Tag Archives: local authors

Summer Reading Challenge!


Display at Millennium Library

While the libraries are all set with their TD Summer Reading program for the kiddies, we also have a challenge for the adults. At all Winnipeg Public Library branches you will find the Summer Reading Challenge, a large Bingo-type card with 24 themes to expand your reading horizons. Once you’ve read a book or listened to an audiobook from one of the themes listed, fill out a card and have your selection posted on or by your branch’s card. Let’s see which branch can fill up their card, and let’s see how many books from the different themes you can read during the summer. If you need help finding a book to read from any of the themes listed just ask a library staff member for suggestions, we are more than happy to help you with your summer reading challenge. To start you off I’ve included some reading suggestions for a few of the themes listed below.

Chosen by Cover

hypnotist  The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

Though the age-old saying of “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be applied to many occasions, it doesn’t always ring true. I am often attracted or intrigued by a book solely based on its cover, this is for good reason as plenty of work goes into cover design to attract a prospective reader. For many months I had seen this book returned over the counter and every time I saw the cover I would get chills. The story itself is no less chilling. A family is gruesomely murdered and with the only witness, their son, unable to remember the events inspector Joona Linna enlists the help of Dr. Erik Maria Bark, an expert in hypnotism to try and unlock the boy’s memories of that night. This novel marks the first in the series featuring Inspector Joona Linna, and true to Swedish mystery form it is dark, suspenseful and has fascinating characters. Alternate themes: Book in Translation, Book in a Series, Set in a country you’ve never visited, Mystery.

Science Fiction

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

This is an unconventional science fiction novel in that it is also a mystery/thriller featuring a serial killer. A serial killer during the Great Depression discovers a House that takes him to another time period where he finds his “Shining Girls”. He believes he will never be caught as after the murders he escapes back to his own time, but one of his victims survives and is keen on finding him and stopping him before he kills again. If you like your books with a bit of time travel, a serial killer and a strong female character, this book is for you. Alternate themes: Takes place more than 50 years ago, Mystery.

Collection of Short Stories

strange Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Depending on your typical reading genre, this book may fall under a couple themes (many of these suggestions could), it is a collection of short horror stories by Joe Hill, an author who, though he is the son of Stephen King, has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. In this collection Hill has written four short novels each as unique as the one before, though all written in a way that ratchets up the terror and horror as each page is turned. My personal favourite of the stories was the final one, Rain about an apocalyptic event where instead of water falling when it rains, it is a downpour of nails. Where does one find cover when nails are raining from the sky? Read the book and find out. Alternate themes: Title outside your comfort zone.

Book From Your Childhood

Le Petit Prince or The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I read this French classic in french when I was in school and loved it then, I read it recently and loved it even more. This short book takes place on earth with a pilot whose plane has crashed in the desert and there he encounters the little prince who asks him to draw a sheep. At first the pilot has difficulty until he decides to draw a box and tells the prince that the sheep is in the box. The little prince is delighted, much to the pilot’s surprise and recounts his life on asteroid B-612, his travels from different planets and his encounters with those on each planet. The message related in this book is accessible to children and imperative to adults. Though children will love this book and understand the little prince, it is us adults who will truly come away from this book with a new appreciation of seeing life through a child’s eyes and grasping what is truly important. Alternate themes: Book in translation, book that involves travel.


lincoln Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Not only is the novel the winner of the Man Booker Prize, the audiobook is also an Audie Award Winner for Audiobook of the Year, and it is no wonder. Lead by a full star-studded cast including the voice talents of Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Don Cheadle, Kat Dennings, Bill Hader, Keegan-Michael Key, Susan Sarandon and Rainn Wilson to name a few, and George Saunders himself, Lincoln in the Bardo takes place during the Civil War in a graveyard where then president Abraham Lincoln has just laid his son to rest. A fascinating setting for a unique book.

Winnipeg Author

You have plenty of books to choose from that are by a Winnipeg author, just check out the winners and nominees from the Manitoba Book Awards. This year’s list includes our very own Writer-in-Residence Jennifer Still who won the Landsdowne Poetry Award for her book Comma. The library also carries the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction winner The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan, and though there are a few requests on this book, click on the link to Award Winners on the catalogue home page and select Manitoba/Local Awards for a list of past winners that may be more likely of being available to borrow, and they’re just as good!

Best of luck to you all in completing the challenge, and happy reading!


BookFest a.k.a. Mega Event Book Nerd Day

Did you happen to make it to BookFest last year? Are you wondering what the heck this ‘BookFest’ thing is? Are you just bored and surfing the web? Here’s some info you might find interesting.

[Disclaimer: In my enthusiasm, I have made up a lot of reading-related words for this post.]

BookFest is one of the bookiest days of the year, because it’s the day that WPL and AMBP smoosh together a bunch of readerly things: book tastings (short and sweet book talks), a panel discussion, local publishing houses, local self-published authors, an interactive poetry station, personalized reading advice from WPL experts, and resources just for book clubs. Plus, you know, free book and book-related prize giveaways.

In short, so many things that the only name for it is BookFest!

Some of the books:


All the details:

Saturday, November 25 at Millennium Library from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We’ve taken over the whole second floor.

Panel Talk: The Book Starts Here: 11 a.m. to noon

Take a literary walk through Winnipeg as panelists discuss iconic Winnipeg locations found in books. Charlene Diehl of the Winnipeg International Writers Festival moderates the discussion featuring Winnipeg author Allan Levine.

Book Tastings: Drop in for 30-minute seatings of delicious must-reads. This fun, quick-fire appetizer pairs librarians and avid readers showcasing the best in books.

o                1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Life & Death: notable new memoirs & mysteries

o                2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Canada 150+: great reads about our past and present

o                3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Genre-bending titles: the best in mixed-genre reads

Book Fair: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A book expo where you can explore the best of prairie writing with local publishers: ARP Books, At Bay Press, Les Éditions des Plaines, Fernwood Publishing, Great Plains Publications, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing, Peanut Butter Press, Rebelight Publishing Inc., Signature Editions, Turnstone Press, and University of Manitoba Press.

Plus, a chance to meet and greet the following authors: Sally Cooper, Lisa Mendis and Chris Ducharme, Anne Mahon, Bartley Kives, Deborah Froese, Harriet Zaidman, Gerald Kuehl, Gabriele Goldstone, Melinda Friesen, Suzanne Costigan, Armin Wiebe, and Janis Thiessen.

Poetry Station: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Try your hand at “building” a poem by blacking out words on a page. Poet Jennifer Still, the Library’s current Writer-in-Residence, will stop by to demonstrate and assist.

Book Club Corner: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

A showcase of titles your book club will love, tips for discussion, and information about the Library’s book club kits.
librarian is in
The Librarian is IN!: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In a reading slump? Need help finding your next great read? Visit the desk where library staff will be on hand to diagnose your literary condition and prescribe a few titles.

Plus (my favourite part): “spin to win” books and prizes every hour!

Isn’t that an amazing amount of book nerdery? Hope you can join us! (Be there and be square?)

  • The BookFest Team: Danielle, Erica, Aileen, Karen, Michelle, and Kathleen


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?


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.


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!


 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!


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




What’s New in the Local History Room

Electric display LH

It’s time to have a look at what is new in the Local History Room.

First, come and learn about the history of electric power in Manitoba. The new display set up in the room, through collaboration with the Manitoba Electrical Museum which has loaned artifacts and historical photographs, illustrates this fascinating aspect of our history.

While there, take some time to browse and explore some of the new titles in our collection:

Cover image for Andy De Jarlis : the life and music of an old-time fiddler

Andy De Jarlis: The Life and Music of an Old-time Fiddler by Joe Mackintosh is the story of Andy de Jarlis (1914 – 1975), a successful Métis fiddler and composer who came from a long line of fiddlers and musicians. Though his name may not be familiar to many today, he is credited as having kept Métis fiddling music alive just in time to see a resurgence in today’s music scene. The book also describes the hot spots for live folk music and dancing in Winnipeg from the mid-1950s onward where Andy played on his way to national fame.

Cover image for The ballad of Danny Wolfe : life of a modern outlaw
The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw by Joe Friesen is a much tougher read, which starts with one of the most famous prison breakouts in recent Canadian history, perpetrated by a man some would come to see as a living symbol of a sad legacy. Through 24 chronological chapters, the author traces the early years of Daniel Wolfe’s life: from his birth in Regina to his mother Susan Creeley, a First Nations woman marked by the residential school system; to his first brush with the law at the age of four and then his subsequent arrests; to the birth of the Indian Posse in 1989 – the Aboriginal street gang in Canada that would eventually claim the title of the largest street gang in North America with over 12,000 members (from BC to Ontario, and even Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona) and Danny at the helm; to Danny’s death in 2010.

Diagnosed with a rare cancer in 1994, Tefs spent the next 20 years coping with this new reality while raising a family, writing acclaimed works of fictions, battling cancer, and cycling. Wayne Tefs is the “Dead Man on a Bike,” his posthumous follow-up memoir to Rollercoaster: A Cancer Journey. Riding throughout Manitoba and parts of Europe was the author’s way of dealing with “the wound,” and provided space and  time for reflections that he shares with the reader.

Cover image for Solving poverty : innovative strategies from Winnipeg's inner city
In Solving Poverty: Innovative Strategies from Winnipeg’s Inner City, Jim Silver, a scholar actively engaged in anti-poverty efforts in Winnipeg’s inner city for decades, offers an on-the-ground analysis of complex and racialized poverty. Silver focuses particularly on the urban Aboriginal experience, and describes a variety of creative and effective urban Aboriginal community development initiatives, as well as other anti-poverty initiatives that have been successful in Winnipeg’s inner city, especially in regards with subsidised housing.

Often under-valued, under-recognized and under-appreciated, support units are seen as less “glamorous” than infantry or armoured units when it comes to military reading, and yet their role is no less essential. Bruce Tascona’s book United in Effort: Manitoba Combat Service Support History, 1870 to 2015 is the first publication to undertake a study of the integral role of logistics and training support in military operations with a specific focus on Manitoba service support units domestically and overseas. These include transporting troops and supplies as well as medical, dental, pay, postal, provost and veterinary services. The book follows the history of these units in Manitoba from the Riel Rebellion to Afghanistan tracing the development and growing importance of logistics in modern warfare.

He has dangled by his toes over a hundred hungry alligators in Florida, been buried alive in India, and jumped from a plane wearing a straightjacket in Japan; escape artist Dean Gunnarson doesn’t shy away from a challenge. The book Dean Gunnarson: The Making of an Escape Artist by Carolyn Gray explores the Winnipeg-born entertainer’s career from its beginning. It describes how after surviving leukemia as a child, his friendship with fellow cancer patient Philip Hornan inspired him to attempt a series of stunts culminating in a near-fatal submerged coffin act on the banks of the Red River that propelled Gunnarson to stardom.

Come and check it out!

  • Louis-Philippe

Our authors, our stories

On Saturday, May 7, Millennium Library hosted our first ever Local Author Fair, which featured 40 Winnipeg and Manitoba authors. In the morning we heard talks from three on their personal journeys through writing and publishing, which I thought I’d share with you (as well as a bonus one at the end).

mamieFirst to speak was Elizabeth Murray, author of Holding on to Mamie. It was gut-wrenching to hear her talk about the need she felt to write her memoir, in order to deal with how her mother’s dementia poisoned their relationship and turned mother against daughter. About her book:

“As her dementia advanced, Mamie wrote a multitude of notes that evidence the anger and paranoia that are often symptomatic of it. This memoir offers unique insight into this inner turmoil, as well as the fears and frustrations of her daughter and primary caregiver.”

ensNext was Melinda Friesen, author of the dystopian novel Enslavement (book one of the One Bright Future series). In addition to speaking about how she got into writing as a stay-at-home mom, Melinda told us about how and why she and her team started the new Winnipeg company Rebelight Publishing. About her book:

“‘One World. One Currency. One Bright Future.’ That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse—but only for those who obey. When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials force her into a Community Service Contract—a legalized form of slavery—and sell her to a wealthy, abusive banker, who might nevertheless hold the key to Rielle’s freedom.”

dancing.jpgLast to speak was Daniel Perron, author of Dancing Gabe: One Step at a Time. He told us how he unexpectedly found himself writing a book about a local celebrity and the many things he’s had to learn in order to see it self-published. About his book: 

“He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, institutionalized at six, and non-verbal until he was ten…. Then became one of the most recognized and adored figures in Winnipeg. This is the journey of Gabe Langlois, his mother, his family, his friends, and the many medical professionals, local media and sports figures who influenced his life.”

There were dozens of other books at our fair in the afternoon (for a short time you can still find them all listed here).

For a small taste, here’s one. Because, you know, chocolate.

Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate by Doreen choco.jpgPendgracs

A delicious chocolaty tour, introducing us to chocolatiers, chocolatemakers, cocoa growers and chocolate events around the world. My kind of tourism. 

Want to learn more about our local authors? Get in touch, or stay tuned for our next Local Author Fair in November.

Keep on reading!


Titles Winnipeggers Love – Favourite Books from the Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection

Titles in Winnipeg Public Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection have been very popular the last number of years.  With a growing number of authentic and ground-breaking books being published, it’s a wonderful time to be working in libraries and sharing these great reads with the public.

View The Reason You Walk in our catalogue.On track to be the most popular title in 2016 has got to be Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk.  There are about 200 requests right now, but with 50 copies the list should go quickly.  (Don’t forget we have it available as an eBook too).
How many of the most-borrowed titles below have you read or, better yet, shared with those you know?

These are just a tiny number of the Library’s Aboriginal Resources Collection.  We now have just over 2000 titles for adults and nearly 2000 different children’s titles too.  To find out how to search for these books visit our Aboriginal Services guide.View The Inconvenient Indian in our catalogue.

I don’t know about resolutions, but with the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’ s Final Report, the announcement of a forthcoming national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, new course requirements and treaty education initiatives at our universities, the opening of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, in addition to inspiring ongoing cView Unsettling the settler within in our catalogue.ommunity initiatives (Got Bannock?, Drag the Red, Bear Clan Patrol, Meet Me at the Bell Tower), 2016 seems like the perfect year for picking up one (or more!) of these books.  For even more recommendations, drop in to your local branch.



The Inconvenient Indian : A Curious Account of Native People in North America
by Thomas King

Unsettling the Settler Within : Indian residential schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada by Paulette Regan


Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writers From the Land of Water
edited by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou

Wícihitowin : Aboriginal Social Work in Canada  Aboriginal Social Work in Canada
by Gord Bruyere (Amawaajibitang), Michael Anthony Hart (Kaskitémahikan) and Raven Sinclair (Ótiskewápíwskew) 

North End Love Songs
by Katherena Vermette

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty: An Anishinabe Understanding of Treaty One
by Aimée Craft

They Came For The Children:  Canada, Aboriginal Peoples and Residential Schools
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

All The Way: My Life On Ice by Jordin Tootoo
by Jordin Tootoo

Ojibway Heritage by Basil Johnston
by Basil Johston

Monique W.

Getting On the Same Page: Manitoba’s Largest Book Club


Manitoba’s biggest book club is getting ready to choose what we will all be reading next year, and you can help pick the winner! On the Same Page, a project developed and run by The Winnipeg Foundation and Winnipeg Public Library, encourages all Manitobans to read and talk about the same book at the same time. There will be special events, author appearances and book giveaways throughout the winter. The choice has been narrowed down to 4 candidates, and voting closes on September 18, 2015. Between now and then you can vote for the title you’d like to see win by filling out a ballot at any of the branches of your Winnipeg Public Library system, or by simply voting online.

If you are not sure what to read this summer, picking up any of these four candidates would be a great idea. Although each of these candidates deal with serious, even tragic, subject matter, all of them have wonderful things to offer to those who discover them. I’m still undecided as to which one I’ll vote for, so if you need a little help, please read through these brief descriptions of each book. Hopefully we can get more people than ever before on the same page next year…


All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

“She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other”. Former Winnipegger Miriam Toews tells the powerful semi-autobiographical story of two sisters, Elfrieda and Yoli, who grew up together in a small Mennonite community outside of Winnipeg. Elf, who is a talented concert pianist, is also suffering from Depression and wants to end her life. Her sister, Yoli, is determined to find a way to help her sister through her illness and back to wellness, despite Yoli’s own crumbling personal life. Another masterpiece from Miriam Toews. It isn’t an easy read, but her ability to create such full and relatable characters is unmatched.

Detachment-cover-June11[1] Detachment: An Adoption Memoir by Maurice Mierau

In 2005, Maurice Mierau and his wife traveled to the Ukraine to adopt two young boys, aged 5 and 3. This book is their story of returning to Winnipeg and adjusting to life as a new family and the parallels the author draws from his own feelings of detachment towards his son and memories of his own emotionally distant father growing up. It is the only non-fiction candidate in this year’s OTSP’s program. Maurice Mierau was WPL’s Writer-in-Residence in 2010.

evolution of alice The Evolution of Alice by David Alexander Robinson

This novel tells the story of Alice, a single mother raising three young daughters on “the rez” after her abusive ex gets sent to the penitentiary. With the help of her best friend, Gideon, she tries to create the best possible life for her family and help them heal from old wounds. When tragedy strikes, Alice is forced to examine her life and her role in the community. Told from multiple points of view, the novel really underpins the interconnectivity of reservation life.

kiss_of_the_fur_queen[1] Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

“Wars start when two parties haven’t taken the time to learn each other’s tongues” Tomson Highway’s magic realism comes through in the character of the Fur Queen, a wise, shape-shifting trickster character who weaves in and out of the lives of two Cree brothers, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis. These boys are removed from their northern community and forced into the Residential School system, where their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and who are abused by the Priests there. As young men, they no longer feel connected to their community, and yet also do not feel a part of the pervasive European culture. They are somewhere in between, and must find their own path away from their own past. They are survivors in every sense of the word.


What’s the Big Idea?

Every September, Winnipeg Public Library has the distinct pleasure of participating in Thin Air, the Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival. This year, we are excited to welcome ten incredible authors who will add a little literary spice to your life. Join us in the Carol Shields Auditorium – accessible right off the Skywalk! – all week long, from Monday, September 22 through Friday, September 26. Can’t wait? We’ve got all the featured titles, plus plenty of related works for you to check out.Logo for the Winnipeg International Writers' Festival

Looking for a little lunch time refresher? Join us for an author reading and signing at The Nooner from 12:15-12:45.

Or perhaps you want to sink your teeth into something a little more substantial? Join authors in a discussion on some of the day’s deepest topics in Big Ideas, from 4:30-5:30. If you want to be prepared for the talk, or find yourself intrigued afterwards, check out some of these related titles for a deeper look at the subject.


Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland all fought for Canada in World War I. They all received the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery. And they all lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg’s West End – renamed Valour Road in 1925 to honour the soldiers. John Nadler unfolds their story in his new book.

The Book: Valour Road by John Nadler

Read More: Symbol of Courage: A History of the Victoria Cross by Max Arthur; Valour Reconsidered: Inquiries into the Victoria Cross and Other Awards for Extreme Bravery by Hugh A. Halliday.

Cover image for The Winter We Danced.Tuesday:

The Winter We Danced is a collection of responses to Idle No More – a nation-wide movement geared to affect major change in the relationship between Canada’s federal government and indigenous peoples. Leanne Simpson, one of the editors who helped to conceive of the book, joins us to discuss this impressive and controversial topic.

The Book: The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement, edited by the Kino-nda-niimi Collective

Read More: Aboriginal Canada Revisited by Kerstin Knopf; Visions of the Heart: Canadian Aboriginal Issues by Olive Patricia Dickason

Cover image for Barle's Story.Wednesday:

Internationally renowned bear-rehabilitator Else Poulsen was on hand at the Detroit Zoo when Bärle, a 19-year-old female polar bear, arrived. Wild-born Bärle had been rescued from a Caribbean circus where she suffered years of abuse. Poulsen shares the story of Bärle’s rehabilitation and discusses how her success is tragically uncommon in cases of animal abuse.

The Book: Bärle’s Story: One Polar Bear’s Amazing Recovery from Life as a Circus Act by Else Poulsen

Read More: Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species by Ian Stirling; Zoos and Animal Welfare by Christine van Tuyl

Cover image for Hope and Despair.Thursday:

In September 2002, Canadian citizen Maher Arar was wrongfully accused of having terrorist links and deported to Syria, where he was held in prison and tortured for over a year. His wife, Monia Mazigh, fought tirelessly to turn the tide of public opinion and spur the Canadian government to have her husband released and returned. Monia brings us the inspiring story of her struggle and ultimate success in restoring her family.

The Book: Hope & Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband, Maher Arar by Monia Mazigh

Read More: Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror by Kerry Pither; Rendition [film], directed by Gavin Hood.

Cover image for Counting Teeth.Friday:

Peter Midgely travelled Namibia with his teenaged daughter to show her the country in which he grew up. Together they encountered a cast of unforgettable characters and beautiful landscapes, saw how the country has been shaped by its war-torn history, and witnessed the lasting effects of apartheid. Midgely weaves the experiences together with the grace of a storyteller.

The Book: Counting Teeth: A Namibian Story by Peter Midgely.

Read More: Namibia Space by Chris Marais; Where Others Wavered: The Autobiography of Sam Nujoma by Sam Nujoma

For more Thin Air events, check out their website or pick up a program at your local library branch!


Read Local! The Best Brand New Made in Manitoba Books

Ever heard of the 100 Mile Book Diet?

The other day I spent some time (maybe too much time) playing with the interactive Read Local map at 49th Shelf (a site devoted to Canadian books). It plots Canadian books not just within provinces or cities, but right down to exact addresses! I ended up finding a book set in my neighborhood, so I borrowed it for my weekend reading. Can you find one set near you?

I’ve been thinking about local books because last week I attended a Book Blitz with the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP). This is where a series of speakers has just a few minutes to talk about top picks for the best new Manitoba books being published in several categories. I really enjoyed hearing about these local books so much that I thought I’d share a selection with you!  For more of their choices, feel free to contact the AMBP.

*Many items are quite new therefore descriptions are adapted from book cover summaries or the Book Blitz booklet.

Kraken BakeKraken Bake, by Karen Dudley

It was a great day when Perseus slew the mighty Kraken. But what do you do with a 100 tonne sea monster on your shores? You eat it of course. Now, after months of Kraken cakes and kabobs the people of Greece are getting a little sick of Kraken and have decided they need to find a Bronze Chef with the skill to tackle the “Kraken crisis”. When Chef Pelops (who can’t cook any food from the sea having offended Poseidon) learns he has been chosen as a Bronze Chef candidate, he faces humiliation or worse, such as the end of his cooking career. Add to that the wedding of his beloved to his best friend as well as the need to dispose of a Gorgon’s head, and Pelops’s plate is full. This sequel to the critically acclaimed Food for the Gods mirthfully re-imagines the world of ancient Greece with a modern spin.

The WittenbergsThe Wittenbergs, by Sarah Klassen

All is not well with the Wittenbergs. Alice has given birth to her second child with a genetic disorder. Millicent has withdrawn into a depression. Joseph must choose between becoming principal of George Sutton Collegiate and the new English teacher. Mia finds herself at the mercy of an unsympathetic teacher while the attractive athletic neighbour ignores her. Only the oldest Wittenberg, the matriarch who holds the key to the family’s Mennonite past, can lead the Wittenbergs along the Dnieper River and toward a better tomorrow.

Tombstone BluesTombstone Blues, by Chadwick Ginther

After beating back the might of Surtur, Ted Callan is getting used to his immortal powers. The man who would stop at nothing to rid himself of his tattoos and their power seems to be enjoying his new-found abilities. However, not everyone is happy the glory of Valhalla has risen from the ashes of Ragnarӧk. Thor, former God of Thunder, rages in the land of the dead, and now that Ted’s woken the dead, there’s going to be trouble.

North End Love SongsNorth End Love Songs, by Katherena Vermette

For Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s North End is a neighborhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and wily rivers. It is where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized by local media and the police because he is young and Aboriginal. It is also a place that young girls share secrets, movies, cigarettes, Big Gulps and stories of love—where a young mother full of both maternal trepidation and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park.
*Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.

Rain on a Distant RoofRain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada, by Vanessa Farnsworth

More than the story of one woman’s battle with Lyme disease, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada is also the story of an organism likened to a creature from outer space, and a medical system that continues to have no idea how to deal with it. Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shares features with a parasite, but can switch from looking like an invading bacterium to being indistinguishable from a heart or neural cell. With many areas of Canada experiencing an increase in infected ticks, more and more of the population is at risk of contracting this tick-borne illness.

Indians Wear Red“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs, by Elizabeth Comack

With the advent of Aboriginal street gangs such as the Indian Posse, Manitoba Warriors, and Native Syndicate, Winnipeg garnered a reputation as the “gang capital of Canada”.  Yet beyond the stereotypes, little is known about these street gangs and the conditions that have produced them. Drawing upon extensive interviews with Aboriginal street gang members as well as with Aboriginal women and elders, the authors develop an understanding from “inside” the inner city and through the voices of Aboriginal people — especially street gang members themselves. Solutions do not lie in quick fixes or getting tough on crime, but in decolonization, re-connecting Aboriginal people with their cultures, and building communities in which they can safely live and work. *Winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction at the Manitoba Book Awards.

Another great way to stay up to date on great local reads is with the Manitoba Book Awards held every spring. I love that there’s so much great writing going on in our own backyard!  I want to ask – do you have a favourite book about, or published in, Manitoba?

– Erica

2013’s Winnipeg Books About Winnipeg

Winnipeg is known as a cultural capital – we have a great arts scene, including a solid literary core.  While the pursuits of fiction writers in Winnipeg have been looked at before, I am going to take a look at the great non-fiction books that were put out in 2013 about Winnipeg by Winnipeggers.

What I have always enjoyed about Winnipeg is that we’re good at taking a long, hard look at ourselves.  It might not always be pleasant and it might not always make us look good.  It might uncover major issues going on in the city.  But it makes our city better.

One of the best books I read about Winnipeg in 2013 was “Indians wear Red”: colonialism, resistance, and aboriginal street gangs  by Elizabeth Cormack, Jim Sliver, Larry Morrissette, and Lawrence Deane.  It is a critical look at the gang culture in Winnipeg, but it looks at it in a way not to vilify the gang members but to contextualize the life they live in.  It looks at effects that colonialism, neo-liberalism and economics have had on the proliferation of gangs. (Side note: I would recommend the other books by both Elizabeth Cormack and Jim Silver, too). It is essential that we take a hard look at these issues instead of sweeping them under the rug, acting like they do not exist or hoping they take care of themselves.

One member of the Winnipeg family that exposed Winnipeggers to issues in their city, even if they didn’t want to look, was Nick Ternette.  Sadly, Nick died in 2013 but what came out of that was a great autobiography that he finished before he died.  It is called Rebel Without a Pause and outlines Nick’s fights to get the issues of the poor and the disabled into the mainstream Winnipeg thought and his constant fight to make Winnipeg a better city.

wolseley storiesAnother great story put out this year about Winnipeg by a Winnipegger was Wolseley Stories by Laina Hughes.  Unlike the other books, it doesn’t provide a critique of Winnipeg, but instead looks at the history of Wolseley and the stories of the people who live in it.  Hughes said she wanted to write the book to get to know the people who lived in her house 100 years ago.

I think this is the best way to learn the history of the area you live in is to find out the history of your house or the street you live on (note: This doesn’t work if you live in a new development).  I used the Winnipeg Free Press archive, available in every library, to search my house.  Warning: don’t do this if you’re not ready for the consequences.  I found out that a previous owner of my house died in the house – luckily of natural causes.

In 2014, why not make it a resolution to read Winnipeg books by Winnipeggers in Winnipeg – there are sure to be more great titles on the way!