Road Trip!

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel

Summer is always a great time to take a road trip, and there are so many fantastic literary references to road trips that it’s about time someone put together a map to document each route.

I came across this fabulous post called “The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips” by Richard Kreitner. His parameters for including the trip on the map were exacting, and had to have a narrative arc that matched the geographical arc in order to be included. The results are amazing.

You can click on the routes (which intersect), pick a starting point, or find out the literary reference to a certain spot simply by clicking on the dot. He’s even organized the routes so that you can choose to see only one literary route at a time, which is fantastic. This map chronicals everything from WILD by Cheryl Strayed, to TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY by John Steinbeck.

If you’ve always wondered what a particular road trip must have looked like, take a few minutes to work through this detailed map. You won’t regret it, and I bet you’ll share this with friends.

Happy Road-Tripping!

Be a Part of the Book Chain

thank youWorking with books all day, we often hear people rave about something they’ve just read. While they might tell quite a few people through word of mouth what they thought about that book, not everyone goes any further.

Some will go on to find that author’s website, and possibly send out an email to tell them how much they enjoyed the book. Maybe they’ll even get a response. But there is something more important, something that has more impact, that readers can do: thank an author by writing a review.

Online reviews on Goodreads and Amazon don’t always seem like they’re doing anything really important, but they are. Especially for the author. Good reviews are better than bad, but the more reviews a book has, the better it is for the author in general. A well-reviewed book means people are reading that book, which not only translates to more sales, but also to a better standing at the publishing house for that author. If you’ve ever seen debut authors on Twitter and Facebook begging for reviews, they aren’t doing it just to hear praises for their books—they need those reviews to stay relevant in the minds of the publishing business. If they want another book published, the first must garner sales and positive reviews.

Of course, this isn’t all about sales. It’s also about how it affects well known authors and publishing houses and your local library. If people stopped reviewing books, sales would plummet. When sales plummet, bookstores close and authors are not published again. When bookstores close, books either become more expensive to produce, or they will dip into the electronic production, and places like libraries will have a harder time purchasing books for patrons to read. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

So, if you love to read, make sure to do an online review for books you enjoy—Goodreads, Facebook, a blog post, a short tweet….whatever you prefer, just do it.  If you’re really ambitious, do one for every book you read. It will keep book sales high, allow authors to continue to publish, keep bookstores afloat, and allow libraries to receive funding to purchase the books their patrons want to read. We’re all a part of the book chain.

Write a review today!

The Winners are Announced!

Forest-of-Reading-LogoWhile we had our official Forest of Reading® Voting night back in April, the final totals were sent to Toronto to be tabulated along with results from other libraries and schools across the province. Last week, the final winners of each category were announced. And the winners are……………


kindergartenTHE DAY MY MOM CAME TO KINDERGARTEN by Maureen Fergus





gardenerTHE NIGHT GARDENER by Jonathan Auxier




threeTHE RULE OF THREE by Eric Walters

 Our library didn’t do too badly, picking a few of the overall winners. If only we didn’t have to wait until December to start reading next year’s nominees!

Sign up for Camp!

We’re getting ready to do it again…welcome aspiring writers to the library to participate in a month-long challenge to write a book in one month. April is all about Camp NaNoWriMo here, and we’re gearing up for some fun!

camp2We started doing this about one year ago, and it’s been a great year. Back then, we weren’t sure if anyone would show up, or how they would do, but we’ve had a dedicated writing group ever since. We meet up about once a month and discuss new projects, take part in challenges and plan for upcoming events.

Last year, during the first Camp NaNo attempt, we had about ten people of all ages take part. They wrote like crazy for the month of April….30 days….and several met the goal of 50,000 words, which is the length of a small book. Yay! After that, we worked on revision, talked about voice, and discussed plot, all in an attempt to further our writing chops. It’s been amazing to see these writers grow.

During the summer, many of them took part in a second run, trying their hand at a new book or revising the one they finished in April. We also gathered together a summer of young writers, and wrote many, many, many creative things. It was fantastic!

In November, a few of the writers took part in the more official National Novel Writing Month, and wrote a new book. Our youngest participant was a teen who won NaNo, and finished her second novel. How amazing, right?

Now, we’re doing it all again. We’d love to get new writers….anyone interested in giving it a try. You’ll have the rest of March to prepare an idea, work out some plot points or create some characters, and then you can join us on Tuesday, March 31st for the Camp NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party at the library, from 6-7pm.  We’ll learn the rules, make some promises, but mostly….we’ll gear up for a month of fun.

If you’ve never written a book, but have always wanted to try, why not join us? You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to try. There are no rules, and you don’t have to actually write on the library premises…..write wherever you like…at home, in a coffee shop, on the bus. But join us for the meetings, and sign up for the daily inspirational emails. We’d love to have you join!

If you’d like a bit more information, drop by the library, or give us a call at 257-2702. We’re writing in APRIL!


Black History Month

We have class visits from local schools during the week, and recently, one of the classes was studying important figures for Black History Month. While I had books on people like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Harriet Tubman, there was a definite gap in fiction to put out. Books written by African American authors, and books that represent young people of colour are something that should be easily found on the shelves.  Books like:

brownBROWN GIRL DREAMING, a National Book Award Winner in 2014 by Jacqueline Woodson, is middle grade fiction, telling the story of Woodson’s life, in verse.

pointePOINTE by Brandy Colbert was named Best Book of the Year in 2014 by many of the larger magazines and book reviewers. It’s got the ballet world to draw from, but also contains secrets and the darker side of life, perfect for those YA readers who are looking for something a bit gritty and true to life.

chaosTHE CHAOS by Nalo Hopkinson is the story of Scotch, a sixteen-year-old who feels like she doesn’t fit into any category…even more so when her skin becomes covered with a black, sticky substance she can’t remove. Fans of fantasy will enjoy this YA read.

Most of these books and more are available to download as eBooks through OverDrive, using your library card and PIN. Drop by the library today if you need help logging in, or choosing a great selection to celebrate Black History Month!

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!

Book Resolutions!

resolveIt’s the New Year, and that means resolutions. This year, instead of making plans to lose weight or get more sleep, how about making some reading resolutions? A year from now, you’ll be happy you did.


It’s great to have favourite authors or really get into a series, but there are so many other great books out there, are you limiting your reading? Think of it like only eating broccoli with every meal. What about carrots? Kale? Corn? There are so many other options, you might not realize what you’re missing until you try. Reading is all about getting lost, about expanding your horizons, about learning something new about yourself and those around you. Give peas a chance…….


Start with non-fiction. Yes, I said it….non-fiction. Not enough people read non-fiction, and it’s fabulous! Find a topic, or a person (celebrity or the latest criminal) and read about their lives. Or read a new type of cookbook. Anything non-fiction will give you a fresh outlook, and it might just refresh your reading schedule.

Once you explore the non-fiction world, you might feel like you need to go back to fiction again, and that’s okay. This time, try a new author. Stand in the aisle where you normally pick books (a favourite author or genre), and reach to a different shelf. Bend your legs, stand on your toes, lean to the side…whatever might make you choose a new book. Exciting, isn’t it?


No, you don’t have to join a book club, but talking to someone about a great book you just read can open you up to new ideas. Maybe that person will have a suggestion as to what you should read next. Or maybe you’ll both have a good laugh over the fact that neither of you figured out who the killer was in the latest murder mystery. Either way, talking about books to other people makes you look well-read (aka super intelligent!), and could lead to a new friendship. Talk to the person in the coffee shop who is sitting alone reading. Talk to someone with a book on the subway. Or just talk to the person in front of you in line at the library…you’ll never know what might happen. Everyone loves to talk about books!


Of course, we love it when people come to the library to get books. But once in a while, why not buy a book if it is within your means? Books as gifts, people! What could be better?

Make 2015 your year to try new things when it comes to books……new genres, new authors, new places to read, new book clubs…..whatever you can think of. You’ll be happy you did!