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    Book Club in a Bag

    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!

    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

    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:

    So Long Summer

    by Sonya - 0 Comment(s)

    If you want the summer to last a little longer, pick up a cool drink and something to read and head out for some last-minute summer R'n'R. Whether you'd rather read a beach novel or load up your tablet with the latest popular magazines, we've got you covered!

     

    Click on a book cover to find a copy (or digital copy) of these titles:

     

    See these summer reading lists for more suggestions:


    Check out these library products for amazing digital content:

    • Zinio offers extensive access to popular magazines (including Canadian Living, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, Rolling Stone) on your tablet or smartphone!
    • Hoopla allows you 12 downloads every month; find movies, TV, music and audiobooks!

     

    Don't forget you can contact us during library open hours for tips and help getting started.

    Great Science Fiction Reads

    by Dieu - 3 Comment(s)

    I must confess that for a very long time I had a prejudice against science fiction. I thought of science fiction books as all the same with their usual spaceships and aliens. Science fiction just didn’t seem like real literature to me until I discovered books that, yes, involved aliens and space travel and other common elements of the genre, but were as moving, fascinating, thought provoking and compelling as anything I’ve ever read.

    Expand your summer reading list and your mind by including some great science fiction reads. If you have never read science fiction, I recommend trying out these outstanding books to give you a sense of what you’ve been missing, and hopefully have you wanting more.

    The Sparrow book cover

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

    Set in 2019, the novel is about humanity’s first contact with an extraterrestrial civilization and the ethical, moral, religious and philosophical complications that can arise with such an encounter.

    When an observatory picks up radio broadcasts of music coming from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star in our solar system, a Jesuit missionary order decides to organize an expedition to the alien planet. A crew made up of agnostics, believers, and scientists is formed. Led by Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest and linguist, they embark on their journey with idealistic hopes of meeting intelligent life beyond their own world. Upon their arrival on the planet, which will come to be known as Rakhat, the travelers discover that the planet is occupied by two different alien races that are hostile to each other, the Runa and the Jana’ata. The humans settle among the Runa, learn their language, study their customs, and over time become friends with them. However, through seemingly harmless and well intentioned actions, such as introducing to the aliens the growing of coffee beans, the humans set off a series of disastrous events which will cause them to question their own morality and humanity.

    Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the British Science Fiction Association Award, The Sparrow is a powerful, suspenseful and provocative read.

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

    Depressingly beautiful, devastating, and emotional, Never Let Me Go is one of my all time favourite novels. The novel starts off as a female coming-of-age story, but turns out to be something so much more profound and unsettling. Set in 1990s England, the story is told from the point of view of Kathy H., who is now 31 and recalling her times at Hailsham, the boarding school where she, along with her fellow classmates, grew up and were "told and not told" about their secret conditions.

    I hesitate to say more about the plot of the novel, so as to not spoil the secret hidden at the center of the story. Without saying more about what happens, I can say that Ishiguro's descriptions of Kathy H.'s memories of her childhood and coming of age into adulthood are restrained, taut, and dream-like. Never Let Me Go is a novel that raises controversial questions about what makes us human, what are the limits of scientific progress, and the value of human life.

    Never Let Me Go book cover

    Einstein

    I consider Alan Lightman’s slim novel, Einstein's Dreams, as made up of a little bit of magic realism and science fiction all dashed together. The story begins with the young Einstein as a patent clerk who is secretly working on his theory of relativity. When Einstein heads to bed, we take part in his dreams. These dreams make up a collection of stories of different worlds where the nature of time changes. For example in one story, time is circular and people are destined to repeat the same events and actions over and over again. The stories are imaginative, poetic, philosophical and whimsical. After reading Einstein’s Dreams I found myself going back to certain phrases and ideas that were like little poems:

    “Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but is noble to live life and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.”

    It's a Cat's World

    by Dieu - 2 Comment(s)

    It seems to me that in recent times cats have become the internet celebrities of the animal kingdom. Obvious examples like the famous Grumpy Cat, aka, Tardar Sauce, with his own line of books, t-shirts and plush toys, the video of a cat saving a little boy from a dog attack that quickly went viral, and whole blogs devoted to the weird and cute world of cats have proven that most of us have gone officially cat crazy.

    I admit, I am also one of those guilty of ailurophilia (a love of cats). If like me, you can’t get enough of anything cat related, why not peel yourself away from the infnite scroll of the internet and dip into some literary fiction about these lovely creatures?

    I Am a Cat book cover

    I always think of cats as mysterious creatures who tend to treat us humans with some aloofness. Soseki Natsume’s novel, I Am a Cat, hilariously imagines what exactly cats think about us. Set in Meiji era Japan, the novel follows a cat who spends most of his time observing human nature, making wisecracks on what he sees as the clear inferiority and silliness of humans, and in general providing amusing stories of the activities going on around him. One of the more humorous bits in the novel:

    This must have been the very first time that ever I set eyes on a human being. The impression of oddity, which I then received, still remains today. First of all, the face that should be decorated with hair is as bald as a kettle. Since that day I have met many a cat but never have I come across such deformity.

    I consider The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, a book recently added to the Library’s collection, as a little gem of a novel. A New York Times bestseller, and a bestseller in France, The Guest Cat is about two writers, a young couple, who become friends with a neighbor’s cat. One day, the cat they name Chibi, visits them. Eventually, she makes their little cottage a second home and over time Chibi tints their lives with happiness and light. Like a cat, Hiraide’s novel has a relaxing charm and grace to it in its quietness. A novel about love and loss, and the everyday brief lovely moments of life, The Guest Cat is one of those rare books that stay with you over time.

    Other great reads for cat lovers:

    The Guest Cat book cover

    Staff Picks: Stoner by John Williams

    - 2 Comment(s)

    One of the great pleasures of working in a library is finding great, little known books and recommending them to friends and customers. About eight years ago I stumbled upon a reprint of a novel originally published in the mid-sixties called Stoner by John Williams. I fell in love with this story of a poor farm boy who discovers a love of literature and devotes himself to teaching English at a small university. The book was written in such a way that, before I knew it, I found myself caring more for the protagonist than I ever cared for a fictional character.

    Stoner is in many ways a sad novel, but I found inspiration in it as well. I have been recommending it to readers ever since and almost always people come back to tell me it is one of the best novels they have ever read. I have often wondered why this book is not widely known about, but have come to accept that not all great books get the attention they deserve.

    However, in the past few years something amazing has happened – Stoner has become a bestselling book right across Europe. In 2011, almost fifty years after its original publication and over fifteen years since the death of its author, Stoner became a phenomenon in France, Holland and Italy, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. This year it has become the book to read in England – being named Book of the Year by Waterstones booksellers, and last week the novelist Julian Barnes wrote an article in the Guardian outlining why Stoner was the must-read novel of 2013.

    Stoner mania has yet to catch on in North America in quite the same way, however the Globe and Mail recently did an article on the book, which has certainly stirred up a good deal of interest. I have noticed that suddenly there is a waiting list for the copies available from the Calgary Public Library, and my bookselling friends tell me they have sold numerous copies in the last couple weeks. So why not put your name down on the waiting list to read it now? I can almost guarantee that you’ll be glad you did.

    - Tyler at Louise Riley Library

    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.

    Book launch: Marble by Tamara Itani

    - 0 Comment(s)

    We've just heard that an 18-year-old Calgary author, Tamara Itani, will be launching her first novel, Marble, tomorrow!

    Join this upcoming young author at Cidex Design Centre, 1301 9 Avenue SW, from 3 to 6pm and hear more.

    We have Marble on order, so place your holds to get a copy when it's in.

    Here's a bit about the story:

    15 year old Penny Kensington is about to take a journey that will reshape her entire life. Bored out of her mind, helplessly in love with a school heatthrob, and lost to the world, Penny appears the average teenage girl. In reality, that’s not anywhere near the case. Pursuing an eccentric, globe-trotting lifestyle with her grandmother and groaning pet chicken (chick actually), Penny receives a mysterious letter from her long deceased grandfather. She learns her grandfather’s dying wishes are for her to safeguard a strange, bejewelled lamp. Penny wonders who would play such a cruel trick on her. (But it’s no trick.) The lamp throws Penny into an unexpected, magical adventure that will have her meet some fantastical characters and propel her a decade into her future.

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