Toronto Public Library Homepage

The Literary War: an Online Discussion Series

July 28, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Sandra martinJuly 28, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Toronto Public Library has a number of upcoming programs to commemorate the war.

This fall, Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club, hosts monthly discussions of three pivotal World War I novels in its series, The Literary War. The series will be curated by award-winning journalist and broadcaster Sandra Martin.



All quiet on the western frontAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Available as:
Regular Print (translated by A.W. Wheen)
Regular Print (translated by Brian Murdoch)
Large Print


Three day road
Three Day Road
by Joseph Boyden

Available as:
Regular Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)



by Pat Barker

Available as:
Regular Print
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)


Each of the books will be discussed throughout the month. You can join in any time and from any place that has Internet access.

Visit Book Buzz to join the discussion. Not a Book Buzz member? Visit our registration page. All you need is a user name and email address.

[Photo of Sandra Martin by Joy von Tiedemann]

Books for Finland's National Sleepyhead Day

July 25, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In Finland, July 27 is Unikeonpäivä or National Sleepyhead Day. It has been celebrated since the early 1600s to commemorate the story of the Seven Sleepers. The legend states that during the Middle Ages, 7 men were ordered to renounce their Christianity by the Roman Emperor Decius. They opted to hide in a cave instead and fell asleep for 200 years.

On National Sleepyhead Day, the last sleeping person in the household is awakened with water thrown in his or her face or by being tossed into the nearest body of water. The city of Naantali hosts a Sleepyhead Festival lasting for several days. On the morning of July 27 a celebrity is wrapped in bedsheets, carried to the marina and thrown into the sea.

These are some recent books set in Finland:

Glitter scene Healer Light in a dark house Memory of water Snow angels

The Glitter Scene by Monika Fagerholm
A teenager becomes fascinated by an old local tragedy and as she studies it closely, finds connections to her own family.

The Healer by Antti Tuomainen
In post-apocalyptic Helsinki, poet Tapani Lehtinen searches for his missing wife, a journalist who may have gotten too close to learning the identity of a politically motivated serial killer. Winner of the 2011 Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel.

Light in a Dark House by Jan Costin Wagner
A woman, comatose and unexpected to recover, is murdered and detective Kimmo Joentaa must try to make sense of this seemingly senseless crime.

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
Noria and her father are tea masters with knowledge of secret water sources--vital in a post-climate change world where natural resources are rationed. When the military begins pressuring Noria to disclose the location she must make a difficult choice.

Snow Angels by James Thompson
Large Print
Kari Vaara, police chief of a town in Lapland, investigates the murder of a Somali refugee whose mutilated body has been found on a reindeer farm.

2014 Man Booker Longlist Announced

July 23, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

It is the first year that the Man Booker Prize has been open to writers from all over the world. Previously the award was restricted to writers from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations. A longlist of 13 books has been announced. It includes 6 Britons, 4 Americans, 1 Australian and 2 Irish writers. 

Blazing world Bone clocks The dog History of the rain

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The Dog by Joseph O'Neill
• Expected publication date: September 9, 2014.

History of the Rain by Niall Williams

How to be both J by howard jacobson Lives of others Narrow road to the deep north

How to be Both by Ali Smith

J by Howard Jacobson

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
• Expected publication date: August 12, 2014

Orfeo To rise again at a decent hour Us by david nicholls The wake We are all completely beside ourselves

Orfeo by Richard Powers

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

Us by David Nicholls

The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The shortlist will be revealed on September 9.

The winner will be announced on October 14.

Toronto Public Library's Award Winners page lists the Man Booker Prize shortlist and winners dating back to 2007.

Book of the Week: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

July 23, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

We were liarsOne of the most talked about books of the summer is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It's been showing up on a lot of summer reading lists lately. It's even being talked about by us--Margaret of the TPL Teens blog posted a review earlier this month. I tend to stay away from books that get this kind of hype because they don't usually live up to my expectations but there are exceptions to every rule and We Were Liars is exceptional in many ways.

Cadence Sinclair Eastman, the novel's narrator, is a member of the elite Sinclair family. She notes that in the Sinclair family "No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.... No one is needy. No one is wrong". The extended family spends its summers on a private island near Martha's Vineyard. It's beautiful, idyllic, peaceful but something darker is present. Cadence's grandfather, family patriarch Harris, delights in watching his three daughters scramble for his approval, using his sizable estate to stir up conflict among them.

Although their mothers try to involve them in the drama Cadence and her cousins Johnny and Mirren spend their summers lounging on the beach with their friend Gat, whose uncle is dating Johnny's mother. The group is known in the family as "The Liars" for reasons that are not disclosed.

The novel takes place as 17-year-old Cadence returns to the island for the first time in 2 years. When she was 15 something happened that has left her with memory loss and paralyzing migraines. She doesn't remember what happened and no one in the family will tell her. The intense and suspenseful novel describes Cadence's attempt to rebuild her shattered memory and find out the truth about that mysterious summer.

We Were Liars is categorized as teen fiction but will appeal to adult readers as well. I really liked the literary references scattered throughout the book. The creepy, gothic tone reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson's novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle--one of my favourite books.

We Were Liars is available in:
Regular Print

Related Post:

Summer Is The Perfect Time To Read Non-Fiction

July 18, 2014 | Kelli | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Many people think of summer as the time for 'beach reads', those fast-paced, plot-driven novels that capture your imagination and hold it for many hours at a time. I find that summer is also a great time to pick up a book that requires a bit more concentration and focus over an extended period of time, something like a non-fiction book. It can be challenging to find the time to focus on these books during the normal course of life, but vacation time is perfect.  

If you feel like reading some non-fiction, have a look at one of these relatively recently published books. I know I'll be tackling a few before September.

Looking for more suggestions? Have a look at this at our We Recommend: Literary Non-Fiction list.

Blood telegram Capturing the light Five days at memorial Gulp War that ended the peace

The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J Bass
This is the first full account of the involvement of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh. They supported Pakistan's military dictatorship as it brutally launched a crackdown on what was then East Pakistan. This lead to the killing hundreds of thousands of people and resulted in ten million refugees fleeing to India. The resulting war between India and Pakistan shaped the history of the area ever since. Winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize in 2014.


Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport
During the 1830s, two men developed their own dramatically different photographic processes in total ignorance of each other's work. Henry Fox Talbot worked away on Talbotype, secluded in his English country estate. Louis Daguerre, living in post-revolutionary Paris, developed Daguerrotype. Both these men overcame extraordinary odds to discover how to capture the light to create a photograph and changed how we see the world. 


Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, exhausted hospital staff chose to select certain patients as the last for rescue. Months later, some of these health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Fink exposes what happened in those terrible days, as people tried to cope in the most extraordinary and challenging of circumstances. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Never one to shy away from taboo or icky subjects, Mary Roach takes the reader on another one of her hilarious, entertaining and informative investigations. This time she goes 'down the hatch' in an investigation into eating, digestion and elimination. She tries to find answers to many questions, such as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomach bursts and if constipation really did kill Elvis?
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret Macmillan
In her new book, the author of Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World turns her attention to the causes of the Great War.  In the century since the end of the Napoleonic wars, Europe had enjoyed its most peaceful era since Roman times. As they entered a new century,  Europeans looked forward to a happy and prosperous future. Instead, rivalries, colonialism, ethnic nationalism, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the  outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world forever. A finalist for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing by The Writers' Trust of Canada.

Pining for the Pythons? Well, Say No More...

July 15, 2014 | Viveca | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

John Cleese in Monty Python's classic skit, 'Ministry of Silly Walks'. [PNG Merlin Archive]
John Cleese in Monty Python's classic skit, 'Ministry of Silly Walks'. [PNG Merlin Archive]

Tickets for Monty Python's long-awaited reunion show sold out in 40 seconds.  Didn't get a ticket? You can still re-live their finest moments with material available at the Toronto Public Library. While not something completely different, the show at London's O2 Arena was packed with fans who came to spot the legendary comedy troupe, together again for the first time in 30 years.  

Read the reviews in the Toronto StarGlobe, National Post, and the Guardian.

Unable to recite the Dead Parrot sketch by heart? Borrow the original television shows, features and documentaries on DVD including Monty Python: Almost the Truth and The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman. Chapman, an original Python, and co-author of the Dead Parrot sketch, died in 1989.

Monty Python Almost the Truth Monty Python and the Holy Grail Life of Brian The Meaning of Life

Hear the Pythons' history (and some of their best bits) on Audiobook.  "But, father! I want to sing!" Well, you can sing-along with the Pythons on CD or borrow the sheet music for such holiday classics as "Ya Di Bucketty" or "Dennis Moore."

Watch Mick Jagger's thoughts on a bunch of "wrinkly old men" trying to re-live their youth:


Further reading available from the Toronto Public Library, including:

Monty Python Encyclopeida Monty Python Speaks Monty Python's Flying Circus All the Bits Everything I Ever Needed to Know About I Learned From Monty Python

There is also plenty of post-Python material to choose from. This is a fraction of what is available from the Python alumni.

Art of Soccer Brazil by Michael Palin The Greedy Bastard Diary by Eric Idle Terry Jone's Medievall Lives Brazil by Terry Gilliam

"So, Mr. Phipps, why exactly do you want to become a librarian?"  


Cleese's Ministry of Silly Walks after all these years, continues to endure.  This year, it even got its own app.  And finally: 

The Larch
No. 1. The Larch

Book of the Week(end): The Girl with All the Gifts

July 11, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

I just finished reading one of the creepiest fiction titles I've read in a while. If you're not BBQing, off to the cottage or doing otherwise summery things, I suggest you get your hands on this as fast as you can.

Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey 

Melanie isn't like most other little girls. She's extremely bright and unusually kind, but she's also strapped into a high-security wheelchair each morning and locked into a special classroom. The scowling Sargeant and the lovely Miss Justineau are a few of the handful of adults she sees as her days go by. Why is the Sargeant pointing a gun at her as he wheels her out of her room? And why is Miss J's smile so beautiful, yet so sad?

When her carefully scheduled life is interrupted one day by a sudden, vicious turn of events, Melanie slowly becomes aware of who- and what - she truly is.

I imagined Melanie to be some sort of superhero, alien or exceptional genius, but she's all these things and more. At just over 450 pages long, there are no wasted words in this book. Every scene and every interaction is necessary, gripping and memorable. I was completely sucked into how dark and twisted this novel could get. Saying any more could really spoil it for you, so I'll just say that if you like speculative, creepy fiction, this is definitely a title to add to your reading list this summer.

Itching for a copy yet? Place a hold on The Girl with All the Gifts!

Boycott the Emmys, Read a Book

July 11, 2014 | Andrea | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

In the wake of every announcement of Emmy nominations, a wave of indignation breaks over the Internet as fans decry the snubs against their favourite shows. This year, critics and viewers are up in arms about the glaring absence of Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany from the lists. To deal with this affront, check out our Orphan Black read-alikes.

Meanwhile, here are some other books to soothe other slights regarding nominees for the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

The Good Wife and Philosophy Masters of Sex An Ordinary Spy Red Dragon The Simpsons Uncensored

The Good Wife and Philosophy edited by Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray and Robert Arp

Despite a strong season and several acting nominations, this network powerhouse was shut out of the Outstanding Drama category. Stop debating whether this is an egregious error with your co-workers and delve into this collection of essays... soon you will be able to debate legal ethics, loopholes and what it means to be a good spouse instead!

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson by Thomas Maier

The show may be too provocative to be considered for Outstanding Drama, but the nomination for Lizzy Caplan for her role as Virginia Johnson is an interesting surprise. Delve into this biography about "the couple who taught America how to love."

An Ordinary Spy by Joseph Weisberg

The Americans only received one nomination for guest star Margo Martindale. But did you know the Cold War espionage drama's showrunner is also the author of a CIA novel?

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

The nightmarishly beautiful Hannibal was shut out even in the technical categories such as art direction and cinematography. Read the novel that introduced Hannibal Lecter to the world.

The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History by John Ortved

Ay caramba! The long-running animated sitcom did not make it as an Outstanding Animated Program contender, but you can look back on its history and reminisce about its golden days.

You Say "Potato": How a Man's Plan to Make Salad went Viral

July 9, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Here I am just back from vacation and looking for blog inspiration when I noticed people on the Internet were talking a lot about a man and his potato salad. Zack "Danger" Brown, the co-owner of a software company, began a Kickstarter campaign with the hope of raising $10 so he could make potato salad. In less than a week, he had $40,000.

If you would also like to make potato salad, Toronto Public Library has books to help. You will have to find your own funding, though.

300 best potato recipes Haute potato Potato salad Yummy potatoes

300 Best Potato Recipes: a Complete Cook's Guide by Kathleen Sloan-MacIntosh

Haute Potato: from Pommes Rissolée to Timbale with Roquefort, 75 Gourmet Potato Recipes by Jacqueline Pham

Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool by Debbie Moose

Yummy Potatoes: 65 Downright Delicious Recipes by Marlena Spieler

Toronto Public Library has a lot of other books to keep you entertained and busy during the summer, even if you have no interest in potato salad. Staff members at your local branch can help you find what you need.

Two More Books About Seniors Heading Off On Adventures

June 24, 2014 | Kelli | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Following up on my blog post from December 2012, Senior Adventures: Three Novels About Seniors Who Are On The Move, I've come across two more recently published books about seniors on the run.    I think this could now officially be called a trend!


Flee fly flownFlee, Fly, Flown by Canadian author Janet Hepburn is the bittersweet story of friends Lillian and Audrey, who hatch a plot to escape from Tranquil Meadows Nursing Home in Ottawa and head west.   They set out on their journey not taking into account that their memory problems might make driving and following directions somewhat difficult.  Luckily, they soon meet up with the unsuspecting Rayne, a young man who is also heading west in hope of reconciling with his family. Without minimizing the realities of old age and dementia,  Lillian and Audrey's tale is sweet story that reminds us that we are never to old for an adventure.  Flee, Fly, Flown is nominated for the Ontario Library Assocation's 2014 Evergreen Award .  Author Janet Hepburn  will be speaking at Runnymede branch on Wednesday, June 25th at 7 p.m.  Please call the branch for more information.  Also available in eBook.


Little old lady who broke all the rulesA new book that I just finished is The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Swedish author Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg.   Five friends and residents of the Diamond Retirement Home--Martha, Brains, Rake, Christina and Anna-Greta, are unhappy with the new owners of Diamond as the cost-cutting changes has resulted in microwaved food, limits on cups of coffee and a reduction in activities.  After watching a documentary about life in prison, the residents start to wonder if prisoners are not treated better than seniors.   This gives Martha an idea.  They should commit a crime like Robin Hood - stealing from the rich.  The crime has to be big enough to ensure conviction, but  not hurt anyone.   With bolt cutters and high-tech walkers, they set out to start their crime spree with a robbery attempt at a nearby luxury hotel.   Also available in eBook.


Welcome to The Buzz...About Books -- the official blog of Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club.

Your comments, posts, messages and creative content are welcome, provided they encourage a respectful dialogue and comply with the Library's mission, values and policies.
Terms of Use