Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

#ReadThisGuy: Guy Gavriel Kay

kay childrean

There it is, sitting listlessly on my bedside table, the newest Guy Gavriel Kay novel, Children of Earth and Sky. It is teasing me to open it, silently pleading for me to read it. But, like a fine wine, it must be savoured at leisure, enjoyed with the perfect morsel, on a leisurely night, with absolutely no possibility of interruptions. One doesn’t rush through a book like this. So, I am waiting, anticipating the moment when I can give it my full and complete attention.

 “Writing what I do is an artistic opportunity, and it’s also an opportunity for readers who are bored with what they have been getting, with the diet they’ve been served, who like the idea of moving out of their comfort zones.”

If you haven’t met Guy Kay, he can be found at McNally Robinson whenever a new book of his is published. He grew up in Winnipeg and tells hilarious stories about his days at Grant Park High School. You can find references to his Winnipeg childhood in his book of poems Beyond This Dark House. He is most well known as the author who invented his own genre, what we now refer to as Historical Fantasy. Kay loves to take you on a journey into the past; he uses a recognizable time period but gives it a quarter turn to the fantastic by including elements of mysticism and fantasy.

“My readership is not vast and titanic but they’re loyal and they get what I am trying to do…It makes it easier for me not to do a straightforward historical or a straightforward fantasy. I can live in my hard to categorize space because I’ve had a measure of success there. “

Kay is a master of literary innovations. He loves to leave open spaces in his novels that will leave you wondering. At first, you think he accidentally left out an important bit. Later, you realize, it is a little gift for you, the reader. You can fill in these missing details as you wish. This time, Kay’s innovation is to cut from one person’s point of view to another’s in the middle of the conversation and back it up a bit, so that the reader can see how the characters are interpreting the situation differently.

“The reading process is a dialogue…It’s the reader sitting down and taking from what I can give, whatever they can take – or choose to take”

kay sailingkay lordInterestingly, Children of Earth and Sky is set in the same world as The Lions of Al-Rassan, The Last Light of the Sun and the Sarantine Mosaic (my favorite). But it is 900 years later, and so the world has changed. Kay did not want to write about the “movers and shakers” or use a quest to bring characters together. This novel is about the concerns of ordinary people; it has several protagonists, each with a different trajectory, all moving in different directions and having different goals. Kay’s main inspiration was “how we’re actually not very good at understanding each other” and how “we remember the same moments differently”. Using these ideas, he created complex characters, layered with levels of humanity who will live with you long after you finish the final page.

“We want a book to actually get its hooks into us so much that we’re altered by the interaction with it…If you are writing ambitiously, you are, in fact, hoping to change people.

kay summer

In high school, I was given The Summer Tree to read by a bookish acquaintance. She told me I was going to love it, which I doubted. As it turned out, the very second I finished it, I screamed, jumped up, walked straight out the front door and grabbed the next bus to the library and checked out its sequel, The Wandering Fire. If you are wondering why I didn’t just buy the eBook, it was 1986 and that’s how we rolled.

That acquaintance has been my best friend ever since. I am expecting her to call any time now to check to see if I’ve started IT yet. She’s probably already finished and will be annoyed… we have a strict NO SPOILERS rule. In my defense, I will say to her (in my best Boromir voice), “Tamara, one does not simply READ Children of Earth and Sky, you must SAVOUR it, like the finest, rarest, most exquisite of wines”.

Passages in italics are from the May 2016 issue of LOCUS magazine, “Journeying Guy Gavriel Kay,” by Guy Gavriel Kay, pages 7, 48-49.

 

kay read

Currently on the Toronto subway

  • Colette

Fermentation 101: A Cook Book Club Update

Fermentation is a process that dates back more than 6,000 years, when it was likely used by our ancestors to make alcoholic beverages and preserve food. Fermented foods are enjoying a renaissance.  Examples include making alcohol from fruits and grains, kombucha from tea and sugar, kimchi from vegetables, yogurt or kefir from milk, and sauerkraut from cabbage.

fermentationfort garry

Danielle Nykoluk promoted the benefits of fermented  foods at a recent Taste Buds Cook Book Club meeting at the Fort Gary  Library. Danielle is a founder of The Real Food Revival which offers traditional food skill-based workshops for folks who want more choice and control over their health and the health of the environment. She demonstrated how to make the health-supporting elixirs kombucha (a fermented tea) and kefir (a tangy drink made from fruit of milk) or a fraction of the cost at the grocery store.

What is fermentation? In a nutshell it is the use of beneficial bacteria and yeast to preserve food and beverages. In scientific terms, yeast, moulds, or bacteria convert sugar and other carbohydrates to acids, gases, or alcohol.

Not only does fermentation preserve foods and enhance flavour, fermented foods are good for digestion. Eating these foods actually improves the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of eating pre- and pro- biotic foods, which help to improve digestion and regular bowel function, enhance the immune system, ease anxiety and alleviate allergies.

For more recipes and instructions on how to make your own homemade fermented foods such as bread, cheese, yogurt, beer, pickles and other foods, check out these books:

artfermentation

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

An in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world by a leading expert in the field.

fementvegetables

Ferment Your Vegetables

A fun and flavourful guide to making your own pickles, kimchi, kraut and more.

fermentedfoods

 

Fermented Foods for Health 

Use the power of probiotic foods to improve your digestion, strengthen your immunity and prevent illness

 

Join the growing movement of home fermenters and get great taste and good health with probiotic foods.

-Jane

Signs of Spring

Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again. – Gustav Mahler

While Mahler is far better known as a composer than a writer, he has come up with a most eloquent statement about this time of year.  I do get out and about in the winter, but given even half a chance I’ll stay indoors. While the calendar optimistically declares that March 21st is the first day of spring that just doesn’t happen around here. Just as winter arrives a lot earlier than December 21st , spring arrives a lot later than March 21st.

The signs of spring are different for all of us, and  everyone has their own way of declaring that spring has arrived, from the sight of daffodils and tulips to taking the tarp off the boat. No matter what your sign of spring is or when it arrives, it all celebrates the same season.

bee friendly

You can’t “bee” unhappy in a garden.

If you’re a gardener, the season can commence as early as the day you start your seeds indoors. Thankfully spring eventually arrives for all of us not blessed with a green thumb.  Flowers or veggies, nothing says spring like doing some digging in the garden.

canadian gardening

This is what eating your veggies should be like.

 

 

 

A few hardy souls ride their bicycles all winter, although most people put away their two-wheeled transportation in the fall. And there are those who prefer four tires to two, but still retire their ride when the snow falls. If you need some guidance getting your summer cruising vehicle roadworthy, check out the Chilton’s Auto Repair database on the library website or some of our great books on bikes and motorcycles.

Personally, I prefer walking to riding, regardless of the number of wheels on the vehicle. Once the weather gets warmer and things start to get green, it’s time for me to dig out my hiking boots and take to the trails.

a swing

It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing.

Much as I enjoy a good walk, I find my enjoyment of it spoiled when I’m expected to chase a little white ball around a large open space with a long stick. But for the golfers among us, the best sign of spring is being able to dust off the clubs and take to the golf course.

 

curious george

This is the way I play golf!

I could go on – seeing and hearing the first robin, stepping outside with bare toes, putting away the snow shovel and taking out the lawn chairs, everyone has their own rituals to rejoice in at this time of year. How do you spring into spring?

Lori

Our authors, our stories

On Saturday, May 7, Millennium Library hosted our first ever Local Author Fair, which featured 40 Winnipeg and Manitoba authors. In the morning we heard talks from three on their personal journeys through writing and publishing, which I thought I’d share with you (as well as a bonus one at the end).

mamieFirst to speak was Elizabeth Murray, author of Holding on to Mamie. It was gut-wrenching to hear her talk about the need she felt to write her memoir, in order to deal with how her mother’s dementia poisoned their relationship and turned mother against daughter. About her book:

“As her dementia advanced, Mamie wrote a multitude of notes that evidence the anger and paranoia that are often symptomatic of it. This memoir offers unique insight into this inner turmoil, as well as the fears and frustrations of her daughter and primary caregiver.”

ensNext was Melinda Friesen, author of the dystopian novel Enslavement (book one of the One Bright Future series). In addition to speaking about how she got into writing as a stay-at-home mom, Melinda told us about how and why she and her team started the new Winnipeg company Rebelight Publishing. About her book:

“‘One World. One Currency. One Bright Future.’ That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse—but only for those who obey. When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials force her into a Community Service Contract—a legalized form of slavery—and sell her to a wealthy, abusive banker, who might nevertheless hold the key to Rielle’s freedom.”

dancing.jpgLast to speak was Daniel Perron, author of Dancing Gabe: One Step at a Time. He told us how he unexpectedly found himself writing a book about a local celebrity and the many things he’s had to learn in order to see it self-published. About his book: 

“He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, institutionalized at six, and non-verbal until he was ten…. Then became one of the most recognized and adored figures in Winnipeg. This is the journey of Gabe Langlois, his mother, his family, his friends, and the many medical professionals, local media and sports figures who influenced his life.”

There were dozens of other books at our fair in the afternoon (for a short time you can still find them all listed here).

For a small taste, here’s one. Because, you know, chocolate.

Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate by Doreen choco.jpgPendgracs

A delicious chocolaty tour, introducing us to chocolatiers, chocolatemakers, cocoa growers and chocolate events around the world. My kind of tourism. 

Want to learn more about our local authors? Get in touch, or stay tuned for our next Local Author Fair in November.

Keep on reading!

Erica

Sci-Fi for a Rainy Day

There’s something about rainy days that really makes me want to read science fiction. Maybe it’s wanting to escape to another world, or maybe it’s that time of year where you can practically feel things growing around you with almost magical speed. Here’s a quick list of 5 books to keep you busy this spring.

The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis is a “what if?” exploration behind the consequences of robotics. “The Clakker: a mechanical man, endowed with great strength and boundless stamina — but beholden to the wishes of its human masters. Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the 17th Century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn’t long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world’s sole superpower. Three centuries later, it still is.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson might use a trope that has been around since the beginning of science fiction but this offering has more twists and turns than a Forumla 1 track. “Generations after leaving earth, a starship draws near to the planet that may serve as a new home world for those on board. But the journey has brought unexpected changes and their best laid plans may not be enough to survive.”

 

Or how about Planetfall by Hugo Nominated Emma Newman? “Renata Ghali
believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

 

The Drafter by Kim Harrison has one of the most interesting premises I’ve seen in a long time. “Peri is a Drafter, someone with the ability to rewind time 30 seconds and change the past. But every time she Drafts, her own memories are muddled—a confusion Jack, her lover and partner at Opti, the secret government agency they are both a part of, helps her muddle through. When Peri discovers her own name on a list of corrupt Opti employees, she suddenly has reason to doubt Jack—and herself, as she realizes her entire existence has been manipulated.”

If you think too many Science Fiction books rely on distopian future then you should definitely check out Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii. “In a future where reality has been augmented and biology itself has been hacked, the world’s food supply is genetically modified, superior, and vulnerable. When gene mapper Hayashida discovers that his custom rice plant has experienced a dysgenic collapse, he suspects sabotage.”

 

So if you’re looking to escape these rainy days just pop by your local branch a pick up one of these great titles.

-Arryn

Unleash the Kraken!

We all do it. Us book lovers.  But who would have thought it could be so dangerous?  We come across a book: be it the recommendation of a friend, a mention on a podcast, a gripping title, maybe even through a blog post.

“Ahhh, yes,” we say. “I’d like to read this book, but not right this second, I’ve already got three on the go.” So what do we do? We put it on a list. A little innocuous scrap of paper we tuck into our wallet.

And this list grows. And grows. And grows some more.  Every once in a while we’ll try to cross a book off the list, but when we do we find three more have taken its place!  Then one day, when we’re out for dinner, we pull out our wallet in a vain attempt to find our credit card a hundred little innocuous scraps of paper fly out like confetti. Our friend exclaims, rather loudly, for this isn’t the first time this has happened:  “Gee, maybe you should think about getting rid of some of those old receipts!”

We try to explain that these aren’t receipts. These are guideposts, reminders of our interests that we haven’t yet had time to pursue. But it’s too late; our friend is busy paying our bill, again.  So we fall to our knees, partially out of shame, partially to collect those little innocuous bits of paper.  It’s at this point we know we’ve created monster and as we hear the whir of our friend’s credit card receipt print out we realize this monster is not dissimilar to the ancient Greek Hydra with its ever expanding collection of heads.  This in turn reminds us we should probably brush up on our mythology, so we jump up and snatch the receipt out of the machine and quickly scrawl The Iliad on the back. The glare on our friends face as we shove the receipt into our wallet suggests that this particular piece of paper may not in fact be so innocuous.

And if you’re wondering about me, here is a (small) sample of the innocuous pieces of paper in my wallet:

hourThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
I have a friend who reads a lot a lot. When pressed for a favourite book she can’t choose just one, but hands down her favourite author is Wally Lamb.  So when I asked her where to start she sighed, “Really anywhere, but The Hour I First Believed is great.” I’m not convinced she didn’t just say the first title that popped into her head, but I’ll believe his entire body of work is worth reading.

Remainder by Tom McCarthy
I have no memory of why I added this book to my list, which is ironic because apparently the main character receives a substantial sum of money and, unsure what else to do with it, attempts to recreate half-remembered events from his life.

roboRobopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
I want to read this book based on the title alone. Robots are cool and I love apocalyptic literature.  It is also written by an actual robotics expert!  This book also seems more pertinent now than when I added it to my list as autonomous robots come ever closer to being a part of society’s day-to-day life.

The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winnipeg Campaigns by Sasha Issenberg
As the slow burn toward the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election continues I find myself more and more fascinated by the inner workings of the U.S. political system. The Victory Lab takes a look at how big-data can help to predict who an electorate will vote for and how politicians are using this information to aid their campaigns.

sellDo Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt For The World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records by Amanda Petrusich
I’m pretty sure I found out about this book on a podcast. While I have no particular interest in 78s (they were a little before my time) I find reading about people who have passions that border on obsession fascinating.

 

If you would like to share any of your innocuous pieces of paper, please do so!

Alan

Books about Libraries and Librarians!

“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.” – Saul Bellow

Libraries and librarians seem, in some circles, to be under siege. Labour troubles at Toronto’s public libraries almost led to a strike this week, not to mention the dozens of libraries that have been slated for closure in Newfoundland due to budget cuts. And yet libraries and librarians are still nearly universally supported. How do I know? I continue to be amazed at how each day thousands stream into our Winnipeg public libraries to find their next good read, to research that nagging question about their genealogy or home renovation project, or bring their kids to story time. In addition, if we look at our shelves, virtual or in person, writers are still writing and publishers are still publishing excellent books about their cherished libraries and the interesting, skilled people who serve within them. Take a look at these selected works, all of which you can borrow from WPL:

 

icequeen The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

The Ice Queen is the tale of a librarian in a small town whose wishes come true, but not always for the best. When the unnamed narrator is 8 years old and her brother, Ned, 12, their mother leaves the children alone one night, ostensibly to celebrate her birthday with friends. The narrator wishes her mother would disappear – and she dies that night, her car crashing on an icy road. Years later, Ned becomes a meteorologist and moves from New Jersey to Florida, while his sister goes to library school, still feeling the guilt and self-loathing brought on by her wish the night her mother died.”

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” – Neil Gaiman

 

Niffenegger_TTW_mech.inddThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

“Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, married when Clare 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true. Because Henry unintentionally jumps in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity, past and future. His experience can be harrowing or amusing.” (Goodreads)

“I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” – Harold Kushner

 

1379961People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks

“In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding – an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair – she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries.” (Goodreads)

 

mediumThe World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

“A funny and uplifting story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight lifting. Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old when he first began exhibiting symptoms. When he was twenty and had reached his towering height of 6’7”, his tics escalated to nightmarish levels. Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh tried countless remedies, with dismal results. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission using increasingly elaborate feats of strength. What started as a hobby became an entire way of life—and an effective way of managing his disorder. Today, Josh is a librarian at Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of five-year-old Max. Funny and offbeat, The World’s Strongest Librarian traces this unlikely hero as he attempts to overcome his disability, find love, and create a life worth living.”

“If we encounter a person of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

index.aspxLiving With Books by Alan Powers

“Some people never have more than a shelf or two of books. Others are more committed: they hoard books, rearrange them, and seldom get rid of any. Living with Books, aimed at the latter group, addresses the challenges and joys of a home masquerading as a library, from storage to display to the use of books as structural elements and furniture.Each chapter covers a different room and the special way that books can exist in or enhance that space. Obvious areas such as dens and offices are covered, along with more daring places such as hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. Special features include a closer look at the care and display of decorative books, decorative papers, and bookplates, and a final chapter on custom-building bookshelves to suit every home.” (Goodreads)

“No two persons ever read the same book.” – Edmund Wilson
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The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Guillaume de Laubier

“Here, for the first time, architectural photographer Guillaume de Laubier takes the reader on a privileged tour of twenty-three of the world’s most historic libraries, representing twelve countries and ranging from the great national monuments to scholarly, religious, and private libraries: the baroque splendor of the Institut de France in Paris; the Renaissance treasure-trove of the Riccardiana Library in Florence; the majestic Royal Monastery in El Escorial, Spain; the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Bodleian Library; and the New York Public Library, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.”

 

1527318.jpg In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians by Michael Cart

“Libraries, with their miles and miles of books are, for writers and readers alike, the magical portal to new worlds-the source of terrors, delights, and pleasures aplenty. Here, in one volume, noted author and librarian Michael Cart has assembled a fascinating collection of twentieth century short fiction about libraries and librarians: from such classics as Borges’s ‘The Library of Babel’ and Isaac Babel’s ‘The Public Library,’ to such contemporary gems as John Cheever’s ‘Trouble of Marcie Flint’ and Lorrie Moore’s ‘Community Life.’ Love, lunacy, obsession, and the joy of reading come together in a collection that readers, booksellers, and librarians would agree is long overdue.”

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” – Neil Gaiman

 

medium

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

“In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road. Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?”

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” – Ray Bradbury

 

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco119073.jpg

“The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where ‘the most interesting things happen at night.'” (Goodreads)

“The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.”
– Timothy Healy

  • Lyle