a cell of our own making. If humanity is to have any sort of future worth living in, we must discover an exit from our confinement. There is a door, hidden in plain sight. What sort of culture might appear if we took seriously the essential values and principles that form the deep structure of voluntary simplicity and used them to inform a new perspective of the good life? Might we discover an exit from the confining cell of consumer culture? Can we find the passage leading beyond individual lifestyle choice to cultural renaissance? This book aims to help seed this renaissance by widening the conversation about how we transition from the road to extinction to a path with heart that has a future.

Factfulness : Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things are Better Than You Think

When asked simple questions about global trends–what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school–we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.

In Factfulness, Professor of International Health and global TED phenomenon Hans Rosling, together with his two long-time collaborators, Anna and Ola, offers a radical new explanation of why this happens . They reveal the ten instincts that distort our perspective–from our tendency to divide the world into two camps (usually some version of us and them) to the way we consume media (where fear rules) to how we perceive progress (believing that most things are getting worse).

Our problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and even our guesses are informed by unconscious and predictable biases.

It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real concerns. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.

Inspiring and revelatory, filled with lively anecdotes and moving stories, Factfulness is an urgent and essential book that will change the way you see the world and empower you to respond to the crises and opportunities of the future.

Counting on Community

I was tidying in the picture book room at our branch when I happened upon this gem of a board book.  Counting on Community is author Innosanto Nagara’s follow-up to his ABC book, A is for Activist.  It is never too early to begin reading to your child, and in that vein, I think we can say that it is never too early to teach them the value of community.  Counting up from one stuffed piñata to ten hefty hens–and always counting on each other–children are encouraged to recognize the value of their community, the joys inherent in healthy eco-friendly activities, and the agency they posses to make change.

What books are inspiring you on these long, thoughtful winter days?


Powerful women, parenting and a plate of chop suey

Time for another sample of the latest adult non-fiction titles to hit our shelves (825 new ones arrived in November and December!). Browse them all here and here.

Queen Bey : 16 Writers Celebrate the Beauty, Power and Creativity of Beyonce Knowles-Carter
by Veronica Chambers
Her 2018 performance at Coachella wowed the world. The New York Times wrote: ‘There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful and radical performance by an American musician this year or any year soon.’ Artist, business woman, mother, daughter, sister, wife, black feminist, Queen Bey is endlessly fascinating. Queen Bey features a diverse range of voices, from star academics to outspoken cultural critics to Hollywood and music stars.

They Called Us George : A History of the Black Train Porters in Canada
by Cecil Foster

Subjected to grueling shifts and unreasonable standards–a passenger missing his stop was a dismissible offense–the so-called Pullmen of the country’s rail lines were denied secure positions and prohibited from bringing their families to Canada, and it was their struggle against the racist Dominion that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. Drawing on the experiences of these influential Black Canadians, Cecil Foster’s They Call Me George demonstrates the power of individuals and minority groups in the fight for social justice and shows how a country can change for the better.

Act Natural : A Cultural History of Parenting
by Jennifer Traig
Moving from ancient Rome to Puritan New England to the Dr. Spock craze of mid-century America, Traig cheerfully explores historic and present-day parenting techniques ranging from the misguided, to the nonsensical, to the truly horrifying. Be it childbirth, breastfeeding, or the ways in which we teach children how to sleep, walk, eat, and talk, she leaves no stone unturned in her quest for answers: Have our techniques actually evolved into something better? Or are we still just scrambling in the dark?

Chop Suey Nation : The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants
by Anhua Xu

Hui, who grew up in authenticity-obsessed Vancouver, begins her journey with a somewhat disparaging view of small-town “fake Chinese” food. But by the end, she comes to appreciate the essentially Chinese values that drive these restaurants–perseverance, entrepreneurialism and deep love for family. Using her own family’s story as a touchstone, she explores the importance of these restaurants in the country’s history and makes the case for why chop suey cuisine should be recognized as quintessentially Canadian.

Defying Hitler : The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule
by Gordon Thomas
Defying Hitler follows the underground network of Germans who believed standing against the Fuhrer to be more important than their own survival. Their bravery is astonishing–a schoolgirl beheaded by the Gestapo for distributing anti-Nazi fliers; a German American teacher who smuggled military intel to Soviet agents, becoming the only American woman executed by the Nazis; a pacifist philosopher murdered for his role in a plot against Hitler; a young idealist who joined the SS to document their crimes, only to end up, to his horror, an accomplice to the Holocaust. This remarkable account illuminates their struggles, yielding an accessible narrative history with the pace and excitement of a thriller.

Agrippina : The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World
by Emma Southon
Through senatorial political intrigue, assassination attempts, and exile to a small island, to the heights of imperial power, thrones, and golden cloaks and games and adoration, Agrippina scaled the absolute limits of female power in Rome. Her biography is also the story of the first Roman imperial family–the Julio-Claudians–and of the glory and corruption of the empire itself.

And lots of travel guides to plan a get-away!




It’s Time to Read: Washington Black

Welcome to the New Year, dear readers! Since the Time to Read podcast book club began early in 2018 it has been an incredible experience to come together as a community, read books, and engage in conversations.  To everyone who listened and everyone who wrote in:  you have our most heartfelt thanks and know you are a friend of the show.

But as we all know, the New Year isn’t just a time for reflection, it is also time to look forward; so, speaking of friends and speaking of coming together, I’m excited to announce the novel we will be reading in January comes in collaboration with Black Space Winnipeg. The novel is the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.

Not only did our friends at Black Space Winnipeg collaborate with us to choose this month’s title, they will also sit down with us to record the episode. We look forward to the forthcoming discussion as we follow the eponymous Washington Black as he escapes slavery and faces the challenges of freedom in a world where slavery still exists.  We also hope that you, dear readers, will contribute to the conversation by commenting on our website, via email, or on our new Facebook group. Keep an eye out for discussion questions in the coming weeks and be sure to download the episode when it releases on February 1, 2019 to see if your comments made it onto the air.

And of course, our latest episode in which we discuss Beartown by Fredrik Backman is available to download today! Spoiler: we loved the book, but tune in to find out if we love hockey.

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

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,


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.


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.


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.


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!



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.

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~ Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team