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    Book Club in a Bag

    Freading ebooks

    - 0 Comment(s)

    Did you know? Calgary Public Library has an excellent selection of e-books.

    You may already be familiar with OverDrive, which was kind of a pioneer in the providing of e-books through libraries, and was our first ebook provider. Click here for more information about OverDrive.

    Recently, we’ve added another service to our e-book collections: Freading is an e-book source that provides access to a very wide variety of reading material. I was exploring a bit the other day to see exactly what was available and found a treasure-trove of classic fiction and literature titles. There was Turgenev, James, Dickens, Austen and more, all waiting for me to download!

    Fathers and Sons (Barnes & Nobleics Series)

    The Wings of the Dove (Barnes & Nobleics Series)

    Oliver Twist (Barnes & Nobleics Series)

    Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Nobleics Series)

    Freading is a little different from OverDrive in that there are unlimited downloads available for each title so if you see a book you want to read, you can download it immediately. It uses a token system where each reader is allotted a specific number of “tokens” each month and each book “costs” a certain number of tokens. As long as you have the right amount of tokens in your account, you can borrow a Freading title. It is a very neat little system and really good for people who want an e-book right away. If you are a lit-geek like I am, you will love the selection of classics. (Be sure to check out the history titles, too.) Click here for tips on how to get started with Freading.

    Marathon Quest

    by Luke Gray - 0 Comment(s)

    Please join us for an inspirational reading and book signing with world-record holder Martin Parnell, author of Marathon Quest on Thursday, October 25 at the Signal Hill library at 7pm.

    Marathon Quest

    Register in person, by calling 403-260-2620 or online.

    Time for a Long Novel

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    We’ve all heard the phrase “short and sweet,” but sometimes the best novels are those that you can lose yourself in for days or weeks at a time. As the weather turns colder and I spend more time indoors, curling up with a good, long book is just the thing to keep me happy. If you have time to dive into a long novel, there are many great ones to choose from, from the classics to something more contemporary. If it's an older book still in print or something newer that has made it to publication and it's a thick book, it's a good sign that there's something there to make it worth your time!

    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

    (originally planned as a single volume, but published in three at the insistence of the publisher)

    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

    Off the Shelf - Townie: A Memoir by Andre Dubus III

    by Jasna - 0 Comment(s)

    Andre Dubus III grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, and “townie” was the insulting nickname whispered by college students when he tried to participate in the mainstream. His autobiography, Townie, is a personal exploration of how he was able to rid himself of destructive emotional responses from his adolescence while honestly embracing the foundations of his own life.

    Andre had potentially good parents who neglected their children through emotional laziness, cold despair, and near-addiction to drinking. His father was a college professor and well-known writer. His mother was a social worker who helped other people’s kids improve their lot. Meanwhile her own children grew up without a proper home (meals, bedtimes, supervision) and estranged from their father.

    Frustrated with his self-image as a skinny weak boy, Andre turned to self-taught body-building. Clearly a success for the first time with his training, he added boxing skills. As his abilities blossomed, he conquered his weak-boy inner self by beating up those who had beaten him, and then those who threatened to beat him, and gradually those who might beat him or others. His salvation probably was that he wanted to keep his body healthy enough to fight, thus drugs and weapons were no attraction to him.

    Obviously bright, Andre did get into the college where his father taught. But his father liked the violent side of this son, plus he treated him more like a drinking buddy, having long forfeited his right to give fatherly advice. After a couple of years, Andre quits college because he cannot see the point. Through his twenties, Andre’s search for a “point”, combined with his interest in philosophy and the arts, keeps him moving away from the violence of his hometown. Better than any textbook, his introspection shows why it is so difficult to avoid relapsing into familiar behaviours - why he cannot flee psychological triggers just by changing environments.

    Now Andre Dubus III is a respected author in his own right. (His novel, House of Sand and Fog was made into a movie and was a selection in Oprah’s Book Club.) The scenes in Townie are vivid - full of action, tension, smells, and sounds. For those of us never driven by violence, this is a lesson in its awful attraction.

    Judith Umbach

    WordFest and the Readers’ Nook present...

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    Richard Ford

    September 24 @ 7:00 – 9:00 PM

    John Dutton Theatre, Central Library


    The Pulitzer-Prize winner reads from his new novel Canada - a magisterial coming-of-age story and talks about the rootless protagonists that populate his books, and typify the fragility of human experience.

    American writer Richard Ford is an internationally lauded author of novels and short stories. He is the author of the Bascombe novels including The Sportswriter; The Lay of the Land and Independence Day, which received the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN Faulkner Award. He has also written a screenplay, non-fiction works and short story collections such as Rock Springs and A Multitude of Sins.

    Tickets are $15. You can purchase them online at or phone 403.237.9068.



    Fiction Hunters at Crowfoot

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    Hunting for your next fiction read can be like hunting for lost treasure! But there ARE secrets of the Fiction Hunters' trade and we are willing to spill the beans...

    For example:

    ...if you liked Wolf Hall, might also enjoy Mistress of the Art of Death

    ...or even The Enchantress of Florence

    Learn how to find read-alikes, even those that you may not at first expect, and see the reasoning behind the recommendation. These suggestions came from Novelist Plus, a fantastic database in our E-Library (and now Novelist content is available right in our catalogue for most book records), but there are other great ways to hunt down some good fiction.

    If you're an avid reader, you've probably had those moments... you NEED a book to read, but you've run out of books by your latest favourite author(s), or are waiting for the next installment in a series... (or a few series...)

    Don't panic. There are ways to find your next great read, and our expert library staff would like to share them with you! Whether you read across all fiction genres or have very specific tastes, we'll find something for you.

    Learn about the great resources available to you (at home or anywhere you connect to the internet) through our E-Library or in person at your local branch, and let the hunting begin... We'll also be sharing some of the best books just released this fall.

    Become an expert Fiction Hunter-- register now! And join us at Crowfoot library on Saturday, September 22nd at 2pm.

    Fifty Shades of Summer

    by Suzen - 1 Comment(s)

    Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn't get a chance to take a traditional vacation this summer. While everyone else was jet setting to exotic locales like San Francisco, Orlando and Edmonton, I didn't even make it past the downtown core, never mind leave the city! Truth is, I didn't mean for my summer to turn out this way. I had big plans to take a road trip through the Rockies, even ride my bike through Regina, or go shopping in Montana but I unintentionally turned into one of "those people" I vowed never to be. You know the type of person that tries to juggle a million different things at once and constantly forgets to take time for herself until the entire summer has gone by and she doesn't even have a tan to show for it. You know, one of those...

    The closest I came to taking an actual vacation was to put my brain on one by reading the most popular adult fiction book of the summer: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Along with the other books of this trilogy, Fifty Shades has been on the New York Times Fiction Bestseller List for past 27 weeks and counting. The Calgary Public Library consistently has over 750 patrons on the wait list, including normal paperback, large print and electronic formats. And any retailer that sells books – be it Chapters, Costco or Walmart – has hundreds upon hundreds of the prolific but unassuming black and white covers lining the shelves.

    Fifty Shades of Grey by EL JamesFifty Shades has saturated the adult reading market, grabbing the attention of avid readers and occasional readers alike. I picked up the trilogy in ePUB format after weeks of fielding requests for the novel at the information desk. I had no idea what the book was about when I picked it up and at page 150, I still had no idea what it was about. Even now, after finishing it, my comprehension of the plot is still quite hazy. Here's what I know:

    Fifty Shades of Grey introduces our socially awkward heroine, Anastasia Steele, a recent university graduate who is as hopeless with computers as she is in love. Ana meets a man that completely turns her world upside down, Christian Grey - a mysterious 20-something billionaire who, despite his designer clothes, aloof demeanour and casual use of the company helicopter, has noble philanthropic inclinations. As the story meanders along, Ana and Christian become tied together in a predictable "opposites attract" dynamic. Ana, annoyingly insecure in her appearance and sexual prowess, channels her "inner goddess" to crack Christian's painfully constrained outer shell. As their relationship slowly progresses, Ana falls in love while Christian remains at an arm's length, expressing his affection through aggressive and controlling behaviour. The constant push and pull between Ana and Christian goes nowhere pretty quickly, the emotional tension lifting only by the barest of measures during their sexual encounters which are, at times, long winded and emotionally tiresome.

    From what I can figure, Fifty Shades of Grey has a character-driven plot but the characters are so devoid of depth that it is impossible to decipher any plot at all. It's my opinion that the driving force behind this otherwise plotless romantic story is sex. Like many books in the contemporary romance genre, steamy love scenes are integral to the progression of the story and often the primary reason we're drawn to such escapism. What makes Fifty Shades different from the majority of popular contemporary romance is the taboo nature of such steamy love scenes which are less about "lovemaking" and longing glances from across the room and much more about sadomasochistic desires and being flogged for pleasure. Christian, an emotionally unavailable man, expresses his (un)affection with Anastasia by controlling everything she does - including what clothing she wears, what she eats, how she acts in public and her role in the bedroom. Granted, Ana doesn't take to the submissive role easily and repeatedly questions Christian's actions; but she ultimately resigns to the predictable romantic but ultimately self-destructive adage "If I love him hard enough maybe I can change him!". And we all know how that age-old story ends....

    While I pride myself in being very liberal minded and open to all sorts of subjects when it comes to my reading, I was put off not by the taboo nature of the story but how the book was written. I know I am not alone in my opinion when I say that Fifty Shades is not the most scholarly or poetic book ever written. All over the Internet you will find extensive reviews that center on this aspect alone. E.L. James, herself, admits to not being a writer and is genuinely surprised about how well this book (and it's sequels) are doing. There's an excellent interview on CBC Radio's Q with Jian Ghomeshi where James speaks candidly about her literary beginnings and the inspiration behind the trilogy. The author, a former television producer, caught the writing bug after reading Stephanie Myer's Twilight series and decided to write her own version of the vampire saga but with non-supernatural characters. The book, first self-published online as fan fiction, received a cult-like readership and eventually garnered attention from publishers before catching on like wildfire across the world. Yet, despite it's unprecedented popularity, Fifty Shades of Grey is meandering and repetitive, and would have benefited greatly from a critical once-over by more than one editor. James' lack of experience as a fiction writer is so evident that the story feels as if it is just a vehicle for describing, in provocative and explicit detail, sexual encounters that are meant to shock readers as much as it is supposed to enrapture them. However, I suppose that is what erotic fiction essentially is, in which case E.L. James totally hits the mark.

    Now for all the criticism I've been giving this book, I should be completely honest with you: I read Fifty Shades from cover to cover in a matter of days. Sure, it may have been out of sheer stubbornness and the naive belief that maybe, just maybe, this book would get better as I read on, but I read it just the same. It is the epitome of a guilty pleasure read: guilty because I took so much pleasure in reading something I genuinely disliked from beginning to end. The experience can be equated to the cult-classic television show, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, where a man and his robot companions spend every episode watching terrible B-grade movies and make hilarious commentary about what they are seeing throughout the entire screening of the film. I received more enjoyment talking, criticizing, philosophizing, pondering and making fun of this book than I ever did reading it and I think that is where Fifty Shades of Grey gets its strength.

    This book has an uncanny ability to engage readers. Whether you loved it, despised it or couldn't care less, you probably have an opinion about it. So, I'll leave this forum open: What do you think about E.L. James trilogy Fifty Shades? What number are you on the wait list? Who should play Ana and Christian in the movie slated for production in the next few years? Give us all Fifty Shades of your opinion in the comments!

    The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

    - 0 Comment(s)

    “The narrator, to be honest, has often found it difficult finding his own way around, but feels a competent reader need not become lost in the detail and should enjoy the story just the same.”

    -from an afterword titled ‘Useless Learned Explanations’

    As a semiotician, philosopher, essayist, literary critic and former Harvard professor, we can be sure that Umberto Eco is a smart, well-read man. If he creates a narrator who has difficulty navigating his own creation, what chance do we readers possibly have at it?


    If you need to know exactly what’s going on in a story as you read it, do not go anywhere near this book. But if, as the narrator suggests, you are a ‘competent reader’ who doesn’t get ‘lost in the detail’ you are likely to enjoy The Prague Cemetery immensely. The narrative takes place all over the second half of the nineteenth century, featuring spies, counter-spies, secret service agents, literary giants, and Simonini, our dual-personality protagonist who has the world in his palm thanks to unusual talents as a forger of documents. There is no natural space in this plot for anything resembling ‘clarity’.

    Most novels can’t pull this off, but for the author of such historical masterpieces as The Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before, readers know they are in good hands and Eco proves it by pushing the novel forward at a dizzying, schizophrenic pace. It helps that every 4 - 5 pages the author’s own ink-drawn illustrations are added to animate the endless barrage of characters. And food. It’s hard to get to know any characters in this world, but they are always eating, always hungry, and maybe that’s how Eco made this impossible novel work so well.

    P. R.

    Summer. Read. Week 9

    Summer. Read. Week 9

    - 4 Comment(s)

    We’re on the final theme for Summer Read! For the last two weeks of the program we’ll be focusing on “Be” – have you borrowed anything recently that helped you with an issue or made you think of your life in different way? This theme is all about that. If you’re thinking about your spiritual self, thinking about a change in career, want to expand your interests by trying out a new hobby, drop into a branch and find something to quench that thirst for books!

    We also have a lot of fiction that is applicable for the “Be” theme. Classics like “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” newer best-sellers like “Life of Pi” and “the Shack,” and newer fiction like “the Opposite of Art” and “House of Secrets” would all be perfect for “Be” and might give you something to ponder.

    So join the Calgary Public Library for a 9-week summer reading adventure. Each week we're diving into a new theme: explore, play, imagine, create, live, laugh, learn, grow, and… be. Together we’ll discover new books that will keep you reading all summer. We’ll post information about the weekly theme every Wednesday here on our Readers’ Nook blog and on our Facebook page.

    When you comment on our Summer. Read. Facebook posts, telling us what books or DVDs or CDs you’ve been enjoying, you’ll be entered to win great prizes. There are weekly prizes of leather-bound journals and CPL tote bags, as well as ten grand prize Kobo eReaders! You can also enter by filling out a paper ballot at your local library.

    Summer. Read. Week 8

    Summer. Read. Week 8

    - 3 Comment(s)


    Summertime is the time for growth at the Calgary Public Library. Have more success growing a variety of plants with our extensive gardening collection, help your children grow with our hundreds of parenting titles and help your community grow by reading about urban planning.

    Maybe you would like to do the growing with our wonderful self-help books, CDs and DVDs or maybe you'd like to grow your own business with a book on small business creation.

    Pour your heart into it

    So join the Calgary Public Library for a 9-week summer reading adventure. Each week we're diving into a new theme: explore, play, imagine, create, live, laugh, learn, grow, and… be. Together we’ll discover new books that will keep you reading all summer. We’ll post information about the weekly theme every Wednesday here on our Readers’ Nook blog and on our Facebook page.

    When you comment on our Summer. Read. Facebook posts, telling us what books or DVDs or CDs you’ve been enjoying, you’ll be entered to win great prizes. There are weekly prizes of leather-bound journals and CPL tote bags, as well as ten grand prize Kobo eReaders! You can also enter by filling out a paper ballot at your local library.

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