Staff Picks

NVCL Reads: Illustrated

Sometimes you want fewer words, and more pictures! Below we have a selection of 5 fabulous illustrated books that can be found on our shelves for your #NVCLreads Canada Reads 150 bingo! Kick off your sandals, find a hammock and get lost in the colorful pages of these beautiful works of art.

tokyoonfootTokyo on foot: Travels in the city’s most colorful neighborhoods, by Florent Chavouet

Florent Chavouet, a young graphic artist, spent six months exploring Tokyo while his girlfriend interned at a company there. Each day he would set forth with a pouch full of color pencils and a sketchpad, and visit different neighborhoods. This stunning book records the city that he got to know during his adventures. It isn’t the Tokyo of packaged tours and glossy guidebooks, but a grittier, vibrant place, full of ordinary people going about their daily lives and the scenes and activities that unfold on the streets of a bustling metropolis.

 

patternsPatterns: Inside the design library, by Peter Koepke

Every season, designers from fashion, home furnishings, textiles, graphic arts, and paper-product industries seek inspiration from patterns to bring their collections to life. Many of these designers – including Beacon Hill, Boden, Calvin Klein, Lululemon, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Pottery Barn, and Target – look to the Design Library, the world’s largest archive of surface design. This one-of-a-kind book, drawn from the Design Library’s archive, is an exclusive and ultimate sourcebook of pattern and ornament.

 

rebeljesterRebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: contemporary Persians, by Fereshte Daftari

This beautiful illustrated title tells the story of the evolution of Iranian contemporary art by examining the work of 30 artists. This is art where the ills of internal politics remain astutely masked below a layer of ornamentation, poetry, or humor. What unite the disparate works into a coherent theme are the artist’s coping mechanisms, which consist of subversive critique, quiet rebellion, humor, mysticism, and poetry, hence the publications title.

 

aloneAlone, by Chaboute

On a tiny lighthouse island far from the rest of the world, a lonely hermit lives out his existence. Every week a supply boat leaves provisions, its occupants never meeting him, never asking the obvious questions: Who are you? Why do you hide? Why do you never leave? What is it like to be so alone? Years spent on a deserted rock – a lifetime, really – with imagination his sole companion has made the lighthouse keeper something more than alone, something else entirely.

 

secretpathSecret Path, by Gordon Downie

Secret Path is the heart-rending story of an Indigenous boy seeking to escape the residential school system and return to his family. Alternately hopeful and devastating, Secret Path traces the boy’s fateful journey into the wilderness, lending a personal face to a cold and distant chapter of Canada’s history.

 

– Brie

NVCL Reads: Indigenous Canadian Authors

Is it Canada 150, or 15,000? Let’s take time to sit with this question and consider the knowledge that the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada goes back so much farther than 150 years on this land. There are many titles I would love to share with you to celebrate Indigenous Canadian authors. I hope you are inspired to continue searching for more amazing titles and share your favourite authors in the comments section. Below you will find work by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors. Pick up a book of poetry by Métis author, Marilyn Dumont, an adventurous Young Adult historical fiction novel based on traditional Inuit knowledge, by authors Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, read to your kids about dipnetting in the Cariboo Chilcotin region in Willie Sellar’s children’s picture book, or delve into challenging coming of age novels by Richard Van Camp and Eden Robinson for the #NVCLreadsFirstNations category in our #NVCLreads Canada 150 Bingo game.

Leading off this list is the work of award winning author, Richard Wagamese, who passed in March this year:

medicinewalkMedicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese

Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He’s sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they’ve shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son’s duty to a father. He finds Eldon decimated after years of drinking, dying of liver failure in a small town flophouse. Eldon asks his son to take him into the mountains, so he may be buried in the traditional Ojibway manner. What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon’s end.

 

skraelingsSkraelings, by Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley (Young Adult)

In this adventurous novel–set in the ancient Arctic, but told by an inquisitive and entertaining contemporary narrator–a wandering Inuit hunter named Kannujaq happens upon a camp in grave peril. The inhabitants of the camp are Tuniit, a race of ancient Inuit ancestors known for their strength and shyness. The tranquility of this Tuniit camp has been shaken by a group of murderous, pale, bearded strangers who have arrived on a huge boat shaped like a loon. Unbeknownst to Kannujaq, he has stumbled upon a battle between the Tuniit and a group of Viking warriors.

Could alternately be used for #NVCLreads200 or #NVCLreadsArtic!

 

areallygoodbrowngirlA Really Good Brown Girl, by Marilyn Dumont (Poetry)

Marilyn Dumont’s Métis heritage offers her challenges that few of us welcome. Here she turns them to opportunities: in a voice that is fierce, direct, and true, she explores and transcends the multiple boundaries imposed by society on the self. She celebrates the person, clearly observing, who defines her own life.

Could alternately be used for #NVCLreadsPoetry

 

dipnettingwithdadDipnetting with Dad, by Willie Sellars (Picture Book)

BUMP, BUMP – SLAP, river sockeye salmon are pulled onto shore! Set in the beautiful landscape of the Cariboo Chilcotin region, Dipnetting With Dad, is a delightful and colourful story of a father teaching his son the Secwepemc method of fishing known as dipnetting. Together they visit the sweat lodge, mend the nets, select the best fishing spot and catch and pack their fish through rugged bush back to the family home for traditional preparation. Willie Sellars captures family values, the importance of storytelling, community living and coming of age in one of BC’s oldest cultures.

monkeybeachMonkey Beach, by Eden Robinson

The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far. She recalls the time when she and Jimmy saw the sasquatch, or b’gwus – and this sighting introduces the novel’s fascinating undercurrent of characters from the spirit world. These ghostly presences may strike the reader as mysterious or frightening, but they provide Lisa with guidance through a difficult coming of age.

 

lesserblessedThe Lesser Blessed, by Richard Van Camp

The Lesser Blessed tracks the exploits of Larry Sole, a Dogrib teenager living in the small Northern town of Fort Simmer. After losing much of his memory in a violent accident, what he loves more than anything is reading, hearing and collecting stories. With no interest in booze or sports, he floats on the edges of high school life, sustained by his love of Iron Maiden and a hopeless passion for school hottie Juliet Hope. When good-looking, trouble-seeking Johnny Beck moves into town, he shakes up Larry’s dreamy existence, bringing him face to face with memories that he’s done his best to lose.

 

This list is in no way comprehensive, so I hope that each of these titles will be a jumping off point for you to continue to explore and enjoy the work of Indigenous Canadian authors.

-Kate

NVCL Reads: Pets

Being a pet owner is one of life’s greatest joys. Although it’s a big commitment and a lot of work, the experience teaches you a lot of good and beneficial things. A loving pet has the ability to convert even the most anti-animal person into an animal lover; be it dog, cat, bird, or even a moose.  The bond between people and pets can be just as powerful as a bond between family members.  Here are some pet books by Canadians to share with your child as you play #NVCLreads bingo or just for fun.

DogDayA Dog Day for Susan by Maureen Fergus

Spencer and Barney decide to teach Susan how to be a real dog. With Barney as a role model, they take her to the off-leash dog park to develop skills like barking at buses, cyclists and squirrels, eating garbage, resisting grooming, and refusing to come when she’s called. Susan returns from the park covered in burrs, having shed her dignity and grace enough to fully embrace her inner dog.

DogsinCarsDogs in Cars by Felix Massie

Join these canine critters as they zoom around town in their dogmobiles. Count to one hundred through the many breeds of dogs from French bulldogs to great danes, while they wreak havoc on the streets in some pretty recognizable locomotives.

NobodysCatsNobody’s Cats by Valerie Ingram

Based on the true story of how one little black kitty came in from the cold by a project that was started to help community cats in the small town of Burns Lake in rural northern British Columbia.

 

EmilyCarrEmily Carr & her dogs: Flirt, Punk & Loo by Emily Carr

This delightful book combines 25 stories about dogs with 16 playful drawings by famous Canadian writer, artist, and animal lover Emily Carr. She tells of her joys and tribulations raising Old English sheepdogs, from her decision to start a kennel to the sad day when she had to close it. With each story Carr brings the affectionate and loyal nature of her canine companions to life, making this book an ideal choice for any dog lover, child, or adult.

FarleyFarley and the Lost Bone by Lynn Franks Johnston

This children’s tale features fan favorite sheepdog Farley as he digs in Elly’s flowerbed, under Michael’s model railway set, and inside Lizzie’s sandbox until he remembers the special spot where he buried his tasty bone.

**This title also works for Author Has Spoken at North Shore Writers Fest #NVCLreadsNSWF

MooseMaking the Moose out of Life by Nicholas Oldland

Why not a moose for a pet? Here is a comic-adventure story of a mild-mannered moose who learns how to take life by the antlers. This moose may live in the wild, but he doesn’t act it — he watches from the sidelines as his friends have fun. Every now and then, he wonders if he’s missing out on anything. When the moose finally takes a chance and goes on a solo sailing trip, a raging storm carries him far from everything he knows. Will he curl up in a ball and cry, or make the most of it? The moose’s unlikely hero-journey is a lighthearted, contemporary fable that celebrates living life to the fullest

So what pet will you get, eh?

-Diane

Our Favourite Canadian Reads II

We asked staff to share their favourite Canadian read with you. If you’re taking part in our NVCL Reads: Canada 150 bingo game, you can use these reads for Five Star Reads (#NVCLreadsFiveStar) or use your own favourite (we’d love it if you shared it with us).

DeniseDenise, our Senior Public Services Assistant, loves Anne of Green Gables (series) by L.M. Montgomery.  She says, “I love Anne; her perseverance in the face of adversity inspires, her creative spirit is a source of motivation and her tenacity should be modeled at all times.”

 

curveoftimeOne of our pages Janet is a big fan of The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchett.  She loves “the images of summer vacations on the BC coast in the 1930s – a story of a strong young widow with five young children – packed them all up and spent quality time exploring the coast.”  Janet adds, “We give a copy of this book to all our BC visitors and people always comment afterwards about how much they enjoyed the book.  I own at least two copies at all times.”

davidDavid, our Web Specialist, says his favourite Canadian novel is What’s Bred in the Bone, the 2nd novel in Robertson Davies’ Cornish Trilogy. “Set in part in Germany during the Second World War, it’s an engrossing tale of one Frank Cornish’s journey from childhood in rural Ontario – and from a family with a dark secret – to greatness as an artist, art forger … and spy. Davies’ inimitable novels combine witty, erudite, and elegant prose with highly imaginative and entertaining stories. A great summer read!”

mikale_HayBlogger and Community Librarian Mikale loves Late Nights on Air“Set in 1975, Elizabeth Hay’s story of the lives of the employees of a small CBC radio outpost in Yellowknife, and their accompanying summer canoe trip into the Artic is perfection. It reads like a role of 35mm film, with loons calling over the lake as a soundtrack.”

And finally, the always succinct Sandy, one of our Auxiliary Librarians, recommends “Bonnie Burnard’s A Good House for its clarity, conciseness, honesty and wit.”

We’d love to hear your favourites.  Please share in the comments!

-Patricia

 

 

 

Our Favourite Canadian Reads

We asked staff to share their favourite Canadian read with you.  If you’re taking part in our NVCL Reads: Canada 150 bingo game, you can use these reads for Five Star Reads (#NVCLreadsFiveStar) or use your own favourite (we’d love it if you shared it with us).

Fereshteh 22Our Multicultural Services Librarian, Fereshteh, raves about Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.   Why? “After so many years,  I can still remember the story  vividly, this book transports the reader to a  world filled with colour , taste, smell and unforgettable characters challenged by their human condition and unpredictable destiny.”

Audrey AdminAudrey, our Administrative Assistant’s all-time favourite Canadian book is The Diviners by Margaret Laurence.  “This classic book, part of the Manawaka series, is not only well written and engrossing, it also accurately depicts small town Canadian life which is familiar to me, being from a small town myself.  I have also visited her homestead in Neepawa, Manitoba!”

Timothy StewartOne of our Auxiliary Public Service Assistants, Timothy, chose a non-fic pick: “My most recent favourite is The NHL: A Centennial History by D’Arcy Jenish. It is well written book with plenty of stories of  how the NHL grew from a struggling league based out of Montreal and Toronto into the predominant hockey league of the modern era.”

Wiedmann, Margaret1As did Margarete, our Special Services Coordinator, who chose 52 best day trips from Vancouver by Jack Christie as her pick. “Jump in your car and go out and explore this great area.  It has so much to offer.  Many of these places can be reached by bus too.  Jack gives some great short adventures usually within ½ hour of the North Shore.  Once you are at you location, you can walk or hike the location, and see its many sight or just sit and enjoy your surroundings.  The book also allows you to plan side trips on the way to your destination.

Why not a new location every day for the summer, or at least a weekend getaway, without the coast of lodging.  Staycation at its best.”

Bear 150And finally our beloved Bear wanted to share his favourite book, Winston of Churchill, though he was pretty quiet on what made it a favourite.  (I wonder why…)

Have a 5-star Canadian read you’d like to share?  Sound off in the comments below!

-Patricia

 

NVCL Reads: Under 200 Pages

If you’re anything like me, when faced with limitless possibilities, you may have a hard time with choices. So, where to start with NVCL Reads: Canada 150? Why not try something you can read in a sitting or two – something easily tucked into your bag for a trip outside to the park or the beach? Perhaps that something just might be conveniently: Under 200 Pages! The following books may be slight in width and light in weight, but they pack an outsize amount of thought and intensity into their small # of pages.

The PenelopiadThe Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood

In The Odyssey, Penelope — daughter of King Icarius of Sparta, and the cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy — is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. With incomparable wit and verve, Atwood gives the story of Penelope new life and reality. #NVCLreads200 #NVCLreadsMargaret

 

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner. #NVCLreads200 #NVCLreadsFamily

Under the Stone by Karoline Georges, translated by Jacob Homel

From birth, the child was locked away in a minuscule cell, at #804 of level 5969 of the Edifice. Favourably compared to George Orwell’s 1984, this recent translation from the original French is not to be missed. According to La Presse, Homel has perhaps created a new genre: “the claustrophobic novel”.

The Scream by Rohinton Mistry

Set in a Bombay apartment, The Scream is narrated by a man at the end of his life, who is angry at the predicament of old age, at his isolation from his family and from a world that no longer understands him. He rails and raves in ways that are both hilarious and moving, and which touch us with recognition.

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje 

At the turn of the century, the Storyville district of New Orleans had some 2000 prostitutes, 70 professional gamblers, and 30 piano players. But it had only one man who played the cornet like Buddy Bolden. By day he cut hair and purveyed gossip at N. Joseph’s Shaving Parlor. At night he played jazz as though unleashing wild animals in a crowded room. At the age of thirty-one, Buddy Bolden went mad. #NVCLreadsHistorical

Money Boy by Paul Yee

Ray Liu, an 18 year old newcomer to Canada, knows he should be happy. He lives in a big suburban house with all the latest electronic gadgets, and even finds plenty of time to indulge in his love of gaming. It’s tough getting grades that will please his army veteran father when speaking English is still a struggle. But when his father accesses Ray’s Internet account and discovers Ray has been cruising gay websites, his belongings are thrown on the front lawn and suddenly he’s homeless. #NVCLreadsVancouver

After reading any of these selections, you’ll have your answer to, “Just how much can you fit in 200 pages?” Got more ideas for Under 200 Pages? Please share in the comments!

-Kate

 

NVCL Reads: Over 400 Pages

If you’re doing #NVCLreads this summer and are a particularly ambitious reader, then this category is for you!  Great for long (long) days at the beach, or hiding inside from sunburn, here are our picks for #NVCLreads400:

fallonyourkneesFall on Your Knees, by Ann Marie Macdonald (566 pages)
Recommended by Fereshteh

Following the curves of history in the first half of the twentieth century, Fall On Your Knees takes us from haunted Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, through the battle fields of World War One, to the emerging jazz scene of New York city and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The mythically charged Piper family–James, a father of intelligence and immense ambition, Materia, his Lebanese child-bride, and their daughters: Kathleen, a budding opera Diva; Frances, the incorrigible liar and hell-bent bad girl; Mercedes, obsessive Catholic and protector of the flock; and Lily, the adored invalid who takes us on a quest for truth and redemption–is supported by a richly textured cast of characters. Together they weave a tale of inescapable family bonds, of terrible secrets, of miracles, racial strife, attempted murder, birth and death, and forbidden love.*

* could alternately be used for#NVCLreadsWinner or #NVCLreadsHistorical

agoodmanA Good Man, by Gay Vanderhaeghe (464 pages)
Recommended by Fereshteh

A Good Man culminates what could be thought of as a trilogy of books set in the late nineteenth-century Canadian and American West, and it is a masterpiece. Vanderhaeghe skilfully weaves a rich tapestry of history with the turns of fortune of his most vividly and compellingly drawn cast of characters yet. Vanderhaeghe entwines breathtaking, intriguing, and richly described narratives that contain a compelling love story, a tale of revenge and violence, a spectacular battle scene, the story of an incident in Welsely’s past that threatens his relationship with Ada, and much, much more. While raising moral questions, this novel weaves the historical with the personal and stands as Vanderhaeghe’s most accomplished and brilliant novel to date.*

* could alternately be used for #NVCLreadsHistorical

lightgetsinHow the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny (405 pages)
Recommended by Margarete

In the 9th Chief Inspector Gamache Novel from Louise Penny,  most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues.*

tyrantsthroneTyrant’s Throne (Greatcoats #4), by Sebastian DeCastell
(601 pages). Recommended by Margarete

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all. But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?*
Haven’t read this series? Try the first one – Traitor’s Blade – for #NVCLreadsSciFi!

waterratThe Water-Rat of Wanchai: an Ava Lee novel, by Ian Hamilton
(412 pages). Recommended by Margarete

In the first book of the Ava Lee series, Ava – young Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant who works for an elderly Hong Kong–based “Uncle,” who may or may not have ties to the Triads – travels across continents to track $5 million owed by a seafood company. But it’s in Guyana where she meets her match: Captain Robbins, a huge hulk of a man and godfather-like figure who controls the police, politicians, and criminals alike. In exchange for his help, he decides he wants a piece of Ava’s $5 million action and will do whatever it takes to get his fair share…*

The Way the Crow Flies, by Ann Marie Macdonald (820 pages)crowflies
Recommended by Fereshteh

The optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family’s posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later.*

Something for the ambitious teen…

bloodredroadBlood Red Road, by Moira Young (458 pages)
Recommended by Kate

In a distant future, eighteen-year-old Lugh is kidnapped, and while his twin sister Saba and nine-year-old Emmi are trailing him across bleak Sandsea they are captured, too, and taken to brutal Hopetown, where Saba is forced to be a cage fighter until new friends help plan an escape.

This is the first in Young’s Dustlands series, and could instead be used for #NVCLreadsSciFi or #NVCLreadsDystopia squares.

And something for the ambitious tween…

airbornAirborn, by Kenneth Oppel (417 pages)
Recommended by Linda

This award winning book is sure to capture  a child’s imagination as 14-year old Matt Cruse sets sail in an Airship called the Aurora. As a cabin boy in this fantastical ship Matt has a series of adventures  including strange cloud cats and pirates.

*Descriptions from the publishers

-Kat