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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!

Black History Month: The Big O (part two)

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

No, not that Big O. I mean Oprah. As in Oprah Winfrey, media mogul and self-made gazillionaire.

I recently borrowed the book CD Oprah: A Biography, by Kitty Kelley, and listened to it with surprise and intrigue. Apparently, there’s a whole lot more to Oprah than the glossy guru might let on. The impoverished background to which Oprah alludes may not be entirely accurate, and what about those rumours regarding Gayle King? What’s Stedman’s role in Oprah’s life, and why is Oprah so secretive about certain aspects of her past? Before her television network, philanthropic ventures, and mega-stardom, Oprah led a very different (lonely and drug feuled?!) life. Read more about it in Kelley’s (full disclosure: unauthorized) biography.

If you’re not prepared to have your mental image of Oprah besmirched, then skip the biography and stick with materials that maintain her near-saintly image. Check out some of our resources:

Love your Life! O's Handbook for your Best Today - and Tomorrow, by Oprah Winfrey

Dream Big! O's Guide to Discovering your Best Life, by Oprah Winfrey

To Oprah with Love: A Tribute, by Paul Natkin

February is Black History Month. Find out more by visiting your local library branch!

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.

Mad Men

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

The fashion! The eyewear! The furniture! And a typewriter so simple that “even a woman can use it”! What more could you ask for?

I may just be the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen Mad Men until about a month ago, when I borrowed season one and treated myself to a marathon. What an incredible drama!

Mad Men follows the lives of employees who work at Sterling Cooper, an advertising agency in 1960's Manhattan. The series reveals what work, home life, and relationships were like in the 60's, and how much they have (and haven’t) changed, since then.

What’s shocking to me is the idea that once upon a decade, I may have actually been able to smoke and drink at work. Not only that, but I might have been called “honey”, “sweetheart” or some other derisive term, by a colleague or even a boss! But Mad Men isn’t just about the differences between then and now. It’s a compelling drama about men and women, work, fidelity, families, creativity, and commerce.

So far, my favourite character is Peggy, who starts season one as “the new girl” and finishes it as a junior copywriter. But, I also love Joan Holloway, the foxy office manager and resident femme fatale. The casting is brilliant and each character is really unique.

If you want to get immersed in a swell new drama, make it the world of Mad Men! Place a hold today and have it delivered to the branch of your choice.

Are you there Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, By Chelsea Handler

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

On a friend’s recommendation, I’ve started reading this hilarious collection of episodes from the life of comedienne Chelsea Handler. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of her until I had to fly from Las Vegas to Calgary and found there was absolutely nothing to do except watch the E! Network. After that brief introduction, I decided I would check out some of her writing.

I have to say that Ms. Handler will never be able to take Tina Fey’s place in my heart (in my funny bone?). She’s just isn’t quite as razor sharp. But even so, this collection had me chuckling. Handler is quirky, self-effacing, and more than just a little bit rude, and no one is immune from her comic lens – including her family, friends, and ex-boyfriends.

What I most admire in Handler is her frank discussion of sex. She is very forthright about her sex life, and I like the fact that she doesn’t feel she has to apologize for being sexual – whether that’s with one partner or more. Handler is a woman who’s not afraid to eat bad food, drink too much, sleep with several partners, and throw a punch, if need be.

Check out Chelsea Handler’s writing today!

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