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Austin Clarke, 1934-2016

June 28, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (1)

Austin ClarkeAustin Clarke, one of Canada's best loved authors, died on June 26, 2016. Born in St. James, Barbados, he came to Canada in 1959 to study at the University of Toronto. After two years, he opted for a career in journalism covering the civil rights movement in Harlem, among other stories. In 1963, he conducted an interview with Malcolm X for the CBC which is available online. He wrote about these days, and his experiences with racism in his recent memoir, 'Membering, published in 2015. 

Clarke wrote eleven novels including More which won the Toronto Book Award and The Polished Hoe, which won both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize in 2002. 

He also wrote essays, memoirs, short stories and poetry. His work gave a voice to those who had been left out of Canadian literature. 

In the words of Donna Bailey Nurse:

When I think of Austin Clarke, I think of how his fiction irrevocably etched West Indians, Bajans, black people, and himself into the landscape of Toronto and the collective imagination of Canadians. I think of the courage with which he exposed to white people the psychological realities of being black in the world.

In April 2010, Mr. Clarke participated on a live chat with Book Buzz. These were his memorable parting words to us:

Work hard. Every day at the same time, for the same hours, and you will see success in your self. And Book Buzz, it was a ball. be cool. I can go now, and have my martini.
Be cool, Austin.

Austin Clarke was always cool. He will be greatly missed.

Father's Day: More Than Ties

June 17, 2016 | Lynn | Comments (0)

Father's Day is upon us, this Sunday, June 19th. This is a special day we set aside to honour the person who walks our dog in the rain, deals with spiders and picks us up from a friend's house in the middle of the night if we have a nightmare. I am not saying only dads do these things, but many do. Maybe your dad taught you how to drive, or how to repair your own clogged toilet. Maybe he shared his secret for ribs on the barbecue or just told a lot of bad jokes. Whatever your dad does for you, here are some stories he may enjoy:


The other F word  The bro code for parents what to expect when you're awesome  Someone could get hurt a memoir of twenty first century parenthood

The Other F Word

Revealing, hilarious, and touching, The Other F Word asks what happens when a generation's ultimate anti-authoritarians - punk rockers - become society's ultimate authorities - fathers. With a large chorus of punk's leading men, this film follows Jim Lindberg through his hysterical and moving journey from belting his band's anthem to embracing his new found role in mid-life: fatherhood.

The Bro Code for Parents: What to Expect When You're Awesome

The Bro Code for Parents will help you:

  • Choose a baby name that won’t get your kid stuffed into a junior high locker
  • Interview and hire a smokin’ hot nanny
  • Teach your child instant classics like “The Boobs on the Bus” and “Bro, Bro, Bro Your Boat”

With full-color illustrations, interactive work sheets, and even suggestions for how to turn a stroller into a broller, The Bro Code for Parents gives you all the tools you’ll need to raise your child to be almost as awesome Barney Stinson. Almost.

Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenthood

In the wake of recent bestsellers that expose how every other culture raises their children better, Someone Could Get Hurt offers a hilarious and heartfelt defense of American child rearing with a glimpse into the genuine love and compassion that accompany the missteps and flawed logic. It's the story of head lice, almost-dirty words, and flat head syndrome, and a man trying to commit the ultimate act of selflessness in a selfish world.


Gay Fathers

Fatherhood for gay men : an emotional and practical guide to becoming a gay dad  Gay fatherhood : narrative of family and citizenship in America   Gay Dads: transition to adoptive fatherhood

Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay Dad

Get the inside story on a single gay man's struggle to adopt. Fatherhood for Gay Men: An Emotional and Practical Guide to Becoming a Gay Dad is the story of one man's journey down the road less traveled a single gay man adopting and raising his two sons.

Gay fatherhood: Narratives of Family and Citizenship in America

Men are often thought to have less interest in parenting than women, and gay men are generally assumed to prefer pleasure over responsibility. The toxic combination of these two stereotypical views has led to a lack of serious attention being paid to the experiences of gay fathers. But the truth is that more and more gay men are setting out to become parents and succeeding—and Gay Fatherhood aims to tell their stories.

Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood

In Gay Dads: Transitions to Adoptive Fatherhood, Abbie E. Goldberg examines the ways in which gay fathers approach and negotiate parenthood when they adopt. Drawing on empirical data from her in-depth interviews with 70 gay men, Goldberg analyzes how gay dads interact with competing ideals of fatherhood and masculinity, alternately pioneering and accommodating heteronormative “parenthood culture.” The first study of gay men's transitions to fatherhood, this work will appeal to a wide range of readers, from those in the social sciences to social work to legal studies, as well as to gay-adoptive parent families themselves.


Finally, joke books, so you can teach your dad some new material:

5000 sidesplitting jokes and one-liners   The world's oldest joke book hundreds of hilariously terrible ancient jokes   Belly laugh knock-knock jokes for kids

5,000 Sidesplitting Jokes and One-Liners

The funniest, wittiest and most cutting one line jokes from around the world, collected together in one immaculate collection!

The World's Oldest Joke Book: Hundreds of Hilariously Terrible Ancient Jokes

A bizarre collection of jokes revived from our comedy forefathers: the Ancient Greeks. From absurd situations to general stupidity, farting to foolishness, this book contains a wealth of jokes some of which still hit the mark and some that will have you groaning with laughter, even if it is because they're so bad, they're good!

Belly Laugh Knock-Knock Jokes for Kids

Developed to meet the needs of the millions of children eternally hungry for joke books, this collection is complete with 350 hilarious knock-knock jokes for kids. Perfect for long car rides and rainy days, this book is sure to bring laughter and fun into your home.


Happy Father's Day to all Dads out there!

Gordie Howe: Farewell to Mr. Hockey

June 10, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

Gordie my hockey memoriesGordie Howe, considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, died on June 10, 2016. He was born on March 31, 1928 in Floral, Saskatchewan. He was one of 9 children born to Albert and Katherine Howe. He got his first pair of skates in 1933, when a neighbour sold a bag of random items to the family. Gordie and his sister each had ownership of one skate until he bought hers for a dime he borrowed from their mother. He said that he fell in love with hockey instantly.

Howe began his professional career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946, scoring a goal in his debut. It was the first of many goals. His scoring prowess placed him in the top 5 for 20 consecutive years and recorded 20 or more goals each year between 1949 and 1971. Howe's physical dominance was also legendary. He credited Detroit coach Jack Adams for showing him how to temper his aggressive style, however he remained a tough player. A Gordie Howe Hat Trick consists of a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. 

Mr hockey my story Gordie howe's son Gordie a hockey legend Mr hockey

He led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups in his 25-year career with the team. He spent then 6 seasons in the WHA where he played for the Houston Aeros and the New England (later Hartford) Whalers with his sons Marty and Mark. Howe returned to the NHL in 1979 when the Whalers were absorbed by the League. 

Although he officially retired at 52, he played one final game in 1997. Signed to a one day contract, 70-year-old Howe played one shift in an IHL game for the Detroit Vipers. 

Gordie Howe died at his son Murray's home in Ohio at 88. 

More about Gordie Howe:


Gordie Howe: My Hockey Memories by Gordie Howe

Mr. Hockey: My Story by Gordie Howe
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

Gordie Howe's Son: a Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey by Mark Howe

Gordie: a Hockey Legend: an Unauthorized Biography of Gordie Howe by Roy MacSkimming


Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story  (English Audio)

Monsieur Hockey: l'histoire de Gordie Howe (French Audio)


Bad Mama: Questionable Parenting in Fiction

June 10, 2016 | Soheli | Comments (0)

As I slowly prepare for the end of my life as I know it impending parenthood, I can't help but sometimes get totally panicked about what makes a good parent. I mean, we can all think of moms and dads we idealize. Whether it was your best friend's mom who had the good snacks on hand, or that awesome step-dad who came to every baseball game, many of us have a vision of what it means to be good at parenting.

But, of course, as many have come forward to assure me, there really are no perfect parents. After all, we're all only human and bound to make mistakes. When I look back at some of the books I've read, I definitely can think of some moms and dads that are probably a little further out on the spectrum of parenting than others. Some of these characters are downright nasty, while others have their 'goodness' twisted in more complicated ways.

Check out some titles that look at some not-so-perfect parents.


Mary Jones in Push by Sapphire, 1996

Even if you haven't read Push, you may recall hearing about the movie, Precious, that came out some time ago based on it. Both the movie and the novel got overwhelming critical praise, not only for the brutally honest content, but for the stark, no-holds-barred language. Protagonist Precious Jones is sixteen, uneducated, and living in Harlem. She's also pregnant again by her father. Her mother, the verbally, physically and sexually abusive Mary Jones is connected to her daughter only through the welfare checks her existence allows. Mary is neglectful of basically all of Precious' needs and has been for years. Despite all this, Precious finds encouragement in an inspiring teacher and learns to turn her experiences into something brighter than she could even imagine.


Eva Khathadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, 2003

I'm always a little torn when I consider Eva's character in this book. In a series of letters to her estranged husband, Eva recounts events leading up to, and after, a school massacre committed by her son, Kevin. On the one hand, Kevin, who is generally suspected to be a sociopath, is really the 'evil' character in the book. However, as readers, we slowly come to see that Eva never really felt a connection to Kevin, and in fact, has this odd adversarial relationship with him. How much of her attitude towards him from childhood helped shape his heinous crime as a teen? Could any of it have been avoided, or is this just another way of blaming the mother?


Corrine Dollanganger in Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, 1979

Depending on your age, you may recall this classic V.C. Andrews series that began with Flowers in the Attic. Set in the late 50s, the Dollanganger family lives happily in Pennsylvania, until a car accident claims the father's life. Deep in debt, mother Corrine moves them all to Foxworth Hall, her estranged parents' estate. Grandmother Olivia has nothing but contempt for the Dollanganger kids and exiles them to stay indefinitely in a small bedroom in the attic. They are not allowed to leave or enter any other parts of the house. It is unclear at first - all we know is that Corrine did something years ago that earned quite the wrath of her parents. She promises her kids that she will win her parents back and eventually get them all together again as a family. But, over time, Corrine loses interest in her hidden children and they are left to fend for themselves.


Ram Karan in An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma, 2000


Ram Karan is a bumbling corrupt school official in India who lives in a slum with his widowed daughter and young grand-daughter. As the primary bribe-collector for his department, he's stuck trying to hide his ways when the soon-to-be Prime Minister is murdered and the entire country is thrown into chaos. But it's not just his professional life at risk. When his daughter unveils a long-buried family secret, we are forced to consider the many faces of Ram. Is he a devoted family man overwhelmed with guilt? Or is he the worst type of man imaginable?


Ismail Boxwala in Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor, 2011

Ismail Boxwala made one terrible mistake once in his life. On a hot summer day in Toronto, he forgot his infant daughter in the backseat of his car. Twenty years after her death, divorced and isolated, he is still haunted. As he slowly begins to connect with some of the other compelling characters in the novel, we have no choice but to wonder: is there any coming back from an event like this? Is redemption even possible when our actions have led to such terrible consequences? Farzana Doctor creates complex, multi-dimensional characters in this immensely memorable second novel that really has us questioning the nature of parenting.


For more classic titles about bad parents, check out Lynn's previous post: Good Mothers vs. Bad Mothers


The Greatest. Muhammad Ali: 1942 - 2016

June 5, 2016 | Viveca | Comments (1)


 [Photo: Ring Magazine, Getty Images]

Muhammad Ali, considered to be the best boxer of all time, died on June 3 at the age of 74. Ali was a seismic force both inside and outside the ring -- outspoken, principled and fearless -- his fight for racial equality and his adamant refusal to fight in Vietnam made him one of the most influential figures in US history. Fiercely intelligent, loud and proud, Ali's wicked wit infuriated his enemies, yet his courage inspired millions. Read a fraction of the tributes pouring in: Toronto StarTime, Chicago Tribune, New York TimesBBC, Guardian, and The New Yorker. Watch the "Thrilla in Manila," Ali's historic 1975 showdown with Joe Frazier. Travel further back and watch Ali's 1964 takedown of the legendary Sonny Liston.  

But Ali himself has always had the last word.  So here it is, from the 1975 Playboy interview:

"I’ll tell you how I’d like to be remembered: as a black man who won the heavyweight title and who was humorous and who treated everyone right.

As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him and who helped as many of his people as he could–financially and also in their fight for freedom, justice and equality.

As a man who wouldn’t hurt his people’s dignity by doing anything that would embarrass them.

As a man who tried to unite his people through the faith of Islam that he found when he listened to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

And if all that’s asking too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxing champion who became a preacher and a champion of his people.

And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was."

There won't be another like him. Rest in power, Muhammad Ali. 

1966 at Maple Leaf Gardens: Muhammad Ali vs. George Chuvalo

Further reading available at the Toronto Public Library: 

Muhammad Ali A Biography Book Cover Muhammad Ali His Life and Times Book Cover Muhammad Ali Through the Eyes of the World Book Cover Muhammad Ali The World's Champion Book Cover

Muhammad Ali: A Biography by Anthony O. Edmonds

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser. Also: Hauser's 2005 companion volume: The Lost Legacy of Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World by Mark Collins

Muhammad Ali: The World's Champion by John Tessitore

Muhammad Ali Champion of the World Book Cover Muhammad Ali The Glory Years Book Cover Index  

Mohammad Ali: Champion of the World by Jonah Winter and François Roca

Muhammad Ali: The Glory Years by Felix Dennis

Muhammad Ali by Terry Barber 

MUhammad Ali Birth of a Legend Book Cover More Than A Hero Book Cover Muhammad Ali Trickster in a Culture of Irony Book Cover Soul of a Butterfly Book Cover

Muhammad Ali: The Birth of a Legend 1961 - 1964 by Flip Schulke 

More Than A Hero by Hana Ali

Muhammad Ali: Trickster in a Culture of Irony by Charles Lemert

Soul of A Butterfly: Reflections on A Life's Journey by Muhammad Ali

Available on DVD from the Toronto Public Library: 

In Their Own Words: Muhammad Ali directed by Andrew Hayes and John Sutherland

Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight directed by Stephen Frears

Muhammad Ali: When We Were Kings directed by Leon Gast

I Am Ali: The Man Behind the Legend directed by Clare Lewins

Facing Ali directed by Pete McCormack

Muhammad Ali: The Greatest 1964 - 1974 directed by William Klein

The Trials of Muhammad Ali directed by Bill Siegel

Muhammad Ali: Magic in Miami PBS Home Video

Watch Michael Mann's 2001 feature film Ali starring Will Smith.

Remember this? Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.  And the Johnny Wakelin 1975 song?

Finally: Ali meets a fearsome opponent.

Muhammad Ali: 1942 - 2016

Hot Nonfiction for Summer 2016

June 3, 2016 | Kelli | Comments (2)

With the longer days and more time off, I find that summer is the best to time to catch up on my nonfiction reading. If you are like me and enjoy taking the time to read through a fascinating memoir, or an investigation into some aspect of history, science or social science, now is great time to place holds on some popular nonfiction books that you may want to read in the months ahead. 

Here are some of the recent published nonfiction books that are getting 'buzz':

Dark money The Gene Happiness equation Love loss and what we ate Mother's reckoning

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer
A fascinating investigation into the growth of the radical right in the United States. Mayer reveals a network of wealthy people, led by the very private Koch brothers, that has been systematically influencing the United States government through their donations to think tanks and charitable organizations.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukharjee
A magnificent biography of the gene by the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Weaving science, social history and personal narrative, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates and choices.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha
By the best-selling author of The Book of Awesome, Pasricha explains how to want nothing, do anything and have everything through his Nine Secrets of Happiness.
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


Love, Loss and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi
A memoir by the host of the Emmy Award-winning Top Chef. Shuttling between continents as a child, Lakshmi's nomadic life style continued an adult. Yet, through all her travels, her favourite food remained the simple rice she first ate in her grandmother's kitchen in South India. This is account of her journey from that humble kitchen, ruled by ferocious and unforgettable women, to Top Chef and beyond.
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
The mother of one of the two shooters at the Columbine High School massacre draws on personal recollections, journal entries and video recordings to try to piece together the causes of her son's actions that terrible day in 1999. Read more about this book in the Book Buzz blog post: Columbine Killer: A Mother's Story.
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Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


Originals Rainbow comes and goes Seven brief lessons on physics Spark joy When breath becomes air

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Grant uses studies and stories, spanning a range of disciplines, to explain how provocative thought leaders can champion originality in their organizations.   
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper
After fashion designer and society icon Gloria Vanderbilt became seriously ill in 2015, her son journalist Anderson Cooper thought about their relationship and realized much was unsaid between them. Cooper set about to rectify this by beginning an email exchange with his mother that was both illuminating and  healing.
Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carol Rovelli
Written by a founder of the loop quantum gravity theory, Rovelli presents this introduction to modern physics by sharing seven succinct lessons on topics ranging from general relativity and quantum mechanics to elementary particles and black holes.

Spark  Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
This follow-up to her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is an illustrated master manual on her renowned KonMari Method, with item-specific guidance and step-by-step folding illustrations.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi was just about to finish his training as a neurosurgeon, when a CT scan confirmed what he had suspected -- he had stage four lung cancer. In this book, Kalanithi approaches the questions raised by facing mortality from the dual perspective of the neurosurgeon who spent a decade meeting patients in the twilight between life and death, and the terminally ill patient who suddenly found himself living that experience. 
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Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)


The Tom Hiddleston Book Club

May 30, 2016 | Viveca | Comments (3)


[photograph by Charlie Gray, Shortlist Media Inc]

The only thing better than a photo of Tom Hiddleston staring into your soul while sporting an elegant suit, is a photo of him doing this while holding a cat. Hiddleston, a British actor with a Cambridge and RADA pedigree, glides from the Shakespearean stage into the Marvel comic book universe with ease -- exuding equal parts charm and menace. Thoughtful in interviews, impeccably polite, Hiddleston has amassed a legendary and loyal fan base who apparently like the cut of his jib.  

Here are some titles that would be requisite on any Tom Hiddleston Book Club list:   

Night Manager Book Cover Deep Blue Sea Book Cover War Horse Book Cover High Rise Book Cover

The Night Manager by John Le Carré. Hiddleston's role as the enigmatic Mr. Pine in the six-part television adaptation of John Le Carré's spy thriller is generally acknowledged to be his screen test for the next James Bond. 

The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Rattigan. Rattigan's 1952 stage play about post-war repression and isolation was the basis for Terence Davies' achingly beautiful film adaptation. Watch this on DVD and prepare to weep. 

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. In Steven Spielberg's film adaptation, Hiddleston plays a doomed World War I soldier along with fellow erudite Brit, Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch also has an immense fan following - when the two appeared together in this film, it almost broke the Internet. 

High-Rise by J. G. Ballard. In the upcoming film adaptation of this science-fiction classic, Hiddleston joins the residents of a luxury high-rise building who gradually withdraw from the outside world and descend into violence and debauchery.  

 Only lovers left alive Archipelago Unrelated DVD Cover Hollow Crown

Only Lovers Left Alive. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are weary vampires who cling to music, books and art in a changing world. Bibliophiles will relate to the tactile attachment to books and reading. 

Archipelago and Unrelated. Directed by Joanna Hogg. Don't miss these two intelligent indie films that explore family and personal relationships. Both star an extremely young Hiddleston. 

The Hollow Crown.  Shakespeare's histories. Hiddleston is Prince Hal, the party-time bro who becomes defender of the realm. 

Midnight in Paris DVD Cover Sidetracked Book Cover Hank Williams Book Cover  

Midnight in Paris. Directed by Woody Allen. Spot Hiddleston as F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Hank Williams: The Biography by Colin Escott. This book was the basis for Marc Abraham's recently released I Saw the Light, a biopic about the country music legend with Hiddleston in the title role. 

Fans of Henning Mankell's mysteries should check out the Wallander series on DVD. Hiddleston plays Magnus, a young cop working under the brooding and boozy Kurt Wallander. 

Thor DVD Cover Thor The Dark World DVD Cover Marvel's The Avengers DVD Cover

Gospel of Loki Book Cover

In Thor, Thor: The Dark World, and The Avengers, Hiddleston got his breakout role as the villain Loki which launched his legendary army of fans known as Hiddlestoners.  

Recommended Reading: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. An entertaining retelling of the Norse legend.



Related Links: The Benedict Cumberbatch Book Club


Spectator Sport: Books about Fan Culture

May 24, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (0)

At the course, Labour Day in Harriston
At the course, Labour Day in Harriston, 1910

The Raptors are in the Eastern Conference Final of the NBA playoffs even though a CBS sports poll identified them merely as the "other" team. The Marlies are in the Eastern Conference Final of the Calder Cup. The Toronto Blue Jays are brawling in Texas. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the first draft pick. It's a pretty good time to be a sports fan in Toronto -- if there is ever a "good" time. It's a hard thing to be a sports fan. The thrill of victory is sweet but rare, and requires suffering through plenty of agony of defeat moments. 

These books are about the passion and pain of being a sports fan:

Boys of summer Federer and me Fever pitch Hope and heartbreak

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
Kahn recalls his boyhood in Brooklyn, the borough's devotion to the Dodgers and his career covering the team in the 1950s. 

Federer and Me: A Story of Obsession by William Skidelesky
Skidelesky examines his consuming passion for tennis player Roger Federer. Trying to understand the psychology of the obsessed fan, he dissects his own personal history. 

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
A passionate Arsenal FC fan, Hornby tells the story of his childhood, adolescence and early adulthood through a series of essays, each about a football match he watched.

Hope and Heartbreak in Toronto: Life as a Maple Leafs Fan by Peter Robinson
It is hard to be a Maple Leafs fan and Peter Robinson understands. In this book, he tries to explain the irrational (and sometimes unrequited) love Leafs fans feel towards the team. 

I don't care if we never get back Secret life of sports fans Wait till next year World is a ball

I Don't Care if We Never Get Back: 30 Games in 30 Days on the Best Worst Baseball Road Trip Ever
by Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster

Baseball fan Ben Blatt wrote an algorithm for the ultimate baseball road trip -- 30 games in 30 stadiums in 30 days and decided to give it a try. His companion for the trip is Eric Brewster, a man who doesn't really like the sport.

The Secret Life of Sports Fans: The Science of Sports Obsession by Eric Simons
Why do some of us love sports so much when others really don't care? Science writer Simons investigates the scientific reasons we are so committed to our favourite sports and teams.

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Award-winning historian Goodwin relates the role baseball, especially the Brooklyn Dodgers, played in her childhood providing bonding moments with her father and heartbreak when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1957.

The World is a Ball: the Joy, Madness and Meaning of Soccer by John Doyle
A lifelong soccer fan, Doyle was thrilled when he was given a chance to cover the World Cup but he found himself becoming more interested in the fans and began studying them.


The postcard used at the top of this post is from Toronto Public Library's Digital Archive. The Digital Archive includes rare historical pictures, maps, manuscripts, ephemera and digitized books from our Special Collections and other library collections for research, study and discovery.


Know Her Value: Books about Female Spies

May 24, 2016 | Andrea | Comments (1)

It's been a tough month for Peggy Carter. The intrepid secret agent has never backed down from a challenge: she fought beside Captain America during the Second World War, continued to fight nefarious cabals and workplace sexism through two seasons of her own television show, and eventually became one of the founders of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. But being fictional, her existence is subject to the decisions of studios and networks. Her latest appearance on the big screen was a muted affair, as audiences who watched Captain America: Civil War can attest, and then the news broke that ABC cancelled Agent Carter. Viewers immediately launched a petition calling for Netflix to rescue the show, and though its future remains uncertain, it was a grand adventure while it lasted. 

Agent Carter herself once stated, "I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter." That said, many fans share the opinion that the Marvel Cinematic Universe should better acknowledge the value of their heroines, namely by giving Black Widow her own movie. Until we next see these ladies onscreen, follow their adventures in espionage on the page:

Operation SIN Agent Carter by Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis  Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl Black Widow Vol 1 The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil NotoBlack Widow Vol 2 The Tightly Tangled Web by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto Black Widow Vol 3 Last Days by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto

Operation S.I.N.: Agent Carter by Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis

Peggy teams up with Howard Stark to investigate alien technology, and to nobody's surprise, Hydra is involved. Despite featuring Hayley Atwell on the cover, this graphic novel does not tie into the TV show.

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Assassin. Agent. Avenger. Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff has worn many masks, and in this young adult novel you'll see her in yet another role: mentor to a teenage protégé.  

Black Widow Volume 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto

"I've got red in my ledger," Natasha admitted in The Avengers. "I'd like to wipe it out." These graphic novels chronicle her exploits as she atones for past sins and goes undercover in Russia to expose a worldwide conspiracy, crossing paths with Hawkeye, Iron Man and the Winter Soldier along the way. The story continues in Volume 2: The Tightly Tangled Web and Volume 3: Last Days.

More women in spy fiction:

At Risk by Stella Rimington  Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey  Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen  Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

At Risk by Stella Rimington 

Rimington, the first woman to serve as Director General of MI5, went on to write an ongoing series of spy thrillers starring counter-terrorism agent Liz Carlyle.

Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey

Rei Shimura accepts an assignment from the CIA to go undercover in a Tokyo department store.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

The first in a series of cozy mysteries, this fun whodunit introduces readers to Lady Georgiana aka Georgie, who is 34th in line to the throne and doing her best to make her own way in 1930s London while carrying out covert missions for the crown.  

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

The latest Maggie Hope title brings our resourceful heroine to the White House. She is posing as Churchill's typist while he negotiates an American alliance, but when Eleanor Roosevelt needs her help, Maggie finds herself drawn into another dangerous plot.


Fair Game by Valerie Plame  Femme Fatale by Pat Shipman  Liar Temptress Soldier Spy by Karen Abbott  Spy Princess - The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu

Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House by Valerie Plame Wilson

Despite being redacted by the CIA, this memoir offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the leak that ended Plame Wilson's career as an intelligence officer. She has since co-authored a series of spy novels, the first book being titled Blowback


Femme Fatale: Love, Lies, and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman

History has painted different pictures of Mata Hari, labelling her hedonist, harlot and heroine. Discover the complicated truth in this biography. 

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

Like your history served narrative-style with a side of scandal? Read about the extraordinary lives of Belle Boyd, Emma Edmonds, Rose O’Neale Greenhow and Elizabeth Van Lew.

Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu

A descendant of Tipu Sultan, Inayat Khan proved her mettle when she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War. She continued to spy for the Allies as a Special Operations Executive agent before her career came to a tragically early end.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang Wins Man Booker International Prize

May 17, 2016 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)


Author Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith were awarded The Man Booker International Prize for Han's novel The Vegetarian, translated from the Korean by Smith.

The novel is about a woman disturbed by violent images who decides to stop eating meat. Among her South Korean family, this decision is considered socially unacceptable. Her relationships begin to fall apart as she is accused of everything from dangerous subversion to mental illness.

This is the first book translated by Deborah Smith who began teaching herself Korean in 2010 when she noticed a lack of Korean literature in the English market. 

The other books on the shortlist were:

Four books General theory of oblivion Story of the lost child

The Four Books by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Strangeness in my own mind Whole life

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins

Kang and Smith will split £50,000. The authors and translators of the other novels on the shortlist each receive £1,000.  

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