Reading library books can be an education – at no charge…
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to we: finding meaning in a
by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger
For everyone who has ever yearned
for a better life and a better
world, Craig and Marc Kielburger share a blueprint for personal and
social change that has the power to transform lives, one act at a time.
Through inspirational contributions from people from all walks of life,
the Kielburgers reveal that a more fulfilling path is ours for the
taking when we find the courage to reach out.
Me To We is an approach to life that leads us to recognize what
is truly valuable, make new decisions about the way we want to live, and
re-define the goals we set for ourselves and the legacy we want to
leave. Written by individuals who have followed the Me To We
philosophy, including Oprah Winfrey, Richard Gere, Queen Noor, and
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Above all, it creates new ways of measuring
happiness, meaning, and success in our lives, and makes sure these
elusive goals are attainable at last.
Best of all, Me to We is relevant to all readers including
parents, young people, seniors and business leaders providing practical
ways on how to incorporate this philosophy into your lives. Be inspired
and share the feeling with your neighbours, friends and family. Your
life will never be the same!
waking up every morning believing that your actions can make a
significant change in the world. For everyone who has ever yearned for a
life and a better world, the authors share a blueprint for personal and
change that has the power to transform lives, one act
at a time. Through inspirational stories from all walks of life, the
reveal that a more fulfilling path is ours for the taking when
we find the courage to reach
out. This book describes an approach
to life that leads us to
recognize what is truly valuable, make new decisions about the way
we want to live, and
redefine the goals we set for ourselves and the legacy
we want to leave. Above all,
it creates new ways of measuring meaning, happiness, and success in our
and makes these elusive goals attainable.–From publisher description.
The Kielburger brothers have been nominated for the Nobel Peace
their human rights work (they founded Free the Children, an
organization that builds schools in developing countries). In their
book—a best seller in their native Canada—they put
forth their longtime message: when we find the courage
to take on consistent and small but personally
meaningful responsibilities through what we say, do,
feel, and think, life becomes more an opportunity than an obligation.
authors suggest that recognizing our true natures and using our energy
to foster a real connection between ourselves and the
world (their “Me to
We” philosophy) are key to
maintaining our well-being and spiritual integrity. Each chapter
sections intended to motivate readers toward their own
spiritual evolution. These sections enumerate personal questions
to ask oneself, social issues
to consider, and practical ways of taking action.
Interesting personal narratives from everyone from ordinary citizens
to celebrities (e.g., actor Richard Gere and the late
humanitarian Mother Teresa) as well as generalizations of sociological
and statistics are meant to inspire. Much of this is a
reiteration of the age-old idea that compassion plus action makes a
but it bears repeating as guidance for a YA audience for whom all of
this may be
new. Recommended for the self-help collections of all public
Liquori, MLS, Syracuse, NY –Lisa Liquori (Reviewed October 1, 2006)
Journal, vol 131, issue 16, p95)
Ms. Terhljan Just read…
is a book detective, a mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy
and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found hanged,
leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three
Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn
into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and
swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious
resemblance to those of Dumas’s masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named
after a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris in
pursuit of a sinister and seemingly omniscient killer.
mystery, part puzzle, part witty intertextual game, The Club Dumas is a wholly
original intellectual thriller by the author of The Flanders Panel and The
Perez-Reverte (Spain) is the internationally bestselling author of Captain
Alatriste. His books have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries and
have sold over three million copies worldwide.
The Girl Of
His Dreams, by Donna Leon
Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries have won legions of fans for their
evocative portraits of Venetian life. “The
Girl of His Dreams” offers a spectacular, heart-wrenching addition to the
Mr. Melle Just read…
Castle by Jeanette Walls. is a memoir.
Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory
look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When
sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s
imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life
fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was
a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the
responsibility of raising a family.The Walls children learned to take care of
themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found
their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless
even as their children prospered.The Glass Castle is truly astonishing — a
memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar, but loyal, family.
Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce
A Long Way
Gone memoir of a boy soldier by Ismael Beah.
estimated that in the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide,
there are some 300,000
child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of
In A Long
Way Gone, Beah, now in his mid-twenties, tells how, at the age of twelve, he
fled attacking rebels in his homeland of Sierra Leone and wandered a land
rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the
government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of
truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real
literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
Mr. Smith Just read…
Door : by Ted Kerasote: is a wonderful read that is centered around the
relationship of a man and a stray dog who
befriends him. The man’s life is changed! Patrick Lawlor delivers an
animated performance, both literally and figuratively. His portrayal of Merle’s
enthusiasm and loyalty is so endearing. The book has a genuine anthropomorphism
while the author tries to illuminate Merle’s expressions and behaviors a true
dog lover cannot help but indentify. I have not been able to grant the
freedom that Kerasote lent Merle, but nevertheless, he made me think hard about
my love for the dog in my life- a pup chocolate lab.
Also read: The Philosopher’s dog / Raimond
Gaita and The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein: Watch review…
Mrs. A. Holmwood is reading,
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
A New York
Times bestseller that has changed the way readers view the ecology of eating,
this revolutionary book by award winner Michael Pollan asks the seemingly
simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table
each of the food chains that sustain us—whether industrial or organic,
alternative or processed—he develops a portrait of the American way of eating.
The result is a sweeping, surprising exploration of the hungers that have
shaped our evolution, and of the profound implications our food choices have
for the health of our species and the future of our planet.
should we have for dinner?” asks Pollan in the opening of this unique
history of four meals–from McDonald’s fare to personally hunted wild pig.
Award-winning narrator Scott Brick–truly one of the best in the
business–takes the listener on a mesmerizing adventure to find some answers.
The investigation could have bogged down in Pollan’s exhaustive details, but
Brick captures each experience with a tempo and emotional coloring all its own.
From the comedy of gobbling Chicken McNuggets while speeding down a highway to
the deliberately paced tension of stalking and killing a wild pig, Brick gives
each story a distinctive voice–and taste.”
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Wrath by John Steinbach
KSS Featured Reader …
Mr. Melle is an Administrator at Kelowna Secondary School.
The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed
A tree with luminous glowing needles, the golden spruce was unique, a mystery that biologically speaking should never have reached maturity; Grant Hadwin, the man who cut it down, was passionate, extraordinarily well-suited to wilderness survival, and to some degree unbalanced. But as John Vaillant shows in this gripping and perceptive book, the extraordinary tree stood at the intersection of contradictory ways of looking at the world; the conflict between them is one reason it was destroyed. Taking in history, geography, science and spirituality, this book raises some of the most pressing questions facing society today.
The golden spruce stood in the Queen Charlotte Islands, an unusually rich ecosystem where the normal lines between species blur, a place where “the patient observer will find that trees are fed by salmon [and] eagles can swim.” The islands’ beauty and strangeness inspire a more personal and magical experience of nature than western society is usually given to. Without romanticizing, Vaillant shows that this understanding is typified by the Haida, the native people who have lived there for millennia and know the land as Haida Gwaii – and for whom the golden spruce was an integral part of their history and mythology. But seen a different way, the golden spruce stood in block 6 of Tree Farm License 39, a tract owned by the Weyerhaeuser forest products company. It survived in an isolated “set-aside” amidst a landscape ravaged by logging.
Thrilling and instructive though it may be, The Golden Spruce confronts the reader with troubling questions. John Vaillant asks whether Grant Hadwin destroyed the golden spruce because – as a beautiful “mutant” preserved while the rest of the forest was devastated – it embodied society’s self-contradictory approach to nature, the paradox that harrowed him. Anyone who claims to respect the environment but lives in modern society faces some version of this problem; perhaps Hadwin, living on the cutting edge in every sense, could no longer take refuge in the “moral and cognitive dissonance” today’s world requires. The Golden Spruceforces one to ask: can the damage our civilization exacts on the natural world be justified?
Mr. Melle Just read…
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. is a memoir.
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.The Glass Castle is truly astonishing — a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar, but loyal, family. Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of self-pity.
A Long Way Gone memoir of a boy soldier by Ismael Beah.
It is estimated that in the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide, there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now in his mid-twenties, tells how, at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels in his homeland of Sierra Leone and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
Mr. Smith Just read…
Merle’s Door : by Ted Kerasote: is a wonderful read that is centered around the new relationship of a man and a stray dog who befriends him. The man’s life is changed! Patrick Lawlor delivers an animated performance, both literally and figuratively. His portrayal of Merle’s enthusiasm and loyalty is so endearing. The book has a genuine anthropomorphism while the author tries to illuminate Merle’s expressions and behaviors a true dog lover cannot help but indentify. I have not been able to grant the freedom that Kerasote lent Merle, but nevertheless, he made me think hard about my love for the dog in my life- a pup chocolate lab.
Be our next Featured Reader– apply here:
Book of Negroes ( Someone knows my name ) by Lawrence Hill
Title:Book of Negroes ( US title:Someone knows my name) Hill, Lawrence, January 1, 2007
- Description:Dreaming of escaping her life of slavery in South
Carolina and returning to her African home, slave Aminata Diallo is thrown into
the chaos of the Revolutionary War, during which she helps create a list of
black people who have been honored for their service to the king.
School Library Journal Review: Adult/High
School –During the 18th century, Aminata Diallo is kidnapped from her
village, survives the ocean voyage on a slave ship, is purchased by an indigo
producer from South Carolina, and gets caught in the Revolutionary War. Later,
she is traded to a Jewish duty inspector. She marries Chekura, a boy from a
neighboring village, and gives birth to two children. Aminata’s trials continue
as she and her husband take part in Britain’s promise of freedom for Loyalists
by traveling to Nova Scotia, where she continues to long to return to Africa,
but ends up in London instead. Throughout the story, her major assets are her
ability to read and write and to serve as a midwife, which help in her quest for
freedom. With mature themes (e.g., a rape scene on the ship, descriptive
killings, and sexual situations), this
book is suited for older
Hill clearly researched multiple people and sources to
provide an accurate account of Aminata’s heroic journey and brings to life
crucial world history. Teens who enjoyed Sharon Draper’s Copper Sun (S
& S, 2006) will appreciate this page-turning novel.–Gregory Lum, Jesuit
High School, Portland, OR —Gregory Lum (Reviewed March 1, 2008)
(School Library Journal, vol 54, issue 3, p233) ( Novelist )
CBC Videocast- Post Debates:
Origin of the Species by Nino Ricci
“Ricci’s masterstroke to date. This novel does so
well, on so many levels, that it’s hard to know where to begin tallying
up the riches. . . . An ambitious, thrilling novel that resists
encapsulation and takes not a single misstep . . . it is also bitterly,
achingly funny.” — Toronto Star
entertaining and emotionally rewarding read, this book will transport
Nino Ricci to further heights of literary stardom and could well
overtake his first, Lives of the Saints, as his signature work — much as the original Origin of Species did to the career and life of Charles Darwin.” — Ottawa Citizen
The crater held a
circle of stars above them as if they were closed up in a snow globe, a
private cosmos. He thought of Darwin sleeping out on the pampas during
his Beagle trip, a middle-class white kid traveling the world, the
first of the backpackers. It was only afterwards, really, that he had
made any sense of what he had seen. Alex wondered what, in the fullness
of time, he himself would make sense of, what small, crucial detail
might be lodging itself in his brain that would shake his life to its
foundations. (p 286) ( Amazon) (Novelist)
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
“…Stephenie Meyer is now a cultural phenomenon. Just when people think teens won’t read, a series like ‘Twilight’ pops on the scene. She writes enjoyable books that are effortless to read.
I find the female characters in her vampire books are too passive and willing to follow the men they love, but it hasn’t hurt the interest of young fans. The movie Twilight has turned into the biggest fortuitous advertising campaign for publishers and booksellers since Harry Potter.
The Host is about an alien species that can only survive by living within a host. The parasites are supposed to take over the humans- an invasion not unlike the classic ‘body snatchers’ form. It may just be my preference but the series has not been as good as the original Twilight; however, still worth the read
Reviews: “…When I read the description of
The Host, I wasn’t convinced that I would like it. I was wrong. It is
much more then about aliens taking over the earth. It’s about
differences, racism, acceptance or the lack thereof. It’s about seeing
and understanding your friends and your enemies…Hopefully, Ms Meyer
will continue to write for adults as well as young adults!” ( Amazon)
From Publishers Weekly
In this tantalizing SF thriller,
planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves
into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth
into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all,
especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being
captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer.
Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help
search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert. When the pair find
Melanie’s brother and her boyfriend in a hidden rebel cell led by her
uncle, Wanderer is at first hated. Once the rebels accept Wanderer,
whom they dub Wanda, Wanda’s whole perspective on humanity changes.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell,
Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers: The Story Of Success,(Amazon video) due out later this month. The piece introduces the idea that a key to becoming extraordinarily successful in a field is achieving early expertise and that to become an expert in a discipline requires on the order of 10,000 hours of practice. The 10K figure comes from the research of Anders Ericsson who in the early 1990s studied violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music.
Malcolm Gladwell books: view at MosaicBooks
“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any “naturals” – musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did. Nor could they find “grinds”, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.” ( ebuiquity )
By the author of the Tipping Point and Blink. 10,000 hours apprenticeship to be a
success at something. This well written book elaborates on the premise-
It takes a long time to reach mastery. I have found Gladwell to one of
the most captivating thinkers and writers of the decade. He always gets
me thinking. Isn’t that what literacy is? -Al Smith Dec. 2008
The extract focuses on some of the most successful people in the computer industry — Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others — and argues that another part of their success was being born at the right time, in 1954 or 1955. This made them about 20 years old when the first person computers became available.
Now that he’s gotten us talking about the viral life of ideas and the power of gut reactions, Malcolm Gladwell poses a more provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the “self-made man,” he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don’t arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: “they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot.” Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, “some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky.”
Outliers can be enjoyed for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey players were born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill, why the descendents of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York, how a pilots’ culture impacts their crash record, how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math. But there’s more to it than that. Throughout all of these examples–and in more that delve into the social benefits of lighter skin color, and the reasons for school achievement gaps–Gladwell invites conversations about the complex ways privilege manifests in our culture. He leaves us pondering the gifts of our own history, and how the world could benefit if more of our kids were granted the opportunities to fulfill their remarkable potential. —Mari Malcolm ( Amazon)
Fences and Windows by Naomi Klein
For anyone who wants to hear a voice unique from the mainstream media- One of my best reads for 2008. It is an older book from renowned
author and speaker, Naomi Klein. This book focuses on the anti ‘WTO’
movement. Although she is an obvious left of center writer, she was a
real participant in these events her views are worth noting. Building
on her knowledge from her previous bestseller No Logo, Klein
writes smoothly and passionately about complicated global issues.
Clearly ‘ Fences’ was a conceptual bridge to her subsequent book, Shock Doctrine, is already a classic non-fiction bestseller that has provoked my thoughts intensively.- Al SMith
Buy Naomi Klein’s books at MosaicBooks
When Naomi Klein took on the “brand bullies” in No Logo,
a book charting the rise of anticorporate activism, she auspiciously,
inadvertently perhaps, branded herself an anticorporate activist. Fences and Windows
is a chronicle of that ascending career. It’s a collection of the
columns, speeches, and essays–the bulk of which appeared originally in
The Globe and Mail–that Klein wrote between 1999 and 2002 as
she traversed the world bearing witness to antiglobalization rallies,
demonstrations, and counter-summits that mushroomed, largely in
response to the November 1999 World Trade Organization protests in
Seattle. The book, ultimately, is a record of the emergence of a new
type of activism, one indebted to the culture of globalization even as
it seeks to open a critical window onto and provoke debate about the
policies of multinationals, the WTO, the IMF, and national governments.
What emerged on the streets of Seattle and Washington was an
activist model that mirrors the organic, decentralized, interlinked
pathways of the Internet–an Internet come to life…. But while the
movement’s Web-like structure is, in part, a reflection of the
Internet-based organizing, it is also a response to the very political
realities that sparked the protests in the first place: the utter
failure of traditional party politics.
The book is structured as a series of “hub and spokes,” one of the
metaphors Klein uses to describe the movement. The broad themes of
intolerance towards and criminalizing of dissent, the impact of a
genetically engineered food supply, the privileging of corporate profit
over social welfare, the erosion of national sovereignty, and the
neglect of ecological considerations are the hubs around which
gravitate her reports on the protests that have taken place in Toronto,
Quebec City, South Africa, Prague, Chiapas, Washington, D.C., and
elsewhere. The reader, Klein states upfront, should not expect a
sustained thesis. Instead, the articles are dispatches from the many
sites of dissent–brief, immediate, impassioned, engaged, positioned,
incendiary, persuasive, crafted.
Books in Canada
Naomi Klein has written a vapid volume, one well suited to sound bite
culture. Klein damningly describes the book’s creation with the
following: “These columns, essays and speeches, written for The Globe
and Mail, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times and many other
publications, were dashed off in hotel rooms late at night after
protests in Washington and Mexico City, in Independent Media Centres,
on way too many planes.”
schools were underfunded or water supply was contaminated, it used to
be blamed on the inept financial management and outright financial
corruption of individual national governments. Now, thanks to a surge
in cross-border information swapping, such problems were being
recognized as the local effects of a particular global ideology, one
enforced by national politicians but conceived of centrally by a
handful or corporate interests and international institutions,
including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund
and the World Bank.” ( Amazon )
The Magician by Michael Scott
After fleeing Ojai, Nicholas, Sophie,
Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris, the City of Lights. Home for Nicholas
Flamel. Only this homecoming is anything but sweet. Perenell is still
locked up back in Alcatraz and Paris is teeming with enemies. Nicollo
Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, is working
for Dee. He’s after them, and time is running out for Nicholas and
Perenell. For every day spent without the Book of Abraham the Mage,
they age one year—their magic becoming weaker and their bodies more
frail. For Flamel, the Prophesy is becoming more and more clear.
time for Sophie to learn the second elemental magic: Fire Magic. And
there’s only one man who can teach it to her: Flamel’s old student, the
Comte de Saint-Germain—alchemist, magician, and rock star. Josh and
Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope—if they don’t turn on each
Two very different and interesting books that I’ve read recently are:
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. This book is set during World War 2 and deals with the life of a young German girl and her friends, her foster family, and the Jew they hide. Perhaps what interests me most about the book (aside from the title I couldn’t resist!) is that unlike many other books of this type, this book took me into the everyday world of German kids and their families, and what their lives were like during this horrific time. The book is narrated by “death” – this isn’t a new idea, but the interpretation is very well done. Some of my students had read this book and also recommended “I am the Messenger” by the same author.
“Dispatches from the Edge” by Anderson Cooper caught my attention because as a sometimes CNN viewer I’ve always appreciated AC’s take on the news. As a media teacher I was interested in how he became a reporter (he comes from incredible wealth and could have done anything) and I was interested in his ability to cover some of the world’s worst tragedies in recent years. His experiences in Niger and Somalia, and his first-hand account of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are particularly moving. The book provides a unique behind-the-scenes perspective and is an easy read – it’s well-written and at times politically thought provoking.
Just finished reading Confessor by Terry Goodkind. It’s the final book of the series started with Wizard’s First Rule. My advice? Don’t read it unless you only want an end. There are plot holes everywhere and far too many epic speeches in the middle of the action. The author sounds like he’s trying to write an essay, not a story. Everything turns out just a little too perfect to be real.-Dannika Bakker
Anthony didn’t mean to kill the man. The 17-year-old didn’t even know the house was occupied when he broke in to steal the money his friend Victor had told him about. No sooner has he found the cash and started down the stairs than a light goes on and–looking back from the shadows–he sees a girl about his age and so beautiful that he is transfixed. And that’s when the man–her father–comes up behind him; there’s a struggle, and the man falls over the railing to his death. Anthony flees, but he can’t get the girl out of his mind. Finally he resolves to meet her, and they fall in love. Or so Anthony tells us. But not every narrator is reliable, and the reader soon begins to suspect that something strange is going on. Greene’s third novel combines elements of romance and suspense effectively enough to create a readable and swift-paced story of obsession that makes for a diverting but sometimes predictable read. -Michael Cart
My Daughter’s Eyes and Other Stories, winner of the 2007 Mrmol Prize, is a collection of fourteen interrelated stories about young Dominican women living in the Bronx as they deal with the choices they make in their everyday life. These stories span three decades, beginning in the 1970s, and their topics range from mother-daughter struggles, father-daughter betrayal, family, and child abuse, to emerging sexuality, love, loss, and healing.
CBC CANADA READS
Five great works of Canadian fiction! Five celebrity panelists. One week of heated debates about CanLit. Let the battle of the books begin…
Click Here to see this year’s list…
Jian Ghomeshi hosts Canada Reads, a week-long radio special that celebrates books. Tune in to CBC Radio One from February 25–29, 2008, to hear the panelists make the case for why their favourite Canadian fiction should be picked as the Canadian book to read in 2008.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pessl’s showy (often too showy) debut novel, littered as it is with literary references and obscure citations, would seem to make an unlikely candidate for a successful audiobook. Yet actor and singer Emily Janice Card (a North Carolina native like the author) has a ball with Pessl’s knotty, digressive prose, eating up Pessl’s array of voices, impressions and asides like an ice-cream sundae. Card reads as if she is composing the book as she goes along, with a palpable sense of enjoyment present in almost every line reading. Her girlish voice, immature but knowing, is the perfect sound for Pessl’s protagonist and narrator Blue van Meer, wise beyond her years even as she stumbles through a disastrous final year of high school. Card brings out the best in Pessl’s novel and papers over its weak spots as ably as she can.
The Library at Night
by Alberto Manguel (Author)
As a teacher-librarian, this book narratively exposes the wonderful soul of books and libraries. As a human being, this book outlines the breadth of our gloabal civilzation and reminds us of the definition of literacy. His historical references are poignant while his personal narrative is delicious if a little nostalgic. Manguel has reminded me of the wonder of the written word. He has inspired me to re-assess the function of libraries as collections but moreover, to see libraries as a unique cultural experience. I wanted to straight to my den and browse my own book collection in a new light.- Al Smith More….
“Manguel does all facets of his subject proud in The Library at Night, celebrating a treasure we so often take for granted. . . . [H]e also creates a treasure of his own.”
–The Gazette (Montreal)
“[Manguel’s] newest richly imagined and richly anecdotal work . . . [is] his most impassioned and profound case yet for why we should read and why books matter. Why libraries, with their inclusions and exclusions, their deep repositories of our memory and experience, are significant.”
Praise for Alberto Manguel:
“Manguel is a tireless champion of the written word. He cares about books . . . with a deep, unswerving passion because he believes they are – still, despite our electronic progress – essential links between the individual and the world.”
–The Vancouver Sun
It’s hard to think of a more profound or serious subject to start with – but The Library at Night, Alberto Manguel says, is by no means a systematic answer. Rather, it is the story of the search for one. In the tradition of A History of Reading, this book is an account of Manguel’s astonishment at the variety, beauty and persistence of our efforts to shape the world and our lives, most notably through something almost as old as reading itself: libraries.
The result is both intimately personal and incredibly wide-ranging: it is a fascinating study of the mysteries of libraries, a thorough analysis of their history throughout the world and an esoteric, enchanting celebration of reading. It is, perhaps most of all, a book that only Alberto Manguel could have written.
The Library at Night begins with the design and construction of Alberto Manguel’s own library at his house in western France – a process that raises puzzling questions about his past and his reading habits, as well as broader ones about the nature of categories, catalogues, architecture and identity.(Amazon)
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
by John Vaillant_
A human story of British Columbia, woven with poetry and environmental science.
In 1997, a former timber-cruiser, Grant Hadwin, cut into an ancient spruce tree growing on the Queen Charlotte Islands. After 3 days of labour the tree had fallen. It was a rare form of Sitka spruce drawing attention by its brilliant yellow colour. A tree sacred to the Haida people.
From his descriptive, sometimes poetic telling of the spruce tree, John Vaillant has written a collection of human stories centered around the foundation of British Columbia- the temperate forest. Sometimes ethnographic, sometimes humour, Vaillant writes with tale for our times. Anyone who has an affinity for the outdoors, adventure or a love of historical tales will enjoy this read. A truly unique form of non-fiction. I’d read it twice! -al smith
I Wrote on All Four Walls : Teens Speak Out on Violence by Fran Fearnley
Review-Phyllis LaMontagne Kliatt : The book should be helpful to those who may be victims, and informative and enlightening for those who are not.
Sherrie Williams VOYA : Remarkable… This book is exceptionally engrossing, and the interviews are unforgettable… It is highly recommended for libraries serving older teens.
Wendy Kitts Canadian Children’s Book News : Ultimately a hopeful book as they do survive… This is powerful, raw emotions from kids you’ll not soon forget.
Karen Hoth School Library Journal : These are not chicken-soup stories… a useful tool for counselors and others who work with teens in extreme situations.
Sandy Naiman Toronto Sun : Raw and often shocking… these are stories of survival, hope and courage.
Why We Fight –DVD. Starring: John McCain, Susan Eisenhower Director: Eugene Jarecki
From Amazon.comFans of Oliver Stone’s J.F.K. will recognize the opening moments of writer-director Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight, in which outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warns of the pernicious and growing influence of what he called the “military-industrial complex.” But Stone’s movie, which uses the same footage, was a work of fiction. While those who disagree with the decidedly leftist point of view in this documentary will probably consider it the product of paranoid liberal fantasy as well, there’s enough credible material, much of it supplied by the targets of Jarecki’s criticisms, to make Eisenhower look like a prophet and everyone else uneasy about the dark confluence of politics, money, and war that controls the country’s fortunes. The message here is that while there may be some who sincerely believe that America’s various military engagements (in Iraq, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere) since World War II are the product of our God-given duty to spread freedom and halt the influence of evil ideologies around the world, the real reason we fight is that war is good business.
Knights Of The Black And White by Jack Whyte
Best-selling novelist Jack Whyte, whose nine-novel cycle on the Arthurian legend has captivated readers internationally since first being published in 1992, now brings his analytical and interpretative storytelling skills to bear on the Order of the Temple, tracing the rise and fall of the greatest and most mysterious of the Military Orders. Knights of the Black and White, the first novel in the Knights Templar trilogy, examines the story of those nine original knights and offers a feasible and logical explanation of where they came from, why they did what they did, and how they were able to unearth their treasure. Author Jack Whyte took time out from writing to set the stage for this dramatic new Templar trilogy:
Quill & Quire-‘To read Jack Whyte is to surrender to a storyteller of the old school. His writing is firmly rooted in the basics of good storytelling: strong characterization, effective plotting, and excellent writing.’
Airstream Land Yacht by Ken Babstock (Poet)
The eagerly anticipated third collection from our finest young poet, acclaimed by Time magazine as “one of the best things to happen to poetry in Canada.”
Book Description-In his brilliant and long-awaited third collection, award-winning, critically acclaimed poet Ken Babstock finds momentary stays against our gathering darknesses in the irrepressible, acrobatic, free play of the mind. The intellect poses as part junk heap, part life preserver as the speaker of Airstream Land Yacht generates music from paradox and deep-rooted doubt. Poems of conscience collide with the problems of consciousness, the concrete and the conceptual find equal footing, and formal beauty mixes with imagistic brinksmanship as the speaker attempts to leave our “homes half-sheathed in Tyvek” and “drift into the pain of our neighbours.” Like Babstock’s earlier work, Airstream Land Yacht testifies to the harrowing beauty of everyday experience (“a leather recliner star / gazing on the free / side of a yard fence,” “shopping / carts growing a fur of frost,” a grounded kite “nose down in the crowberries and fir”) while introducing an expansiveness of inquiry with linguistic bravado and a quiet grace. The clutch of love poems contained here are key to unlocking the larger collection–itself a love song to the wordless world.
Thud! by Terry Pratchett
From Publishers Weekly-Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch Commander, Sam Vimes, stars in the latest entry in Pratchett’s popular Discworld series (Going Postal, etc.). “Thud” is the sound that commences the novel, as a dwarf is bludgeoned to death; it’s also the name of a chesslike match that recreates the battle of Koom Valley, a long-ago fight between trolls and dwarfs. As the anniversary of the battle approaches, ancient politics and the present-day murder cause tensions between the trolls and dwarfs to boil. Though Koom Valley was a disaster for both sides, certain community leaders from each side have been spoiling for a rematch—
Tithe : A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black
From Publishers Weekly-Tripping the dark fantastic with newcomer Black means pixie dust may very well include blood spatter, sharp thorns and bits of broken glass. At the center of this edgy novel is Kaye Fierch, a 16-year-old “Asian blonde” who spends most of her time taking care of a would-be rock star mom. When her mom’s latest boyfriend turns homicidal, they return to Gram’s house at the New Jersey shore, where Kaye hooks up with childhood friend Janet and her gay brother, Corny Stone. Stark images ripple through the third-person narrative, offering clues to Kaye’s internal state (e.g., “She loved the serene brutality of the ocean”). A covert sexual overture from Janet’s boyfriend precedes Kaye’s nighttime encounter at the edge of the woods, where she meets and rescues Roiben, a mysterious Black Knight with silver hair. Throughout, the author subtly connects Kaye’s awakening sexual feelings in the real world and Roiben’s sudden appearances. Kaye soon discovers that she is a changeling-and that her one-time “imaginary” faerie playmates want her to pretend to be a human, so they can use her as the Tithe (“the sacrifice of a beautiful and talented mortal”) to earn their freedom for seven years. The author’s Bosch-like descriptions of the Unseelie Court, with its Rackham-on-acid denizens, and the exquisite faeries haunt as well as charm. When fate intervenes, sudden tragedy teaches Kaye about the high cost of straddling the faerie and human worlds (and sets the stage for a possible sequel). A gripping read.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
From School Library Journal– Charles Fat Charlie Nancy leads a normal, boring existence in London. However, when he calls the U.S. to invite his estranged father to his wedding, he learns that the man just died. After jetting off to Florida for the funeral, Charlie not only discovers a brother he didn’t know he had, but also learns that his father was the West African trickster god, Anansi. Charlie’s brother, who possesses his own magical powers, later visits him at home and spins Charlie’s life out of control, getting him fired, sleeping with his fiancée, and even getting him arrested for a white-collar crime. Charlie fights back with assistance from other gods, and that’s when the real trouble begins.
Forever in Blue: the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Book Description-With unraveled embroidery and fraying hems, the Traveling Pants are back for one last, glorious summer.What Came Before He Shot Her by Elizabeth George
From Booklist-Fans of George’s popular Inspector Lynley series were stunned by the brutal slaying of the Scotland Yard detective’s wife in With No One as Witness (2005). Her new novel unveils the events leading up to this bold, bloody event (though Lynley himself is conspicuously absent). Life is traumatic for mixed-race siblings Joel, Ness, and Toby Campbell. With their father murdered in the street and their mother in a mental institution, the trio is left in the care of Aunt Kendra, a twice-divorced fortysomething with the will but not the wherewithal to raise three kids. Teenager Ness and 12-year-old Joel do their best to cope with their new life in London’s often-menacing neighborhood of North Kensington. Ness ditches school, does drugs, and becomes romantically entangled with Blade, a nefarious local drug dealer with a cobra tattoo on his cheek. Joel strives to keep the peace in a precarious domestic situation; he watches out for his younger brother, Toby, whose odd appearance and slow wit make him a frequent target of cruel peers.
Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese
From Booklist-Ojibwa author Wagamese mixes cowboy lore and Native American mysticism in this affecting novel about the healing effects of family. In pursuit of a world-champion title, Joe Willie Wolfchild suffers a horrific, career-ending accident while riding a temperamental bull named C-4. His supportive family, longtime rodeo people, whisk him back to their ranch to recuperate but worry about his emotional health. Meanwhile, urban street-kid Aiden, sick and tired of his mother Claire’s long string of abusive boyfriends, plans a robbery only to land in jail. Upon his release, a concerned parole officer finds a place for Aiden and his mom at the Wolfchild ranch. Claire takes to the stable family and wide-open vistas immediately, but Aiden and Joe Willie circle each other warily until they find common ground. Far from the laconic stereotype, Wagamese’s chatty cowboys endlessly parse the western lifestyle -Joanne Wilkinson
Joust -2 Alta by Mercedes Lackey
From Booklist-Young Vetch, former serf turned dragon boy in Joust [BKL Mr 15 03], and his hand-reared dragon, Avarte, escape from Tia and cross the deadly desert to Altan-controlled lands. Back among his own people, Vetch becomes indispensable because he knows how to tame newly hatched dragons, which then don’t need to be drugged into submission. All is not well with the Altans, however. The Magi, who work their will on the world, have great powers they use to prolong the war that is raging for their own benefit. There’s plenty of dragon lore as Vetch, now known as Kiron, teaches a close-knit cadre of young jousters how to bond with dragonets and train them for combat in the hope of ending the war. Rife with intrigue and dangerous counterintrigue, the story continues a classic quest-for-good-against-evil plot development while beautifully maintaining the world, society, and characterizations established in Joust. A very satisfying sequel with an ending that begs for another episode because the final battle is yet to come. Sally Estes
The Gnostic Discoveries: The Impact of the Nag Hammadi Library by Marvin Meyer
From Publishers Weekly-Before the discovery of the Nag Hammadi documents in the 1940s, Gnosticism was considered to be a form of anti-Christian heresy taught by some early church fathers and condemned by others. Modern readers depended on secondary works condemning Gnosticism in order to understand its proponents’ point of view. But with the unearthing of the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, scholars have a better idea of the scope and direction of Gnostic teaching in the early years of Christianity as told by its adherents. Meyer, professor of Bible and Christian studies at Chapman University in California, boasts nine previous publications on the subject and demonstrates a deep understanding of both the history and content of the documents. After briefly recounting their discovery, he analyzes their content, sorting through the teachings and relating them, not just to the biblical text, but even to the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. Although there is no new material, the author’s concise presentation will appeal to many readers. Meyer writes clearly, bringing both the people and the times of the early Gnostic writings to life and making them accessible to scholar and layperson alike. (Nov.)
Satanic Purses : Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror by R.T. Naylor
Books in Canada-Look behind any suicide bomber and you’ll find a network of supporters who helped him along the path to martyrdom. Whatever its motives, a terrorist attack is not a sudden outburst, but rather the final act of a process of radicalisation, recruitment, training, planning, fundraising, and propaganda.
Bankrolled by foreign backers, Hamas and Hezbollah have the system down pat: they run schools that provide a steady supply of recruits; charities that endear them to locals while gathering cash for terrorist operations; and political parties that seek legitimacy for their causes. And when they come under pressure for their latest outrage, they point to their clinics and orphanages to protest being labeled terrorists. – “A counterblast to the conventional wisdom and mythologized history
DeNiro’s Game by Rawi Hage
Atom Egoyan-De Niro’s Game chronicles the madness of the Beirut civil war with dark humour and beautifully manicured urgency? Creates images that explode in the reader’s imagination like ten thousand bombs.
Amazon.ca-Set in Beirut during the civil war, this short, fast-paced novel follows the aimless violent lives of two young men: Bassam and his friend, George. The mood is reminiscent of Camus, while the story is written in the rapid patter of George’s motorcycle engine, with quick breathless lists and repeated phrases (“10,000 bombs, 10,000 bombs”). Bassam’s driftless, existential life in the Christian sector of the war-blasted city is fuelled by hashish, as well as a powerful, yet ambiguous desire to abandon home and escape to Rome or Paris. To fund his impending exile from the madness, Bassam works an ongoing scam at a small casino where George is employed by the Christian militia. Eventually George is sucked into the war, joins the militia and heads off to secret training in Israel . He later gives Bassam a horrific account of his role in the massacre at the Shatilla refugee camp as they play ‘DeNiro’s Game’, from the famous scene of Russian roulette in the movie, The Deer Hunter. Near the end, when Bassam finds his way to Paris and contacts George’s relatives, the drift and rootlessness that infect his life have also affected this highly filmic novel. –Mark Frutkin
The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole
Review”Good writing declares itself immediately. How comforting for a reader to know — after only a few pages in Mr. Cole’s company — that he is in such safe hands.”—Governor General’s Award winner David Gilmour
“Cole belongs to the Truman Capote school of stylists; his prose is clear as a mountain stream.”— Toronto Star
“Trevor Cole knows how to tell a story of the I-couldn’t-put-it-down variety. . Just delicious!”— Globe and Mail
Home Schooling by Carol Windley
Book Description-In this long-awaited and much-anticipated second collection of stories, Carol Windley captures the shimmering, mutable light of the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Vancouver Island, where a diverse and unforgetable group of characters confronts sorrows and triumphs. Now herself a parent, Saffi remembers a long-ago summer when a boy called Eugene Dexter disappeared, leaving his blue cotton jacket and his treasured Marvel comics at the edge of an empty field. She recalls the turmoil of her feelings as she searches for language to make her family understand the horrific and strange truth: their neighbour, Arthur Daisy, has a bird-boy locked in his basement.
The Perfect Circle by Pascale Quiviger , Sheila Fischman
Book Description-Marianne, a young Montrealer, has come to live in Tuscany to draw and write and examine her life. Here she meets Marco, a temptingly seductive man who still lives in his mother’s house in the village and who’s not prepared to commit himself to anything resembling a shared life. Though he breaks her heart, again and again, Marianne can only avoid him by returning to Canada . This first novel by Pascale Quiviger is marked by its luminous language and its unstinting look at what makes Marianne, and Marco, and, indeed, an entire village and the world beyond it, tick. The Perfect Circle is the winner of the 2004 Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. More…
Learning to Learn: Strengthening Study Skills and Brain Power by Gloria Frender
Intended and written for students of all ages, teachers, and parents, this guide is for anyone who wants to learn how to learn more effectively. Filled with ideas, practical hints, methods, procedures, and resources that provide hands-on materials for study skills including note-taking, organizational skills, test-taking, memory skills, power reading, problem solving, and time management.
For One More Day by Mitch Albom …also in Audiobook
From Publishers Weekly-In this second novel from Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven author Albom, grief-stricken Charles “Chick” Benetto goes into an alcoholic tailspin when his always-attentive mother, Pauline, dies. Framed as an “as told to” story, Chick quickly narrates her funeral; his drink-fueled loss of savings, job (“sales”) and family; and his descent into loneliness and isolation. After a suicide attempt, Chick encounters Pauline’s ghost. Together, the two revisit Pauline’s travails raising her children alone after his father abandons them: she braves the town’s disapproval of her divorce and works at a beauty parlor, taking an extra job to put money aside for the children’s education. Pauline cringes at the heartache Chick inflicted as a demanding child, obnoxious teen and brusque, oblivious adult chasing the will-o’-the-wisp of a baseball career. Through their story, Albom foregrounds family sanctity, maternal self-sacrifice and the destructive power of personal ambition and male self-involvement. He wields pathos as if it were a Louisville Slugger—shoveling dirt into Pauline’s grave, Chick hears her spirit cry out, ” ‘Oh, Charley. How could you?’ “—but Albom often strikes a nerve on his way to the heart. (Sept. 26)
Tree: A Life Story by David Suzuki , Wayne Grady
From Publishers Weekly-Visitors to the Pacific Northwest often find themselves awed by the size of the trees, especially the grand and ubiquitous “Douglas-fir.” In this slight, lovely book, environmentalist Suzuki (The Sacred Balance) and Grady (The Bone Museum) tell the tale of one Douglas-fir tree that lived for more than five centuries (“Around the time its seed was soaking in the sunshine… the Aztec Empire was building its capital city”). Woven into the narrative is a history of botany, the study of which developed during the tree’s life (a digression about the Big Bang and the formation of organic molecules feels unnecessary, though). Facts about the species awe: old Douglas-firs can have 12-inch thick fireproof bark, and it can take 36 hours for water to get from the roots to the canopy. “If left alone,” write the authors, “our tree would grow forever.” Bateman’s misty drawings offer portraits of the tree’s companions—woodpeckers, eagles, mice, ferns—whose lives are more fleeting. Suzuki and Grady lament the loss of old-growth forests and their biodiversity, showing how each tree is part of a massive, interconnected web of organisms including fungi, birds and insects. This book is both a touching look at a single tree and an articulate testimony to nature’s cyclic power.
Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
From Booklist-Gr. 8-11. In this highly anticipated sequel to the hit Uglies 2005), Tally Youngblood struggles to retain her mental acuity after undergoing the operation that transformed her into a Pretty. While in the renegade Ugly community, Tally learned that along with cosmetic enhancements, new Pretties are given brain lesions that leave them in a perpetual state of lazy vanity. Tally volunteered to take a drug developed to cure the lesions, but now that she is a Pretty, she has forgotten her promise. A coded message leads her to some pills and a letter that she wrote to herself before her transformation, and after swallowing the cure, she is catapulted into a dangerous new adventure, in which she discovers that the peace and happiness of Pretty society come with a terrible price. Riveting and compulsively readable, this action-packed sequel does not disappoint. Just as good as its predecessor, it will leave fans breathlessly waiting for the trilogy’s final volume.
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