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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!

the thing you think you cannot do

by Katherine - 2 Comment(s)

I just finished reading a great book by American war veteran and psychiatrist, Gordon Livingston. It’s called the thing you think you cannot do: thirty truths about fear and courage. I didn’t pick it up because I’m a particularly fearful person; in fact, I’m not sure why, given its relatively humdrum cover, I picked it up at all. But it spoke to me.

Livingston writes in a clear and accessible way, about some of the most difficult issues we face. How should we live in a world that is manifestly unfair, sometimes violent, and haunted by our impending deaths? What is real courage and who can we identify as heroic? Where do love, humour and hope factor into the equation? This short but very worthwhile read - peppered with quotes from everyone from Hillel to Nietzsche - is sure to make you think.

Here is my favourite quote, by Rumi: Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. It doesn’t represent the tone of the whole book, but there’s something about the imperative to destroy one’s own reputation that I think is fantastic.

Need more suggestions about great books? Ask a librarian, during your next visit!

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!

Library Faces: Malcolm

- 0 Comment(s)

Today's post comes to Slice of Calgary from one of our resident Eco-Action bloggers, Shannon C. Enjoy!

Growing up in Taber, Alberta, Malcolm Lim started playing violin and piano at age six. Three years later, when he was given the choice of instrument to learn at school, he made a beeline for the drums and never looked back.

Fast-forward a few decades and that continuing passion for percussion has offered Malcolm a busy life in the somewhat rarefied career path of working musician. His studies and his teaching have taken him around the world from Calgary to Colorado, California, New York City and Brazil.

These days Malcolm teaches percussion at Mount Royal University’s Conservatory of Music, is co-director, along with wife Barbara Oliveira-Lim, of the Calgary School of Samba and he’s CEO of Rhythm Mastery, an organization that provides team based collaborative problem solving and leadership programs. According to Lim, “you can fire up more cylinders with music than if you approach problems more theoretically.” The learning through drumming approach allows people to break down barriers and get past the usual defenses, while also illuminating the dynamics behind work teams. “If there’s a festering boil, then we can pop it, deal with it and get past it.”

For the past four years Malcolm also worked as a substitute Reference Assistant at the Central Library, first in the Business, Science and Social Sciences department and now in the Arts department. His music background is valuable when referring customers to great works of music, finding scores and rare recordings and answering musicology questions.

Malcolm graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Music in Orchestral Performance. But he went to McGill thinking he’d be a doctor: “I think I was still adopting the general attitude around me that music is not a way to make a living, so I was headed for med school because I was good in science. I only went into music after reading Joseph Campbell’s line, ‘When you follow your bliss...doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else.’” Music certainly is bliss to Lim: “It’s the best way to express spirit, to manifest it. You’re creating sound out of nothing. It’s a miracle. All of it’s a miracle.”

What are your hobbies, and interests?

Wing Chun Kung Fu, eating (Sushi, Chinese, pasta, Greek, Lebanese, French, soups), snare drumming, and existential humour.

What’s your favourite book, author or genre?

In the last couple years, if memory serves, I read fiction: horror, gothic, science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and winners of the Man Booker Prize. I also read non-fiction: science, memoirs, continental philosophy, developmental psychology, leadership and management, and religion. I like it all! I’m a genre glutton.

What are you reading right now?

A collection of Brazilian “Cronicas.” They are a genre of really short pieces, 1-3 pages.

Favourite Movie?

Little Miss Sunshine.

What are your passions?

Gluttony and lust.

If you were a tree (or animal) what kind of tree (animal) would you be?

Sloth week 1, Cheetah week 2, in alternating shifts.

What makes you happy?

A happy wife.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Still being married after almost 10 years.

What is your motto?

Wake Up, Grow Up, Show Up.

If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you want to have with you?

A priest, a rabbi and an atheist.

The Library is 100 years old this year. What is your vision for the Library of the future?

If the orchestra of today is like a museum of musical works, then the library of tomorrow could be a museum of reading experiences, so let’s keep hard copies of books around in addition to e-books!

A Hero Lies in You (not a Mariah Carey post!)

by Katherine - 1 Comment(s)

I’m reading a great new book these days – well, actually, it’s a tremendously popular 1998 title, The Hero Within, by Carol S. Pearson. When my train arrives at the Central Library these mornings, I feel like a therapist has just told me: “We’ll have to continue this another time...” and I want to plead: “Please – just 5 more minutes!”

The Hero Within is an exploration of archetypes and their role in our psychological development and health. We all live out patterns of thinking and doing that reveal our psychological similarities. We cope with problems, challenges or obstacles, and we do so by telling ourselves stories about ourselves and the world. Stories like “I just can’t win. It’s so unfair!” or “ one really understands me, anyway” or “ one appreciates the work that I do, and the sacrifices that I constantly make”. Or stories like “I have to take this journey, even though I’m not sure where I’m going”. At any given moment, we may be operating within the narrative of the orphan, innocent, magician, wanderer, warrior or altruist.

Heroes aren’t perfect people. They often come from dysfunctional or impoverished backgrounds, and are flawed individuals. But we admire them because they don’t give up. Heroes aren’t great because they’re fearless. They’re great because they act in spite of their fear. Heroes learn to recognize what is important and what is not; they learn to cope with loss, and to summon the strength to fight for what is just. Heroes don’t care about what others think.

Even though it sounds corny, it’s true: each of us is on her own journey. Read The Hero Within and be encouraged to show courage, adopt a new life pattern (and lose the old ones!), make a difficult choice, and grow.

For general psychology and self help, browse section 158 of your local library.

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