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Always a Good Reason to Read

June 5, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (1)

100 Reasons

The Toronto Public Library recently launched its 100 Reasons campaign. With so many great reasons to love the library, it’s hard to pick just a few faves, but here are four of my own, with a reading treat to match. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but, psst, I’m a pretty big believer in Reason #24!

Pride flag, waving.
Reason #25
Lots of LGBT material. And proud of it.

Along with our other booklists on all sorts of topics, we regularly publish a Pride list every year. Whether you're looking for non-fiction that narrates the challenges of coming out, or more classic love stories, there's a book for you.


Reason #79
Say ‘I do’. Get married at the library.

When tito loved claraIt’s true. You can actually book the lit-chic Appel Salon at Toronto Reference Library for your wedding or other event. What better place to unite book lovers? Here’s a book I loved that looks at love and librarians too.

When Tito loved Clara
John Michaud, 2011
Clara has done her best to separate herself from her chaotic Dominican roots, but when a former flame reappears, she’ll have to question her new life.


Reason #64
Literary Map of Toronto. Books from the ‘hood. Represent!

This probably goes without saying, but we’re pretty proud of this one. Check out the expanding list of books set all across our city. Poetry more of your thing? We’ve got that covered too.

Toronto skyline (2012)Toronto Skyline image used on a CC license.

Reason #8
Bookmobiles. Vroom, vroom.


Our bookmobiles help keep the library and its users connected – no matter where they are. We try to keep our bookmobiles drama-free, but some lending libraries get into a little more trouble. Here's a book-within-a-book recommendation:

The bad book affair: a mobile library mystery
Ian Sansom, 2010

Israel Armstrong lends the library's copy of American Pastoral to a troubled teenage girl and soon she disappears. Israel thinks there may be a connection, but he needs figure out what it is and find the girl, all while dealing with the trauma of a breakup and his impending 30th birthday.

These are just a few of the reasons to read your heart out. Have a fave? Share with us!

Provocative or Perverse? Books that Push Boundaries

February 23, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (2)

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.


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.



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.

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!

How to Break All Your New Year's Resolutions.

January 16, 2015 | Soheli | Comments (0)

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...

Best of 2014: Quick Picks from Goodreads

December 12, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6)

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


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


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


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!

Why you should judge a book by its cover.

November 26, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (6)

I'm guilty of reading pretty books. Chances are, you've been sucked into that too.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Peter Mendelsund, sought-after book cover designer, talk a little about what goes into the process of design. 

If you think you haven't heard of him or seen his work, think again:

Stieg Larsson Trilogy

Here is some of his Kafka art:

Kafka Covers by Mendelsund.

Looking familiar yet?

An avid reader himself, Peter describes the process of interpreting a book into a single look as sometimes exhausting, but a great chance to connect words and art to make sometimes simple, but memorable, covers. For The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he drafted nearly fifty versions before he settled on the subtle swirls we now know so well.

As he's often asked to do covers for many works by a single author, he plays with thematic elements that become a thread through them all: note his use of the eye in his Kafka series. (Some of his art has become so iconic, it's even made it onto phone cases and tote bags, which Peter finds both "strange and awesome.")

With other covers, he will focus on the particular feel of a book rather than a straight forward representation of 'what it's about'. In his design of Lolita, he reminds us that the story is still often child-like, and as a reader, he could never quite shake the idea that lovely Lo is really just a little girl despite the very adult situations. The pink paper cut out, phonetic spelling, and girl-ish handwriting covers allude to that.

Pink paper cut out cover of Lolita   Spelling out Lolita and Handwriting

 A lot of thought goes into designing the jackets of these books. Many of the titles have been published before, so a designer's job is often attempting to re-interpret a story or character and appeal to a broad audience. If you want to check out more of Peter's eye-catching designs, take a peek at his latest art book, the aptly titled Cover. And as if it wasn't quite ambitious enough, he's also released another book, What We See When We Read, this year. You can also read a review from the National Post about it that explores how we visualize and create meaning when we read.

Cover by Peter Mendelsund  What We See When We Read

If you're feeling inspired by all of this book jacket eye candy and are suddenly re-thinking your current career path, Peter also offers an online design course.

Of course, there are tons of other memorable, distinctive and gorgeous book covers from all over. Maybe you've heard of a little something called Jurassic Park?

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.

This easily recognizable cover art is courtesy of designer Chipp Kidd. He's also written a book for would-be designers called Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design

GO: a Kidd' s Guide to Graphic Design 

His design work is hugely diverse, with covers ranging from the deceptively simple...

The Antagonist  A Wolf At the Table
(The Antagonist by Canadian author Lynn Coady and A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs) dazzling, colourful images that catch you off guard:

1Q84  South of the Border West of the Sun
Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 and South of the Border, West of the Sun (in eBook)

  Cool It
Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg

As Chip Kidd says, 

“Book designers responsibility is three fold. To the reader, to the publisher and most of all to the author. I want you [the reader] to look at the author’s book and say,

‘Wow, I need to read that.’” 

Her Story: Women in Politics

November 7, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (2)

About a hundred years ago, on November 7, 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to the US Congress. Five years later, Canadians welcomed their first female member of Parliament, Agnes Macphail. Women have come a long way since then. Here are eight books to mark some of the memorable, (in)famous, and fierce women in politics.


Olivia Chow
My Journey

Although she lost the last election, Chow remains a strong voice for the New Democrats in Canada. Like Hillary Clinton, mentioned later, Olivia was also one half of a powerhouse political couple. My Journey chronicles her life, from a difficult transition from Hong Kong to Toronto as a teen to her rise on the #topoli scene.


Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin
Going Rogue: An American Life
Love her or hate her, Palin became a household name in 2008 when she ran, unsuccessfully, for vice president in the US elections. She remained governor of Alaska until the following year. She later wrote Going Rogue. If you're feeling a little more irreverent, try Going Rouge: An American Nightmare.


Condoleezza Rice
No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington

 Rice served as the 66th US Secretary of State - the first black female to hold the position. Like most politicians, she's received her share of criticism, but is still a notable figure in the intersection of race, gender and politics in the US.


HRC state secrets and the rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton
HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

To have a list of women in politics and not mention Hillary? Just. Not. Possible.


Angela Merkel
The Chancellor and her World

Merkel has served as the Chancellor of Germany since 2005. She joins the ranks of other 'firsts' in political history: she's the first woman to hold the position. She also became the longest running head of government in the European Union as of 2014. No big surprise that she's been named Forbes' Most Powerful Woman in the World this year.


Benazir Bhutto
Daughter of the East

Bhutto was Prime Minister of Pakistan twice; first in 1988, then again in 1993. She's credited as being the first female leader of a Muslim country. Nicknamed the 'Iron Lady' because of some of her tough political stances, Bhutto survived a coup d'état in the mid 90s only to later be assassinated in 2007.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
This Child Will Be Great: 
Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President

 Yet another woman to break the barriers down! Sirleaf is the first elected female head of state in Africa and she currently serves as the President of Liberia. In 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in promoting the rights and safety of women in some of the most impoverished nations in the world. 


Abigail Tarttelin's Golden Boy shines.

April 25, 2014 | Soheli | Comments (4)

Golden Boy by Abigal TarttelinEarlier this month, I picked up a pretty looking little novel called Golden Boy. The synopsis describes it as an exploration of gender and sexuality, but this book is so, so much more.

The titular golden boy is Max Walker. He's a bright, likeable teen with an adoring family, admiring friends and a reputation as an all around good guy. As typical as many parts of his life are, Max, however, is anything but ordinary.

Told in alternating perspectives, Golden Boy explores the complex legacies families share and hide. Max has spent his entire life simply accepting who he is - but acceptance doesn't always mean understanding. As he approaches his sixteenth birthday, he will be thrown into a whirlwind of emotions, labels and difficult decisions.

At its core, Golden Boy asks: who are you? What makes you who you are? And do you ever really know for sure?

I read this book in big, hungry gulps. Max's story is not only entirely unique to me, but is told in such vivid language that makes this novel hard to put down. There are parts of the story - mostly narration from his parents - that really highlight the fear of making the wrong choices and somehow failing to protect the ones you love. "Life turned out differently from what I had predicted," Max's mother, Karen, reflects. "I'm not always the best parent, but I try very, very hard."

Golden Boy is an emotional and gripping story that will be very hard to forget.

I look forward to Abigail Tarttelin's next book. Her style is definitely something that many readers will anticipate.

Don't forget to place a hold on Golden Boy and start reading!

Edit: May 7, 2014
It is probably important to note that there is a rather uncomfortable rape scene that unfolds pretty early on in this story. It is important to the plot, but this shouldn't stand as too much of a spoiler. Hopefully, you'll still be able to enjoy the rest of the story!


Best of 2013: It's Not Just About Books #1

January 25, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

While it's true that the name of this blog is The Buzz...About Books, it is also true that Toronto Public Library has a lot of non-book items that are worth promoting. When I asked library staff members for their favourite books of the year, some people shared favourites in other formats, too. This is the response from AL, one of our resident television experts:

Don't have Netflix? Never fear, the library can assist you in your new year's resolution to finally go on a Breaking Bad binge! In fact, if you're thinking about staying inside for some marathon TV watching instead of venturing out on the wintry streets, we have many shows in our DVD collection suited for that weekend plan. Have you already seen every adrenalin-amped episode of 24 and watched every head-scratching hour of Lost? Here are some more shows best consumed without week-long waits between episodes:



Season 1
Season 2





Carnivàle, set in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl circa 1934, is the weird, maddening story of a travelling carnival and its colourful members and, incidentally, an ancient battle between light and dark. Run away to join this circus of creepy symbolism and disturbing dream sequences, but don't expect clear-cut resolutions.



Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4


After the Hulk-sized splash The Avengers made in theatres, you may have heard of Joss Whedon, pop culture's reigning god of geekdom. Many viewers who don't usually watch science fiction shows have been charmed by his space western Firefly, despite its untimely cancellation after only a season. Want more Whedon? You can access the complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel with your library card.

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and geeks

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6

Reminiscing about the awkward halcyon days of high school? Even if you're not, Freaks and Geeks will make you chuckle and cringe and wax nostalgic about gym class, first love, and the early careers of James Franco and Seth Rogen.

The Hollow Crown

Hollow crosn



The Complete Series


Perhaps you feel like you haven't seen enough of the Bard on the small screen. New to our collection is The Hollow Crown, a BBC adaptation of four of Shakespeare's history plays collectively known as the Henriad. The impressive cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Patrick Stewart and Ben Whishaw.



Season 1
Season 2
Season 3

Based on the late Elmore Leonard's work, modern western crime drama Justified recently had its end date announced, so you can start organizing your schedule to catch up on its early seasons. It's well worth it - and unexpectedly funny - to make the trip into the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky, where you'll meet the assorted villains of Harlan County and the marshals who try to keep them in line.



Season One
Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5
Disc 6



Season Two
Disc 1
Disc II
Disc III
Disc IV
Disc V


Rome wasn't built in a day, but you can theoretically watch it in a day if you prepare food in advance, minimize bathroom breaks and forgo sleep. This expensive pre-Boardwalk Empire, pre-Game of Thrones HBO production hits all the familiar gritty, bloody and sensual notes.

Best of 2013: Book Buzz Member Recommendations #2

January 16, 2014 | Book Buzz | Comments (0)

Book Buzz is Toronto Public Library's online bookclub. We love reading and we love sharing reading suggestions. The members have selected their best reads of the year. It's a nice mix of old and new titles, fiction and non-fiction.

All my friends are superheroes Breeding in captivity Daytripper English girl

All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman
thatguyalex says, "It's a short book with a magical realism bent about a guy trying to figure out how to get his wife back on a plane ride. I can't do it justice with an explanation, there are two moments where it just gave me chills (good chills). I loved it in a way that's rare for me and books these days. I like a lot of books, but love few and this one was a wonderful read!"

Breeding in Captivity: One Woman's Unusual Path to Motherhood by Stacy Bolt
Recommended by breathe_and_smile.

Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Anonymous Librarian loved this graphic novel where each chapter is an alternate version of the main character's last day of life, each at a different point on his timeline.

The English Girl by Daniel Silva
Large Print
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
October enjoyed this acclaimed spy novel.

Everything is perfect when you're a liar Fault in our stars February How to save a life

Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly Oxford
nancypants says, "It's funny, sweet, relatable and honest. Every page makes me smile."

The Fault in our Stars by John Green
This YA book captured the imagination of many readers this year, including cmc who considers it "a modern take on Romeo & Juliet".

February by Lisa Moore
Talking Book (restricted to Print Disabled patrons)
bookworm 101 calls the Canada Reads winner "Beautifully written, haunting, important".

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Recommended by breathe_and_smile.

Related Post:

2013 Toronto Book Award Nominee: Giant

September 26, 2013 | Soheli | Comments (2)

Aga Maksimowska's Giant is one of those books that takes some time to sink into - and definitely takes time to forget.

Blogger Soheli dips into Giant.

Polish-Canadians may very well feel the authenticity of the locations and the political conflicts, but the universal nature of so much of this book will resonate with a multitude of readers.

Gosia, our 11-year-old protagonist, is a peculiar child trapped in an overgrown body: the Giant for which the novel is named. It is through her eyes that we are introduced to her grandparents, who care for her in Morena, a Polish suburb, along with her younger sister, Kasia. Her parents split up long before, with her father close by but mostly absent, and her mother away in Canada.

Although a significant part of the novel is about the political upheaval in Poland, eerily reminscent of the more recent Syrian, Libyan and Egyptian revolts, it was always the relationships between the characters that really struck me above all.

When Gosia and her sister leave Poland to join their mother in Canada, she is faced not only with the trauma of moving out of her motherland, but also the new journey of womanhood within a strange culture. She is unsure, scared: "Do you want to go to Canada?" her father asks her. She stutters back, "I-I don't know." Again, he throws out: "You think you'll like Canada better than your homeland? Do you? You think you'll be happier with your mother and her gigolo?"

Happiness is an elusive emotion for Gosia, but once in Toronto, she does her best to settle into a foreign life: she borrows books on basketball from the North York Central Library, hides out at school after classes, and watches news reports about the Iron Curtain and the end of Communism in Europe.

Watching Gosia transform, from a sullen child, to a somewhat more collected young woman with a university scholarship in hand, is what this story is about. As a child of immigrants myself, there were so many parts that just encapsulated so much of what it means to grow into yourself without any real guidelines. By the end, Gosia's sister remarks:

"You feel what you feel: Canadian. It's good. You're definitely not Polish anymore, just your own wierd hybrid."

Giant is one of the five 2013 Toronto Book Award nominees. The winner will be announced October 9. To read Giant, place a hold or see a librarian at any branch for assistance. Good luck to all the nominees!


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