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    Book Club in a Bag

    Where Do You Like To Do Your Reading?

    by Shannon S - 0 Comment(s)

    While Calgarians are hopefully not reading while operating a motor vehicle it is surprising to see all the places we do read.

    There is a pedestrian often spotted reading her book as she walks across the Centre Street Bridge – serious multitasking!

    Here are some suggestions for books and the places to read them:

    In Bed:

    How about a cozy mystery like Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief by Dorothy Gilman

    Emily Pollifax, a suburban New Jersey grandmother and part-time CIA agent,

    is sent to Sicily to investigate an ancient document, leading her into a

    deadly confrontation with international arms dealers.

    Or a warm tale of friendship like Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

    Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, two young women who, despite their

    very different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever, have been true to

    their promise for thirty years, until events and choices in their lives tear them apart.

    On Vacation:

    Try some frothy fun with Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

    Nothing comes between Becky Brandon and her bargains. Neither act of God nor budget crunch

    can shatter her dreams of wall-to-wall Prada. Every milestone in her well-shopped life (travel, long-lost sister,

    marriage, pregnancy) inspires new vistas to explore in the name of retail therapy. But now Becky faces her

    greatest little challenge yet: her two-year-old daughter, Minnie.

    Or perhaps you could try something light and bubbly and romantic with Hard to Handle by Lori Foster

    When his uncle secretly hires a life coach to get him back into the ring, Supreme Battle Challenge

    fighter Harley Handleman, recovering from the death of his mother and his failure to win the title belt,

    is knocked out by Anastasia Bradley, who teaches him how to live again.

    On the Bus:

    Let your fellow passengers know you’re deep and intellectual by reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

    Blends elements of psychoanalysis and Asian religions to probe an Indian aristocrat's efforts to

    renounce sensual and material pleasures and discover ultimate spiritual truths.

    Or if you’re looking for something you can finish during your daily commute, why not try a book of short stories such as Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle?

    A collection of stories set in modern Ireland explores a theme of loss, from a man who remembers

    his early family life while taking daily prescribed walks to a father who considers the impact of his children's pets.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

    If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    Where do you like to read?

    Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction Announced!

    by Shannon S - 0 Comment(s)

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

    The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

    Tony Webster, now that he is older, is trying to make sense of some of the ways he has behaved towards other people. He discovers that how he remembers events may not be the same way that others remember them.

    It was one of six titles shortlisted including:

    Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

    After surviving an encounter with an escaped tiger, Jaffy Brown, a nineteenth-century street urchin, goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy with whom he forms a long, close friendship. Years pass and Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys, now teenagers, to capture a fabled dragonlike creature during the course of a three-year whaling expedition. Jaffy and Tim are forced to confront man's relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains.

    The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

    Set against the backdrop of the great California Gold Rush, this darkly comic novel follows the misadventures of the fabled Sisters brothers, two hired guns, who, under the order of the mysterious Commodore, try to kill Hermann Kermit Warm, a man who gives them a run for their money.

    Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

    The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero's bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin.

    Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

    Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang, Pigeon English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.

    Snowdropsby A.D. Miller

    Witnessing the progression of regional corruption in his work as a British lawyer in early 2000s Moscow, Nick Platt rescues two sisters from a purse snatcher and pursues a glamorous romantic relationship with one of the sisters before he is asked to help with a dubious family endeavor.

    The winner receives £50,000 and each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer bound edition of their book.

    Looking for more Award Winning Reads? Why don’t you contact your local library or try NoveList. Did you know that your Calgary Public Library card gives you access to this great database full of ideas for what to read next? If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList.

    Books to Change Your Life

    by Jasna - 1 Comment(s)

    Do you remember the book or books that opened your eyes to life as it would be in another time, in another place, or as another person? According to this study, reading fiction increases a person’s empathy towards others. Books, and not only those of the fiction variety, can change our lives, transform our thinking, and inspire us to do amazing things. What are some of the books that have changed your life?

    Although my list is too long to include in full, here are a few that have stuck with me:

    The Book Thief
    Marcus Zusak

    Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II,

    Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl

    whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain

    her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well

    as their neighbors.

    A Fine Balance

    Rohinton Mistry

    A portrait of India featuring four characters. Two are

    tailors who are forcibly sterilized, one is a student who

    emigrates, and the fourth is a widowed seamstress who

    decides to hang on. A tale of cruelty, political thuggery and

    despair by an Indian from Toronto, author of

    Such a Long Journey.

    Persepolis

    Marjane Satrapi

    The great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the

    daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran

    in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast

    contraditions between public and private life.

    For more suggestions and personal stories, check out some of the titles below:

    We would love to hear about the books that changed your life! Share your personal recommendations in the comments!

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList.

    Stop the Presses!

    by Shannon Slater - 0 Comment(s)

    This just in – reading fiction makes you smarter and more socially perceptive!

    University of Toronto Professor Keith Oatley has studied your brain on fiction and concluded that because you have to create meaning from the text and imagine “possible selves in possible worlds” it works your brain and your social I.Q. While all fiction helps, Professor Oatley thinks that literary fiction builds those brain muscles the best so why not try these engaging and entertaining titles and add to those grey cells!

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

    Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

    Beloved by Toni Morrison

    After the Civil War ends, Sethe longingly recalls the two-year-old daughter whom she killed when threatened with recapture after escaping from slavery 18 years before.

    Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    The family of a fierce evangelical Baptist missionary--Nathan Price, his wife, and his four daughters--begins to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Belgian Congo, where they find their lives forever transformed over the course of three decades by the political and social upheaval of Africa.

    No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod

    After being orphaned, Alexander MacDonald comes to Cape Breton Island yearning for family connections and finds himself working in the mines with his wild older brother and caring for another brother, who is dying.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    Tells the story of the Buendia family, set against the background of the evolution and eventual decadence of a small South American town.

    *Annotations courtesy of NoveList, a database that recommends fiction and non-fiction books by author, plot, setting and topic and includes book reviews.

    If you want to use this resource for great reads, just click here and log on with your Calgary Public Library card.

    What’s your favourite read that makes you think?

    What Award Nominated Book has Blown You Away?

    by Shannon Slater - 1 Comment(s)

    Former Calgarian, Esi Edugyan made the shortlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction!

    Her second novel, Half-Blood Blues, is one of the six nominees on the shortlist.

    While you’re waiting to get your copy of this great read, why don’t you check out some of the great reads from last year’s shortlist:

    In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut


    The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

    The Long Song by Andrea Levy

    C by Tom McCarthy

    Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey

    Room by Emma Donoghue

    What award nominated book has blown you away?

    The Tale of Two Margueritas

    by Jasna Tosic

    The Tale of Two Margueritas

    JTosic

    I very rarely consider literature in terms of gender of the writers, but when I do, two names immediately come up to my mind: Marguerite Yourcenar and Marguerite Duras. To mark International Women’s Day, the Reader’s Nook celebrates the work of these two exceptional writers.

    MARGUERITE YOURCENAR (1903-1987)

    Marguerite Yourcenar was a French/Belgian novelist, essayist and short story writer, and the first woman elected to the Acedeme Francaise, in 1980. She became famous with her metaphysical historical novels, creating psychologically penetrating characters from the distant past. At the same time, in her novels she addressed issues such as homosexuality, and dealt with universal taboos such as incest.

    Yourcenar’s first novel, Alexis, was published in 1929. At the outbreak of the WWII, her intimate companion of that time, a translator named Grace Flick, invited her to the United States, where she lectured in comparative literature.

    Oriental Tales was first published in 1938 in France. From China to Greece, from the Balkans to Japan, the Tales take us from a portrait of the painter Wang Fo, “who loves the image of things and not the things themselves”, to legends of a hero betrayed and then rescued by love. “Dream and myth speak here in a language rich in images that imply other, more secret meanings, building a world of reflections upon art…”

    Among Yourcenar’s best known works is certainly Memoirs of Hadrian (1951). The emperor, one of the last great Roman rulers, is portrayed on the eve of his death, absorbed in his reflections. Hadrian recounts his memories in his testament letter to his chosen successor and adoptive son Marcus Aurelius. The emperor meditates on his triumphs and failures, and on his love for Antonius, a Greek youth. Yourcenar worked on this novel for fifteen years, and Memoirs of Hadrian has become a modern classic, “a standard against fictional re-creations of antique world are measured”.

    First published in Paris in 1982, each of the three stories in Two Lives and a Dream is written in a different style and takes place in the world of late Renaissance Europe. Yourcenar’s incredible gift for “bringing a historical epoch to life is here employed with unsurpassed mastery to create fables of timeless universality about the human condition”. An Obscure Man, the first and longest in this collection, contains one of the author’s most moving depictions of human nature. A Lovely Morning is a brief fantasy of a young man who joins a touring company of actors and dreams out the whole of his life to come. The final story, Anna, Sorror, an unforgettable tale of fated love, was composed by the time Yourcenar was 22. Set in the baroque Naples at the close sixteenth century, Anna, Sorror is “an intensely affecting account of illicit and overwhelming passion between a young aristocrat Miguel and his sister Anna, who live and love each other in seclusion from the surrounding world after the death of their mother."

    For Marguerite Yourcenar’s books, please check our catalogue.

    (Image of M. Yourcenar courtesy of flickr.com)

    MARGUERITE DURAS (1914-1996)

    "Very early in my life it was too late." (The Lover)

    "On Marguerite Duras' tombstone at Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris", wrote Pilar Adon, "there are a small plant, a lot of white pills scattered over her sober gray stone, two flowers and two letters engraved: M. D. Two are also the images that could illustrate the unbridled process of her exsistence: the evocation of a beautiful girl full of eroticism, traveling by ferry along the Mekong River with a felt hat on, her lips in dark red color, and just, at the other end, a woman with her face and body devastated by alcohol, dressed in a straight skirt and a vest over a turtleneck jumper, who, after four detoxication cures, went into a five month coma. Marguerite Duras leapt in just a moment from the beginning to the end of her life, but in the brief time of that moment, she did what she wanted to do: écrire. To write..."

    Marguerite Duras was born in French Indochina (what is today today South Vietnam), where she spent most of her childhood. "I cannot think of my childhood without thinking of water. My home town is a town of water”, whe once said. Her father's sudden death, when she was four, left the family impoverished. Many years later she would say that having money didn't change anything because she would always keep "a damned mentality of being poor".

    Reading Marguerite Duras’ books implies looking into her own life. “In a real act of literary vivisection, she extracted her own pain, filtered it through her writing and offered it to the readers… Literature and life – two points hard to separate in the works of Marguerite Duras."

    Probably her best known and most celebrated work is The Lover (L’ Amant), a semi-biographical novel about an illicit affair between a teenage French girl and a wealthy Chinese man in 1929 French Indochina. The book won the prix Goncourt, the most prestigious literary award in France, has been translated into 43 languages and in a short time sold 1.5 million copies.

    “It is said that old loves can haunt us. The Lover creates this feeling through the atmosphere of shadows, veils, floating memories that came from – was it this boat trip or the last one? From the age of eight, twelve or thirty? In the end, it doesn’t matter, for the experience is now embedded, a distinct yet inseparable part of the personality “, wrote Erica Bauermeister in 500 Great Books by Women. Marguerite Duras digs in her own past to tell The Lover, a story of an adolescent girl who was forced to grow up to fast and was exposed to too much pain, too soon.

    The Lover was made into a film in 1992, directed by Jean- Jacques Annaud, who remarked: “Destruction. A key word when it comes to Marguerite Duras, who uses her novels…to study herself in as many mirrors; she identifies herself with her work to the point that she no longer knows what is autobiographical fact and what is fiction…”

    Check our catalogue for more books by Marguerite Duras.

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