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Going Solo, by Eric Klinenberg

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I like living alone. I can do whatever I want, without feeling judged; I can exercise my supreme authority to do everything later; the choice of music is always mine, and there’s never someone else using the bathroom when I’m in the mood for a soak. Yes, I want to watch the same DVDs over and over again, and I don’t want to have to justify it! In this vast universe, there are 613 square feet over which I’m the dictator. And it’s fabulous.

So of course when I was browsing our new books, Going Solo appealed to me. Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg is an investigation into why so many adults are choosing to live alone, in cities all over the world. This phenomenon represents a huge shift from just decades ago, when most adults lived with at least one other person. Are singletons isolated weirdoes to be pitied? Klinenberg argues that they may actually be happier and even more engaged in community life than their married counterparts.

I’m only on page 44, but it’s really interesting so far. Perhaps I’ll read some more of it when I get home from work tonight. Or, I’ll opt instead to change into my PJs and dance to 90s pop music, or cook a nice risotto at midnight, or go through everything in my closet and try to create new outfits, until I get bored of that and start listening to podcasts. Or painting my nails. It’s my place and I live alone – we’ll see what this dictator is in the mood for...

The Black Water Dragon

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

This post is dedicated to all the South Koreans I know and love. You know who you are, and for everything you’ve given me, I owe you my most sincere gam sa hab ni da.

Happy (lunar) New Year! Today, we enter into the year of the dragon, but not just any old run-of-the-mill dragon. This is the year of the Black Water Dragon – an especially auspicious period that comes around only once every sixty years. According to an article in the Bangkok Post, this year indicates a change, “…but with a measure of calm, sensibility and prudence.”

Interestingly enough, birth rates are expected to rise in Asia this year, because parents will desire children born in this special time. Note to self: buy stock in Korean or Chinese diaper companies.

So, what will you do in this luckier-than-average time? For inspiration regarding travel, self-help, mid-life career change, parenting and lots more, visit your local library branch. Check out our materials on astrology and dragons, too!

A Zoltan by Any Other Name

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

A colleague of mine is pregnant and was recently flipping through a baby name book. There were classic names like Victoria and Katherine; Biblical names like Joshua and Daniel; no nick-name names like Claire and Emily, and tons of other categories. From Aida to Zoltan, nearly every conceivable name was listed.

I happen to believe that names are hugely important in determining an individual’s success. Can you really argue that a Misty will be taken as seriously as an Elizabeth? Who’s likely to be the CEO: a Robert or a Timmy? Names suggest age, capability, and even social status.

For an interesting exploration of “white names” versus “black names”, check out the chapter about names in Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

If you don’t want your son to go through school being one of the four Liams in his class, then check out this link for information about Alberta’s most popular baby names.

Finally, browse section 929.44 in your local library branch. We've got lots of baby name books! If you’re not expecting yet, then use them to choose a name for a character in your next novel, or maybe even the cat or dog you just adopted. Think beyond Fifi and Rex!

A Hero Lies in You (not a Mariah Carey post!)

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

I’m reading a great new book these days – well, actually, it’s a tremendously popular 1998 title, The Hero Within, by Carol S. Pearson. When my train arrives at the Central Library these mornings, I feel like a therapist has just told me: “We’ll have to continue this another time...” and I want to plead: “Please – just 5 more minutes!”

The Hero Within is an exploration of archetypes and their role in our psychological development and health. We all live out patterns of thinking and doing that reveal our psychological similarities. We cope with problems, challenges or obstacles, and we do so by telling ourselves stories about ourselves and the world. Stories like “I just can’t win. It’s so unfair!” or “...no one really understands me, anyway” or “...no one appreciates the work that I do, and the sacrifices that I constantly make”. Or stories like “I have to take this journey, even though I’m not sure where I’m going”. At any given moment, we may be operating within the narrative of the orphan, innocent, magician, wanderer, warrior or altruist.

Heroes aren’t perfect people. They often come from dysfunctional or impoverished backgrounds, and are flawed individuals. But we admire them because they don’t give up. Heroes aren’t great because they’re fearless. They’re great because they act in spite of their fear. Heroes learn to recognize what is important and what is not; they learn to cope with loss, and to summon the strength to fight for what is just. Heroes don’t care about what others think.

Even though it sounds corny, it’s true: each of us is on her own journey. Read The Hero Within and be encouraged to show courage, adopt a new life pattern (and lose the old ones!), make a difficult choice, and grow.

For general psychology and self help, browse section 158 of your local library.

Mango Languages

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Ohnul nalshee chocho? Ohnul nalshee chocho? Ohnul nalshee chocho?

That’s the sound of me trying to memorize “The weather is nice today, isn’t it?” in Korean.

Calgary Public Library has all sorts of cool databases, like Mango Languages. Log in and start learning a new language today! From our homepage, select e-library and then Social Sciences & Education.

Whether you want to pick up a bit of new vocabulary, or you’d like to start with a very basic grammar lesson, Mango makes it easy to track your progress and study according to your own schedule.

Choose from over 35 languages, including some less common ones such as Hawaiian and Haitian Creole.

Mango is a great tool for students, travelers, polyglots and educators. Check it out!

In Praise of Indulgence

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

I have a Romanian friend who explained to me recently that in Romania, sometimes mothers dress up as Santa Clause because fathers are too exhausted by their drinking and eating binges, to wriggle into a costume and assume the role of a sober gift giver.

Honestly, I want to be that Romanian father, collapsed on the couch. I want to consume way too much, groan about my distended abdomen, fall asleep early and wake up with a headache. Go big or go home? No, I want to go home and go big!

Now, I don’t operate with this mentality every day, of course, but on special occasions I like to let loose.

So with that spirit in mind, here’s a booklist for those who choose to go big!

Celebrating Chocolate: Cakes, Brownies & Bars by Avner Laskin

Seduced by Bacon: Recipes & Lore about America’s Favourite Indulgence by Joanna Pruess

Cheese: Exploring Taste and Tradition by Patricia Michelson

The Ultimate Wine Companion: The Complete Guide to Understanding Wine by the World’s Foremost Wine Authorities by Kevin Zraly

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