Tag Archives: book clubs

The Fort Garry Book Club Reading List

When it comes to what other people are reading, I’ll admit it – I’m nosey. If I see someone reading on the bus, I’ll try to get a look at the book cover. Or maybe take a quick glance at the page as I walk by a reader in a coffee shop. If you’re as much of a book snoop as I am, I invite you to take a peek over our metaphorical shoulders at what the Fort Garry Book Club read this year.

leftneglected    Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

After brain injury in a car crash steals her awareness of everything on her left side, working mom Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world as a whole. In doing so, she learns how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter most.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All by Jonas Jonasson hitmananders

Hitman Anders, recently out of prison, is doing small jobs for the big gangsters. Then his life takes an unexpected turn when he joins forces with three unlikely companions to concoct an unusual business plan based on his skills and fearsome reputation. The perfect plan – if it weren’t for Anders’ curiosity about the meaning of it all.

 

This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday. In a timely coincidence, our book club read several titles this year by local Manitoba authors. We’re lucky to live in a province that has such wonderful literary talent to choose from.

afterlight   After Light by Catherine Hunter

This novel follows four generations of the Garrison family through the 20th century. Despite all their tragedies, the creative fire that drives the family survives, burning more and more brightly as it’s passed from one generation to the next.

The Age of Hope by David Bergen      ageofhope

Born in 1930 in a small town outside Winnipeg, beautiful Hope appears destined to have a conventional life. But as the decades unfold, what seems to be a safe, predictable existence overwhelms her. This beautifully crafted and perceptive work of fiction spans some fifty years of Hope’s life in the second half of the 20th century, from traditionalism to feminism and beyond.

index  The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant Aboriginal man who’d raised him. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated Aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its Aboriginal history and living presence.

The Opening Sky by Joan Thomas    openingsky

Liz, Aiden, and Sylvie are an urban, urbane, progressive family. Then the present and the past collide in a crisis that shatters the complacency of all three. They are forced to confront a tragedy from years before, when four children went missing at an artists’ retreat. In the long shadow of that event, the family is drawn to a dangerous precipice.

ThisHiddenThing2  This Hidden Thing by Dora Dueck

The young woman standing outside the prosperous Winnipeg house that day in 1927 knew she must have work. Her family depended on it. But Maria had no idea that her new life as a domestic would mark her for the rest of her days. Her story reminds us how dangerous and powerful secrets can be.

I hope this gives you a few books to add to your own summer reading list!

  • Melanie

Don’t Forget the Books!

The library is a fantastic place to learn a new skill, check your email, write a resume or entertain your kids with a story time or MagFormers program. With all those choices you may forget we still have books.  We have friendly staff and resources to help you choose a read just right for you.  If you wanted to try something more adventurous, you could join one of 17 book clubs at library branches around the city.

Book clubs are a great way to meet new people and read books you may not normally choose.  The book club I organize has chosen many unique books that everyone found fun and entertaining.  Here are a few examples of what we’ve been reading:

Game Change and Double Down by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

The book tells the story of the 2008 Presidential campaign.  The book is broken into three parts.  The first and second parts deal with the Democratic and Republican nomination battles and the third the race for the White House.  The book is a fun and informative.  Spoiler alert Sarah Palin steals the story.  With insider information from both campaigns, Sarah Palin’s lack of knowledge and experience is revealed.  Her poor performance was demonstrated in interviews such as the ones with Kaite Couric (being unable to give examples of newspapers she reads) and Charlie Gibson (I can see Russia from my house bit).  The book was also made into a movie staring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin.

Double Down is the second book by Mark Halperin and John Heileman about the 2012 Presidential election.  Written in a similar style and format to Game Change you read about Mitt Romney’s long drawn out battle for the republican nomination and the difficulties he faced once he was the Republican candidate for President.  Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at the party convention was the least of Mitt Romney’s problems.  In 2012 Obama ran unopposed for the democratic nomination and some of his problems were within his own campaign. The section on Obama’s preparation for the first presidential debate paints him as someone who is unready and pessimistic.

The Hogfather Terry Pratchett

Welcome to Ankh-Morpork.  It’s Hogswatch Eve and the Auditors, beings responsible for ensuring the Laws of Physics work, have decided to have The Hogfather assassinated.  The auditors find human beings very disruptive to the workings of the universe and are puzzled by their need to create anthropmorphic beings like the Hogfather.  Death, Death’s grand daughter and Death’s personal servant, Alfred, race to stop the The Hogfather’s assassination.  You will also find out what death looks like in a Hogfather outfit, how many pork pies Alfred can eat and meet Bilious, the God of Hangovers.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

One of Hemingway’s shortest works, the book tells the story of Santiago, an old fisherman who has not caught a fish in 84 days.  Santiago’s luck changes a short time later when he hooks a huge marlin.  Santiago battles against the fish and nature and eventually wins while finding a certain camaraderie with his opponent.  Once he has caught the fish, Santiago battles sharks to get back home with his catch.  A great read, the Old Man and the Sea won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

Peter Brown is an intern in a Manhattan hospital.  A former Mafia hitman now in witness protection, he encounters a colleague from his old life.  Over an eight hour period Peter has to figure out how can care for his patient and hide his identity.  Written in the first person, Beat the Reaper is a hilarious read with a good dose of salty Mafia language.  Josh Bazell, a former medical intern, also provides an interesting if somewhat disturbing look at the US medical system.

 

If you are part of a book club or looking to start one, the library has many resources you can use.  Book Club packs have ten copies of many different fiction and non-fiction titles. They can be borrowed and placed on hold like regular books.  The pack also contains a literature guide and questions to start a discussion about the title.

Novelist is a database you can access at home with your library card. You can look up different titles and authors as well as read summaries of books. In case you’ve read all the books by your favorite author, Novelist provides lists of author read-a-likes and title read-a-likes.

If you’re interested in any of the titles above or a book club please don’t hesitate to Ask Us!

-Andrew

Cook by the Book: Canada – From Coast to Coast

Vegetables and cheese

 

What do you think of as “Canadian” food? Do bacon and maple syrup top your list? How about bannock, poutine, butter tarts or Nanaimo bars? Our country is very diverse, so it’s hard to come up with one food that is quintessentially Canadian. We’re also very fortunate to have access to pretty much any food we want, any time of the year, from West coast salmon to East coast potatoes.

Here are the results of our culinary journey across Canada:

cherylfishAnita Stewart’s Canada contains great stories aboutCheryl cheesecake Canada and would be a wonderful book for new cooks or newlyweds. Cheryl made several recipes, including a salmon dish and this decadent cheesecake, full of eggs, sour cream and orange and lemon zest, which was amazing.

 

Dianne thought Homegrown by Marilyn Smith was an excellent cookbook. The Cranberry Maple Butter tarts were delicious, especially while still warm. They were a little on the sweet side, so she would use less sugar, next time.

 

Lynda and Maureen had fun with You Gotta Eat Here, Too! They’ve eaten at Lynda burritoseveral of the restaurants that have been featured on the show, including The Fiesta Mexicana Lynda pizzaRestaurante y Cantina, which is famous for their giant Burrito Guadalajara –  the pico de gallo really makes this dish.  The Mango Tango Chicken Pizza from Mickey’s Dragon Pizza was fantastic.

carole tart1I chose John Catucci’s first book,  You Gotta Eat Here!  and tried Dottie’s Delicious lemon tart.  The filling is a lemon curd with a hint of basil. I used a gluten-free coconut crust, from Canadian Living Magazine,  instead of the usual pastry crust. This TV show has been very successful and it’s great to be able to re-create some of these restaurant favourites in your own kitchen.

Jackie thought The Dietician’s of Canada Cook Jackie Greek Chickenwould be perfect for a beginner cook, as it contains a lot of general information. The Greek Chicken was a tasty, easy dish, that she would make again. The Turkey and wild rice soup was a good, hearty soup that calls for ground turkey, but Jackie Turkey Wild Rice Soupmight be better with shredded turkey.

 

Grandma’s Kitchen reminded Iris of her own mother’s recipes and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Ed Michae_smith 003Ed was very happy with Michael Smith’s Back to Basics and his “pan-rushed” cooking method – a restaurant technique for getting food out fast. It involves searing the meat, making a sauce, then putting the meat back in the sauce to simmer.

 

 Winnipeg Cooks is a wonderful new cookbook Rossita saladshowcasing our own city’s talented  chefs. Rossita made this colourful Roasted Beet Salad.

 

Sharla made the French Onion soup from The Soup Sisters, not realizing you Sharla onionneed to cook the onions for 40 minutes. The end result was worth it and the cheese toast was also a big hit, so she made it again to go with the Hamburger Soup. Sharla tomatoThe tomatoes were a little over-powering in this recipe, but nothing a little milk and hot sauce couldn’t fix.

 

Next month we’ll be hosting the “Bean Team” of the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers and learning about nutrition and the delicious possibilities of how to cook with pulses, for International Year of the Pulse. Please contact the Osborne Library at 204-986-4775 for more information.

-Carole

 

 

 


First Rule of Book Club

bookClubSoap

Books are something social – a writer speaking to a reader – so I think making the reading of a book the center of a social event, the meeting of a book club, is a brilliant idea. – Yann Martel

People have gathered in groups to talk about books for hundreds of years. The invention of the printing press meant that books could be mass produced, instead of being written out individually by hand, so more books were available, which inevitably led to people talking about what they had read. Technological innovations impacted book clubs once again with the arrival of the internet, which allowed readers from all over the world to share their thoughts about what they had read. And, of course, there was Oprah’s book club, with a membership in the millions.

The book club experience means different things to different people. For some, it’s an opportunity to read something they would never have picked up on their own. For others, it’s the chance to delve more deeply into a book by sharing their thoughts and opinions, or by listening to other people’s insights and ideas. And in some cases, there’s the added bonus of snacks and beverages.

No matter what your reasons are for joining a book club, the Winnipeg Public Library  has something for you. We carry a wide range of book club kits to be checked out, for adults, teens and kids. These kits contain 10 copies of the book and discussion questions, all in one handy bag. Just add the snacks and beverages and you’re good to go! Book club kits have an extended loan period, and you can pick them up at whatever branch is most convenient for you. In addition to our selection of books for book clubs, we also offer books about book clubs.

Accidental Book Club

The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott is the story of a group of very different women who find common ground in their love of reading. When unforeseen events bring problems to group, the book club members band together to get each other through tough times.

 

Falcon Book Club

For those who like mysteries and book clubs, Laura DiSilverio is a good choice. The book club members in Haven, Colorado meet monthly to solve the crimes in mystery novels, as well as doing some free-lance, real life investigating.

 

 

mother daughter book club

Book clubs aren’t just for grown-ups anymore. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick is about a group of 4 girls in the 6th grade who, along with their moms, read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Over time, the girls are startled to discover how much a book published in 1868 has to offer 21st century tweens.

 

prison book club

You can also find book clubs in unexpected places, like prisons. Ann Walmsley’s book Prison Book Club is an account of her involvement with a book club behind bars in a medium security prison. She gives a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the convicts during their incarceration, and the power of the written word to profoundly change lives that seemed beyond redemption.

 

So, before you attend your next meeting, I encourage all of you to abide by the unofficial first rule of book club at all times: always talk about book club.

-Lori

Drum roll: The nominees for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Two weeks ago the long list of nominees for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize was announced. Perhaps surprisingly, no major Canadian authors were included in the list of 12 books by 12 authors. Many of the nominated books came from relatively unknown authors from smaller publishers. So who did make the nominees list for the Giller, Canada’s most notable annual literary award? And which title would you most like to read this fall? (The one that has caught my eye is André Alexis’ ‘Fifteen Dogs’ and its intriguing premise.)

The Scotiabank Giller Prize short list will be released October 5, and the winner announced on November 10.

fifteendogs-220Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis: When Hermes and Apollo make a bet about human happiness, they grant 15 dogs staying at a vet clinic the power of human consciousness. The dogs instantly become divided between those who prefer their old dog ways and those who want to take advantage of their newfound increased intelligence. What unfolds is a powerful story about what it means to have consciousness, and the good and the bad that comes with it.

arvida-220Arvida by Samuel Archibald,
translated by Donald Winkler:
Like a Proust-obsessed Cormac McCarthy, Samuel Archibald’s portrait of his hometown is filled with innocent children and wild beasts, attempted murder and ritual mutilation, haunted houses and road trips to nowhere, bad men and mysterious women. Gothic, fantastical, and incandescent, filled with stories of everyday wonder and terror, longing and love, Arvida explores the line which separates memory from story, and heralds the arrival of an important new voice.

ififallidie-220If I Fall I Die by Michael Christie: Will’s mother has kept him inside all of his life. But when he finally ventures outside, he befriends a boy named Jonah and discovers the world is bigger, better – but scarier – than the world of just inside. When a local boy goes missing, Will’s world is turned upside down yet again. An exploration of family, friendship and letting go.

outline-220Outline by Rachel Cusk: Rachel Cusk’s Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner and discourse. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

undermajordomominor-220Under Major Domo Minor by Patrick DeWitt: Lucien (Lucy) Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. Friendless and loveless, young and aimless, Lucy is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. In the local village, he also encounters thieves, madmen, aristocrats and Klara, a delicate beauty whose love he must compete for with the exceptionally handsome partisan soldier, Adolphus.

closetohugh-220Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott: With chapter titles that play off the protagonist’s first name, from “If It Makes Hugh Happy” to “I Want to be Loved by Hugh,” Close to Hugh follows one week in the life of Hugh Argylle, an art gallery owner who has just taken a terrible fall from a ladder. What unfolds are the complicated relationships surrounding him. Several of his friends have children going off to college and Endicott weaves together these two turning points — becoming an adult and becoming old — together to look at the meaning of modern life. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking.

abeauty-220A Beauty by Connie Gault: In 1930s Saskatchewan, Elana Huhtala is looking for any excuse to get out of town. And when a stranger shows up at the local dance, she jumps at the chance to leave with him. What unfolds is a compelling cross-country journey that teaches Elana more than she ever imagined about her country, her fellow Canadians and herself.

All_True_Not_a_Lie_in_It_220All True Not a Lie in It by Alix Hawley: A fictionalized biography of legendary folk hero Daniel Boone. The book follows Boone from his life as a young Quaker living in Pennsylvania through to his exploration the American wilderness and subsequent capture by the Shawnee. A thrilling debut from a former CBC Short Story Prize finalist and Knopf New Face of Fiction 2015.

thewinterfamily-220The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman: Tracing a gang of ruthless outlaws from its birth during the American Civil War to a final bloody showdown in the Territory of Oklahoma, The Winter Family is a hyperkinetic Western noir and a full-on assault to the senses.

daydreamsofangels-220Daydreams of Angels by Heather O’Neill: From the author of Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night comes a compelling collection of short stories filled with quirky characters and captivating descriptions of worlds both real and imagined.

martinjohn-220Martin John by Anakana Schofield: Martin John sits beside you on the train. Can he see that look on your face? He needs to see that look in your eyes, the surprise of his touch upon your leg and your repugnance. Despite his work’s distractions, his evil flatmate’s enmity, his worn-out mother’s admonishments, his own rules and routines, nothing can diminish his determination to touch – and to repel. Martin John is a testament to Anakana Schofield’s skill and audacity. With a Beckettian grasp of the loops and circuits of a molester’s mind, Schofield’s novel is a brilliant exploration of a marginal character, but not a rare character. Martin John is the kind of character many women have experienced, but whom few of us have understood.

Confidence_220Confidence by Russell Smith: In this collection of short stories there are ecstasy-taking PhD students, financial traders desperate for husbands, violent and immovable tenants, seedy massage parlours, infestations of rabid raccoons, experimental filmmakers who record every second of their waking lives, and mommy-bloggers who publish insults directed at their partners. Whether in private clubs, crowded restaurants, psychiatric wards, or your own living room, everyone is keeping a secret.

(Descriptions from publisher notes)

– Lyle

What’s Cooking at Westwood: a Second Successful Year of Feasting!

In its second year, the What’s Cooking at Westwood? Cookbook Club met 10 times, reviewed 54 cookbooks, tasted 80 recipes, and drank countless cups of tea. Though the club includes seasoned (pardon the pun) cooks and novices alike, every meeting held a new taste or technique. For a second year, we tried new things and made new friends.

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Our final meeting was a potluck, as it was last year. This year, members had a choice of making their favourite dish from the year or trying a new dish from a celebrated cookbook. In usual What’s Cooking fashion, the final potluck was a wonderful assortment of savory and sweet. We tasted spinach quiche, beer rosemary bread, mandarin orange salad and caprese salad to start. To finish we sampled from peach dumplings, cheesecake brownies and rhubarb hand-pies. It was a wonderful culmination of an exploratory culinary year.

As we enjoyed our final feast, we discussed favourite cookbooks and laughed about the meetings of 2014-2015. Highlights of our discussions were food politics, the food we ate growing up, individual cooking techniques, and in one instance, a “spirited” debate about the “correct” recipe for peanut butter cookies. We are all looking forward to another tasty and exciting year of What’s Cooking at Westwood when we resume in September.

Happy summer cooking!

-Britt

Knit Happens at Fort Garry Library Book Club

knittingneedles

Properly practiced knitting soothes the troubled spirit and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either. –Elizabeth Zimmerman

One of the pleasures of knitting is that it can be picked up anywhere no matter the weather. Requirements are simple – 2 sticks and a ball of wool, readily available at your second hand store or local wool specialty shop. The act of knitting is meditative and therapeutic – the rhythmic motion has been proven to change the brain chemistry and relieve stress. Thousands have taken up this ancient skill from fishermen waiting for the tides to change to surgeons knitting to keep their fingers limber.

Want to know where to begin if you are a novice or where to share the solitary practice if you have been knitting for some time? Join Winnipeg Public Library’s newest Knit Lit Book Club at Fort Garry branch.

Here’s how it works. Members choose a project from the wide variety of knitting books the library has to offer. Once a month we share our experiences and critique knitting books, patterns, magazines, and blogs. Here are some of the projects our members are exploring:

socksbuddMargaret’s projects include socks from Favorite Socks by Ann Budd.

 

 

scarves MaryLou wants to get back into knitting and has decided to begin a scarf. Paula is knitting a scarf with a lovely chunky yarn. For more inspiration see Scarves and Shawls for Yarn Lovers by Carri Hammett

 

wrapKari is knitting a two piece wrap which will be combined in a Rowan yarn of light caramel tweed, as seen in Wrap Style by Pam Allen

 

 

knittersyearOnce, women knit socks and scarves to send to soldiers in the cold trenches during World War 1. Did you know there are similar opportunities to knit for a cause? Knit a hat to accompany Koats for Kids or a dog blanket for the Winnipeg Humane Society. Jen is working on baby hats for charity from a pattern in Debbie Bliss’ The Knitter’s Year.

 

learntoknitNovice knitters are welcome to join and tell us all about it. Experienced knitters can learn an intricate stitch and explain how they mastered it. Learn to Knit, Love to Knit by Anna Wilkinson

WPL has over 800 knitting books, DVDs and  magazines devoted to the soothing, calming, repetitive craft of knitting.

So pour a cuppa , pull up a chair, and bring out your knitting. For more information or to register call Fort Garry Library at 204-986-4918.

Jane

Knit Fast Die Warm

Most knitters know that once you pick up the hobby it’s like a flashback to the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”. You bring just one harmless ball of wool into your house and before you know it you’re swimming in sock yarn, pushing past the worsted weight just to open the refrigerator door.

We have a solution for you: Knitting Book Clubs. The Winnipeg Public Library is now hosting two(!) Knitting Book Clubs starting in October. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a knitting pattern book from your local branch, or download one in ebook form from Freading or Overdrive, and start transforming those ever-multiplying piles of fibre into something both beautiful and useful. Baby shower approaching? Baby blankets are notorious for their ability to swallow up surprisingly large amounts of yarn. Maybe your issue is with single skeins or the remnants from other projects? Toys, mittens, and those teeny tiny adorable socks are perfect projects to use up leftovers while thriftily acquiring a heartfelt and handmade gift.

nursery

blankets

 

 

 

 

No babies in the immediate future? No problem! There are a plethora of titles in the library that are eagerly waiting for you to take them home and knit away your tribbles – or, troubles. And I do mean that quite literally.   

socks       fun   learntoknit

If you’re anything like me, once you start knitting there’s no end in sight. One project begets another and the “just one more row”s, “I just need to finish this section”s, and “I’m trying to pay attention to this pattern, I’ll eat dinner later”s become a regular chorus in your household. If so, I can tell you there is a method to the knitting madness. Just do a quick search online for ‘knitting’ and ‘health benefits’ and you’ll find article after article listing the advantages of crafting and, specifically, knitting. Many of these cite the Mayo Clinic study where seniors who engaged in cognitive activities, such as knitting and crocheting, had decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment. These activities even served as a buffer against the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Crafting is unique in this way because it involves multiple areas of the brain at once: creativity, visuospatial processing, problem solving, memory, and attention to detail.

But the benefits do not end there. Knitting has been lauded as the ‘new yoga’ and there’s a certain amount of truth to it. Crafts such as knitting can have profound meditative effects.  A CNN article from earlier this year cited psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow phenomenon – those moments where you become so completely absorbed by an activity that everything else falls away. Many knitters cite the hobby as an excellent way to numb pain, relieve anxiety, and cope with depression, among many other disorders.

From the leading ladies of the golden age of cinema (think Lauren Bacall lounging beside Humphrey Bogart) to contemporary celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Kate Middleton, and Nicholas Hoult, knitting has mass appeal for good reason. So what are you waiting for? Grab those empty needles, or that UFO (UnFinished Object), and your library card. Mosey on down to the library or call to register your spot in one of our Knitting Book Clubs:

  • Fort Garry Library’s Knit Lit runs the third Tuesday of the month starting Tuesday, October 21st at 6:30 pm. Call 204-986-4918 to register.
  • Louis Riel Library’s Knit Night runs the first Thursday of each month starting October 2nd at 6:30 pm. Call 204-986-4573 to register.

Besides, winter’s coming and your dog could probably use a cozy new sweater…

dogshair

Laura

Salons, Pubs and Supper Clubs

salon1

World Book defines a salon as “a gathering of fashionable people.”

“During the 1700s wealthy Parisians built townhouses with elegantly decorated salons. The hostess usually invited writers, philosophers, politicians and aristocrats. These French salons became famous for their brilliant conversation.”

While the salon perished along with the idle bourgeoisie after the French Revolution, it has seen a revival in the form of book clubs. When the ultimate salonniere — Oprah — led the charge to rejuvenate the book club into a televised version, her impact turned the once solitary experience of reading into a vibrant social activity, and book clubs flourished in the living rooms of North America. Literary culture became popular culture.

book clubIn the early twentieth century, the book club was an opportunity for women who were denied formal education to engage in literature groups that helped them to escape the isolation of domesticity. But in our hectic modern lives, reading a prescribed book is just another item on the to-do list, and titles like How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, although tongue in cheek, begin to take on serious meaning.

In the Maclean’s article “The busy woman’s anti-book club”, Sarah Lazarovich argues that the book club has become a “tyrannical time suck” for busy women. Lazorovic formed a Ladies Short-Form Media Auxiliary where members gathered around a laptop to share Youtube videos, MP3 clips, and Google searches, which generated free-flowing discussion that required little preparation.

albumsundaysSimilarly, members of Classic Album Sundays gather in pubs to listen to an entire album and discuss it over pints. Listening to an entire album takes a little over an hour, surely less of a commitment than reading Anna Karenina, the first of Oprah’s picks.

clubAnother take on the traditional book club is The Philosopher’s Table, a hybrid of a supper club and a graduate seminar. Guests are invited to the host’s home, assigned a thematic dish, and share music, philosophy, and traditional cuisine from a particular culture. Choose a philosophical topic and it comes matched with a dinner menu, music, and discussion questions. Enjoy lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasure of life in Epicurus’s Greek garden. In this version of a salon you get music, social connection, and nourishment for mind and body. Multi-tasking at its best.

Foodies who like to talk about their culinary creations can join one of Winnipeg Public Library’s two Cook by the Book Clubs (meeting at Osborne or Westwood). Members are invited to choose a recipe from selected cookbooks and share the outcome with the group. Results are delicious, entertaining, and inspiring!

And, if a conventional book club still sounds good to you, WPL offers many to choose from.

In a world with little time and less social contact, these forms of the 21 st century literary salon are an opportuntiy to meet with like-minded souls at your library, pub, coffee shop, or living room, and rekindle the cultural conversation.

Jane

Our newest Book Club: Cook by the Book

Vegetables and cheese

Welcome to Winnipeg Public Library’s newest book club & blog – Cook by the Book – a book club for foodies!

Here’s how it works: members of Cook by the Book choose a cookbook available at the library, based on the monthly theme, and then make one or two recipes at home. We all take pictures of our culinary creations, and then we get together to share our experience – good or bad – with the group.

The theme for our first meeting was Favourite Food Network Stars. Most of us were pretty happy with our results, but there were a few flops – skip Guy’s Caesar salad! Our discussions ranged from trying truffle oil for the first time to lusting after Michael Smith’s pantry. I also discovered there’s a great butcher in St. Vital and that you can get hard-to-find Mexican ingredients on Sargent Ave.  I think we were all impressed that Tanise did her own “throwdown” with her friends,  using the Philly cheesesteak recipes from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. We finished off the evening with pear cake with bacon caramel sauce – I know it sounds weird, but really, how can you go wrong with bacon?

Here’s the pictures we took and cookbooks we tried:

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Food Network Favorites
Cooking from the Hip
Fresh with Anna Olson
Kitchen: recipes from the heart of the home
Guy Fieri food: more than 150 off-the-hook recipes
Weeknights with Giada: quick and simple recipes to revamp dinner
Sandra Lee semi-homemade cooking made light
Diners, drive-ins, and dives: an All-American road trip– with recipes!
Lynn Crawford’s Pitchin’ in: more than 100 recipes from simple ingredients

All of these titles are available at Winnipeg Public Library, so check at your local branch if you’re interested in trying out some new recipes.

Registration is full for this session, but we’ll start up again in the Fall. Watch for details in the September issue of @ the Library.

Carole