Category Archives: What to Read Next?

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

BookFest! The Bookiest of Days!

[Yes, we know ‘bookiest’ isn’t a word – but we couldn’t find the perfect one, so we made one up.]

We are super excited to have put together a really special event – our first ever BookFest is just two weeks away on Saturday, November 19! What is a book fest? Well I’m glad you asked. It’s a smorgasbord of prairie book goodness taking over the second floor of Millennium Library, brought to you by Winnipeg Public Library as well as the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers, and generously funded by the Winnipeg Public Library Board. There are tons of things planned:

1-handwrittenBook Tastings

Like a wine tasting — but with books! We will provide small yummy samples of new and top titles in prairie fiction and non-fiction. A sure way to find new favourites, with one of the showcased books up for grabs at every ‘tasting’.
Running time is 11 am – 4 pm in the Anne Smigel Room (second floor, west side of the library).

Here are the 30-minute seatings:

11-11:30 am Life and Death: notable new memoirs & mysteries

12-12:30 pm Past and Present: compelling local history and military must-reads

1-1:30 pm Fact and Fiction: hot (and hidden gems) in non-fiction and fiction

3-3:30 pm Turtle Island Reads: new and classic Indigenous titles

2How to Judge a Book by Its Cover

I’ve started to notice a trend in what books pique my interest enough to pick them up (bold colours, retro photographs). What kind of cover makes you reach for a particular book? How does a publisher choose which cover to use? Why do so many book covers feature headless people, anyway? Charlene Diehl of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival will lead a discussion 2-3 pm in the Carol Shields Auditorium featuring cover designers from Doowah Design and Mel Matheson, Librarian Barbara Bourrier-Lacroix, and Jamis Paulson of Turnstone Press.

See what I mean by a headless cover?

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3-2Book Fair

Tables and tables and tables of local authors and publishers scattered around the second floor, with prize draws every hour! From 11 am to 4 pm.

number-4   Colour & Create

Anishinaabe artist Jackie Traverse will be showcasing her brand new Indigenous colouring book, Sacred Feminine. Colouring sheets will be available to try out. From 11 am to 4 pm in Wii ghoss.

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number-5-handwritten     Book Club Corner

We know you’re always searching for good book club picks and we’ve got titles your group will love (or love to discuss, at any rate)! Plus, enter to win a set of 10 copies of The Opening Sky and an appearance by its author Joan Thomas at your book club!

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 And Even More Books!

Just in case you weren’t already staggering under armloads and lists of to-read books, there’s still more! Displays of recommended reads on different themes will be stashed throughout the second floor, including a selection of titles personally curated (so fancy) by our Writers-in-Residence, Christine Fellows and John K. Samson!

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See you Saturday, November 19 all over the second floor, Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street!!

 

 

 

Charleswood Staff Picks

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Fiction and memoirs, movies and music. Whatever it is, there’s a library staff member who loves it. Many WPL branches have displays of the top choices of the folks who work there, and Charleswood Library is one of them. Now that it’s getting chilly, and thoughts are turning to taking some inside time with a good book, we thought we’d share our number one, top-of-the-top choices with you all in cyberland. But there’s lots more to share, so if you’re in the neighborhood, please come by to browse the rest of our display.

Candice’s top pick:

My recommendation is The Fireman by Joe Hill. I really enjoy this author, because his style is reminiscent of his father’s (Stephen King), but still clearly his own.

Ian’s top pick:

My staff pick would be an upcoming book club selection, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.  I like all of Larson’s books, but this one especially.  He’s a master of suspense, yet solely writes non-fiction literature – if that’s a thing.  His books read more like thrillers than histories.  As in all his books, he carefully follows two seemingly separate stories (in this case it’s life on an early 20th century luxury liner and life on a WWI German U-Boat – hugely and starkly different realities – one can practically smell the lavender soap on the Lusitania, and the watery grease in the submarine), whose narratives eventually collide in the most earth-shattering of ways.

Danielle’s top pick:

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Any Louise Penny book is great! Her novels are set in “Three Pines” Quebec with a slew of interesting characters and the protagonist, an Inspector Gamache, is a detective who solves murders.

Michael’s top pick:

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

If you’re curious about small farms and the push towards sustainability, this broad ranging book brings the cumulative wit and wisdom of Salatin, and details the life of his multigenerational farm in Virginia. He goes deep to explain his can’t-hold-back antipathy toward the way modern agriculture has impacted our way of life.

Sarah’s top pick:

Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi

Kobayashi has a sharp eye for the poetic in the everyday, and for the small resonant truths that gleam amidst the seemingly mundane.” [From Goose Lane Edition’s website].

Ingrid’s top pick:

A book that I have recommended many times is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I also just finished The Lake House by Kate Morton, and would highly recommend both titles.  If you enjoy reading books with beautiful settings, where the past and present intertwine, and that have an element of mystery thrown in, then you will thoroughly enjoy books by Kate Morton.  Her stories are captivating and the author keeps you guessing as the story slowly unravels.  In The Forgotten Garden a young women named Cassandra searches for her true identity and discovers her family’s history and secrets that have been hidden for generations.

Shelley’s top pick:

Under One Roof : Lessons I Learned From A Tough Old Woman In A Little Old House by Barry Martin

A heartwarming true story about a feisty octogenarian, that refuses to leave her tiny home as a Super Mall is constructed around her. Despite the offer of millions of dollars, Edith Macefield, stubbornly stands her ground as construction foreman Barry Martin, helps her maintain her dignity and respect in the true spirit of human kindness.

Erica’s top pick:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A seemingly simple story of an lovable ragtag crew  and their patchwork ship (think Firefly), trying to make an honest living building wormholes while facing questions of what it means to be human in a universe filled with other species; invoking questions of sameness and difference, aggression and peace, friendship and family.

Tegan’s top pick:

My pick is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. This book is the perfect fall read, twins Julia and Valentina inherit their Aunt Elspeth’s London apartment and find their lives intertwining with the peculiar residents of the apartment block. I love to recommend it because it has classic ghost story elements coupled with modern characters, and is set in the spooky Highgate Cemetery in London. Niffenegger does an amazing job of bringing the characters to life, and making you feel like you’re there in the cemetery as well.

 

Happy reading!

– Charleswood Library staff (pictured below)

Top Spooky Picks of 2016

“I could make you scared, if you want me to.” The Tragically Hip

Halloween is just around the corner, so maybe you’re in the mood for something a little creepy or spooky to curl up with this evening?

Here are some of the most popular HORROR novels published in 2016.

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

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You know you’ve made it as a horror novelist when Stephen King says your book “scared the living hell” out of him. Even though this book’s title sounds like it belongs in the Hardy Boys series, it is a dark tale about the disappearance of 13 year old Tommy Sanderson and the ensuing search to find him. Steeped in the history and lore of New England, this book would satisfy those of us who binge-watched Stranger Things on Netflix over the summer and tide us over until season 2 of that series is released.

the-fireman[1]The Fireman by Joe Hill

I already wrote a separate blog post about this great thriller back in June, so I won’t say too much more here. If a post-apocalyptic world resulting from an epidemic of spontaneous combustion is your thing, I highly recommend this read. Also, it’s written by Stephen King’s son, who is rapidly emerging as a force of nature in his own right.

 

Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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This is the English language debut of the best-selling Dutch novelist, Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Here’s the premise: a picturesque town in the Hudson Valley, Black Spring, is ACTUALLY HAUNTED by the Black Rock Witch, a 17th century woman who has her eyes and mouth sewn shut. The witch moves among the townspeople, and has become almost accepted as a part of life there. The power of the hex is that no one is ever allowed to leave the town, and legend has it if the stitches are ever cut open, everyone in the town will die. The town elders have quarantined the town to prevent the spread of the hex, but some teens are starting to question the legend. It’s a great mix of the supernatural intermingled with every day small town life.

End of Watch by Stephen King

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Okay, so technically this one isn’t a HORROR novel, but it’s Stephen King so I felt like I should include it. It’s actually the third book in a trilogy with retired police detective Bill Hodges, so if I were you I’d go back and read the first two, Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, before tackling this one. And yes, elements of the supernatural weave their way into this third book so I feel okay recommending it.

Happy reading and Happy Halloween, everybody!

Trevor

The Scotiabank Giller Prize’s 2016 Shortlist!

The Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Canadian literary award announced each November, is a great way to compile a Christmas gift wish list – for friends or yourself. If you are interested in reading or promoting new Canadian literature this is a great place to start. This shortlist of 6 titles was chosen from a longlist of 12 books announced in September. (The 12, in turn, came from a list of 161 titles submitted by publishers from every region of the country.) And the 2016 winner will be announced at a televised ceremony hosted by CBC’s Steve Patterson on November 7. Which one would you nominate to receive the Prize this year? And which one will you consider giving to a loved one this Xmas? I have my eye on the Gary Barwin novel about the wise, satirical parrot!

awad-13-ways-of-looking-at-a-fat-girl.jpg 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

“Everyone loves Lizzie. She is the confidant, the late night go-to, and she is always there and hungry for attention. Lizzie becomes even more obsessed and needy when she no longer feels insecure about being overweight and it becomes painfully obvious that she will always feel bad about herself. A candid and sad look at how we mistreat people with different body types.”

barwin-yiddish-for-pirates.jpg Yiddish for Pirates by Gary Barwin

“Yiddish for Pirates is a hilarious, swashbuckling yet powerful tale of pirates, buried treasure and a search for the Fountain of Youth, told in the ribald, philosophical voice of a 500-year-old Jewish parrot. Set in the years around 1492, the book recounts the compelling story of Moishe, a Bar Mitzvah boy who leaves home to join a ship’s crew, where he meets Aaron, the polyglot parrot who becomes his near-constant companion… Rich with puns, colourful language, post-colonial satire and Kabbalistic hijinks, Yiddish for Pirates is also a compelling examination of morality, memory, identity and persecution from one of this country’s most talented writers.”

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

“A village in 1850s Ireland is baffled by Anna O’Donnell’s fast. A little girl appears to be thriving after months without food, and the story of this ‘wonder’ has reached fever pitch. Tourists flock in droves to the O’Donnell family’s modest cabin, and an international journalist is sent to cover the sensational story. Enter Lib, an English nurse trained by Florence Nightingale, who is hired to keep watch for two weeks and determine whether or not Anna is a fraud. As Anna deteriorates, Lib finds herself responsible not just for the care of a child, but for getting to the root of why the child may actually be the victim of murder in slow motion.”

whittall-the-best-kind-of-people.jpg The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

“George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?”

thien-do-not-say-we-have-nothing.jpg Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien

“An extraordinary novel set in China before, during and after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Madeleine Thien’s new novel is breathtaking in scope and ambition even as it is hauntingly intimate. With the ease and skill of a master storyteller, Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations–those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-twentieth century; and the children of the survivors, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989, in one of the most important political moments of the past century. With exquisite writing sharpened by a surprising vein of wit and sly humour, Thien has crafted unforgettable characters who are by turns flinty and headstrong, dreamy and tender, foolish and wise…With maturity and sophistication, humour and beauty, a huge heart and impressive understanding, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once beautifully intimate and grandly political.”

 

leroux-the-party-wall.jpg The Party Wall by Catherine Leroux

“Catherine Leroux’s first novel, translated into English brilliantly by Lazer Lederhendler, ties together stories about siblings joined in surprising ways. A woman learns that she absorbed her twin sister’s body in the womb and that she has two sets of DNA; a girl in the deep South pushes her sister out of the way of a speeding train, losing her legs; and a political couple learn that they are non-identical twins separated at birth. The Party Wall establishes Leroux as one of North America’s most intelligent and innovative young authors.”

Enjoy!

Lyle

I Love the Smell of Rich Mahogany in the Morning! or Why eBooks are Okay Too.

Books! Good old fashioned physical books! Nothing beats them and it hurts to be beat by them. If you’re like me and I know a lot of you are, then you love books too. Books are made of trees. Wood is made of trees. Mahogany is a type of wood. Therefore, books, or at least the best books, smell of rich mahogany. Some people may try to tell you that you can’t smell what type of wood a book is made of. Those people are not discerning readers.

Now, you may have heard of these so-called ‘eBooks.’ These eBooks are not made of wood. They are made of wires. I know what you’re thinking; I was the same way—skeptical. After all, when you’re sitting next to the fireplace, in your leather arm chair, a snifter of cognac in one hand and a bubble pipe in your mouth, and you look down in your lap and see A PILE OF WIRES, you’ll know something is missing. The smell of rich mahogany.

 

carrieBut say you want to read a good horror novel. I recommend Carrie by Stephen King, mostly because it rhymes with scary, which it is. You don’t want to read this book next to a fireplace. You want to read this book in a house with creaky floors and tree branches tap-tap-tapping at the window. You’ll also want to be in bed so that when things are at their absolute most terrifying you can pull the blankets over your head. Now think about it, with the blankets over your head and a regular old physical book you’re missing something. Light! And without light you’re approaching heart attack levels of scary, compounded by the fact that you can’t read in the dark. It turns out most eBooks have a nifty feature called a backlight which provides just enough light to read under the covers but not enough to ruin the ambiance.

 

count-of-monte-cristoeBooks, I’ve discovered, are also fantastic if you lift weights. Now leg days will never be an issue. But if you’re like me, and I feel a lot of you are, on those days when you’ve finished a set of arm curls with 500lb.* dumbbells picking up a book can be jello-arm inducing. Especially when you’re reading a tome such as The Count of Monte Cristo which is over 1000 pages of dead wood. Now with an eBook you can bend the laws of physics and that 1000 page tome is going to weigh about as much as a paperback.

 

infinite-jest

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, I’m smart. Smart enough to know that it’s spelled ‘smrt’ but when you write it out the ‘a’ is silent. That being said, I’m a humble man. So, when it’s time for my weekly read of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest I use a dictionary because that guy is mad smart and I need it. Every. Single. Page. Before eBooks it used to be a physical dictionary and that was kinda bad because the dictionary is like 1000 pages and Infinite Jest is like 1000 pages because it uses pretty much every word in the dictionary—so yeah, arm days. So I know what you’re thinking, bending the laws of physics. And yes, there’s that. But they’ve also managed a feat of alchemy and put a dictionary into every single eBook so that all you have to do is tap the word and BOOM the definition comes up on the screen!

 

masteredLastly, and this one is important because it involves safety, sometimes I like my books hot. This is a problem because as we’ve discussed books are made of wood. And I’m smrt so hot and wood make fire. So when I’m reading Maya Banks’ Mastered on the bus and it bursts into flames on my lap I can get some weird looks. eBooks don’t catch on fire so much so people on the bus just can’t tell how hot my book is getting.

 

So, yeah, I don’t often stray from that rustic mahogany smell (pine is nice too!) but when I do, I always choose eBooks. Let me know why you choose eBooks in the comments below.

~ Alan

*Editor’s note: We had a lengthy discussion about whether or not there was one too many zeros in this number. The discussion ended with the author effortlessly carrying a set of said dumbbells into my office. I’m currently in the process of fixing the hole in my floor.

You Got the Power

“That is, power is power. That is, power is a word the meaning of which we do not understand.”

― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

After a course in leadership and management I tried to define for myself the meaning of “power.” My strategy was to search through Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue for books with the keyword “power” and then read all of them. While I am still pretty well stuck with the definition by Leo Tolstoy at this point, I managed to work myself through a whole mountain of books, some of which I would like to recommend.

Power Politics

The New York times has called Noam Chomsky, “arguably the most important intellectual alive” and “perhaps the clearest voice of dissent in American history.” Our expectations of Mr. Chomsky will not be disappointed by the collection of interviews in Power Systems : Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. Chomsky explores many of the immediate threats to the U.S. and the dangers they pose to the “U.S. Empire.” Regardless of the fierce backlash he faces in his own country, he continues to be undeterred in his activism. He compares 9/11 to Bill Clinton’s bombing of a factory in Khartoum, Sudan, that resulted in as many as tens of thousands of Sudanese deaths. He charges the U.S with “stabilizing” countries by invading and destroying them. Regarding Osama Bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. troops he comments, “We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic.” Chomsky’s words will not find universal acceptance, but he isn’t afraid to speak his mind; and that is what makes his writing particularly exceptional and this book very worthwhile reading.

Power Yoga

I have to admit that I tend to be more of a couch potato than an athlete, but I do love yoga and its many benefits. This is why Power Yoga for Athletes, by Sean Vigue, caught my attention. I was not disappointed. Whether you’re looking to improve balance, focus, control, breathing, posture or flexibility; strengthen your back, joints, or core; or reduce or heal injury, yoga has been recognized to help with all of that. In this book, however, the author goes a step further and adapts yoga practices to the sport of your choice, to enhance performance, strength, and focus. Each pose features step-by-step directions, instructional photography, the muscle groups being worked, the overall benefits, and the sports for which each is ideal. Whether you already practice yoga or not, this book is a great addition to your regimen of athletic development.

Power Cleansing

Cover image for Power souping : 3-day detox, 3-week weight-loss plan : 50+ simple and delicious recipesMany of us may be familiar with the idea of juicing for weight loss, detoxification and boosting energy. In Power Souping, nutritionist Rachel Beller explains how souping can do all that, with the added benefit of being low in sugar and high in fiber. Plus, with the colder months not so far off (sorry) a nice hot soup sounds a whole lot more enticing to me than juice. Good bye juicing! Hello souping! Beller offers more than 50 delicious soup recipes, most vegan and many gluten free. The book also contains an easy 3-step action plan:

  • 3-Day Detox: pure, clean souping to jump-start your weight loss
  • 3-Week Transformation: shed up to 15 pounds with tasty soups and other healthy meals
  • Maintenance Method: tips to keep you on this simple and sustainable plan

What makes this book soup-erior (again, sorry), though is that it offers not only a practical, science-based weight-loss method, but also a guide to feeling your amazing, energetic best. This book is definitely worth a look, even if you do not need to lose weight and just want to boost your energy.

Power Horticulture

Cover image for Power plants : simple home remedies you can growPlants and their healing properties have been known and used for thousands of years. Unfortunately, much of this traditional knowledge has been lost to the western world. Two of Canada’s top authorities in their fields, gardening expert Frankie Flowers and alternative medicine expert Bryce Wylde have teamed up to help regain some of the lost art of harnessing the healing powers of plants. You do not have to go wildcrafting to reap the benefits of certain plants. Power Plants: Simple Home Remedies You Can Grow introduces you to a carefully selected list of forty-nine plants that can be grown in almost any Canadian garden. With Flowers’s easy instructions you can go step by step from planting to harvesting. Bryce then picks up with clear guidelines on how to put the plants to work; fighting everything from constipation to heartburn, high blood sugar to bad breakouts. Even if you have the legendary black thumb the book will help you out with simple substitutions. So go ahead and plan to supercharge your health with a simple trip into your garden.

Power Eating

Cover image for Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitnessWhat do Canadian endurance athlete Brendan Brazier, world class tennis player Venus Williams, and Canadian two-time world champion pairs skater Meagan Duhamel have in common? Other than being super athletes, they are also vegan. Power vegan : plant-fueled nutrition for maximum health and fitness by Rea Frey is a guide to finding the foods that will power your daily life. The idea behind power eating is not a fad diet. Rather, it is about incorporating foods into your life which make you feel good, are easy to prepare, and are fairly inexpensive. I am confident that you will find more than one dish in there that you will thoroughly savour. The book is filled not only with tips, but easy 30-minutes-or-less recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks. Whether your goal is gaining energy, building muscle, or simply feeling and functioning better, you will be provided with the tools to get healthy while avoiding all-too-common pitfalls. This handy guide is not about being tied to the gym or the kitchen, but rather about creating a lifestyle for yourself that keeps you fit and healthy while being kind to the planet and all its creatures. In this complementary article you learn about Meagan Duhamel’s journey as a high-performance vegan athlete. Be encouraged to follow in her footsteps!

This is just a very small selection of materials I have found in the Winnipeg Public Library’s catalogue under the keyword “power”. There were so many more I really enjoyed, which got me interested in different subjects and broadened my horizon in a variety of fields such as history, politics, nutrition, sport and social psychology. As always the library has been a true treasure trove of knowledge and entertainment. A treasure trove right at your fingertips to explore, enjoy and challenge your brain, because “There is great treasure there behind our skull and this is true about all of us. This little treasure has great, great powers, and I would say we only have learnt a very, very small part of what it can do.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer

-Elke

Go Canada!

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While I completely agree with the Thomas King quotation, I do admit to feeling that Canada is a place which sees more good writing per square kilometer than most.  There are so many great Canadian authors it’s hard to choose who to read next. At this time of year, though, the decision is easy, at least for me. It’s back to school season, which still speaks to the kid in me who will never graduate from the excitement and anticipation of the first day back. Canadian writers are as adept at writing for kids and teens as they are for adults. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the books listed below, and see how right I am.

 

The Dark Missions of Edgar BrimThe Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock
Edgar couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t terrified. From the time that he was a baby, and his father read him stories filled with monsters and demons, Edgar has been filled with fear. His only comfort was that the horrors in books were only imaginary… or were they? After the mysterious death of his father, Edgar is sent to boarding school, where he learns the truth about monsters, and how to fight them.

 

Darkest MagicThe Darkest Magic Cover by Morgan Rhodes

Crys and Becca Hatcher survived their encounters with magic and mages, and are hiding out in Toronto while they try to figure out what to do next. In Mytica, Maddox and Barnabas continue their quest to defeat the evil goddess Valoria. But their worlds will intersect once again, with disastrous results.

 

Shooter Shoot Cover imageby Caroline Pignat

For the five kids locked in stuffy bathroom the Friday afternoon lockdown was becoming routine, something they almost looked forward on boring Friday afternoons. After all, it was always a drill, just someone playing a prank. Until one of them gets a text: “OMG not a drill!” This time, there really is someone in the school with a gun, and he may have a partner nobody knows about.

 

The Skeleton TreeThe Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

It was supposed to be fun, an adventure, a chance to miss some school. But the sailing trip along the coast of Alaska turned into a fight for survival for Chris and Frank, when a sudden storm sinks their boat. Stranded in the wilderness with no food or clothes, and no means to contact civilization, the boys must learn to work together if they want to get back home.

 

index1     Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten

Kate O’Brien is not who she seems to be. As a student at the exclusive Waverly School, she’s determined to parlay her scholarship status to become one of the in crowd, which will then lead her to Yale. Olivia Sumner was born to be a leader of the in crowd, yet she too has secrets. The two girls, so different, yet so much the same, come together to protect their pasts, and each other, from an outside threat that could defeat them both.

No matter how young or young at heart you are, reading a Canadian author is always a worthwhile experience.  So take off with me to the Great White (or Write) North, and experience for yourself how great it is to read Canadian.

-Lori