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Blue Cheese at 9 Months?!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

I’m reading French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too): How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon, and it’s fascinating! It’s much more than a manual to cure picky eating and family food fights. It’s an insightful examination of attitudes towards food, eating, and nourishment, and how they differ between the French model and the American (and by extension, Canadian) model.

I’m young (for a little while longer, at least) and single (likely for eternity) and it’s my prerogative to eat dinner alone, standing over the sink. Or sitting on the couch, channel flipping. Or at midnight. Or twice. Because there’s no one watching me, my eating routines lack both a social component and a sense of restraint. According to the author’s mother-in-law, my normal habits are a recipe for obesity. So, apparently, is snacking, using food as a reward or punishment, allowing your children to dictate what or when they’ll eat, and eating at any place other than the table, surrounded by your family.

Le Billon observes that French parents are firmly in control and by refusing to let their children eat the same thing every day, or complain about the food they’re given, French children wind up eating a wider and much more balanced range of foods. They are more willing to try new foods, and they don’t whine or throw hunger induced tantrums. Even children 5 or 6 years of age will sit patiently in a restaurant, while their parents linger over a nice long meal. This is because French children are taught that food is exciting and interesting; part of a familial set of rituals; and an aspect of their national identity about which to be proud.

It’s a very far cry from exasperatedly stuffing greasy McNuggets into the whining maw of an angry 7 year old, en route to a hockey practice.

Check out this book whether you have children or not. As long as you’re someone who eats, it will provide you with lots of interesting ideas. Food for thought, if you will.

I noticed a woman on the C-Train, jotting down the title, as I read. We started chatting and it turns out she is French. She said that in her family, they always made sure to eat together at the table, at a very precise time. Sure enough, she was slim. Maybe the French are on to something...

Your Crummy Relationship

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

Back in February, I was asked to generate ideas for a Valentine’s Day display at the Central library and the cynical side of me thought: let’s do a display about breaking up! so I browsed through our collection about relationships, and to my sad surprise, I found plenty of books about heartbreak.

Apparently, men cheat on women and vice versa (with staggering frequency!); both genders unwittingly find themselves in co-dependent relationships, and it seems like everyone (married, dating, divorced, widowed) needs advice on dealing with emotional turmoil. There are countless people browsing on internet dating sites, while wondering whether to stay with their current partner or not – and perhaps you’re one of them.

So, have you been cheated on, or are you the bad guy? Do you struggle with intimacy? Does it seem like you can’t ever find a suitable partner – no matter how many dates you politely sit through? Are your standards too high or too low? Are you dating the same type of person over and over again?

There’s only so much wisdom you can glean from Sex and the City reruns, and your more-than-slightly-bitter circle of friends. At some point, you’re going to have to delve deeper and explore your childhood family structure, your fears and insecurities, and your expectations of what a lasting relationship entails. Not fun, but definitely necessary.

Find the tools you’ll need by browsing the relationships section of your local library branch. Here are just a few of the items you might find there:

Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together by Mark Driscoll

Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up by Harriet Goldhor Lerner

Mirror Effect: Six Steps to Finding your Magical Match Using Online Dating by Troy Pummill

From Shy to Social: The Man's Guide to Personal & Dating Success by Christopher Gray

Knapp Chat

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

A customer started a chat with me today (you know that you can chat online with us, right?), in order to ask if she could place a hold on a book by Caroline Knapp. Interestingly enough, I’m reading a book by that same author right now.

My customer had read Pack of Two, a title I have yet to read, and Drinking: A Love Story, which I’ve read and reviewed. I told her that I, too, had read Drinking, but that I preferred the title I was reading right now: Appetites: Why Women Want.

Check out Caroline Knapp’s writing, if you haven’t already. She writes beautifully and bravely about her struggles (mainly with alcoholism and anorexia, but family relationships, too) and she is unflinchingly honest about the frightening terrain in the dark realms of her psyche.

I’m really enjoying Appetites: Why Women Want. It’s described as an anorexia memoir, but it’s much more complex than a simple recounting of what was eaten (or not) and how many pounds were shed. Knapp explores desire as it relates to food, cultural zeitgeist, mothering, and body image. I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder (unless “unrelenting nocturnal potato chip addiction” has finally made it into the DSM 4...) but readers don’t have to have any familiarity with eating disorders to enjoy this book. Simply put, if you are a woman and have a body, Appetites: Why Women Want will very likely resonate with you. Place a hold today!

Pack of Two

Drinking: A Love Story

Appetites: Why Women Want

Happy International Women's Day!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Celebrate International Women’s Day by joining us in our John Dutton theatre for a discussion of how women are creating strong and vibrant communities.

This year, in solidarity with feminists throughout the world (men included!), I give to you a list of some of my recent favourites: writing about women and women’s sexuality.

Self Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back Again, by Norah Vincent. An interesting examination of the pressures confronting men, from a lesbian point of view. Crass, funny, and insightful, even though the project of chronicling a year as a man was based on deception.

My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies, by Nancy Friday. This book had enormous impact when it was first published, and it’s still popular today. Read it for titillation, of course, but also to realize that you’re perfectly normal and that your fantasies are, too.

The Sexual Life of Catherine M, by Catherine Millet. I included this book here not because of the graphic sexual descriptions it contains, but because it’s a reflection of one woman’s choices. It’s not just sex but choice that’s important to feminism. The choice to marry or not, have children or not, have multiple (and concurrent!) sexual partners or not, and so on. Millet lives life on her own terms.

Our Bodies, Ourselves, by Boston Women's Health Book Collective. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this classic. It's been informing women about their bodies for over 4 decades!

Your local library has all sorts of resources about women’s sexuality: relationships, sexual health, gay/lesbian/trans/queer issues, sexual education and pregnancy, and lots more! Learn to create more safety, intimacy and pleasure in your sexual routines. Learn about who’s doing what to whom, and how.

The Calgary Public Library has resources for everything you’re into!

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...

Go [Your Name Here] Go!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Have you ever wondered about what a life coach or career coach can do for you? It’s a whole lot more than just cheering you on and patting you on the back.

Coaches motivate clients to explore different viewpoints and strategies, and crucially, to take action. They foster personal responsibility and accountability, too.

Often times, your family is too biased to give you objective advice; likewise, your friends or co-workers may worry about hurting your feelings. Coaches are removed enough to allow for more objectivity, but they’re invested enough to keep you accountable, and to help you celebrate your successes. Coaches keep you honest and on track, and they help you broaden a variety of skill sets. Coaches work with individuals and teams, and relationships with a coach can be long or short term.

Interested in finding out more? Calgary Public Library is pleased to be offering free 15-minute coaching sessions, on February 8th and 9th.

Click here to find out more!

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