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.

WHY SHOULD I TRY TO READ DIFFERENT BOOKS?

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…….

WHAT SHOULD I READ?

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?

DISCUSS A BOOK

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!

 BUY A BOOK

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!

Writers, Writers!

10687117_10152612541999299_6204440739000161855_n

We have lots of people participating in writing groups at our library this November. While the Camp NaNoWriMo version of National Novel Writing Month was popular in April, we weren’t sure if everyone was ready to go again this month. But…..we have LOTS of participants! Not only do we have several people who wrote books in April working on new projects now, we also have many new members…some who started their projects as recently as last week. Will everyone finish? Maybe not, but our library group is all about supporting each other and trying to encourage the act of creativity.

But I must add, our lone 12-year-old participant is kicking butt!  She is not only meeting her daily word counts, but surpassing them! Way to go, Beky!

The added fun this month comes from our Young Writers Group which meets each Sunday. The numbers have been expanding each week, so much so, we had to add another table this past Sunday to our Tween group! These kids take their writing seriously, let me tell you. We usually begin with a fun writing exercise, something to get them thinking creatively, and then we move on to reading some of our writing. The best thing? These young writers are always eager to take home a few new books, so they’re always being inspired! (All right, I’m sure some of the draw is about snacks, but you can’t write without snacks, can you?)

It’s nice to know our community has such a great interest in writing. Will one of these authors publish a book that will end up on our shelves one day? Who knows? It’s so exciting!

The Book Olympics!

If you’ve ever wondered how those books you read are bought and sold right from the start, this could be for you. Each year, there are large book fairs held throughout the United States, as well as in Germany and other places overseas. At these book fairs, agents, publishers, authors and editors meet over the course of a few days to wheel and deal. Popular books are sold to foreign publishers, agents bring their latest and greatest finds and try to sell them off to potential publishing houses, and yes, there are even some great author readings and signings. If you’re lucky enough to be in one of these cities during a book fair, you might take in a workshop or get in a long line to have that best-seller signed by a favourite author. It’s an exciting time, for both authors, publishers and readers.

pbs-master675Miami Dade College

PBS has decided they’ll try something fun this year and stream live coverage of the Miami Book Fair on their station November 21st – 23rd.  Producers are promising it to be Olympic-style coverage, with popular hosts dropping into various venues and events throughout the course of the fair. While it’s never really been done before, PBS knows their audience base has a high percentage of readers, and they felt this would appeal to viewers, even though book fairs generally are not the source of wild publicity.

You can read more about the event on PBS here.

 

Best Books!

If you’re an avid reader, you’ll know that the end of any year is the best time for lists. Amazon.ca has announced their list of best books of the year….so far. Who knows? Maybe there will be a few coming out this month and next that will be added to the list.

 

best

Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte (HarperCollins)
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Hamish Hamilton)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
A Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman (William Morrow)
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison (Graywolf Press)
The Martian by Andy Weir (Crown)
The Quick by Lauren Owen (McClelland and Stewart)
The Bees by Laline Paull (Ecco)
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris (Dey Street Boys)
Ping-Pong Diplomacy by Nicholas Griffin (Scribner)
Climate Changed by Philippe Squarzoni (Harry N. Abrams)
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (HarperCollins)
Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Belknap Press)
The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein (Verso)
Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture by Erez Aiden (Riverhead)
Young Money by Kevin Roose (Grand Central Publishing)
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Harper)
Euphoria by Lily King (HarperCollins)
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove Press)
Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow (Random House)
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada)
The Troop by Nick Cutter (Gallery Books)
The Noble Hustle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (Knopf)
I must admit, I’ve only read two from this list, but I think I’ll pick up a few more before the year is out to see what I think. How many have you read? Do you think there are any great books missing?

Letters

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to receive a letter in the mail from a famous author, wonder no more! Now you can subscribe to a really interesting program through The Rumpus called “Letters in the Mail”.

letters.jpg

Twice each month, you’ll receive a letter from a famous author….in the mail! Yes, they’ll be real letters, although photocopied. Some are hand-written, some typed, and some even include illustrations. The best thing? They include a return address, so you can always write back to the author, if you’re so inclined. It doesn’t cost much to subscribe, and it might be a fun idea for that special person if you’re thinking about gift giving for the holidays. They even have a kids version for your favourite bibliophile!

Prices are $6/month US, and a bit more if you live outside of the United States, but it’s still worth it. Isn’t this a fun idea? You can read more about the whole program here and sign up.