Station Eleven

StationElevenHCUS2While we’re in Toronto this week, I plan on digging into the audiobook of Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN. I have been meaning to read this for some time, and wouldn’t you know it, the moment I get ready to leave for a library conference, I’m right in line for the download. Seeing as this novel begins during an unprecedented flu epidemic in Toronto, I don’t know if this is good timing or not. One thing for sure, after listening to only a few chapters so far, I’m hooked!

STATION ELEVEN begins during a production of King Lear, when a famous Hollywood actor who has waited his whole life to play the lead role, dies onstage suddenly. In the middle of this terrible event, a young man who tried to help him, receives news from a friend that a Georgian Flu epidemic has arrived in Toronto, and is causing massive deaths. He is urged to get out of town…immediately.

While this book moves back and forth through time, telling several stories at once, it centers around twenty years in the future, when 99% of the population has been killed off, and now, a theatre company called the Traveling Symphony performs for those living in leftover colonies. An intriguing premise, that promises to link the arts world with the concrete world that none of us would recognize.

Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic novel is so lyrical, and yet draws you in to this devastating time and place no one could possibly predict. I can’t wait to really get into it this week. I’m sure it’s going to be one of my favourite books this year.

Have you read it? Are you tired of post-apocalyptic novels? Do you think this is a unique take on the subject matter? Let us know what you think!

Letters of Note

I came across an interesting website called “Letters of Note” that collects fascinating letters and correspondence by famous and not-so-famous people. Recently, they posted a letter written by author Kurt Vonnegut to a class of students who were assigned to write a letter to their favourite author. The reply is wonderful.

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Go to the site to see the original letter. It is wonderful, as is the signature!

Creative? Read this!

BuzzFeed has put together another fabulous list, this time with 37 Books Every Creative Person Should Be Reading.

creativeThere are plenty of wonderful books on this list—books for writers, books for people who like to make things, books by actors, directors, artists and business people. But don’t just pick up the books that apply to your line of work. The whole idea about creative thinking is to look outside the box and come up with new ways of doing things. There are so many great books on this list, I don’t know where to start…..maybe at #1.

Drop into the library to pick one up, if you’re interested. We have a few from the list, and we can always do an interlibrary loan for anything you might want to read. If your New Year’s resolution is to try new things or turn your creative hobby into a career, these are a must. Happy reading!

Illustrated Harry Potter

 Illustration by Jim Kay © 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Illustration by Jim Kay © 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

It seems that Harry Potter will never go out of style at the library. Each generation produces a new group of readers, and along with the movies, they are constantly in circulation. It’s about to get exciting again.

Scholastic will release a fully illustrated version of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE on October 6, 2015, will illustrations by Kate Greenaway Medal winner, Jim Kay. And just this week, the publishing house released several of the illustrations as a teaser. The one above is Hogwarts, of course.  You can see the full images here.

Scholastic plans on releasing each book in the series in an illustrated version, one per year. If the rest of the illustrations are as gorgeous as these, you might want to invest in collecting the whole series again. I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did.

How To Finish a Book

safe_image.phpNeil Gaiman, author extraordinaire, gives some advice to a fan who would also like to write a book, but is having trouble getting things down on paper. I thought this was appropriate, consider we’ve had so many writers working on books in our library this past year. If only they’d known this before!

Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it.

 

To find out the easier way of doing things, click this link to visit the article on his Tumblr page.

What did you think of his advice? Frankly, it’s brilliant.

The Martian

One of the most exciting books I read last year was THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, and now, it’s going to be a movie released at the end of 2015, starring Matt Damon.

18007564THE MARTIAN is about a crew of astronauts who are living and working on Mars, trying to establish the means for others to eventually inhabit the planet. But when a powerful dust storm forces them to leave suddenly, one of the astronauts–Mark Watney—is believed to be dead, and is left on the planet alone.

NASA discovers he’s still alive only after it’s too late for his crew to return for a rescue mission. So now, the world watches as Mark Watney struggles to survive while NASA scrambles to put together a rescue mission that will be years in the future.

I loved this book, even while the opening was quite technical and a little tedious at times, Weir put together a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if they can save Watney in time. I”m very excited about the star-studded cast for the movie-version out in November of this year. This is sci-fi without the creatures and hyper-speed, totally plausible if we could get people there safely in the first place.

Have you read this novel, and are you anticipating the movie release?

50 Most Anticipated Books of 2015

The Globe and Mail has just released their 50 Most Anticipated Books for 2015...with more to be added as the year progresses. The list is full of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, debut releases and the latest from familiar authors.

Top of the list is IF I FALL, IF I DIE by Canadian author Michael Christie. This is his debut novel about a boy with an agoraphobic mother, and his first taste of “outside”. Christie is a former pro-skateboarder who won raves with his short story collection The Beggar’s Garden.

21462154 It ends in June (2nd half to come, I suspect), with the first adult novel in 15 years by Judy Blume, called IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT.

blume_bookThere are some great books on this list. If you’re hoping to read some of the best, start at the beginning. The July – December list will be here before you know it.