Author Archives: winnipegpublibrary

The most wonderful time of the year (for readers)

The end of the year really is a wonderful time for people who love to read!

There are more annual “best of” lists than you can shake a (very large) stick at, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Each year, I ask Winnipeg Public Library staff to name the book which made the biggest impression on them in the last twelve months, and each year I’m enthralled by the variety of titles they send me.

If you’d like to see more staff picks, take a look at our previous lists from 2016 and 2015. Still not satisfied? Check out the Largehearted Boy blog’s list of many, many more year-end book lists.

Fiction of all genres

Derek chose The Wonder by Emma Donoghue because it’s richly told, exploring the moral and ethical dilemmas surrounding care and sickness.

Erica enjoyed Robin Sloan’s endearing books, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough for delving into seemingly small things that can nonetheless elicit great passion (aka geeking out), whether that be books, computers, baking, cheese, or riddles.

Joanne “raced” through The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walker, the post-apocalyptic story of an unlikely hero who sets out on a 500 mile run through the devastated countryside, desperate to be reunited with his family before it’s too late.

Lori sums up the reasons Mira Grant’s Rolling in the Deep became a top read for her in two words: “Killer. Mermaids.”

Madeleine loved Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver for the heroine’s gradual realizations about the way she has treated other people as she relives one day in her life over and over.

Mauri says The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg is a “sweet (but not sappy) story about love, hope, second chances, and the small acts of kindness that can turn friends into family.”

Ann Patchett is one of Toby‘s favourite authors and her writing just seems to get better and better; Commonwealth, the story of two families over five decades, is insightful and beautiful and brilliant.

It took Rémi over 17 years to discover Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books, but this year he finally read Storm Front, the first in the series, which is “a great mix of a detective thriller and a fantasy that’s gritty, witty and just plain fun.”

All varieties of non-fiction

Aileen found that Michael de Adder’s You Might Be From Canada If… brought back memories from childhood as well as, surprisingly, tears to her eyes.

Although The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee can be difficult to read at times, Alan highly recommends it to anyone who has been touched by this pernicious disease.

Brittany found Susannah Cahalan’s memoir Brain on Fire does an excellent job of reconstructing the author’s ‘month of madness’ while suffering from a very rare disease in which the brain attacks itself.

Bryan chose The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, a “disturbing but also entertaining” tour through the planet’s turbulent history of mass extinctions.

Chris enjoyed Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork, which shows the evolution of all of our cooking ‘gadgets’ and educates the reader in a fun way on how things have truly changed over the last 2000 years.

What struck Darragh about Kelle Hampton’s Bloom (a brutally honest and emotionally provoking memoir by a mother whose second daughter was born with Down Syndrome) was the power of perspective.

Elke picked Following Atticus by Tom Ryan: the story of a dog and a man who, as friends and equals, conquer both mountains and life’s challenges.

And We Go On [ebook only] by Will Bird was Hugh‘s choice – a memoir of trench warfare on the Western Front that is not for the faint of heart.

Lauren found the collected letters in Letters of Note (edited by Shaun Usher) hilarious to heartbreaking, but every one was a beautiful and authentic piece of writing.

Mary-Ann chose Will Ferguson’s Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, a collection of fun, entertaining, and educational pieces about interesting places across Canada.

According to Melissa, Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina, a member of ‘Pussy Riot’ the Russian collective famous for their political activism, captures the emotional process of being jailed and successfully advocating for change in the Russian penal system.

Randy says of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen: “This little book is an inspirational powerhouse with its simple, but profound ideology.”

Waiting For First Light, Romeo Dallaire’s powerful first person narrative about dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brings the experience to life and helped Steve to understand what trauma can do to a person.

For younger readers

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi was Andrea‘s most memorable book of 2017. The tale of two boys who become connected by a line, it is a story of friendship, struggle and forgiveness–told without a single word.

Jacquie chose the beautiful picture book The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo, as a great book to share with a child to gently introduce topics of mindfulness and appreciation of silence and stillness in our busy, noisy lives.

Lori thought that she knew a fair amount about Van Gogh, but Deborah Heiligman’s YA biography Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers provided some surprising and touching insights about his life, his art, and his premature death.

Terri couldn’t put down Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin – a funny, touching read that tells the story of Riley, a teenager who is coming to terms with what it means to be gender fluid.

And a special mention to Larisa, who published a book of her own this year! Since she had to read it more than 365 times, it definitely became her top read. Berries: 210 Thoughts and Photographs on Life, Love and Light is a book-meditation intended to be the reader’s silent friend, with laconic language and stunning black-and-white photographs.

Happy holidays, and may you never run out of great books to read in 2018!

– Danielle

Tangentially Speaking, not the center of IT

This story begins back when I wasn’t a regular library user. In fact, to be honest, I didn’t think to use the library much at all. I know you’re all gasping, “How could he!,” “What a fool!,” so I’ll give you a paragraph break to catch your breath.

I was young. I was naïve. I was on a mission to complete a sub-list of THE LIST. My goal: to read every book mentioned in Donnie Darko. And before you ask, yes, compiling a list of books to read from a beloved movie or television show is a thing1. People do it for Gilmore Girls. Sometimes a work of art strikes you in just the right way and you end up falling down the rabbit hole2 exploring its references and allusions.

Image credit Keir Hardie (https://flic.kr/p/4x2mqf)

Because of Donnie Darko, I read and watched Watership Down. I started reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Then I started reading it again.  Then I told myself that one day I would be smart enough finish it. My heart skipped a beat when they released Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut and it featured a commentary track with Kevin Smith. And I would laugh to myself while listening to a soundtrack featuring Echo and the Bunnymen3—did I mention Donnie Darko features a man in a giant bunny suit?

Donnie Darko also put a pair of Stephen King novels on my to-read list: The Tommyknockers and another, the title of which I can’t quite remember at the moment4.

But the main obstacle to my goal, the problem that hounded me for years, was trying to track down a copy of “The Destructors” a short story by Graham Greene. In Donnie Darko the Greene’s story is banned from the titular character’s high school because it is seen to promote vandalism. So too, in my life, did it seem to be banned. I scoured bookstores of all shapes and sizes:  from corporate edifices to fly-by-night street sellers. Graham Green was prolific and I found many of his novels, my favourites being:  Doctor Fischer of Geneva and A Burnt-Out Case. But it wouldn’t be until years later that I was able to track down a copy of “The Destructors.” I found it at a place that doesn’t ban books. I found it, if the opening paragraph didn’t give the ending away, at the library.

Alan

1 Part of what put Atlas Shrugged on my list was Mad Men, but that’s a blogpost for another time.

2 Alice in Wonderland reference AND Donnie Darko allusion!

3 Track 3 on this album.

4 Someday I’ll think of it.

Zombies, Parasites and Killer Mermaids

 

“Every life has a watershed moment, an instant when you realize you’re about to make a choice that will define everything else you ever do, and that if you choose wrong, there may not be that many things left to choose.”

Mira Grant

 

I think that everyone’s life has more than one of these moments, especially when it comes to book selection. That pivotal instant when you reach out to the shelf and tug the book towards you. Do you look at the cover? Flip to the synopsis? Go straight to the last page? In that twinkling of time, do you commit to making that choice to continue with that particular book or do you put it back and walk away, possibly forever? Ultimately only you can decide, and that decision can change your life.

I encountered just such a watershed moment with my first Mira Grant book. I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the books written by Seanan McGuire, most especially Every Heart a Doorway and Sparrow Hill Road. So you can imagine how happy I was to discover that she also writes under the pen name Mira Grant. That initial happiness became tinged with apprehension when I first saw the cover for Feed. The apprehension turned to trepidation, which morphed to misgivings. Generally speaking I’m not a big fan of zombies, and as a dedicated digital immigrant I’m still not comfortable with the whole online newsfeed experience. But something inside me led me to open the cover, and after the first page I was completely hooked on anything and everything that Mira Grant has written.

The Newsflesh trilogy is set in the future, after a virus intended to rid mankind of disease has instead triggered an apocalypse. George and her adopted brother Sean are reporters intent on finding the truth behind what caused the catastrophe, and how to fight the true evil that sustains it. In the words of Seanan McGuire, the series is about: “…blogging, politics, medical science, espionage, betrayal, the ties that bind, the ties that don’t, how George Romero accidentally saved the world, and, of course, zombies.”

               

 

In another take on what happens when science interferes with nature, the Parasitology series focuses on Sal, formerly Sally, and her journey to find out who she really is after awakening from a coma. Her recovery is miraculous, due in no small part to the parasite that was deliberately introduced into her body. But is Sal actually who the world thinks she is? And does she possess the courage to venture through the Broken Doors to what lies beyond?

    

 

My absolute favorite book for 2017 is Rolling in the Deep. It’s more a novella than a novel, but it packs a huge concept into a short space. The story is set on a research ship out over the Mariana Trench, and the character list comes complete with a surly captain, nerdy scientists and opportunistic members of the media, not to mention professional mermaids. Why is this motley crew so far out in the open ocean? To investigate mermaid sightings, of course. But what they find is far from what they expected. Hint: there’s a clue in the title of the post. The story continues in Into the Drowning Deep

 

Granted, choosing to read these books is not enough to change the entire course and direction of my life. But reading them did influence how I view scientific breakthroughs and professional bloggers,  and will definitely impact future travel plans involving ocean cruises. All in all, I’d call that a watershed moment.

-Lori

 

 

 

 

The Genius and Weirdness of Jeff VanderMeer

It was just this year that I discovered the genius that is author Jeff VanderMeer. Some of you I’m sure are surprised that someone might just be discovering his writing, but I fully admit to doing so. I began by reading his latest novel which was receiving high praise, and was quickly blown away. I read the novel while on holiday at my cottage, relaxing on the beach, and was completely engrossed. My imagination ran wild and when I heard that the first book of his Southern Reach trilogy was to be made into a movie, I quickly picked up that book, and was equally impressed and enthralled. It was no wonder the novel won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel.

For those who may not be familiar with him, Jeff VanderMeer is a science fiction author. Or, I should clarify; many of his books are science fiction (some can be considered fantasy as well). Now I know what some of you might say, “I’m not into science fiction, it is too spacey for me.” I understand the notion, from television and movies, well-known science fiction focuses on outer space, space exploration and other planets, but many of VanderMeer’s novels take place on earth or a planet like earth (he doesn’t call it earth) with new or different technologies. The literary quality to his writings allow for a larger audience who may not be quick to pick up a book placed under the genre science fiction (these categories and genres can be troublesome as often books blend genres, especially VanderMeer’s works). Many compare his books to H.P. Lovecraft for the weird and horror elements. Because of this, be prepared for descriptive language in his novels, a trait which is common in fantasy novels to help with world-building, or in this case weirdness building. These types of novels may not be for everyone, if you do end up picking up one of his novels and not enjoying the first 50 pages (give it a chance!) please feel free to put it down and try something else, they are certainly not for everyone. But this is also why I enjoyed his books so much, because they are so out of the ordinary.

Borne

borne

I will start with the first book I read, Borne. The title alone intrigued me, the synopsis compelled me to read it, and the cover art messed with my mind (once you read the novel, you will understand the cover). The book takes place in the future, in a city that was devastated by the experiments of a corporation known as the Company. One such experiment is… a giant flying grizzly bear named Mord (I kid you not!). Mord has destroyed the city and controls those living there using his minions, other smaller bears (smaller than him), to do his bidding. The main protagonist is Rachel, a scavenger who collects the discarded experiments from the Company for her companion Wick. It is on one of these scavenger missions where she finds Borne, an anemone-like creature clinging to the fur of Mord, and takes it home with her. Wick wants to initially run tests on Borne as he believes it is most likely an experiment from the Company and therefore doesn’t trust it, but Rachel refuses, and keeps Borne with her and watches as he begins to grow and learn and… let’s just say events happen from there. The world is so vividly described in Borne and it is unlike any story I have read before, you are sure to be hooked from beginning to end.

The Southern Reach Trilogy

Book 1: Annihilation

annihilation

A biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor and an anthropologist head into an area known only as Area X to explore and to discover what happened to the previous 11 expeditions. Told entirely from the point-of-view of the biologist as she is documenting her experience in her journal, we learn about the place known as Area X, and slowly more of what led her to participate in this expedition. This is the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy, and can be read on its own or, if you are wanting to explore the setting of the novel further, you can continue reading the next two books in the series. The book has been made into a movie starring Natalie Portman, which will be released early next year, something which surprised many as the book itself was believed to be unfilmable (once you read it you will understand why).

Book 2: Authority

authority

This book takes place after the events of Annihilation. Without giving too much away regarding what happens in the first novel we follow the new director of the Southern Reach as he tries to piece together what happened during the 12th expedition.

Book 2: Acceptance

acceptance

Wow, this is becoming more difficult explaining the plot without giving too much away. I can say that a new team is embarking on an expedition to Area X and… that is about it! Just trust me and continue reading!

Jeff VanderMeer has written other novels which we have in our collection such as Finch a noir thriller/fantasy novel and has edited and compiled short story collections from steampunk to a feminist speculative fiction anthology with his wife Ann. Find all of Jeff VanderMeer’s books here and let me know what you think of his works in the comment section below.

Happy Reading!

-Aileen

Canada 150 Years, Anishinaabe 13,000 Years

canada150

Source: http://tinyurl.com/ydbvm3f8 Credit: unknown

It’s BookFest this Saturday at Millennium Library – a day packed with engaging and fun content, with a focus on Manitoba-based publishers. This is my second year participating as one of the Library staff offering up “Book Tastings”.  Under the category of “Canada 150+: great reads about our past and present” (2-2:30 p.m.) I’ll be highlighting titles that address the “plus”.  As most people know there is a real explosion of Indigenous literary talent happening right now or, rather, an increase in the acknowledgement and celebration of that talent by so-called mainstream Canada.  About time!  It was difficult to choose just a few titles – a good problem to have. I look forward to highlighting these titles and more this Saturday and beyond.
 

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson. Illustrated by Julie Flett.

whenwewere

Winner of a 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award.

“When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.”

 

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanow by William Dumas. Illustrated by Leonard Paul.

pisim

“In 1993, the remains of a young woman were discovered at Nagami Bay, South Indian Lake, Manitoba. Out of that important archeological discovery came this unique story about a week in the life of Pisim, a young Cree woman, who lived in the Mid 1600s. In the story, created by renowned storyteller William Dumas, Pisim begins to recognize her miskanow – her life’s journey – and to develop her gifts for fulfilling that path. The story is brought to life by the rich imagery of Leonard Paul, and is accompanied by sidebars on Cree language and culture, archaeology and history, maps, songs, and more.”

 

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

sevenfallen

“…from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water.

Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.”

   

A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. by John S. Milloy

nationalcrime

This classic title has been re-released with a forward by local scholar Mary Jane Logan McCallum.

“For over 100 years, thousands of Aboriginal children passed through the Canadian residential school system. Begun in the 1870s, it was intended, in the words of government officials, to bring these children into the “circle of civilization,” the results, however, were far different. More often, the schools provided an inferior education in an atmosphere of neglect, disease, and often abuse. Using previously unreleased government documents, historian John S. Milloy provides a full picture of the history and reality of the residential school system.”

 

Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal. by Keira Ladner and Myra Tait

survivingcanada

Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal is a collection of elegant, thoughtful, and powerful reflections about Indigenous Peoples’ complicated, and often frustrating, relationship with Canada, and how – even 150 years after Confederation – the fight for recognition of their treaty and Aboriginal rights continues. Through essays, art, and literature, Surviving Canada examines the struggle for Indigenous Peoples to celebrate their cultures and exercise their right to control their own economic development, lands, water, and lives.”

 

Fire Starters by Jen Storm.  Illustrated by Scott Henderson.  Colours by Donavan Yacuik.

firestarter

“Looking for a little mischief after finding an old flare gun, Ron and Ben find themselves in trouble when the local gas bar on Agamiing Reserve goes up in flames, and they are wrongly accused of arson by the sheriff’s son. As the investigation goes forward, community attitudes are revealed, and the truth slowly comes to light.”

 

Life Among the Qallunaat by Mini Aodla Freeman. Eds., Keavy Martin, Julie Rak and Norma Dunning

qallunut

“Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humourous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s.”
-Monique W.

BookFest a.k.a. Mega Event Book Nerd Day

Did you happen to make it to BookFest last year? Are you wondering what the heck this ‘BookFest’ thing is? Are you just bored and surfing the web? Here’s some info you might find interesting.

[Disclaimer: In my enthusiasm, I have made up a lot of reading-related words for this post.]

BookFest is one of the bookiest days of the year, because it’s the day that WPL and AMBP smoosh together a bunch of readerly things: book tastings (short and sweet book talks), a panel discussion, local publishing houses, local self-published authors, an interactive poetry station, personalized reading advice from WPL experts, and resources just for book clubs. Plus, you know, free book and book-related prize giveaways.

In short, so many things that the only name for it is BookFest!

Some of the books:

bfest1

All the details:

Saturday, November 25 at Millennium Library from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We’ve taken over the whole second floor.

Panel Talk: The Book Starts Here: 11 a.m. to noon

Take a literary walk through Winnipeg as panelists discuss iconic Winnipeg locations found in books. Charlene Diehl of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival moderates the discussion featuring Winnipeg author Allan Levine.

Book Tastings: Drop in for 30-minute seatings of delicious must-reads. This fun, quick-fire appetizer pairs librarians and avid readers showcasing the best in books.

o                1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Life & Death: notable new memoirs & mysteries

o                2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Canada 150+: great reads about our past and present

o                3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Genre-bending titles: the best in mixed-genre reads

Book Fair: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A book expo where you can explore the best of prairie writing with local publishers: ARP Books, At Bay Press, Les Éditions des Plaines, Fernwood Publishing, Great Plains Publications, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, Peanut Butter Press, Rebelight Publishing Inc., Signature Editions, Turnstone Press, and University of Manitoba Press.

Plus, a chance to meet and greet the following authors: Sally Cooper, Lisa Mendis and Chris Ducharme, Anne Mahon, Bartley Kives, Deborah Froese, Harriet Zaidman, Gerald Kuehl, Gabriele Goldstone, Melinda Friesen, Suzanne Costigan, Armin Wiebe, and Janis Thiessen.

Poetry Station: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Try your hand at “building” a poem by blacking out words on a page. Poet Jennifer Still, the Library’s current Writer-in-Residence, will stop by to demonstrate and assist.

Book Club Corner: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A showcase of titles your book club will love, tips for discussion, and information about the Library’s book club kits.
librarian is in
The Librarian is IN!: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In a reading slump? Need help finding your next great read? Visit the desk where library staff will be on hand to diagnose your literary condition and prescribe a few titles.

Plus (my favourite part): “spin to win” books and prizes every hour!

Isn’t that an amazing amount of book nerdery? Hope you can join us! (Be there and be square?)

  • The BookFest Team: Danielle, Erica, Aileen, Karen, Michelle, and Kathleen

 

Remembrance Day

November is a time to remember those who have lost their lives in service to their country and every year in November, at ceremonies across the country, we hear recitations of In Flanders Fields by Canadian John McCrae. Poetry, especially during the Great War, has been a way of expressing sadness and feelings for lost friends, loved ones and colleagues.

John McCrae penned some of the most familiar and powerful lines of war poetry that we Canadians know.  However, McCrae was not the only citizen or soldier to find expression in poetry during and after the Great War.  Other Canadians such as Marjorie Pickthall, Frederick George Scott and Robert Service also penned poems that evoke strong feelings in us today.  Besides Canadian poets, other powerful poetry was written by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg and Philip Larkin.

I do not have the skill and words to describe the horrors of war that the men and women of our armed forces faced during two catastrophic world wars.  Instead, I have chosen a selection of poems for you to read.

Andrew

Dolce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Marching Men
By Marjorie Pickthall

Under the level winter sky
I saw a thousand Christs go by.
They sang an idle song and free
As they went up to calvary.

Careless of eye and coarse of lip,
They marched in holiest fellowship.
That heaven might heal the world, they gave
Their earth-born dreams to deck the grave.

With souls unpurged and steadfast breath
They supped the sacrament of death.
And for each one, far off, apart,
Seven swords have rent a woman’s heart.

Dreamers
Siegfried Sassoon

Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.

Two Fusiliers
Robert Graves

And have we done with War at last?
Well, we’ve been lucky devils both,
And there’s no need of pledge or oath
To bind our lovely friendship fast,
By firmer stuff
Close bound enough.

By wire and wood and stake we’re bound,
By Fricourt and by Festubert,
By whipping rain, by the sun’s glare,
By all the misery and loud sound,
By a Spring day,
By Picard clay.

Show me the two so closely bound
As we, by the red bond of blood,
By friendship, blossoming from mud,
By Death: we faced him, and we found
Beauty in Death,
In dead men breath.

To find more poems by any of these poets, please consider the following books:
The War Poets,  Robert Giddings

Selected Poems, Wilfred Owen

Selected Poems, Robert Graves

After Every War: Twentieth Century Women Poets, Eavan Boland

Anthem for Doomed Youth: Twelve Soldier Poets of the First World War, Jon Stallworthy

Poets of World War II, Harvey Shapiro

Who is Caroline Herschel?

I discovered Caroline Herschel a few years back when she was the inspiration for a Google Doodle. I became obsessed and wanted to know as much as I could about her.  She was most notably the sister of William Herschel, astronomer to King George, and also the man who discovered Uranus.  What most people don’t know is her own contribution to science.  Early in life she contracted typhus; her mother thought this was the end of her life as a woman. Thankfully her father and brother believed there was more for her.  After moving to England she assisted William and even became an astronomer in her own right.  Please do yourself a favor and take a moment to look at the Caroline Herschel Objects.

This got me thinking about other notable women in science. The further down I searched in this rabbit hole, the more I discovered.

Before Caroline (long before) there was Hypatia. Not much is actually known about the life of Hypatia, but of course there doesn’t mean there isn’t speculation!

If you are in the mood for a graphic novel try The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. A Steampunk graphic novel of Ava Lovelace in an alternative universe using computers to fight crime! Who would say no to that??! Or if you are looking for a more traditional historical novel, the library will soon be getting the forthcoming novel Enchantress of Numbers.

To return to Caroline Herschel, Stargazer’s Sister is a novel that tells her imagined life. From her early days, seeing her first solar eclipse, almost dying from typhus, being rescued by her brother William, and being brought to England where Caroline serves William as his caretaker, assistant, and research partner.  It is only when William announces his plans to marry that Caroline’s life falls apart.

Then I discovered Mary Anning through reading Remarkable Creatures. A fictional account of a Mary Anning, who had a knack for finding fossils. The story begins with Mary being struck by lightning as an infant, and the discovery that would revolutionize paleontology, and shake the religious figures of the time. Mary finds a friend and champion in Elizabeth Philpot. Or, you could read Curiosity: A Love Story by Winnipeg writer Joan Thomas.

I first learned of the women of NASA by watching a video about Margaret Hamilton. Who was Margaret Hamilton? Oh, just the woman who put astronauts on the Moon. Then I kept hearing of this book (and movie) Hidden Figures, the true story of the women who made space travel possible, and won the space race for the USA.

You can also try Rocket Girl, available on Overdrive.

 

 

Women in Science: 50 fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World is new to the library, and I have yet to receive it. I am (not so) patiently waiting for my hold!

Andrea

“Left your house this morning at a quarter after 9”

We lost Gord Downie on October 18, 2017 and, like many Canadians, were heartbroken. We set up red maple leaves in a display case at Millennium Library and invited library customers to share their messages of condolence.

The Tragically Hip:

“This is one of the saddest events ever. The Tragically Hip was the first music I played for my son in utero. We are sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing him with us.” Deveraux and Savanah M.

 “I saw you live 24 times. What a dream for a kid from Ontario. No matter where I go, the Hip goes too. Thanks for everything. My little girl will have all your albums.” Kate.

 “In the 1990’s, I had a roommate who told me never to touch his cd’s while he was at work. Long story short, I taped all his Hip cd’s. Peace, Love” Mark B.

“Sad news for Canadian music. I was never a Tragically Hip fans but I know what it is like to see a family member go through cancer. Long live Gord Downie. Never forget what he gave Canada through his music.”

His songs inspired us:

”I look up to Gord above and say ‘Hey man thanks.”

“Courage! XOXOXOXOXO”

We loved and admired him:

“Gord put us in the way of beauty.”

“Thank you Gord for all that you did for our country. You will be missed but never forgotten”

“An amazing poet of our time. He will be missed.”

“Gord, you inspired Canadians with your stories and songs. You will be missed.”

“Thank you for telling the story for the lost Aboriginal children”

“R.I.P. Gord. Thank you for all that you have given to this world. Your physical presence will be greatly missed; spiritually you will always be with us.”

“Thank you Music Man.”

“You were loved a lot”

“Rock on.”

He advocated for Indigenous people:

“Thank you Gord Downie for your time to research the life of Charlie Wenjack. Thank you for taking the time to be with his family.”

“Thank you to the Wenjack family for sharing your son’s story. Canada means village and in a village each person cares for each other.”

“Chi-migwech Gord.” Judy and Darryl

“Miguetch. You are awesome and always the best. Fly with the angels, reach the stars.”

“Rest in Peace, Gord. Thank you for advocating for our cause.” From all Indigenous people

We send love to his family:

“Blessings to each of Downie family. For your sharing of Gord has meant much to many.”

“I’m sorry for you guys and my Dad loved your music.”

“Mr. Downie rocked our world. Respect to the family”

“Gord D. You are sorely missed. A true Canadian to the end. God Bless you and your family.”

Wicapi Omani:

“See you on the other side Gord.”

“Gord D. Have a good walk among the stars. P.S. Thank you.”

Photo courtesy of The Globe & Mail

If you are missing him, you are not alone…

(Messages appear as they were written on the leaves.)

-Colette

Dear Diary,

Here I go again. I haven’t given up (yet) on writing regularly in a journal and have that stack of attempts to prove it! (Do I really need to buy a brand new journal when I’m going to try my hand at it again?! I really must stop doing that.)

Anyhow, I recently decided to take this journaling bull by the horns. Before I give up on doing this, I wanted to see if I was missing something. So I went to the library to get some ideas – inspiration – anything! I can’t be the first person who wants to keep a journal, but struggles with sustaining it, right?

So I got on my coat and scarf, because Winnipeg’s winter is on the way, and walked to my neighbourhood library branch. I found out what area these books are in (the non-fiction 808.066 section) and started browsing the shelves. I was quite surprised by the options!

 

The big question that I needed answered was: why would I want to journal when our life is so busy? Well, Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling by Katie Dalebout talks about how journaling is a great tool for change, clearing your mind, and helping you to get “unstuck”. Similarly, Keeping a Journal You Love by Sheila Bender and Note to Self by Samara O’Shea talk about how journaling is great for self-expression and also helps you focus on the moments in life that beg further exploration. All three books also provided many exercises, prompts, and techniques to use to get started. Nice!

I also needed to find a way to reduce my self-induced pressure to write a page a day. (This is a biggie!) This quote from Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal: The Art of Transforming a Life into Stories by Alexandra Johnson gave me some much needed perspective.

Who knew that our kitchen calendar that is chock full of writing was “silently recording the heroic of the everyday”? I felt hope and pride start to well up inside of me.

But there was one final thing that I needed to know: can I take a different approach to journaling? That’s when I found Start Journaling: An Art Journaling Workbook by Kristy Conlin. It focuses on the visual journal that combines images with words. Add paint! Add collage! With this approach, I can blend writing with colours and images. I can get creative! How cool is that? Another book that shared the visual approach was Artist’s Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures by Cathy Johnson.

So I left the library feeling like a weight had been lifted. Gone is my image of the journal as a book with a little lock and key and the feeling of pressure that I need to fill at least one page a day. Nuh-uh – times. have. changed! I’m feeling really good about this. And even better, I already have some ideas for when I write/draw in my journal tomorrow…

Reegan