Tag Archives: what to read next

The Right Book for the Right Time

three-body problemOver the last couple week, I’ve committed a librarian faux-pas. I recently read Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem and have been telling everyone to read it because they’ll love it. It’s so good; I don’t understand how someone could not love it! It’s compelling, imaginative, and suspenseful. Covering topics as broad as theoretical physics, Chinese political history, aliens, video games, with a sprinkle of social commentary, the author still succeeds in telling an engaging story.

The faux-pas I committed isn’t from being so excited about a book that I can’t stop talking about it—I highly encourage everyone to do this!—but rather, telling people they should read it without taking into consideration their reading preferences and interests, and hyping up the series so much that I promise they’ll love it. I end up taking responsibility for that person’s enjoyment of the book, and that is something I definitely can’t control. I’m usually more careful, but when a book is this good, my judgment gets clouded.

But when you come to the library and ask for a book recommendation, we’ll be much more professional. We’ll ask you a few questions to get a sense of what you like:

  • Which books have you really enjoyed in the past?
  • What sort of book are you looking for today?
  • Do you prefer books that are focused on character, plot, setting, or language?

the dark forestIt may take us a few minutes to figure out what to suggest, but know that we’re basing those suggestions on your reading preferences. We’ll usually give a few suggestions so you can figure out what works for you. Reading a book is a very personal experience and so much more than its subject or genre. Language is more nuanced than that and so to get the perfect book for the perfect moment we have to take into account different factors such as your mood, your level of engagement, your openness to different experiences, and so on. If you can’t make it into a branch for your next suggestion, make sure to check out our new Info Guide: Your Next Great Read for ways to discover new titles.

death's endThe stars aligned for me with The Three-Body Problem. Just before the holidays, I was reading a mystery novel more focused on the sense of place and character (P.D. James’ An Unsuitable Job for a Woman), but I was looking for something different – something fast paced to contrast the slow days of winter. I wanted a story that was plot-oriented yet more stimulating than the usual action-thrillers I go for. I overheard a friend losing his mind over this book called Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu, recently translated into English and set in the same world as the Three-Body Trilogy. Intrigued, I picked up the first in the series at the library and subsequently lost my mind over the writing style, the mysterious plot, and Cixin Liu’s prediction of humanity’s response at finding out there is extra-terrestrial intelligence in the universe.

You should really read The Three-Body Trilogy. It’s exhilarating! But if it’s not for you, let us help you discover something that will excite you.

– Rémi

 

It’s Time to Read: The Namesake

The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question

                —Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat” & epigraph of “The Namesake”

 

Dear Readers,  if you listen to Time to Read regularly you’ll know that I love thinking about names and titles and what they mean. So it is fitting, one could say that it could not have happened otherwise, that this month we will be reading The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri.

In The Namesake, a couple emigrate from Calcutta to America, eschew cultural tradition and name their firstborn child Gogol after the Russian author of the same name.

 

Do you need to know your Gogol to read The Namesake?  No.  But I bet it will be more interesting if you do.  I’ve been reading The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil and have found it surprisingly accessible.  I’ve found the collection at different times both dark and funny, and Gogol plays with story structure in surprising ways.  But if you only have time for one of Gogol’s short stories I recommend The Overcoat from which the above epigraph is pulled (and if you have time for two I highly recommend The Portrait.)

Please let us know if you have any thoughts about Gogol or The Namesake by going to our website wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca, writing to us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca or leaving a comment on our Time to Read Facebook group.

Also, don’t forget to check out the new episode which drops today.  It features Alexa and Sappfyre who joined from BlackSpaceWPG to discuss Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.  A great way to kick off Black History Month!

~Alan and the rest of the Time to Read team

Faeries and Wendigos and Witches, Oh My!

I love reading short story collections featuring many different authors, especially the horror collections edited by Ellen Datlow. Short stories allow us to get a taste for an author’s writing style and if we enjoy their story we can look further for other books of theirs. Or if we aren’t enjoying a particular story, we can skip to the next one. Short stories are also great for delivering quick hits of suspense in just a short amount of time (you can usually finish one on a coffee break and not have to wait until your lunch break to find out what happens next). Needless to say I was very excited to hear that a collection of speculative fiction short stories was coming out, all stories written by Manitoba authors and all take place in Manitoba or are partly set in Manitoba as travelling to other realms/worlds/planes is inevitable in speculative fiction.

parallel-prairies

Image courtesy of Great Plains Publications Ltd.

 

The collection is titled Parallel Prairies: Stories of Manitoba Speculative Fiction and it is edited by Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash who also contribute a story each. The 17 other authors who contributed to the collection are Chris Allinotte, Wayne Arthurson, Jonathan Ball, S.M. Beiko, Sheldon Birnie, Keith Cadieux, Jennifer Collerone, Gilles DeCruyenaere, Will J. Fawley, Chadwick Ginther, Kate Heartfield, Patrick Johanneson, Lindsay Kitson, J.M. Sinclair, David Jón Fuller, Craig Russell, and Christine Steendam. The best part of this collection is that it is has something for everyone and as each story uses the local landscape and landmarks, Manitobans are sure to be able to picture the setting perfectly and be in the know regarding certain Manitoba customs. Lest I bungle up a nice synopsis of the collection, I’ll let the book explain itself to you: “Get acquainted with baby dragons, killer insects, faery kings, infernal entities, and more; as 19 authors let the Manitoban landscape inspire weird and wondrous tales. You thought the prairies were flat, plain, and boring. You were wrong.” Does that not sound intriguing to you? As mentioned these stories feature faeries, wendigos, witches, dragons, folklore and everything in between so there should be something for everyone. Some of my personal favourites were The Comments Gaze Also Into You by David Jón Fuller which discusses cyberbullying in online message boards on news websites in a very unique way, Seven Long Years by Jennifer Collerone which follows a young woman and Wisp, a coyote, as they set out to complete a task that must be undertaken every seven years, and finally Eating of the Tree by Chadwick Ginther which explores Norse mythology in present-day Winnipeg. The other stories in this compilation are of course very good as well, but these three especially stood out for me.

If you are craving more Canadian short stories that are speculative fiction, we have a couple of collections available titled Imaginarium which may be right up your alley.

In other Canadian speculative fiction news, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Testaments, is now available to request from Winnipeg Public Library so be sure to get your requests in, as it is sure to be a popular and talked-about read!

Happy Reading!

-Aileen

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.

-Lori 

Motherhood Memoirs

All over the world women are finding their voices. From speaking out against sexual assault to workplace inequalities, we have reached a point where the great disparities among the sexes are being acknowledged and challenged.  Among these voices, we are hearing from mothers. For so long, there has been such a narrow definition of motherhood. A definition that includes only happiness and baby cuddles and lullabies. But what about those for whom this definition doesn’t fit? What about those, who, when they become a mother, find themselves unhappy or struggle with the immensity of this change? Is it any coincidence that now, when women are making themselves heard, we are seeing such a boom in motherhood memoirs?

Recently there is the Giller Prize nominated Motherhood by Sheila Heti. As with Heti’s other writing, this novel blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction as the narrator, a writer in her late 30’s and in a serious relationship, considers having a child. Though this is a huge, life-altering decision, it is rarely given much critical thought, but Heti’s narrator understands the immensity of this decision and carefully weighs her options, wondering if she’s willing to sacrifice her art for a child, and which is more important.

A lighter read, Meagan O’Connell’s And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready is a less heady, perhaps more relatable book for new mothers. Based on her experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood, O’Connell does not shy away from the messy, ugly, devastating parts of the topic while keeping her sense of humour intact.

In Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, Angela Garbes writes about women’s bodies through a mix of science and personal experience. Her book offers fascinating facts about the placenta, the transfer of cells between mother and fetus, and the wonders of breastmilk. Garbes encourages women to trust themselves and ask questions of their health providers, allowing pregnant women and new mothers to make informed decisions.

Two classics in the motherhood memoir genre are Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year and Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother. Lamott’s book takes the form of a diary of her first year of motherhood. Told in a sarcastic and witty way, Lamott struggles as a single parent but has a community of friends and her faith to help her. Cusk’s book is more thoughtful and philosophical. She writes about sleeplessness and colic and breastfeeding, but also how to navigate this new identity for herself.

 

Whether you’re a new mother trying to find your footing or a seasoned pro, there is something so satisfying about recognizing your own experiences in someone else’s writing. As women become increasingly empowered to share their truths, I can only imagine the writing that is to come.

-Toby

 

 

 

Tangentially Speaking, not the center of IT

This story begins back when I wasn’t a regular library user. In fact, to be honest, I didn’t think to use the library much at all. I know you’re all gasping, “How could he!,” “What a fool!,” so I’ll give you a paragraph break to catch your breath.

I was young. I was naïve. I was on a mission to complete a sub-list of THE LIST. My goal: to read every book mentioned in Donnie Darko. And before you ask, yes, compiling a list of books to read from a beloved movie or television show is a thing1. People do it for Gilmore Girls. Sometimes a work of art strikes you in just the right way and you end up falling down the rabbit hole2 exploring its references and allusions.

Image credit Keir Hardie (https://flic.kr/p/4x2mqf)

Because of Donnie Darko, I read and watched Watership Down. I started reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Then I started reading it again.  Then I told myself that one day I would be smart enough finish it. My heart skipped a beat when they released Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut and it featured a commentary track with Kevin Smith. And I would laugh to myself while listening to a soundtrack featuring Echo and the Bunnymen3—did I mention Donnie Darko features a man in a giant bunny suit?

Donnie Darko also put a pair of Stephen King novels on my to-read list: The Tommyknockers and another, the title of which I can’t quite remember at the moment4.

But the main obstacle to my goal, the problem that hounded me for years, was trying to track down a copy of “The Destructors” a short story by Graham Greene. In Donnie Darko the Greene’s story is banned from the titular character’s high school because it is seen to promote vandalism. So too, in my life, did it seem to be banned. I scoured bookstores of all shapes and sizes:  from corporate edifices to fly-by-night street sellers. Graham Green was prolific and I found many of his novels, my favourites being:  Doctor Fischer of Geneva and A Burnt-Out Case. But it wouldn’t be until years later that I was able to track down a copy of “The Destructors.” I found it at a place that doesn’t ban books. I found it, if the opening paragraph didn’t give the ending away, at the library.

Alan

1 Part of what put Atlas Shrugged on my list was Mad Men, but that’s a blogpost for another time.

2 Alice in Wonderland reference AND Donnie Darko allusion!

3 Track 3 on this album.

4 Someday I’ll think of it.

Beyond Anne’s Diary

Diary Young GirlI have a vivid memory of being in my local library as a kid and picking up The Diary of a Young Girl (also known as The Diary of Anne Frank). My Mom said to me: “I’m not sure if you should read that. It’s very sad!” She thought it best to shield me from the heartbreak of Anne’s story for just a little bit longer. Fast-forward about 15 years and I was asked to be one of the tour guides for the travelling exhibit currently at Millennium Library – Anne Frank: A History for Today. At this point, I had seen the play multiple times and even visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, but I still hadn’t done the diary justice.

So, I just recently read the famed book and of course my Mom was right, it is a heartbreaking story! Most people know what happened to Anne, her family, and the six million other Jewish people the Nazis systematically murdered (not to mention the other groups Hitler persecuted based on ethnicity, ability, sexuality, etc.). It’s a devastating piece of history, but when reading the diary there are moments where you somehow forget how the story ends. Anne’s writing is eloquent and you can’t help but be sucked in by the unexpected humour, glimpses of teenage romance, and Anne’s perpetual charm.

As Anne’s diary is a cultural phenomenon, I was not entirely surprised to find a variety of other books about her life. The following titles take the diary in new directions and cross into different genres. No matter what your age, there is a version of Anne’s story for you. Each of these books can be found at the Winnipeg Public Library, but be sure to keep searching as this is just a fraction of our collection on Anne Frank, the Holocaust, and World War II.

 

Anne Frank MullerAnne Frank: The Biography

In this first biography of Anne Frank, Melissa Müller’s thorough research creates a compelling portrait of Anne’s life. Originally printed in 1998, this book contains interviews with family and friends, as well as previously unpublished letters and documents. A new edition of this biography was released in 2014, full of even more information that has since emerged. These documents, along with the Frank’s family tree and an epilogue by one of the family’s helpers, Miep Gies, shine light on this incredible girl.

 

Anne Frank House BioThe Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography

This biography in graphic novel form is an illustrated account of Anne’s life. New York Times bestselling authors, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, seamlessly work Anne’s story into the history of World War II and the Holocaust. The book contains a concise chronology of events in the history of the Frank family – an extremely helpful tool for any reader.

 

Anne Frank Hudson-GoffAnne Frank

This graphic novel by Elizabeth Hudson-Goff focuses on both sides of the attic – life before going into hiding and a glimpse at what her final days in a concentration camp may have looked like. A quick read that can easily be finished in one sitting, illustrations bring a new dimension to this famous story of survival.

 

Anne Frank Poems AgosinDear Anne Frank: Poems

A poetry collection that is a tribute to Anne’s life. In most pieces, Marjorie Agosín holds a conversation with Anne, addressing her courage and curiosity. Poetry, and the dialogue Agosín creates, brings Anne’s narrative to life in a unique way.

 

 

Anne Frank PooleAnne Frank

A beautifully illustrated picture book that relays Anne’s story – from birth to death – to a younger audience. By explaining how the Franks end up in hiding, Josephine Poole provides an introduction to the Holocaust for children that is easy to understand. The story ends on a positive note, with Otto, Anne’s father, receiving her diary after the war. The diary ensures that the rest of the Frank family will live on after their senseless deaths.

 

Anne Frank WorldAnne Frank in the World, 1929-1945

This book is a history in pictures published by the Anne Frank House. While the focus is primarily on the Holocaust, the book is framed by Anne’s story. By continually returning to photos of the Franks, the reader is reminded that the victims of the Holocaust are not just a statistic but are real people.

 

“ANNE FRANK: A HISTORY FOR TODAY” Exhibit and Tours

 

Anne Frank Exhibit

The travelling exhibit has come all the way from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam! It officially launched on Monday, July 11, at the Millennium Library, where it will run until September 3rd. We encourage everyone to spend some time looking at the beautifully crafted panels.

There are also a number of guided tours available, in English or French, that you can register for by calling 204-986-6489. Each tour will begin in the Carol Shields Auditorium (second floor) and will last up to 90 minutes. Those who want to book group tours for more than 10 people can register by calling 204-986-6458.

  • Stephanie

GO WILD Challenge Week 2: AUTHOR WEEK

So we’re starting the second week of our GO WILD Summer Reading Challenge. Have YOU taken the challenge yet?

(I tried to read a horror book — HEX by Thomas Olde Heuvelt — but it was too creepy and I had to stop.)

This summer, the Library is challenging you to expand your reading horizons! Each week we offer three ways for you to read something you might never have read before. Find all the Challenges at your favourite WPL branch (or online).  Chat with staff to find a great title for any challenge, or check out the little list of recommended reads below.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Week 2 is Author Week, and all the challenges have to do with the author of the book:

  • Challenge 4: A book by a Manitoba author
  • Challenge 5: A book by an Indigenous author
  • Challenge 6: A book by a first-time author

 

Staff picks for Challenge 4: A book by a Manitoba author

indexTHE HOUSE ON SUGARBUSH ROAD by Méira Cook

Tells the story of an Afrikaner family and their domestic servant Beauty Mapule set in post-apartheid Johannesburg.

BALDUR’S SONG: A Saga by David Arnason

Musically blessed Baldur is haunted by Lara—his muse and tormentor – who leads him from small town Manitoba to the boom town days of early Winnipeg.

A LARGE HARMONIUM by Sue Sorensen

English professor Janey wonders if she’s coming unraveled, as she faces a daily life of work, friends and family, and her despotic toddler Little Max.

A COMPLICATED KINDNESS by Miriam Toews

Stuck working at a chicken slaughter-house in a town run by religious fundamentalists, 16-year-old Nomi still bears witness to the dissolution of her family with a dark, sly wit.

anothercountryTHE PAST IS ANOTHER COUNTRY: 12 Stories by New Canadians

Two volumes by 24 newcomers participating in writing groups held by the Winnipeg Public Library.

HAUNTED WINNIPEG: Ghost Stories from the Heart of the Continent by Matthew Komus

Early Winnipeg was full of excitement — murders, cheating lovers and tragic accidents. Discover the city’s best known ghost stories, as well as some new ones.

DANCING GABE: One Step at a Time by Daniel Perron

The journey of Gabe Langlois, one of Winnipeg’s most recognized figures.

LAURA REEVES’ GUIDE TO USEFUL PLANTS: From Acorns to Zoom Sticks by Laura Reeves

Identifying, harvesting and preparing over 65 of Manitoba’s most intriguing wild plants and mushrooms.

 

Staff picks for Challenge 5: A book by an Indigenous Author

SANAAQ: An Inuit Novel by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk

The daily life of Sanaaq, her daughter Qumaq, and their small northern Quebec community facing the growing intrusion of the qallunaat (the white people).

4-1THE LONE RANGER AND TONTO FISTFIGHT IN HEAVEN by Sherman Alexie

With wrenching pain and wry humor, these 22 linked stories present contemporary life on the Spokane Indian Reservation

THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden

The French conquest of Canada through the eyes of Huron (Wyandot) warrior Bird, his Iroquois captive Snow Falls, and Jesuit Missionary Père Christophe.

MANITOWAPOW: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair

An amazing collection including historical writings, stories, poetry, nonfiction, and speeches.

BETTY: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Alexander Robertson

In 1971, aspiring teacher Betty was abducted and murdered by four young men. Initially met with silence and indifference, her story resonates loudly today.

THE STRENGTH OF WOMEN, ÂHKAMÊYIMOWAK by Priscilla Settee

jacketUFSH22F5Personal recollections by a wide spectrum of Aboriginal women tell stories of injustice, racism, genocide and sexism, but also of awakening, fierce struggles and hope.

THEY CALLED ME NUMBER ONE: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School by Bev Sellars

Bev Sellars, Chief of the Soda Creek Nation in northern B.C., describes the impact of St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School (which operated from 1891 to 1981) on herself, her mother and her grandmother.

 

Staff picks for Challenge 6: A book by a first-time author

SPEAK by Louisa Hall

Explores how the gap between computer and human (shrinking with each technological advances) echoes the one that exist between ordinary people.

SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho

Former slave Zacharias Wythe has just been appointed England’s new Sorcerer Royal – and faces a dwindling national supply of magic.

gutHOW TO MAKE WHITE PEOPLE LAUGH by Negin Farsad

An Iranian-American-Muslim female stand-up comedian asks how can we combat the racism, stereotyping, and exclusion that happen every day?

GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

What’s the connection between diet and mood? Our gut reactions are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being.

THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL by Naomi Jackson

Sent to Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them, sisters Phaedra and Dionne spend the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and specialist in the local spiritual practice of obeah.

videoTHE HOURGLASS FACTORY by Lucy Ribchester

Amid the suffragette movement in Victorian London, the disappearance of a famous trapeze artist in the middle of her act leads a young Fleet Street reporter and a police inspector into the world of a bizarre secret society.

THE LAST DAYS OF VIDEO by Jeremy Hawkins

When a Blockbuster Video opens up near a declining mom and pop video store owned by a drunk pop-culture junkie, the store’s misfit employees conduct a series of wild schemes to fight the big box invasion.

 

Have you tried something new? How did it go?

  • Erica

 

 

 

 

No Place for a Lady

School’s out and summer is in full swing. Some of you will be planning a trip to the lake, or perhaps to someplace even farther away. Others, like me, will be settling in for a staycation full of day trips to the beach and all the great summer festivals Winnipeg has to offer. Those of us who aren’t quite so lucky with our travel plans this year can still read about the adventures of those who’ve travelled far and wide. Popular travel memoirs, like Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Tracks by Robyn Davidson, tell the stories of women setting out alone in challenging environments. But many women of past eras also found a unique freedom on their own in unfamiliar places. Personally, I enjoy reading about other people’s explorations while relaxing on a patio with a cold drink!

Tracks and Wild

In her beautifully illustrated books No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers and Dreaming of East: Western Women and the Exotic Allure of the Orient, Barbara Hodgson tells the stories of several women who defied the restrictive Victorian social conventions to become adventurers and explorers in their own right.

No Place Lady and Dreaming East

The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt is the fascinating journal of Isabelle Eberhardt, a 19th century Swiss writer who travelled widely in north Africa and through the Sahara desert. She scandalized her peers when she started dressing in men’s clothing and converted to Islam.

Englishwoman Isabella Bird wrote many memoirs of her time in America, Korea, Tibet, China, and elsewhere. Her stay in Japan is chronicled in her book Unbeaten Tracks in Japan.

Nomad and Unbeaten Tracks

In 1889, reporter Nellie Bly began a race around the world. Travelling in the opposite direction was another journalist, Elizabeth Bisland, sponsored by a rival newspaper. Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman tells of their competition to circle the globe faster than the character in Jules Verne’s novel.

Freya Stark began her extensive travels in the Middle East after World War I. She wrote more than two dozen books about her experiences. The first, The Valleys of the Assassins and other Persian Travels, describes her journeys through western Iran.

Eighty Days Valley Assassins

So if you’re stuck in the city this summer, pick up a good book and let one these interesting ladies show you the world!

  • Melanie

 

Are you up for the Go Wild Challenge??

book fly

Starting July 4, the Library is challenging you to EXPAND your reading horizons with the GO WILD! Summer Reading Challenge. Each week we will offer three ways for you to read something you might never have read before. To find the right book for you, browse our shelves or catalogue, check out our displays, and stay tuned to this blog.

For every week you try something new, enter our prize draws at any WPL branch!

Ready? Good! Go!

Here are your challenges for Week 1 – World Week (And, to get you started, some staff picks we think you might like…)

Challenge 1: A book set in South America

b1-3BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett

When terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, an unlikely assortment of people is thrown together, including American opera star Roxanne Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa–Japanese CEO and her biggest fan.

THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS by Isabel Allende

The Trueba family embodies strong feelings from the beginning of the 20th century through the assassination of Allende in 1973.

WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys

In a prequel to Jane Eyre, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway lives in Dominica and Jamaica in the 1830s before she travels to England, becomes Mrs. Rochester, and goes mad.

PASTWATCH: THE REDEMPTION OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS by Orson Scott Card

In a near future that is not quite ours, a major scientific breakthrough permits historians to view, but not participate in, past events.

THE LOST CITY OF Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

Interweaves the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished during a 1925 expedition into the Amazon, with the author’s own quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding Fawcett’s final journey and the secrets of what lies deep in the Amazon jungle.

b1-4THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: A Journey Around South America by Ernesto (Che) Guevara

A chronicle of the author’s seven-month motorcycle journey throughout South America reveals the beginning of his transformation into a dedicated revolutionary.

WALKING THE AMAZON: 860 Days, One Step at a Time by Ed Stafford

Describes the author’s quest to walk the entire length of the Amazon River, offering details on the effects of deforestation and his encounters with both vicious animals and tribal members with machetes.

 

Staff picks for Challenge 2: A book set in the Middle East

3-2PERSEPOLIS: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval-al and vast contradictions between public and private life.

A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS by Amos Oz

The award-winning author recounts his boyhood in war-torn Jerusalem of the 1940s and 1950s, his mother’s tragic suicide, his decision to join a kibbutz and change his name, and his participation in Israel’s political upheavals.

I AM MALALA: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Describes the life of the young Pakistani who survived an assassination attempt and became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING by Alaa Aswani

The lives of a fading aristocrat, voluptuous siren, devout doorman, secretly-gay editor, roof-squatting tailor, and corrupt politician intertwine in an apartment building in downtown Cairo.

3-3ALIF THE UNSEEN by G. Willow Wilson

A young Arab-Indian computer hacker unearths a secret book of the jinn, a book that may open a gateway to unimaginable power.

DE NIRO’S GAME by Rawi Hage

Follows the lives and choices of two best friends, Bassam and George, caught in Lebanon’s civil war. Both men are desperate to escape Beirut but choose different paths to accomplish their goals.

 

Staff picks for Challenge 3: A book set in Africa

 

2-2RADIANCE OF TOMORROW by Ishmael Beah

A novel of postwar life in Sierra Leone, in which two friends struggle to rebuild their ruined village despite violence, scarcity and a corrupt foreign mining company.

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Re-creates the 1960s struggle to establish an independent republic in Nigeria, following the intertwined lives of the characters through a military coup, the Biafran secession, and the resulting civil war.

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver

The lives of a fierce evangelical missionary and his wife and four daughters begin to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Congo.

2-1THIRTY GIRLS by Susan Minot

Forced to commit unspeakable atrocities after being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, Ugandan teen Esther struggles to survive and escape.

ROAD TRIP RWANDA: A Journey Into the New Heart of Africa by Will Ferguson

Ferguson travels deep into Rwanda with friend Jean-Claude Munyezamu, who had escaped just before the genocide, where they discover a country reborn.

LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Nelson Mandela

The leader of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement chronicles his life, including his tribal years, his time spent in prison, and his return to lead his people.

 

Happy reading!

  • Erica