Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Queer Memoirs

I love reading memoirs because unlike fiction, you know as the reader this is the writer’s version of the events that happened in their lives.  It is the edited version of course, which makes it that much more intriguing. The authors have to ask themselves what they want to share and who they want to name and what details should remain quiet. The magic of queer memoirs is that these create narratives that give voice to LGBTTQ+ experiences.  Definitely not a new genre and there are so many authors to check out!  Audre Lorde, Alison Bechdel, Leslie Fienberg and Jeanette Winterson  have written autobiographies, and they are all available at Winnipeg Public Library!  Read on for some suggestions of recent memoirs that have caught my eye.

 

Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

This book is a quick, engaging read that contains some heavy content. It is a relatable coming of age story about Toronto-based activist/writer/artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha that details being broke, queer, and living with a disability in the 90’s, interspersed with the writers fraught relationship with her parents.

 

How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea

Speaking of coming of age stories, “How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea” is a memoir that focuses on becoming an adult. This title reads as a series of essays with advice for the reader. What I appreciated most about this book is the author’s honesty about how her path to “adulthood” has been a rather slow and twisty one, which I’m sure many of us can relate to.

 

A Two-Spirit Journey by Ma-Nee Chacaby with Mary Louisa Plummer

This book (technically an autobiography) details the amazing and very difficult events in the life of Ma-Nee Chacaby, an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian.  Chacaby discusses how she was taught traditional knowledge by her grandmother, learning to survive through trapping and hunting.  She also details her experiences with abuse, racism, addiction and poverty. Chacaby overcame these barriers, helping many people throughout her life including her own children and foster children. While not technically a memoir I had to put this item on the list as it is an incredibly inspiring book that has many gifts to offer potential readers.

 

My Body is Yours by Michael V. Smith

The first sentence of this book sets the tone – “I spent the first thirty years of my life trying to disappear”. Michael Smith grew up in a small town and did not fit into the strict understanding of gender and sexuality. His honesty in this memoir is striking, examining his life as a young queer person growing up in a working class town and not holding back all of the gritty details.

 

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir by Kate Bornstein

This is “the true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today.” Kate Bornstein has a writing style that will bring the reader in and keep engaged from the first page. Bornstein explores her gender transition journey and doesn’t shy away from a lot of facts about her life.  An honest and brave book recommended for anyone looking for a little inspiration.

 

Check out the LGBTTQ+ Info Guide for more books suggestions, new books, local resources and more.

Kim

Never Neverland Grows Up

Have you ever heard the saying “youth is wasted on the young”?

Hitting some of those milestones of adulthood (first time away from home, first credit card bill, first time burning dinner, first time making a doctor/dentist appointment) has really given me an appreciation for the carefree years of childhood.

During my teenage years, when all I really knew of adulthood was that I’d be able to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I so chose (full disclosure: I do this), I spent a lot of energy congratulating myself for being wise beyond my years, knowing I would ace this whole adulthood thing. Ah, nothing like the bratty confidence of youth! You know who else is bratty and youthful?

Peter Pan

I never paid much attention when I watched the animated Disney movie as a child, but as much as Peter can be seen as a loveable scamp, he is also a bit of a jerk.  The fact is though, that overconfidence and a disregard for the wellbeing of others are both fairly small concerns in comparison to some of the darker themes lurking beneath the layer of fairy dust that covers Neverland.

The tension between growing old or staying young forever and gaining wisdom or remaining ignorant drives the story of Peter Pan. Modern retellings explore this tension from different angles, adding new and interesting dimension to this classic children’s story, and I find myself more intrigued by the story of Neverland as an adult than I ever did as a child. I guess there really is something to this whole growing up business (beyond the bills and extra responsibilities, I mean).

Here are just a few of the new imaginings of J.M. Barrie’s immortal boy that you can find at the library. See for yourself what you think of the new Neverland!

Never Never by Brianna Shrum

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole.

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child-at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

When fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan deep in the forbidden woods of Neverland, the two form a bond that’s impossible to break, but also impossible to hold on to.  As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily.  However, when Wendy Darling, a girl who is everything Tiger Lily is not arrives on the island, Tiger Lily discovers how far she is willing to go to keep Peter with her, and in Neverland.

Adding to the interest of this book is the fact that it’s told from the point of view of the very famous fairy, Tinkerbell herself.

Everland by Wendy Spinale

In this dystopian spin on the Peter Pan story, London is a ruin, destroyed by German bombs and ravaged by the Horologia virus. The Marauders of the ruthless Captain Hanz Otto Oswald Kretschmer seize the children who are immune to the virus in the hope that their blood will produce a cure–their latest victim is sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling’s younger sister and Gwen will do anything to get her back, even join up with Pete and his gang of Lost Boys living in a city hidden underground.

Once Upon A Time

This TV series reimagines many of your favourite Disney characters, from Prince Charming and Snow White to Rumpelstiltskin and the Evil Queen. Binge watch enough episodes and you’ll meet Captain Hook and Peter Pan as well!

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Never Ever by Sara Saedi

On her seventeenth birthday, Wylie and her brothers are whisked away by the enigmatic Phinn to an island where teenagers never grow up. This could be Wylie’s dream come true, but mysterious disappearances make her expect that there’s more to life on the island than Phinn is telling her.

Are you a fan of retellings in general? If so, do you have a favourite? Or would you rather just read the original? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Happy reading,
Megan

 

How Do We Retire With Dignity?

After 30 years of working in administrative support at Winnipeg Public Library – mostly as a desktop publisher and marketing assistant – I am retiring at the end of June. Immediately upon deciding I felt a wave of sadness for having to say goodbye to my co-workers (who have been great to work alongside) and tasks like making posters or web pages that sing or taking photos for our newsletter that make others smile. I also felt relief like an untied balloon finally able to (slowly) lose its long-stored air. I could mentally begin to let go of work responsibilities which always tended to weigh on me. There was also a refreshing note of expectation as I began to anticipate new rhythms, including more time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. (Perhaps more reflective writing, cooking and gardening?)

But how do we retire with dignity and not a ton of regret? I’m not entirely sure. I haven’t navigated this transition before so I am by no means an expert. It’s likely a different challenge and experience for each individual, but I have noticed there are a lot of library resources right here that can help with the process. What a privilege it is to be part of a library that serves so many in so many meaningful ways!

There are self-help books that help you to think financially smarter about retirement or how to set goals and a bucket list for a more ‘fulfilling’ next life chapter. The ‘Parachute’ series is one such resource.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-18-at-12.32.06-PM.pngWhat Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement by John E. Nelson

“Today’s economic realities have reset our expectations of what retirement is, yet there’s still the promise for what it can be: a life stage filled with more freedom and potential then ever…What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirement offers both a holistic, big picture look at these years as well as practical tools and exercises to help you build a life full of security, vitality, and community.” (Publisher summary)

 

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How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski

“The key to achieving an active and satisfying retirement involves a great deal more than having adequate financial resources; it also encompasses all other aspects of life–interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits, physical well-being, mental well-being, and solid social support.” (Publisher summary)

I’m imagining retirement as a transition into something less definable than ‘fading gently into the sunset’. Maybe it’s time to take stock of my life and its many mistakes and learn from them as best I can. How can I be of service to others when I don’t have a 9-4:30 job anymore? How can I work on neglected parts of my life with hope and not give in to despair? After all the external labels like ‘Library Marketing Assistant’ are stripped from me, who am I anyways? Somehow I think reflective books as well as works of fiction and movies might be the ticket for me, and maybe for others too.

Here are just a few alternatives for those dreaming about retirement, or who are about to go down this hopeful yet scary path into the unknown with me:

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This perhaps is a movie and a book about how not to retire, a cautionary tale about leaving your job in bitterness!

” …Fredrik Backman’s heartwarming debut is a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step… At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.
But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible….”

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About Schmidt directed by Alexander Payne

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Louis Begley, this fascinating movie is about self-discovery of a very ordinary person:

“Warren Schmidt is a retired insurance salesman, who at age 66 has no particular plans other than to drive around in the motor home his wife insisted they buy. He’s not altogether bitter, but not happy either, as everything his wife does annoys him, and he disapproves of the man his daughter is about to marry. When his wife suddenly dies, he sets out to postpone the imminent marriage of his daughter to a man he doesn’t like, while coping with discoveries about his late wife and himself in the process.” (rottentomates.com summary)

index-2.aspx.jpegFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr

“In Falling Upward, Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up.’ Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as ‘falling upward.’ In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens and loss is gain. This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.” (Publisher summary)

I imagine I concur. Retirement will not be much of anything unless I’ve learned – or am learning – at least from some of the mistakes from my ‘first half of life’.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This is a quirky yet lovable book about a recently retired man who decides to make profound changes to his predictable life. His long-suffering wife is surprised when he decides to walk 500 miles in an attempt to save a dying work colleague. “It’s the proverbial case of a man going out to mail a letter and never coming home.” (Publisher quote)

Think ‘Forrest Gump’ for the middle-aged. I have an affinity for this book since I took a walking tour of England last summer, but not for 500 miles! Walking I find is a great metaphor for exploring outer and inner worlds at the same time.

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Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Ann Lamott

“…Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by ‘facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.’ It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere — ‘within us and outside us, all around us’, and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as ‘kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.” (Publisher summary)

Wow. That’s a lot to learn, but I do have the rest of my life. I guess we all do.

Au revoir!

  • Lyle

 

 

Late Night Memories

It’s been almost two years since David Letterman retired from television, and I still miss him.

I remember sneaking out of bed when I was in elementary school to watch Dave toss pencils through a window with my parents. There was something about his goofy brand of humour that connected with me, and throughout jr high I would tape his show and use it as incentive to get through my homework when I got home the next day.

I know: I was a weird kid.

Throughout high school, university and beyond, I always looked forward to checking in with Dave. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, you could rely on laughing about something dumb in the monologue, or some  banter between him and his career-long band leader, Paul Shaffer. And if it wasn’t the banter, there was always something fun happening, whether they were dropping stuff off the roof of the Ed Sullivan theatre, or the classic bit about trying to see how many Spidermen they could fit into a Jamba Juice. You could always rely on the nightly “Top Ten Lists” or the more esoteric “Will it Float?” or “Is it Anything?” segments for a sure laugh. About 10 years ago I was on a trip in New York City, and even though we saw a bunch of cool stuff, the biggest highlight for me was getting to sit in on a taping of The Late Show.

I guess you can say I was a life-long fan.

So, you can guess I’m pretty excited to read this new biography on Dave called Letterman, The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman. It is touted to be “the definitive story of the life and artistic legacy of David Letterman”, so I can’t wait to get into it.

Letterman The Last Giant of Late Night

Paul Shaffer wrote a book a few years ago called We’ll be here for the rest of our lives, and I had high hopes for it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, exactly, but maybe some insight into the “behind the scenes” world of this television icon and the many guests he’s had on his shows over the years, starting at NBC in 1982 and moving to CBS in 1993. The result, however, was a little underwhelming. I had the feeling that Paul Shaffer didn’t want to offend anybody, and so his memoir came off as a luke-warm retread that never really said anything interesting.

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For those who want a little perspective on the so called “Late Night Wars” between Dave and Jay Leno over at The Tonight Show, Bill Carter’s book, The War for Late Night: When Leno went early and television went crazy is worth a look. It also covers Conan O’Brien’s short-lived stint as the host of The Tonight Show. Remember that?

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Even though I haven’t connected with anyone on “late night” the way I did with Dave, there are a couple of other “late night” hosts that have written books.

Trevor Noah, the new host of The Daily Show, has written an engaging memoir of growing up mixed race in the dying days of South Africa’s apartheid era. (Born in 1984, Noah was 6 when Nelson Mandela was released from prison). Even if you don’t watch The Daily Show, I think you’ll find Noah’s story riveting. It’s called Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood.

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Another late night host with connections to The Daily Show is Samantha Bee. She is the only Canadian in the late night world, and more importantly: the only woman. She began her career as a correspondent for The Daily Show and cites David Letterman as one of her comedic influences. In 2016, she launched her own late night satire show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which is now in its second season. She recently hosted an alternative “White House Correspondents Dinner” which attracted a crowd of 2600 people. In 2010 she published a book of humorous essays called I know I am, but what are you? which gives you a good overview of the unique way Samantha Bee sees the world.

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We may never see another late night host like David Letterman, but I’m sure that his legacy is secured in knowing that many up-and-coming comedians still hold Dave up as the gold standard for late night humour, and his presence will be felt for many years to come.

-Trevor

Spring into some Musical Reads

As spring and summer make their way into town, one of my favourite parts of this city comes alive: its vibrant music scene. Winnipeg is home to some of the best music festivals in the country, with the Winnipeg Folk Festival and The Winnipeg Jazz Festival, not to mention some of the smaller rural festivals such as Harvest Moon, Rainbow Trout and Real Love.

The library is fortunate enough to house some of the most critically acclaimed books on music and musicians. So before you head out to Birds Hill or Old Market Square this summer, brush up on some music history, read about your favourite artist or listen to a few tunes!

Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids offers a rare glimpse into Patti Smith’s remarkable relationship with photographer Rober Mapplethorpe. Her first book of prose, she describes the epochal days of New York City and The Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. A story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work- from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

You can also check out her latest book, M Train

Cash by Johnny Cash

The ‘Man in Black’ writes this critically acclaimed autobiography about the highs and lows, the struggles and hard-won triumphs and the people who shaped him throughout his life.

In his own words, Cash sets the record straight, dispelling a few myths along the way. He describes growing up in Arkansas, his superstardom in Nashville, playing with Elvis, his battles with addiction and his relationship with his wife, June. He reminisces about his life long friends- Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan. He talks about his gratitude for life and his thoughts on what the afterlife may bring. Filled with candor, this book shows the wit and the wisdom of a man who truly ‘walked the line’.

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt

In his first book, Stephen Witt traces the history of digital music piracy. From the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a CD manufacturing factory worker who leaked two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to Lil Wayne, these interwoven narratives describe the moment when our lives became intertwined with the internet, and the moment when suddenly all music ever recorded was available for free. Not only a story about the history of digital media piracy, this book also serves as a history of the internet itself and its effect on our lives.

Take Me to the Alley by Gregory Porter

Take Me to the Alley is Gregory Porter’s latest album. Released in May 2016, it earned him a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Critics have described it as ‘sweet and serene’, and a harken back to his roots.

Gregory Porter plays this year’s Winnipeg Jazz Festival in June.

Livin’ On a High Note by Mavis Staples

Her latest album, Livin’ on a High Note is the fifteenth studio album by American musician Mavis Staples. Released in February 2016, Rolling Stone placed the album on its 45 Best Albums of 2016 So Far list.

Catch Mavis Staples at this year’s Winnipeg Jazz Festival.

Port of Morrow by The Shins

Port of Morrow, released in 2012, was The Shin’s first studio album in five years. Following some major line up changes in the group, the album is primarily a collaboration between frontman James Mercer and producer Greg Kurstin. Mercer’s lyrics are based on his experience of becoming a father, his family, and his memories of his childhoold in Germany, giving way to its 1970’s German pop influences. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200.

The Shins play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July.

-Brittany

Long Live the King

Books are a uniquely portable magic.

Stephen King

If you were to walk into almost any library or bookstore, odds are you’ll find most of the shelf space for the K authors is given over to books written by Stephen King. Not only does he tend to write long books, he has written a lot of books. For better or worse, Stephen King has ruled the realm of popular fiction for decades, and he shows no signs of stepping down from his throne anytime soon.

Stephen Kingcarrie officially started his writing career in the late 1960’s, submitting short stories to magazines to supplement his salary as a worker in an industrial laundry. His first novel, Carrie, was published in 1974. It was a runaway success, so much so that Stephen was able to write full time for a living, and he hasn’t looked back since. Although a lot about his life has changed since his first book was published, King still lives in Maine most of the year, he’s still an avid baseball fan, and he’s still giving a lot of people nightmares.

standOne of my favourite bits of King trivia is that he met his wife while they were both working in a university library. Coincidentally, I too first encountered him in a library, although in my case it was my school library, while I was skipping out on an inter-mural floor hockey tournament. Up until then, my only exposure to Stephen King was through the television ad for the movie version of The Shining, which scared the pants off me. To this day I don’t know why I picked up that copy of The Stand, but I did, and I’ve been hooked every since.

itI’m the first to admit that his books aren’t the greatest literature, and I don’t enjoy everything he’s written. But there’s something about the vast stories he’s able to create, and the basic humanity of his characters, that keeps me coming back for more. I prefer his ridiculously long books – It, Under the Dome, and my all-time favourite, The Talisman, to his short story collections.

There’s something about his writing that reminds me of the really gruesome original versions of classic fairy tales, where the world is a dark and scary place filled with wolves that eat grandmothers alive, and wicked queens that demand the hearts of children. In those stories, even though terrible things happened, the characters who were clever, strong and brave came through in the end. These stories were originally told as morality tales, to introduce children to the concept of good and evil. talismanIn that regard, there are a lot of similarities between the stories told by the brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Stephen King. The monsters in Stephen King’s books are sometimes supernatural, sometimes human, and horrible things happen to good people, but at the end of the day evil is defeated by the powers of good. Ultimately, I have to turn to Stephen King’s own words to explain why his books appeal to me and to so many other readers: “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”

-Lori

 

 

 

1917: Remembering the Events that shaped Our Century

The year 1917 was filled with events that both shook and defined the world. Though our library has many books about years “that changed everything”, one can argue this year was one that can legitimately be called one of the most seminal for the world we currently live in. Many of these events have been or are going to be officially remembered through ceremonies and events, but if you are interested in learning more, the library has material that can help you explore their history.

Vimy: The Battle and the Legend by Tim Cook

We have just celebrated the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, on April 9th. This tactical victory did not in itself change the course of the war but it started to change how Canadians saw themselves in relation to Great Britain and the rest of the world. This victory was notable because of its meticulous planning and execution. It was achieved by Canadians from all over the country who were fighting together as the Canadian Corps for the first time and succeeded where other attempts had failed. This feat of arms came at a high cost (over 10,000 casualties) but helped cement the reputation of the Canadian Corps as an elite formation distinct from the British army – a fact that would be reflected in Canada signing the Versailles Treaty separately from Great Britain in 1919. Whether this constituted the “birth of a nation” can be debated, but it was certainly a step away from being a colony toward full-fledged nationhood.

 

This wasn’t the only event that was important in Canadian history that year. 1917 was a federal election year, and the first where Canadian women were able to vote. The stakes of these wartime elections were high. The conscription crisis to replenish the manpower of the Canadian Expeditionary Force drove a wedge between the mainly French-Canadians opponents who resisted volunteering for a war that they did not see as theirs to fight and the supporters of Britain and her allies. Tensions between the two factions rose to such a level that violent riots erupted in the city of Quebec on Easter, leaving 4 dead and 150 wounded, and created a chasm between Quebecers and the rest of the country that would be felt for generations.

 

The Curse of the Narrows by Laura MacDonald

The first World War’s effects were felt by entire societies in direct and indirect ways. In countries like Canada, which was far from the front, it left scars in every community, but none more than in Halifax. The port city was already a central hub for men and supplies being sent overseas when tragedy struck on December 6, 1917.  Two ships filled with explosive material collided, resulting in a blaze that spread out of control. This resulted in the largest non-nuclear explosion ever recorded, devastating the city and killing or wounding 11,000 inhabitants. In addition to the immediate death toll, a colossal rescue effort by both Canadians and Americans was necessary to tend those left wounded and homeless in the middle of a blizzard.

 

March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution by Will Englund

On the world stage, 1917 saw the fall of the Romanov dynasty, that had ruled Russia for centuries, by the Russian Revolution, which would see the rise of the first communist regime in history. This revolution (traditionally marked on October 25th) saw Russia withdraw from the war and radically shifted the balance in Germany’s favor.  As the German Empire successfully dealt with its enemy in the east, it unwittingly gained another when the United States of America declared war on April 6th. The country had remained neutral until unrestricted submarine warfare and an intercepted telegram revealed a German plan to goad Mexico to invade them with promises of winning back part of its former empire. Though a relative late-comer on the Allied side, the U.S. influx of men and supplies was decisive in the war ending in their favour. Both events were the first steps that would see the rise of the two superpowers that would dominate international politics of the 20th century.

 

The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Jonathan Schneer
A less well-known but equally far-reaching event, a letter issued by Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour on November 2, 1917, led to the creation of Israel and conflicts that persist today. The widely-published letter was addressed to a Zionist organization and was interpreted as promising the creation of a Jewish homeland in the territory known as Palestine, occupied by the Ottoman Empire. However, this was in apparent contradiction with promises made to Arab leaders who were also revolting against the Ottomans for their independence. What became known as the Balfour Declaration left plenty of ambiguity about where and how this Jewish homeland would be established, with British diplomats initially hoping that a peaceful compromise could be made with all parties. This proved unworkable in the decades following the war, with terrible consequences for the Middle-East.

 

Finally, this year will also mark two important but overlooked landmarks: 100th anniversary of the Canadian income tax (imposed as a “temporary” war measure) as well as the founding of the National Hockey League (November 26th).

~ Louis-Philippe

Walk or I’ll punch you.

On a frantic October morning, I had one second of inattention and fell down a flight of stairs which resulted in a snapped 5th metatarsal and a chipped ankle. I ended up in a cast and spent the entire month of November looking out my front window. With the beautiful weather, cyclists abounded, the neighbours walked their dogs, children played. Stuck with only the fish for company, I sat, seething inwardly. With nothing to watch on T.V. but the American election, I started knitting pussy hats. And thinking…

About death…I hate to break this to you but we are all terminal. And since April is Cancer Awareness Month, here are your chances: 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes; 1 in 4 will die of the disease…let that hit you…I’ll wait…Truth is we all know someone who has been affected. Looking around Winnipeg, many of our dearest friends have authored compelling books on the subject.

“I am the reason you walk. I created you so that you might walk this earth.”*

 

Reading Melanie Penner’s Our Hope Adventure feels like you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend. Melanie was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and when she was told that it was terminal, she wrote a blog which eventually became her legacy to her family. Although she struggled with how to accept losing all of the good in her life, she did so by taking her husband’s advice to count their blessings every day. She chose to keep focused on the gains she would achieve through her faith. She bravely told her story at many speaking engagements, using her voice to teach others about cancer and to share her absolute faith that God had a plan for her even though she faced such hardships. She challenged all of her followers “to tell someone you love what they mean to you and why you value them…..it has the power to change them and you”.

Born in Roseisle,  Melanie Penner moved to Winnipeg to pursue an Education degree. She was a teacher in the St-James School Division and member of the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church.  You can listen to her interview with Pastor Terry Janke about gains and losses (Phil 3:7 – 11). 

 

“I am the reason you walk. I gave you motivation so you would continue to walk even when the path became difficult, even seemingly impossible.”

 

As Wayne Tefs describes in Dead Man on a Bike, he was motivated to chase away his black thoughts by biking many of the world’s most beautiful cycle paths. He proclaims that a cancer diagnosis can be the best thing that ever happened to you because it gave him his “Punch in the Face” moment… Why ME? …Then comes the moment when you get “helicopter vision”. It is when you realize that all of your materialistic concerns are no longer important. He used his time on his bike to meditate about appreciating the Zen of menial tasks, of embracing love everywhere he found it and of taking solace in doing everything he could while he still had the time. He encourages his readers to be proactive; for him it was the key to well-being. Keep moving forward, keep riding, and most of all enjoy the scenery.

Wayne Tefs was born in St-Boniface, Manitoba and grew up in Northwestern Ontario. After moving to Winnipeg, he became head of the English at St-John’s Ravenscourt School. He was the co-founder of Turnstone Press and author of many articles, biographies and novels.

 

“I am the reason you walk. I animated you with that driving force called love, which compelled you to help others who had forgotten they were brothers and sisters to take steps back towards one another.”

 

In The Reason You Walk, Wab Kinew writes about how his life was also changed when his father, Tobasonakwut, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Seeking to heal their fractured relationship, Wab embarked on a journey to reconcile with his father. Tobasonakwut was a respected elected leader and a beloved traditional chief who endured a traumatic childhood in residential school. Together, they courageously attempted to repair their family bond. They did so by remembering the lessons of the Anishinaabe travelling song Nigosha anisha wenji-bimoseyan (I am the reason you walk). “We ought to recognize that our greatest battle is not with one another but with our pain, our problems and our flaws. To be hurt, yet forgive, to do wrong, but forgive yourself, to depart from this world leaving only love. This is the reason you walk”.

Wab Kinew was born in the Onigaming First Nation and is the associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Winnipeg. He is a member of Midewin and an honorary witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He is currently the MLA for Fort Rouge in Manitoba.

 

“And now, my son, as that journey comes to an end, I am the reason you walk,”

 

Dennis Maione’s What I Learned from Cancer is his journey through two bouts of colon cancer, both considered primary. Maione, with the help of friends he calls the “background bookworms”, discovered through persistent research that a particular strain of the Lynch syndrome happens to be prevalent in Manitoba’s Mennonite community. As a result, he is genetically predisposed to cancer and that his children may have inherited the same gene. And indeed, they discover that his son is affected. Even though he and his son live under the specter of cancer, they live life fully. Maione gives practical advice such as how to talk to doctors and how to organize your community around you. He encourages his readers to research their conditions, get tested regularly and never to lose hope.

Dennis Maione lives in Winnipeg and is a member of the Manitoba Writers Guild, the Creative Non-Fiction Collective Society, the Manitoba Storytelling Guild and the Writers’ Union of Canada. He maintains a website and blog here.

 

“For I am calling you home. Walk home with me on that everlasting road.”

 

If you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis, I encourage you to use your local librarian as a background bookworm. We excel at finding information. Be it cancer cookbooks, how to cope with grief or trying to reconcile with family, the library will find the resources you need. Can’t leave home? We have eBooks and audiobooks through OverDrive. Need a doctor? Look here. Every journey starts with putting one foot in front of the other, start walking!

6 months, 7 pussy hats and 1 Women’s March later, my foot is now considered healed. I wish I could say the same about the state of the world. All that sitting and thinking made me realize that I can do better. My injury was a blessing in the sense that it gave me a helicopter’s perspective of how important it is to be able to walk. I appreciate that so much more now. So, I will live in the moment. I will appreciate life. I will continue to read so that I may walk in other people’s shoes. I just had my Punch in the Face Moment (lite). When will you have yours?

In memory of Cyril Dufault.

-Colette

*This and the other similar quotes come from Wab Kinew’s book, The Reason You Walk.

 

Read ’em Before You See ’em!

Hollywood’s obsession with books has been carrying on now for a while – and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in 2017! Blockbuster hits like the Harry Potter franchise and the Hunger Games trilogy show just how successful film adaptations of kids’ books can be.

Will the movie versions be better than the books? There’s only one way to find out: Read ’em before you see ’em. Check out what’s headed for the big screen in 2017.

May 12
Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
A family road trip is supposed to be a lot of fun…unless, of course, you’re the Heffleys. The journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig – not exactly Greg Heffley’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure – and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget. The film adaptation stars Alicia Silverstone as Greg’s mom and Jason Drucker as Greg.

 

May 19
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
George and Harold have created the greatest superhero in the history of their elementary school – and now they’re going to bring him to life! Meet Captain Underpants! His true identity is so secret, even HE doesn’t know who he is! DreamWorks’ animated adaptation, titled simply Captain Underpants, features the voice talents of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, and Kristen Schaal.

 

May 19
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
A teen girl who can never leave her house, because she’s allergic to just about everything, falls in love with the new boy next door and starts taking risks in this compelling romance/coming-of-age story. The film adaptation of this young adult novel stars Taylor Hickson (Deadpool) and Nick Robinson (Jurassic World, The 5th Wave).

 

November 17
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Auggie Pullman is an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Born with a terrible abnormality, he has been homeschooled and protected by his loving family from the cruel stares of the outside world. Now he must attend school with other students for the first time – but can he get his classmates to see that he’s just like them, underneath it all?  The film adaptation stars Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s parents, Mandy Patinkin as his understanding teacher, and Jacob Trembly (Room) as Auggie. 

 

December 25
Mary Poppins
 by P.L. Travers

It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks’ house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life! The film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, will be a musical set in Depression-era London, with Jane and Michael Banks all grown up. It stars Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Hamilton star/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as her lamplighter friend Jack, and Meryl Streep as Mary’s cousin, Topsy.

Lindsay

It’s so nice to hear your voice.

There was a time when I believed that audiobooks were cheating – that books were to be read, not listened to. Well, I found out that I was wrong. And what brought me to this conclusion was motherhood – plain and simple. Very early on in motherhood I found out that I had little (read: no, zero, zilch) time to sit and read a book when my motherhood phases went like this:

  • The “Nap when the baby naps” stage, followed by the…
  • “He’s standing on his own two feet – better watch!” stage, followed by the…
  • “We can’t catch up with him! He’s running so fast! Did he even walk?!?” stage (pant, pant), followed by the…
  • “We need to get him up, feed him, get him to school, go to work, get home, eat, get outside, get him ready for bed” stage, followed by the…you get my point.

So whether I was pushing a stroller outside, or in the car on the way to get groceries, or making a meal, I could do these things AND listen to someone tell me a story. Audiobooks kept me connected to stories when I could no longer sit and read a book.

Fast forward to nine years later and audiobooks are something that I still enjoy and that have become an important part of my family’s culture. We listen, think about, and laugh to them. We feel the suspense, share the dread, and also fill up with the hope that the stories inspire. We have one playing in our car at all times and before we’re even buckled in I often hear our son’s voice pipe up with, “Mom, can you turn on [book title]”? At home, we listen to them when building Lego or making a meal or exercising.

Now it goes without saying that a great audiobook depends on a great story. Add a terrific voice to that story and you, the listener, will be transported on a wonderful journey. The following are several of the voice actors that we love to listen to. It was through their voices that we started our journey into audiobooks and have yet to look back (although we will gladly re-listen)! It just so happens that these voice actors also tend to read great stories! But instead of trying to explain what makes them very special, I will let their voices do that. Their voices really do say it all.

(Click on each narrator’s name for a full list of their audiobooks at the library. And in case you don’t already know this, you can borrow audiobooks from us in two formats: CD and electronically through our eAudiobook services, Overdrive and hoopla.)

 

JIM DALE reading from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

 

DAVINA PORTER reading from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

 

NEIL GAIMAN reading from Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman.

 

JAYNE ENTWISTLE reading from As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley.

 

JOHN RAFTER LEE reading from Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

 

KRISTOFFER TABORI reading from Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

For more audiobook recommendations check out AudioFile – avid listeners, advocates, and reviewers of audiobooks for all ages!

Many great audiobooks await you! Happy listening!

~ Reegan