You are here: Home > Blogs > Library-Connect
Off Line

Library Connect banner

Dear Sugar

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

In my last post, I mentioned crying while watching my new favourite documentary “...and this is my garden”. And now, the tears are going mobile; I’m crying on the train! I don’t know what it is about the work of Cheryl Strayed that so touches me, but each time I read snippets of her advice column, I feel my eyes welling up. There’s something so powerful about her voice. She’s sympathetic and acknowledges others’ problems without ever judging them, and she sees life through a wide angle lens.

tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar is full of the advice that your I’ve-already-seen-it-all grandmother might give you if she were a totally unbiased blogger (and occasionally used the F word). My colleague made a good point, too: the advice in Dear Sugar is usually prefaced by, or at least mentions, experiences from Sugar’s own life. This isn’t ol’ anonymous Ann Landers. Not at all. The author is totally exposed.

There are a few underlying themes that recur in almost every letter: have the courage to live your own life, regardless of your own fears or the reactions of other people; grow up and start being honest about who you are and what you need; accept that there aren’t going to be easy answers to the problems and relationships that vex you. And so on.

tiny beautiful things makes for the perfect summer read. Each column is only a few pages, so you can jump in and out, as your beach or BBQ schedule permits.

Check it out for tender and uplifting advice that you probably don't think you need to hear. But you do.

Skinny, Skinnier, Skinniest...

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

If you’re a documentary fan, then check out Thin, an amazing little film from HBO. Thin explores the progression of several women who are residents in an eating disorder recovery centre in the United States. One resident is a wayward teen and another is a university educated psychiatric nurse; it quickly becomes apparent that anorexia doesn’t discriminate based on age or education. But, I wonder – given that nearly every one of the residents was Caucasian – if there are some patterns related to ethnicity...? But, I digress...

The women in the centre are each close to or under(!) a hundred pounds and still believe that they have weight to lose. They obsess over every morsel ingested, and then try their damndest to eliminate those morsels by either vomiting or using diuretics, or squeezing the food out of their feeding tubes (yuck!). Sometimes they hide food rather than eating it at all. It’s an enormous struggle – and a tearful event – when one woman is obliged to eat a whole cupcake. With psyches this complex, it’s no wonder that the women have to receive treatment from a whole team of practitioners: counselors, doctors, dieticians, and others.

The film is really well made. It definitely shows the women in an unvarnished light, and the viewer will at times feel both repulsed and sympathetic. But ultimately, this is not a film about anorexia. It does not explain how anorexia comes about or can be prevented; it does not speculate about why or how these particular women fell victim to such skewed views of body and food. Rather, this is a film about women; about feelings; about obsession. And like a lot of other HBO productions, there is no happy ending offered. Indeed, the fates that befall some of the women who are forced to leave the centre are quite saddening. But this isn’t suggary scripted TV; it’s real life. Er - I guess I should say: It’s not TV. It’s HBO. So be prepared for a bit of grit.

Browse some of our documentaries today! And if docs aren’t your thing, then check out HBO’s dramatic shows. Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and Rome are all fabulous!

Where art thou, BFF?

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Who is your best friend? I’m willing to guess that whoever he or she may be, you met each other more than a couple of years ago, not recently. In fact, it can be pretty hard to go from “newlymets” to best friends; building friendship takes time – an increasingly rare commodity in this busy, busy world of ours. And where to go, when searching for a new best friend? It’s not like you can date around, the way you would if you were looking for a significant other. Or can you?

I’m reading a great new book (with an unfortunately lame title) MWF seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche, which is both an examination of what friendship is, and the chronicling of Bertsche’s social experiment: 52 friend dates in one year.

As I read through it, I’m discovering that Rachel sounds like a girl I’d like to have as a BFF. She loves books and brunch and good bad TV. She’s not yet ready for kids, but feels too old for some of the Gen Y’s she meets. She wants to be a full time writer. She even has curly hair, like me! How cute we’d be, brunching and book clubbing and writing together…

I’ll admit that keeping track of the litany of friends' names can get a bit tedious (see the appendix for a full listing!) but what I really appreciate about Bertsche's writing is that it is so frank and honest. Admitting that you would like to find a new or another best friend might make you feel insecure – after all, what kind of total loser would find herself in the friendship “market”, anyway? But that’s just your inner bully talking. The fact is that it’s easy for former friends to drift apart, and for a void in our social lives to appear. Why not learn how we can find and sustain new friendships, and then actively put those strategies into practice?

I’m not all the way through the book just yet, but I’m enjoying it so far. Check it out in print or electronic format!

On Pet Loss

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

During the last few months, four(!) of my friends have lost beloved pets. Which really means, of course, that they have lost members of their family. Pets give us unconditional love, and maybe even more importantly, they allow us to love them unconditionally – and it feels so good! Pets are witnesses to our lives; they give us free therapy and countless hours of entertainment. When I recently adopted a cat, my aunt told me to pay attention to how many times I would smile over the next few weeks, and it’s incredible. I am a much happier person with my sweet girl than I was without her.

If you’re grieving the loss of a pet, pop into your local library and check out some of our collections. This title (just one of many!) is suggested in memory of a very special rabbit named Marty. Available in paper and e-book format.

Going Home: Finding Peace when Pets Die, by Jon Katz

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!

1234Showing 1 - 6 of 19 Record(s)