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    Book Club in a Bag

    The Light and the Heavy… of Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think a comic doesn’t have the weight to deal with some heavy issues? Carry the idea that comics are just for boys and never deal with relationships? In fact it can be a light way to highlight and inform you without weighing you down and turning you off. They might even make you laugh… and cry and want to throw the book across the room. (We here at the library do NOT advocate this action, just saying).

    Try these on for size:

    Fat Free by Jude Miller & Illustrated by Mary Wilshire – “The Amazing All True Adventures of Supersize Woman! “ Memoir of one woman’s journey to self-esteem and fat acceptance and fitness. This book probes cultural questions and doesn’t hide truths or contradictions nor promote the fat phobia that is so pervasive in our culture. For instance, the story shows how we can often help others when we still need help ourselves and that often we can change our mind and redefine what recovery and health are as we go along.

    Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo (adapted Sean Michael Wilson by illustrated by Michiru Morikawa). The true memoirs of a gangster's daughter illustrates how significant rites of passage, such as getting a full body tattoo, can empower us to make life altering positive changes in our lives. As well as being a gripping fast-paced read this story shows human strength of spirit and honesty. Shoko says that “Getting tattooed, from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes, with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, was an act that empowered her to start making changes in her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at the bar she looked up at the full moon, a sight she never forgot. The moon became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book is an epitaph for herself and her family.” Tendo has also written a full length memoir continuing the story of her recovery on to include the birth of her daughter.

    Dragonslippers (This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like) by Rosalind Penfold. This graphic novel is actually pretty accurate in depicting how twisted emotional manipulation can be. No surprise since it’s actually Penfold’s memoir and based on her real life. If you’ve ever wondered or had a friend in this situation I would highly recommend this book but it DOES come with a trigger warning. On the plus side it also shows how Penfold managed to leave and recover.

    And on the lighter but no less relevant side:

    The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means/MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood. A fun book about 20-somethings, dating and following your own impressions of people rather than stereotypes, gossip and peer pressure.

    My Most Secret Desire by Julie Doucet. Julie is the queen hipster girl from Montreal who originally got me into comic books… way back in art school, perhaps actually because she writes about being in art school. Dark and funny, this lady pulls no punches in detailing her life as a punk growing up in Montreal through art school and various boyfriends. I briefly forgot that Doucet first converted me to comics years ago with HER tales of adventures and misadventures. It’s been an on again off again relationship. ;)

    Edmund and Rosemary Go To Hell by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Last but not least this comic is a fun, uplifting, simple fast read. It is satirical take on modern living, our search for meaning and a journey into appreciating the good things we have in life.

    For more great comic books check out my previous posts Great graphix: Not Your run of the Mill cominc Books and Words in Beige.

    Wintery Reads

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)

    Winter has always appealed to the secret hermit in me. Although I complain about the snow and ice just as much as anybody, I do love having even more good reasons to stay inside with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and a good book. Winter allows you to be a homebody with no guilt. While you’re not shopping for gifts or planning your holidays, here are some great wintery books to cozy up with.

    The Left Hand of Darkness book cover Snow Falling on Cedars book cover

    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

    A science fiction classic about a human emissary, Genly Ai, who travels to “Winter,” an alien planet named for its extremely cold climate. Genly’s mission is to convince the alien race to share ideas and technology with the rest of the human intergalactic civilization. Things are complicated by the fact that the alien race is essentially genderless, and Genly must navigate this completely different culture.

    Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

    A Japanese American, Kabuo Miyamoto, is charged with murder after the suspicious death of a fisherman on San Piedro Island. As the trial ensues we are pulled into a love story that goes back to World War II. Through flashbacks, we discover that the journalist covering the trial, and the wife of Miyamoto were once childhood lovers, but were separated by the internment of Japanese citizens. Evocative and beautifully written, Snow Falling on Cedars is a suspenseful mystery and love story in one.

    Blankets book cover In Cold Blood book cover

    Blankets: an illustrated novel by Craig Thompson

    One of my absolute favourite graphic novels, Blankets is an autobiographical story about the author’s coming of age. Craig Thompson’s illustrations are full of movement and brushwork, realistic while also retaining a cartoon-like appearance. His story of growing up in an isolated part of Wisconsin, his search for love, and his doubts about his faith is heartbreaking, poignant and sentimental.

    In Cold Blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences by Truman Capote

    In 1959 in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family are murdered in their home. Truman Capote decides to travel to Holcomb with his friend and fellow author, Harper Lee, who will later publish To Kill a Mockingbird, to write about the crime. Taking thousands of notes, they interview the killers, towns-people, and investigators to reconstruct the events. Considered by many critics to be the first non-fiction novel, and the second biggest selling true crime book ever written, In Cold Blood is a riveting account of the psychology of the killers and the effect of the mass-murders on the small community.

    Words In Beige

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Though there are many graphic novels and books in our collection that bear beige covers I thought I would highlight a few of our gems. Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well, um … boring? Well, for the sake of neutrality I will write, you can read; and draw your own conclusions.

    Unspent Love, or Things I wish I told You by Shannon Gerard. Poignant moments of longing, regret, reflection and joy in regards to love illustrated with sparse prose. The images don’t necessarily match the text which gives space for untold ambiguities and contradictions to exist, like they do in life. This technique lends a richness and depth to what in essence are very short clips of lives.

    Let That Bad Air Out - Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade: a Novel In Linocut by Stefan Berg. Would you explain Jazz with words or without?? Well Berg has chosen the silent but strong approach in his Porcupine Quill Publication. PQ press has also publish several beige covered graphic novels done in linocut including George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson and Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, which was reviewed in a previous post. They come equipped with short introductions which you can read to enhance your viewing experience, though I find it fun to see what I can glean from just reading the pictures first and then going back and “seeing if I’m right” by reading the introduction last…

    An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono is a poetry book also covered in beige with very sparse words accompanied by rich, scrawly drawings done in charcoal and chalk pastel. Like a homemade art picture book for adults. Made 10 years before she met John Lennon and discovered and published by their son Sean as his first Chimera Press publication it eerily foreshadows Ono’s and Lennon’s relationship as well as references Yoko’s experiences in a refugee camp in WW2.

    Body of Text by David Ellignsen & Micheal V. Smith is another poetry book that blurs and marries the categories between images and text. And, okay, the cover isn’t beige but it is black and white, hence carrying some level of neutrality so I thought I could sneak it into this post. Smith is a writer, performance artist and occasional clown. In this book he is photographed by the award winning Ellignsen in various poses, distortions and yoga positions to make his body resemble letters. These are placed throughout the pages in numbers one to three making you “read” the characters created by his body as if it was a poem. The effect is mesmerizing and lyrical, enticing much flipping backwards and forwards – of pages that is ;).

    Hall of Best Knowledge: [all ideas, seminal & harmonious, complete & boundless] by Ray Fenwick. Flipping through this book, it can be hard to tell what it is about as Fenwick has geniously invented his own form of storytelling perhaps best quipped as 'typographical comics'. This consists of short one-page frames, each with a different topic humorously detailing what he thinks is best for you to know about each subject and slowly but surely building a narrative that comes together piece by piece. My favourite is the one about libraries which says, "... times have changed... When a guest views your library, the effect should be akin to the speechless awe inspired by the primitive hunter tearing off his animal skin to display glistening, sustenance-providing muscles. If the viewer is not left trembling before your impressive selection of books, then there is work to be done! ". Enjoy!

    Little Mosque on the Prairie

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

     

    I grew up being just a wee bit overly fond of Little House on the Prairie. I couldn't help it I think. I was given a copy of Little House in the Big Woods as my first chapter book for Christmas when I was six. A lifelong love of both reading and drawing (yes Garth Williams did great drawings!!) was born. Heritage Park was my favourite haunt. I even used to wear calico dresses and aprons to school… given the chance. Sooo when Little Mosque on the Prairie came out I was quite intrigued. Apparently I was not the only one, as the CBC miniseries by the same name is quite popular. And yes, the library has all 6 episodes on DVD.

    Join us on Wednesday November 12th at 7:30pm to meet the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Zarqa Nawaz for an evening of storytelling and humour, as she shares her new book Laughing All the Way to the Mosque. Register Here. Zarqa is apparently quite charming and entertaining in person. Get a glimpse of her book here and check out Mario Toneguzzi's article on her in the Calgary Herald on November 8th. Zarqa's latest offerings are more comic departures than her earlier more somber NFB documentary Me and the Mosque (which does contains some droll elements).

    With her book she hopes to dispel a lot of misconceptions prevalent in popular portrayals of Muslim women in the media. As the name implies Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is a hilarious picture of Muslim life in the suburbs. Nawaz details how she grew up in a household where according to her father, the Quran says it's okay to eat at McDonald's-but only if you order the McFish.

    Books about Obsession

    by Dieu - 0 Comment(s)
    Enduring Love book cover

    Ian McEwan sits high up on my long list of favourite contemporary authors. Enduring Love was the second book of his that I had read many years ago. When I was putting together this post I instantly thought of Enduring Love, one of the most disturbing and yet fascinating books on obsessive love, fate, and on how the extremes of a man’s delusions can lead to the destruction of lives.

    The novel starts off with probably one of the most memorable beginnings of any book I have read. It begins with a freak accident involving a hot-air balloon in the middle of an English field with two witnesses, Joe Rose and his girlfriend, Clarissa. This event sparks a chain of events that come to haunt and menace Joe Rose, namely in the form of a man, Jed Parry, one of the persons who was involved in the incident on that day. Jed, inexplicably, sees the chance meeting between him and Joe as divinely fated, and proceeds to stalk Joe with the intention of bringing him to God. The stalking becomes more and more intense. As the plot takes you through the perceptions of both victim and pursuer, you start to question the stalker’s true feelings. Is he merely lonely, in love with Joe, insane or just a zealous religious fanatic? McEwan’s concise, yet cinematic writing describes the horrific events and misperceptions that unfold in a way that made it impossible for me to put this book down.

    During the summer, I made it a goal of mine to finally get around to reading Anna Karenina. As is my habit, I have my own obsession of buying books and then allowing them to sit in piles unread, sometimes for years. At over 800 pages, Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel may seem like a daunting book to read, but after the long haul, I have to say it was worth it.

    A brief description of Anna Karenina may mislead you into thinking that Tolstoy’s classic novel of doomed love as something not very original: a wealthy, beautiful aristocratic woman in an unhappy marriage falls in love with a handsome, young and dashing army officer. I have read many classic and Victorian novels, many of which were great reads, however, Anna Karenina far exceeds all of them. The character of Anna, one of the most famous literary female characters of all time, fascinated me. As the novel progresses, we see Anna Karenina transform from a sympathetic and enchanting woman, to a destructive, tormented and tragic figure as her obsessive love for Count Vronsky takes its toll on her life.

    The biggest surprise for me was in the secondary plot following the character of Konstantin Levin, a young man who is obsessed with the big questions of life. Levin throughout the novel is preoccupied with what it means to live a good life. In complete contrast to Anna, Levin is a sympathetic, warm, awkward character with an unrequited love. He goes through a journey of self-actualization that I found more satisfying and deeply affecting than Anna’s story.

    Anna Karenina book cover

    Books to Movies

    by Sonya - 2 Comment(s)

    Catch a movie in the theatres, borrow one from the library, or settle in to read the books first--the choice is yours! These popular titles can be enjoyed as both books and movies. Tell us in the comments: which did you prefer? Book or movie?

    In theatres now:

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

     

    The book:

    A runaway publishing sensation in 2012, this dark psychological thriller is a page-turner from first to last. If you prefer books to movies, you may want to savour the written word before you see the movie. Suspense is always more suspenseful the first time you take in the plot...

     

    The movie:

    Starring Ben Affleck and lesser-known British actress Rosamund Pike, this thriller is in theatres now, and so far has good reviews.

     

     This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

     

    The book:

    This "snappy and heartfelt family drama/belated coming-of-age story" (Publisher's Weekly) was published in 2009, and of course, the release of the movie has sparked interest in the book as well. Read the full summary in the catalogue; here's a snippet to get you interested:

    This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind--whether we like it or not.

     
    The movie:

    Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda... sounds like a great and funny ensemble cast, and worth seeing.

    Borrow the DVD or Blu-ray:

    If I Stay by Gayle Forman

     
    The book:

    Published in 2009 to critical acclaim, this young-adult heartbreaker will appeal to fans of John Green'sThe Fault in Our Stars or Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. Share it with a teen in your life for interesting conversation.


    The movie:

    Released last summer, this is now available at the Library (add your name to the long hold lists). You may even have time to read the book while you wait for the movie. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz (Hugo), this should be a crowd-pleaser for anyone who enjoys teen tearjerkers.

    Picture Books… for Adults

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Last week I shared five Graphic Novels about unexpected subjects with you in Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics. Here now are five complex, mature, and unexpected… picture books. There's something for everyone.

    Ever heard of book spine poetry? Well, pile up some books, look at the titles on the spine and make a poem.

    Sorted books by Nina Katchadourian has some great book spine poems including highlights such as: "A Short Guide to Writing about Art / Criticizing Photographs / This is Not a Photograph" and "Primitive Art / Just Imagine / Picasso / Raised by Wolves."

     

     

    The Da Vinci Cod : and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books by Christopher Riddell (a Sunday times cartoon columnist and children’s book illustrator) is wittier than an earful of mice. Each one-pane comic reframes titles from famous literary classics such as “Jane Ear” with hilarious, detailed, one-frame illustrations. Some examples are: "Anglicanism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (featuring a priest riding a motorcycle), "Apes of Wrath" (featuring Apes…), "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe Assistant" (featuring a Queer fashion designer). For further fun check out his website which has three additional sets of illustrations to unwritten books.

     

    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger (enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife??) is her first (self) published book. Before becoming an author Niffenegger went to art school (the Art Institute of Chicago), and made her first book out of a series of dry-prints (etchings); before deciding to turn them into a story. The resulting book brings together a series of prints she did for her graduating thesis. It’s a Frankenstenian love story involving a captured woman morphing into a moth, having Napoleon as a lover, complete with a creepy yet comforting conclusion to love lost, amongst other things. This is classic Niffenegger and echoes themes explored in The Time Traveller’s Wife. You might also want to check out The Three Incestuous Sisters.

     

    About Love – 3 Stories by Anton Chekhov. Three classic short stories by the Russian author translated by David Helwig. A former poet laureate of Prince Edward Island and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he has written twenty volumes of fiction and fourteen volumes of poetry. Comfily illustrated by Seth the book invites curling up with a loved one and reading it together over a cup of cocoa.

     

    The Dot and the Line - a Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is a great illustrated story that is allegorical and philosophical while remaining quite simple and downright funny.

    There are many other gems embedded in our Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections. Stay tuned for future recommendations!

     

      

    Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think that comic books are only for teenagers and picture books are only for kids? It might surprise you to see what actually ends up being published as Graphic Novels these days and the complex and mature content that ends up being published as… basically, picture books. Everything from the biology of our DNA to the Bible; from Math Romances to Book Spine Poetry can make it between these pages.

    Here are five subjects you might have never thought would be published as a comic book:

    The Stuff of Life : a Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Schultz, Mark

    Think you’ll never grasp the science behind DNA? Even the basics of genetics can sound utterly alien. So who better than an alien to explain it all? Enter Bloort 183, a scientist from an asexual alien race threatened by disease, who's been charged with researching the fundamentals of human DNA and evolution and laying it all out in clear, simple language so that even his slow-to-grasp-the-point leader can get it.

    Manga Shakespeare by Paul Duffield

    I have found these the fastest way to understand Shakespeare’s plays in a 20-40 minute sitting. Get the context complete with actual quotes from the plays – THEN read the texts and you're sailing. Plus they are illustrated in Manga--did I mention that? Start with Romeo and Juliet and then try The Tempest on for size. (It’s set in a sci-fi future!)

    Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

    Another great graphic novel form that has evolved is the Graphic Memoir, and this is a prime example. Heartbreaking and funny, it details how Marchetto set out and succeeded in “kicking cancer in the butt – in 4 inch killer heels, no less,” managing to keep her optimism, her high end restauranteur fiancé, fashion, humour, support from family and friends, wits AND get married on time in high style to boot.

    Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings by George A. Walker

    Some events are best described wordlessly. George A. Walker certainly felt this when he chose to chronicle a day in the life of the events of 9/11 in Book of Hours. It’s hard to describe what these black and white illustrations impart but should take you approximately 9-11 minutes to flip through the book and get it.

    The Bible: a Japanese Manga Rendition, Translated by Glenn Anderson, edited by Marie Iida

    Whoever thought you could enjoy the bible Manga style? Well, you can.

     

    There are many other gems embedded in the Library's Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections.

    Stay tuned next week for five unexpected… picture books!

    This Just In

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    The Man Booker Prize for fiction has released their shortlist of six for the 2014 award. Click on any title to place your hold! The first three of these are already available at the library; the final three are on order.

    You can find book summaries for these last three on the Booker Prize website. They all sound very interesting! Have you read any of these titles? Let us know your pick in the comments.

     

    Your Fall Reading List

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    First, a couple of suggestions:

    Once the dust settles from your fall return to routines, you might find yourself looking for something to read. I'll start you off with a few recommendations that are on MY list:

    Louise Penny: The Long Way Home

    This 10th installment in Penny's fabulous Inspector Gamache mystery series is one I'm eagerly awaiting! The scheduled publication date was August 26, so get your name on the hold list if you're already a fan. If you haven't read this series, start at the beginning with Still Life. Penny's novels are perfect for curling up with on a crisp fall day. You'll get to know the tiny Quebec town of Three Pines and its eccentric and realistically drawn inhabitants. Throughout the series, these characters will feel like old friends, and I was thrilled to discover that there would be a tenth title! Although it is a mystery series, you don't have to be a dedicated mystery reader to enjoy these novels, which will also appeal to fans of Canadian fiction who enjoy strong characters and a vivid sense of place.

     

    Jessie Burton: The Miniaturist

    I've always loved discovering new authors through debut novels. Just think of how difficult it is to get published with a first novel these days--having positive reviews for a debut novel is a sure sign of quality! This title caught my eye based on its summary in the catalogue:

    Enchanting, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

     

    Did you know?

    You can sign up to receive a monthly (or bimonthly) list of new and recommended titles in your preferred reading genre with our Next Reads newsletters. If you like booklists but don't want to clutter up your inbox, you can still read the back issues! It's just one more of the great features you'll find on our website.

    Speaking of great features, you can find NoveList Plus content, including read-alike recommendations and reviews, in the catalogue. Don't miss out on the full NoveList Plus database in your E-Library under Reading & eBooks.

    And that's not all...

    Here are some more fall reading lists from around the web:

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