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Provocative or Perverse? Books that Push Boundaries

February 23, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Thought-provoking. Disconcerting. Provocative. There's a probably a thousand ways to spin it, but some books can make you feel downright uneasy.

With the recent buzz about Raziel Reid's GG-winning controversial book, When Everything Feels Like The Movies, I started thinking about the types of books we read, and just how much can feel like too much.

Here are six titles that some readers have found to have pushed the boundaries when it came to sex, violence and more.

Reader beware - these aren't for the faint of heart!

When Everything Feels Like The MoviesWhen Everything Feels Like The Movies
Raziel Reid, 2014

Inspired by a real-life tragedy, Reid's debut novel follows an openly-gay teen narrator as he explores his sexuality, school troubles, and family dysfunctions.

The first young adult book to win a Governor General's Award, Reid's explicit novel has invited a lot of attention - and not all good. While some have lauded his writing to be unflinching and authentic, others consider it gratuitious and vulgar.

TV personality Lainey Lui will be defending the novel later next month in CBC's Canada Reads debates.

My Loose ThreadMy Loose Thread
Dennis Cooper, 2002

If the odd, bloody cover doesn't make you feel slightly out of sorts (The two boys resemble creepy clowns in an intimate embrace), the synopsis will most likely do the trick: Larry, a high-school senior struggling with his sexuality, is paid to kill a peer and steal his notebook, which holds information on a number of students. Thrown in the mix is a strange relationship with his younger brother, Jim, who harbours secrets of his own. Told from Larry's point-of-view, the story holds little back when it comes to violence and the nature of dark obssession.

 

TampaTampa
Alyssa Nutting

Another story inspired by real events, Tampa follows Celeste Price, a young, attractive junior-high English teacher. Celeste is married to a hot cop, lives in a nice house, and drives a fast car. She's got it all...including a singular taste for 14-year-old boys. Her entire life revolves around feeding this obssession. It's hard to feel even a little sympathetic for a pedophilic predator like Celeste, and even Nutting's eloquent (but sometimes revolting) prose can't make it happen. What you do get, however, is a twisted look into the mind of a deceptive woman who will do anything to get her way. But do you really want to peek in there?

The Ages of LuluThe Ages of Lulu
Almudena Grandes, 2005 (English trans.)

Lulu starts off as a precocious fifteen-year-old who is seduced by a family friend more than a decade her senior. This sparks a strange, and sometimes scary, sexual journey that finds Lulu blurring the line between decency and perversion as she explores the darker side of love and sex.

Translated from its original Spanish, Las edades de Lulú won the Sonrisa Vertical Prize for erotic literature in 1989 when it was first written.

 

 

ExitExit
Nelly Arcan, 2011 (English trans.)

In Montreal, in a not-too-distant future, desperate people can buy their own deaths. An obscure company designs customized suicides for those that can prove their desires to die are authentic and absolute: after all, there are no refunds for this service. Antoinette Beauchamp fulfills the criteria, but something goes wrong and her death wish leaves her a bedridden paraplegic instead.

The powerful commentary on life and death is only compounded when you learn author Arcan committed suicide just days after this original French title was finalized.

ForbiddenForbidden
Tabitha Suzuma, 2011

Lochan and Maya have only had each other for support through years of neglect and abuse from their parents. They've always felt more like friends than siblings. When these feelings grow into something more, they struggle with their unconventional relationship and the desperate, all-consuming love that drives it. While certainly not as explicit as some of the other titles on this list, Forbidden explores tricky and taboo territory. It isn't new (think of the Dollangangers in Flowers in the Attic), but incestuous love stories don't quite make it to the standard romance shelves either.

Some other honourable mentions for this list include:

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche, 2009
Lolito by Ben Brooks, 2013

Wetlands  Lolito

Whether this list makes you want to go out and read them all, or simply know which ones to avoid, we can all be grateful that we have the choice to decide. This week is Freedom to Read Week (February 22 through 28) - it's a great time to celebrate whatever it is we're reading. Want some more ideas for reading this week? Check out the previous post of challenged titles.

If you'd like to share a provocative title you've recently read or would recommend, tweet us (@torontolibrary) or leave a comment!

You Can't Read That! Challenged Books for Freedom to Read Week

February 19, 2015 | M. Elwood | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Freedom to Read Week

February 22-28 is Freedom to Read Week. This annual event encourages all Canadians to celebrate the intellectual freedom that is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also important to recognize that threats to this freedom occur regularly. The Canadian Library Association conducts an annual survey of publicly funded libraries to identify challenges that have been received. 

These adult books have faced recent challenges but they're all available through Toronto Public Library.

Earth a visitor's guide Tales from the farm How evan broke his head The kid Killing kennedy

Earth (the Book): a Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
Audiobook
eAudiobook
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
The human race as viewed by Jon Stewart and writers for The Daily Show. Challenged in Ontario for nudity and insensitivity.

Essex County, Vol. 1: Tales from the Farm by Jeff Lemire
The story of an orphaned boy living on his uncle's farm was challenged in Ontario for offensive language.

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein
eBook
Evan's life is rocked by the arrival of a teenage son he's never met. The book was challenged in Alberta because of homosexuality, sexually explicit scenes and offensive language.

The Kid by Sapphire
Audiobook
eAudiobook
eBook
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
After his mother's death, 9 year-old Abdul Jones must fend for himself. Challenged in an Ontario public library for sexual explicit scenes, violence and offensive language.

Killing Kennedy: the End of Camelot by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Audiobook
eAudiobook
eBook
Large Print
Talking Book: CD format (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
An examination of the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy and the significant impact of his death on American culture and society.
It faced a challenge in 2013 in Ontario for inaccuracy--specifically, the author's assertion that Kennedy was killed by a single assassin acting alone and not through a conspiracy.

Sophie crumb Styxx Warlord Wetlands What i meant to say

Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist
Artists A. Crumb and R. Crumb trace the development of their daughter’s artistic vision through an examination of her art from childhood to adulthood.
Challenged in an Alberta public library for nudity and sexually explicit images.

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon
eAudiobook
eBook
An ancient evil has been unleashed and Styxx may be the only one who can save human race.
An Alberta library patron challenged the book for its explicit sexuality and child abuse.

Warlord: an Alex Hawke novel by Ted Bell
eBook
Large Print
MI-6 agent Alex Hawke must save the British royal family from a terrorist threat. This book was challenged in Ontario for the following reasons: anti-ethnicity; insensitivity; racism; political viewpoint; inciting hatred.

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Hospitalized, an eighteen-year-old woman reminisces about her life and her sexual experiences in this explicit novel. The book was challenged in British Columbia by a patron who was concerned that the book would be mistaken by students for a biodiversity title.

What I Meant to Say: the Private Lives of Men
A collection of essays from 28 writers about their lives as Canadian men. It was challenged in Ontario for sexism.

Read more at Freedom to Read.

Celebrate your freedom to read every week!

Attend Freedom to Read events at Toronto Public Library. 

Colleen McCullough: 1937-2015

January 29, 2015 | Book Buzz | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Colleen McCullough was born in Wellington, Australia to Jim, an itinerant worker and Laurie, a New Zealander with a Maori background. McCullough described her early life as nomadic and unpleasant. "Mother and father hated each other but refused to separate. They fought constantly," she said. Following Jim's death in 1973, Laurie was accused of poisoning him. It was discovered that Jim had at least two other families and she was cleared of the charges. Both McCullough and her younger brother Carl vowed to remain single.

When Colleen was 12, the family settled in Sydney where she excelled academically in both arts and science. She felt that a career in science would be most suitable for a spinster so she studied neurophysiology. She was a well-respected scientist, working in Australia, England and the United States where she ran a research laboratory and taught at Yale University Medical School.

Thorn birdsBecause she was determined to remain single, she became concerned about supporting herself in her old age. Women scientists were paid about half the salary of their male counterparts during the 1970s. She envisioned herself as a "a 70-year old spinster in a cold-water walk-up flat with one 60-watt light bulb" and decided to write a bestseller. Her first novel, Tim, was published in 1974. It did not provide the financial security she had envisioned, so McCullough polled Yale students to see what they wanted to read. With their suggestions--romance, character, and plot--she tried again. Her second book The Thorn Birds was the bestseller she had wanted. By 1977, she was a millionaire and gave up her job at Yale.

She returned to Australia to write full time. Because their relationship was so strained that she did not want to live on the same continent as her mother, McCullough settled on remote Norfolk Island, 1400 km from mainland Australia. In 1984, she married Ric Robinson describing him as "nicest man I'd ever met".

She died of apparent kidney disease on January 29, 2015 on Norfolk Island.

Some of her books:

Angel Antony and cleopatra Bittersweet Independence of miss mary bennet The Prodigal Son

Angel

Antony and Cleopatra

Bittersweet

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

The Prodigal Son

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
eBook
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
eBook
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
eBook
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
eBook
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
eBook
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 

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

Ravens

Ravens
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
eAudiobook
eBook
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
eBook
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:

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!

Calling all Whovians

December 19, 2014 | Lynn | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

As a fan of Doctor Who, I am looking forward to the Christmas special airing this Christmas Day on the Space channel. This has become an annual tradition in my house as it is for Whovians (fans of Doctor Who) the world over. For the unintiated this series is a popular British television show that ran from 1963 to 1989 and came back to television in 2005 and continues to be popular today. The series is on it's 13th doctor and each fan has their favourite Doctor.  

To help gear up for the special, Toronto Public Library has a substantial number of materials for fans to discover in book form, short stories, DVD, eBooks, eAudiobooks, graphic novels and some books that can only be discovered at the Merril Collection which is housed in Lillian H. Smith branch. I will highlight a few from each format and I encourage fans, new and faithful, to discover the full extent of our collections.

Books

Doctor Who - Shada  The Doctor's lives and times  Doctor Who the secret lives of monsters

Doctor Who: Shada : the Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams

This is Douglas Adams completing the story of Shada, the episode that never made it to air. This is based on Adams' script.

Doctor Who: the Doctor's lives and times

To get the gossip on the man who has saved the Earth countless times from his closest friends and letters, this is a must read.

Doctor Who: the secret lives of monsters

If you are keen to add to your knowledge of the Doctor then this book will provide details relating to the Doctor's enemies.  

Short Stories

Doctor Who short stories

Doctor Who: 11 doctors 11 stories

Short stories brought to you by the leading sci fi authors of the era.

DVDs

Doctor Who the time of the doctor  Doctor Who the snowmen  Doctor Who the complete fourth series

Doctor Who: The Time of the Doctor

This is last year's Christmas special which marked the 800th episode of the series and was a critically acclaimed episode.

Doctor Who: The Snowmen

This is the 2012 Christmas special with some old favourites returning for this special.

Doctor Who: The Complete Fourth Series

The Doctor and Donna run around time and space encountering Pompeii, Agatha Christie and the universe's largest library.

eAudiobooks

Doctor Who and the cave monsters  Doctor who and the terror of the autons  Doctor who planet of the daleks

Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters 

This is a novelization of an old episode and introduces the Silurians, a reptilian race who used to dominate the Earth.

Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons 

This novelization features the Doctor against the Master, the only other Time Lord in existence.

Doctor Who and the Planet of the Daleks 

This is a novelization of the Doctor again battling those he fought in the Great Time War, the Daleks who seek to simply exterminate with great prejudice. 

Graphic novels

Doctor who prisoners of time  Star Trek the next generation Doctor Who Assimilation

Doctor Who Prisoners of Time

This graphic novel features all 11 doctors in their own stories.

Star Trek the next generation, Doctor Who Assimilation, Volume 1

This is fan favourite crossover of two popular franchises, Star Trek and Doctor Who facing off against the Borg and Cybermen. 

Merril Collection

Doctor Who the caves of Androzani  Doctor Who the writer's tale  Doctor Who the infinity doctors

Doctor Who The caves of Androzani

This is the novelization of an 1985 episode where the Doctor must consider saving others at the cost of of one of his lives.

Doctor Who The writer's tale

This book provides an indepth look at a year on the show through the eyes of the head writer and executive producer, Russell T. Davies.

The infinity doctors

This is an original story based on the Doctor that provides the reader with a "what if" reading experience.

Please check out some of the recommendations and as the Doctor would say, "Geronimo!"

Best of 2014: Quick Picks from Goodreads

December 12, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6) Facebook Twitter More...

As we get closer to the end of the year, lists start popping up everywhere rounding up the best books of the year. I always like to take a look at reader-based selections, and the Goodreads Choice Awards is a good place to start. Here are a few of the selections from this year's list.

Best of Nonfiction
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Opposite Of Loneliness

Marina was a top notch student at Yale (summa cum laude, in fact) who died in a tragic car accident shortly after she graduated. This post-humous collection of short stories and essays she wrote are sure to get you thinking (and sobbing). For a similar title, try This Star Won't Go Out.

Best of Fiction
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline

Georgie knows her marriage is getting close to its breaking point. When she can't make it home for Christmas, and her husband takes the kids without her, she realizes something must be done. She discovers that there's a way to communicate with her husband - in the past. Can she save her marriage from the beginning again? For another book about complicated relationships in trouble, try Picture Bride by C. Fong Hsiung.

Best of Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian


It's funny that I'd never heard of this book until a friend (at a crowded birthday party, nonetheless) pulled me aside and tapped his phone towards me: "Have you read this? It's AMAZING." And then he went into a corner and continued reading on that tiny screen. (I don't condone anti-social reading behaviour, but, hey, I understand it.) Described as a futuristic Cast Away meets Apollo 13, The Martian follows Mark Watney, one of the first astronauts to step onto Mars. After an accident leaves him stranded on the planet, with limited resources and no communication back to Earth, he must use everything he can to survive an impossible situation. For another literary, inter-galactic read, try Michel Faber's amazing The Book of Strange New Things.

Best of Humour
Yes Please by Amy Poehler

YesPlease


One of Saturday Night Live's most beloved alums offers advice and stories (all hilarious, of course) in her first book. Poehler dishes up anecdotes from childhood, her start in the entertainment industry, and her ongoing gig as the mom of two kids. For a similar read, try fellow SNL funny lady Tina Fey's Bossypants.

Best of Young Adult Fiction
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

WeWereLiarsa

This is one of those books that might technically be considered a young adult read, but will appeal to a much wider group of readers. It's also one of those books that's very hard to really talk about unless it's with people that have already read it (after all, we don't want to ruin it for anyone!) It's a story about secrets, friendships that change over time, and the memories we hold onto. This is also a book that seems to have you either loving it or hating it. Fellow blogger Margaret considers it exceptional, while I found it somewhat less so. Clearly, I'm in the minority, however, as this did make the Goodreads list. The only way to know how you'd feel is to read it yourself!

(Almost) Best of Poetry
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry by Anthony and Ben Holden

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

This isn't the actual winner of this category (that honour goes to Lang Leav's Lullabies). I couldn't resist putting this in anyway mostly because of its organization based on how it makes readers feel instead of what the poems are actually about. The Holden father-and-son team have compiled one hundred of the most moving poems, as selected by the poets, writers, actors, and others that love them. If you're a grown man reading this, please do let me know if you needed that box of tissues...

For the full list of Goodreads winners, check out their page. Also, don't forget that Book Buzz is on Goodreads too!

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