Category Archives: Miscellaneous

It’s Alive!

It is a famous line most commonly associated with Frankenstein. This line, however, never actually appears in Mary Shelley’s ground-breaking novel. It does appear in the 1931 film version of the novel and has been associated with the story of Frankenstein ever since. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and with National Frankenstein Day fast approaching (it’s October 26th FYI) I thought it would be appropriate to showcase books exploring the impact Shelley’s novel has had on horror, science and female horror writers.

frankenstein Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

A Titan from Greek Mythology, Prometheus created man from clay and stole fire from the gods to give to man. This mythological being is an appropriate comparison to Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the “Monster”, and an apt alternate title to the novel. The original text still haunts readers today, and has never been out of print for the last 200 years. If you haven’t read the original, do so, not only will it frighten and horrify you, but it will also have you thinking and questioning the possibilities and ramifications of science today.

frankenstein2 Frankenstein: The First Two Hundred Years by Christopher Frayling

In his incredible book (the pictures alone are amazing), Frayling explores the origins of Frankenstein and the lasting impact the novel has had on popular culture. He has included movie stills and posters from the many film versions of the novel as well as photos of Shelley’s original manuscript. It is truly a work of art.

frankenstein3 Frankenstein: How a monster became an icon: the science and enduring allure of Mary Shelley’s creation edited by Sidney Perkowitz and Eddy Von Mueller

As a physicist and as a filmmaker, Sidney Perkowitz and Eddy Von Mueller have compiled essays from scientists, directors, artists and scholars who speak to and dissect the lasting impact of Shelley’s work on the world as well as explore what the future may hold for the legacy of Frankenstein.

frankenstein4 Frankenstein by Dean Koontz

In his five-book series Koontz takes inspiration from Shelley’s original novel and sets his in modern-day New Orleans. The first book in the series, Prodigal Son, follows Deucalian, a mysterious man who teams up with two detectives to solve a string of murders that leads back to a race of killers and their mysterious maker.

Shelley’s novel has inspired many film versions as well as TV series that include the characters from the novel. You can find many of these in our catalogue here.

Frankenstein not only has had a huge impact on popular culture but also on female writers, especially female horror writers. Many of the fantastically frightening horror writers today are women, and we owe many thanks to Mary Shelley for helping pave their way. Some of these award-winning writers are: Carmen Maria Machado, Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, Angela Carter, and Anne Rice, just to name a few. You can find all these women in our library catalogue. If you would like more suggestions, and a longer list of female horror writers, this article by Lithub gives you even more names to explore.

Happy Reading!

-Aileen

“The scale of the changes that we are experiencing in the climate system is unprecedented.”

These words were shared by Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on Sunday. He said:

Climate change is shaping the future of our civilization. If action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented climate future if we compare it to what has happened during all of human evolutionary history. So the scale of the changes that we are experiencing in the climate system is unprecedented. The scale of the changes that humans would have to implement in order to keep climate change under control is unprecedented.

In 2016, the IPCC was asked to prepare a report on what our world will look like if we reach global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and what we need to do to stop this from happening. This report, released on Sunday, brings together 6,000 studies from numerous scientists (physical and social) from around the world. To say it’s a very big deal is an understatement.

As I watched the release of the IPCC report (available through live video on their Facebook page), I felt shock, fear, sadness, panic, anger – a whole range of negative emotions, really. Even though climate change has been on my mind for a very long time and I worked for an environmental organization for more than a decade, I sometimes find myself temporarily immobilized by the vastness of it, particularly when big news like the IPCC’s report is issued. At the same time though I never stop asking myself what I’m going to do about it and I won’t stop asking myself this question. I know that contributing to proposed solutions will do no harm, but the research shows unequivocally that taking no action at all – remaining on the course that we’re on – definitely will.

Here are some resources to get started with if you find yourself overwhelmed by this recent news or the subject generally, or if you just need some suggestions for what to do next. This list is by no means comprehensive, so if you have suggestions for good resources, please do share them in the comment section below.

Books and films in our catalogue:

To find climate change resources in our catalogue, search for the term climatic changes. We have a number of items in our catalogue on this subject. Here are some more recent additions:

The Seasons Alter: How to Save our Planet in Six Acts by Philip Kitcher and Evelyn Fox Keller

Recognizing that climate change is one of the most controversial issues of our time, the authors break down the science, politics, and arguments surrounding it through everyday conversation in familiar circumstances: an older couple considering whether they should reduce their carbon footprint, a first date with passionate discussion about whether one person can really change anything, and more.

 

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future by Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson served as the 7th president of Ireland. In this book she shares her experiences meeting with individuals throughout the world at the grassroots level who are fighting for climate justice. “Mary Robinson’s mission would lead her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself.”

 

Climate Revolution.aspxThe Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to build a Fossil-free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and still get a Good Night’s Sleep by Mary deMocker

If you’re a parent or guardian this book provides 100 ideas to help you live an environmentally conscious life, promote awareness of climate change, and include the young people in your life every step of the way.

 

 

 

Are We Screwed.aspxAre We Screwed? How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change by Geoff Dembicki

“A declaration of resistance, and a roadmap for radical change, from the generation that will be most screwed by climate change.”

The author, a 31-year old journalist, travelled to Silicon Valley, Washington, DC, the Tar Sands, and Paris to find out about the climate change issue and the Millennials who are battling the odds to try to solve this issue.

 

An Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power by Al Gore

Through these two books and films, numerous speaking engagements, and the Climate Reality Project, Al Gore has been raising awareness about climate change for more than two decades. Both of these resources introduce the issue and the challenges involved in addressing it, and call on all individuals to get involved in building our sustainable future.

 

Being the ChangeBeing the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus

“”How a climate scientist and suburban father cut his climate impact down to one tenth the US average and became happier because of it. Being the Change merges science, spirituality, and practical knowledge to offer a deeply optimistic message: living without fossil fuels is not only possible, it can be better.”

 

 

Online information

There is a lot of information online about climate change and the sheer amount of it can be overwhelming. The key is to find information that is credible and backed by science. Here are some sites to start with that are closer to our Winnipeg home:

 

The Manitoba Eco-Network, a non-profit organization in Winnipeg, has a project called the Climate Change Connection. It’s a great online resource. Check it out.

 

The Prairie Climate Centre has created The Climate Atlas of Canada, a tool that “combines climate science, mapping and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home for Canadians. It is designed to inspire local, regional, and national action that will let us move from risk to resilience.”

David Suzuki has been raising awareness about climate change for decades and a lot of climate change information is available on the David Suzuki Foundation website. This article from July 2018 outlines 10 steps that individuals can take to start making a difference.

 

To get up to speed with what’s happening in our city, check out the City of Winnipeg’s Sustainability page. Our city is part of a network of municipalities participating in a program called Partners for Climate Protection.  In May 2018, the City released Winnipeg’s Climate Action Plan. To do the same regarding our province, get started with The Government of Manitoba’s Climate and Green Plan.

 

The IPCC report presented humanity with a crucial, time-sensitive challenge. Let’s take action in small and big ways. Let’s get and remain informed. Let’s share what we find out with others. Let’s remain hopeful. And please connect with us if you need help with finding any information along the way.

– Reegan

 

 

 

It’s Time to Read: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Welcome, dear readers! It’s the beginning of the month, and that means a BRAND NEW EPISODE of Time to Read, WPL’s very own podcast! Find it wherever you get your podcasts or on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang discusses Becky Chamber’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. No worries if you haven’t read it! We tend to chatter about the ideas in the book rather than dissect the plot itself, so please join in anyway. (Honestly sometimes we run out of time to read them all too!)

If you have thoughts on Artificial Intelligence, really long journeys, or lesbians in sci-fi this is the show for you. We also have tangential segments like Nerd Words for Word Nerds and Books You Might Also Like (or something – I keep forgetting what that part is called).

long

Synopsis:

Humans are now just one of many sapient species in the galaxy, and a lesser and weaker one at that. This is the story of a motley multi-species crew on a patchwork ship, trying to make an honest living as tunnelers – making wormholes to connect star systems to one another. When they take on their biggest job yet, connecting a distant and isolated species that is still at war with itself, they each find themselves also on a long journey of self-discovery. With questions of personhood, identity, family and love, this is the story of that journey, as they travel the long way to find a small angry planet.

And if you’ve already read Angry Planet, we want you to tell us – Corbin, hero or villain? Who would you prefer to be stuck in a space capsule with? And what did you think about the surprise hook up?

devilThen, pick up our next read, Devil in the White City : Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Sounds good right?!!

And always always you can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast to us at: wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

  • Erica and the rest of the Time to Read team

 

Fall Forest Frolics

Ah, fall, that wonderful time of year when you can wear your sweaters and cozy socks without having to add a huge coat and boots! I love the excuse to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate and look forward to pumpkin pie and homemade applesauce. Even the commute is more enjoyable, with the trees doing their best fireworks impression.

However, despite the wonderful coziness that sets in as the days get shorter and cooler, or maybe because of it, I can never quite shake the sense of melancholy that comes along with the changing colours. Fall is such a short season here, and the long winter is right around the corner…

This is usually enough to set me to searching out slightly darker fare for my bedtime reading, and this year in particular I’ve been feeling very arboreally-focused in my selections, as you can see by my current to-read list, which I’ve shared below:

Big Lonely Doug by Harley Rustad

Originally featured as a long-form article in The Walrus that garnered a National Magazine Award (Silver), Big Lonely Doug weaves the ecology of old-growth forests, the legend of the West Coast’s big trees, and the turbulence of the logging industry.  It delves into the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, First Nations land and resource rights, and the fraught future of these ancient forests around the story of a logger who saved one of Canada’s last great trees.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales dies alone on her estate the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get.

 

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society’s fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water to avoid freezing to death

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce.

The Hill by Karen Bass

Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop — with no cell service — the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, things seem very wrong. And worst of all, something is hunting them.

If you’re looking for a fun, in-real-life way to welcome in this spooky yet beautiful time of year, check out the Twilight Trek: A Walking Storytime in Bruce Park happening on October 23 (weather permitting!). Feel free to dress up in costume as we wander through the park sharing spooky stories in this beautiful natural setting!

What books are you reaching for this time of year? As the weather drives us inside, are you reaching for cozy, heartwarming stories, or are you eyeing up the woods next door with a shiver running up and down your spine like me? Let me know below! I’d love to hear what’s on your to-read list!

Happy reading,

Megan

 

 

 

 

What Makes This Postcard so Interesting?

…or at least what makes it worth $60.00 to a collector of postcards?

   

The price – $60.00 – handwritten in pencil on the back of this postcard from the Martin Berman Postcard Collection alerted me there might be something special about it. At first glance, the historical picture on the front is fairly unassuming; if someone decided to set a price of $60.00 dollars there’s probably something more than meets the eye.

Is there something unique about the image on the card?

 

When I first examined the card, I was convinced the firemen and two-horse hose wagon in this view were seen before Winnipeg’s original South Fire Hall at Smith Street and York Avenue after a 1907 expansion to double its capacity (shown below).

South Hall at Smith Street and York Avenue after 1907 expansion

The location is now a bit of a mystery though, as we’ve found the same two-horse hose wagon image appears on a card in the Rob McInnes Postcard Collection, postmarked two years earlier (1905) than the expansion. Also, the doors differ from those of the South Hall pictured above.

From Rob McInnes Postcard Collection, postmarked 1905

The building appears again with a horse-drawn pumper car on the card below.

From Rob McInnes Postcard Collection, postmarked 1905

After much investigation, the location of the image in the photo remains a mystery. If there are any local history buffs out there, please let me know if you recognize the building on this card!

So the front of the postcard is not unique and not immediately identifiable – but what about the back?

Winnipeg
16/6/08
This is the others to make up your set. You can send me any cards when you can get them – the last one was very pretty.

J. H. Teal
from Mrs Jas. McDiarmid
250 Balmoral St
Winnipeg
Canada

The message is fairly typical of what one collector might write to another. It is difficult to say where the card’s recipient, J. H. Teal was from, as there is neither a postmark nor a postage stamp on this card. Instead, it was likely mailed along with a few other remarkable postcards in a sealed envelope in hopes of getting a similar bunch from another destination in return.

In this case the value is in who sent the card, Mrs. Jas. McDiarmid, the wife of a prominent figure in Winnipeg’s history.

James McDiarmid came to the city in 1882 from Scotland and married Isabella Smith in 1890. He was a contractor, an architect, and an active member of the Winnipeg Parks Board among other pursuits. Some of his important structures still stand in our city today, including the first section of the Carnegie Library ,Winnipeg Public Library’s main branch until 1977 and later the City of Winnipeg Archives on William Avenue.  McDiarmid  also completed the Manitoba Legislative Building after the original contractor’s scandal and subsequent dismissal.

And apparently, that’s what makes a postcard worth $60.00!

As a side note, another thing I learned as part of this investigation is the fascinating history of horse-drawn fire wagons in Winnipeg! During my research, (with the help of Micromedia staff on the third floor of the Millennium Library) I came across an interesting article in the Winnipeg Free Press from May 11, 1974. Part of it was a reprinted Free Press article about the new fire halls  back in 1883. Winnipeggers were very proud of their three electrified halls that could have a fire fighting brigade ready in 14 seconds and still working to improve:

“In connection with the electrical fire alarm system, an apparatus is being arranged, by means of which, when an alarm is sounded, the hammer about to strike the gong also operates a system of wires connected with the street doors and with the doors of all the stalls in which the seven horses belonging to this station are kept. The consequence of all this is that all these doors are automatically opened at the same instant. The horses, which are standing free and unharnessed, are trained to step out to various places as the doors open. The harness then descends on them, is fastened up in an instant and immediately the fire engine, the hook and ladder truck, chemical engine, hose reel, and the Chief’s driving rig are ready to start.”

From Rob McInnes Postcard Collection, postmarked 1905

For more information about the history of fire fighting in Winnipeg, check out Alarm of Fire: 100 Years of Firefighting in Winnipeg 1882-1982 by Vince Leah in the library’s collection, or take a look at the “Fire Paramedics Service – WPG — 2007” folder in our vertical files, located in the Local History Room. There are also several postcards featuring historical fires in the PastForward digital collections with more coming soon.

–  Christy

A Star is Born… Again

It’s around this time of year when movie studios begin to release the films they hope will be in the running for next year’s awards season. One of the movies that is getting early “Oscar Buzz” is A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper also directed the film; his first one.

1937.jpg

Did you know that A Star is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake? It’s true. The original A Star is Born was released in 1937. It was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Each version tells the same basic story of a grizzled down-and-out celebrity who mentors a new, fresh talent, and as the popularity and success of the new talent rises, the career of the established character burns out. (Sorry about the spoilers for an 80 year old story that’s been told four different times).

1954.jpg

In the original, the action is based in Hollywood and tells the story of a young woman who rises out of obscurity and makes it big as a star of the silver screen. Fun fact: the 1937 version was the first colour movie to get nominated for Best Picture. You can watch on WPL’s digital services Hoopla and Kanopy. In the 1954 version, musical numbers abound as Judy Garland’s character transforms from the leader of a musical ensemble into a star of movie musicals. The following remake (1976) ditches Hollywood and makes the mentor character a drug-addled alcoholic rock star (Kristofferson) who discovers the titular star who gets born (Streisand) and the usual twists and turns insue.

1976.jpg

The newest take on this well-worn tale appears to have Bradley Cooper as a country singer and Lady Gaga as a pop singer. It played at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and goes to show that, like interesting covers of classic songs, some stories can be told again and again (and again).

-Trevor

2018.png

Let’s Go To Vegas

 

Las Vegas Sign

A few weeks ago I went to Las Vegas with some friends to celebrate a certain decadal anniversary. The destination wasn’t my first choice, but I decided to join along for the ride and experience a place I wouldn’t have gone on my own. It wasn’t my first choice because I felt I had already been there many times in books, TV shows, and movies.

Cover image for CSI: crime scene investigation. The first season [Blu-ray videorecording]

 

 

I’ve been all over the city with Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows, investigating gruesome and almost unsolvable crimes scenes in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

 

Cover image for Ocean's eleven [DVD videorecording].

 

I’ve visited the hotels and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip—from the fountains in front of the Bellagio in Ocean’s Eleven (the remake), to the casino floor in the Palazzo Resort in Ocean’s Thirteen (the filming location) and Caesar’s Palace in The Hangover.

 

 

Cover image for Wanna get Lucky?

I’ve visited many other casinos while following Lucky O’Toole, the head of customer relations at the Babylon Mega Casino and Resort, whose job entangles her in odd crimes and murders that seem to keep happening in Las Vegas. The series, Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure by Deborah Coonts, gave me a good sense of what Vegas was like, to the point that once there, I could imagine Lucky O’Toole walking hastily across the casino floor to stop a disaster from happening before any visitors would notice.

Cover image for The goldfinch

 

In The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I discovered, along with Theo Decker, many different sides of Las Vegas, both the strip and the places tourists never see. While his time in Las Vegas was brief, Tartt’s wonderful narrative style gave me a good sense of what it’s like to live there as teenager.

 

Cover image for The Rough Guide to Las VegasNow I know that authors, movie-makers and TV producers can exaggerate a place for entertainment’s sake, so I made sure to check out some travel books for a more realistic perspective of what I should expect. The library had all the newest travel books, and each gave me good directions on where to stay, what to see, how much I should budget, and general logistical information for travelling there.

While I definitely did not do the same things in Las Vegas as the characters did the books and movies (e.g. crazy parties, robbing casinos, solving murders), the city has its reputation and the nickname Sin City for reason. Gambling, alcohol, sex, and every kind of thrill is advertised just about everywhere. It’s extravagant, it’s excessive, and, in the words of Theo Decker when he first arrived, “it’s wild”.

If you want to check out a place you’re interested in visiting, a place you want to go back to, or even just a place you don’t think you’ll ever go in person, make sure to ask staff at your local library for suggestions on how we can transport you there with books or movies from our collection (eBook and streaming available too!).

– Rémi

It’s Okay to Read YA

I am running through a decaying city, being shot at while I run. I know I am headed to a dilapidated area of a city. I am getting closer and closer. As I approach a large transport truck jackknifes in my path. Robotic animals emerge from the truck, running, trying to chase me down. I get away. I find the house I am looking for.  I enter looking for the machine to get me out of this simulation. As I find it, I feel I am safe. They’ve never caught me here before. I am wrong. Just as I teleport to reality I am interrupted, sending me to an unfamiliar place.

Then I wake up.… This is a dream I have had.

I attribute it to reading and watching too many young adult books and movies. Call it a job hazard!

Young adult books are usually fun, smart, and dynamic. After all they need to grab the attention of young people. Many adults feel embarrassed when reading YA, like there is something wrong with it, or it is somehow inferior to more adult novels. These books are not always full of teenage angst, of twisted love triangles. Teen books are full of characters questioning sexual identity, prejudice, and mental health issues, while using straight forward language.

I will start my recommendations with a book full of teenage angst and twisted love triangles!

A Thousand Pieces of You. I don’t know why this has not been made to a movie yet. I read this book with my Youth Advisory Counsel. It has everything a good movie needs: a beautiful heroine, traveling thorough dimensions, and a juicy love triangle. I would recommend (and have) this book to anyone looking for the next Hunger Games, Maze Runner, or Twilight.

 

Half Bad is the story of Nathan, born half white magic and half black magic, making him a half-breed who is shunned by both. He must escape his captors, receive his gifts before his sixteenth birthday, and save the girl he loves. With just a hint of teenage angst, this was a book I could not put down.

 

I’ll Give You the Sun, written by Jandy Nelson, is the story of twins Noah and Jude who are inseparable from birth, torn apart by their mother’s death. Noah struggles with his sexuality, falling for the boy next door.  Jude, struggling with school, meets a new mentor, who may change the course of her life.

 

Maus I & II are a fantastic and accessible way to learn about the holocaust. In this book Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish holocaust survivor, tells his story to his son.  Maus uses cats (Germans), mice (Jews), dogs (Americans), and pigs (Poles) to recount Vladek’s memories. You can also look for MetaMaus, an in-depth look into the process of writing the book.

What would you do if you found out you were one of Thirteen Reasons Why someone would commit suicide? This is what Clay has to figure out.  It is a beautifully told story of mental health, of trying to see the pain of someone else.

 

 

I hope this post will give you permission to pick up a Young Adult book and give it a try! You will not be disappointed.

— Andrea

 

It’s time to read: Walkaway

Welcome, dear readers! It’s that time at the beginning of the month when you should check your podcast feeds because a BRAND NEW EPISODE of WPL’s podcast, Time to Read is now available wherever you find your podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang talked about Cory Doctorow’s book Walkaway, set in a dystopian/utopian near future. We pondered if we’d be brave enough to walk away from society (spoiler: Alan is not), or if any of us were interested in “uploading” a version of ourselves (spoiler: Kirsten is not.)  And of course Trevor found us a handy-dandy list to discuss (what was the list about? Tune in to find out!)

If you want to get in on the fun, pick up next month’s read, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Set in a fictional universe, Rosemary Harper escapes her old life (and accompanying secrets) and joins a multi-species crew of a spaceship called The Wayfarer. It’s Erica’s favourite book! So, be sure to let us know what you think of it. Do you agree with Erica? Even better, do you NOT agree with Erica? Email, tweet or facebook us your comments – we really love hearing from you.

Watch for our discussion questions later this month, and you can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast generally to us anytime.

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

  • Kirsten and the rest of the Time to Read team

Random Acts of Reading

Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.

Ben Casnocha

Reading a series (in order of course) is an experience like no other. It plunges you into an ongoing saga that can take you from one side of a world to another, over the edge and back again. There’s a progression and a certain left brain logic to following the suggested reading order that my list-loving side really enjoys. But what about just reading anything? No logic, no order, just a right brain intuitive leap into whatever looks good at the time. I do that too, generally after finishing a long series of books. Theories differ as to how much influence the left and right side of the brain have on personality and decision-making, but I like to think that I’ve achieved a state of relative balance between the two.

Throughout the winter I pretty much lived and breathed Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I read through them all, some of them more than once, listened to them on audiobooks, and talked about them with anyone who would listen. After a time I finished with the series, much to the relief of my nearest and dearest, who were thrilled to have a conversation that didn’t contain references to the brilliance of Sir Terry. Having come from a prolonged period of regulated reading I was ready for some more random book choices, which led me to a right brain dominated summer reading season of picking up whatever looked good at the time.

I guess I wasn’t ready to leave the whole fantasy by British authors experience, because my next reading choice was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy which comes in five parts, by Douglas Adams. Cruising through the universe with Arthur, Ford Prefect, and his semi-half cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox was the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster my brain needed to move on from the Discworld.

 

After my around the galaxy tour I was ready for something more down to earth, which led me to the books by James Herriot which are about as far from fantasy as you can get. The stories James tells about his time as a rural vet in Yorkshire are sweet and engaging, and somehow make shivering in freezing cold to deliver a lamb and being up to your ankles in manure seem appealing. The television series has breath-taking views of the Yorkshire countryside, and the actors do a good job of transitioning the characters from the page to the screen without losing the charm of the original.

 

I haven’t gone on any road trips yet this year, but reading Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire made me glad that I was staying home. The main character, Rose, is the source for the urban legend of the Phantom Prom Date. She was tragically killed in an car crash on her way to the dance, and now travels the highways and byways as a ghost, saving those who she can from suffering the same fate she did. This paired nicely with the Supernatural binge I was on, although I think that Sam and Dean Winchester would probably have had a different reaction to Rose than I did.

 

I moved from the open road to underground caverns for my next random bit of reading. A World Below by Wesley King is the story of a group of students on a field trip to the Carlsbad Caverns when an earthquake suddenly traps them underground. But the dangers the students face go beyond surviving a natural disaster. There’s an entire civilization living deep in the caverns, and they aren’t happy about having visitors from the world above.

 

Left brain or right brain, random or planned, what’s your next act of reading going to be?

 

-Lori