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Time to Check Your Pulse[s]

July 26, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (0)

2016 is United Nations International Year of the Pulses. The organization hopes to raise awareness of the value and benefits of pulses both as a food source and as a crop. Pulses are part of the legume family. As they grow, they fix nitrogen into the soil which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. 

Pulses include chickpeas, lentils, dry beans and dry peas. 

Want to experiment with pulses? These books available at Toronto Public Library include recipes for various members of the pulse family, among other menu ideas.

250 best beans, lentils, tofu recipes Bean by bean Chickpeas-cvr

250 Best Beans, Lentils, & Tofu Recipes: Healthy, Wholesome Foods

Bean by Bean: a Cookbook: More than 200 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans--Even Sweet Beans! by Crescent Dragonwagon
eBook

Chickpeas: Sweet and Savory Recipes from Hummus to Dessert by Einar Mazor

Power of pulses Superfoods at every meal Superlegumes

The Power of Pulses: Saving the World with Peas, Beans, Chickpeas, Fava and Lentils by Dan Jason, Hilary Malone, Alison Malone Eathorne
eBook

Superfoods at Every Meal: Nourish Your Family with Quick and Easy Recipes using 10 Everyday Superfoods by Kelly Pfeiffer
eBook

Superlegumes: Eat your way to Great Health by Chrissy Freer
eBook

Learn more at Pulse Canada.

I'm Always Hungry and other stories of my life

July 20, 2016 | Soheli | Comments (1)

I'm always hungry. It's true. Grazing, snacking, gorging -- I'll take it all, thank you very much.

When I searched "always hungry" into our library catalogue, I found this title:

Always Hungry?: Conguer cravings, retrain your fat cells, and lose weight permanently by David Ludwig, 2016

I mean, sure, great answer to a question I didn't exactly ask, but, really, it's July. I don't think about dieting and retraining anything until at least October. And even then, after Thanksgiving.

I did think this looked like kind of a fun memoir, however, about a self-professed, 'fat vegan'. Author Jasmin Singer notes, Oreos are, in fact, vegan and deep-fried tofu can be downright delicious.

Always Too Much and Never Enough: a Memoir by Jasmin Singer, 2016

There are so many books about food - whether it's our relationship with it, the ways we prepare it, and how it can really affect our lives - it's hard to choose just a few. Here are just a smattering of titles that are sure to get your mouth watering, heart melting and mental gears turning.

 

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, 2014

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister, 2013

 

In a follow up to Bauermeister's title, The School of Essential Ingredients (Large Print link), comes The Lost Art of Mixing

From Bon Appetit Magazine:

"[The Lost Art of Mixing is] about a chef and the cooking class she holds at her restaurant. We pick up again as the chef turns her attention to her own search for love, and is drawn into the lives of her regulars and co-workers. If you’ve ever wondered whether the chef at your regular joint thinks about you, this may be for you."

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown, 2013

 

(I tried to choose between the two covers, but both were so great.)

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail. Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure's adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade/1001 Arabian Nights story turned on its head, at sea, with food.

The same article from Bon Appetit mentioned also included a recipe from this book. Pirate-style desserts, anyone? Yum!

Vanilla Rose Amaretti 
Prep time 15 minutes. Total time 1 hour.

Owen Wedgwood was obliged to make his own rose extract from the flower scraps in a stolen potpourri. You can find rose extract in specialty groceries or online. In a pinch, food-grade essential rose oil will work as well–simply replace the rose extract with one drop of rose essential oil; a little goes a long way.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut, packed
3/4 cup almond flour, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut butter
1 tablespoons almond butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons rose extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl combine ingredients with a fork until well mixed. Using your hands, squeeze dough into plum-sized dollops and distribute evenly on the tray. You may need to rinse your hands with warm water if they become too sticky.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate the tray. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

 

A few more non-fiction titles and memoirs:

Finding the Flavors We Lost by Patric Kuh, 2016

In Memory of Bread: a Memoir by Paul Graham, 2016

Can we all just take a moment to recognize the beauty and grace that is bread?
After being diagnosed with celiac disease at age 36, Paul Graham was certainly forced to.

In writing that is effortless and engaging, Paul explores why incidences of celiac disease is on the rise while also grappling with an identity crisis--given that all his favourite pastimes involved wheat in some form. His honest, unflinching, and at times humorous journey towards health and acceptance makes an inspiring read.

 

Honourable Mentions:

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan, 2013

One of my most memorable things from the documentary series of the same name was a quote from Harry Balzer, who encourages us to eat - eat it all! - but the catch? You gotta make it yourself.
"Eat whatever you want, as long as you’ve cooked it yourself." – Harry Balzer

Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs, 2008

Seconds by Brian Lee O'Malley, 2014

 

Pokémon GO Go Go

July 19, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (0)

I was working this morning when someone I used to work with came over to me. I thought we were going to catch up, maybe he would show me photos from his recent vacation, or talk about books or something. 

Nope. He was on the hunt for Pokémon and I was in his way. Sigh.

I haven't downloaded the game yet but I'm sure I will become obsessed as soon as I do. 

Are you playing? These books will give you some ideas about where to look for your next Pokémon. 

Great country walks Stroll Toronto fischer Toronto's many faces

Great Country Walks Around Toronto: Within Reach by Public Transit by Elliott Katz

Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto by Shawn Micallef
eBook

Toronto by George Fischer and Jacob Richler

Toronto's Many Faces by Tony Ruprecht
• Profiles of 60 ethnic communities.

Toronto ravines and urban forests Toronto urban strols University of toronto the campus guide Your guide to toronto neighbourhoods

Toronto's Ravines and Urban Forests: Their Natural Heritage and Local History by Jason Ramsay-Brown

Toronto Urban Strolls 1: For Girlfriends -- the Girlfriends-Tested Guide to Exciting Walks in Toronto by Nathalie Prézeau

University of Toronto: The Campus Guide: An Architectural Tour by Larry Richards, photographs by Tom Arban
• Walking tours of all three U of T campuses.

Your Guide to Toronto Neighbourhoods by David Dunkelman 

Pokémon are everywhere, even libraries. Drop in and see. 

Have fun and be safe out there!

Happy 85th Birthday Clive Cussler

July 13, 2016 | Lynn | Comments (0)

Clive Cussler has written more than 70 books over the past 40 years. He turns 85 this Friday on July 15 and continues to publish. I find his books are to men what chick lit is to some women. It taps basic pleasures. For Clive Cussler fans those pleasures are: spies, weapons, global conspiracies and shipwrecks. This is not to say Cussler has no female fans, for I am one of them. His books are simply fast-paced action-filled stories with very little romance. Unlike for example, a Meg Cabot book which can be light, romantic and deal with female friendship. There are times I like my books to be more action and less talk and Clive Cussler is one of those authors. I have compiled a list of authors who I think fit that bill and their respective series. 

Clive Cussler          

  Serpent   The striker     The jungle


The NUMA Files

Kurt Austin heads a special team of agents who protect natural resources from exploitation, and explore underwater sites and forgotten wrecks.

Isaac Bell Adventures

These adventure stories follow a detective in the early 20th century travelling the globe using the latest technologies, such as the telegraph and early submarines.

The Oregon Files

When is a junker ship not headed to the scrap heap?  When it is a super ship disguised to sneak into all ports the globe over.  This group of mercenaries pull off the impossible in the rustiest ship of the seven seas.

 

Poseidon's arrow    The Solomon Curse

Dirk Pitt

Dirk Pitt works for NUMA, a naval version of the NSA, and he does it well.  He is often found with his sidekick Al Giordino as they protect the world and get into trouble along the way.

 

Fargo Adventures

This is a husband and wife team who live for underwater archaeology or treasure hunting depending on your point of view.

 

John Sandford

Extreme Prey   Rough country  

Prey Series

Lucas Davenport has been a long time member of Minnesota law enforcement, eventually heading up the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He gets the hard cases that no one wants to touch.

Virgil Flowers

Virgil Flowers is an agent of the BCA and can be just as often be found chasing a suspect, as fishing on a lake or writing about fishing. This ex-military police officer is comfortable on and off the water.

 

Cc8    Cc9

The Kidd Series

Publicly Kidd is a popular artist in Minnesota who is growing in popularity. He also happens to be a whiz at computers and will put those skills to work for the right price and right cause.

The Singular Menace

An animal rights action goes awry and it is up to teen Shay Renby to save her brother from Singular, a shady corporation.

 

Lee Child

Cc10

Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher is a no nonsense former member of the Army's Military Police.  He is a wanderer who often finds himself caught up in morally corrupt situations and his moral compass encourages him to take action, often very physical action.

  

James Patterson

Cc11    Cc12

Alex Cross

This popular series features a tough cop who is also a psychologist able to get into the mind of killer to catch them.  This fast-paced series is a great quick read.

Women’s Murder Club

This series features four women who somehow work with criminals: as a police officer, a pathologist, a crime news reporter and an attorney. Set in San Francisco, this series is a perfect beach read.

July is Ice Cream Month

July 11, 2016 | M. Elwood | Comments (2)

Sure, that seems appropriate. 

Have you ever wanted to make your own frozen treats? The library has books for that.

Ciao bella Everything goes with ice cream Ice Cream Adventures: More than 100 Deliciously Different Recipes

The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto: Bold Fresh Flavors to Make at Home by F.W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin

Everything Goes with Ice Cream: 111 Decadent Treats from Raspberry Sorbet to Cream Cookie Pie plus Fabulous Handmade Party Ideas by Koralee Teichroeb
eBook

Ice Cream Adventures: More than 100 Deliciously Different Recipes by Stef Ferrari
ebook

Ice creamery No churn ice cream Ultimate guide to homemade icecream

Ice Creamery Cookbook: Recipes for Frozen Treats, Toppings, Mix-Ins and More by Shelley Kandunsky

No Churn Ice Cream: Over 100 Simply Delicious No-Machine Frozen Treats by Leslie Bilderback
eBook

The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Ice Cream by Jan Hedh
eBook

If you don't eat ice cream for health or ethical reasons, you can still enjoy something cool in? Try non-dairy frozen treats instead.

Icy creamy healthy sweet Lick it N'ice cream

Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet: 75 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream, Fruit Forward Ice Pops, Frozen Yogurt, Granitas, Slushies, Shakes and More by Christine Chitnas

Lick It! Creamy, Dreamy, Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love by Cathe Olson

N'ice Cream: 80+ Recipes for Healthy Homemade Vegan Ice Creams by Virpi Mikkonen and Tuulia Talvio 

Paleo ice cream Vegan a la mode The vegan scoop

Paleo Ice Cream: 75 Recipes for Rich and Creamy Homemade Scoops and Treats by Ben Hirshberg
eBook

Vegan à la Mode: More  than 100 Frozen Treats for Every Day of the Year by Hannah Kaminsky
eBook

The Vegan Scoop: 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream that Tastes Better than the "Real" Thing by Wheeler del Torro
eBook

Does all of this seem like too much work? Just read one of these books with ice cream on the cover. 

All we ever wanted Disappointment artist Full scoop Summer of firsts and lasts

All We Ever Wanted was Everything by Janelle Brown

The Disappointment Artist and Other Essays by Jonathan Letham
Audiobook

Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy

The next time you're screaming for ice cream, come to the library...but stop screaming first. We hate that. 

 

Summer Reading Time! Books Coming Soon As Movies

July 8, 2016 | Kelli | Comments (0)

During this time of year many people stop by the library looking for suggestions for books to read during their vacations. After all, there is nothing like spending a relaxing summer's day involved in a good book, preferably with a favourite beverage close by. The hardest part is finishing one book and deciding what to read next.  

If you like to read a book before seeing the movie it's based on, here are some suggestions for books to read in the months ahead. These books have been made into movies that are scheduled to be released this fall. 

 

Light between oceans The Queen of Katwe The Girl on the Train Inferno American pastoral

 

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman 
When a lighthouse keeper and his wife discover a baby and a dead body near their home off the coast of Australia, their decision regarding the child will have devastating and long lasting consequences. Starring Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, The Light Between Oceans is scheduled to be released on September 2, 2016.
The book is also available in: 
Large Print
Audiobook
eBook
eAudiobook
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

 

Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers
Phiona Mutesi is a nine-year-old girl living in a slum called Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. When she meets Robert Katende, he introduces her to the game of chess. Within months Phiona's immense talent is evident. By the time she is 15, Phiona is her country's national champion and is on her way to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world's most prestigious team chess event. Starring Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo, The Queen of Katwe is scheduled to be released on September 23rd.  
The book is also available in eBook.

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same London commuter train every day and she often notices the same couple, Jason and Jess (as she calls them) when the train stops at a signal behind their home. As Jason and Jess seem so happy, Rachel spends her time imagining what their lives are like. Then one day she sees on the news that Jess has disappeared and Rachel, feeling invested in the lives of these strangers, inserts herself into the police investigation. Starring Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train is scheduled to be released on October 7th.  
The book is also available in:
Audiobook
eBook
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

 

Inferno by Dan Brown
Waking up in a Florence hospital, Robert Langdon, is unable to remember the last several days. With the help of the lovely Dr. Sienna Brooks, he narrowly escapes from some people out to kill him and starts to piece together the events of the missing days. He is soon drawn into the world centered around a literary masterpiece, Dante Aligheri's Inferno. As before, Langdon must use his expertise in symbology to save the world. Tom Hanks returns to star as Robert Langdon in Inferno, which is scheduled to be released on October 28.
The books is also available in:
Large Print
Audiobook
eBook
eAudiobook
Talking Book (Restricted to print disabled patrons)

 

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
A former high school athletic star, Seymour Levov is living the American dream with a thriving business, a beautiful wife and an adored daughter. Then, one day in 1968, his life is turned upside down when his daughter becomes a revolutionary terrorist who is out to destroy her father's world. Starring Ewan McGregor and Dakota Fanning, American Pastoral is scheduled to be released on October 28 as well. 
The book is also available in:
Audiobook
eAudiobook
 

Need more suggestions for summer reading?  Have a look at:

We Recommend: Many, many booklists created by our Reader's Advisory Committee members.  Two recent lists are for Read Alikes for the Jason Bourne books and for Fiona Barton's The Widow

Best Sellers Lists: Lists from the Globe and Mail and New York Times are regularly updated on our website.

Award Winner Lists: We keep track of the winners of many Canadian, International, Science Fiction, Mystery and Nonfiction awards going back several years. 

OverDrive Lists: Our OverDrive website has a number of book lists to help you choose something great to read. Have a look, even if you do not want to read in 'e' format. Lists such as Hot Releases 2016, Top Books of 2015 and the ever popular TPL Staff Picks have great suggestions. 

Loan Stars is a new program for recommending soon to be published books. The books are voted on by librarians across the country. A new list titles is announced at the beginning of each month.

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:

Humorous

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:

Books:

Gordie Howe: My Hockey Memories by Gordie Howe

Mr. Hockey: My Story by Gordie Howe
Audiobook
eAudiobook
eBook
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
eBook

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

DVD:

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

9780571313594.jpg

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

 

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