Category Archives: What to Read Next?

Canadian SF & fantasy

This weekend is not only Victoria Day, traditionally the first long weekend of the summer, but also the 34th Keycon–Manitoba’s annual science fiction & fantasy convention.

This year their Guest of Honour is Canadian author Kelley Armstrong. She’s written more than forty books: fantasy, thrillers, and horror for teen and adult readers. WPL is pleased to host her at an author talk at 2 pm today (Friday, May 19) in the Carol Shields Auditorium on the 2nd floor of Millennium Library. Come say hello to  Kelley and discover more about her fictional worlds!

If you’re interested in checking out Keycon, it takes place at the Radisson Hotel May 19 to 21. For more information on special guests, programming, and more, check out their website.

Thinking about Keycon reminded me how many great science fiction and fantasy authors are Canadian, or have strong ties to this country. Here are just a few of them:

 William Gibson–although he was born in the U.S., he’s lived in Canada since 1967– envisioned the concept of cyberspace before it even existed, in his classic debut novel Neuromancer. His work has gradually evolved into near-future stories about the influence of technology and social media on society, which are often eerily accurate. As he pointed out in 2003, “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

 Silvia Moren0-Garcia is a Mexican-Canadian fantasy writer and editor whose books place unsettlingly strange events in down-to-earth settings. In her latest novel, Certain Dark Things, Mexico City is an oasis in a sea of vampires, heavily policed to keep the creatures of the night at bay.

Nalo Hopkinson is another international author–born in Jamaica, she splits her time between California and Canada. Her award-winning novel Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto.

And there are many other Canadian SF & fantasy writers to try. If you enjoy military SF, check out Tanya Huff‘s Confederation series about space marines. Guy Gavriel Kay is famous for his historical fantasy; Robert Charles Wilson‘s mind-bending science fiction often plays with timelines; and Robert Sawyer writes fast-paced, classic SF adventure.

Don’t forget one of the quintessential Canadian authors, Margaret Atwood, either! Several of her classic novels–The Handmaid’s Tale, the MaddAddam trilogy–draw heavily on speculative themes and tropes, even if she claims that she doesn’t write science fiction.

On Victoria Day, hopefully the weather will be perfect to sit out in your backyard, at the neighbourhood park, or on the beach, and crack open a refreshing Canadian read.

Danielle

How Do We Retire With Dignity?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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

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

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About Schmidt directed by Alexander Payne

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

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

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

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

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

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

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

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

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Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Ann Lamott

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

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

Au revoir!

  • Lyle

 

 

Late Night Memories

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

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

I know: I was a weird kid.

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

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

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

Letterman The Last Giant of Late Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Trevor

It’s so nice to hear your voice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

DAVINA PORTER reading from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

KRISTOFFER TABORI reading from Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

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

Many great audiobooks await you! Happy listening!

~ Reegan

Stand up for Science

I recall that it wasn’t long ago that Canadian scientists were being told not to speak up in public about their exciting research. Mmm… when did  evidence-based knowledge become all of a sudden subversive? Now the Trump Administration is doing its best to erode public confidence in science by gutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget, removing all mention of climate change from US government web sites, and cutting money from other science-based programs. By rolling back environmental regulations are they betting that society will be grateful for a few dollars saved while the earth becomes increasingly unlivable? This seems so myopic to me, but I digress. Reviewing recently published scientific books, I am amazed at the quality and quantity of what is coming to our shelves (and e-readers). Apparently scientific learning has not stopped, and the following titles are proof that at least some of us are hopelessly curious at deepening our knowledge of the world we live in, and us who live in it.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the inspirational popularizer of modern science, spoke about the importance of never giving up our desire to understand: “During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore — in part because it’s fun to do. But there’s a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.” Well put.

Here are those promised titles:

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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

“… a book about the joy of discovery. Carlo Rovelli brings a playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, offering surprising–and surprisingly easy to grasp–explanations of Einstein’s general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. ‘Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,’ Rovelli writes. ‘And it’s breathtaking.'”
(Publisher summary)

index.aspx Why Time Flies by Alan Burdick

“In this witty and meditative exploration, award-winning author and New Yorker staff writer Alan Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how time gets in us and why we perceive it the way we do. In the company of scientists, he visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that ‘now’ actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backward. Why Time Flies is an instant classic, a vivid and intimate examination of the clocks that tick inside us all.” (Publisher summary)

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The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

“In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind: a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic movements of the day, from Futurism to Dadaism. A visual artist himself, Rorschach had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.” (Publisher summary)

index.aspx.jpegHit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson

“In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has ‘good taste,’ and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold, yet sneakily recognizable.” (Publisher summary)

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Irresistible: the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked
by Adam Alter

“In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistable. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.” (Publisher summary)

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Climate Change and the Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations by Anthony J. McMichael

“When we think of ‘climate change,’ we think of man-made global warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But natural climate change has occurred throughout human history, and populations have had to adapt to the climate’s vicissitudes. Anthony J. McMichael, a renowned epidemiologist and a pioneer in the field of how human health relates to climate change, is the ideal person to tell this story.” (Publisher summary)

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Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost my Faith and Found It Again Through Science
by Mike McHargue

“In Finding God in the Waves, ‘Science Mike’ draws on his personal experience to tell the unlikely story of how science led him back to faith. Among other revelations, we learn what brain scans reveal about what happens when we pray; how fundamentalism affects the psyche; and how God is revealed not only in scripture but in the night sky, in subatomic particles, and in us.” (Publisher summary)

The Gene Machine: how genetic technologies are changing the way we have kids–and the kids we haveindex-1.aspx.jpeg by Bonnie Rochman

“A sharp-eyed exploration of the promise and peril of having children in an age of genetic tests and interventions. Is screening for disease in an embryo a humane form of family planning or a slippery slope toward eugenics? Should doctors tell you that your infant daughter is genetically predisposed to breast cancer? If tests revealed that your toddler has a genetic mutation whose significance isn’t clear, would you want to know?” (Publisher summary)

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Option B
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

“Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart–and her journal–to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere… and to rediscover joy.” (Publisher summary)

Enjoy your reading and appreciation of science in 2017!

  • Lyle

You Maniacs! You Blew It Up!

So this happened this morning: I was on the phone, making sure this blog post would go according to plan, when the person on the other end started telling me things I didn’t want to hear. My legs went wobbly, I stumbled forward trying to maintain my balance and as the cord on my phone grew taut I fell to my knees and wailed: “You maniacs! You blew it up!”

But I should probably start at the beginning. I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Monday. [Editor’s note: at this point the author goes on to recount his life in a verbose manner that blatantly rips off David Copperfield. It was cut for the sake of brevity and the reader’s sanity.]

It was at this point in my life that I stumbled across Everything That Remains, a memoir that recounts two guys’ journey from a lifestyle of corporate excess to a minimalism. And that was my eureka moment! I would write a blog post about minimalism. My frantic research on the subject quickly drew my attention to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I thought I was set, but to my horror further research revealed it was a #1 New York Times best seller AND over 3 million copies had been sold. Minimalism was mainstream. Too old hat to share with my readers.

I needed a new angle and quick. Wracking my brain resulted in a quote from Everything That Remains. But it wasn’t just a quote. The authors were quoting themselves having a conversation in which they were quoting another book.1 This was my egads moment! The quote nested itself so beautifully it was as if it were straight out of the plot of Inception. And this, I thought, was my lightbulb moment!  For the book they were quoting was Fight Club.

It became so clear: nerd minimalism. I could recommend Inception (the movie) and Fight Club (the book or the movie). One more recommendation and the nerd trifecta would be complete. Following the tenets of minimalism I conducted a thought experiment. If I could keep only one book on my shelf, what would it be? Obviously, the nerdiest book on my shelf. A book so nerdy, many nerds don’t even know this franchise started as a book.

As excited as I was, my lightbulb quickly shattered. When I double-checked the library catalogue to ensure it was available to borrow, it wasn’t.  The last copy had recently been withdrawn. Of course, it’s nobody’s fault. It happens all the time. Books get dirty, and worn, and damaged to the point where they can no longer stay on the shelves. An Old Yeller moment, to be sure, but it has to happen. I made the necessary calls2 to try and get another copy re-ordered and every effort was made, but ultimately, the book is currently out-of-print.

There is a bit of a silver lining. You can borrow the movie, the remake of the movie, the sequel to the movie, the prequel to the remake of the movie, or any number of graphic novels based on the franchise. And, best of all, the truest form of the book is still available to borrow in the original French (which, alas, I cannot read3). Barring all that, you can still see if the library is able to bring in an English translation using our Inter-Library Loans service.

So what is this franchise you ask? Alas, still so distraught are my feels, I can’t yet bring myself to type its name. Though, dear reader, if you Google the title of this blogpost the answer will be revealed. 4

Alan

1Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists (Asymmetrical Press, 2013), p. 90

2See the first paragraph.

3My good friend Tim, who does read French, swears the original version is so much better because the author makes clever use of verb conjugation that just isn’t possible in English. I believe him, mostly because ‘Tim’ is such a trustworthy name.

4“You maniacs! You blew it up!” if you’re too lazy to scroll back up to the top.

Can’t Get Enough Mr. Darcy?

It is a truth universally known that authors take inspiration from works they have read and stories they have heard and loved, this is why there are so many retellings of our favourite stories. Fairy tales and Greek and Roman mythologies are often re-told thousands of times over with unique settings and plots in each version that speak to the author’s and society’s views at the time. Whether they were written to teach lessons as many of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales were or to explain the name of a flower which grows by a pond, all were influenced by how society was perceived at different points in time.

I’m always interested in retellings of fairy tales and mythologies whether they are Young Adult, Children’s or Adult novels, however I am also very much interested in retellings of Classic stories especially those from Jane Austen. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been retold many times over and is still being retold in novels and they themselves are being retold in films. If you are a fan of the classic novel, have read it countless times and are looking for something similar but slightly different, give these books and series a try! Or if you haven’t read the original source material, request your copy here.

Pride & Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

ppz Did you ever read Pride and Prejudice and think, what this books needs is zombies? If so, this book is for you, if not, give it a try, it may surprise you! Keeping the same text but altering it slightly to include a zombie plague that has overrun England and a warrior Elizabeth Bennet, Grahame-Smith’s novel is a wonderful and fun take on the classic with some fantastic illustrations to boot. There is also a film version of the novel that came out recently which you can also check out, though it veers a bit from its source material it’s still a fun picture.

  Austenland by Shannon Hale

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Ever fantasize about living in Jane Austen’s world? In Austenland Jane Hayes is allowed to truly experience the world of Jane Austen thanks to a gift left to her by her recently deceased great aunt. She travels to an exclusive resort where guests can experience the wonder of the regency era and perhaps even some romance of their own. Filled with hilarity, wit and the fun of a Jane Austen novel, Austenland takes many a fan’s dream of meeting Mr. Darcy and turning it into a reality. There has also been a film adaptation of the novel that is also available starring Keri Russell.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – Hoopla digital

ldiaries  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries started out as a web series available through the Pemberley Digital channel on YouTube but has become a phenomenon. Though there are 100 episodes in total they are only around 3 to 10 minutes in length each. This smart, well-acted modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is sure to delight those new to the series, with Lizzie Bennet as a graduate student working on her thesis by creating a vlog with her friend Charlotte, and those who loved the book and are craving more of the story. I have to say my favourite episodes are those of Lizzie and Charlotte Lucas, the actors are hilarious together and their re-enactments and imitations of the other characters are spot-on! If you enjoyed this series, Hoopla also has available the Emma Approved web series which is based on the Jane Austen novel Emma, and is excellent as well.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

eligibleLizzie is a columnist of a beauty magazine, Jane a yoga instructor, Mary and Kitty cross-fit enthusiasts, and Charles Bingley was on a Bachelor-type show. Yes, this is a recent adaptation of Pride & Prejudice which is a bit more risqué and deals with contemporary issues (as retellings often do) yet possesses all the feels of the original.

 

 

 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

bjones  Fielding’s beloved novel follows Bridget Jones, a 30-something woman who has a plan for the year to improve her life: lose weight, stop smoking and find a man. In this novel we follow Bridget along through her success and failures as she laments in personal and extremely funny ways to her diary, be prepared to laugh out loud and even think, “I’ve felt that way before.”

 

 

 

lostinaLost in Austen

This film is yet another fun, fan’s dream come true. Amanda Price, a huge P&P enthusiast finds a portal that takes her into the novel where characters are not all they seemed in the book. Unfortunately her escapade changes things, and if she wants to keep the story as-is she must unite Lizzie and Darcy, but what’s a girl to do when she is falling for Darcy and Lizzie becomes transported into her world? A truly enjoyable series with some modern twists and laugh-out-loud moments.

Pride and Prejudice has also inspired many spin-offs and continuations of the series as well as authors considering the novel from Darcy’s point-of-view, which all make for fun reads. Click here to see all that we have to offer.

Last but not least, I can’t forget the wonderful adaptations of the famed novel. Whether you swooned over Colin Firth when he exited the pond, or were entranced with Keira Knightley’s Oscar nominated performance or love both, the library has you covered here!

Let me know some of your favourite retellings of P&P or other classics in the comments below.

Aileen

2017 Movies which started as Library Books

As the calendar year turns, it’s a great time to reflect back and to look forward. One of my favourite things at this time is to discover new movies on the horizon. Often the best are based on solid novels otherwise known as library books. Which books have been chosen to be made into new, hopefully insightful and thrilling movies in 2017? Many are coming, but here are just a few for your consideration. How best to prepare? Read or reread the book (or at least a good book review).

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Silence by Shusaku Endo

“The most important novel of the acclaimed Japanese author Shusako Endo caused a major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967. Now with a forward by Martin Scorsese (the movie’s director). A Japanese Catholic, Endo tells the story of two 17th-century missionaries attempting to shore up the oppressed Japanese Christian movement. Father Rodriques has come to Japan to find the truth behind unthinkable rumors that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. But after his arrival he discovers that the only way to help the brutally persecuted Christians may be to apostatize himself.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson
Release: January 6

 

Dennis-Lehane.jpgLive By Night by Dennis Lehane

“From New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane comes this epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties–now a Warner Bros. movie. Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades Lehane consistently receives are well deserved.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller
Release: January 13

 

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The Gunslinger  by Stephen King

“‘An impressive work of mythic magnitude that may turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), The Gunslinger is the first volume in the epic Dark Tower Series.

“A #1 national bestseller, The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,’ The Gunslinger is ‘a fresh compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center’ (Milwaukee Sentinal). It is ‘brilliant and fresh…and will leave you panting for more’ (Booklist).” (Publisher summary)
Stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba
Release: July 28

 

The-mountain-between-us-by-charles-martin.jpgThe Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

“Flying together on a storm-ravaged night are a surgeon facing a painful separation from his wife and a young magazine writer on her way to her wedding. When their plane crashes in a frigid and remote mountain wilderness, they must learn, as week follows week without rescue, to rely on each other for their mutual survival.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet
Release: October 20

 

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Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

“Fourth-grade class clowns George Beard and Harold Hutchins have created the greatest superhero in the history of the elementary school — and now they’re going to bring him to life! Meet Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret even HE doesn’t know who he is!” (Publisher summary)
Stars Kevin Hart, Kristen Schaal, and Nick Kroll
Release: June 2

 


It
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“It’s a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real. In 1958, the small town of Derry, Maine, is shaken by a series of brutal murders targeting children. That fateful summer, seven kids are drawn together in a fierce bond of friendship to face a force of unspeakable evil. Unsure if they have vanquished the nightmarish creature that lurks in Derry’s sewers, they vow to return should IT ever reappear. Twenty-seven years later, when the murder cycle begins again, they are summoned back to their hometown, reunited for a final, decisive battle against the reawakened evil. Winner of the British Fantasy Award and the bestselling book in America when it was published in 1986, It is Stephen King’s incomparable epic about evil in all its forms and that which it cannot destroy.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, and Jaeden Lieberher
Release: September 8

 

The-Breadwinner-by-Deborah-Ellis.jpgThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

“Afghanistan: Parvana’s father is arrested and taken away by the Taliban soldiers. Under Taliban law, women and girls are not allowed to leave the house on their own. Parvana, her mother, and sisters are prisoners in their own home. With no man to go out to buy food, they face starvation. So Parvana must pretend to be a boy to save her family. It is a dangerous plan, but their only chance. In fear, she goes out – and witnesses the horror of avoiding landmines, and the brutality of the Taliban. She suffers beatings and the desperation of trying to survive. But even in despair lies hope.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Soma Bhatia, Ali Kazmi and Kane Mahon
Release: 2017

 


The Long Home
by William GayThe-Long-Home-by-William-Gay.jpg

“In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine – until he learns of it first-hand.” (Publisher summary)
Stars James Franco, Josh Hartnett, Josh Hutcherson, Ashton Kutcher, Timothy Hutton and Courtney Love
Release: 2017

Happy reading and viewing!

  • Lyle

Book Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

A few days before his prison term is supposed to end, Shadow is brought before the Warden. In three years, he’s only seen the Warden once. Shadow is worried that something has happened, he feels that the authorities will find a reason to deny him his freedom. To his surprise he learns that he’s being released a few days early, then the Warden tells him, “…your wife died.”  The life that was waiting for Shadow is gone. The home he shared with Laura, his recently deceased wife, no longer has any appeal. It’s no longer their home, it’s simply a place that’s filled with possessions and memories – memories that are too painful to think about.

American Gods

After Shadow leaves prison, he makes his way to the airport and boards a plane, bound for Eagle Point. After waking from a strange dream he disembarks and learns that his flight has been redirected to St. Louis. Shadow hurries to catch his next flight – missing this plane means missing his wife’s funeral. A seating error results in him getting bumped to First Class. There he meets a mysterious man who calls himself Wednesday, and unbeknownst to Shadow, his life is about to change forever.

‘American Gods’, written by Neil Gaiman, is a story where legendary beings, those who possess great and terrible power, sing karaoke – and where ancient deities seduce men into worshiping them. It is a fantasy story that borrows from folk tales and mythology, and sets it in the modern world. We learn about pixies and how they arrived in the New World, and encounter a djinn who is struggling to survive in a world that’s forgotten his kind. As the story progresses – you begin to ask yourself questions such as; how does a God make its way in the electronic age? How would you interact with a being that’s witnessed countless battles, floods and famines? Would you believe someone if they told you they were thousands of years old? Could you ignore someone perform incredible feats, or would you start to think outside of the box and open your mind to the possibility that magic does exist.

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Released back in 2001, ‘American Gods’ is available in hardcover, paperback, and streaming audiobook on Hoopla. There is also a ten year anniversary edition available which features the author’s preferred text and has an additional 12,000 words. Daunting? Perhaps. But speaking as someone who’s read both the original and the author’s preferred text, I can honestly say that Mr. Gaiman added more depth to story and fleshed out some of the characters – which made it even more enjoyable. Last but not least, there is an upcoming TV show based on the novel, which is scheduled to air on Starz, in 2017. The author himself collaborated with the production of the series and is excited about it – which I think is the BEST endorsement anyone could give.

– Daniel Bohémier

Our gift to readers

In our annual contribution to the season, Winnipeg Public Library staff have put our heads together to come up with a list of our favourite reads of 2016. Some of these books were published this year, some are older titles that we discovered recently; all of them come highly recommended.

Want to see how our previous choices stack up? Check out WPL’s staff picks for 2015 and 2014. And if that’s not enough for you, here’s an ever-growing annual compilation of hundreds of 2016 “best of” lists.

Fiction we loved

Brian chose The Lamentations of Zeno by Ilija Trojanow, a “sparse but deeply affecting novel” that takes the reader to the Antarctic through the eyes of an aging glaciologist turned cruise ship guide.

Carolyn has read Dexter Palmer’s Version Control twice and will probably read it again, finding it enjoyable from multiple angles: “intriguing time-travel plot, satisfying existential questions, and some almost understandable hard science.”

revenantAccording to Chris, The Revenant by Michael Punke (inspiration for the recent movie of the same name) grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until the final shot.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was Derek‘s favourite book–“a vivid, brilliant exploration of the devastating effects of war on the lives of two individuals.”

Jane says that Rules for a Knight (written in the form of a letter to his children by author and actor Ethan Hawke) provides a compass for living an upright and noble life and is “a perfect gem to slip into anyone’s stocking.”

Kim loves Zoe Whittall’s books and couldn’t put down her latest, The Best Kind of People, about a family’s experience of going from the “perfect family” to being ostracized by almost everyone in their hometown.

heartEvery Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire answered a question Melanie has had since she was a little girl: what happens to children who fall through portals to fantasy worlds after they return home?

Monica chose Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest for its dysfunctional, relatable family and New York setting.

breakMonique calls local writer Katherena Vermette’s first novel The Break “a story of family and community connections, trauma, and so much love… will leave anyone who reads it wanting more.”

 

Non-fiction of all kinds

Christian Bök’s poetry collection The Xenotext is “Ovid neo-structuralist hard-science futurism with bees” or, as Aaron puts it, “kinda weird.”

Elke considered Animal Factory by David Kirby “non fiction that reads like a thriller–a story about how the hunger for cheap meat and dairy has become a threat to the environment and public health.”

Franca enjoyed the wry sense of humour in Allen Kurzweil’s Whipping Boy, and how Kurzweil’s initial curiosity about what became of the schoolmate who bullied him turned into a decades-long search bordering on obsession.

According to Hugh, Capturing Hill 70: Canada’s Forgotten Battle is “a must for anyone with the slightest interest in Canada’s role in the First World War”, covering the key details of this lesser-known battle in which thousands of Manitoban soldiers fought.

lonelyJacqui says The Lonely City by Olivia Laing is “a thought-provoking blend of art history and memoir” that looks at loneliness in visual art, and how that feeling can be exposed by art as well as eased.

Julianna was inspired to reread the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman after the recent Anne Frank exhibit at Millennium Library, calling it “especially potent given today’s hyperbolic and fearful rhetoric.”

Although The Book of Tea was written in 1906, Larisa found that Kakuzo Okakura’s thoughts on serious social issues associated with modernization, globalization, and the preservation of culture remain extremely topical today.

Melissa remembers Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley as “a hilarious delusional read… a beautiful fairy tale that inspires hope.” (Sarcasm, perhaps?)

twoNadine appreciated The House with the Broken Two by Myrl Coulter, a very personal story of giving up her child by a woman who grew up in Winnipeg and became pregnant in 1967 out of wedlock.

 

 

For young(ish) readers

Brianna R. Shrum’s YA novel Never Never was Katherine‘s choice: a retelling of the story of Peter Pan in which James Hook follows Pan to Neverland, only to realize there’s no way back to London…

Lauren picked the YA graphic novel series Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (and a host of talented artists) as “a sassy, clever, girl-powered adventure that can genuinely be enjoyed by all ages.”

applesApples and Robins by Lucie Felix is a charming and magical picture book using shapes to show an apple tree through the four seasons of the year. Lori says it will “make you smile and think of spring even in the midst of winter.”

Madeleine‘s favourite book this year was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, a YA title set during WWII which tells the amazing and heart-wrenching story of a friendship between two young women, a spy and a transport pilot.

And Wendy chose Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier, “a thrilling adventure story complete with unlikely heroes, duplicitous villains, and magical tomes that can tell you things about yourself that even you didn’t know.”

Here’s to many more great new reads in the New Year!

Danielle