Category Archives: What to Read Next?

The Classics, Renewed

Do you re-read books, or do you prefer to find new ways to enjoy your favourite stories?

There was one family vacation where I read the third Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 8 times within one week.  I had only brought two books, which was my first mistake, and the other was a murder mystery, disqualified because I had already figured out whodunit, which was my second. By the end of the week, I was quoting passages from specific pages that I had memorized, and I had grown thoroughly sick of the book! But when J.K. Rowling released the next volume in the series, I read it right away – and have with every book she’s released about Harry and his friends since, including The Cursed Child. 21 years after Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published, we still want to revisit those characters and that setting. Luckily, the books are still popular enough to warrant Rowling producing more content within the Harry Potter universe – but what do you do about other books that you’ve loved, with authors who are long gone?

With some, you can watch the movie and film adaptations: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was first adapted for the screen in 1938 as a television movie, then in 1940 as a film, as a TV miniseries in 1952, 1958, 1967, 1980, and 1995, and then again in 2005 as the film starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. This isn’t even counting the productions inspired by the plot and characters – Bride and Prejudice, the 2004 Bollywood musical version (which is very fun), the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If Pride and Prejudice is your favourite, you have a plethora of ways that you can revisit the story. But enough: this is not a blog titled Adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, an Incomplete List.

texts My current favourite way to return to a story I have loved is through Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters. In it, Ortberg transforms each of the chosen classic (or contemporary!) tales, ranging from the Greek myths and Beowulf to The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, into a text message dialogue between two characters, and they are hilariously done. Check out this excerpt from the conversation between Odysseus and Circe as an example:

circe1

circe2

circe3

(Ortberg 14-16)

If you like comics and quick summations of stories, Henrik Lange’s 90 Classic Books for People in a Hurry might be just up your alley! Alternatively, maybe you want to take a bit more time with a book you’ve loved before: consider a graphic novel adaptation! Our collection has options ranging from Artemis Fowl to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. There’s something to suit everyone – including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Happy reading!

 

It’s Time to Read: The Underground Railroad

If it’s the first Friday of the month, then you know what that means! It’s time for the latest release of the Time to Read book club podcast!

Who’s in our book club, you ask? Why, you are! Or at least, we’d love you to be. Your comments, questions, and observations, posted through social media or on our podcast webpage, help guide us through our discussion.  Love the book? Hate the book? We want to hear from you.  Email us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

In this episode, we read Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, a book worthy of lots of discussion, reflection, and commentary. When you first learned about the Underground Railroad as a kid, did you at first think it was an actual railroad? Well, some members of our book club sure did, as did the Whitehead himself. And even after learning more about the actual network of safe houses, smuggled wagon rides, and trails leading slaves north to freedom; Whitehead thought it would be fascinating to explore the idea of the Underground Railroad literally rather than just figuratively. The result is a fascinating and unsettling story of Cora, a 15-year old runaway slave who hops aboard the train and whose story reboots at each station stop in a different state.

Would you like to join our book club? It’s pretty easy: read the book (or don’t, we’ll never know!), and add your comments and questions to the discussion page or on social media. Then download  our latest episode and listen in as this month we talk magic realism, Stockholm syndrome, the trolley problem, and how I don’t like making left turns when I drive.

Up next is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane – pick up a copy at your local branch and join us, won’t you?! We’ll be posting the podcast of that book club discussion on (you guessed it) the first Friday in May.

Visit wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca to learn more and you can always email us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

— Kirsten and the rest of the Time to Read gang

Stories of Shannara

shannara

Image credits: Wikipedia, A Shannara Wiki, Goodreads,  and wallpapersdepo.net.

“The Ellcrys is dying. For centuries the magical tree has kept the demon hordes at bay. Created by elven magic she banished the demons and trapped them within a dimension known as the Forbidden. But as the Ellcrys’ power begins to fade the magic weakens. It is only a matter of time before the demons break out of their prison and wreak their terrible vengeance on the elves. Something must be done. The mysterious druid Allanon travels to the remote community of Storlock to recruit Wil Ohmsford. Years earlier the druid fought side-by-side Wil’s grandfather and defeated the Warlock Lord. Now it is Wil’s turn to join Allanon and stand against the forces of evil. Together the druid and his young companion must convince Amberle Elessedil, last of the Chosen, to join their quest and together they can save the Four Lands from destruction.”

The Elfstones of Shannara, by Terry Brooks, is the second novel in a fantasy series that features everything you might expect; fantastic beasts, magic, elves, treachery, redemption – even love. So why should you read another fantasy? What makes this novel worth reading?

Throughout the Shannara series, the reader follows the adventures of the Ohmsfords, a family of half-elves who live in Shady Vale, a peaceful community. Their lives are turned upside down when Allanon comes knocking at their door and asks two brothers to embark on a perilous adventure to save the Four Lands from a great and terrible evil. What’s interesting and different from other fantasy series is that each novel follows a new generation of the Ohmsford family.

In The Sword of Shannara (1977) Shea and Flick Ohmsford must find the fabled sword and destroy the Warlock Lord. In The Elfstones of Shannara (1982), it is Shea’s grandson Wil Ohmsford who has to rise to the occasion. And in The Wishsong of Shannara (1985), Wil’s children Jair and Brin Ohmsford travel to the Eastern land in order to destroy a magical relic.

As the descendants of Jerle Shannara, the Ohmsfords are able to use magic and wield magical weapons such as the fabled sword of Shannara and the elfstones, which is a blessing and a curse. Whenever a terrible evil threatens the Four Lands it is the Ohmsfords who must face it. Fortunately for them – fortune favours the brave.

The Elfstone of Shannara is available at a bookstore AND library near you.

— Daniel B

[Editior’s note: As a child, The Sword of Shannara sat on my father’s headboard and its cover, map, and illustrations captured my attention. I was too young to read it at the time, but when I saw it again years later, this was one of the first Fantasy books I ever read. -Mike E.]

Never Too Soon

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy

I’ve been called by many names over the years, some of them more pleasant than others, but I think the one I cherish the most is Auntie Book. When my family and friends started having children, I showed up at every baby shower with a gift of a hand-knit blanket wrapped around a bundle of books. As time went on, I continued to give books as gifts on every possible occasion. I also kept a stash of reading materials in a huge tote bag, which I brought out whenever I had the chance to look after my nieces and nephews. Time has marched on at a rapid pace, and those little ones have now grown up and in some cases have little ones of their own. I stopped being Auntie Book to those kids some years ago, but I still believe that the best gift you can give a child of any age is a book – and your time.

It’s never too soon to start sharing the joy of books with a child, and the  Winnipeg Public Library has a plethora of programs to suit any preschooler in your life. For those who are quite literally new to the world, and thus to reading in general, we have the Baby Rhyme Time program, which is aimed at infants aged 0 – 24 months and their caregivers.  This program offers songs, rhymes, and stories that will get the little ones in your life off to a great start.

For this age group, one of my go-to book recommendations is Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid. The words celebrate the many ways you can read with a child, and the illustrations of familiar locations are great for a developing mind.

Once a child has reached the age of 2, we have another program that suits the needs of busy, inquisitive minds and bodies. Time for Twos is designed with the toddler in mind, with loads of interactive activities and age-appropriate stories.

 

For this stage in life, my book gift list would invariably include a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It’s a perfect choice to catch a child’s interest, with loads of fun pictures and a highly satisfying ending.

Pre-School Story Time is the next step in enhancing a child’s love of literacy. This program is for children aged 3 – 5 who are ready to be part of a group without their caregivers in the same room. Longer stories and more fun songs and stretches ensure that everyone has a good time.

The first time I read Bark, George by Jules Feiffer I knew that I had found a true gem. Between the ridiculous story and riotous illustrations, I defy anyone to read this and not end up with a roaring case of the giggles.

If everyone in the family is into books, why not check out a Family Story Time? The content is aimed primarily at children aged 3 – 5, but everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

And, on Monday evenings, the St. James Library is offering a Sensory Story Time.  Featuring books, stretches, and movement activities in an input-sensitive environment. Sensory Story Time is an interactive program geared toward children ages 3-5, including children on the Autism spectrum, and their parents/caregivers and siblings.

One of our favorite books to read at Sensory Story Time is The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Everyone has fun trying to spot that big hungry bear before he gets to that red ripe strawberry.

I still treasure the memories of the kids I read with back in the day, and fortunately for me so do they. I’m almost finished knitting the blanket for the latest little one to become part of my life, and, of course, I’ve already picked up the rest of the present. Long live Auntie Book!

Lori

 

Books-to-Movies, 2018 Edition

The New Year has kicked off, and with it a new list of books being made into movies this year! I thought I would compile a list of the upcoming releases to give our readers a chance to read the book before the movie. (If you’ve already read the book, I hope you’re looking forward to seeing the movie on the big screen and comparing it to the book.) I’ve divided the list by genre so that there is something for everyone, but don’t be afraid to try something new. Enjoy!

Sci-Fi

 playerone   Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Set in a futuristic society where humanity’s only escape from the desolate, unfriendly world is a virtual utopia called OASIS, teenager Wade Watts has studied the puzzles and intricacies of the game and hopes to unlock the clues laid by the OASIS creator who promises power and fortune to those who can unlock them. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg and judging from the trailer features some fantastic special effects.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I have written about my love for Jeff VanderMeer’s writing in a previous blog post, so naturally I have to include the film adaptation in this list as well. I hope the film will do the book justice! A biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and an anthropologist are sent out to explore an area known as Area X. We are not given much information regarding Area X, simply what the narrator, the biologist, tells us. VanderMeer ratchets up the suspense and dread throughout the novel to its shocking conclusion, which luckily to the readers isn’t a conclusion at all as there are two other books in the trilogy afterwards.

Romance

fiftyshades  Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

The last book in the trilogy takes place after Christian Grey’s big announcement, and we see Christian and Anna living blissfully until someone from their past threatens their happily ever after. The movie promises to be romantic, steamy and passionate and is, naturally, being released on Valentine’s Day. If you haven’t read the first two of the trilogy, you’ll want to start with those before reading this one.

Fiction

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Though this could be considered a romance, as well as a comedy, I have opted to put it in general fiction, a place where you will find the novel in the library catalogue. Rachel Wu is meeting her boyfriend of two years’ family for the first time in Singapore, a family which her boyfriend has been very secretive about. Is he ashamed because they are not wealthy? Quite the opposite, he hails from one of the wealthiest families in Singapore where opulence and luxury are the norm. They’re not just rich, they are crazy rich.

Children’s

peterrabbit   The Tales of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The trailer for the movie has touted some controversy and groans from the audience for appearing to be nothing like the book. There is, however, still a protagonist called Peter Rabbit (voiced by Late Night host James Corden) and of course a Farmer McGregor chasing him out of his garden. Read the beloved picture book that began the series before you bring the kiddies to the remake, nostalgia abound!

Young Adult

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

This classic novel of one young girl’s journey to find her father who is trapped by “The Black Thing” is sure to bring in people of all ages, not only for nostalgia’s sake but also the A-List cast which includes Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Be sure to delve into the classic before you head to the cinema.

 everyday  Every Day by David Levithan

A fascinating concept for a book, the protagonist, known simply as “A”, wakes up in a different body every day. One such body is a boy named Justin and there A meets Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon and forms a connection with her. This connection leads them to find a way to be with Rhiannon every day no matter which body they find themselves in. It is a book and film which can explore many issues pertinent to the present day, and reminds us that love is love.

Graphic Novel

Black Panther

Yet another entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther the film is naturally getting a lot of hype, and fingers crossed the film does the comics justice. If you’re unfamiliar with the character, the library has plenty of graphic novels to get you up to speed on who/what/where/when and how is Black Panther and his secretive nation of Wakanda.

Mystery/Thriller

spiderweb   The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

I find it interesting that they chose to make the most recent entry in the Lisbeth Salander series into a film when they have not continued with the English version of the other two in the series. Nevertheless, the book and movie continues with hacker Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist as they tackle yet another mystery together. Though not penned by the author of the original Millennium trilogy, Lagercrantz continues delving into the story and history of Lisbeth Salander. If you would like to watch the rest of the trilogy on film you can borrow the three films from the library with Noomi Rapace in the lead role, they are absolutely phenomenal.

Suspense/Spy

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

This upcoming spy/thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton who play spies on opposite sides. Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a spy trained to seduce the enemy. Edgerton plays a Nate Nash, a CIA operative who handles Russian Intelligence. Their attraction to each other, and Dominika’s having been forced into becoming a “sparrow” leads her to choose a double life, working for the CIA and working for Russian Intelligence, a choice which has deadly consequences. A fast-paced thriller that is action-packed, and which stars the incredible Jennifer Lawrence is sure to bring people to the theatres, but I assure you, the book is just as good.

Historical Fiction

 guernsey The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A writer looking for inspiration learns of a book club in Guernsey created during the German occupation as a way for the townspeople to get together without arising suspicion. Written as an epistolary novel the book features the protagonist’s correspondence with a native of Guernsey as she learns of and speaks to those in the society. The movie stars Lily James in the lead role, along with Matthew Goode and Jessica Brown Findlay.

Are there any book-to-movies coming out you’re looking forward to seeing that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below. Happy reading and viewing!

 

-Aileen

Time To Read: A new podcast for Winnipeg book lovers

Picture of the four members of the podcast team

Find everything you need to know about Time to Read at our new website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca

It is with great excitement, dear readers, that we are writing to introduce you to Time to Read – a new monthly podcast brought to you by Winnipeg Public Library. Although, as four book-loving librarians we feel the term podcast doesn’t quite encapsulate what we hope to accomplish with this undertaking.
More than just a podcast, Time to Read is also a book club. Over the course of a month we will read a book and then sit down to record a discussion, all while sharing a few laughs along the way.

But, and here is where you come in future listeners, we don’t just want you to sit idly by while we have all the fun. We want you to read the book along with us, all while sharing your likes and dislikes. We want to know what kept your mind wandering into the wee hours of the morning and what made you angry enough to throw the book across the room. We want you to join us in forming a Time to Read community!

Book cover of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and CrakeJoin us this January as we read our first book Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  As you read please email your thoughts to wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.  If you would like to be acknowledged on air, please include your first name and your home library branch.  We would love to give you a shout-out when we release the first episode in February!

We also want you, as listeners, to have input in creating the Time to Read community!  We know Winnipeggers are intelligent and thoughtful people. So, we want to tap into that knowledge. Let us know which books you’d like to read in the future. Let us know what is and isn’t working with the podcast. Reach us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca.

We hope to hear from you soon
as we all try to find
a little more
Time to Read.

– Alan, Erica, Kirsten, Trevor and the rest of the Time to Read team.

The most wonderful time of the year (for readers)

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

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

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

Fiction of all genres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All varieties of non-fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For younger readers

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Danielle

What’s New in the Local History Room?

The Holiday season is upon us and among the new titles that have arrived in the Local History Room collection, we have a very special treat for history fans.

Cover image for Manitoba at Christmas : holiday memories in the keystone province

is an anthology of stories from by and all about how Christmas was celebrated by Manitobans from the earliest Christmas recorded in the days of exploration before the establishment of the Red River colony to the 21st century.  From simple rituals, like a toast while sharing memories of absent families in pioneer times, the observance of Christmas evolved and grew more elaborate as the years passed and different cultures added their own traditions: church services, family reunions, ever-growing street parades and decorated storefronts.  The sights, sounds and smells of Manitoba at Christmas left happy memories which one can re-visit in the pages of this book: visiting Toyland at the Eaton’s store, sharing letters and stories with family in rural Manitoba on Christmas morning, or preparing a concert at a school to be attended by Fraserwood’s entire community.  In darker times, it was a time to hold on to hope: Margaret Owen, one of the featured authors, talks about how during the Christmas of 1941, her family waited to hear news about her father, a POW for several years after being captured during the defence of Hong Kong.  In addition to fun anecdotes, personal stories, great historical photographs and illustrations, the book also contains holiday recipes, for example a vinarterta, a traditional Icelandic layered Christmas cake .
Golden Boys
Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the NHL, Ty Dilello’s Golden boys : the Top 50 Manitoba Hockey Players of All Time, offers us a look at fifty players that have shaped the history of hockey in Manitoba. Featuring detailed biographies that were extensively researched, interviews both past and present, rare photographs and never-been-told-before stories, this is a must for both fans of local sports or those interested in Manitoba’s history in general.  While some of the names included are obvious choices: greats like Jonathan Toews, Andy Bathgate, Ron Hextall and Bobby Clarke, this is also valuable if you are curious about less-well known players like Bones Raleigh (his poetry was reviewed in the New York Times) or Dan Bain (he played and won some of the earliest Stanley Cups in the 19th century), or Terry Sawchuk (best goaler and crowned #1 player overall by Dilello).
agassiz cover

Were you aware that not too long ago, existed a lake so large it could easily have swallowed our present Great Lakes?  Lake Agassiz was an enormous glacial lake that covered a large chunk of the North American landscape between 14,000 and 8,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age.  This is the story that Bill Redekop wanted to explore when he started writing Lake Agassiz: the Rise and Demise of the World’s Greatest Lake.  Born of the melting ice that had covered North America for millennia, Lake Agassiz was a force of nature for 6,000 years. Its story is one of superlatives: inconceivable tsunamis that bored through solid rock; tributary torrents that gouged huge valleys, and colossal outpourings that created a mini-ice age in Europe.  The book is extensively researched and shows readers the “footprint” that Lake Agassiz left all over the prairie provinces (as well as some American states): from remnants of beaches nowhere near bodies of water, to valleys that were formed by retreating glaciers and left as remnants Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipegosis as we know them today.

Cover image for Out of old Manitoba kitchens
Out of Old Manitoba kitchens by Christine Hanlon is the story of the people and the food they prepared by melding recipes, photographs and narratives of its earliest cooks, including the Indigenous people, Selkirk Settlers and first homesteaders. From wild rice to perogies, smoked goldeye to tourtière, one can find a blend of pioneer cuisine dating back to the fur trade and beyond. See how wave after wave of immigration brought with them their own recipes.  This book is a great read for those who enjoy history, good food, and memories of food prepared on the campfire, the hearth and the cast iron stove, from the trails of the buffalo hunt to the outdoor kitchens of the early settlers.
Cover image for The North End revisited
Finally, John Paskievich’s excellent photography book has just been re-published with an extra 80 photographs chronicling the history and transformation of his native neighbourhood from the 1970’s up to the present.  The North End Revisited also contains interviews with the author exploring different aspects of his work  in chronicling the stories of ordinary Winnipeggers from a very special community.
In the fun read  Snacks: A Canadian Food Historylocal historian Janis Thiessen profiles several iconic Canadian snack food companies, including Old Dutch Potato Chips, Hawkins Cheezies, and chocolatier Ganong.  These companies have developed in distinctive ways, reflecting the unique stories of their founders and their intense connection to specific places.  These stories of salty or sweet confections also reveal a history that is at odds with popular notions of ‘junk food.’  Through over 60 interviews and archival research, Thiessen uncovers the roots of our deep loyalties to different snack foods, what it means to be an independent snack food producer, and the often-quirky ways snacks have been created and marketed, like the “Kids Bids” local TV program where children bid for prizes using empty Old Dutch chips bags.
-Louis-Philippe

The Genius and Weirdness of Jeff VanderMeer

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

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

Borne

borne

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

The Southern Reach Trilogy

Book 1: Annihilation

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

Book 2: Authority

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

Book 2: Acceptance

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

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

Happy Reading!

-Aileen

Canada 150 Years, Anishinaabe 13,000 Years

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

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

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

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Winner of a 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

   

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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