Small Talk

Small talk. It should be an actual course in school, say, in Grade 5. Way before high school, at the very least. It’s not hard to make small talk with friends or co-workers you know fairly well, but get stuck in a room with strangers, and it’s tough! For our Friday Frivolous Post, we’re going there.

As Canadians, we seem to learn how to make small talk about the weather from day one. But what happens when you have more time to kill, or want to chat up that fascinating person across the room during a conference? You can’t rely on the other person to do all the talking–you need to learn how to have conversations, especially in this world of social media and cell phones.

But how? Do you memorize a list of general questions you could ask anyone? (What type of work do you do? Have you been on vacation this summer? What do you think of all this construction? Do you like this restaurant/hotel/yoga class?) After a while, you’ll lose someone with those run-of-the-mill questions. To really engage a stranger, you need to keep a conversation going. But it would be nice to also glean a few tidbits of interesting info from them as well.

When I came across this list of 16 Interesting, Better Small Talk Questions, it was something I had to share. Some of these are BRILLIANT, and I plan on using them the next time I’m lost for words.

How about something like:

  • What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?

We ask this question casually at work all the time, just not in this particular way. When people ask us for book recommendations, we often ask them about the last great book they read, or what type of book they usually enjoy. Why can’t this be a “regular” conversation question? You might find your next favourite book or Netflix binge-worthy show.

  • What are you doing this weekend?

Okay. This seems like a no-brainer, and we often go through this conversation with friends or family right before the weekend. But what if we did it with strangers? (I don’t recommend asking someone on the bus, or in line at the bank…seems a little weird.) I could totally see a conversation like this playing out with someone sitting beside you at the doctor’s office, or the cashier at the grocery store. Just an easy question, and it gets the other person talking about things THEY’RE excited about. Plus, you might get a great tip on something fun to do!

  • What’s the best thing that happened to you today?

I feel like this one is for people you know a little bit already. Otherwise, it ends up sounding like one of those inspirational Facebook posts by a self-help author. (List the five best things that happened to you today! Wasn’t that an Oprah thing?)  But with someone you know…an old friend, your kids, etc., and you could totally pull this off.

There are plenty of other great questions to ask, with lots of wiggle room and the obvious…segues into more conversation! Give them a try and let us know what you think? Or….do you have some favourite conversation starters that work well? Leave us a comment!



TIFF and the Books that Inspire the Films

If you were following all the red carpet events at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, you probably heard about some of these films that have been based on best-selling books. While some of these films will be shown in smaller venues, you might like to read the books they were based on before seeing the movies. The books are always better than the movies anyway, right?

Angie Thomas’ THE HATE YOU GIVE was one of the most talked about YA books of 2017, and the movie is sure to be popular as well, and it won’t just appeal to the teen crowd. Thomas’ writing has been lauded as fresh and real, and hopefully, the movie will be true to her vision.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.


Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.


But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

BEAUTIFUL BOY: A FATHER’S JOURNEY THROUGH HIS SON’S ADDICTION by David Sheff is one of the more heartfelt films on the list, from all accounts. And the book will probably delve into the subject matter even more.

What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.


And one of the other popular films at TIFF this year was IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK by James Baldwin.

Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where pas sion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

The novel has been called stunning and honest and has a bit of humour mixed in with the emotional themes. It’s definitely one that shouldn’t be missed.

Have you seen any of the TIFF movies? Are there any others you’re looking forward to seeing or reading? Place a hold on any of the books, download an audiobook or ebook, or ask us for an interlibrary loan on anything we don’t have in our catalog. Get reading…and then get watching!

NFB Film Night at the Library

Join us tonight for not one, but FOUR  great National Film Board movies! It starts at 7pm, and we’ll serve popcorn. You can find out more about the films below….

National Film Board Movie Night
September 7th, 7PM
Free admission, free popcorn!
We will be showing 4 short films by indigenous artists from the NFB’s AABIZIINGWASHI (WIDE AWAKE) Film Festival.

Three Thousand – In this short film, Inuk artist Asinnajaq plunges us into a sublime imaginary universe—14 minutes of luminescent, archive-inspired cinema that recast the present, past and future of her people in a radiant new light.

Breaths – In this evocative short documentary, Inuk singer-songwriter and humanitarian Susan Aglukark weaves together stories of artistry, family, and belonging as she explores the complex cultural shifts of the last 50 years of Inuit life.

Mountain of SGanna – Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter spins a magical tale of a young man who is stolen away to the spirit world, and the young woman who rescues him. The film brilliantly combines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art, and is based on a story inspired by a old Haida fable.

To Wake Up the Nakota Language – “When you don’t know your language or your culture, you don’t know who you are,” says 69-year-old Armand McArthur, one of the last fluent Nakota speakers in Pheasant Rump First Nation, Treaty 4 territory, in southern Saskatchewan. Through the wisdom of his words, Armand is committed to revitalizing his language and culture for his community and future generations.

No registration is necessary. Just be here a little before 7pm to get a great seat.


When we head off to the Ontario Library Association SuperConference in January, there is always a fun pop-up store on site, with lots of great “library-ish” things to purchase. Along with lots of great books, there are fun socks, totes, stuffies, and silly notepads…like this one above.

But they’re not just limited to librarians. Did you know that the Ontario Library Association has an online Marketplace? Drop by and pick up some fun items for yourself, or someone else. There are tons of fun things, and you might even get inspired to start something new (writing, drawing, librarianship).

I have the “Do Something Amazing Today” checklist, similar to the one above, that keeps me motivated and on track at work. But hey, it’s not all about being productive. Sometimes, you just need to have fun!

One New Good Thing

January is typically the time when we make resolutions, but what about summer? We’re mid-way through the year, and this is a great time to take stock and start “improving”. Instead of looking at it as a challenge, why not keep the goals small, and work toward ONE good habit? Once you accomplish that, move on to the next.

What kinds of things could you try? I came across this post called 5 Summer Good Habits to Start Today. It includes things like getting up early, adding one piece of produce to each meal, and staying hydrated. But you could come up with plenty of new things like:

  • Read more books, especially non-fiction (like the one’s the BEST book I’ve read in quite a long time!)
  • Make a plan with a friend at least once a week. Call up someone you haven’t seen in a while, and go out for iced coffee (or ice cream!).
  • Teach yourself a new language, or skill, like learning to play the guitar. It requires some startup…like buying/borrowing a guitar, or using something like Mango Languages…but it could be fun!
  • Draw something every day.

Have fun. That’s what summer is all about!

New Anne Musical!

This is strictly for our former librarian and Anne fanatic, Janet. It looks like Anne of Green Gables is going modern…and she’s on her way to New York state soon!

A fan of the books only, Matte O’Brien has never seen the Netflix series, never been to PEI, and never gone to see the Broadway musical version of Anne of Green Gables. He wanted to be a purist, and focus on L.M. Montgomery’s vision in the books. Now, though, he plans to binge on everything Anne he can find. You can read a bit more about the new folk musical here.


Robin Williams

If you’re a fan of the late Robin Williams (and who isn’t?), we have the latest book about him in our library now. ROBIN, by New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, attempts to answer some of the questions left regarding the beloved comedian and his struggle with depression.

Did anyone really know the true Robin Williams? Was he really as high strung and full of energy as his public persona suggested? Only those closest to him will really know, but Itzkoff tries to bring a few things to light in this weighty book.

Drop by the library to pick it up, or put your name on the waiting list if it’s out. This is bound to be a popular read for a while.