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Five Tales from the Fairgrounds

August 15, 2014 | Andrea | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

'Tis the season for Ferris wheels and farm animals, Mardi Gras beads and mad food concoctions, sand sculptures and showmanship! The 136th Canadian National Exhibition opens today, and you can check out the schedule of events online. Want to see some snapshots from the Exes of yesteryears? The Toronto Public Library's Preservation and Digitization Team has collected lots of old photos, paintings and other CNE ephemera on a Pinterest board, which you can browse online.

After you tire of making laps around the Polar Express and the Food Building and the warehouse outlets, you can unwind with these books offering different takes on fairs and amusement parks:


Devil in the White City Down and out in the Magic Kingdom Joyland St. Peters Fair Wild Ride   

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
by Erik Larson

The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago is the backdrop of this true story about an architect and a serial killer, and the event where their paths converged.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

What could possibly go wrong when death has been cured and you're living in Disney World? Plenty, as this sci-fi satire shows us!

Joyland by Stephen King

A melancholy ghost story/whodunit from the master of horror, set in a haunted amusement park.

St. Peter's Fair by Ellis Peters

The fourth book in the Brother Cadfael medieval mystery series sends the monk detective on the trail of a murderer... who strikes at a summer fair!

Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

If you enjoy action-packed paranormal romance and quick-witted heroines, take a trip to this abandoned theme park that doubles as a prison for demons.

Previous blog posts on the CNE and its history:
Let's All Go To The Ex
At the Ex: Past, Present and Virtual

Shades of Blue: Memoirs about Depression

August 13, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Robin Williams has tragically lost his battle with depression. As we cope with the sad reality of his suicide, it is clear that greater understanding of depression and all types of mental illness is needed.

This is a list of memoirs written by those who have experienced depression.

Am i sane yet Blue genes Half in love Hyperbole and a half Why not fifteen reasons to live

Am I Sane Yet? An Insider's Look at Mental Illness by John Scully
International journalist Scully shares his own experiences with depression and PTSD and relates the stories of other patients and treatment options.

Blue Genes: a Memoir of Loss and Survival by Christopher Lukas
Having suffered with depression himself and survived the suicides of his mother and brother, television producer Kit Lukas writes about his efforts to recover and come to terms with his family history.

Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide: a Memoir by Linda Grey Sexton
Sexton's memoir describes her own experiences with bipolar disorder and suicidal tendencies and the lasting impact of her mother, poet Anne Sexton's suicide.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh
I like Allie Brosh's blog--ahem--alot. Although only part of this book deals with her depression, I've included it because her posts and comics on the subject are powerful, heartbreaking and necessary.

Why Not? Fifteen Reasons to Live by Ray Robertson
After recovering from a crippling bout of depression, novelist Robertson wrote this book "to remind myself of all the things that are really important in life".

Love is in the Air

August 11, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

It's a story as old as time--boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy begins a Twitter campaign to get her back and they live happily ever after.

Irishman Jamie Kelly was seated next to Canadian Katie Moreau on a flight from Barcelona to Dublin. They quickly discovered they had a lot in common and were smitten by the time the flight ended. Unfortunately in the chaos of disembarking, the pair were separated and never had a chance to exchange information. Jamie harnessed the power of the Twitterverse in his search using hashtags #findkatie and #loveatfirstflight. His efforts were publicized in Canada where Katie's sister helped reconnect the couple.

Yearning for a vacation romance? Try one of these books:

Carrie goes off the map Dreamboat In the bag
Knight in shining armor Wish you were here

Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley
Carrie plans to forget her ex-fiance with a European road trip but ends up with an unexpected travel companion--a handsome doctor--after her friend backs out.

Dreamboat by Judith Gould
Large Print
When two friends take a month-long cruise from Athens to Brazil they expect a relaxing vacation, instead they find romance and danger.

The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
An American woman on vacation in Rome is charmed by a handsome man offering her delicious food in this modern update of Cyrano de Bergerac.

In the Bag by Kate Klise
Mixed-up luggage and a spilled glass of wine spark unlikely romances between single parents and their teenagers as they travel through different parts of Europe.

Invitation to Provence by Elizabeth Adler
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Suddenly single Franny Marten is invited to a family reunion in Provence where she discovers dark family secrets and meets an irresistible man.

A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
Large Print
A woman vacationing in England is visiting an isolated churchyard when a long-dead 14th century Earl appears and asks for her help.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
Large Print
While on vacation in Italy, Lucy Honeychurch is courted by both Cecil Vyse, a socially appropriate mate and George Emerson, a man who challenges and stimulates her. Will she flaunt convention and marry for love?

Summer at the Lake by Erica James
Floriana, Esme and Adam drawn together by an accident, travel to Italy's Lake Como to recover from broken relationships.

Wish You Were Here by Victoria Connelly
A getaway in the Greek Islands becomes romantic when mousy Alice meets a handsome gardener.

Only Using 10% of Our Brains?

August 8, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

All those commercials for ScarJo's latest film, Lucy, got me thinking - what would really happen if we could utilize all our brain power? And is it really as limited right now as we're frequently led to believe?

Lucy's leading premise is that she is able to unlock all her brain's potential after being mysteriously injected with a secret chemical. This allows her super-human abilities and the capacity to transform herself and escape some pretty unsavoury situations.

I can still hear Morgan Freeman's voice murmuring something about how such a huge chunk of our brain is left unused...

Morgan Freeman

But is it really?

Although popular culture has reinforced the idea that we still have so much brain power just wasted, science tells us otherwise. The Skeptical Inquirer points out that brain imaging scans have shown that basically every part of our brain is active - sometimes in smaller ways, but active nonetheless. This can also explain why brain trauma, no matter how minor, can have monumental effects on everything from motor ability to memory.

There are some interesting books that consider all the ways in which our amazing brains work: how our personalities are formed, how we learn, and how we make sense of the world around us. 

Quirk Holmes Brain Sense Brynie  How The Brain Works McCrone  Brain The Complete Mind Sweeney

And - as if there were any doubt - reading is definitely a way to improve your brain power! Psychology Today explains how reading fiction in particular can boost brain connectivity and function. So, happy reading!

Hello, Sports Fans: the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing

August 1, 2014 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

League of denial
In 2010, PEN America and ESPN created an award to celebrate literary sports writing. The 2014 award was announced on July 30. It was presented to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru for their book League of Denial: the NFL, Concussions and the Battle for the Truth, a powerful look at the connection between serious brain injuries and the game of football. It examines the failure of the National Football League to acknowledge and take steps to minimize the risks to its athletes.

League of Denial is available in these formats:

Regular Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

A documentary based on the book is also available at the library.


Collision low crossers Emerald mile Sports gene Their life's work

Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football by Nicholas Dawidoff

The Emerald Mile: the Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein

Their Life's Work: the Brotherhood of the 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now by Gary M. Pomerantz

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.

Sandra Martin will also be making a live appearance at North York Central Library on September 11, 7 PM to discuss poems, memoirs and novels about the first World War.

Call 416-395-5639 to register for this free program.

[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 joseph o'neill
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.

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