Tag Archives: Lyle @ WPL

How Do We Retire With Dignity?

After 30 years of working in administrative support at Winnipeg Public Library – mostly as a desktop publisher and marketing assistant – I am retiring at the end of June. Immediately upon deciding I felt a wave of sadness for having to say goodbye to my co-workers (who have been great to work alongside) and tasks like making posters or web pages that sing or taking photos for our newsletter that make others smile. I also felt relief like an untied balloon finally able to (slowly) lose its long-stored air. I could mentally begin to let go of work responsibilities which always tended to weigh on me. There was also a refreshing note of expectation as I began to anticipate new rhythms, including more time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. (Perhaps more reflective writing, cooking and gardening?)

But how do we retire with dignity and not a ton of regret? I’m not entirely sure. I haven’t navigated this transition before so I am by no means an expert. It’s likely a different challenge and experience for each individual, but I have noticed there are a lot of library resources right here that can help with the process. What a privilege it is to be part of a library that serves so many in so many meaningful ways!

There are self-help books that help you to think financially smarter about retirement or how to set goals and a bucket list for a more ‘fulfilling’ next life chapter. The ‘Parachute’ series is one such resource.

Screen-Shot-2016-05-18-at-12.32.06-PM.pngWhat Color is Your Parachute? For Retirement by John E. Nelson

“Today’s economic realities have reset our expectations of what retirement is, yet there’s still the promise for what it can be: a life stage filled with more freedom and potential then ever…What Color Is Your Parachute? For Retirement offers both a holistic, big picture look at these years as well as practical tools and exercises to help you build a life full of security, vitality, and community.” (Publisher summary)

 

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How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski

“The key to achieving an active and satisfying retirement involves a great deal more than having adequate financial resources; it also encompasses all other aspects of life–interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits, physical well-being, mental well-being, and solid social support.” (Publisher summary)

I’m imagining retirement as a transition into something less definable than ‘fading gently into the sunset’. Maybe it’s time to take stock of my life and its many mistakes and learn from them as best I can. How can I be of service to others when I don’t have a 9-4:30 job anymore? How can I work on neglected parts of my life with hope and not give in to despair? After all the external labels like ‘Library Marketing Assistant’ are stripped from me, who am I anyways? Somehow I think reflective books as well as works of fiction and movies might be the ticket for me, and maybe for others too.

Here are just a few alternatives for those dreaming about retirement, or who are about to go down this hopeful yet scary path into the unknown with me:

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This perhaps is a movie and a book about how not to retire, a cautionary tale about leaving your job in bitterness!

” …Fredrik Backman’s heartwarming debut is a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step… At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.
But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible….”

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About Schmidt directed by Alexander Payne

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Louis Begley, this fascinating movie is about self-discovery of a very ordinary person:

“Warren Schmidt is a retired insurance salesman, who at age 66 has no particular plans other than to drive around in the motor home his wife insisted they buy. He’s not altogether bitter, but not happy either, as everything his wife does annoys him, and he disapproves of the man his daughter is about to marry. When his wife suddenly dies, he sets out to postpone the imminent marriage of his daughter to a man he doesn’t like, while coping with discoveries about his late wife and himself in the process.” (rottentomates.com summary)

index-2.aspx.jpegFalling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
by Richard Rohr

“In Falling Upward, Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up.’ Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as ‘falling upward.’ In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens and loss is gain. This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.” (Publisher summary)

I imagine I concur. Retirement will not be much of anything unless I’ve learned – or am learning – at least from some of the mistakes from my ‘first half of life’.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This is a quirky yet lovable book about a recently retired man who decides to make profound changes to his predictable life. His long-suffering wife is surprised when he decides to walk 500 miles in an attempt to save a dying work colleague. “It’s the proverbial case of a man going out to mail a letter and never coming home.” (Publisher quote)

Think ‘Forrest Gump’ for the middle-aged. I have an affinity for this book since I took a walking tour of England last summer, but not for 500 miles! Walking I find is a great metaphor for exploring outer and inner worlds at the same time.

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Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Ann Lamott

“…Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by ‘facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.’ It’s up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere — ‘within us and outside us, all around us’, and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it’s crucial, as ‘kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.” (Publisher summary)

Wow. That’s a lot to learn, but I do have the rest of my life. I guess we all do.

Au revoir!

  • Lyle

 

 

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Stand up for Science

I recall that it wasn’t long ago that Canadian scientists were being told not to speak up in public about their exciting research. Mmm… when did  evidence-based knowledge become all of a sudden subversive? Now the Trump Administration is doing its best to erode public confidence in science by gutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget, removing all mention of climate change from US government web sites, and cutting money from other science-based programs. By rolling back environmental regulations are they betting that society will be grateful for a few dollars saved while the earth becomes increasingly unlivable? This seems so myopic to me, but I digress. Reviewing recently published scientific books, I am amazed at the quality and quantity of what is coming to our shelves (and e-readers). Apparently scientific learning has not stopped, and the following titles are proof that at least some of us are hopelessly curious at deepening our knowledge of the world we live in, and us who live in it.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the inspirational popularizer of modern science, spoke about the importance of never giving up our desire to understand: “During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore — in part because it’s fun to do. But there’s a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us.” Well put.

Here are those promised titles:

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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

“… a book about the joy of discovery. Carlo Rovelli brings a playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, offering surprising–and surprisingly easy to grasp–explanations of Einstein’s general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. ‘Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,’ Rovelli writes. ‘And it’s breathtaking.'”
(Publisher summary)

index.aspx Why Time Flies by Alan Burdick

“In this witty and meditative exploration, award-winning author and New Yorker staff writer Alan Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how time gets in us and why we perceive it the way we do. In the company of scientists, he visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that ‘now’ actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist’s lab, even makes time go backward. Why Time Flies is an instant classic, a vivid and intimate examination of the clocks that tick inside us all.” (Publisher summary)

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The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing by Damion Searls

“In 1917, working alone in a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an experiment to probe the human mind: a set of ten carefully designed inkblots. For years he had grappled with the theories of Freud and Jung while also absorbing the aesthetic movements of the day, from Futurism to Dadaism. A visual artist himself, Rorschach had come to believe that who we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what we see.” (Publisher summary)

index.aspx.jpegHit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson

“In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has ‘good taste,’ and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold, yet sneakily recognizable.” (Publisher summary)

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Irresistible: the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked
by Adam Alter

“In this revolutionary book, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistable. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.” (Publisher summary)

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Climate Change and the Health of Nations: Famines, Fevers, and the Fate of Populations by Anthony J. McMichael

“When we think of ‘climate change,’ we think of man-made global warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But natural climate change has occurred throughout human history, and populations have had to adapt to the climate’s vicissitudes. Anthony J. McMichael, a renowned epidemiologist and a pioneer in the field of how human health relates to climate change, is the ideal person to tell this story.” (Publisher summary)

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Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost my Faith and Found It Again Through Science
by Mike McHargue

“In Finding God in the Waves, ‘Science Mike’ draws on his personal experience to tell the unlikely story of how science led him back to faith. Among other revelations, we learn what brain scans reveal about what happens when we pray; how fundamentalism affects the psyche; and how God is revealed not only in scripture but in the night sky, in subatomic particles, and in us.” (Publisher summary)

The Gene Machine: how genetic technologies are changing the way we have kids–and the kids we haveindex-1.aspx.jpeg by Bonnie Rochman

“A sharp-eyed exploration of the promise and peril of having children in an age of genetic tests and interventions. Is screening for disease in an embryo a humane form of family planning or a slippery slope toward eugenics? Should doctors tell you that your infant daughter is genetically predisposed to breast cancer? If tests revealed that your toddler has a genetic mutation whose significance isn’t clear, would you want to know?” (Publisher summary)

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Option B
by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

“Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart–and her journal–to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere… and to rediscover joy.” (Publisher summary)

Enjoy your reading and appreciation of science in 2017!

  • Lyle

Quest for Manitoba Birds

While I was meandering up the road from Lester Beach on Lake Winnipeg last July I came across an unusual bird casually sitting on a branch. It was startling in its sleek appearance: a black face mask with a feather tuft pointed behind the head; a shiny brown body with a short dark tail with yellow edging. What was this masked creature of the woods? Then I peered around. This one bird was not alone; there were upwards of a couple of dozen in neighbouring trees! Seeing these cedar waxwings was a surprise highlight of my vacation, except for the whole morning I quietly watched a representative of Manitoba’s only hummingbird, the Ruby-throated, feed outside our cabin’s front door.

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You first hear him before you see him, again and again. And before you know it, you can’t help but be enamored with this tiny creature and its challenging life. Note: having access to a camera with a telephoto lens helps with sharing the experience with others.

If you do get into the joy of birding this year, having good book resources around you is a must to deepen your understanding and appreciation. Here are a few options for your  birding explorations:

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Happiness is a Rare Bird: Living the Birding Life by Gene Walz

A well-written gem by an experienced Manitoba birder. Answers the question: why be a birder? The publisher’s website says: “Gene Walz affords an insider’s look into the hobbyist’s passionate drive and quirky lingo. Learn of vagabonds, endemics, fall-out, jinx birds, and lifers. Just as colourful as the birds they seek, Walz sketches endearing and hilarious portraits of the many birders he meets out in the field. Birders are indeed a special breed. Happiness is a Rare Bird makes a compelling argument for the pursuit of birding, combining an opportunity to enjoy nature with the chance to come together with generous, kindred spirits.”

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Finding Birds in Southern Manitoba by Brad Carey

“Complemented by maps and colour photographs, Finding Birds In Southern Manitoba is the only up-to-date birding guide for southern Manitoba… This book draws on the collective knowledge of dozens of birders, as well as data used to publish The Birds of Manitoba, to describe approximately 75 sites and routes and the birds that one can expect to find there. It also contains a list of Manitoba bird specialties and where to find them, bar charts of month-by-month abundance for all species, and the basic logistical information needed for a safe and enjoyable birding experience in Manitoba.” (Nature Manitoba website)

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The Birds of Manitoba by the Manitoba Avian Research Society (edited by Peter Taylor, illustrations by Rudolf Koes)

This excellent coffee table book more than 20 years in the making includes color illustrations, maps, tables, bibliography, and check list. Apparently hard to find to purchase, but at your public library!

 

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Manitoba Birds by Andy Bezener

A good starter book. Limited in scope, due to the fact that not all birds who visit Manitoba, especially during migration season, are listed here. Yet still a handy resource. “Manitoba’s 145 most commonly seen birds are profiled in this beautifully illustrated book. Each account includes a description of the bird’s key features for quick identification in the field, as well as the bird’s song, habitat, nesting and feeding habits and best locations for viewing. Ken De Smet, of the Manitoba Wildlife branch, is a biologist specializing in endangered species.” (Publisher Summary)

to-see-every-birdTo See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, A Son, and a Lifelong Obsession by Dan Koeppel

“From a well-known outdoors and nature writer comes a narrative that explores a lifelong obsession with competitive birding. What drives a man to travel to sixty countries and spend a fortune to count birds? And what if that man is your father?” (Publisher summary)

 

 

life-list Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile

This is a biography of super birder, Phoebe Snetsinger, who had a life list of seeing 8,398 different bird species!

It’s interesting to read about extremes and obsessions, but it’s also good to be reminded that we don’t need to go that far to enjoy the company of our avian friends. It may mean as little as looking outside your window with curiosity!

 

Here are additional titles suggested by avid birders on the Manitoba Birders Yahoo Group: the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America; The Big Year, A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik; Grass, Sky, Song: Promise and Peril in the World of Grassland Birds by Trevor Herriot; The Bird Detective: investigating the secret lives of birds and Silence of the Songbirds by Bridget Stutchbery.

Happy birding this year.

-Lyle

2017 Movies which started as Library Books

As the calendar year turns, it’s a great time to reflect back and to look forward. One of my favourite things at this time is to discover new movies on the horizon. Often the best are based on solid novels otherwise known as library books. Which books have been chosen to be made into new, hopefully insightful and thrilling movies in 2017? Many are coming, but here are just a few for your consideration. How best to prepare? Read or reread the book (or at least a good book review).

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Silence by Shusaku Endo

“The most important novel of the acclaimed Japanese author Shusako Endo caused a major controversy in Japan following its publication in 1967. Now with a forward by Martin Scorsese (the movie’s director). A Japanese Catholic, Endo tells the story of two 17th-century missionaries attempting to shore up the oppressed Japanese Christian movement. Father Rodriques has come to Japan to find the truth behind unthinkable rumors that his famous teacher Ferreira has renounced his faith. But after his arrival he discovers that the only way to help the brutally persecuted Christians may be to apostatize himself.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson
Release: January 6

 

Dennis-Lehane.jpgLive By Night by Dennis Lehane

“From New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane comes this epic, unflinching tale of the making and unmaking of a gangster in the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties–now a Warner Bros. movie. Meticulously researched and artfully told, Live by Night is the riveting story of one man’s rise from Boston petty thief to the Gulf Coast’s most successful rum runner, and it proves again that the accolades Lehane consistently receives are well deserved.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana, and Sienna Miller
Release: January 13

 

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The Gunslinger  by Stephen King

“‘An impressive work of mythic magnitude that may turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement’ (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), The Gunslinger is the first volume in the epic Dark Tower Series.

“A #1 national bestseller, The Gunslinger introduces readers to one of Stephen King’s most powerful creations, Roland of Gilead: The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which mirrors our own in frightening ways, Roland tracks The Man in Black, encounters an enticing woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the boy from New York named Jake. Inspired in part by the Robert Browning narrative poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,’ The Gunslinger is ‘a fresh compelling whirlpool of a story that draws one irretrievable to its center’ (Milwaukee Sentinal). It is ‘brilliant and fresh…and will leave you panting for more’ (Booklist).” (Publisher summary)
Stars Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba
Release: July 28

 

The-mountain-between-us-by-charles-martin.jpgThe Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

“Flying together on a storm-ravaged night are a surgeon facing a painful separation from his wife and a young magazine writer on her way to her wedding. When their plane crashes in a frigid and remote mountain wilderness, they must learn, as week follows week without rescue, to rely on each other for their mutual survival.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet
Release: October 20

 

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Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

“Fourth-grade class clowns George Beard and Harold Hutchins have created the greatest superhero in the history of the elementary school — and now they’re going to bring him to life! Meet Captain Underpants! His true identity is SO secret even HE doesn’t know who he is!” (Publisher summary)
Stars Kevin Hart, Kristen Schaal, and Nick Kroll
Release: June 2

 


It
by Stephen Kingindex.aspx.jpeg

“It’s a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry, the haunting is real. In 1958, the small town of Derry, Maine, is shaken by a series of brutal murders targeting children. That fateful summer, seven kids are drawn together in a fierce bond of friendship to face a force of unspeakable evil. Unsure if they have vanquished the nightmarish creature that lurks in Derry’s sewers, they vow to return should IT ever reappear. Twenty-seven years later, when the murder cycle begins again, they are summoned back to their hometown, reunited for a final, decisive battle against the reawakened evil. Winner of the British Fantasy Award and the bestselling book in America when it was published in 1986, It is Stephen King’s incomparable epic about evil in all its forms and that which it cannot destroy.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Bill Skarsgard, Finn Wolfhard, and Jaeden Lieberher
Release: September 8

 

The-Breadwinner-by-Deborah-Ellis.jpgThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

“Afghanistan: Parvana’s father is arrested and taken away by the Taliban soldiers. Under Taliban law, women and girls are not allowed to leave the house on their own. Parvana, her mother, and sisters are prisoners in their own home. With no man to go out to buy food, they face starvation. So Parvana must pretend to be a boy to save her family. It is a dangerous plan, but their only chance. In fear, she goes out – and witnesses the horror of avoiding landmines, and the brutality of the Taliban. She suffers beatings and the desperation of trying to survive. But even in despair lies hope.” (Publisher summary)
Stars Soma Bhatia, Ali Kazmi and Kane Mahon
Release: 2017

 


The Long Home
by William GayThe-Long-Home-by-William-Gay.jpg

“In a literary voice that is both original and powerfully unsettling, William Gay tells the story of Nathan Winer, a young and headstrong Tennessee carpenter who lost his father years ago to a human evil that is greater and closer at hand than any the boy can imagine – until he learns of it first-hand.” (Publisher summary)
Stars James Franco, Josh Hartnett, Josh Hutcherson, Ashton Kutcher, Timothy Hutton and Courtney Love
Release: 2017

Happy reading and viewing!

  • Lyle

The Scotiabank Giller Prize’s 2016 Shortlist!

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

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

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

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

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

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Enjoy!

Lyle

Books to Movies: The Rest of 2016

One of my hobbies is discovering quality movies that have been adapted from good novels. As you already know, the book and the movie are invariably different creatures; they can never be the same in every way. They may contain roughly the same story, but be told in different styles with quite different meanings! Both can be interesting and potentially great in their own way; often, just one is. I remember loving John Steinbeck’s awesome epic tale East of Eden and then being terribly disappointed afterwards in the James Dean movie based on the book. (Now there is talk of a remake.)

Often, if you’ve read the book first you probably want to see the movie based on it. I do. Or if you enjoyed the movie, you might like to read the book if you have the time. I find the fun part debating with friends about how the book and the movie are different or the same, and learning something about art and life in the process.

So what do we have to look forward to in the books adapted for film category for the 2nd half of 2016? The links below are to books in our collection that are soon to be released as movies. The summary (taken from imdb.com, usually) tells you more about movie and the release date lets you know when you can expect to see it in theatres. My favourites on this list are The Girl on the Train, Queen of Katwe, and Silence. What are yours?

 

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The BFG by Roald Dahl (July 1)

“Directed by Steven Spielberg, the upcoming fantasy adventure flick tells the story of Sophie, who encounters the Big Friendly Giant. Despite his intimidating appearance, the BFG turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because he, unlike his peers, refuses to eat boys and girls. Mark Rylance stars as the BFG, while Ruby Barnhill plays Sophie. Bill Hader, Penelope Winton, Rebecca Hall, and Jermaine Clement also co-star.”

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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (September 2)

“A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat. Directed by Derek Cianfrance. Stars Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender, and Rachel Weisz.”


QueenKatweQueen of Katwe by Tim Crothers (September 23)

“The film, inspired by Tim Crother’s book of the same name, chronicles the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan teen chess prodigy who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads. Directed by Tim Crothers. Stars David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, and Charity Rose Pimer.”

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs (September 30)

“When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepens as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers. Directed by Tim Burton. Stars Eva Green, Ella Purnell, and Kim Dickens.”


GirlTrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (October 7)

“The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson’s post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train into work in London, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and child. As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down – Megan and Scott Hipwell. She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. Directed by Tate Taylor. Stars Laura Prepon, Emily Blunt, and Rebecca Ferguson.”

MonsterCalls
A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness (October 14)

“Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, the movie will follow the story of Conor, a young boy who is struggling to cope with his mother’s terminal illness and is repeatedly visited in the middle of the night by a monster who tells stories. Directed by J.A. Bayona. Stars Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, and Sigourney Weaver.”

Inferno
Inferno by Dan Brown (October 28)

“When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot. Directed by Ron Howard. Stars Tom Hanks, Ben Foster, and Felicity Jones.”

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by J.K. Rowling (November 18)

“The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. Directed by David Yates. Stars Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, and Colin Farrell.”

SilenceSilence by Shusaku Endo (December 22)

“In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christianity. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Stars Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, and Andrew Garfield.”

 

These last two don’t have release dates yet, but there’s a good chance they’ll be out before the end of the year.

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The Lost City of Z by David Grann (late 2016)

“In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Directed by James Gray. Stars Tom Holland, Charlie Hunnam, and Robert Pattinson.”


TheCircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers (late 2016)

“College graduate Mae Holland joins a powerful Internet company at the beginning of its descent. The timely novel grapples with technology, the future of the industry, and whether tech companies have too much power. Directed by James Ponsoldt. Stars Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and Karen Gillan.”

Enjoy!

  • Lyle

Books about Libraries and Librarians!

“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.” – Saul Bellow

Libraries and librarians seem, in some circles, to be under siege. Labour troubles at Toronto’s public libraries almost led to a strike this week, not to mention the dozens of libraries that have been slated for closure in Newfoundland due to budget cuts. And yet libraries and librarians are still nearly universally supported. How do I know? I continue to be amazed at how each day thousands stream into our Winnipeg public libraries to find their next good read, to research that nagging question about their genealogy or home renovation project, or bring their kids to story time. In addition, if we look at our shelves, virtual or in person, writers are still writing and publishers are still publishing excellent books about their cherished libraries and the interesting, skilled people who serve within them. Take a look at these selected works, all of which you can borrow from WPL:

 

icequeen The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman

The Ice Queen is the tale of a librarian in a small town whose wishes come true, but not always for the best. When the unnamed narrator is 8 years old and her brother, Ned, 12, their mother leaves the children alone one night, ostensibly to celebrate her birthday with friends. The narrator wishes her mother would disappear – and she dies that night, her car crashing on an icy road. Years later, Ned becomes a meteorologist and moves from New Jersey to Florida, while his sister goes to library school, still feeling the guilt and self-loathing brought on by her wish the night her mother died.”

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” – Neil Gaiman

 

Niffenegger_TTW_mech.inddThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

“Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, have known each other since Clare was 6 and Henry was 36, married when Clare 23 and Henry 31. Impossible but true. Because Henry unintentionally jumps in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity, past and future. His experience can be harrowing or amusing.” (Goodreads)

“I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” – Harold Kushner

 

1379961People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks

“In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding – an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair – she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries.” (Goodreads)

 

mediumThe World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

“A funny and uplifting story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight lifting. Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old when he first began exhibiting symptoms. When he was twenty and had reached his towering height of 6’7”, his tics escalated to nightmarish levels. Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh tried countless remedies, with dismal results. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission using increasingly elaborate feats of strength. What started as a hobby became an entire way of life—and an effective way of managing his disorder. Today, Josh is a librarian at Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of five-year-old Max. Funny and offbeat, The World’s Strongest Librarian traces this unlikely hero as he attempts to overcome his disability, find love, and create a life worth living.”

“If we encounter a person of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

index.aspxLiving With Books by Alan Powers

“Some people never have more than a shelf or two of books. Others are more committed: they hoard books, rearrange them, and seldom get rid of any. Living with Books, aimed at the latter group, addresses the challenges and joys of a home masquerading as a library, from storage to display to the use of books as structural elements and furniture.Each chapter covers a different room and the special way that books can exist in or enhance that space. Obvious areas such as dens and offices are covered, along with more daring places such as hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. Special features include a closer look at the care and display of decorative books, decorative papers, and bookplates, and a final chapter on custom-building bookshelves to suit every home.” (Goodreads)

“No two persons ever read the same book.” – Edmund Wilson
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The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Guillaume de Laubier

“Here, for the first time, architectural photographer Guillaume de Laubier takes the reader on a privileged tour of twenty-three of the world’s most historic libraries, representing twelve countries and ranging from the great national monuments to scholarly, religious, and private libraries: the baroque splendor of the Institut de France in Paris; the Renaissance treasure-trove of the Riccardiana Library in Florence; the majestic Royal Monastery in El Escorial, Spain; the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Bodleian Library; and the New York Public Library, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece.”

 

1527318.jpg In the Stacks: Short Stories About Libraries and Librarians by Michael Cart

“Libraries, with their miles and miles of books are, for writers and readers alike, the magical portal to new worlds-the source of terrors, delights, and pleasures aplenty. Here, in one volume, noted author and librarian Michael Cart has assembled a fascinating collection of twentieth century short fiction about libraries and librarians: from such classics as Borges’s ‘The Library of Babel’ and Isaac Babel’s ‘The Public Library,’ to such contemporary gems as John Cheever’s ‘Trouble of Marcie Flint’ and Lorrie Moore’s ‘Community Life.’ Love, lunacy, obsession, and the joy of reading come together in a collection that readers, booksellers, and librarians would agree is long overdue.”

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” – Neil Gaiman

 

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The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

“In this delightful, funny, and moving first novel, a librarian and a young boy obsessed with reading take to the road. Lucy Hull, a young children’s librarian in Hannibal, Missouri, finds herself both a kidnapper and kidnapped when her favorite patron, ten- year-old Ian Drake, runs away from home. The precocious Ian is addicted to reading, but needs Lucy’s help to smuggle books past his overbearing mother, who has enrolled Ian in weekly antigay classes with celebrity Pastor Bob. Lucy stumbles into a moral dilemma when she finds Ian camped out in the library after hours with a knapsack of provisions and an escape plan. Desperate to save him from Pastor Bob and the Drakes, Lucy allows herself to be hijacked by Ian. The odd pair embarks on a crazy road trip from Missouri to Vermont, with ferrets, an inconvenient boyfriend, and upsetting family history thrown in their path. But is it just Ian who is running away? Who is the man who seems to be on their tail? And should Lucy be trying to save a boy from his own parents?”

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” – Ray Bradbury

 

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco119073.jpg

“The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where ‘the most interesting things happen at night.'” (Goodreads)

“The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.”
– Timothy Healy

  • Lyle

Take a Journey, Not Just a Trip

I’m intrigued by pilgrimages, journeys into the unknown that are more than just trips. When you are away from home yet still shopping at malls or peering out a car window with your smartphone camera, you are likely missing something important. Pilgrimages are trips to special or sacred places where you have opportunities to be reflective, or have your character tested, even to the point of being changed by encounters with the unexpected. A pilgrimage is both external and internal. You experience a new destination with the purpose of having your imagination opened, and your mind and heart engaged. What you find may not be what you expect, but even the anomalies – the mishaps, the chance encounters, the wrong turns – can be fodder for a meaningful experience.

Phil Cousineau in The Art of Pilgrimage has a great descriptive way of explaining the elements that come into play as we hope to make our next journey with soulfulness. It may sound corny or elusive at first, but perhaps any trip can become something ‘more’, particularly when we slow down and look more closely at what we are seeing and experiencing.

Clear as mud? Here are a few books at the library that can put you in the right frame of mind to make travel more than just a trip from point A to point B:

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The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred by Phil Cousineau

“Geared toward the modern-day pilgrim who is looking for inspiration and a few spiritual tools for the road, The Art of Pilgrimage weaves stories, myths, parables, and quotations from famous travelers of the past with practical suggestions and contemporary accounts of people traveling the sacred way today. A guide for the armchair traveler curious to know what it means to travel with a soulful purpose and travelers ready to embark on a sacred journey.”

index-1.aspxPilgrimage: Adventures of the Spirit by Sean O’Reilly & James O’Reilly

“Pilgrimage comes in many forms: traditional and unconventional, religious and secular, intended and accidental. Yet it always entails mindfulness – a soulful presence that summons meaning to the surface. This book showcases a diverse array of spirit-renewing journeys from pilgrims of many kinds from places as far away as Tibet’s Mount Kailish and as near as sacred New Mexico soil.”

I particularly liked the Camino Trail essay. The writer comes across an odd Spanish senior who seems to warn him about impending disaster (in Spanish). He continues walking, unfazed, only to face a potentially dangerous lightning storm while walking on the Camino Trail by himself. By the end of the day his life seems turned around, or at least his perception has been decidedly altered!

index.aspxA Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros

“It is only ideas gained by walking that have any worth.”  – Nietzsche

“In A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B – the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble – and reveals what they say about us.

Gros draws attention to other thinkers who also saw walking as something central to their practice. On his travels he ponders Thoreau’s eager seclusion in Walden Woods; the reason Rimbaud walked in a fury, while Nerval rambled to cure his melancholy. He shows us how Rousseau walked in order to think, while Nietzsche wandered the mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometown every day, exactly at the same hour, to escape the compulsion of thought. Brilliant and erudite, A Philosophy of Walking is an entertaining and insightful manifesto for putting one foot in front of the other.”

index.aspxTraveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories edited by Brian Bouldrey

“Once upon a less secular time, almost everyone made pilgrimages, and most of the great works of our early literature – Dante’s ascent into the stars, Chaucer’s wanderers to Canterbury, the tales of Orpheus and Odysseus and Hercules – commemorate both inward and outward journeys; these days, I suspect, many of us travel in part to experience pilgrimage by proxy. Most of the travellers in this volume leave home, as I have done, to partake of someone else’s pilgrimage, and so to learn what animates people to undertake such sacrificial tasks; the destination of pilgrimage is pilgrimage itself.”

index-2.aspxThe Way is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago by Arthur P. Boers

“Pilgrimage is a spiritual discipline not many consider. Aren’t the destinations far? Don’t they involve a lot of time and walking? Just a few years ago, Arthur Paul Boers wasn’t thinking about pilgrimage either. But he began to sense a deep call from God to walk the five-hundred-mile pilgrimage route known as Camino de Santiago, ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, at a cathedral that is said to hold the relics of the apostle James. In these pages he opens to us his incredible story of renewed spirituality springing from an old, old path walked by millions before him. It’s a story of learning to pray in new ways, embracing simplicity, forming community, living each day centered and focused, depending on God to provide. Joined by hundreds of others from all over the world, Boers points the way to deeper intimacy with God–a way made by walking in faith.”

indexThe Way of Wanderlust: the Best Travel Writing of Don George by Don George

“From his high-spirited account of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on a whim when he was 22 years old to his heart-plucking description of a home-stay in a muddy compound in Cambodia as a 61-year-old, this collection ranges widely. As renowned for his insightful observations as for his poetic prose, George always absorbs the essence of the places he’s visiting. Other stories here include a moving encounter with Australia’s sacred red rock monolith, Uluru; an immersion in country kindness on the Japanese island of Shikoku; the trials and triumphs of ascending Yosemite’s Half Dome with his wife and children; and a magical morning at Machu Picchu.”

My son and I are off for a trip – perhaps it will become a pilgrimage – walking in England this spring. Wish us luck!

– Lyle

Mysteries & Memoirs for 2016

“You should never read just for ‘enjoyment.’ Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgemental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick ‘hard books’. Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool!” – John Waters

Winter is in full swing and that means very poor weather for golf. However, and coincidentally, it also means good weather for reading, be it audiobook, ebook or the old-fashioned yet ever-resilient print variety. Two of my favourite genres – and possibly yours too – are mysteries and memoirs. What is in store for us in 2016? Which “on order” books at the Library can we place our next ’hold’ on? To whet your appetite, I gathered just a few selections of the many now entering the Library’s collection. (Feel free also to practice your golf swing indoors, or better yet, take up cross-country skiing until the fairways turn green).

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The High Mountains of Portugal
by Yann Martel

“With this highly anticipated new novel, the author of the bestselling Life of Pi returns to the storytelling power and luminous wisdom of his master novel. The High Mountains of Portugal is a suspenseful, mesmerizing story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives touching the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century. We begin in the early 1900s, when Tomás discovers an ancient journal and sets out from Lisbon in one of the very first motor cars in Portugal in search of the strange treasure the journal describes.

Thirty-five years later, a pathologist devoted to the novels of Agatha Christie, whose wife has possibly been murdered, finds himself drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest. Fifty years later, Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa, grieving the death of his own beloved wife, rescues a chimpanzee from an Oklahoma research facility and takes it to live with him in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, where the strands of all three stories miraculously mesh together. Beautiful, witty and engaging, Yann Martel’s new novel offers us the same tender exploration of the impact and significance of great love and great loss, belief and unbelief, that has marked all his brilliant, unexpected novels.

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Arcadia by Iain Pears

“In a major suspense novel set to surpass the internationally bestselling An Instance of the Fingerpost comes a dazzling story of youth, love and murderous ambition–a novel of time travel spanning three beautifully detailed worlds: the intellectual spires of Oxford in 1960, an ancient Arcadian world, and a dystopian future.

In 1960, Henry Lytten is an Oxford don who dabbles in espionage and fiction writing. Rosie Wilson is the quick-witted, curious 15-year-old girl who feeds Professor Lytten’s cat. Several hundred years in the future, living in a dystopian society on the Isle of Mull, is Angela Meerson–a brilliant psychomathematician who has discovered the world-changing potential of a powerful new machine. Somewhere, sometime, is Jay–a scholar’s apprentice in an idyllic, pastoral land. Who these people really are, and how their stories come together, will be revealed in Iain Pears’s fascinating great puzzle of a novel.”

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In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

“In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.

Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.”

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The Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones

“In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she’s more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is salding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.” (Part of a 9-part series, so far)

 

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Lost Among the Living 
by Simone St. James

“England, 1921. Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss. Working as a paid companion to Alex’s wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside. But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins… and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…

All is not well at Wych Elm House. Dottie’s husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war. Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged. The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested. And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him. Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.”

index.aspxReasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

“Like nearly one in five people, Matt Haig suffers from depression. Reasons to Stay Alive is Matt’s inspiring account of how, minute by minute and day by day, he overcame the disease with the help of reading, writing, and the love of his parents and his girlfriend (and now-wife), Andrea. And eventually, he learned to appreciate life all the more for it.

Everyone’s lives are touched by mental illness: if we do not suffer from it ourselves, then we have a friend or loved one who does. Matt’s frankness about his experiences is both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and illuminating to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never let us lose sight of hope. Speaking as his present self to his former self in the depths of depression, Matt is adamant that the oldest cliché is the truest—there is light at the end of the tunnel. He teaches us to celebrate the small joys and moments of peace that life brings, and reminds us that there are always reasons to stay alive.”

These next two selections are not yet on order at the Library but may be soon. (I hope.)

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

“The author of two charming memoirs (including one about road-trippin’ with his 90-something-year-old grandma), Iain Reid is one of the last Canadian authors you’d think would deliver an unsettling psychological horror novel, but that’s what he’s done with his fiction debut. I’m Thinking of Ending Things begins with the unnamed narrator setting off with her boyfriend to visit his parents at their remote farm, and soon devolves into an unnerving exploration of identity, regret and longing. Delightfully frightening.”

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End of Watch by Stephen King

“Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.”

Enjoy a new year of delicious reading!

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott

  • Lyle

 

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