You are here: Home > Blogs > Library-Connect
On Line

Library Connect banner

How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

In my last post, I mentioned that I picked up How To Be Black because I thought it would be hilarious. Indeed, it’s funny, but it’s substantive, too, and definitely worth your time.

Author Baratunde Thurston tells the story of his Nigerian name and his time at Sidwell Friends and Harvard, and describes the huge impact that his mother has had on the formation of his character. Thurston also assembles a panel of black thinkers, and asks them questions ranging from: Can you swim? to Are we living in post-racial America?

This book is not a manual for how to be cool, urban, “thug”, or whatever else we may associate with being black. Besides, even if it provided that kind of direction, the result would be people who are either “too black” or “not black enough” – and this paradox is a central theme. Thurston himself has at times been considered too black, or not black enough. So have Barack Obama and many other prominent black individuals. So, what's the right amount of blackness, anyway? Can you imagine being told that you're too white, or not white enough?

How To Be Black is a fabulous exploration of what it means to be black, but it’s also a rallying cry for those who are fed up with being identified only as black, and who just want to be themselves – whatever colour that happens to be. As for Thurston, he's black and he's proud! He's also a computer geek, an avid camper, an eater of tofu and much more. He defies black stereotypes and encourages other black people to do the same.

Check it out!

Black History Month: The Big O

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

No, not that Big O. I mean Obama. As in Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States of America.

With only about 10 months remaining until the next American presidential election, it’s time to put Obama’s accomplishments into perspective. Has he managed to clean up Bush’s messes, or has he only exacerbated existing problems? Will his contentious health care reforms prove to be beneficial for the average American, or not? Is the world safer with Obama at the helm, or is Obama merely a pawn in corporate America's game? No matter where you stand on the political issues, it’s undeniable that Obama is a groundbreaking, historic figure.

Imagine: it was only decades before Obama ascended to presidency that Rosa Parks was being asked to move to the back of that fateful bus. Now, read that sentence again.

Check out some of these titles and learn more about America's first black president:

Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of a President, by Justin A. Frank

Obama and the Middle East, by Fawaz Gerges

Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves and Letters of the First Postmodern President, by Jack Cashill

The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad, by Tariq Ali

And don't forget that Obama is an author, too! Check out The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father.

February is Black History Month. Learn more at your local library branch!

After America, by Mark Steyn

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Mark Steyn is too conservative for me. Or, is it that I’m too liberal for Mark Steyn?

I’m reading his new book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, and although he mocks and critiques many things that I think are crucial, I’m enjoying the experience of having views to which I don’t subscribe spelled out in a cogent and articulate way. Steyn is an uncommon combination of erudite and cheeky, and I find myself smirking, even when I disagree with him.

When I picked up the book and saw that its back cover has a glowing endorsement from Ann Coulter (insert gagging noise here) I was sure that I should just put the book down and move on. But the amateur philosopher in me knows that in order to understand my own views, I need to understand others’ views, too. I need to listen to the people who differ from me, in order to gain a better and more nuanced understanding of the views that I do hold.

So, dear reader, I encourage you to select a book whose author you don’t like, appreciate or understand. Challenge yourself to read both sides of a debate.

We’ve got books about all the contentious stuff: politics, religion, sex, war, and so on. Ask our librarians for a recommendation!

What's Druh been up to?

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Today's post was written by one of my favourite former co-workers. Here it is:

One of the many promises I constantly make to myself is to be more active in my community and this includes being more aware of what my elected representatives are doing for neighborhood I live and work in. Sadly, like most of my intentions, I have not followed through as much as I'd like. Like many Calgarians I keep finding myself in a voting booth, stubby little pencil in hand, wishing the choice I was about to make was more informed.

This Thursday night, at the Louise Riley Library Program Centre, citizens of Ward 7 have a wonderful opportunity to find out what Alderman (or, if you like, Councilor) Druh Farrell has been doing on their behalf over the past year, with a question period to follow. What a great way to connect with City Hall! We all hear that politicians need to listen to the people, but don't the people themselves have a responsibility to know what's going on?

One Year Later: Civic Update

Thursday, Oct 06 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Louise Riley Program Center (Just North of the Louise Riley Library)

You can register in person at any library branch, on-line at calgarypubliclibrary.com or by calling 403-260-2620

The Great Stagnation, by Tyler Cowen

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Check out this popular new book, for an interesting account of how the United States went from superpower to super broke. Cowen has no bias against either Republicans or Democrats, and he doesn’t seek to lay blame, but rather to enlighten readers about the causal factors involved in the recession of an economy as large as the United States’. His explanations are clear and reasonable; this is everyday economics for folks who are drawn to real world examples rather than complex theories. David Brooks of the New York Times states that this is “the most debated nonfiction book so far this year”. Check it out today.

October 10th is our Mayoralty Candidates Forum!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Since I’ve started attending Toastmasters on a regular basis, I see the world through the lens of the “um / ah” counter. Every time someone addresses a crowd, I’m counting false starts, and all instances of “um”, “uh”, “like”, “you know”, and so on. I am especially excited about our upcoming Mayoralty Forum, because I’ll get the chance to check out the speaking skills of those who would be mayor of Calgary.

Are ums and uhs important in the grand scheme of civic elections? Perhaps not. Oration is an undervalued skill in the age of the sound byte. Still, the ability to think on one’s feet, and to give coherent but impromptu speeches is a skill that we can all learn, and which government representatives certainly must hone. OK, enough with the Toastmasters evangelism.

Now, here are just a few of the reasons why I’m excited about the election, and why I’m looking forward to our upcoming forum:

1) Now, voting matters. At the time of the last civic election, I was a student living at home. I’m now a homeowner and I want my taxes spent wisely and transparently.

2) I don’t have a car. And I don’t plan on buying one. I want to know how my candidates will ensure Calgary is a place where I can continue to live and work, unburdened by the necessity of having to own a vehicle.

3) Diversity! It’s so refreshing to see that the candidates are not exclusively white Anglo-Saxon men.

There are tons of other reasons why I’m excited about this election, and why you should be, too! Meet your candidates on Sunday October 10th, 12 – 3 PM, at the John Dutton Theatre (Central Library), and get excited about casting your vote on the 18th! I’ll be there. So will CBC. Will you?

For more information about the forum, please click here.

For information about all of our upcoming programs, please click here.

12Showing 1 - 6 of 10 Record(s)