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November 2015

Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

November 27, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The winner of this year's Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books is Gaia Vince's Adventures in the Anthropocene. She is the first woman to win this prestigious award. Previous winners include Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, James Gleick and Bill Bryson.

Congratulations to the 2015 winner:

Adventures in the Anthropocene

The changes humans made in recent decades have altered the world beyond anything it has experienced. Gaia Vince travels the world to explore what all these changes really mean. She found ordinary people solving severe crises in ingenious, effective ways. Gaia looks at how humanity's changes are reshaping our living planet, transforming our relationship with the natural world and explores how we might engineer Earth for our future.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

Adventures in the Anthropocene

Here are the shortlisted books for 2015:

The grapes of math

Bestselling author Alex Bellos takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit, engaging stories and limitless enthusiasm. As he narrates a series of eye-opening encounters with lively personalities all over the world, Alex demonstrates how numbers have come to be our friends, are fascinating and extremely accessible and how they have changed our world.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

The Grapes of Math


Life on the edge

Bringing together first-hand experience of science at the cutting edge with unparalleled gifts of exposition and explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal the hitherto missing ingredient of life's dynamic to be quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

Life on the Edge
Other formats:    e-Book    e-Audiobook    Audiobook


Life's greatest secret

A story of the discovery and cracking of the genetic code, the thing that ultimately enables a spiraling molecule to give rise to the life that exists all around us.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

Life's Greatest Secret  
Other formats: e-Book     e-Audiobook


The man who couldn't stop

In this captivating fusion of science, history and personal memoir, David Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind and how they drive millions of us toward obsession and compulsion.

Read the first chapter (PDF) 

The Man Who Couldn't Stop
Other formats: e-Book     e-Audiobook


Smashing physics

The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. This book is the first popular inside account of the hunt for the Higgs boson. It is a story of incredible scientific collaboration, inspiring technological innovation and ground-breaking science. It is also the story of what happens when the world's most expensive experiment blows up, of neutrinos that may or may not travel faster than light, and the reality of life in an underground bunker in Switzerland.

Read the first chapter (PDF)

Smashing Physics  

Free Science Events in Toronto for December 2015

November 24, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (0)

The Science and Technology Department of North York Central Library compiles a monthly calendar of free science and applied science events in Toronto. Applied science includes health, gardening, pets and food; all subjects found in the department's collection. Here is the December calendar (PDF).

December's highlights include:

The Toronto Public Library also offers many free science and applied science events:

At the library, December's highlights include:

  • December 1: Healthy Holiday Eating, at Woodside Square Branch. In this presentation by Toronto Public Health, you will learn how to maintain healthy eating by using the Canada Food Guide, while still enjoying the holidays!
  • December 2: 12,000 Canaries Can't be Wrong, at North York Central Library. Dr. Molot explains how the environment contributes to the development and progression of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other pain disorders, and chemical sensitivity. He also shows how these disorders are just the tip of a giant iceberg, linking environmental conditions to the increasing number of cases of common chronic illnesses in adults and even in children.
  • December 7: Savvy Cybersecurity: How to Fight 10 Common Threats, at Yorkville Branch. At this session, you will conduct a self-assessment of your cyber-security knowledge, learn about the top 10 threats and leave with tips to protect yourself. Identity theft, credit card fraud, email scams and more are covered.
  • December 8: The Cutting Edge: How We Discovered a Hidden Genetic Code, at North York Central Library. Dr. Brendan Frey tells the story of how he and his Toronto research team, aided by a computer tool that uses machine learning, discovered a hidden genetic code that will revolutionize medicine.
  • December 16: Design an LED Bookmark, at Danforth/Coxwell Branch. Learn how to build a small circuit to power one or more LED lights. All necessary resources and supplies including bookmark templates will be provided, but feel free to design your own.

Can't attend a program or want to read more about the topics covered? Try some of these books:

Hubble's legacy     The shark's paintbrush     The Lorimer pocketguide to Toronto birds     Cooking Light holiday cookbook

12,000 canaries can't be wrong     Cyber self-defense     Life's greatest secret     Brilliant LED projects

Concert at North York Central Library: Latin Jazz Quartet

November 18, 2015 | Muriel | Comments (0)

Latin Jazz Quartet

Wednesday, December 30, 7 to 8 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

Please register for this free program by calling 416-395-5639.


University of Toronto, Faculty of Music students bring the warmth of

Latin sounds to thaw the chill of a Toronto winter!

Latin Jazz         The Latin Beat         Cuban Fire    

Calle 54                Paquito D'Rivera & Chano Dominguez                Cuban Odyssey Spirits of Havana


Manana  Magic  La Rumba Soyo

Be sure to visit NAXOS, the online music library available through

Toronto Public Library, and listen to great music spanning

medieval to modern - classical, jazz, electronic, world music

and more, and find expert educational content. 

Store-wide Half Price Sale at Book Ends in NYCL

November 16, 2015 | Ann | Comments (0)

image from
Courtesy of geralt at Pixelbay. License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ Free for commercial use / No attribution required

The festive season is arriving. Do you have enough books to read and share through the holidays? Do you love finding exciting and rare titles? Do you want to buy as many books for as little money as possible?    



Photo courtesy of the Toronto Public Library


 The Friends of Toronto Public Library, North Chapter

is hosting an amazing store-wide half-price three-day sale of their books with prices ranging from:

$0.25 to $0.50

(blue-dot, special-priced books excepted) 

This sale is at the Book Ends store which is located on the Concourse Level at the North York Central Library--which is located underneath (one floor below) the library's main entrance.  


SALE HOURS run from 10 am to 4 pm on:

  • Thursday, November 19, 2015
  • Friday, November 20, 2015
  • Saturday, November 21, 2015


North York Central Library, Concourse Level, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto


Please bring your own bag. Cash only. No exchange or refund.  


Once you have completed our Book Ends Sale in the North, five days later there will be another Book Ends sale in the South region (from November 26th to November 28th) at The Toronto Reference Library.  

Bill V.'s blog, The Best Christmas Present Ever... provides the details of their big Book Ends sale on great reads and gift giving suggestions.

Also don't forget to follow us on Twitter @bookendsnorth and on Facebook for our weekly sales.

Name Your Poison

November 13, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (0)

I'll admit to a fascination with poisons. So when I saw this new book in the library catalogue, I knew I'd have to read it.

A is for Arsenic: the poisons of Agatha Christie. Book and eBookThe great British mystery writer Agatha Christie worked as an apothecary or pharmacy assistant during both world wars. Her knowledge of poisons was put to good use in her novels and short stories, where many of her characters were poisoned. 

Each chapter in this book examines a poison used by Christie in one of her novels, from the familiar (arsenic and cyanide) to the obscure (ricin and thallium). The author, a research chemist, explains the toxicology of each, as well as how difficult it would have been to obtain, administer and detect in Christie's time - and today.

Copies of A is for Arsenic have just arrived in libraries. It's available as a book and an eBook. To place a hold on a copy in either format, just click on the Place Hold button in the record.



You don't have to be a fan of mystery novels to take an interest in poisons. We should all be mindful about things in our environment and our homes that are potentially toxic, especially if we have small children or pets:


  • Common household products that are potentially harmful must be used correctly and stored safely to avoid accidental poisoning. The Canadian government's guide to the safe use of household chemicals recommends contacting the nearest Poison Control Centre if you think, or even suspect, that someone has been exposed to a dangerous product.
  • I was surprised to learn from this Common Poisonous Houseplants fact sheet that ingesting just one leaf from an oleander can be fatal. My oleander will now be spending the winter in a quiet corner of the basement.                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • If you forage for mushrooms or other wild foods, an identification guide is essential to help you distinguish the poisonous species from those that are safe to eat. The library has field guides for mushrooms and other wild foods.                                                      
  • Finally, if you're decorating for the holidays, keep in mind that some plants used in holiday decor can be dangerous to small children and pets.  

Whether you share my interest in poisons, or are more concerned with protecting yourself from harm, may I suggest the following books?



Poisonous Plants: a guide for parents & childcare providers  

Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada

November 9, 2015 | Carrie | Comments (1)

  Ratna Omidvar

Edit: Please note that the talk "Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada" has been rescheduled to Wednesday, December 16 from 7-8 pm.

Join us on Monday, December 14 from 7-8 pm at North York Central Library to hear Ratna Omidvar read and discuss her book Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada. The book presents a collection of 30 interviews with refugees, their descendants, or their loved ones to document their extraordinary, and sometimes harrowing, journeys of flight.

The stories span two centuries of refugee experiences in Canada: from the War of 1812 - where an escaped slave and her infant daughter flee the United States to start a new life in Halifax - to the war in Afghanistan - where asylum seekers collide with state scrutiny and face the challenges of resettlement.

Ratna Omidvar is Executive Director and Adjunct Professor, Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University and Chair of Lifeline Syria. In 2010, she was named a Nation Builder of the decade for citizenship by the Globe and Mail.

To register for this program, please call 416-395-5660

If you are interested in reading more about the personal experiences of refugees in Canada, you may be interested in the following books:


  Lucky ones   Refugee sandwich Black refugees 
  Flight of the patriot   Citizens of nowhere  Boat people 

Toronto's New Poet Laureate and a Super Fun Poet Laureate Quiz

November 6, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (2)

Change is in the air, Torontonians! A new Prime Minister has been sworn in, and Toronto's current Poet Laureate will soon pass the torch to…wait, hold that drum roll. Before I introduce our new Poet Laureate, take my super fun poet laureate quiz!

  1. Who was Toronto's first poet laureate (from 2001-2004). Clue: He made a certain type of reptilian pie famous among Canadian children and their parents.
  2. Alligator Pie Civil Elegies Yesno Nightwatch

    Answer: Give yourself a gold star if your answer was Dennis Lee, who penned the classic children's poem Alligator Pie, and lots of poetry for grownups too.

  3. How many poet laureates has Toronto had?
    1. 2
    2. 17
    3. 4
    4. 9

    Answer: Not including the incoming poet laureate, whose name shall be revealed at the end of this post, Toronto has had four poet laureates.

  4. What are the duties of the Poet Laureate of Toronto?
    1. Write poetry about the city, and read it on important occasions
    2. Compete in poetry smack downs with poet laureates of other cities
    3. Come up with a unique project for our fair city
    4. Promote the literary arts

    Answer: There are two correct answers, c and d.

    The Poet Laureate of Toronto must be given the opportunity to write according to the City of Toronto website. But, unlike Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate, who may be called upon to write poems to mark important occasions, Toronto's Poet Laureate is not expected to crank out verse about the Big Smoke. Maybe this is a good thing -- if you think poetry should be inspired, not required. As the city's literary ambassador, the Poet Laureate of Toronto promotes the literary arts. But their most interesting duty, in my opinion, is the realization of a unique legacy project for the city.

  5. Which Canadian poet did Dennis Lee help immortalize in statue? Clue: The statue is at the north-east corner of Queen's Park.
  6. Al Purdy statue
    Photo: City of Toronto website.
    Answer: Al Purdy, often thought of as Canada's first national poet.

    The statue of Purdy, entitled Voice of the Land, was created by husband and wife sculptors Edwin and Veronica Dam de Nogales. (Others who had a hand in the project: Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Sam Solecki and Scott Griffin, founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize.)

  7. Who is Toronto's outgoing poet laureate?
    1. Margaret Atwood
    2. Laura Lush
    3. Molly Peacock
    4. Sky Gilbert
    5. George Elliott Clarke
    6. Dionne Brand
    7. Alison Pick

    Answer: Annoyed at me for such a long list of choices? That was to stop your cheating eyes from jumping straight to the answer: George Elliott Clarke. I tried to blow your eyes out with Margaret Atwood's name and then dazzle you with the fabulous names Lush, Peacock and Sky. (Those three writers should collaborate on something, don't you think? I want to see that sublime combination on a book cover or a law firm.)

  8. During George Elliott Clarke's poet laureateship, he collaborated with the Toronto Public Library on a fantastic project. What is the project? Clue: It is poetical, digital and geographical, all at the same time!
  9. Answer: The Toronto Poetry Map, which helps you locate poetry written about or inspired by particular locations in Toronto.

  10. True or False: If most excellent poet and frequent CBC radio contributor Lorna Crozier, pride of Swift Current, Saskatchewan, now living on Vancouver Island, wrote poetry about Toronto, she could be nominated to be Toronto's Poet Laureate.
  11. Answer: That's a big negatory. Sorry for the trucker slang -- just trying to make it harder for you to cheat. I'm running a clean Poet Laureate quiz here! To be nominated as Toronto's Poet Laureate, a poet's body of work must include poetry about Toronto subjects, AND the poet must live in Toronto. Sorry Lorna, no matter how many odes you compose in praise of TO, you're out of the running, unless you care to leave that boring mild weather behind and move to The Six.

  12. Which of the following Canadian cities does NOT have a poet laureate?
    1. Sackville, New Brunswick
    2. Barrie, Ontario
    3. Montreal, Quebec
    4. Edmonton, Alberta
    5. New Westminster, British Columbia

Answer:  The only city above that does not have a poet laureate is Montreal! I was as shocked as you are! What's up with that, Montreal? You have such a storied literary history. Irving Layton paced your enchanted streets, Leonard Cohen brooded on your small mountain. If Sackville New Brunswick and Barrie Ontario have poet laureates, why don't you?

The poet laureate quiz has concluded. How did you do? You can bring back that drum roll now.

Toronto's new Poet Laureate is Anne Michaels. Her first book of poetry, The Weight of Oranges, won the 1986 Commonwealth Prize for the Americas. Miner's Pond, her second book of poetry, was nominated for the Governor General's Award. Her most recent work of poetry, Correspondences, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2014. Anne Michaels is also a critically acclaimed novelist. Fugitive Pieces, her first novel, won numerous awards, including the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction. She followed Fugitive pieces with the novel The Winter Vault, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009. I look forward to seeing what our new Poet Laureate's unique legacy project for the city of Toronto will be.

Here's the complete list of Toronto's Poet Laureates:

Dennis Lee, 2001-2004.
Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, 2004-2009.
Dionne Brand, 2009-2012.
George Elliott Clarke, 2012-2015.
Anne Michaels, 2015-

The weight of oranges - Miner's pond Correspondences - a poem Skin divers

I'll leave you with a couple of lines from a poem in Dionne Brand's book Thirsty, which is about the city. Maybe you can relate. I know I can.

Look it's like this, I'm just like the rest,
limping across the city, flying when I can

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