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Canada Reads 2015: Breaking Down Barriers

January 25, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Canada Reads 2015

Canada Reads, the annual battle of the books, is challenging stereotypes, introducing new perspectives and breaking barriers with its 2015 competition. This year the contest will consider books about teenage sexuality, immigration and Aboriginal treatment. 

The debates, broadcast on CBC radio, take place March 16-19 and will be hosted by Wab Kinew. 

And the Birds Rained Down The Inconvenient Indian Intolerable Ru When Everything Feels Like the Movies

And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins
A pair of octogenarians who have cut ties with civilization to live in Northern Ontario have their solitude interrupted by a photographer who is searching for survivors of a horrific fire many years earlier and an elderly escapee from a mental institution. The winner of numerous awards, it will be championed by Martha Wainwright.

The Inconvenient Indian: a Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
Talking Book: DAISY Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
King explores the history of European settlement in North America from the earliest contact to the present, concentrating on the treatment of First Nations peoples. This witty, thought-provoking book was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize in 2014. Craig Kielburger is its defender.

Intolerable: a Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee
Talking Book: DAISY Format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Born in Yemen, Al-Solaylee and his family went into exile in Cairo and Beirut before returning to their homeland. As the Middle East became more restrictive, Al-Solaylee, a gay man, realized that there was no place for him there. He received a scholarship to study in the UK and later emigrated to Canada. The memoir won the 2013 Toronto Book Award. Kristin Kreuk will champion the book for Canada Reads. 

Ru by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
Large Print
Talking Book: DAISY format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Nguyen An Tinh enjoys a privileged childhood in Saigon but when she is 10 years old, her family flees Viet Nam and the war, landing first in a Malaysian refugee camp and then Canada. Based upon the author's own experiences, the novel won the 2010 Governor General's Award for French Language Fiction; the English translation was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2012. It will be defended by Cameron Bailey.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid
The novel, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature in 2014, was inspired by the true story of Lawrence Fobes King, an openly gay teen who was shot and killed by a classmate inside an Oxnard California high school. The book will be defended by Elaine Lui. 

Join broadcaster Mary Ito at Toronto Reference Library for the launch of Canada Reads on March 4, 2015, 7-8 PM.

Tickets and more information 

Planning a getaway

January 23, 2015 | Lynn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

By this time of year you may be looking to get away for a while and gazing at travel sites looking for ideas of warmer climates to visit. Perhaps you are looking to visit some warm islands or a warm country. Or perhaps you are thinking of crossing an ocean for a trip. Or maybe you do not wish to take such a trip, but would like to imagine yourself doing such a thing. We here at the Toronto Public Library can help with all these scenarios. We carry travel guides to help decide where to go, we have an online language learning program besides language learning kits, and we have travelogues for those who prefer to travel from the comfort of their arm chairs. Whether it’s to plan a trip for 2015 or read of someone else’s travels, please check out the amazing materials on offer here at the Toronto Public Library.

Travel Guides

Great books to help decide where and when to venture into the world, just keep in mind that it is always best to contact places directly for current prices, opening hours and in case there are renovations.  

Frommer's easy guide Hawaii.  2015  Fodor's Spain 2015  Frommer's easy guide Costa Rica 2015

Frommer's easy guide Hawaii 2015

Learn from a local where to stay, where to eat, where to surf and what to avoid.

Fodor's Spain 2015

Discover the land that brought Tapas to the world, fine wines and world class museums.

Frommer's easy guide Costa Rica 2015

Touted as an inexpensive warm getaway Costa Rica has beautiful forest, volcanoes and ecologically protected areas to explore.

eTravel Guides

These are eBooks that you can download onto your devices and use without looking like a tourist always looking through a book, but a local simply using their phone.  This is an area that is growing in popularity and as such the books are being better designed for easier use.

Boston 2013  Eyewitness travel Top 10 Paris the best of everything  Eyewitness travel Montreal and Quebec City the 10 best of everything

Eyewitness Travel Boston 2013

See where the Tea Party took place, visit Fenway Park and the museums.

Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Paris the best of everything

Learn when to visit the Louvre, watch traffic from the top of the Arc de Triomphe and where to get the best pain au chocolat.

Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Montreal and Quebec City the 10 best of everything

Discover Canadian cities that offer such delights as the Just for Laughs Festival, the Biodome and the Quebec Winter Carnival.

Language learning

It never hurts to learn a few keys phrases before visiting a new country.

  Mango Language learning  Say it right in spanish  In-flight Turkish

Mango Language Learning 

Using your computer at home you can learn key phrases in languages such as French or Pirate.

Say it right in Spanish 

To help you learn how to do more than order a beer in Spanish.

In-flight Turkish

Once you land, you can impress your business counterparts with your new found understanding of their language.


You can always travel the world through other people's eyes safely from home with no security to get through.

   Shenzhen a travelogue from China  I'm a stranger here myself notes on returning to America after twenty years away  On the wonders of land and sea Persianate travel writing

Shenzhen : a travelogue from China

This French Canadian cartoonist has written a number of books on his travels throughout the world and provides humour, insight and travel tips for the reader.

I'm a Stranger here myself: notes on returning to America after twenty years away

What does it feel like to have travelled for twenty years, then return home.  Is it still home?

On the wonders of Land & Sea Persianate travel writing

This group of essays come from a non-European point of view from men and women from the 18th to 20th centuries.  These essays show how the world looked to some.


Whether you are looking for a get away or just dreaming about one the Toronto Public Library has many tools to help you realize that dream.

January 22 is Answer Your Cat's Question Day

January 21, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Answer Your Cat's Question Day is a day to unlock the mysteries of feline behaviour. Instead of ignoring weirdness, cat owners are encouraged to spend some time trying to understand what it means. 

Here are some cat behaviour books to help:

Cat sense Cat whisperer Secret language of cats Think like a cat Your cat the owners manual

Cat Sense: The New Feline Science that Can Make you a Better Friend to your Pet by John Bradshaw
Large Print

The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do--and How to Get Them to Do What you Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider

The Secret Language of Cats: The Body Language of Feline Bodies by Heather Dunphy

Think like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss by Pam Johnson-Bennett

Your Cat the Owner's Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises, and Solutions for Raising a Happy Cat by Marty Becker

How's That Resolution? Keep Motivated with Online Books, Magazines and Videos

January 19, 2015 | Kelli | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Well, it's just over two weeks into the New Year. How is that resolution holding up?  

After the first boost of enthusiasm, it can be difficult to keep going with our resolutions once the day-to-day struggle really sets in. If you are looking for some help to keep going, have a look at our online collections from OverDrive, Zinio and Hoopla.

If you have not used these digital services before, read about them in our recent New to eBooks, eMagazines, eMusic and eMovies?  Start Here! post. 

If you prefer to read print books, have a look at the list provided in the recent blog "How to Break All Your New Year's Resolutions". For even more suggestions, have a look at the New Year, New You! Featured List in OverDrive.

Dieting and Healthy Eating

eBooks from OverDrive

10 day detox Eat to live Paleo diet Plant-based leslie  beck Salt sugar fat

Online Magazines from Zinio

Clean eating Eating well Prevention Vegetarian times Weight watchers

Get Moving More

eBooks from OverDrive

30 minute yoga Make the pool your gym Resistance band workout Running Tai chi

Online Magazines from Zinio 

Fitness Oxygen Runner's world Shape Yoga journal

Online Exercise Videos from Hoopla

Jillian michaels ripped in 30 Richard simmons sweating to the oldies Rodney yee yoga for beginners Sit and be fit Trudie styler's cardio dance flow

Stop Smoking

eBooks and eAudiobooks from OverDrive

Allen carr I know you like to smoke


Smoke free Why do i keep

Note: Quit: Read This Book and Stop Smoking by Charles F Wetherall is an eAudiobook, not an eBook.  

How to Break All Your New Year's Resolutions.

January 16, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

According to the Toronto Star, only about half of the Canadians who made a New Year's resolution for 2012 made it a whole month. Around 20% kept committed the full year. Although we can hope our resolve has grown a bit stronger, it's probably safe to say a lot of our resolutions made this year will fall by the wayside too (sorry, glass-half-full folks...) If you're looking for ways to keep some of your well-intended resolutions, check out some posts from other library bloggers:

New Year's Resolutions - from the Albert Campbell District Blog

Why I Did (Not) Make a Resolution This Year - from the Health and Wellness Blog

But if you're here to read about how the things we resolve to do often go awry, you're in the right place.

Here are five of the most common New Year's resolutions and some books about characters that probably didn't quite keep them...

1. Lose Weight

How To Be CoolHow to Be Cool
by Johanna Edwards

Losing weight is probably one of the most frequently mentioned resolutions that people set. It's also one of the most unsuccessful.
Kylie Chase would know.

Even after losing 75 pounds and reinventing herself as a chic image consultant, she still feels like the overweight girl she was.
When she is forced to move back in with her parents and the pounds start to pack on again, Kylie must learn what it really takes to feel good in your own skin.

2. Quit Smoking

The ButtThe Butt
by Will Self

I'm not sure if Tom Brodzinksi ever really made an effort to quit smoking, but maybe he should have. After all, it's when he carelessly flicks his cigarette ash off a balcony that his life starts to take a turn for the worst.

In this experimental novel, Will Self sends us on a journey with Tom to right his wrongs in a strange, dystopian world.


3. Spend more time with family

The Other Way AroundThe Other Way Around
by Sashi Kaufman
Teen fiction

The holidays are a time to eat, drink and be merry with your family. But for Andrew West, he'll do just about anything to escape his overbearing parents and relatives.

Instead of joining his family for Thanksgiving, he decides to run away and join the circus...kind of. What starts out as a care-free way of living turns out to be a whole lot more complicated when he meets a band of street performer 'Freegans'.


4. Get out of debt


by George Dawes Green

Shaw and Romeo didn't have a whole lot going for them. They were just looking for something to take them far away from their mind-numbing tech jobs in Ohio. When they stop at a small convenience store somewhere in Georgia, they discover that a multi-million dollar lottery ticket was just sold there -- and they just found who the big winners are. Shaw and Romeo might just get rich a whole lot faster...if their plan works.


5. Get more organized

Objects of my affectionObjects of my Affection
by Jill Smolinski

Lucy Bloom may be going through a rough time, but she's determined to start fresh. When she's offered a high-paying job as a personal organizer for an eccentric painter, she's confident that this will help her get her life back on track.

But the reclusive Marva is on a whole new level of disorganization: she's a compulsive hoarder who refuses to let go of the items that have accumulated in her home over the years. Lucy and Marva must work together if they're ever going to get Marva out from under. 

If you've already started to abandon some of your resolutions for 2015, remember that it's not too late to try again if it's something you really want to do. (I consider all of January a grace period for resolutions anyway.) If you haven't made any just yet, here's a simple one to start: read five books you haven't read before...

January is Hot Tea Month

January 15, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Last night, I stopped on the way home from work to get a cup of coffee. It took a little bit longer than usual because the man ahead of me was upset because his usual tea blend had been discontinued. He vented for a good long time before he settled on a new drink. 

How appropriate that January is Hot Tea Month.

Tea is the perfect accompaniment to a good book, so make yourself a cup and settle down with one of these novels about tea.

Chai tea sunday Colour of tea Tea for three Tea shop on lavender lane Travelling tea shop

Chai Tea Sunday by Heather A. Clark
Large Print
Talking Book: DAISY format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
Emotionally devastated following a tragedy, Nicky Fowler takes comfort from working at a Kenyan orphanage and life lessons over chai tea from Mama Bu.

The Colour of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe
Grace Miller is living in Macau in a marriage that has lost its spark. On a whim, she decides to open a café offering tea and macarons that becomes a gathering place for people from all walks of life.

Tea for Three by Laura Childs
Mysteries and murder complicate the life of tea shop owner Theodosia Browning. Contains the first three volumes in Childs' Tea Shop Mystery series: Death by Darjeeling, Gunpowder Green and Shades of Earl Grey.

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts
After her Los Angeles catering business closes, Bailey Sterling returns to her Icicle Falls, WA hometown to regroup. She teams up with handsome Todd Black to open a tea shop in town, causing friction with her sister Cecily, who is dating Todd.

The Travelling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones
Travel planner Laurie Davis is commissioned to organize an American trip for famed UK chef Pamela Lambert-Leigh who is writing a cookbook about traditional US cakes.

Coffee lovers may want to check out this post from January 2012:

What Are You Reading in 2015?

January 9, 2015 | Kelli | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is known for his challenging New Year's resolutions. In past years he has resolved to learn Mandarin, meet a new person every day and wear a tie daily. This year, after collecting suggestions from the Facebook community, he's decided to read a book every other week.  

He has invited everyone to join him in this challenge through his A Year of Books book club and to start with the first book, The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn't What it Used to Be by Moisés Naím.


End of power

In The End of Power, award-winning columnist and former Foreign Policy editor Moisés Naím, argues that power is shifting and changing in many areas of society and moving from large, established organizations to newer, smaller groups. Also, power is also becoming harder to use and easier to lose and the potential for upheaval is unprecedented. Drawing on original research and a lifetime of experience in global affairs, Naím investigates that the struggle between those who had power and the new forces challenging them and explains how the end of power is changing our world.

eBook (from OverDrive eBooks)
eBook (from Safari  Books Online- streaming only)


If Mark Zuckerberg's challenge is not for you, consider joining the Toronto Public Library's Online Book Club, BookBuzz.  It's easy to sign up.  All you need to do is go to the registration page, pick a user name and password and enter your email address.   Watch the short video to find out more.  

The BookBuzz book for January 2015 is The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. 

Painted girlsSet in late 19th-century Paris, the Van Goethem sisters find their lives turned upside down after their father's sudden death. Without his income, they may be evicted from their home. With few options for work, Marie and Antoinette begin work at the Paris Opera, Marie is to be trained to enter the ballet and Antoinette finds work as an extra. As Marie throws herself into learning dance, she is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas. Meanwhile, Antoinette, derailed by love,  must choose between honest labour and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman.


Large Print
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

If you would prefer to add some variety in the books you read, have a look at the 2015 Book Buzz Reading Challenge. This year's challenge is to read 10 books from 10 different categories. These include: a book published in 2015, a book published in 1815, a book about sports, and a book set in your hometown/childhood home. There are 21 categories in total. You can find out what others are reading, and let the other challenge participants know how you are doing through the Challenge discussion. 

Keeping Track of Your Reading

If you simply want to read more books that in previous years, try using a website like Goodreads, LibraryThing or Shelfari to keep track of the books you read this year. Goodreads has an Apple and Android app, and their own Reading Challenge. Members can indicate how many books they want to read in 2015 and the website will help record them and will indicate if the reader is reading fast enough to complete the challenge on time.

Need Help Choosing Your Next Book?

Of course, we can certainly help you find something to read! Have a look at some of our recent blogs for ideas (listed below), our lists of Award Winners and Bestsellers, or our We Recommend page. You can ask for recommendations at your local branch or through the Ask A Bookhead service.

A New Year for Learning Mindfulness

January 6, 2015 | Melanie | Comments (4) Facebook Twitter More...

In this modern day society, most people’s minds are always working on overtime. A lot of this has to do with our high stress lifestyle and overuse of technology. This means that our brains are always thinking, and our minds often race with many different thoughts at once. At the end of the day it can be impossible to turn off your mind and stop thinking.

Until recently I had no idea what “mindfulness” exactly means, or what it even is.  Mindfulness is a combination of yoga, meditation and body awareness that is loosely based on Zen Buddhism. To be perfectly honest, when I started to learn about mindfulness I was very skeptical, as it sounded quite frivolous. The whole point of mindfulness is to make yourself aware of only the present moment and to not think about the rest of your thoughts. When I tried doing these simple meditations, I actually underestimated just how hard it is to clear your mind completely. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn is considered the authority on the modern-day mindfulness movement.  Anderson Cooper recently interviewed him on 60 Minutes.

He is the author of the book Full Catastrophe Living, which is considered the manual on mindfulness.

Full Catastrophe Living



Listening to audio CDs on mindfulness meditation can also be quite helpful. My favourite CDs are the Guided Mindfulness Meditation series, also read Jon Kabat Zinn. There's something about his voice that you will either love or hate. I personally find it quite relaxing.  

Guided mindfulness meditation. Series 1

 Guided mindfulness meditation. Series 2  Guided mindfulness meditation. Series 3

Being mindful is something that can be done daily, just like eating well and exercise. Here are some other books on mindfulness:


Mindfulness - 8 week plan

Mindfulness: An Eight Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams



Mindfulness, by Ellen J. Langer 


Mindfulness, by Domyo Sater Burke


In this moment

In this Moment:  Five Steps to Transcending Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroscience, by Kirk Strosahl

  Mindfulness stress workbook

A Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Anxiety, by Bob Stahl

Rough guide to mindfulness

Rough Guide to Mindfulness, by Albert Tobler

  Mindfulness for beginners

Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn



  Mindfulness survival kit

Mindfulness Survival Kit: Five Essential Practices, by Thich Nhat Hanh


 There are many other books and resources from the library on mindfulness.

Sneak Peek of John Vaillant's book "The Jaguar's Children"

January 2, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon winter season opens on January 13 with a program featuring award-winning author John Vaillant. He will be appearing with CBC broadcaster Gill Deacon to discuss his work.

The Jaguar's ChildrenAlready the author of two best-selling non-fiction books, Vaillant's first novel, The Jaguar's Children, will be published on January 6. It has already received starred reviews in Kirkus and Library Journal and has been favourably compared to the literary thrillers of John le Carré. Joseph Boyden describes it as "a literary mystery, an engrossing tour de force, and a brilliant commentary on humanity’s role in the physical world".

It tells the story of thirteen Mexicans attempting to cross the US border illegally who have been abandoned in a sealed truck with limited food and water by the coyotes who have been transporting them. Hérbert Gonzalez, is among them. As he uses his friend César's cellphone to get help, he tells the story of his life and how he came to be in this horrible situation.

Intrigued? Read the first chapter.

Discuss the excerpt and anything else about books on Book Buzz, Toronto Public Library's online book club.

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant is published by Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada.

Tickets and additional event information

A Book is a Gift You Can Open Again and Again

December 27, 2014 | Andrea | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The holidays can be harrowing. Were you among those with the fortitude to brave the Boxing Day battlefields, or did you take a vacation from jingling around the clock? Whether you found a stack of books under your tree, picked up some discounted reads at the mall, or stocked up on library goods in advance, there is no gift like spending quality time with a book and a cup of cocoa or tea over the winter break. Perhaps you're even reading one of these "most gifted" titles of the season:
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin  Yes Please by Amy Poehler  You Are Here by Chris Hadfield

Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood

Atwood's new collection of short stories includes one featuring some familiar characters from The Robber Bride.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand

Louis Zamperini's death and the film adaptation of this biography has renewed interest in his painful, powerful story.

The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Hardcore fans of the fantasy series will be delighted by the gorgeous artwork of this encyclopedia and the details both amusing (Lords Elmo and Kermit Tully!) and intriguing (all the mysterious map-edge lands, from Asshai to Yi Ti).

Yes Please
by Amy Poehler

The comedy queen shares her experiences and insights, offering readers witty wisdom about showbiz, marriage, parenting and more.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield

An eye-opening photo essay from everyone's favourite astronaut.

Are any of these the last title on your 2014 reading list? The year is drawing to a close, but there's still time to complete the Book Buzz Reading Challenge for your chance to win a prize!

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