Tag Archives: Lori@WPL

Summer Slump


“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” — Dr. Seuss

    Summertime – check. More daylight and time to read-check. Comfy reading spaces indoors and out – check. Variety of refreshing beverages – check. Stacks and stacks of reading material as per Dr. Seuss – check. Me actually reading anything? Not so much.

     I’ve got all of the boxes checked to immerse myself in reading, and in listening to audio books, but somehow I’m not finding anything that’s catching my attention. Maybe it’s having too many choices, or having my expectations set too high. Whatever the reason, I’m smack dab in the middle of a summer reading slump. All is hope is not lost, though. I’ve been reaching out for suggestions in an effort to find something that will re-kindle the  diminished spark in what used to be a burning passion, my relationship with reading. In an effort to embrace everything and dismiss nothing I’ve made a list (I’m still passionate about that) of the titles that have been suggested to me, and I’ve requested them from Winnipeg Public Library. No descriptions from the people who recommended them, no checking out reviews in advance, I’m not even looking at the summary on the book itself. Just clicking on a cover and and requesting, that’s it. I’ve included a partial list of my overall list here. I’ll check back in my next post to let you know which title makes me into a blazing bibliophile once again.


If any of these covers look like they’d be worth a second look, do what I did and just click it. You never know where or when a reading slump will strike, so it’s best to be prepared.


Summer Reading

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

Jeannette Walls

Somehow, reading in the summer is a different experience than at other times of the year. We’re more apt to do it outside, for one thing, since turning pages with mittens on is a challenge. So is seeing the page when your breath comes out as a cloud. But that’s behind us now, summer is here and the reading is easy. Beach reads have sometimes been defined as totally unrealistic escapism, and that’s not a bad way to pass some time swinging in the hammock or at the cottage. Sometimes, though, we need something with a bit more substance. Reading children’s and young adult titles provides a quality reading experience through the viewpoint of kids and teens, and can take you back to when you were a kid.

Dez and Miikan have shared a lot of experiences in their lives, both good and bad. But when Dez’s grandmother becomes ill, Dez is unable to cope, even with the help of her best friend. When Dez runs away from home, Miikan and the rest of the community do their best to help, but will it be enough to bring Dez home?

Felix is living a secret life. He goes to a good school and has great friends. But what nobody knows is  Felix and his mother have been living in a camper van, struggling to make ends meet. Trying to sneak in showers and finding enough food for the day are realities that Felix is having a hard time hiding from everyone, especially when Astrid is in her ‘slumps’

Mr. Baker’s class is ending the school year with a trip to the Carlsbad Caverns. When an earthquake collapses the tunnels during the trip, the class is sent careening into the abyss. Mr. Baker is missing, and the students are separated in a terrifying, unknown world below. Can they survive and make it back to the surface?

This two-sided novel explores reconciliation through the eyes of three children. In Lucy & Lola, the girls find out about their Kookum (grandmother) and mother’s experiences in the Canadian residential school system. In When We Play Our Drums, They Sing! Dene Cho learns about the impact of residential schools on the loss of their traditions and language.

Ethan’s dad is a famous comic book artist, so when a project at school requires expert drawing skills, his group nominates Ethan for the job. The problem is, Ethan can’t draw. Then Inkling rolls off the page of one of Ethan’s Dad’s sketchbooks and wants to help. That’s when the fun begins…

 I hope that you enjoy reading these books as much as I did. If this list has left you wanting more, check out myrca.ca  for your next great summer read.



V-O-T-E! Who will the winners be?

That’s the question on everyone’s mind these days – who will be the winner in this year’s MYRCA vote? The competition is  always fierce, but it’s even more so since this year there will be not one but two winners. There are two categories for MYRCA readers, Sundogs for grades 4 – 6, and Northern Lights for grades 7 – 9. The voting began March 18 and will continue until midnight April 10.

Throughout the year, the MYRCA committee members devote countless hours reading wonderful books by talented Canadian authors. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.  The committee members meet once a month to talk about what they’ve read. Over time more and more lists are created, which are then distilled into the final list for the year.

From that point on, the students are the ones doing the reading and discussion, then it all  comes down to the penultimate moment when they fill in the ballot for their favourites. The hardest part by far is waiting for the announcement of the MYRCA winner for the year.

There’s still time to do some reading before the end of the voting period. Here are a few of the titles to choose from. For a full list, go to myrca.ca

Brave by Svetlana Chmakova

In Jenson’s  dreams, he has no problem being brave, but real life is harder. Things like finding a partner for a class project and Math are super scary. When Jenson joins the school newspaper things are still scary, but also surprising.

Restart by Gordon Korman

When Chase wakes up with amnesia his mind is filled with questions. Why does his Dad make him nervous? Why is his stepsister scared of him? The stuff in his room tells Chase he’s a middle school hero, but that’s not the whole story.

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Kamzin jumps at the opportunity to map the tallest, deadliest mountain in the kingdom. But when her sister sets off on her own to climb the mountain, Kamzin has a choice to make; save her sister from certain death, or beat her up the mountain for the glory.

Short for Chameleon by Vicki Grant

Cam’s life is all about being someone he’s not. He and his dad are rent-a-relatives who act as friends and family members for paying customers. Pretending to be someone else was working for Cam, until he meets Albertina and Raylene,  and starts to discover who he really is.

V-O-T-E! Who will the winners be? You’ll just have to wait and see.


What I Love to Read

Bibliophile: (n) A lover of books; someone who finds joy and peace of mind while holding a quality book.

Being passionate about your work is one of the greatest gifts that you can have in this life, and I’m so fortunate that my job allows me not only to indulge in my passion for reading but also to share it with others. Since February is also I Love to Read month I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some of my most current favourite books. I’m fickle about my favourites, so this list changes often, but these are the books that are currently on the list.


penguin in love

Penguin in Love by Selina Yoon

You can never go wrong with a penguin story, and this story not only has penguins, it has knitting and (almost) unrequited love.



ruinous sweep

The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones

Donovan Turner has lost his memory and has no idea what he’s doing on a dark, deserted stretch of road in the middle of the night, after being tossed out of a moving car. Then things really start to get interesting. This book kept me guessing from beginning to end, and my first impulse after finishing it was to read it again, to really be able to savour the intricate twists and turns in the plot.



Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda

In contrast to The Ruinous Sweep, which I read quickly (both times, and there will likely be a third reading in the near future) Gmorning, Gnight! is best read only a page at a time, preferably once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Lin-Manuel’s upbeat and inspiring words, coupled with Jonny Sun’s incomparable illustrations are the best way to start and end your day.


synchro boy

Synchro Boy by Shannon McFerran

I loved this story of a teen competitive racing swimmer being brave enough to try synchronized swimming. Bart’s journey of self-discovery is centred around the swimming pool, where he finds a way to be true to himself, despite the pressures and perceptions of those around him.

To my way of thinking, the only thing that’s better than reading a great book is telling someone about it. So what’s on your list?



DIY Book Stack Management

I can never read all the books I want.
Sylvia Plath

I love books, the more the better. The mere thought of being somewhere without something to read is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. Fortunately this doesn’t happen very often, given where I work and the size of my book collection. Sometimes, though, too much of a good thing is simply too much. My TBR (To Be Read) book stacks, reading lists, wish lists and downloads can and do get out of hand at times. I’ve discovered a few tricks that work for me to wrestle my TBR to a manageable size, at least until the next time it gets out of control.

I’ve spent many fascinating hours in the world of the Seven Kingdoms, created by George R. R. Martin. But at a certain point I simply had had enough, and I have yet to finish reading the entire series. I might be the only fan out there who isn’t concerned with when the next book comes out, but I refuse to feel guilty. Alright, maybe I feel a little guilty, but not enough to continue the series until I’m ready for it.

Ian Rankin’s Rebus character is one of my favorite literary detectives, to the point where I found myself craving Irn Bru, bacon butties and brown sauce on chips, even though I’m not entirely clear on what brown sauce is. I mourned the end of Rebus’s career when Ian Rankin retired him, but I still appreciated all of the great writing. When Rebus returned I found I didn’t have much interest in reading his new stories. I’m sure that the quality of the writing is excellent, I mean we are talking about Ian Rankin, after all, but sometimes you just have to let a character go. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it, at least for now.

Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix is an amazing picture book that uses die cut shapes to reveal a surprise on each page. It’s absolutely beautiful, but I’ve never been tempted to find more books by this author. This stems partly from a fear of being disappointed, and partly as a means to stop myself from adding yet another book to my stack.


The first time I read Rainbow Rowell’s book Eleanor and Park I was enchanted, and I only became more enchanted each time I read it. Despite all of the tempting reviews and recommendations I’ve gotten about her other books I haven’t rushed to read them. Sometimes it’s good to wallow in the undiluted greatness of one book for awhile before picking up another one by the same writer. I have read several of her books, and plan on reading everything that she writes, but for me having a bit of a hiatus lets me savor the stories that much more deeply. Plus it keeps the book stack just a wee bit shorter.

Other book stack management methods that work for me are suspending my holds, editing the lists on my library account, clearing out my Goodreads lists, and periodically moving the stacks of books in my house from one room to another. Somehow, even with all of this, I never seem to have enough time to read everything that I want, but on the bright side I never have to worry about running out of books, either.


Random Acts of Reading

Expose yourself to as much randomness as possible.

Ben Casnocha

Reading a series (in order of course) is an experience like no other. It plunges you into an ongoing saga that can take you from one side of a world to another, over the edge and back again. There’s a progression and a certain left brain logic to following the suggested reading order that my list-loving side really enjoys. But what about just reading anything? No logic, no order, just a right brain intuitive leap into whatever looks good at the time. I do that too, generally after finishing a long series of books. Theories differ as to how much influence the left and right side of the brain have on personality and decision-making, but I like to think that I’ve achieved a state of relative balance between the two.

Throughout the winter I pretty much lived and breathed Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I read through them all, some of them more than once, listened to them on audiobooks, and talked about them with anyone who would listen. After a time I finished with the series, much to the relief of my nearest and dearest, who were thrilled to have a conversation that didn’t contain references to the brilliance of Sir Terry. Having come from a prolonged period of regulated reading I was ready for some more random book choices, which led me to a right brain dominated summer reading season of picking up whatever looked good at the time.

I guess I wasn’t ready to leave the whole fantasy by British authors experience, because my next reading choice was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy which comes in five parts, by Douglas Adams. Cruising through the universe with Arthur, Ford Prefect, and his semi-half cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox was the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster my brain needed to move on from the Discworld.


After my around the galaxy tour I was ready for something more down to earth, which led me to the books by James Herriot which are about as far from fantasy as you can get. The stories James tells about his time as a rural vet in Yorkshire are sweet and engaging, and somehow make shivering in freezing cold to deliver a lamb and being up to your ankles in manure seem appealing. The television series has breath-taking views of the Yorkshire countryside, and the actors do a good job of transitioning the characters from the page to the screen without losing the charm of the original.


I haven’t gone on any road trips yet this year, but reading Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire made me glad that I was staying home. The main character, Rose, is the source for the urban legend of the Phantom Prom Date. She was tragically killed in an car crash on her way to the dance, and now travels the highways and byways as a ghost, saving those who she can from suffering the same fate she did. This paired nicely with the Supernatural binge I was on, although I think that Sam and Dean Winchester would probably have had a different reaction to Rose than I did.


I moved from the open road to underground caverns for my next random bit of reading. A World Below by Wesley King is the story of a group of students on a field trip to the Carlsbad Caverns when an earthquake suddenly traps them underground. But the dangers the students face go beyond surviving a natural disaster. There’s an entire civilization living deep in the caverns, and they aren’t happy about having visitors from the world above.


Left brain or right brain, random or planned, what’s your next act of reading going to be?




Small Books, Big Ideas

Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.
Liz Vassey

War and Peace. Moby Dick. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Encyclopedia Britannica. These are all big books, figuratively and literally. They contain thousands of pages and millions of words, not to mention taking up a big chunk of space on a shelf. Even in eBook form these are behemoths, weighty tomes in every sense of the word. People have even written books about reading these books, like A. J. Jacobs, a very ambitious fellow who tried to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. But is this the only way? Does a book have to be big to have enormous influence? Not always. Sometimes it’s the smallest books that can convey the biggest ideas, take to a special time and place or give you enough information to guide you on your path through life.

While self-described as a bear of very little brain, Pooh has a way of summing up complex concepts in a few elegant words. On the surface his comments may be about honey and teatime, but you could do far worse than to apply his sage advice in all situations.

Nobody can be un-cheered with a balloon.

Oxford University is famous worldwide for the depth and breadth of the education and erudition of its professors and students who can spend years, if not their entire lifetime writing extremely long, and in some cases, exceedingly long winded, treatises on any subject under the sun. But reading something from the Very Short Introductions series will give you insights and arguments on a wide variety of subjects, with time left over for other things.

 Voltaire said: “I wholly disapprove of what you say-and will defend to the death your right to say it.”

There have been many re-tellings of the classic story of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, but to my mind there will never be a more charming and captivating version than the original, which is just the right size for a cozy cuddle with a little one.

After a time he began to wander about, going lippity – lippity – not very fast, and looking all around.

Science and philosophy are topics that each have immense ideas and concepts. When you put the two together in a small book the size of the ideas that are communicated is incalculable.

How do we reconcile the advantages of science with its perils?

Meditation and motion are a huge part of my life, and this little book has expanded my horizons beyond calculation. Any book by Thich Nhat Hanh has paradigm altering ideas, but this one is easy to tuck into your pocket.

Walking in mindfulness brings us peace and joy, and makes our lives real.

Sometimes big books are necessary to communicate big ideas, but in my experience it’s not the size of the book that matters, it’s the size of the ideas inside the book.







Doin’ the Dewey

Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you’d be able to find whatever you were looking for…
Brian Selznick

364.1523, 641, 822.33, 910

Or, to express this in words, true crime, cookbooks, Shakespeare and travel essays. These are just a small random sample of the multitude of subjects and information you can find using the Dewey Decimal system. Doin’ the Dewey is second nature, something that I’ve used for most of my life to find what I’m looking for.

The human brain is hardwired to categorize and sort data. Sometimes it’s in long term memory, sometimes it’s in short term, sometimes it’s an image and sometimes it’s an aroma. Scientists are working on ways to map how the brain works, to try and discover how the brain organizes and retrieves all of the data that comes our way, and they’ve come up with some amazing conclusions.

Going to a library is a bit like being inside an enormous brain. Libraries house an astonishing amount of information, and just as with our brains we need to be able to retrieve anything at any time as quickly and as accurately as possible. The retrieval system in a library also needs to be replicated in varied locations and expand as needed to accommodate new materials, which is where the Dewey Decimal system comes in. Every subject and classification has its own number, and is the same in every public library in Winnipeg, so you can transfer the knowledge from one location to the next and still find what you’re looking for. It even works for any format – print, audio or video.

Still not feeling confident that you too can do the Dewey? Here’s a quick and easy overview of the Dewey classifications and what you can find where:

000 – Computer Science and Information

In this section you can also find information on UFOs, Bigfoot, the paranormal, the Guinness Book of World Records, books of lists, and so much more.





100 – Philosophy and Psychology

Here you’ll find selections ranging from the Platonic method to the latest insights on the human mind. The ideologies may conflict, but on these shelves everyone lives in harmony.





300 – Social Sciences

This section is home to money management, true crime, fairy tales, politics and the environment, to name but a few of the fascinating subjects on these shelves.






400 – Language

If you’re into grammar, need a dictionary or want to learn a new language this is the place to go.





500 – Science

Biology, chemistry, astronomy, natural sciences, mathematics,  if it’s part of the known or theoretical universe you’ll find it here.

600 – Technology

Whether you want to fix a bicycle, plant a garden, raise a pet, cook something new, or find a new way to connect with your child you’re sure to discover something in this section.





700 – Arts and Recreation

Crafters, painters, decorators, knitters, musicians and sports fans all come together in one section.





800 – Literature

Poetry, prose, humor and essays all  in one easy to find location. You’ll find some of the most beautiful and timeless literary works of all time, and guides to help you interpret them.





900 – History and Geography

Whether you want to travel back in time, or get the latest recommendations before your journey across the globe, the materials you find in the 900s will guide you on your way.





If’ you’re interested in an in -depth look at the Dewey classifications, stop by the Millennium Library and take a look at the Dewey decimal classification and relative index or the DDC as it’s affectionately known. These four volumes encompass every detail and decimal point in the world according to Dewey, and if it’s not in there then it’s quite likely whatever you’re after doesn’t exist.





See how easy doin’ the Dewey can be?


Never Too Soon

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Jacqueline Kennedy

I’ve been called by many names over the years, some of them more pleasant than others, but I think the one I cherish the most is Auntie Book. When my family and friends started having children, I showed up at every baby shower with a gift of a hand-knit blanket wrapped around a bundle of books. As time went on, I continued to give books as gifts on every possible occasion. I also kept a stash of reading materials in a huge tote bag, which I brought out whenever I had the chance to look after my nieces and nephews. Time has marched on at a rapid pace, and those little ones have now grown up and in some cases have little ones of their own. I stopped being Auntie Book to those kids some years ago, but I still believe that the best gift you can give a child of any age is a book – and your time.

It’s never too soon to start sharing the joy of books with a child, and the  Winnipeg Public Library has a plethora of programs to suit any preschooler in your life. For those who are quite literally new to the world, and thus to reading in general, we have the Baby Rhyme Time program, which is aimed at infants aged 0 – 24 months and their caregivers.  This program offers songs, rhymes, and stories that will get the little ones in your life off to a great start.

For this age group, one of my go-to book recommendations is Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid. The words celebrate the many ways you can read with a child, and the illustrations of familiar locations are great for a developing mind.

Once a child has reached the age of 2, we have another program that suits the needs of busy, inquisitive minds and bodies. Time for Twos is designed with the toddler in mind, with loads of interactive activities and age-appropriate stories.


For this stage in life, my book gift list would invariably include a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It’s a perfect choice to catch a child’s interest, with loads of fun pictures and a highly satisfying ending.

Pre-School Story Time is the next step in enhancing a child’s love of literacy. This program is for children aged 3 – 5 who are ready to be part of a group without their caregivers in the same room. Longer stories and more fun songs and stretches ensure that everyone has a good time.

The first time I read Bark, George by Jules Feiffer I knew that I had found a true gem. Between the ridiculous story and riotous illustrations, I defy anyone to read this and not end up with a roaring case of the giggles.

If everyone in the family is into books, why not check out a Family Story Time? The content is aimed primarily at children aged 3 – 5, but everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

And, on Monday evenings, the St. James Library is offering a Sensory Story Time.  Featuring books, stretches, and movement activities in an input-sensitive environment. Sensory Story Time is an interactive program geared toward children ages 3-5, including children on the Autism spectrum, and their parents/caregivers and siblings.

One of our favorite books to read at Sensory Story Time is The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Everyone has fun trying to spot that big hungry bear before he gets to that red ripe strawberry.

I still treasure the memories of the kids I read with back in the day, and fortunately for me so do they. I’m almost finished knitting the blanket for the latest little one to become part of my life, and, of course, I’ve already picked up the rest of the present. Long live Auntie Book!



Planning to be Spontaneous


“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are…”

J.K. Rowling

These days, even though our entertainment choices are so diverse, it seems as though we’re constantly being steered towards a minor variation on the same old thing. Once you look up a book on Amazon, view something on YouTube or stream a movie on Netflix, you’re given a list of recommendations based on that choice, whether you want it or not. This is fine, sometimes, but can get pretty dull.  It also makes being impulsive and spontaneous a bit of a challenge.

Conversely, being faced with the overwhelming selections coming at us thick and fast can mean that we retreat to the comfort zone of what’s familiar. It’s difficult to break away from the tried and true, and as someone whose comfort zone begins in the tried and ends in the true I know whereof I speak. But the new year brings new resolutions, and one of mine is to start making different choices. Notice I didn’t say better choices, just different ones. When making a change experts sometime say to take baby steps. Just one small shift can make a huge difference down the road. With that in mind, why not start making new choices at the library?

Here’s something easy to do: think of any 3 digit number. Let’s say 814. Thanks to Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey, the inventor of the Dewey decimal system, that number could take you to something like Roxanne Gay’s book, Bad Feminist, which contains fascinating essays written on a wide variety of topics. This technique will work on any 3 digit number combination, and if you want to get fancy you can add a decimal point and more numbers.

If you’re like me and you like structure in your spontaneity, you could choose to do what Phyllis Rose did, and read every book on a library shelf. In her book The Shelf: from LEQ to LES Phyllis relates her reading adventures, and what she discovered along the way, about translations, authors who stop writing and herself as a reader.


Another way to free your mind from the usual is to deliberately look at something you don’t like. Take Shakespeare, for example. Not a writer that everyone loves, but his works have endured for hundreds of years for a reason. Try something from the No Fear Shakespeare collection, which includes character summaries, modern English translations and explanations throughout the text.


Or  the next time you reach for something to read or to listen to, try something by an author whose name falls alphabetically just before or just after your usual choice. Or you could take the first book off of each shelf in a bay of shelves, or books by authors whose names start with vowels or double consonants, or books that have been translated from another language, or books with red covers. There’s really no wrong way to open your mind to new possibilities, the hardest part is deciding where to begin. Join me in my plans to be spontaneous, and see where your choices take you.