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The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting, by Rachel Shteir

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Stealing is as old as human culture, and it even exists in the animal world. So it’s no surprise that with the rise of capitalism and department stores in particular, we witness a specific type of stealing: shoplifting. I’m partway through a fascinating new book on shoplifting. It covers the history of shoplifting, as well as the various theories that have sprung up to explain it. Shoplifting can’t only be about poverty – think of that infamous Winona Ryder! - but it’s not just about greed or temptation, either. Is shoplifting an uncontrollable impulse? Can it be said that it’s a political act or statement? What are its real costs to business owners and consumers?

Most fascinating to me is the way that shoplifters describe their own behavior. Some are remorseless; others are ashamed. Some shoplifters do it to get a cheap (make that free) high, while others enjoy the feeling of superiority that results when they’ve conned a “stupid salesman”. Shoplifting is committed by both men and women, old and young, and by people of every ethnicity and class – and it affects everyone in the marketplace.

Find out more by reading this interesting, fast-paced read. The Steal is part history, part anthropology, and totally fascinating!

Apparently, Idiots Abound

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Check out some of these new titles! Who knew that idiots were involved in so many different hobbies and lines of work?

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Local

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to HTML 5 and CSS3

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Project Management

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Electronics 101

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Android App Development

Whether you’re a complete idiot or an utter genius, the Calgary Public Library has books, CDs, e-books and programs about everything you’re into!

What, by Mark Kurlansky

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

A few days ago, I blogged about some new books that caught my eye. I took one of them home and read it in a single evening. It was Mark Kurlansky’s What: Are These the Twenty Most Important Questions in Human History – Or Is This a Game of Twenty Questions? I must admit that by its final chapter, I was starved for an answer rather than another question, but thankfully, I got one.

This book is a novel concept – it’s a book about the big questions, composed entirely of questions. And even though it may sound impossible to achieve, Kurlansky has managed to accomplish this task with elegance. Check out the book if you have an interest in philosophy or history!

I especially love the excerpt from Letters to a Young Poet, which Kurlansky includes after all of his questioning:

You are so young, and have not even started, and I want to beg you, as strongly as I can, dear sir, to be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked little rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Beautiful, huh?

For books full of questions and people who can help you find the answers, visit your local library!

Mortgage Freedom

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Do you know when you’ll be free of mortgage payments? For me, it’ll be in about 13.9 years - but, who’s counting?

I’m working hard and saving money, because I know that the more I save while I’m young, the more years I’ll be able to collect compound interest. And, if I pay more than the minimum mortgage payment – even just a bit more – I can substantially reduce the number of years I’ll have to pay. Just a few adjustments can make a huge difference to your financial future.

If you’d like to ensure that your mortgage is working for you, instead of vice versa, then check out Mortgage Freedom: Retire House Rich and Cash Rich, by Sandy Aitken. A lot of popular titles are written for American audiences, but this new book is written especially for Canadians. Learn how to use the equity in your home to invest in products that earn you more money.

Whether it’s “Freedom 55”, “Freedom 65” or even “Freedom 35” (hey, it’s free to dream, right?), the Calgary Public Library has resources to help you accomplish your financial goals. Check out your local branch, today!

Jealousy, by Catherine Millet

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Even though I work at a library, I don’t always take the time for a leisurely browse. Last Friday afternoon, I did just that. I browsed our collection on love and relationships, and stumbled onto a great new read: Jealousy: the Other Life of Catherine M, by Catherine Millet.

Catherine M is perfectly content living a life of sexual liberation. She’s a Parisian writer and art critic who has both male and female partners, and enjoys several concurrent relationships. But, one day she finds that her primary partner, Jacques, maintains his own relationships with other women. The book is a chronicle of Millet’s reactions and feelings, as she unflinchingly recounts the jealousy she felt, but failed to predict.

It’s honest, raw, and remarkably insightful. It’s well written and articulate. But be warned: Jealousy might make you blush, while reading it on the C-Train. Millet spares no detail! Check it out today!

Fish, by T J Parsell

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Since visiting the Calgary Remand Centre some time ago, as part of a Calgary Public Library outreach initiative, I can’t help but think seriously about people who for whatever reason, end up incarcerated. This is especially the case now that our conservative government has voiced intentions to build more prisons, and write tougher laws. How many of the Canadians who say “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” have ever set foot inside of a prison?

I just finished reading Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison, by T J Parsell. Truthfully, it was the literary equivalent of the proverbial car crash, from which you just can’t look away. Although I was aghast at what Parsell was forced to endure, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the book. It’s the story of young Tim, who goes to prison at only 17, and is repeatedly sexually assaulted by other inmates. Not only that, but the inmates flip a coin to determine who will “own” him. Tim finally makes a friend who seems to care about his well being, but then is transferred to another prison, never to see him again. More than merely a horrific tale of violence and abuse, this memoir is a reflection about youth, identity, manhood, and power.

What’s most unsettling, however, is the fact that Tim represents just one of thousands of cases in America, and in Canada, too. In Parsell's words:

Most people who want to be tough on crime don’t care what happens to inmates. But they should care, because 95 percent of all prisoners are eventually released back into society, indelibly marked by the violence they have seen or experienced.

I recommend this memoir for those who work in criminal and social justice, social work, psychology, and gender studies.

Check out the author’s blog, here.

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