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In Search of Short Stories

by Dieu - 2 Comment(s)

I admit that despite being an avid reader, I never liked reading short stories. The short story genre always seemed to me like it was the finger-food of fiction instead of the full meal of a novel. From my conversations with friends and from reading blogs, online articles and forums on the subject, it became clear that I was in the majority of readers who never read short fiction. It wasn’t until I read The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman that I realized how good short stories can be.

Book cover of the Imperfectionists

The Imperfectionists is a perfect introduction to the short story form for readers who are hesitant to enter that unfamiliar territory. Bridging the two worlds of novel and short stories, The Imperfectionists chronicles the trials and tribulations of a fictional struggling newspaper based in Rome.

Although technically a novel, each chapter reads as its own distinct story following a different character as they each navigate their way through relationships, ambitions, failures and disillusionment in the post-digital age of journalism. While distinct enough to stand on their own, the stories cross over into each other, revealing a web of connections between the players as the reader progresses through the book.

As I was reading each chapter, I found myself becoming engrossed in the personal lives of the sympathetic, neurotic and complicated reporters, journalists, and editors. Insightful, witty and offering an inside look at the world of journalism (the author himself is a journalist), The Imperfectionists will leave readers wanting more from this first-time author.


If you’re looking for classic short fiction, I highly recommend anything by Anton Chekhov. Universally regarded as one of the greatest of all short story writers, Chekhov’s writing has a way of drawing you in and lingering with you long after the story has ended. I find that when I read Chekhov, I not only care for his characters, but I also find myself immersed in a particular time and place of Russian history, geography and customs.

If you are to read anything by Chekhov, his short story trilogy comprised of, A Man in a Shell, Gooseberries, and About Love are not to be missed. About Love has to be one of my favourite pieces of fiction for its poignant look at the regret and yearning of lost love. A moving passage from the story:

"I understood that when you love, and when you think about this love, you must proceed from something higher, of more importance than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in the commonplace sense; or you mustn't think about it at all."

An excellent compact illustrated edition of the trilogy called, About Love: 3 Short Stories by Chekhov is available at the Calgary Public Library.

Book cover of About Love: 3 Stories by Chekhov

book cover of Too Much Happiness

Lastly, the most recent work of short fiction I've read comes from our very own soil. Alice Munro, who has been cited as Canada’s own Chekhov, writes what I would call psychological fiction. Like Chekhov, her stories focus on the inner lives of the characters, where moments of revelation, emotion and changes of perspective make up the core of her fiction. As well, what I love most about Munro’s stories are the complex female characters she writes about.

In her book, Too Much Happiness, a story called "Dimensions" had me conflicted about the main character, Doree, a teenage mother who is grappling with a personal tragedy inflicted on her by her abusive husband. I found the character infuriating for the choices she made, but always empathetic. A multitude of writers have gushed over Alice Munro's effortless writing, a quality that I too admire in her work.

Short stories can be deceptively simple because of their short length, but from my experience, even the shortest work can be the most satisfying. Another plus is they can be easily finished in a short period, such as during a coffee break, and their format makes them perfect to be read on an E-reader or tablet.

What's more, most short stories fall into the category of literary fiction, which may be why some people see them as too high-brow to enjoy, but reading short fiction by authors such as Chekhov and Munro do offer their benefits. A recent article in the New York Times talks about how reading literary fiction can help with social skills and emotional intelligence.

The Calgary Public Library can help you explore the world of short fiction with the Poetry & Short Story Reference Center, a new resource available in the E-Library.

In Sickness and in Health

by Lorrie - 0 Comment(s)

From time to time some kind of medical issue will come up in our family and a little research on the best path to take is called for. Like many of you, I sometimes turn to the internet for some quick research. Unfortunately, lots of unreliable sites may be found along with legitimate ones. Thankfully there are the E-library resources at Calgary Public Library. The Library carefully chooses authoritative e-resources with the most reliable and up-to-date information. Under Health and Wellness in the E-Library there is an array of easily accessible medical information, ranging from technical academic information in MEDLINE to a more consumer friendly site in the Health and Wellness Resource Center.

These resources are not just about a healthy body: there are sites that cover the mind in the Psychology & Behavioral Science Collection and Consumer Health Complete. There are issues happening in every family and, more times than not, everything happens at once. Dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease just as the school psychologist says that Timmy has been diagnosed with ADD. Convenient and private, using the Calgary Public Library's E-Library from home is a great way to dig a little deeper and inform yourself on these issues. It may be helpful to check out the benefits of Yoga or Tai Chi for stress relief for yourself.

Another very helpful e-resource to look at is Consumer Health Complete and its Drug and Herb Information section. This resource gives in-depth information about each drug, its uses, side effects and how it interacts with other medication. This can be very handy if you find yourself dealing with a complex illness that requires multiple medications. If you would prefer alternative sources for drugs it will help explore herbal remedies as well.

Another E-Library resource, the Family Behavior Toolbox can help families with issues that arise with kid’s behavior and socialization. Sometimes it is hard to know if little Sarah’s potty mouth is just a stage kids go through or an indicator of a more serious problem.

With your Calgary Public Library card, access to authoritative sources is free and convenient. Reliable information can be a great remedy for worry. It is stressful enough dealing with a medical issue without trying to sort through misinformation, using the Health and Wellness tools found in the E-library at the Calgary Public Library can help.

Movie Tie-Ins: The Books Behind the Movies

by Pam - 0 Comment(s)

Do you like to go to movies based on books? Do you read the book before seeing the movie and judge how true the adaptation is? Or does the movie Cover EnderEnderinspire you to read the book? Either way, this fall is a great time to discover the stories behind the upcoming movies.

Many of the big blockbuster movies this fall are based on books. In addition to reading or, perhaps rereading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, you might want to explore Catching Fire: the official illustrated movie companion. Due to be released in November, this book will take you behind the scenes with exclusive material including back-stage photos and interviews. Books that have stood the test of time — Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, The Book Thief Cover of Book ThiefCover of Book Thiefby Markus Zusak and Stephen King's classic Carrie are all being released as movies this fall. Catch up on the plots and characters through a variety of formats. Ender's Game is available in print and book CD. Explore The Book Thief and Carrie in Book CD, print, and e-book formats. You might even want to compare the new version with the 1976 Brian De Palma version of Carrie held in our DVD collection.

Several movies based on classics make their way to the big screen this fall. In addition to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet there is William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Imagine writing a book over the course of just six weeks and not changing a word of it. That's what William Faulkner claims when he penned this American classic. Narrated by fifteen characters, it tells the story of the death of Adele Burden and her family's desire to honour her wish to be buried in the town of Jefferson.Cover of Wolf of Wall StreetWolf of Wall Street

If you enjoy autobiographies try The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort who, became in the 1990's, one of the most infamous names in American finance. With great panache he details his story of greed, power, and excess. Written by the only survivor Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor: the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10 documents the firefight that the lead to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history and the authors amazing survival through the mountains of Afghanistan.

These are just of few of the great books that have provided inspiration for movies this fall. Many of them are available in multple formats. And be sure to check out our paperback and New and Notable shelves for additional copies close to the time of the movies release.

Must Reads Coming This Fall

by Jan S - 0 Comment(s)

The fall publishing season is upon us and there are a number of big titles to look forward in the upcoming months. The fall season truly features something for everyone. While it is impossible to list all the exciting titles coming to the Library, these are a few titles that should get lots of buzz.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King This is by far the book I am most excited to read this fall. Doctor Sleep is the long awaited sequel to The Shining, which first came out in 1977. Dan Torrence is still haunted by what happened to his family one winter at the Overlook Hotel. Now an adult, Dan has settled into a simple life in New Hampshire and uses his fading shining ability to provide comfort to the dying. But Dan is forced into a battle for the life of a young girl with a strong shining ability and the ghosts of his past come to a head in what I hope will be a creepy adventure worthy of its predecessor. To gear up for the release, refresh your memory and check out The Shining.

A Great Game by Stephen Harper

A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey by Stephen J. Harper (yes that Stephen Harper). Any hockey fan has seen our Prime Minister at a number of hockey games as he often gets shown on the jumbotron or on TV. It's no secret that he is a big fan of the game and for years he has mentioned that he was writing a hockey book, he even became a member of the Society of International Hockey Research. Well that book is A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs & the Rise of Professional Hockey. Don't let the title fool you though the book isn't only for Leaf fans, but is a look at the early history of professional hockey. A must read for any Canadian hockey fan.

Si-Cology 1 by Si Robertson

Si-Cology 1 By Si Robertson I watch a lot of Duck Dynasty, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the antics of the Robertson clan and by far my favorite part of the show is pretty much anything Uncle Si says (Si-isms) or does. The guy is definitely a character and now he can add published author to his list of accomplishments. Si-Cology 1 is various tales from Si that essentially tell his life story. I have just started reading the book and it's interesting to get insight into parts of Si's life that aren't on the show, including his life with his wife and children. Si-Cology 1 joins other Duck Dynasty books including Happy, Happy, Happy and Duck Commander Family both of which are best sellers.

Sharing Stories With Seniors

by Katie R - 0 Comment(s)

Margaret Learmont is a long-standing volunteer with the Libraries in Residence program at the Bethany Care Centre in West Hillhurst. This program is designed for senior care facilities in Calgary where residents can borrow and enjoy books in the comfort of their own building without the challenge of getting to and from the Library.

Margaret has been volunteering with the Calgary Public Library since 1986 and has a great deal of experience with books. Margaret was a Librarian in England and has spent her life in libraries across the world. The first library she volunteered at was in Guyana and this trend of volunteering continued on as she lived in Trinidad, New Mexico and finally Calgary.

What Margaret loves most about volunteering with the Libraries in Residence program is meeting people and hearing their amazing stories. She said it can be hard to just walk into someone’s room and say that you are there to visit, but when you bring a book it becomes a lot easier. It can be that missing piece that starts a great conversation.

Pictured: Volunteer Margaret Learmont at the Bethany Care Centre

Wedding Planning at the Library

by Stephen - 0 Comment(s)

The idea of planning a wedding didn’t seem so bad. After all I’d been to a lot of them. Walk down the aisle, eat some food, dance and we’re done!

Practical Weddings

 

 

 

When we first sat down to start planning, I was thinking I’d like something like this

 

 

Wedding Planning for Dummies

 

although I was actually at the level of this

 

 

 

 

Rustic Chic Weddings

 

 

because I had no idea that things like this even existed.

 

 

 

 

Little did I know that I was entering a world full of chair covers, buntings, post-wedding brunches, vegetarian stuffed peppers and DIY decorating. One bruised ego and 250 origami flowers later, I realized that maybe this wasn’t so simple. Thankfully the Calgary Public Library’s collection was there to help me out.

 Knot Guide to Wedding Vows & Traditions

 

The Library has a selection of DVDs, books and eBooks to help you plan for that big, wonderful, stressful, fantastic, what have we gotten ourselves into day! The Knot guides are a great place to start with organizing the wedding as whole, or even just the ceremony itself. Where should your venue be? What kind of music will you play? Should you incorporate a traditional ritual, or make one up? Knot Guides can help you through both the big and small decisions.

 

 

  Be the Man Registry

 

By far the majority of wedding books out there are written with the bride in mind, but thankfully I stumbled across this gem which covers everything from budgeting to that first dance for the groom. This is a great all-around guide which also incorporates humorous stories and anecdotes which can go a long way towards lightening the mood. The book also quickly dispels the stereotype that weddings are just for the bride.

 

 

 

 

Once we had an idea of where, how and when we wanted to get married, I was able to find a few books that helped me with some of the specifics. My first task was to buy a suit. After spending an hour with a tailor and all of that measuring tape, my first checkout was this:

Drop 20 Pounds in 2 Months

Being somewhat chea... err… fiscally responsible, we decided that the best photographer was probably someone who was related to us. That’s where Wedding Photography Unveiled: Inspiration and Insight from 20 Top Photographers came in handy.

Finally, does room/budget for 50 guests + our combined 150 relatives = a lifetime of awkward family reunions? Not to worry, the Library carries this good old standby in etiquette, Emily Post!

So if you are planning to get married (and eloping isn’t an option) check out the Calgary Public Library’s wedding planning collection for great advice and practical ideas.

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