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Happy Canada Day

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

Wow – is it nearly July already?! Happy Canada Day, to one and all!

Have you ever taken the time to browse through the Canadian section of our e-library? Check it out and get access to an encyclopedia about Canadian history, a news archive containing decades’ worth of articles from hundreds of Canadian publications, historical news from the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star, listings of associations and governmental offices, and much more.

Did you know that the Calgary Public Library offers programs (and online resources!) for newcomers and those preparing to write Canadian citizenship exams? We also maintain reference collections of Canadian laws and government documents.

Find out more about your great nation by visiting your local library branch. But not on July 1st or 2nd, when all branches will be closed. See you on July 3rd!

Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That? By Henry Alford

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I've been taking a few online courses through the U of C’s continuing education department, so I haven’t had very much time to keep up with my leisure reading, lately. But, one book that I recently read in only a few days (even though I had multiple deadlines looming) was Would It Kill you to Stop Doing That: A Modern Guide to Manners, by Henry Alford.

Pick this book up if you take the C-Train to work or school, or if you find yourself baffled at today’s lack of common decency. It’s what Emily Post might have written had she been born an acerbic gay man, in a different decade. It’s sharp and observant, off-beat, well written, and very, very funny.

Calgary Public Library has everything you’re into!

Blue Cheese at 9 Months?!

by Katherine - 3 Comment(s)

I’m reading French Kids Eat Everything (and Yours Can, Too): How our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon, and it’s fascinating! It’s much more than a manual to cure picky eating and family food fights. It’s an insightful examination of attitudes towards food, eating, and nourishment, and how they differ between the French model and the American (and by extension, Canadian) model.

I’m young (for a little while longer, at least) and single (likely for eternity) and it’s my prerogative to eat dinner alone, standing over the sink. Or sitting on the couch, channel flipping. Or at midnight. Or twice. Because there’s no one watching me, my eating routines lack both a social component and a sense of restraint. According to the author’s mother-in-law, my normal habits are a recipe for obesity. So, apparently, is snacking, using food as a reward or punishment, allowing your children to dictate what or when they’ll eat, and eating at any place other than the table, surrounded by your family.

Le Billon observes that French parents are firmly in control and by refusing to let their children eat the same thing every day, or complain about the food they’re given, French children wind up eating a wider and much more balanced range of foods. They are more willing to try new foods, and they don’t whine or throw hunger induced tantrums. Even children 5 or 6 years of age will sit patiently in a restaurant, while their parents linger over a nice long meal. This is because French children are taught that food is exciting and interesting; part of a familial set of rituals; and an aspect of their national identity about which to be proud.

It’s a very far cry from exasperatedly stuffing greasy McNuggets into the whining maw of an angry 7 year old, en route to a hockey practice.

Check out this book whether you have children or not. As long as you’re someone who eats, it will provide you with lots of interesting ideas. Food for thought, if you will.

I noticed a woman on the C-Train, jotting down the title, as I read. We started chatting and it turns out she is French. She said that in her family, they always made sure to eat together at the table, at a very precise time. Sure enough, she was slim. Maybe the French are on to something...

How To Be Black, by Baratunde Thurston

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

In my last post, I mentioned that I picked up How To Be Black because I thought it would be hilarious. Indeed, it’s funny, but it’s substantive, too, and definitely worth your time.

Author Baratunde Thurston tells the story of his Nigerian name and his time at Sidwell Friends and Harvard, and describes the huge impact that his mother has had on the formation of his character. Thurston also assembles a panel of black thinkers, and asks them questions ranging from: Can you swim? to Are we living in post-racial America?

This book is not a manual for how to be cool, urban, “thug”, or whatever else we may associate with being black. Besides, even if it provided that kind of direction, the result would be people who are either “too black” or “not black enough” – and this paradox is a central theme. Thurston himself has at times been considered too black, or not black enough. So have Barack Obama and many other prominent black individuals. So, what's the right amount of blackness, anyway? Can you imagine being told that you're too white, or not white enough?

How To Be Black is a fabulous exploration of what it means to be black, but it’s also a rallying cry for those who are fed up with being identified only as black, and who just want to be themselves – whatever colour that happens to be. As for Thurston, he's black and he's proud! He's also a computer geek, an avid camper, an eater of tofu and much more. He defies black stereotypes and encourages other black people to do the same.

Check it out!

In the Mob

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Flash mobs: Individuals suddenly congregate to stage a protest, perform a dance routine, buy a certain type of product, or anything else, and then just as suddenly, they disperse and become individuals again. Flash mobs are difficult to control and nearly impossible to predict, but with the ubiquity of smart phones, they’re fairly easy to organize. Have you ever taken part in a flash mob?

CPL’s Youth Advisory Council is organizing a flash mob, and we want you to take part! You don’t have to be a youth, or flashy, or in the mob. You just have to be willing to come out and participate! Join us at 7 PM in the John Dutton theatre at the Central Library, on Monday March 26th, to help us plan the event.

And in the mean time, check out the facebook event listing.

Happy International Women's Day!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Celebrate International Women’s Day by joining us in our John Dutton theatre for a discussion of how women are creating strong and vibrant communities.

This year, in solidarity with feminists throughout the world (men included!), I give to you a list of some of my recent favourites: writing about women and women’s sexuality.

Self Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back Again, by Norah Vincent. An interesting examination of the pressures confronting men, from a lesbian point of view. Crass, funny, and insightful, even though the project of chronicling a year as a man was based on deception.

My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies, by Nancy Friday. This book had enormous impact when it was first published, and it’s still popular today. Read it for titillation, of course, but also to realize that you’re perfectly normal and that your fantasies are, too.

The Sexual Life of Catherine M, by Catherine Millet. I included this book here not because of the graphic sexual descriptions it contains, but because it’s a reflection of one woman’s choices. It’s not just sex but choice that’s important to feminism. The choice to marry or not, have children or not, have multiple (and concurrent!) sexual partners or not, and so on. Millet lives life on her own terms.

Our Bodies, Ourselves, by Boston Women's Health Book Collective. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this classic. It's been informing women about their bodies for over 4 decades!

Your local library has all sorts of resources about women’s sexuality: relationships, sexual health, gay/lesbian/trans/queer issues, sexual education and pregnancy, and lots more! Learn to create more safety, intimacy and pleasure in your sexual routines. Learn about who’s doing what to whom, and how.

The Calgary Public Library has resources for everything you’re into!

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