Category Archives: Readers’ Resources

Inch by inch. Row by row. Gonna make this garden grow.

 

MUD. I’ve been playing in that stuff since I was a kid. Each year, during May long weekend (or shortly thereafter) the doors were wide open to have fun with mud! Out came the shovels, the garden beds were dug up, and on hands and knees my Mom would carve small paths in the newly broken soil. She’d pour small piles of seeds from seed packages into the palm of my hand. My job was to sprinkle them in the paths she’d created, giving space between each seed, and gently cover them with a blanket of mud. Then came the water.

In those early years I remember my young self worrying that the huge waterfall coming out of the garden hose would destroy those precious seeds, but within a week or so I saw little green shoots pop up from the ground. Seeing this I learned that seeds were incredibly strong and also that they were different from each other. I was in awe of the new shapes that formed in front of me. Some of the plants had wispy, soft leaves and others had prickly leaves. Some of their stalks stood tall and others swirled and wound their way around things. Several decades later, I’m still in awe.

Gardening can be a little intimidating. After you understand that the water from the garden hose isn’t going to kill the seeds (comes with age apparently), then you wonder: What’s a gardening zone? What type of soil do I have? How much sun is needed when a plant label says “part shade”? I won’t deny that these are important things to know, but I’ve never let my lack of knowledge get in the way. What I witnessed with my Mom was simple, tried, and true, and it’s what stuck with me: put a seed in mud, water it regularly, make sure it gets sun, and enjoy watching it grow. With that basic knowledge, you can garden with one container full of mud and one seed or you can dig up an entire lawn and create a food and flower paradise. Anything goes.

Whether you’re new to gardening or have been playing in the mud for years, here are some things to check out from us:

Gardening eMagazines

Manitoba Gardener 2

Eye candy. Tons of tips and visual inspiration are available in the gardening eMagazines that we offer through RBdigital and PressReader. If you have a mobile device and haven’t yet set it up to access these free goodies, check out our eMedia Guide for how to get set up or sign up for a 1-on-1 eMedia session and we’ll help you get set up. You don’t want to to miss out on this stuff!

 

Gardening Books

WE HAVE SO MANY GREAT GARDENING RESOURCES!!! I can’t even curb my excitement. Here are some that I’ve recently borrowed:

100 Plants that won’t die in your Garden by Geoff Tibballs

When new to gardening, sometimes the goal is to build confidence! With that in mind, this book will help you do that. Tibballs describes many perennials, shrubs, vines and more that you most likely won’t be able to kill. Yay!

 

 

The Urban Wildlife Gardener by Emma Hardy

I love the thought of having more birds, butterflies, and bees in our yard, so we plant things that’ll attract them. This book shares a variety of ways to attract them through plants, birdbaths, and bee houses. It lists plant varieties too – very useful!

 

 

One Magic Square Vegetable Gardening by Lolo Houbein

This book gives all the tips and tricks to creating and maintaining a small garden plot. What’s really neat about it is that it includes ideas for theme plots. Enjoy making stir-fries? Grow a Stir-Fry plot. Love pasta and pizza? Grow the Pasta/Pizza plot. Want to make hearty soups in the fall? Grow a Soup Plot and Essential Herb Plot. So many plots, so little time!

 

Pot it, Grow it, Eat it by Kathryn Hawkins

From aubergines to zucchinis, you might be amazed at how many vegetables and fruits can be grown in a pot. If you’re looking for easy, grow your veggies in a pot. Hawkins shares how to do it, including how to harvest, store and freeze what you grow.

 

No Dig Organic Home and Garden by Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty

Who loves the back-breaking work of digging or has a back that can actually handle the back-breaking work of digging? Well if you do, I’m jealous and you’re lucky. We have a combination of in-ground and raised garden beds in our yard and the raised ones are very kind to me. This book gives the basics about raised beds, composting, and includes an important section on seed saving. You really get the full circle experience if you save seeds from the plants that you’ve grown and it’s surprisingly easy to do. Plus, you can save a lot of money!

 

Get Social (if you want)

Gardeners love to share: tips and tricks, seedlings, seeds, and in-progress pictures of their gardens of plenty. Gardening doesn’t need to be a solitary effort, although if you’re craving some “me” time it’s so awesome for that. If you want to get social there are some great Winnipeg groups to tap into on Facebook: Winnipeg Gardeners, Winnipeg Garden Trading, and Winnipeg Urban Container Gardening. The people on these groups are friendly and helpful. Check them out. Plus, keep an eye out for gardening programs in the At the Library Guide. As an example, we have a couple coming up on tree care on June 18th and June 21st.

And with that, I’ll end this off with how I started it: “Inch by inch. Row by row. Gonna make this garden grow.” A beautiful line from Garden Song, written by Dave Mallett, and sung by many, including Pete Seeger and one of my favourites, John Denver. (I admit to serenading my family as a child with one particular John Denver song.) Here’s John Denver singing it with The Muppets as his back-up singers. The Muppets. Come on. So cute.

 

 

May your garden bring you much happiness and mud under your fingernails.

~ Reegan (A kid from the 70s who still loves to play in the mud. Love you, Mom.)

Time to Read Speculative Fiction!

Recently the library started a podcast called Time To Read. In the first episode they chose the book Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. This book is among my top five all-time favorite books. The podcast made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me think about why this is my favorite trilogy.

Speculative fiction is a subgenre in science fiction, and of course Margaret Atwood says it best! “I like to make a distinction between science fiction proper and speculative fiction. For me, the science fiction label belongs on books with things in them that we can’t yet do, such as going through a wormhole in space to another universe; and speculative fiction means a work that employs the means already to hand, such as DNA identification and credit cards, and that takes place on Planet Earth.” (source)

Speculative fiction makes use of dystopian, near future, and fairytales to tell their tales. Here are some of my favorites:

Oryx and Crake book coverAt the top of the list is (of course) The Maddaddam Trilogy, sometimes romance, sometimes adventure. The trilogy starts with the book Oryx and Crake. The book follows Jimmy the Snowman and a group of Crakers. We learn of Jimmy’s past through flashbacks. We learn about who he is, what the Crakers are, and what happens to Oryx and Crake. Do yourself a favor and read this book, then check out the podcast.

Never Let Me Go book coverI discovered Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro as the 2010 movie adaptation, and I fell in love. I then read the book, and while both are very well done, the book was better! They tell the story of Kathy, a caregiver and clone. Living in a boarding school, she and friends Ruth and Tommy are prepped to be donors. This is a fantastic book about the ethics and questions cloning.

The Martian book coverI read The Martian when it had just been published as an eBook on Kindle for 99 cents. This book is so scientifically accurate it is almost hard to call it speculative fiction, but I am going to include it. Mark, the unluckiest of all astronauts, encounters problem after problem after being stranded on Mars. With no real chance for escape, Mark has to find a way to stay alive and return to Earth.

Ready Player One book coverReady Player One is a dystopian novel that uses pop culture in the nerdiest of ways, and I loved every minute. I borrowed the audiobook from Overdrive, and my nerdy little heart melted just a bit more, because it was read by none other than (no shame) my high school crush, Will Wheaton! Everything is better when read by Will Wheaton.

Walkaway book coverWalkaway by Cory Doctorow is another fantastic book. Speaking of Will Wheaton, he, Amber Benson, and Amanda Palmer narrate this book. A boy meets girl story where Hubert Etc. and Natalie choose to walk away. Want to know what that means? Want to know why he is called Hubert Etc.? Read this book!

– Andrea

What on earth is Hashimoto’s?

When the body wages war against itself it is because of an autoimmune disease. In the case of Hashimoto’s the organ under attack is the thyroid. Just like in any war the devastation often goes far beyond the target and, more often than not, other parties, in this case autoimmune diseases, are invited to participate. Autoimmune diseases are masters of disguise and deception. Symptoms for the same disease vary from person to person and the disease even wears different masks in the same individual. No wonder it takes on average 10 years and in many cases a number of misdiagnoses before an autoimmune disease is discovered. By then the affected organ is already quite damaged.

In the last 15 years, autoimmune diseases have reached epidemic proportions and combined are killing more women under 65 than cancer and cardiovascular disease. (Women are vastly over-represented when it comes to autoimmune diseases.) In her article in The New Yorker, Meghan O’Rourke writes, “In fact, autoimmune disease is as much of a medical frontier today as syphilis or tuberculosis was in the nineteenth century”. Indeed, at this point the medical system is ill-equipped to deal with this autoimmune challenge. There is not enough research, the cause is unknown and there is no cure. At best, the symptoms can be relieved. It is very common that patients are given drugs for depression, anxiety, ADHD and insomnia, as well as painkillers and other drugs with little or no effect before, or even after, a diagnosis.

This sounds very grim. This month, though, is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, which is as good a reason as any to spread awareness and hope about this underestimated, under-recognized, under-researched and under-diagnosed health issue. Although I’m sure there are many who have found ways to improve their quality of life, I would like to introduce individuals who have done so and have made it their business to pass on their findings and become advocates.

Janie Bowthorpe was a fitness instructor when Hashimoto’s sneaked up on her. She was eventually so disabled that she could only do very little and ended up applying for disability. There was one thing she could still do and that was sit at the computer and research her condition. By and by she pieced all the information together and found a solution to end her misery.

Stop the Thyroid Madness

In her first book “Stop the Thyroid Madness” her frustration and anger over losing 20 years of her life is very obvious. She felt that help was available all along and she was not offered it. Her second book, Stop the Thyroid Madness 2 is milder. It is a collection of contributions by medical and functional doctors discussing, in easy to understand terms, their experiences, views and treatment options. There is a lot of information on proper testing, symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, the impact of stress, why doctors treat patients the way they do, how to relate to doctors and so much more. Janie has become a dedicated voice for thyroid patients all over the world and has a patient-driven website with the same title as her books, which is an amazingly large source of information.

Root causeIzabella Wentz also was struck by Hashimoto’s. What played in her favour was that she is a pharmacist. She already had experience with doing and evaluating research and she put all her focus on finding a way to deal with her condition. She, too, was successful, and felt strongly that she had to share her findings with those who did not know how to escape or, at least, improve their situation. Both her books, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause and Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting your Life Back are well-organized collections of the knowledge currently available about Hashimoto’s.

Hashimotos Protocol

Wentz’s claims are backed by scientific research which gives them weight and credibility. She presents tools to deal with a disease that can be so crippling, and also shares her own story and experiences, which makes it very easy to relate to. She also stresses the importance of looking at each case individually. There is plenty of encouragement to not give up and continue to find ways that are just right for each individual. Her books can definitely not be digested in one sitting, as there is much information to take in, but I would look at them as reference books that invite the reader to return to frequently.

Jennifer EspositoJennifer Esposito is an actress who has starred in numerous movies and TV series. Growing up in an Italian culture where food like bread, pasta and pizza was the stuff of life, she struggled with a “bad stomach” and ever increasing episodes of anxiety and panic attacks. Her family dismissed her illness as her being like her mother. Much later Jennifer found out that she had a severe case of Celiac disease and that there is a genetic component to that. She now understood why many of her female family members, including her mother, had developed methods that aimed, somewhat unsuccessfully, at dealing with the sometimes crippling symptoms of this health issue and freely discussed this among themselves.

Reading about her journey is heart-breaking, frustrating and frightening, especially the part before her diagnosis. Following her narrative of being repeatedly misdiagnosed, leaving doctor’s offices with prescriptions that did not improve her condition and often made it worse, fighting her way out of the psych ward, and making forceful efforts to hang on to a job in an industry where appearance is everything, will make you dig your nails into your chair as you try to stem the tears. Anybody who struggles with an autoimmune disease will most likely relate to many parts of her book, Jennifer’s Way. It also is a good read for those who like gripping biographies and want to learn what it can be like to deal with an autoimmune disease. I have included this book because the story has a very happy ending. Not only did the author, with an almost superhuman determination, find the most effective ways to help herself, she also found a meaningful way to help others.

Wahls ProtocolDr.Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. For years she treated her patients the conventional way as she had been taught in med school. Then she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and underwent conventional treatment herself. It was unsuccessful. As a doctor she could clearly see her fate and refused to accept it. Realizing that medical research is often 20 to 30 years ahead of clinical practice she left no scientific stone unturned and found nothing but drugs that had not been approved yet. It then occurred to her that nutrition had played a role in positive outcomes and she started to search for vitamins and supplements that had helped any kind of progressive brain disorder. Painstakingly she created a list of helpful nutrients and started consuming them. This slowed the progress of her disease, which she did not find satisfactory enough.

When she discovered Functional Medicine she found what she had been looking for. Within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour! Her physicians, family and friends were absolutely stunned. (She even admits to have been quite surprised herself.) In her book, The Wahls Protocol, she makes all of her hard work available to the public. Her findings are likely to be useful not just for people with MS but anyone with an autoimmune disease. Current research seems to point at the likelihood of all autoimmune diseases being related, which would make sense being that many sufferers accumulate more than one during their lifetime.

Many people with an autoimmune disease are relieved to find that they have a tremendous amount of power when it comes to their health. There are many options in addition to or instead of a prescription medication regime and conventional treatment. Life might have handed you a cactus; that does not mean you have to sit on it. Exploring options, finding solutions that work for you specifically, keeping an open mind and a healthy optimism might just help to exceed your wildest hopes and dreams. Never give up!

– Elke

Other suggested reading:

The Wellness Project

 

 

 

 

 

All we need is TIME TO READ

Not so very long ago, a small group of librarians had the idea to create a monthly “Podcast Bookclub” to which anyone could subscribe and follow along.

We are super excited to announce that today (Friday, February 2, 2018) is the launch day for our first episode! You can find us at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca or wherever you find your other podcasts.

Time to Read Event Banner

We are calling it “Time to Read” and we would love it if you gave it a listen. Our first selection is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. When we announced this project on Twitter last month,  Margaret Atwood HERSELF tweeted her approval, so no pressure, right?

atwood tweet

“Passionate and Witty”? You be the judge!

Without giving too much away, in addition to talking about Margaret Atwood and her dystopian novel, we veer off on tangents involving sloths, CD-ROMs, Blade Runner, and Keanu Reeves. To learn more you’ll just have to listen. Haven’t read Oryx and Crake yet? What are you waiting for? The cool thing about podcasts is that they will be still available for listening down the road, so you can always go back and revisit old episodes.

Going forward, we are hoping that you, our online community of readers, can be a part of this project too. We’d love it if you’d like to read each month’s selection along with us, and send us your opinions, thoughts and questions ahead of time. We’ll even give you a shout out during the episode if you include your first name and home library branch. We’ll be eagerly checking our inbox at:

wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

You’ll also be able to find us on Instagram,  Twitter and Facebook, and we would love to hear from you after you listen as well. Even if you disagree with us. ESPECIALLY if you disagree with us! It’s all about getting a discussion going, and connecting in new and different ways.

 

 

Next month’s book will be Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I can’t wait to find out what all of us, and all of YOU, have to say about it.

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TIME TO READ: A WPL Podcast

Trevor

Remember When….

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” — Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite things to do when I was little, was bake with my mom.  She’d pull out our matching aprons, I’d grab a chair to pull up next to the counter, and together we’d mix, stir, measure and pour.  If I was lucky, she’d let me crack the eggs.  And forgiving as she was, she’d then pick out all of the eggshells that inevitably landed in the batter!

To this day, the smell of cookies baking in the oven reminds me of this wonderful memory.  What an incredible gift, to be able to cultivate a feeling of warmth, happiness and love, simply from an aroma! Memories are powerful.  And the amazing thing is, they last a lifetime!

I recently read an article on The Incredible Power of Nostalgia, and I was fascinated to learn about the scientific research being done on memories, reminiscing, and “nostalgizing.” In a 2012 study published in the journal Memory, Routledge and his colleagues showed that nostalgizing helps people relate their past experiences to their present lives in order to make greater meaning of it all. The result can boost their mood and reduce stress. “Nostalgia increases feelings of social connectedness to others,” he says. “Nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely.”

All the more reason to flip through that dusty photo album, call up on old friend, or pick up that “old favourite” book!  Here are a few childhood classics to stir up those feel good memories:

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
One evening Harold decides to go for a walk in the moonlight. Armed only with an oversize purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of wonder and excitement. Harold and his trusty crayon travel through woods and across seas and past dragons before returning to bed, safe and sound. Full of funny twists and surprises, this charming story shows just how far your imagination can take you.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast lunch and dinner.
But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers.  Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food. the town was a mess and the people feared for their lives.  Something had to be done, and in a hurry.

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig
Pete’s father starts kneading the dough. Next, some oil is generously applied. (Its really water.) And then some tomatoes. (They’re really checkers.) When the dough gets tickled, it laughs like crazy.

Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Viorst
He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV.  What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
No book has captured the magic and sense of possibility of the first snowfall better than The Snowy Day. Universal in its appeal, the story has become a favorite of millions, as it reveals a child’s wonder at a new world, and the hope of capturing and keeping that wonder forever.  The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day.

~ Lindsay

 

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

Think Big Thoughts

Up here on the fourth floor of the Millennium Library we’re having fun finding books about philosophy – including the philosophy of…just about anything!  Come join us to see what we have on show or let your mind wander through some of the titles below.

The Story of Philosophy
by Bryan Magee

“The Story of Philosophy, Revised and Updated gives you the information you need to think about life’s greatest questions, opening up the world of philosophical ideas in a way that can be easily understood by students and by anyone fascinated by the ways we form our social, political, and ethical ideas.”

What Philosophy Can Do
by Gary Gutting

“How can we have meaningful debates with political opponents? How can we distinguish reliable science from over-hyped media reports? How can we talk sensibly about God? In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting takes a philosopher’s scalpel to modern life’s biggest questions and the most powerful forces in our society–politics, science, religion, education, and capitalism–to show how we can improve our discussions of contentious contemporary issues.”

Tsawalk: A  Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview
by Richard Atleo

“In Tsawalk, hereditary chief Umeek develops a theory of “Tsawalk,” meaning “one,” that views the nature of existence as an integrated and orderly whole, and thereby recognizes the intrinsic relationship between the physical and spiritual. Umeek demonstrates how Tsawalk provides a viable theoretical alternative that both complements and expands the view of reality presented by Western science. Tsawalk, he argues, allows both Western and indigenous views to be combined in order to advance our understanding of the universe.”

A Philosophy of Walking
by Frédéric Gros

“In A Philosophy of Walking , leading thinker Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B – the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble – and reveals what they say about us.”

The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy
by Michael Patton and Kevin Cannon

“In The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy, Michael F. Patton and Kevin Cannon introduce us to the grand tradition of examined living. With the wisecracking Heraclitus as our guide, we travel down the winding river of philosophy, meeting influential thinkers from nearly three millennia of Western thought and witnessing great debates over everything from ethics to the concept of the self to the nature of reality.”

-Monique

 

Fall is full of great titles!

My main responsibility as a collections librarian is to buy adult nonfiction for Winnipeg Public Library’s 20 branches. Publishers release catalogues of forthcoming titles three times a year: winter, spring/summer and fall. This year’s fall catalogue is chocked full with great titles that will be released just in time to spend time reading a good book before the hustle and bustle of the winter holidays.

Below is a brief list of titles accompanied by the publisher’s annotations that I’m looking forward to reading the most this fall.

Bollywood KitchenBollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films by Sri Rao

Indian cuisine and Indian cinema (known as Bollywood) share much in common – bold colors and flavors with plenty of drama. But to the uninitiated, they can seem dizzying. Let Sri Rao be your guide. As one of the only Americans working in Bollywood, Sri is an expert on Indian musical films, and as an avid cook, he’s taken his mom’s authentic, home-cooked recipes and adapted them for the modern, American kitchen.

In this book you’ll find dinner menus and brunch menus, menus for kids and menus for cocktail parties. Along with each healthy and easy-to-prepare meal, Sri has paired one of his favorite Bollywood movies. Every one of these films is a musical, packed with dazzling song-and-dance numbers that are the hallmark of Bollywood, beloved by millions of fans all over the world. Sri will introduce each film to you, explaining why you’ll love it, and letting you in on some juicy morsels from behind the scenes.

 

BookshopsBookshops: A Reader’s History by Jorge Carrión and translated by Peter Bush

Jorge Carrión collects bookshops: from Gotham Book Mart and the Strand Bookstore in New York City to City Lights Bookshop and Green Apple Books in San Francisco and all the bright spots in between (Prairie Lights, Tattered Cover, and countless others). In this thought-provoking, vivid, and entertaining essay, Carrión meditates on the importance of the bookshop as a cultural and intellectual space. Filled with anecdotes from the histories of some of the famous (and not-so-famous) shops he visits on his travels, thoughtful considerations of challenges faced by bookstores, and fascinating digressions on their political and social impact, Bookshops is both a manifesto and a love letter to these spaces that transform readers’ lives.

 

godGod by Reza Aslan

A fascinating account of religion’s origin and a call to embrace a deeper, more expansive understanding of the divine from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot.

More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more peaceful, universal spirituality unencumbered by the urge to foist our human characteristics upon the divine. Whether you believe in one God or many gods or no god at all, God: A Human History will transform the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.

 

Inner Life

The Inner Life of Animals Love, Grief, and Compassion — Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohlleben

Through vivid stories of devoted pigs, two-timing magpies, and scheming roosters, The Inner Life of Animals weaves the latest scientific research into how animals interact with the world with Peter Wohlleben’s personal experiences in forests and fields.

Horses feel shame, deer grieve, and goats discipline their kids. Ravens call their friends by name, rats regret bad choices, and butterflies choose the very best places for their children to grow up.

In this, his latest book, Peter Wohlleben follows the hugely successful The Hidden Life of Trees with insightful stories into the emotions, feelings, and intelligence of animals around us. Animals are different from us in ways that amaze us—and they are also much closer to us than we ever would have thought.

 

river

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

The River of Consciousness reflects Oliver Sacks at his wisest and most humane, as he examines some of the human animal’s most remarkable faculties: memory, creativity, consciousness, and our present, ongoing evolution.

Before his death, Sacks personally collected into this one volume his recent essays, never before published in book form, which he felt best displayed his passionate engagement with his most compelling and seminal ideas. The book, lucid and accessible as ever, is a mirror of his own consciousness, discovering in his personal and humane interactions with others, unique insight, and fresh meaning.

  • Phil

For Science!

disappearingspoon.jpgThere’s a misconception that some carry around after tossing their graduation caps and cleaning out their high school lockers that reading about science is boring. And while, yes, the subject matter in the wrong hands can be tedious and dull, some of the best stories come out of scientific serendipity, odd foot notes, and tangential study. One of my favourite genres to read is what some refer to as “cocktail-party science”. Likely, this is intended as a disparaging remark, conjuring up a vision of a 1960s affair where the ladies have long drapey silk scarves that they toss about saying, “Psshaw, science! I don’t even know the meaning of the word!” and the men all have oddly tight-fitting suits and giant cigars stuffed into the corners of their mouths as they guffaw themselves into a thick cloud of smoke.

So, here’s a short (hah!) list of some of my favourite nonfiction (science) authors and titles; the ones that will have you bothering those in your immediate vicinity with bursts of, “Did you know…?” and, “Listen to this…” until they sigh heavily, gather up their things, and find somewhere else to sit/work/live:

violiniststhumb.jpgSam Kean: Look, I’m not even going to pretend that this whole blog post wasn’t initially a thinly veiled love letter to Sam Kean’s writing. He tops out all my lists of accessible, fun to read nonfiction, exploding with facts that I have to read aloud to my cat because my husband has had, in his words, “enough, already”. Kean’s first book, The Disappearing Spoon, covers the curiosities of the periodic table (stay with me), his later books delve into genetics (The Violinist’s Thumb), neuroscience (The Case of the Dueling Neurosurgeons), and coming out this July a title about the most captivating topic of all: air! (Caesar’s Last Breath).

 

 

packingformars.jpgPacking for Mars by Mary Roach. Mary Roach is another science journalist who grabs onto a subject and shakes it until all the fun stuff falls out. She then slams that fun stuff between book covers and makes a million dollars*. If you’re not interested in the details, dangers, and possibilities of space travel, Roach has also covered the topics of digestion (Guts), the alimentary canal more generally (Gulp), sex (Bonk), human cadavers (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), and, most recently, the history of warfare (Grunt).

 

workingstiff.jpgIf the word “cadavers” up there sparked your interest, you should also check out Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Dr. Judy Melinek. This title follows Dr. Melinek’s years working as a forensic pathologist (she started her training in New York City just two months prior to September 2001), as well as countless bizarre and fascinating cases of investigating and determining cause of death.

smokegetsinyoureyes.jpgCover image for Curtains : adventures of an undertaker-in-trainingIf you’ll permit me to stretch this macabre topic a little further: there’ve also been a few books written about those trying out employment at crematoriums and funeral homes. Try out The Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, and Curtains: Adventures in Undertaking by Tom Jokinen which takes place at a local Winnipeg funeral home.

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Okay, let’s lighten things up a bit with a little ornithology: The Thing with Feathers: the surprising lives of birds and what they reveal about being human by Noah K. Strycker. If you’ve ever wanted to cross the threshold into the realm of bird journalism, you’ve found your entry point. It’s a thoroughly engaging, almost poetic look at the lives of our winged friends. But, caveat lector: this one comes with a high likelihood of bombarding those around you with factoids aplenty.

 

wickedplants.jpgWickedbugs.jpg drunkenbotanist.jpg

Want something lighter still? Amy Stewart covers the understated and quietly terrifying world of both plants (Wicked Plants) and bugs (you guessed it, Wicked Bugs). If you’re interested in never taking another hike without incessantly glancing around as though the whole world was trying to take you out, these are books you’ll want to devour. If you’d rather examine plants for their more useful qualities, try Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist for how to incorporate your yard/park/local plant conservatory (don’t try that last one, it probably won’t end well) into your next nightcap.

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If bugs aren’t small enough for you, I suggest you try I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong. Yong examines the world of microbes and their critical importance for all life on earth, both large and small. Thoroughly readable, this study of all the microscopic beings that take up residence in and on our bodies will have you rethinking the concept of ever being truly alone.

 

asapscience.jpgLastly (because I have to stop this rambling at some point), for those who may “psshaw” their way through a discussion of scientific merit, take a peek within the pages of ASAP Science: answers to the world’s weirdest questions, most persistent rumors & unexplained phenomena by M. Moffit and G. Brown. With a title like that, I’m sure it needs further explanation. Based on the successful YouTube channel (AsapSCIENCE), this book covers important topics like if your eyeballs could really fly out of your head when you sneeze and why we tend to hate photos of ourselves, all while using science! It’s also filled with cartoony illustrations to help break up all those darn words. For an ever-so-slightly more sophisticated mash-up of science and graphics, you simply must get your hands on The Infographic Guide to Science by Tom Cabot which is pretty much a never ending picture playground for nerds. It’s chock-full of brightly coloured and immaculately designed infographics starting with the Big Bang and concluding with Artificial Intelligence which, if Hollywood has taught me anything, is truly where we will all meet our end.

I guarantee** if you get a few of these titles under your belt you’ll have ample fodder for your next cocktail party. Would you pick up a science nonfiction title the next time you pop into the library? Have a favourite title I missed? What should I read next? These are all engaging questions.

For Science!

Laura

*This may be both a gross oversimplification and exaggeration

**absolutely not a real guarantee

The Legacy of Wonder Woman

The new Wonder Woman movie comes out this weekend, and I have very high hopes that a female superhero movie will finally be up to snuff with the movies from the Marvel cinematic universe as well as some of the DC movies. The film features some fantastic and strong actors such as Robin Wright, Gal Gadot, and Connie Nielsen, just to name a few, and was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins; therefore it should hopefully pass the Bechdel test.

In the past, studios seemed to be reluctant to create action films with strong female leads and about female superheroes, whether due to the fact that  Catwoman with Halle Barry did not do well (which I don’t believe was Halle Barry’s fault) or their belief that female superheroes don’t attract a large audience. It does seem that Hollywood is hearing the outcry of fans who want a strong female lead in action movies, with the most recent two Star Wars films featuring such heroines, Supergirl on the small screen and now Wonder Woman. This gives me hope that they might finally make a Black Widow movie, or that the Captain Marvel movie which was recently announced will be just as good as many of the Marvel films.

The library has plenty of graphic novels that cover all your favourite female superheroes, as well as some heroines who may not be categorized as superheroes but still possess some pretty awesome powers and abilities.

Catwoman

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Depicted sometimes as a villain, sometimes an ally and sometimes a love interest for Batman, Catwoman wears many different suits. A woman who goes by her own moral code and one protects those closest to her, she makes for an interesting female character and, naturally, has her own set of graphic novels and is featured in Batman graphic novels as well. Check them out at the library, they’re purrfect!

Supergirl

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Superman’s “super” cousin has come to the small screen with great success. You can read more of her adventures in these graphic novels where, unlike Superman, she came to earth as a teenager and must navigate *gulp* high school and all the difficulties that go along with it while learning how to use and control her powers.

The X-Men with Jean Grey and Storm

jeangrey    storm

We may not have many stand-alone volumes of Jean Grey and Storm, both members of the X-Men, but we do have some great graphic novels with both of these characters who possess some pretty incredible abilities such as reading minds and telekinesis or controlling the weather. The X-Men series features many more strong female characters and superheroes that I couldn’t possibly list all of here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Though Buffy may not be your typical superhero, she was created by Joss Whedon, director of two of the amazing Avengers films. She fights off demons, vampires and any other crazy supernatural beings that come to Sunnydale and endanger the citizens of her town. The series also includes other strong female characters such as Willow, Buffy’s best friend and Tara, Willow’s friend and eventual love interest. The TV series was absolutely fantastic, and the graphic novels offer a nice fix for those of you missing Buffy Summers on your TV screen.

Anita Blake

anitablake

Originally written as a novel, the first few books in Laurell K. Hamilton’s series have been made into graphic novels and feature, similar to Buffy, a vampire hunter who is also a hired detective and an animator, one who raises the dead to help families say goodbye. The characters are wonderful and the world-building excellent, check out the graphic novel and/or the novels, both available through the library.

 

Wonder Woman

wonderwoman

I can’t do a Wonder Woman movie blog without also talking about the Wonder Woman comics, of which the library has tons! Diana Prince’s adventures on her own as well as with other Justice League members make for fantastic reading and excellent preparation and background research before the movie comes out!

 

 

And check out this new release:

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Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide to the Amazon Warrior by Landry Q. Walker contains all the facts, history and information on the long-lived legacy of Diana Prince.

This list is certainly not exhaustive! There are plenty of other great female heroes out there; let me know your favourites in the comments below.

Fingers crossed Wonder Woman lives up to the hype. I’m seeing it in AVX this weekend and I sure hope it’s good–if not, I’ll just keep hoping for a Black Widow movie…

Aileen