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    Book Club in a Bag

    Read, Laugh and WIN

    Read, Laugh and WIN

    - 0 Comment(s)


    “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."
    ~Mel Brooks

    Ask 10 people what makes them laugh and you will probably get 10 different answers. But whether your taste in comedy runs to Mel Brooks or Monty Python movies, Dilbert or Garfield cartoons, or classic recordings by Bill Cosby or Bob Newhart, you will find a wealth of humourous material at the Calgary Public Library. From DVDs to Book CDs, cartoon collections to funny fiction and memoirs, we have a wide variety of items to tickle your funny bone.



    “Question: How do you get 200 drunken Canadians out of a swimming pool?
    Answer: You say, ‘Excuse me, could you please get out of the pool?’”
    ~Will Ferguson

    Even when we’re laughing at ourselves, Canadians love a good joke (or a bad one!) Check out the wit and wisdom of Canadian humourists next time you are at the library.


    About Summer. Read.

    Discover new books that will keep you reading all summer in our Summer. Read. contest for adults!

    To enter:

    1. Check the weekly theme every Wednesday, either at your local branch or right here online

    2. Borrow a new (to you!) book, DVD or CD from the Library that fits that theme.

    3. Fill in the online ballot to tell us what you're reading (or watching, or listening to) and enter to win one of five 32 GB Google Nexus 7 Tablets, and weekly prizes of leather-bound journals and Calgary Public Library tote bags. You can also enter by filling out a paper ballot at your local branch. Good luck!

    Summer. Read. Week 5 — Live

    Summer. Read. Week 5 — Live

    - 3 Comment(s)



    “My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning

    and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.” ~Cary Grant

    Cary Grant had an interesting philosophy on living. Here are three books by people who created their own formula for living and which provide some ideas for good living.

    For a summer read full of spiritual guidance and meaning try: Fear: Essential Wisdom For Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet and scholar who has published a number of books on peaceful living. 

    This book extolls the practice of living in the present to embrace our fears, recognize their origins, and thereby render them powerless. His book is short but powerfully written, in beautifully clear prose.

    The word ‘Live’ has different connotations for blogger Hugh MacLeod. In his third book Freedom is Blogging in Your Underwear, he argues that real  happiness isn’t power or money: it is freedom to pursue your passion in life. MacLeod was a struggling cartoonist waiting for a big break to become syndicated in newspapers.

    He stopped waiting and started acting by establishing his own blog to showcase his cartoons. It was a huge success, and his dream was fulfilled. His book is funny and light but with the ever-present message that thinking outside the box in your pursuit of a dream can have some hilarious and satisfying consequences.

    To live well sometimes is more of a challenge for some people than others. Answering life’s challenges with laughter is the path Sara Benincasa takes in Agorafabulous! Dispatches From My Bedroom.  Podcast host and award-winning comedian Benincasa recounts her struggles with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder where the sufferer perceives the environment as being difficult to escape or get help.

    Her first response to her disorder was to freak out and hide—her bed became her refuge, and she was too afraid to even go to her own bathroom. She charts her path to acceptance and happiness with therapy, homemade smoothies, shopping for vintage clothes, and the timely intervention of friends and family.

    This book never falls into whiney mush but keeps the tone light and fun, resulting in a positive and uplifting read.         


    Discover new books that will keep you reading all summer in our Summer. Read. contest for adults!

    To enter:

    1. Check the weekly theme every Wednesday, either at your local branch or right here online

    2. Borrow a new (to you!) book, DVD or CD from the Library that fits that theme.

    3. Fill in the online ballot to tell us what you're reading (or watching, or listening to) and enter to win one of five 32 GB Google Nexus 7 Tablets, and weekly prizes of leather-bound journals and Calgary Public Library tote bags. You can also enter by filling out a paper ballot at your local branch. Good luck!

    Summer. Read. Week 4 — Create

    Summer. Read. Week 4 — Create

    - 0 Comment(s)

    Our Summer. Read. contest is finally here!

    With the Central Library closed and our website down due to the recent flood, the online portion of Summer. Read. is a few weeks behind schedule. We're now back up and running with a few changes: the online contest will now be seven weeks long instead of 10 and we have more weekly prizes to give away in a shorter time period! So without further delay...

    It's easy to be inspired in the summer!

    With new books, DVDs, and magazines coming into the library all the time, you can always find new ways to be creative.  How can you be creative this week?  How about starting that novel you’ve wanted to write?  Could you learn to play an instrument or get involved in a new hobby? 

    Visit any of our 17 branches and discover all the new and exciting ways to express your creativity!  Then fill in an online ballot (or a paper version at your branch) to tell us which books, CDs, or DVDs are stoking your creative fire and you will be entered to win a 32 GB Google Nexus 7 tablet and great weekly prizes.

    About Summer. Read.

    Discover new books that will keep you reading all summer in our Summer. Read. contest for adults!

    Summer. Read. is a summer-long reading adventure! Every week we'll feature a new theme in our Readers’ Nook blog to inspire you to borrow a new book, DVD or CD from the Library. Fill out an online ballot to tell us what you're reading (or watching, or listening to) and enter to win one of five 32 GB Google Nexus 7 Tablets, and weekly prizes of leather-bound journals and Calgary Public Library tote bags. You can also enter by filling out a paper ballot at your local branch. Good luck!

    Welcome to Summer. Read. 2013

    Welcome to Summer. Read. 2013

    - 1 Comment(s)

    It's summertime; the living is easy and the reading is great!

    Join us for Summer. Read. 2013, a 10-week adventure for adults beginning Wednesday June 19.

    We'll share some fantastic reading suggestions every week and together we'll Explore, Play, Imagine, Create, Live, Laugh, Learn, Grow and… Be. Our mission is to introduce you to new and exciting finds just waiting to be discovered. When you share what you've been reading, (or watching, or listening to) you'll be entered to win great prizes!

    How to Enter

    Go to your local Calgary Public Library branch and check the Summer. Read. display with books, DVDs and CDs that connect to the weekly theme. In each displayed item you’ll find a ballot. Fill in the ballot by sharing a review of an item you borrowed in that fits with the weekly theme, and return the ballot to the library for your chance to win.

    Image of Summer Read Facebook launch adTo participate online visit our Readers’ Nook Blog to see the weekly themes, and book suggestions. Read something in the selected theme and leave a comment on our blog post about the book CD or DVD you've been enjoying. Your name will be entered to win weekly prizes and the grand prize draw!

    Update: Now that our website is live again, please stay tuned to our Readers' Nook blog -- the Summer. Read. themes are coming soon!

    Did we say prizes?!

    The weekly prize at every location is a Calgary Public Library bag for all the books, CDs and DVDs you borrow, as well as a journal that you can use to keep track of all the great material you borrow from the Library!

    The grand prizes are 5 Google NEXUS 7 (32 GB) Tablets! The grand prize draws will take place on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013. The last day to drop off your ballots for the grand prize draw is Wednesday, August 28.

    Facebook Live Chat

    To get the ball rolling, join us on Facebook Wednesday June 19th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. as we kick off Summer.Read. with a live Library Chat. Tell us your last three favourite reads and we’ll give you suggestions for your next great book.

    Then join us every Wednesday after that until August 28 for more great reading suggestions in our Readers’ Nook.

    Here are a few of our favourite reads for summer, just to get you started!

    The Keeper of Lost Causes book cover  Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry book cover  The Expected One book cover  The Winter Palace book cover  Mistress of the Art of Death book cover




    Off the Shelf: Canada

    by Jasna - 0 Comment(s)

    Picture of book cover: Canada by Richard FordCanada by Richard Ford is a mystery novel. Not a whodunit, since Ford explicitly tells us what will happen on the first page. Also, the novel is styled as the memoirs of a retired teacher, who has long lived with the violent events in his youth. The mystery in Part One is “Why?”. Why did his rather normal parents stage an armed robbery? The mystery in Part Two is “When?”. When will the murder happen? The mystery of the novel as a whole is “Who”? The most elemental mystery: Who am I?

    Dell is fifteen during the action of the novel. An introspective boy, he has learned to make the best of any situation. One could consider that this was because his father was in the US air force and the family moved often. Except that his twin sister learned sneering bravado and discontent.

    After his father’s dishonorable discharge, living in Great Fall infused discontent into every family member. Rather stoically, Dell straightens his mental landscape. He learns chess, sadly playing by himself most of the time, and develops his interest in bee keeping, while waiting to go to school in September. Crashing into his carefully managed thoughts and good intentions are the bank robbery and arrest of his parents in front of the two children. In a strangled sort of logic, his mother had arranged for the disposition of her twins prior to the robbery, and Dell is called upon again to adapt to almost untenable circumstances.

    Which he does. In a dilapidated village in southern Saskatchewan. Canada is the terra incognita. This novel plays out entirely in the mind of a well-behaved teenager growing into adulthood. His thinking cracks like the voice of a teenaged boy. He imagines that he is navigating on a successful course, only to be unexpectedly jolted by strange adult behaviours. Each time, he tries to incorporate these new lessons into his perception of adulthood, although even he understands that all the adults who keep changing his life are highly unreliable. Thus, through his own thoughtfulness, Dell does steer his future into the calm prosperity his family always wanted for themselves. He alone applies the philosophy that your life is what you make of it.

    Judith Umbach

    Graphic Novel Roundup

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    I occasionally pick up a graphic novel, often memoirs or biographical fiction, and I am rarely disappointed! Here's a brief roundup of some newer releases that I've got my eye on, as well as a few older gems that you might enjoy.

    If you liked Persepolis:

    Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

    It didn't take more than looking at the cover to get this title on my reading list, but a few words from the catalogue's summary just make it sound that much more interesting:

    "A mesmerizing, heartbreaking graphic novel of immigrant life on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century, as seen through the eyes of twin sisters whose lives take radically and tragically different paths."

    A friend who's just read it raved about the novel, and the characters that were so real that she read up on the author and the novel to learn about their lives (only to confirm that it's fiction).

    Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée

    This latest release by a young Canadian graphic novelist reads like a memoir, intimate and thoughtful. Read the summary (from our catalogue):

    "Geneviève Castrée has long been beloved for her mini-comics, comics, visual art, and music. There is a unique quality to all of her artistic endeavors: quiet, serene, depressing. Castree's keen eye for detail and her fearless ability to probe the depths of her troubled past make Susceptible a stirring portrait of an artist coming into her own.

    Susceptible is the story of Goglu, a daydreamer growing up in Quebec in the '80s and '90s with a single mother. From a skillful artist comes a moving, beautiful story about families, loss, and growing up. Whether she's discussing nature versus nurture or the story of her birth, Castree imbues her storytelling with a quiet power and a confidence in the strength of imagery."

    A slice of life:

    Building Stories by Chris Ware

    This wonderful assortment of pamphlets, mini-comics in paperback form, posters, hardcover graphic novels and other media comes in a big box. Among all the items included in the box, we learn the life stories, woes and preoccupations of the tenants in one apartment building. A truly unique format that enlivens the stories it contains!

    Aya: Love in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

    I can't wait to read this next installment in the series about Aya. Set in Ivory Coast in the 1970s, the tone is light and easy, telling the stories of the daily lives of Aya and her circle of friends, neighbours and acquaintances. If you're new to this series, you should read them in order: start with Aya, then Aya of Yop City, then Aya: the secrets come out.

    From the catalogue summary:

    "Aya: Love in Yop City comprises the final three chapters of the Aya story, episodes never before seen in English. Aya is a lighthearted story about life in the Ivory Coast during the 1970s, a particularly thriving and wealthy time in the country's history. While the stories found in Aya: Love in Yop City maintain their familiar tone, quick pace, and joyfulness, we see Aya and her friends beginning to make serious decisions about their future.

    This second volume of the complete Aya includes unique appendices & recipes, guides to understanding Ivorian slang, street sketches, and concluding remarks from Marguerite Abouet explaining history and social milieu. Inspired by Abouet's childhood, the series has received praise for offering relief from the disaster-struck focus of most stories set in Africa."

    Fantastical fiction:

    Habibi by Craig Thompson

    This epic story reads like a timeless fairy tale, and the sumptuous visuals will mesmerize and enchant you! I've previously posted a review, here, but since I was so taken with the book, I couldn't resist adding it to this list. For me, this easily takes a place in my "must reads."

    Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan

    This author is one of my favourites, although my first encounter with his work was The Arrival, a gorgeous, wordless tale of moving to a new land. Tales from Outer Suburbia, on the other side of the "words-versus-pictures" graphic novel continuum, is more like a collection of quirky, illustrated short stories. The stories and illustrations are charming and eccentric, perfect for a rainy afternoon spent in a cozy spot.

    From our catalogue summary:

    "Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence. He gives us a portrait of modern suburban existence filtered through a wickedly Monty Pythonesque lens. Whether it's discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city's map book, or a family's lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan's deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humor and absurdity of modern life."

    Royal Doom

    by Jasna - 0 Comment(s)

    What did Empress Wang, Anula and Brunhilda have in common?

    Never heard of them?

    Let’s try this: What did Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette and Jane Grey have in common?

    Aha, you got it…

    The first three queens were burned to death; the last three were beheaded. The common denominator for all six of them, and a few more dozens throughout history – their deaths were as premature as they were violent.

    In her book Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, from Cleopatra to Princess Di, Kris Waldherr presents about fifty too-brief lives of queens across the ages, from the ancient times of Athaliah, a biblical queen and the daughter of King Ahad and Queen Jesabel, and Olimpias, Alexander the Great’s mother, through the Dark and Middle ages and Tudor times, when the position of the queen to Henry WIII, as we know, carried a significant risk, to the French Revolution and its famous royal victims, to the doomed queens of our days…

    Some quotes attributed to the above mentioned beheaded queens:

    “A queen who is not regent ought, under these circumstances, to remain passive and prepare to die.” ~Marie Antoinette

    “The executioner shall not have much trouble, for I have a little neck.” ~Anne Boleyn

    “I assure you, the time hath been so odious to me that I long for nothing so much as death.” ~Jane Grey

    Staff Picks: Guilty Pleasures

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    We’ve featured ‘guilty pleasure’ reads before in the Readers’ Nook and with summer approaching, now is the perfect time for another installment! Don't be fooled by the nickname, there's nothing to feel guilty about if you like your fictional escapes light, steamy, and a little bit trashy. We’re so pleased to have another new contributor in the Readers’ Nook today, so read on and start planning your vacation (or staycation) reading list.

    The Power Trip by Jackie Collins

    The Power Trip was one of the best books I have read this year. I waited for its release since reading last year’s Goddess of Vengeance, which I liked but did not feel Ms. Collins was at the top of her game. This review is for all my trailer park friends who, like me, enjoy a bit of trash and a vacation while reading….

    Well, ladies and gents (both terms used loosely as always), it is finally here: the new Jackie Collins came out February 12th. I cannot seem to get one particular review out of my head or think of a better quick description:

    “Jackie Collins has created a quintessential page-turning adventure of sex, money, and murder that feels like taking a trip away from the winter climes and into the absolute glamour of summertime.” (Casee Marie, reviewer, Literary Inklings blog)

    Now really, who in this trailer park wouldn’t want to read it mid-February or anytime of the year, for that matter…

    This was a new setting for Ms. Collins. As always we had many glitzy locations but most of the story takes place on a luxurious yacht in the Sea of Cortez. This is new but most welcome. I discovered I, too, enjoy a wonderful yacht ride. This book does not disappoint with the glitz and Hollywood factor. We meet Interesting Hollywood types such as Cliff Baxter, a ringer for George Clooney, a Russian mobster, a model, a movie star, a footballer, a singer, writer, a senator and his perfect wife, and investigative reporters. If that isn’t quite enough for you, she throws in some Somalian pirates and a Mexican drug and arms dealer. As the glitzy and powerful unite for the maiden voyage, we are privy to the power plays aboard, and those coming to join them. Ending in a struggle: who will live? Who will become a hero? Who will end up with all the power? This is a wonderful mid-steamy read that takes you on a wild high sea adventure. This book does bring some heat but, as I said, mid; don’t worry--its fast-paced adventure keeps you flipping pages.

    Take the phone off the hook, put your feet up and make yourself a Kraft mac and cheese. Pour a large glass of Kool-aid. Plug in the fan and begin the adventure. You may want to lock the double wide’s door as you won’t want anyone popping in to stop your fun. Go ahead and soak those teeth; you won’t be needing them for a few hours….

    Thank you, Jackie, for bringing back the writer we all knew you were…..

    Happy Reading!


    More guilty pleasures:

    The Explorer's Code by Kitty Pilgrim

    Crystal Gardens by Amanda Quick

    A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

    Born to Darkness by Suzanne Brockmann

    Low Pressure by Sandra Brown

    Staff Picks: Literary

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    We’re again pleased to have new contributors in the Readers’ Nook to help you find a literary gem! Whether your book club meets throughout the year or takes a break until fall, it’s never the wrong time to find that next great literary read that will lead to interesting discussions in your book club. And if you need more suggestions, have a look at our Book Club Bag collection.

    419 by Will Ferguson

    In the novel 419 four storylines with four main characters make up the story.

    The first has its setting in Calgary when a retired teacher, Henry Curtis, drives his truck off an embankment and dies. It proves to be a suicide and upon further investigation it is learned that he has lost all his life savings to a scammer from Nigeria, thus the title: 419 refers to a section of the Nigerian criminal code that states that anyone who obtains goods or money through false pretenses with intent to defraud will be sentenced to a term of not less than 5 years.

    Laura, the daughter of the deceased, makes it her mission to trace the emails and meet the person she believes is responsible for her father’s death.

    Winston, the scammer, is an educated young Nigerian with few prospects for the future. He spends his time in internet cafes scanning the internet for possible e-mail recipients whom he never expects to meet.

    Amina is the younger wife of a northern cattle herder who escapes to the South to find a better life for herself and her unborn child.

    Nnamdi is the son of a fisherman who sees his village’s way of life being destroyed by oil companies. The water is polluted and the forests clear-cut. He works for a time for oil companies but when this employment ends he finds work in the black market.

    All the characters will come in contact in Lagos with many harsh and surprising consequences.

    This novel gives insight into the techniques of 419ers and why Nigeria is such a dangerous country.

    - Juanita

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

    It is never too late to right a wrong! That is what Harold Fry attempts to do when one morning he goes to post a letter and keeps on walking. He is going to walk from one part of England to the other in the hopes to heal a long lost friend who is dying from cancer. He has no equipment, not even proper shoes, and it is completely a spur of the moment decision. He feels that by walking to his friend’s beside, he is atoning for how he mistreated her in the past and for oh so many other regrets.

    Along the way the kindness of strangers impacts him and propels him on this journey. He meets a young woman who gives him hospitality and reveals that she is waiting for her lover to return—a year ago. And a young boy who probably has nowhere else to go, and travels with Harold for a while. Many characters latch on and are affected by Harold. He even becomes a little bit of a celebrity when the BBC gets a hold of his story and they follow him as he gets closer to the end.

    Meanwhile, Harold’s wife, who is wondering what happened to him, is befriended by the widower neighbour. Their 40-year long marriage had become a silent and distant relationship until Harold embarks on his pilgrimage. What is fascinating about this story is that Harold takes this journey to heal someone, to give someone who is dying some hope, and the journey really becomes an amazing healing in his own life.

    - Joanne

    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

    Cutting for Stone is an easy book to read, but not an easy book to describe. For example, how do you summarize a story about conjoined twins, born in Ethiopia, to a nun (who dies) and a British surgeon (who runs away)? The boys are raised by two Indian doctors and have a relatively peaceful childhood, but when political troubles with neighbouring Eritrea erupt, one twin is forced to escape to America.

    And that’s only the first half of the book!

    The story summary may be confusing. To begin with, the plot is set up around the main premise that life is a contradiction of terms. And so, Verghese presents a nun who gives birth, doctors who don’t have verifiable credentials, first-rate medical care in a third-world country. The contradictions are set inside the opening framework of the novel – the idea of conjoinment. The boys, Marion and Shiva, are born attached at the head. They are easily separated in a physical sense, but they stay conjoined emotionally throughout the story in many ways. As the tale progresses, we see all kinds of things (love, politics, medicine, family) that are united at first, but then break apart. If, and when, they come back together, there is always a significant difference.

    The novel’s characters are exceptionally well drawn and balance themselves out in terms of the many themes. Starting with the boys, Marion and Shiva are mirror images of the same person. One embodies emotion, the other, logic. One feels, the other computes. Yet they think of themselves as a single unit and call themselves “ShivaMarion.” This becomes true of the many other parallel ideas that Verghese puts on the page.

    - Alvina

    Staff Picks: Espionage

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    Welcome to another edition of Staff Picks—we’re excited to have some new contributers in the Readers’ Nook today! Staff picks are always popular; really, who doesn’t like getting a personal reading recommendation? Whether you like your spies fictional or true to life, you can be confident in trying any of these hand-picked books!

    Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre

    This book was recommended by Maylin Scott of Random House of Canada during the “Dewey Divas” presentation for Spring/Summer 2012. The book talk and review for Double Cross was so well done that I had to put my hands on it. An admirer of spy fiction of the likes of Ken Follet’s Eye of the Needle, Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Identity, and Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz, this time round, I chose to pick up this Non Fiction true spy story with permutations of war and the intricately interwoven network of World War II spies, who formed the Double Cross British espionage system.

    Double Cross was an enthralling read, a stunning display of military accomplishment and a masterpiece of trickery. The story is encountered and told from the perspective of the key individuals in the Double Cross System: its director (a brilliant, urbane intelligence officer), a colorful assortment of MI5 handlers (as well as their counterparts in Nazi intelligence), and the five spies who formed the Double Cross’s nucleus. The key to the plan is to deceive and to throw off the Germans and launch an assault at Normandy on June 6th 1944 by convincing them that the impending attack would come either at Pas de Calais or in Norway. The game plan was one of careful manipulation of information on the part of the five double agents, each feeding misinformation back to their German handlers.

    - Kadija


    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

    This Young Adult novel is set during World War II and tells the story of two young women, ‘Verity’ and Maddie. The book begins in the words of 'Verity', a British spy who has been captured in Nazi-occupied France after the plane transporting her crashes. She has decided to give up the details of her mission in the hopes that her captors will grant her lighter torture and a delayed death sentence. As 'Verity' begins to reveal these details, she tells us her story and the story of her friend Maddie, the pilot of the plane that crashed. Her narrative reveals the remarkable friendship formed by two young women in one of the dark periods of the world’s history; it is also a narrative that isn’t always what it seems.

    What particularly struck me about this book were its historical setting—it’s great for anyone who likes historical fiction—its strong, smart writing, and its beautiful depiction of a friendship. It’s a book that would appeal to both teens and adults, but it’s not a book for someone looking for a quick, light read. It’s a book that will make you laugh, gasp, think, and cry.

    - Robyn


    More spy/World War II stories:

    The Spymasters by W. E. B. Griffin

    Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

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