Category Archives: Seasonal

Fall fiction firsts

One of my favourite types of fiction is debut novels. It’s always exciting to read the first narrative work from an author, whether they’re brand-new to writing or have honed their craft on poetry, stories, or essays. Here are some selected debuts coming out this fall:

The water dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

From an award-winning author of non-fiction and graphic novels, this is a boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom. Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her–but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. His brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children–the violent and capricious separation of families–and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved.

Chilling effect by Valerie Valdes

A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom. To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

After the flood by Kassandra Montag

A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water. Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Artic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.

Against the wind by Jim Tilley

An elegantly written story of relationships involving six principal characters, strands of whose lives braid together after a chance reunion among three of them. A successful environmental lawyer is forced to take himself to task when he realizes that everything about his work has betrayed his core beliefs. A high school English teacher asks her former high school love to take up her environmental cause. A transgender teen raised by his grandparents struggles to excel in a world hostile to his kind. A French-Canadian political science professor finds himself left with a choice between his cherished separatist cause and his marriage and family. An accomplished engineer is chronically unable to impress his more accomplished father sufficiently to be named head of the international wind technology company his father founded. The Quebec separatist party’s Minister of Natural Resources, a divorcée, finds herself caught between her French-Canadian lover and an unexpected English-Canadian suitor.

Secrets we kept by Lara Prescott

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dares publish it, and help Pasternak’s magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world–using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, but under Sally’s tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops and invisibly ferry classified documents. From Pasternak’s country estate outside Moscow to the brutalities of the gulag, from Washington, DC, to Paris and Milan, The Secrets We Kept captures a watershed moment in the history of literature.

Relative fortunes by Marlowe Benn

In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers–including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy. When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is skeptical, and shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance…

Looking for more new fiction? Check out the full list of New Titles ordered in the last three months!



Going anywhere this summer? Take the library with you!

wpl summer reading

We want people to share photos of WPL materials on your summer adventures (from camping to urban hotels, and anything in between).  Tag #WPLsummertime on whichever social media platform you use and at the end of the summer, we’ll map it out and see how far we’ve travelled!

The Millennium Library is also hosting a Travel the World with your Library Card display. Write the name of a book you’ve read and the location where the book takes place on one of our “boarding passes,” then hand it in to staff and get a sticker to mark the spot on our map of the world. The boarding passes are pinned up around the map as well, should others be interested in following in your footsteps.

summer reading


Indigenous Languages at Winnipeg Public Library

Today, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day and this month is National Indigenous History Month and this year is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, so this post is a great opportunity to inform or remind folks that Winnipeg Public Library carries a wide range of books to help learn an Indigenous language or that are written in an Indigenous language. Increasingly, our collections have materials for both adults/teens and children. If you’re looking for something specific, just ask. We are very happy to help find what you need.

Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway) and Cree (several dialects) have the most items in the collection but we also have materials about or in Michif, Dakota, Dene, Oji-Cree and Inuktitut. If you know of a resource that you think we should have, please let us know! We suggest checking our catalogue (for example, search for: cree language) to make sure we don’t already have the title. You can suggest a purchase using the short form on this page.

To learn more about Indigenous Services at Winnipeg Public Library, visit our Indigenous Services page. It shares information about the Indigenous Resources Collection, the Ah kha koo gheesh and Wii ghoss spaces at the Millennium Library, programs, and our Indigenous Info Guide and Residential Schools Info Guide to help with information searching and research.

With best wishes from the Library for a good summer,



Audiobooks for summer vacation

Seeing as how Father’s Day has just passed but many summer days remain, some possibly involving a car and great distances to parts unknown, I thought I would write about our many audiobooks. In honour of Father’s Day, I’ll talk about our many techno thriller, spy, and espionage authors. I might even throw in a Monty Python reference or two.

But first, for those of you who have not heard about our audiobooks, here’s a quick overview:

  • You can borrow audiobooks on CD or download audio files to your computer, smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.
  • To grab a CD, go to your nearest library and ask for the audiobook section. Choose your CD and check it out at a circulation counter or one of our many self-checkout machines.
  • To check out an audio file, download the OverDrive/Libby and RBdigital app (available for both Android and Apple devices).  Once the apps are installed, search for your favorite author or title in both collections and borrow. You can then download the audiobook to your device and listen to it offline – great for planes, trains, automobiles, or anywhere you might be faced with a lot of time and not a lot to do.

To get you started, here are some of my favorite thriller, spy and espionage authors with some of their titles. Enjoy!

Ted Bell

Ted Bell’s Alexander Hawke series are fun, fast, and fantastic. Lord Alexander Hawke, part James Bond and part commando, is a British secret agent tasked with stopping international crises, terrorist plots and crime. His books are fast paced and well written. Ted Bell has a good handle on current events, which he weaves into his novels for realism.

  • Tsar (available on CD)
  • Overkill (available on OverDrive and on CD)
  • Warriors (available on OverDrive and on CD)

Alex Berenson

Alex Berenson, another author who seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to create believable future crises and international situations and writes fast paced engaging novels that keep you reading until the end. John Wells, Berenson’s dour protagonist, is always there to infiltrate various criminal organisations or terrorist cells.

Dale Brown

Former USAF pilot Dale Brown draws on his personal experience and knowledge to create intriguing and technical techno thrillers. He draws on current events to write hypothetical “what if” futures that are thoroughly enjoyable. Brown adds great detail about various aircraft, procedures and events without bogging down his stories with too much technical detail. Most of his novels involve protagonist Patrick McLanahan defeating foreign governments, cartels or terrorist cells.

Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, the grandfather of the techno-thriller and best-known for his novel The Hunt for Red October, wrote intriguing military action and adventure stories. His books were well researched and combined real-life elements in fictional scenarios.  After his death in 2013, other authors continued his Jack Ryan novels (much like Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series).

Vince Flynn

Like Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn passed away in 2013 and his novels have been carried on by other authors. Vince Flynn is famous for his tough, rugged protagonist Mitch Rapp who is fearless and more than willing to crush some heads to achieve his objectives. Flynn’s Rapp novels involve fast paced action, international crises, terrorists and internal fighting.  Always enjoyable, Flynn’s novels are great summer reads.

If you’re not sure what you want or simply want to browse, try our NoveList Plus database. It has hundreds of authors and titles to browse through. Each entry also links to the library catalogue to tell you whether the library owns that title or owns other titles by an author.

If you want some in person suggestions, please visit any one of our 20 locations. We’re here to help.  Happy post Father’s Day, enjoy the summer… and now for something completely different!


Spring fiction

Spring has sprung and the new fiction shelves are blooming with a heavy crop of new novels. Here are a few to get you started, or you can view the full list of New Titles for the last 3 months in our online catalogue.

In dog we trust
by Beth Kendrick
When Jocelyn Hilliard is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry and never expected to be living the pampered life in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges.

The bird king
by G. Willow Wilson
Fatima is a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain. Her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker, has a secret: he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as threatening sorcery. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?

Queen Bee
by Dorothea Benton Frank
Beekeeper Holly McNee Kensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivan’s Island. Her mother, The Queen Bee, is a demanding hypochondriac; to escape the drama, Holly’s sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly’s escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father. When Leslie returns to the island, their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral. A classic Lowcountry Tale–warm, wise, and hilarious.

by Mona Awad
A darkly funny, seductively strange novel about a lonely graduate student drawn into a clique of rich girls who seem to move and speak as one. Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more different from the other members of her master’s program at an elite university. A self-conscious scholarship student, she is repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny.” But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation from the Bunnies and finds herself drawn as if by magic to their front door. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into Bunny world, the edges of reality begin to blur.

The snakes
by Sadie Jones
Driving through France, recently married Bea and Dan visit Bea’s brother at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. When her parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to meet them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming and rich. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping… Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.

The elephant of surprise
by Joe Lansdale
Hap and Leonard are an unlikely pair–Hap, a self-proclaimed white trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough-as-nails black gay Vietnam vet–but they’re the closest friend either of them has in the world. Amidst the worst flood East Texas has seen in years, they save a young woman from a mob hit, only to find themselves confronted by an adversary who challenges their friendship.

The paper wasp
by Lauren Acampora
Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, Abby Graven now works as a supermarket cashier. Each day she’s taunted by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet. When Abby encounters Elise again at their high school reunion, she’s surprised and touched that Elise still considers her a friend. Ever the supportive friend, Abby becomes enmeshed in Elise’s world, even as she guards her own dark secret and burning desire for greatness. As she edges closer to Elise and her own artistic ambitions, the dynamic shifts between the two friends–until Abby can see only one way to grasp the future that awaits her.


Hé ho!

As you may have heard, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Festival du voyageur! This annual winter celebration of Franco-manitobain language and culture starts today – Friday, February 15 – and this year, the Winnipeg Public Library is taking part for four days (February 16, 17, 18 and 23).

You’ll find our bibliothèque éphémère (pop-up library) in the Forest Tent at Voyageur Park complete with a station de bricolage (craft station), and heures du conte (story times).

Plus all the usual Festival fun will be going on, of course, from pancake breakfasts to fiddling contests, dogsled rides, and snow sculptures. Bon festival!

And if you can’t make it out to join us, here are a few titles appropriate for Festival and Louis Riel Day…

Canoeing the Churchill: a practical guide to the historic voyageur highway

Louis Riel and the creation of modern Canada


Louis Riel: a comic strip biography

Making the voyageur world / Les voyageurs et leur monde

My first Métis lobstick

My true and complete adventures as a wannabe voyageur

Festival du voyageur HEHO!


Our best of the year

‘Tis the season for lists: shopping lists, gift lists, and most of all–“best of the year” lists.

Librarians love lists as much as anyone, so in our own contribution to the madness, Winnipeg Public Library staff have put together our annual list of favourite reads. Many of these titles are brand new; some are a bit older; but all are available at WPL and well worth a look.

If you’re interested in catching up on previous years, here are our picks for 2017 and 2016. Need more lists? Be sure to check out Largehearted Boy’s ongoing compilation list of lists.


Aaron‘s top book of the year was The Mount by Carol Emshwiller, the story of a budding friendship between a boy and an alien during a time of revolution – “think The Horse and his Boy meets The Fox and the Hound.”

Aileen was truly scared “in the best way possible” by The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp, which is a nail-biter and even a comedy at times thanks to the unreliable narrator.

Brian chose Sinclair Lewis’ semi-satirical polemic It Can’t Happen Here, written during the Great Depression and the rise of populist Louisiana politician Huey Long, which has been called the novel that predicted Donald Trump.

Cyrus picked The Man of Steel for Brian Michael Bendis’ story, great for people new to Superman but with plenty of fresh elements for long time fans, and its beautiful visuals from some of the best artists in superhero comics.

David recommends the Christmas-themed Mutts and Mistletoe by Natalie Cox: it’s quirky, it’s romantic, and most importantly it’s set in a Devonshire dog kennel with lots of adorable pups.

Derek says that Miriam Toews’ new novel, Women Talking, is masterfully told, with deft humour and keen insight.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was Jennifer‘s “absolute favourite” of the year.

Kira became slightly obsessed with Octavia E. Butler this year, and chose her duology Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

Like Circe herself, Madeline Miller’s novel enchanted Rémi with its poetic style and absorbing story drawn from Greek mythology.

Toby enjoyed The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, an ambitious, exceptionally written novel that deals with the AIDS epidemic in Chicago in the 1980s and its present-day repercussions.


Elke says that Why We Sleep by Matthew P. Walker tells you everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about sleep, packing two decades of sleep research results into one book.

Ian picked At Home in the World, a collection of reminiscences from the Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh which is inspirational, fun, thought-provoking, and timeless.

Josie Appleton’s Officious: Rise of the Busybody State made Jacob re-think the existing purpose behind state regulations.

For Kelly, reading Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming was time well spent. An honest take on striving for work/family balance and finding her own voice while still supporting her husband’s vision.

Kim‘s selection I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya is a short book full of stories of Shraya’s experience as someone who doesn’t fit into society’s gender norms.

Larisa suggests comparing your own understanding of happiness with all those smart minds’ views which Frédéric Lenoir has collected in Happiness: a Philosopher’s Guide.

Laura found She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer a completely fascinating study of genetics and inheritance, from the extraordinarily problematic history of eugenics to modern biotech advances like CRISPR and much more.

Melissa chose Ceremonial Magic, a book on magical traditions by Israel Regardie, a brilliant occultist who was once Aleister Crowley’s private secretary.

For young readers

Andrea recommends The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress for Lemony Snicket fans. A light read full of twists and turns, it all starts with a pig in a teeny hat…

Colette selected Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (a companion book to the Seraphina series) for its great female character, beautiful language, and strong world-building.

Jordan enjoyed the whole Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, especially the first book Cinder, which features a handsome prince, evil step mother and two step-sisters… oh, and Cinderella is a cyborg.

Katherine picked Tara Sim’s Timekeeper, in which Danny is meant to fix the clocks that control time around London, not help the spirits within them–even when one of them falls in love with him.

Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones cracked Lori’s heart by illuminating the soul crushing choices so many Indigenous youth have to make… but it also mended it with beautiful and touching love scenes.

Madeleine loved the incorporation of a podcast into the narrative of Sadie by Courtney Summers, which made her think critically about our desire to hear true crime stories that are often about violence being done to women.

Sydney thinks that Dragons Love Tacos will entertain adults as well as children with its beautiful illustrations, absurdity, and attention to detail. Plus it’s also available in French translation!


Remembering Canada’s Hundred Days and the End of the First World War

Cover image for The greatest victory : Canada's one hundred days, 1918A hundred years ago, the First World War was coming to an end, after four years of carnage never witnessed before in history. The year 1918 had begun with the Allied armies (also known as the Entente Powers) still locked in stalemate with Germany on the western front with no clear end in sight. Then in the spring, the German army launched its final offensive and although it succeeded in pushing back the British army, it failed to create a decisive breakthrough. This was followed in August by a general counter-attack (now known as the Hundred Days Offensive) by the Allies that would finally break the deadlock of the trenches and force Germany and the rest of the Central Powers to sue for peace by November. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps played a central role in breaking the back of the German army in a series of victorious battles that ended in the French city of Mons on November 11, 1918. The prestige earned on the battlefield helped create a new sense of national identity and Canada had separate representation at the peace conference at Versailles, moving away from its former colonial status toward independence from Great Britain.

Despite involving more men (and more casualties) than the Normandy Campaign of 1944, and despite being the pivotal battle of the First World War, the Hundred Days Offensive has been largely forgotten until recently with the centennial of the First World War bringing renewed interest in its history. For readers who are not familiar with this topic but are interested in learning more, historian Jack Granatstein’s book The Greatest Victory: Canada’s Hundred Days, 1918 is a recommended introduction that is accessible to everyone. It chronicles the march and bloody struggles of the Canadian Corp out of the trenches from Amiens through Valenciennes, the Hindenburg Line, the Canal du Nord, and Cambrai, toward Mons and final victory. Granatstein describes the historical context of the offensive, how Canadians trained constantly beforehand in the use of new tactics and weapons, and were led by General Arthur Currie, likely the best General of the War. Despite being overshadowed by the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the minds of most Canadians, the author convincingly argues that the Hundred Day’s Offensive was Canada’s greatest feat of arms of the First World War.

Cover image for They Fought in Colour / la Guerre en Couleur : A New Look at Canada's First World War Effort / Nouveau Regard Sur le Canada Dans la Premi?re Guerre Mondiale.

Remembering the First World War can be challenging due to the memory of it having faded over the decades, and having been overshadowed by the second global conflict that followed its uneasy peace. Since we no longer have living veterans to relate their stories, our vision of the First World War exist almost exclusively in black and white, whether they be written books or historical footage. The book They Fought in Colourpublished by the Vimy Foundation, attempts to offer a new look at Canada’s experience during the Great War by presenting the reader with colorized pictures, as the people experienced it, with commentary from some of well-known Canadian personalities, including Paul Gross, Peter Mansbridge, Margaret Atwood, and many others.

Cover image for The secret history of soldiers : how Canadians survived the Great War

Historian Tim Cook is a prolific author of Canadian military history who has just released his latest title: The Secret History of Soldiers: How Canadians Survived the Great War This is a welcome addition, providing an intimate look at the daily lives of the men and women who experienced the conflict, as opposed to the more conventional reviews of the war from official records and the distant point of views of politicians and military leaders focused on strategies and tactics. These first-hand stories were mined from the letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts of more than five hundred combatants. They reveal aspects of the life behind the front-lines, a “hidden society” that coped with the extreme hardships of war by creating their own satirical songs, trench art from battlefield debris, newspapers that criticized army life and all kinds of entertainment that took their mind off the war. You learn how camaraderie was built on shared experiences and goals, what motivated Canadians of all walks of life to keep going, and how they kept informed about the war and their families back home.

Cover image for 1918 : winning the war, losing the war

For readers who are interested in an in-depth study of the Western Front in the last year of the war, another new arrival at the library, 1918 : winning the war, losing the war is an informative review of the armies that were facing each other (the inexperienced but vast American army joining the battle-weary but experienced French and British forces against the German). This multi-author work contains ten chapters by some of the best historians of the First World War. It analyzes how armies built from a 19th century model evolved and adapted the lessons learned from past failures and used new technologies and weapons to fight a twentieth century war. The book also covers neglected fronts like Italy and the Middle East where the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires were fighting for their continuing survival. It also looks in detail at the war at sea and in the air, and considers the aftermath and legacy of the First World War.


Finally, if you come by the Local History Room at the Millennium branch, you can view a display called The World Remembers 1918 that the library is hosting to commemorate the centennial of the 1918 Armistice. Until November 11, a video monitor will display the names of over 800,000 soldiers who lost their lives in the final year of the war from Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, the US, Turkey, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia, China and the former British Indian Army. The World Remembers website has more information about this project and this is the page where names can be searched to learn when they will appear on-screen.


Scary stories to read in the dark

It’s October and cold, dark days with dreary skies have arrived…  you know what that means—the countdown to Hallowe’en has officially begun.

Short stories are one of the best ways to experience the thrill of horror fiction. Like the bite-size chocolate bars in our trick or treat bags, they deliver just the right amount of delightfully tasty fright.

If you’re new to short, terrifying fiction, start with the classics: Edwardian Englishman M.R. James and mid-century American Shirley Jackson couldn’t be more different in style or tone, but they’re both experts at grounding uncanny weirdness in the ordinary and mundane world.


If you like Shirley Jackson but haven’t tried Kelly Link yet, what are you waiting for? Magic for Beginners is a great place to start if you haven’t gotten the chance to sample her whimsical but deeply unsettling prose before.


Everyone knows Stephen King for his doorstopper-thick horror novels like The Shining and It. But I find his short stories even more frightening as they leave more unspoken, like shadows hovering in the corner of your eye. Whether you choose one of his more recent collections, like Everything’s Eventual and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, or an earlier selection like Skeleton Crew, you’re sure to sleep with a light on that night.

Not surprisingly, King’s son Joe Hill is a master storyteller as well; check out 20th Century Ghosts for a selection of his early work.

Editor Ellen Datlow discovers and collects some of the best short horror. You won’t go wrong checking out any of the anthologies she’s put together, but my favourites are two excellent collections of modern ghost stories: The Dark and Hauntings.

Are you looking over your shoulder yet?


Start with astronomy

I can think of no better way to start a blog post about the night sky than to quote The Friendly Giant: “look up, look wayyyyy up”. Stars, planets, moons, constellations and galaxies are all things to search for and observe in the night sky.

The warmth of summer is a great time to start learning and you don’t need a massive telescope. A good pair of binoculars will reveal a number of objects that your unaided eye can’t see and they are a great way to learn how to navigate the night sky.

The Winnipeg Public Library has a great selection of resources to help you. I’ve selected a variety of books and television shows from our print and online streaming collections to get you started.  Just for fun, I’ve thrown in some stuff by Neil de Grasse Tyson and the potential for life in the Universe.  Excelsior!

SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport with Jill Tarter
This is a documentary about the organisation SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Among many goals, SETI wants to try to answer the question “are we alone?” SETI does this by listening for signals that could originate from extraterrestrial civilizations in other parts of the universe.

These four videos are part of a 12 episode series called Our Night Sky which examines different objects in the sky such as planets, stars, constellations and where they can be found in different seasons:

Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Join Neil deGrasse Tyson as he discusses what we know and don’t know about the universe. Explore new areas of research and knowledge.

Season One of Life in Our Universe with Laird Close
This 24 episode series discusses a variety of topics such as astrobiology (the study of biology beyond earth), extraterrestrial intelligence, does life exist beyond earth, different environments life could evolve in and how to terraform a planet.

The Astronomy Book by David Hughes offers a concise history of the some of the most important events in astronomy, cosmology and physics. Each topic covered is easy to read and each section uses flowcharts and graphics to help present a clear picture of new discoveries and important developments.

Wonders of the Night Sky you Must See before you Die: the Guide to the Most extraordinary Curiosities of our Solar System by Bob King
You’ve read the 1000 places you must see before you die or 1000 songs you must listen to before you die. Now there’s a list for astronomy.  Bob King introduces you to 57 sights in the night sky and provides information on how to see these objects using your eyes, binoculars and telescopes.

The Night Sky Atlas: the Moon, Planets, Stars and Deep Sky Objects by Robin Scagell
The Night Sky Atlas offers excellent maps of the sky to help you locate constellations, stars, planets and more. Clearly laid out, it is quick and easy to use. This book is a great addition for anyone starting out in astronomy.

Astronomy: a Self-Teaching Guide by Dinah Moche
Essentially an introductory course in astronomy, this is a terrific and thorough book to grab if you want to learn more than just the locations of different sights in the sky. The eighth edition has links to online resources such as fantastic color images. The book also features tests at the end of each section to help reinforce what you’ve learned.

Learning about and navigating the night sky can be an enjoyable and fulfilling pastime; I hope you find these suggestions helpful and take a look. If you’re looking for an upcoming astronomical event that is easy to see, try the Perseid meteor shower in August. The shower peaks on the nights and early mornings of August 11-12 and 12-13. You don’t need anything but your eyes!