Category Archives: What to Read Next?

Pride & Prejudice 2.0: The Expanded World of Jane Austen

 

Book

Ever notice that when you’re feeling a bit low you have a tendency to reach for something that is comfortable and familiar? Lately, that means a trip into the world of Jane Austen for a bit of a pick me up. Yet every time I pick up one of the six texts, I find myself asking the same question, what happened next? Our heroes and heroines found their partners; there was a big wedding, lots of happy tears, but then what? Did they live happily ever after or did they separate? Did any of the supporting characters find a partner or were they doomed for spinsterhood? Now Jane Austen did answer a few of those questions in letters to family and friends, but I prefer reading about the adventures that occurred after the books end. Thankfully, where Jane Austen has failed me, many great writers and fans of her work have taken it upon themselves to pick up the stories where they left off. Here are a few of my favourites.

ColonelsThe Three Colonels: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men By Jack Caldwell brings together Colonel Fitzwilliam (Darcy’s cousin), Colonel Brandon (Sense & Sensibility) and introduces Colonel Buford. Brandon is happily married to Marianne, while Fitzwilliam and Buford pursue Lady Anne and Caroline Bingley respectively. But when the men are suddenly recalled into active service in the aftermath of Napoleon’s escape from exile, will love triumph over war? I found this book to be a wonderful read and somewhat hilarious in the fact that a new character had to be created to partner with Caroline. For any of you who have seen Lost in Austen, the film gives several new twists, including presenting Caroline as a lesbian, thus justifying her insistence on Darcy’s wealth and position over the man himself.  It just goes to show that anything can happen in these newer interpretations.

AssemblyAn Assembly Such as This By Pamela Aidan for the time, presents Darcy’s perspective regarding the events in Pride & Prejudice. The first of a trilogy, I found Pamela’s insight into the mind of Darcy to be rather refreshing. His emotions for Elizabeth and turmoil over the presence of Wickham take on a clarity that has not been seen before. Duty and Desire focuses on the time that is never spoken of in the book, which concerns Darcy’s struggles with his attraction to Elizabeth, while also taking care of both Pemberley and his social engagements in London.  While the novel may read like a swashbuckling adventure, I must admit, it was quite enjoyable. These Three Remain picks up with Elizabeth’s rejection of Darcy’s proposal, leading Darcy to self-reflect and become a better man due to her refusal.  When Elizabeth appears at Pemberley, Darcy feels as if he has been offered a second chance, but when Wickham threatens Elizabeth’s happiness, it is up to Darcy to find a way of making things right. While Pamela stays pretty close to the text, she manages to shed new light on characters and situations which answers the question as to what else was happening.

Rock starFitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star By Heather Lynn Rigaud, as the title suggests, takes the reader away from the Regency period and places Darcy and Elizabeth in the middle of the modern world. Darcy is the guitarist for Slurry, the newest all male rock group to take the world by storm. Elizabeth is the lead singer for Long Borne Suffering, the new opening female act for Slurry. But Slurry’s bad boy image may prove to be too much for the new girls on the block, unless some new understandings are reached. Since we are in the modern world, only the names and circumstances reflect the actual text. But I found the text to be a nice light read, as opposed to the above trilogy, which basically asked if the core of Pride & Prejudice could endure a complete transplant. It can, which proves that the heart of a good story can survive just about any major change.

ZombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies By Seth Grahame-Smith, despite its title, is probably the most faithful to the original text. What would happen to our well-sung heroes if they were presented with a new challenge that altered the society in which they lived but did not affect its mentality? In a nutshell, Seth added zombies to the world of Regency England. Yet despite their undead presence, society refuses to yield its moral stance on marriage, good manners and changes within the social classes. What’s a girl to do when she and her sisters can slay a small zombie army yet still be criticized for the society that they keep? While this may not be the most imaginative version of Pride & Prejudice, it is certainly highly entertaining. If you feel that you need a lighter version of this story, take a look at the graphic novel, or better yet the new film with Lily James (Downton Abbey’s cousin Rose) and Sam Riley (Maleficent’s Diaval).

This list is by no means exhaustive, so type in Jane Austen or Darcy, books or films in the search engine and find yourself in a world that moves just a bit slower then our own. Happy Reading! (or watching as the case may be).

  • Katherine
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One Thing Leads to Another

So many books, so little time.
― Frank Zappa

There are a lot of great things about working in a library, but one of the best is having someone recommend a book. There’s nothing like the expression on someone’s face when they hand you a book and open the conversation with: “You have to read this!” The one thing that’s better than reading a good book is talking with someone about a good book, and the conversation only gets better when you don’t have to worry about spoilers.

For the past couple of years there has  been an annual Reader’s Salon blog post with submissions by library staff for the best book they’ve read that year. While I always enjoy reading the blogs my co-workers write, I look forward to this particular post with special anticipation. I make a point of prioritizing reading as many of the titles as I can, and I find that reading just one book from that list leads me into all sorts of intriguing directions. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of the books I’ve discovered after reading some of the selections from the post Our Gift to Readers, posted December 7 2016.

After reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr I picked up The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway. This book also personalizes the tragedy of war by telling the story of civilians that must try to survive in a war zone. Don’t make the mistake that I did of reading this book in a public place. I had a very kind and concerned stranger ask me why I was crying, and in response all I could do was hold up the book.

Light                                                        cellist

Many of you know Katherena Vermette through her book of poems, North End Love Songs. I loved her novel The Break, as well, but did you know that she’s also written some terrific books for children? Each one has a unique message for young and not so young readers alike. The one that is the mostly timely for this time of year is The First Day. It’s part of the Seven teaching stories series, and tells the story of Makwa, a little boy who who is frightened about starting a new school. Not all of us have to worry about facing the first day of school anymore, but all of us need to find courage in dealing with scary situations.

As an Ethan Hawke fan from way back I was so pleased to discover that in addition to his many other talents he can also write. Rules for a Knight led me to try and find other books about leading a more examined, mindful life. I found How to Walk and other books by Thich Nhất Hạnh to be tremendously helpful in this endeavour. As in Ethan Hawke’s book, the principles are stated and illustrated in a way that stays in your mind and gets into your heart.

rules                                                         how to

I did my best to read Every Heart a Doorway slowly, to make the magic last as long as possible, but like all stories it did eventually come to an end. However, after finishing it I was delighted to discover that Seanan McGuire has written a number of other books, and that there’s a sequel to Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Seanan McGuire also publishes under the name Mira Grant, but that’s a topic for another blog.

downevery

 

This isn’t a complete list by any means, as I’m still in the midst of reading and waiting to read a number of the other titles from that post. As always, I’m very curious as to where that will lead me. To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins, it’s a dangerous business to open a book, there’s no telling where you’ll end up.

-Lori

Fall into Programming

Now that summer is (sadly) winding down we are picking right back up with our fall programming, and we have plenty to offer! Whether your interest lies in local history, studying Genealogy, starting a small business, improving your computer skills, joining a book club or watching some excellent movies, we have you covered! Check out our latest At the Library newsletter for dates, information and registration instructions for these fantastic programs!

September also marks some major programming happening at the Millennium Library, including our continued partnership with the Winnipeg International Writers Festival: Thin Air. During the week of the festival the Millennium Library will be hosting two events every day from Monday September 25 to Friday September 29.

Want to listen to a reading and ask questions over your lunch hour? From 12:15-12:45PM in the Carol Shields Auditorium, come on down to The Nooner where every day a different author will read from their book and answer questions. Feel free to bring your lunch! Have time after your busy day to continue thought-provoking conversations? From 4:30-5:30PM in the Carol Shields Auditorium, come to our Big Ideas program where non-fiction books are featured with thought-provoking topics.

Here is a list of the books being featured during our Thin Air programs.

The Nooner:

Monday, September 25

herriot   Towards A Prairie Atonement by Trevor Herriot

Author Trevor Herriot defended the protection of what little remains of the natural prairie only to find an injustice haunting those lands.

Tuesday, September 26

Once More With Feeling by Méira Cook         meiracook

A novel about a community, about a family, and about the way time makes fond fools of us all by the excellent Méira Cook.

Wednesday, September 27

The Weary Generations by Abdullah Hussein (1931-2015) by Raza Naeem

The classic of Urdu literature about the upheavals of the Partition era that lead to the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh is revamped with a new edition by Raza Naeem.

Thursday, September 28

Best Canadian Sports Writing edited by Pasha Malla, co-edited with Stacey May Fowles

Literary sports writing from diverse talent demonstrates why sports mean so much to us and what they say about our broader culture.

Friday, September 29

lawson   But It’s So Silly: A Cross-Cultural Collage of Nonsense, Play and Poetry by JonArno Lawson

How does North America approach childhood compared to the rest of the world, and what might we gain from looking more closely at that approach are the topics which Lawson explores in his book.

Big Ideas:

Monday, September 25

conrad   Among the Walking Wounded: Soldiers, Survival, and PTSD by Colonel John Conrad

PTSD serves as a stark reminder that, for many, wars go on long after the last shot is fired.

Tuesday, September 26

The Patch by Chris Turner     turner

Fort McMurray and the oil sands in northern Alberta face uncertainty with two conflicting worldviews, environmental and industrial, in Turner’s exploration of the conflict.

Wednesday, September 27

The Effective Citizen: How to Make Politicians Work for You by Graham Steele

How do politicians think and what factors influence their thinking? Graham Steele explores these questions in his new book.

Thursday, September 28

wray   Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray

Creating a woolly mammoth sounds amazing and fascinating, however what are the real-world implications? Jurassic Park meets The Sixth Extinction in Wray’s provocative book.

Friday, September 29

The Unravelling: How our caregiving safety net came unstrung and we were left grasping at threads, struggling to plait a new one by Clem Martini and Olivier Martini

One family’s journey with mental illness, dementia and caregiving told by the two brothers who lived it.

 

We also have a couple of extra Thin Air programs that may interest you:

Outriders: Digging into Our History. Katherena Vermette and Harry Giles discuss their travels around Canada and Scotland from a writer’s perspective. This event takes place on Monday, September 25 at 1:30PM (shortly after The Nooner) in the Carol Shields Auditorium at the Millennium Library and is open to everyone.

Finally we have Translate That! An open event in which translators present on the linguistic divide when it comes to translating certain books into English. This program takes place on Saturday, September 30 at 1:00PM in the Anhang Room at the Millennium Library.

All these programs are free to attend and require no registration, just drop in!

-Aileen

For all Thin Air programming and information, visit their website at thinairwinnipeg.ca

 

Summer Spooktacle

Summer is a time of sunshine, sand, ice cream, and s’mores around the campfire. There is nothing quite like sitting around a toasty fire while staring up at the stars, listening to the rustling of the wind in the trees while someone tells a scary story.

If you want to keep the spooky times rolling even after your summer vacation is over (if you ask me, it’s never too early to start getting ready for Halloween!), check out items in the list below, guaranteed to bring that campfire feeling into your home! Maybe leave the fire outside, though.

 The Curse of the Wendigo by Nick Yancey

In book 2 of the Monstrumologist series, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancée to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied?

If you’ve never encountered the Wendigo in your reading, it’s well worth checking this one out. It’s one of the creepiest folkloric creatures I’ve run into in my reading adventures!

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Speaking as someone who recently missed a turn and then found herself driving on a deserted highway surrounded by marsh, and then on a lonely dirt road through endless cornfields, all under a partially cloud-covered full moon, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that you might see a ghostly figure along the side of the road.

Haunted highways are a classic amongst urban legends. You might recognize some of these popular titles: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

In fact, in Sparrow Hill Road, she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom.

If you’re feeling brave, feel free to bring this along as your next road trip read!

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

Killer mermaids and ghost ships, anyone?

When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses. They didn’t expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn’t expect those mermaids to have teeth.

As a novella, this book is a nice, quick read, perfect for the beach!

And if you enjoy this one, keep an eye out for the next book in the series, Into the Drowning Deep.

Gravity Falls by Alex Hirsch

Twelve year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are off to spend the summer with their gruff Great Uncle (‘Grunkle’) Stan who runs the tacky tourist trap, ‘Mystery Shack.’ The kids uncover mysterious surprises, unsurpassed silliness, and supernatural shenanigans lurking around every corner of the deceptively sleepy little town.

This is a fun series for younger fans of things that go bump in the night, and you just can’t go wrong with shenanigans!

Supernatural

This television series got its start in the folklore and myths that created all of the really great campfire tales. The main characters, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester, seek out and fight supernatural forces in an attempt to find their mysteriously missing father and the person or force responsible for their mother’s death. In the process, you’ll meet recognizable characters, some of whom have already appeared on this list, such as the Phantom Traveler and the Wendigo.

These are just a few of the spooky stories we have at the library, so don’t worry horror fans, you won’t run out!

Maybe you’ve got some other favourite tales that you like to share with friends. If so, leave a comment below, I’d love to know what they are!

Happy reading,

Megan

For Science!

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

thingwithfeathers.jpg

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

 

wickedplants.jpgWickedbugs.jpg drunkenbotanist.jpg

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

icontainmultitudes.jpg

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

 

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

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

For Science!

Laura

*This may be both a gross oversimplification and exaggeration

**absolutely not a real guarantee

What’s New in the Local History Room?

It’s time to take a look at some of the recent arrivals in the Local History Room.

 

Cover image for Riel's defence : perspectives on his speeches

 

 

Though the great waves of unidentified flying objects sightings is behind us, the phenomenon still intrigues to this day. Fifty years ago this year, Winnipegger Stefan Michalak claimed to have had an encounter with a mysterious aircraft that left him seriously injured.  When They appeared: Falcon Lake, 1967, The Inside Story of a Close Encounter was written by his son Stan and UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski. It includes Stefan’s original account of the encounter and relates how him and his family dealt with the government investigation and the extensive media coverage that followed. The book reviews the evidence left at the site, includes copies of transcripts of interviews and reports made at the time by the RCMP and other agencies, as well as tell Stan’s personal experiences and how the incident shaped his youth.

 

Cover image for From the outside in : Jewish Post & News columns, 2015-2016

From the Outside in: Jewish Post & News Columns, 2015-2016 is a collection of columns written by Joanne Seiff for Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News. These cover a wide range of topics of interest from raising children, social justice to the keeping of religious practices.  The author also includes anecdotes about her personal experiences, notably about moving to unfamiliar Winnipeg from the States and how they adapted.

 

Cover image for The Seven Oaks reader
On June 19th, 1816 an event occurred that had a pivotal impact on the history of what would become Manitoba (even if it has somewhat receded from our collective memory). This was the of Battle of Seven Oaks that broke out between rival hunting parties of the fur trade companies (the Hudson Bay and North West) that were vying for control of the territory.  The Seven Oaks Reader by Myrna Kostash offers a comprehensive retelling of the Fur Trade Wars. The book incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources.

 

And to conclude, in The Forks, a Meeting Place Transformed by Sheila Grover you can learn about the early history of The Forks, the fur trade and railway eras, and the transformation from an industrial site into one of Winnipeg’s most popular gathering places. The book also includes a self-guided tour of the historic and contemporary buildings and landscapes. This is an ideal title to learn about how much the Forks have changed, especially in the last decades.

 
Come to the Local History Room and check it out!
 
– Louis-Philippe

So What’s New?

Well, we’ve got a list for that. Savvy library users know that finding the Library’s latest purchases is just a click away.  Head on over to the main page of our catalogue and visit the “New Titles” page where you will find our purchases from the previous 3 months – all ages and physical formats.  Scrolling through these lists is great fun and helps give an idea of the wide range of materials collected by the Library.

For example, in June 450 titles were added to our non-fiction collection for adults.  Here’s a sampling. Enjoy!

Beyond Trans : Does Gender Matter?
by Heath Fogg Davis

City on Edge: A Rebellious Century of Vancouver Protests, Riots, and Strikes
by Kate Bird


Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump
by Laura  Ingraham

Killer: My Life in Hockey
by Doug Gilmour

Lou Reed : A Life
by Anthony DeCurtis

Powerful Readers: Thinking Strategies to Guide Literacy Instruction in Secondary Classrooms
by Kyla Hadden and Adrienne Gear

Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention
by Jaskiran K. Dhillon

-Monique

The Legacy of Wonder Woman

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

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

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

Catwoman

catwoman

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

Supergirl

supergirl

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

The X-Men with Jean Grey and Storm

jeangrey    storm

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

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy

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

Anita Blake

anitablake

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

 

Wonder Woman

wonderwoman

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

 

 

And check out this new release:

wonderwoman2

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

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

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

Aileen

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