Nonfiction

NVCL Reads: Folk and Fairy Tales

If you’re doing #NVCLreads this summer with the kids, they might want to read some Canadian folk and fairy tales for #NVCLreadsFairyTales. (And you may want to read some for #NVCLreadsIllustrated or #NVCLreads200.)  Homa from our fabulous Children’s Department has some ideas about where to start:

Our collection of folk & fairy tales aims to engage children in timeless stories and help them to discover diversity.  This collection represents a range of traditions from various cultures and countries.  Here are some of the Canadian authors that have written fables, fairy tales, legends and myths.

fingerlingLittle Fingerling by Monica Hughes

This familiar Japanese folktale, a cross between Tom Thumb and David and Goliath, is given sophisticated treatment in this attractive picture book. Hughes’s telling is leisurely and formal, with a traditional tone that suits the material. In ancient Japan, a tiny son is born to an elderly couple. As he grows older — but no larger — his courage and resourcefulness see him through many exciting adventures.

41Q+Z8fVfsLThe Nervous Prince and other stories by Michael B. Kerr   

What was Cinderella’s prince really like? Was Red Riding Hood rescued by a woodsman, or not? Was Jack’s beanstalk genetically modified? Why were Hansel and Gretel searching for carbohydrate treats in the forest? And who styled Rapunzel’s hair? These updated versions of popular folk and fairy tales answer all these burning questions and more.

The-King-and-the-Tortoise-1200x972The King and The Tortoise by Tololwa M. Mollel

Who is the cleverest creature of all? In order to find out, the king has issued a challenge: who can make him a robe of smoke? The swift hare, the sly fox, the fierce leopard, and the mighty elephant try but each one fails.  It is up to the tortoise, patient and slow, to win the day through wit alone.  In this gentle traditional story from Cameroon, master story teller Tolowa Mollel has woven a tale of humor and wisdom as magical as a robe of smoke.

mermaid's museThe Mermaid’s Muse: The Legend of the Dragon Boats by David Bouchard 

History meets myth in this dramatic re-telling of the story of Qu Yuan, celebrated poet-in-exile of ancient China. In Bouchard’s tale the poet and a sea dragon, in the appearance of a mermaid, develop a mutually inspiring friendship that drives them to sail away together, to the mistaken alarm of Qu Yuan’s neighbors. The surprising climax illustrates the traditional Chinese origin of dragon boats. Spectacularly illustrated, this book is truly amazing — you should read it!

TwoSistersThe Two Sisters by E. Pauline Johnson

Many thousands of years ago, two little girl with eyes of spring and hearts of summer had the courage to ask their father to stop a war. He does as they ask, and this brings about a lasting peace in the land. This book will lead you on your own adventure through the rich history of the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest.  I highly recommend it. It is a book for all ages with a valuable message and fabulous illustrations.

 

howsummerHow Summer Came to Canada Pictures by Elizabeth Cleaver Retold by William Toye

When the giant Winter came down from the North to live in Eastern Canada the land became frozen and white. Glooskap, mythical lord and creator of the Micmac Indians, saves his people from endless cold when he brings a beautiful Queen to his country. Her name is Summer and she persuades Winter to relax his icy grip every Spring while she awakens the land from its deep sleep and gives life to everything that grows. The beautiful illustrations of this book feature scenes of icy desolation and sunny flowering greenness.

Let’s read more folk and fairy tales this summer to better understand ourselves and others.

-Homa

Calling All Writers… it’s NaNoWriMo!

nonawrimo

Apparently everyone has a book in them. But can you write that 50,000 word book in one month? That’s the NaNoWriMo challenge.  Need some help and/or inspiration? We’ve got you covered!

passionfornarrativeA Passion for Narrative, by Jack Hodgins

Canadian writer and teacher Jack Hodgins offers advice, examples, and exercises to help you develop your narrative skills – both writing it, and reading it.

From Where You Dream, by Robert Olen fromwhereyoudreamButler

Butler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and this title is a series of lectures that capture his approach to writing, which he teaches in his creative writing class – also known as “Literary Boot Camp,” due to its (and Butler’s) intensity. His method is very prescribed, and some have described it as a bit dogmatic, but his advice has nevertheless been invaluable to many aspiring writers.

writingadviceUltimate Guide to Writing Advice, by signature-reads.com

Or, if those titles are a little too weighty for the approaching end-of-the-month deadline, try the Ultimate Guide to Writing Advice. It’s a free 23-page eBook from Signature Reads, featuring tips on creating an effective writing routine, banishing writers’ block, and insights from 12 award-winning authors.

Looking for help writing a specific genre? Try one of these:

writing

Writing Mysteries, by Margaret Lucke

Writing Romance, by Vanessa Grant

Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, by Crawford Killian

Writing Historical Fiction, by Rhona Martin

Or, check out our Lynda.com resource for professional video tutorials to help you write, produce, and publish your book! Lynda.com has thousands of video courses and tutorials on a wide variety of creative, business, and technical topics, taught by industry professionals (who are also awesome teachers!). Lynda.com is accessible for free, from home, with your library card (to North Van City residents only though!).

Log in to Lynda.com through nvcl.ca first, and then try one of thlynda_blog_badgeese courses:

 

And what are you going to do after you’ve finished your 50,000-word masterpiece? Get some help navigating the publishing and self-publishing worlds:

selfpublishbootcamp     writingebook     publish    publishamazon    perfectbound

 

 

Also, if you just need some quiet, dedicated writing time during NaNoWriMo, there are even local write-ins you can attend. The closest one to us here on the North Shore is our friends over at Vancouver Public Library Central Branch – check out the sessions they’re hosting here.

Good luck, and happy writing!
Kat

Patricia’s Picks for Stress-Free School Lunches

After two glorious months of summer the Labour Day weekend has somehow once again managed to sneak up on my and my family.  We find ourselves utterly unprepared for the looming cycle of up early, pack lunches, rush to school and work, lessons, lessons, lessons, homework, bed, and repeat.  If you’re anything like me, all of the above is a chaotic labour of love with the exception of packing lunches.  Lunches do me in.  (Seriously in September alone there are 19 packed lunch days x3 kids…. That’s nearly 60 kid lunches!?!)  Here’s where I’ll seek inspiration this September:

LunchWhat’s for Lunch: How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World by Andrea Curtis

Why I really like this book is because it offers children a way into a deeper understanding about food.  My children are incredibly lucky to always have enough to eat, and this book allows them to lock into an appreciation of that fact, while piquing their curiosity about how children eat in other countries.

ellaDeliciously Ella Everyday:  Quick and Easy Recipes for Gluten-free Snacks, Packed Lunches, and Simple Meals by Ella Woodword

Any packed lunch cookbook with the words “quick,” “easy,” and “simple” in the title is all right by me, but Ella Woodword’s ambitions don’t end there.  She also aims to help eaters eat less sugar, meat, and dairy without intensive labour.  Best of all, the recipes contained within are suitable for adult lunches too.

workmanThe Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in her Back Pocket by Katie Workman

Parents, Katie Workman gets us.  She’s organized her cookbook both by meals and by dilemmas parents face, covering everything from potlucks to getting your little ones to eat more veggies.  (My one complaint is that I wish she’d given a shout out to the dads in the title — They cook too.)

harrycookbookThe Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Buchotz

I’m fully intending to leverage the Harry Potter connection here to amp up the my kids’ enthusiasm for lunchtime.  There’s way too much sugar in this cookbook for it to be a reliable standby in my kitchen, but I’m relying on a little slight of hand with this one.  If I make a Delciously Ella recipe with the Harry Potter Cookbook on the table… Well let’s just say the associations they make aren’t my fault and leave it there, shall we?

Here’s wishing you a magical 500+ packed lunches ’til summer!

-Patricia

Funny Women

comedycellar

I love comedy. Whether via online videos, podcasts, or attending weekly har-har rituals like Vancouver’s Sunday Service , I’m an addict for a good laugh. In particular however, I’m hooked on funny women.

I may be biased, but there is something deeply refreshing about hearing a brilliant modern woman speak frankly about all the experiences, taboos, and general double standards that come packaged with a set of ovaries with refreshing,  hilarious and brutal candidness. Thankfully, these days  it seems as though female comedians are getting more of the attention and praise they deserve, and there is therefore a plethora of performers and formats to choose from.

Here I present a list of a few funny women and their funny books. Most are available from the library in print, but as the resident audio-book evangelist allow me to spread the gospel and sing it from the hills—it is one thing to watch one of your favorite comedians on YouTube, but to spend hours listening to them reading their own memoirs is a whole other experience. Not only do you get a chance to hear the author perform impressions, crack-up at their own jokes, or sometimes tear up over an old memory, many authors insert little aside commentaries for the exclusive pleasure of audio listeners.

 

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer amyschumer

Unless you’ve been living under a pop-culture rock for the past few years, then you have also had the pleasure of hearing or seeing Amy Schumer perform. Aside from being a critically-praised stand-up comedian, she wrote and starred in last year’s film Trainwreck, and has been featured on numerous TV shows and films. Her new book shares hilarious, and often touching stories from her life in her characteristic unflinchingly candid style.

Not sold yet? Check out this hilarious excerpt from Vogue magazine.  

Not That Kind of Girl; A Young Woman Tell You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham  dunham

Lena Dunham is one of those young women who are so accomplished at such a young age that you almost want to hate them…… except that her special brand of self-defecating humour and brazen attitude make it extremely hard to do so. In her first memoir, Dunham recounts stories from her childhood, sex life, and experiences navigating the milieu of everything in between.

 

Notaro

I’m Just a Person  by Tig Notaro

I’ve already talked about this one before, but I really really love Tig Notaro so here we go again.  Her new book talks about a span of only four months in 2012 where Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She then took her grief onstage to become one of the most intimate, and startling stand-ups out there today. For more information on her story, and the way her comedy has changed since that fateful period of time, I highly recommend checking out this great interview she recently gave with The Guardian. 

Bossypants by Tina Fey bossypants

What I liked most about listening to Bossypants (aside from her hilarious bonus audio commentary) was learning  more about her process breaking into the comedy scene in the 90’s and 2000’s, working at SNL, and the struggles she encountered as a woman in the field. Fey is classy, clever and funny as hell. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

kaling Whenever I read Kaling’s work I feel as though I’m having a glass of wine with an old friend and giggling over the absurdities of our lives. Admittedly I haven’t had the chance to read Kaling’s newest book, however I loved her first collection of essays Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? , and the audio version of Why Not Me? features guest appearances by other Office legends like B.J. Novak–so I have faith.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Yes Please! By Amy Poehler 

The Bedwetter;  Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

Seriously–I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea. By Chelsea Handler

 

-Mikale Fenton

 

Celebrating British Columbia Books!

quadraIn honor of Monday’s upcoming BC day, we thought it was high time to highlight a few of our province’s literary treasures.  British Columbia is blessed to have a plethora of literary talent, many of whom root their stories in the places and regions they know best: the vast and varied British Columbia landscape. Below is a collection of both contemporary and classic BC-saturated books to keep you company while enjoying the beautiful long weekend ahead!

Happy reading!

New Arrivals

A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World by Susan Musgrave  tastehaida

This is a beaaaaautiful, hilarious, and fascinating collection of photographs, stories, and recipes that reflect BC’s wild West Coast. The first time I picked this book up at the library I knew that one round of check-outs was not going to be enough so I immediately purchased my own copy.

As proprietor of Copper Beech House, an infamous Haida Gwaii bed and breakfast,  writer and poet Susan Musgrave unveils her first cookbook which balances humour and wit to illuminate cooking and living on Haida Gwaii to life with stories gathered over decades.

 

The Spawning Grounds by Gail Anderson-Dargatz spawninggrounds

Best known for her gorgeous bestselling novel, The Cure for Death by Lightning and , A Recipe for Bees, Salmon Arm’s very own Gail Anderson-Dargatz has a new novel coming out this fall examines the cultural, and physical geography of the central B.C.’s Thompson-Shuswap region.

 

thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeline Thien 

As mentioned by Patricia in her last post, Vancouver born Madeline Thein’s newest book is already generating quite a bit of critical attention and was recently nominated for the Man Booker Prize Longlist is an international saga which stretches from 1940’s China to present-day Vancouver.

 

 Bit Rot by Douglas Coupland bitrot

From Coal Harbour’s “Digital Orca”, to City of Glassa literary and visual ode to our fair city, Douglas Coupland is an undeniable Vancouver icon. In his newest book, Bit Rot Coupland mixes short fiction  with essays to explore the ways humanity tries to make sense of our shifting consciousness.  (From the publisher)

Classic Reads

curveoftimeThe Curve of Time by Wylie Blanchet

Wylie Blanchet is a legend, and The Curve of Time is a testament to her bravery and independent spirit. Following the death of her husband, she explored BC’s often rugged a central coast alone with her five children summer after summer in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Her stories are incredible, albeit at times a little problematic when read from the perspective of a modern reader. That being said, if you haven’t already done so, I really can’t recommend this book enough. Did I mention that she literally died at her type writer? This woman, I tell ya.

 

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson  monkeybeach

A true BC classic, since it’s orginal publication, Monkey Beach has become a fortified piece of the BC literary cannon. “Set in the Kitimaat area, Monkey Beach is a truly beautiful novel filled with details of Haisla culture and wildlife surrounding Kitimaat. It “combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak” (from the publisher).

 

goldenspruceThe Golden Spruce by John Valliant

What started as a feature article for The New Yorker soon evolved into this epic examination of the tragic loss of one of British Columbia’s most infamous natural wonders, the mysterious disappearance of the man who destroyed it, and a look into life on Haida Gwaii and the global forces which shape it. If you haven’t read this book, do it. Valliant is a master storyteller. He successfully lures readers in with compelling storytelling and pushes them to consider their own complicity in a modern world that often depends on the destruction of nature for survival.

 

Enjoy yourself out there this weekend!

-Mikale

le Tour de France Reading List

The Tour de France is underway, which I know mostly because The Husband is suddenly not asking to go out for bike rides at 6 in the morning – he’s glued to the television at 5am instead. Which means more time for reading for me!  Ok, to be accurate, more sleeping-in time for me, because neither 5am nor 6am should even exist (I am not exactly a morning person), but then followed by more reading time!

So, whether you are a road cycling addict like my husband (and myself to a lesser extent), or you have one in the family – one who is going need something to get them through their Tour de France withdrawal come the end of July – here are some of our favourite cycling and Tour de France books!

tourdefranceTour de France: The Inside Story. Making the World’s Greatest Bicycle Race, by Les Woodland (on order @ NVCL)

For those relatively new to the Tour (like me, despite the husband’s best efforts to indoctrinate me), this title is a great overview of the its history, starting with its beginnings in 1903 as a promotional stunt to help save a floundering newspaper business, and following its evolution through the century up to present-day as it becomes the most-watched cycling event of the year.

lanterneLanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France, by Max Leonard
(on order @ NVCL)

Of course the winners of the Tour get all the fame and glory, but what about the guys who come in last? This new title chronicles the stories of those last-place finishers, some of which inspirational, with the riders’ perseverance and dedication later resulting in victories and podium places. But others are others are more on the irreverent side – like the one that stopped to sample some local wine, or the one whose doping cocktail not doing quite what they intended…

domestiqueDomestique, by Charly Wegelius

Not technically about the Tour de France but still a must-read for pro-cycling fans, this is a great behind-the-scenes book from the point of view of one of the unsung heroes of cycling – the Domestiques – whose job is to support their team leaders during the race, pushing themselves to the limit for someone else’s win. Wegelius was a pro-cyclist and domestique for 11 years, and his insights into that world are fascinating. This title was also the inaugural winner of the SweetSpot Cycling Book of the Year award in 2013.

riderevolutionRide the Revolution, by Suze Clemitson (on order @ NVCL)

While it’s great that La Course is now an annual event, and awesome to hear that a group of 7 women plan to ride the entire Tour de France route a day ahead of the men this year, there’s still no real women’s equivalent to the Tour de France. This inspirational title explores the world of women in cycling, telling the stories of those working as support staff on the men’s teams, journalists, and those pro-cyclists themselves working to bring mainstream exposure to their sport.

secretraceThe Secret Race, by Tyler Hamilton

And (sadly) what would any list about the Tour de France be without a couple titles on doping? Tyler Hamilton was a pro-cyclist on Lance Armstrong’s team, and this was the explosive book that finally exposed the truth about Armstrong, and the doping culture so pervasive in the cycling world at that time.

 

endoftheroadThe End of the Road: The Festina Affair and the Tour that Almost Wrecked Cycling, by Alasdair Fotheringham (on order @ NVCL)

Before the Armstrong bombshell, the cycling world was rocked by another, equally (if not more) damaging, doping scandal. This one was at the 1998 Tour, and began when a support staff member of the Festina team was stopped at the France-Belgium border and customs officials found a large cache of steroids, EPO, and other doping products in the team car.  The scandal quickly escalated, resulting in multiple police raids, arrests, and even rider strikes/sit-downs, and then later culminated in several trials, arrests, and bans from pro-cycling. This title offers a new, in-depth look at what became known as the Festina Affair, and its long-term consequences on the cycling world.

I hate to end on a buzzkill, so I’ll finish up this list with some lighter fare:

frenchrevFrench Revolutions, by Tim Moore

I’ve recommended Tim Moore’s hilarious 2014 book Gironimo before, and this is one of his earlier titles on a similar theme.  Long before he set out to to ride the infamous 1914 Giro d’Italia route on a wooden bike he built himself, he decided he was going to ride the 2000 Tour de France route ahead of the race, just to see if he could finish it. At this point in time he hadn’t been on a bike since he was a child. So of course, because it’s the Tour de France, he quickly resorts to cheating and doping, as well as drinking as much wine as he can fit in his water bottle. It has a decent amount of historical information on the Tour de France mixed in with Moore’s usual shenanigans, so it’s a great combination of funny and informative.

What are your must-read Tour de France and/or cycling books? (seriously, I’m going to need as many titles as I can to get the husband through until the next big race!)

Happy reading!
Kat

 

 

Mikale’s Summer Picks

It seems fitting that one of the last tasks I’ve left myself to do before going on vacation is to assemble my top literary picks for summer.  Let me begin by stating that I take my summer reads very seriously, in the way that under no circumstances should summer reads be too serious. While I always love a good dystopic-fantasy,  as stated in this hilarious New Yorker “think-piece” from 2014, “my ideal summer novel is delicately balanced on the edge of frivolity….The drama should feel VERY real to the characters but be very silly in contrast to anything you read in the world-news section of the New York Times.” In those dark, brooding rainy West Coast winter nights I love to curl up and be challenged by a serious piece of literature, but…. poolside? Not so much.

And so, here we go… Summer 2016.

I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro Notaro

Ok so maybe this one is going to be a bit too dark for my aforementioned “Summer Reads Rules of Conduct”, however I recently heard Tig Notaro tell a story about repeatedly meeting 80’s pop star Taylor Dayne on This American Life  and found myself laughing so hard on my run that I had to pull over to breathe properly, so I have faith there will be balance.

Her new book talks about a span of only four months in 2012 where Notaro was hospitalized for a debilitating intestinal disease called C. diff, her mother unexpectedly died, she went through a breakup, and then she was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. She then took her grief onstage to become one of the most intimate, and startling stand-ups out there today. For more information on her story, and the way her comedy has changed since that fateful period of time, I highly recommend checking out this great interview she recently gave with The Guardian. 

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

A beach-read of a different sort of variety…..Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Dennis- Benn uncovers a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. Set at an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Here Comes the Sun offers a dramatic glimpse into a vibrant, passionate world most outsiders see simply as paradise.

Heroes From The Frontier by David Eggers heroeofthefrontier

I’m an unabashed Dave Eggers fan and will basically read anything he publishes. While his storylines may not always be as tight as they could be, Egger’s breezy writing-style is both punchy and compelling, and his novels (The Circle, and A Hologram for the King) consistently tackle complex ideas like online privacy and economic collapse in an accesible, and entertaining fashion . His new novel is about a mother and her two young children on a journey through an Alaskan wilderness that is plagued by wildfires and a uniquely American madness.

 

mandiblesThe Mandibles; A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver

Set in a not-too distant future Brooklyn, The Mandibles breaks down the struggles of one upper-middle class family as they cope with extreme water and food shortage, and general societal meltdown. Blending satire and parable with today’s headlines, Shriver creates a terrifying look into the not to distance future.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline girls.jpg

In this remarkable debut novel , the obsession with 1960s California cults comes to horrifying and electrifying life. While cults usually orbit charismatic men, Cline’s protagonist is teenage Evie, whose attraction to impossible-to-resist cool girls leads to her fate. An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong.
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modernloversModern Lovers by Emma Straub

For fans of The Vacationers, comes Straub’s latest hit which promises to deliver sympathetic, well-developed characters and a story filled with humour and heartache.

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.

Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.

Happy reading!

 

-Mikale