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Free Jazz Concert At The Library: Tara Davidson Trio

May 22, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

Tara DavidsonSave the date! For the first time ever, a Toronto Jazz Festival concert will take place in a Toronto Public Library Branch! The Tara Davidson Trio will give a jazz festival preview concert at North York Central Library on Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. Saxophonist Tara Davidson has hopped the globe to play at venues such as the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, The International Jazz Festival in Lima, Peru, and prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. So count your lucky stars, North Yorkers! Don’t despair, those of you who don’t live in North York – North York Central Library is on the subway line. Just hop on the rocket and zoom to this free concert. You can borrow Tara Davidson's latest recording, Duets, from the library. Call (416) 395-5639 to register for this concert.

The jazz festival, which takes place from June 18 to June 29 this year, began in 1987 and it has grown to be one of the most anticipated music festivals on Toronto’s busy summer music calendar. Over the years, the festival has attracted some of the giants of jazz, including Miles Davis, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Getz, Etta James, Wynton Marsalis, Cab Calloway, Diana Krall, and Oscar Peterson. This year the festival will be celebrating Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s 90th birthday! 

Here’s a selection of CDs you can borrow from the library – all of these artists have played at Toronto’s jazz festival:

Cheek to cheek Wallflower - Diana Krall Miles Davis - Kind of blue Harry Connick Jr.- Every man should know Oscar Peterson - Solo
Sarah Vaughan - After hours Dizzy Gillespie - Havin' a good time in Paris Dave Brubeck - Time out Ray Charles - Blues before sunrise Aretha Franklin - The Queen of soul

You can also stream jazz from Hoopla, accessed through the Toronto Public Library’s website with your library card. Here’s a selection of jazz available from Hoopla:

Miles Davis - The Best of Miles Davis Billie Holiday - Gold Benny Goodman - The Best Of Benny Goodman Nina Simone Her Greatest Hits Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World
John Coltrane - My Favorite Things Duke Ellington - The Jazz The Jazz Effect - Thelonius Monk The Best Of Bill Evans (Remastered) 20th Century Masters -The Millennium Collection - Best Of Ella Fitzgerald

If you'd like to learn about the history of jazz, check out the ten part documentary series Jazz, by director Ken Burns. The series was given a rating of 8.5 out of 10 by IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Borrow individual episodes of the DVD, or stream the series via Hoopla

Your library card gives you access to a huge collection of contemporary and classic jazz. Go to Naxos Music Library (Jazz) to stream music from this comprehensive collection, which includes music from labels such as Blue Note, EMI, Warner Jazz and Fantasy Jazz.

Naxos Music Library - Jazz


Related post:

Never read anything the same way twice: jazz books at TPL

The Pull: Why do we write anyway?

May 16, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

The Pull

Why do we write anyway?


I wrote this in my personal blog last year:


It’s like this; there are times when the day splits along a seam and you fall into a place time doesn't know exists. It’s the opposite of anxiety; a freedom boxed in by the term 'happiness' where something animal emerges, the kind of animal that appreciates chai lattes with espresso shots and the Marigny bars of New Orleans. There's no telling when it'll come, and no way to make it last. Just walk. And take in the click and crack of each rib's stretch to allow the possibility of seam-slipping afternoons.”


Then I re-read it yesterday; truth be told, I was on my blog trying to pilfer content for this one. And then something happened. I felt the exact same way I felt when I wrote it. I could feel my feet up on the butcher-block desk, breathing in the bits of fresh air blowing in the old window in that dark office above an abandoned café. And I felt the seams start to split. And I realized, that contrary to my philosophical musings, you can tell when the feeling happens, you can in fact, make it happen.


Of course, the original feeling must come from somewhere, some place dark and mystical and maybe even mundane. Then you take that original sentiment and wrap it up in a bit of art- capture it in the colours of a painting, cage it in the melody of a beautiful song, or write it out onto the bars of a page. And then it’s yours forever. This is what true art is, no matter what the medium. Being an artist being zookeeper to beautiful and ferocious creatures you’ve hunted. Sometimes something gets published, or hung in a gallery or sung on a stage and then you are allowing others to see your menagerie, to experience the terrifying thrill of sharp teeth and boney wings so close to your own soft skin.


And then this must be the pull. Because this is not Paris of 1925 or even 1952, and there is not much glory left in the publicly funded arts world. But somehow we keep hunting and collecting and scrounging up the food to keep the creatures at bay. And once in a while, we are graced with a shifting, curious crowd at the gates, holding their tickets and waiting for the magic to begin.

Seeds and Gardening

May 15, 2015 | Jeannette | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

My daughter pulling out weeds and getting the soil ready for planting.

When I was little, my grandma always kept our garden in the backyard full of delicious vegetables. Every spring and summer, she would tend to the cucumber, tomato, winter melon and pepper plants. She spent a lot of time in the garden, mostly to guard it against those pesky squirrels. Unfortunately, I haven’t planted anything myself since owning a home.

A few weeks ago, my daughter asked if we could buy some flower bulbs we saw at the store. We bought and planted peonies and ranunculus bulbs, flowers I had in my wedding bouquet.

There are many benefits of gardening for children. They learn to be responsible by caring for the plants. They also learn to appreciate nature. Most importantly, they learn to be patient. My daughter has been asking me every day whether or not our flowers have grown. Each time I take her outside to see and tell her that just like her, the flowers are growing but very slowly.

Want to learn more about seeds and gardening? Learn how to save seeds in the city with the Toronto Seed Library at the North York Central Library. In this all-ages information session, we’ll be reviewing the basics of seed libraries and seed saving plus have free seeds on hand for everyone. There will also be a children’s planting workshop. Bring any gardening questions you may have and staff from the Toronto Seed Library will be more than happy to answer them.


What: Seeds & Gardening

Where: North York Central Library, in the Auditorium

When: Saturday, May 30 from 2 – 4 PM

Registration: Call (416) 395-5649 (Science & Technology department) or (416) 395-5630 (Children’s department)


In the meantime, here are some books on seed saving:

Saving vegetable seeds   Seed sowing and saving   Seedswap   Seed to seed

The library also has e-books you can access on an e-reader, mobile device, tablet or desktop on seed saving:

The complete guide to saving seeds   The complete idiot's guide to seed saving and starting   The manual of seed saving   Seed libraries

There are also books about gardening:

Beginner's illustrated guide to gardening   Canadian gardener's guide   How to buy the right plants, tools and garden supplies   Small space garden ideas

E-books on gardening:

Derek Fell's grow this   The New York Times garden book   Rodale's basic organic gardening   Urban gardening for dummies

Get gardening ideas from e-magazines that you can access on your mobile device, tablet or desktop:

Canadian gardening   Country gardens   Garden making container gardening  Homes and gardens

Want books about gardening for kids? The library has books for that, too:

The book of gardening projects for kids   Gardening lab for kids   I can grow things   Square foot gardening with kids


May Days Are For Parties, Weddings, and Travel

May 11, 2015 | Ann | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Spring arrives with bright floral colours and the sun's warm glow across the land. Temperatures rise as the days grow longer. To celebrate the upcoming summery weather enjoy this time outdoors. What better way to shake off the winter blues than to throw an outdoor party for family and friends. Here are some colourful suggestions:

Fairy parties:  recipes, crafts, and games for enchanting celebrations by Colleen Mullaney Sleepover party!:  games and giggles for a fun night by Jamie Kyle McGillian Kids parties by Lisa Atwood The party book by Jane Bull
Let's party! by Alison Bell The kids' pick-a-party book: 50 fun themes for happy birthdays and other parties by Penny Warner Sleeping over by Melinda Beth Radabaugh Costume parties: planning a party that makes your friends say "wow!" by Jen Jones

Not only is this season a grand way for children to enjoy outdoor festivities, this season is also a way to celebrate a new life of love and happiness. Weddings need not be expensive to be glamourous, unique, and special. Have a look at the following title suggestions to see how to design a wedding of a lifetime. 

Style me pretty weddings: inspiration & ideas for an unforgettable celebration by Abby Larson Weddings by Hilary Sterne The Knot complete guide to weddings: the ultimate source of ideas, advice & relief for the bride & groom & those who love them by Carley Roney Wedding style:   hundreds of tips and secrets from the professionals for styling your own big day
Plan the perfect wedding on a small budget by Elizabeth Lluch The broke-ass bride's wedding guide by Dana LaRue Wedding expert: 400 things you need to know to plan your big day by Bettie Bradley 1000 best wedding bargains by Sharon Naylor

For those who want to travel beyond their workplace to see the flourishing flora and fauna in a cool northern terrain, why not head off into the Canadian wilderness. Experience the natural quietude that many artists and writers derive their artistic inspiration from. Here are some titles that will take you far and wide across our home and native land: 

Dazed but not confused: tales of a wilderness wanderer by Kevin Callan Trails and tribulations: confessions of a wilderness pathfinder by Hap Wilson Chasing Clayoquot: a wilderness almanac by David Pitt-Brooke Paddlenorth: adventure, resilience, and renewal in the Arctic wild by Jennifer Kingsley
The great Central Canada bucket list: one-of-a-kind travel experiences by Robin Esrock Canada's road: a journey on the Trans-Canada Highway from St. John's to Victoria by Mark Richardson Dutch gentlemen adventurers in Canada, 1811-1893 by Herman Ganzevoort and J. Th. J. Krijff More trails, more tales: exploring Canada's travel heritage by Bob Henderson

Enjoy the blossoming of warmer days ahead by taking the time to celebrate life, love, and landscapes at their finest.  

Asian Heritage Month Concert: The Music of China

May 8, 2015 | Muriel | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Asian Heritage Month

The Music of China, Brilliant and Accessible

音乐   辉煌亲民

Thursday, May 28, 2015  7:00 p.m.

North York Central Library Auditorium

 Enjoy an inspiring evening with Pingxin Xu, dulcimer player extraordinaire accompanied by Xiaoyun Miao, educator and pipa virtuoso.  They will demonstrate traditional music as well as a variety of styles from China’s varied regions.  The contemporary Asian pieces and western music will demonstrate the versatility of their instruments.  This program will be conducted in
English英文and Chinese中文. 

All ages are welcome.

Please call 416 395 5639 to register for this FREE program.

Chinese Music          Chinese Music          Lives in Chinese Music


China    The Very Best of Chinese Music    Chinese Taoist Music

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. 

The Best Writing Class in the World!

May 7, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Reading Like a Writer


The Best Writing Class in the World!


I am aware that there are many worthy writing classes out there, not the least of which are the MFA programs at esteemed universities around the globe. I can think of several programs in Canada that are outstanding right here in Canada, like the Banff Centre for the Arts (Writing in the mountains? Yes, please.) And yes, structured classes and deadlined work definitely have merit. But there is a school of writing I’ve stumbled upon that is self-paced, rigorous, comprehensive and- with a library card (shameless plug) absolutely free.


Of course, I am talking about reading. But, to be clear, you’re not going to get off easy. This isn’t casual, bystander kind of reading, or reading for entertainment, or reading to fall asleep or even to pass time in a line. This is active, engaged reading. This is reading like a writer.


The great Francine Prose, in a book with the revealing name “Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them,” lays out the basics. By all means, READ THIS BOOK! It would be the best thing you could do to prepare for a self-directed reading course. Think of it as the manifesto, the mandate, and the mission statement for the course.  


From the first chapter:


“Like most- maybe all- writers, I learned to write by writing and, by example, by reading books.

Long before the idea of a writer’s conference was a glimmer in anyone’s eye, writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors. They studied meter with Ovid, plot construction with Homer, comedy with Aristophanes; they honed their prose style by absorbing the lucid sentences of Montaigne and Samuel Jackson.”


Not that you have to stick to those examples. I would instead suggest Walt Whitman for meter, plot construction with Margaret Atwood, comedy with David Sedaris and prose through Lydia Davis. But, it’s all relative.


The point here is to study the works and words that sing to you. Or as Prose says:


 “I read for pleasure, first, but also more analytically, conscious of style, of diction, of how sentences were formed and information was being conveyed, how the writer was structuring a plot, creating characters, employing detail and dialogue. And as I wrote, I discovered that writing, like reading, was done one word at a time, one punctuation mark at a time. It required what a friend calls “putting every word on trial for its life”: changing an adjective, cutting a phrase, removing a comma, and putting a comma back in.”



Turns out, you don’t need to wait for Stanford. All you need the will, a careful eye and a library card. Class is in session.

Getting published to get published?

May 1, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Prairie Fire   CNQ  Brick

Getting published to get published?


You remember that horrible thing that happened when you started looking for a job? When your potential employer asked you “what kind of experience do you have?” Because, you know, you need the experience of the job in order to get the job? Well, I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately, the same thing happens when it comes to publishing.  (And I say publishing specifically because writing and publishing are not the same thing and do not always go together. Writing does not have the same stipulations. You can write all you want; every day, all day, if you are so inclined. But now, if you want to publish that writing, that’s where this experience thing comes into play.)


Quite simply, you need to have publishing credits in order to be published. You need to be low risk in order for people to take a chance on you or to even have your writing taken seriously. It’s the same in the journalism world as it is in the literary world. Sadly, both are at the same place in time- maybe the journalism world has a leg up here, but its not much of one- where there is no room for chance and barely room for cutting edge.  With the state of the industry, what they need are sales, and for that to happen, they need tried and tested, marketable work.


So what does this mean for the writers, particularly the ones whose work does not involve teenage vampires or billionaire sado -masochists? It means your work- whatever it may be- needs to be the best. You need to draft and re-draft, get readers to critique it, and then draft again. Make sure your beginning hooks the reader. Make sure there is a satisfying character to love/hate. And, please, make sure you do a spell check.


And then when you’ve gotten your work to the best place you can take it, what then? You still need publishing credits. This is where all those amazing literary periodicals come into play. Thankfully, we have a diverse group of scrappy, bare-bones, in the trenches literary worker bees who crank out arts-funded periodicals on a regular(ish) basis. These publications are not easy to get into; again, they are looking are looking for the best of the best and they also need sales. But they are more willing to take a chance and more drawn to the cutting-edge and gutsy work that publishers may be skeptical about. (And for the love of god, when you do submit, be sure to follow the submission guidelines to the letter.)


My publishing credentials started with a community newsletter, as did many of the people I worked with in the editorial room at Chatelaine magazine, some half a million years ago. From newsletters and online content, to journalism and then back to the literary world through periodicals, by the time my first manuscript was drafted and re-drafted to the best place I could take it, I was able to send it in with a list of credits and references that told the Managing Editor I was worth the risk, that I could sell books and that someone out there might actually read them.


For a great list of Canadian literary magazines, including links for websites and submission guidelines, check out the blog for the National Magazine Awards Foundation:


Arc Poetry Magazine         Prism

The Next Big Thing - food edition

May 1, 2015 | Carolyn | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

"Modern Kitchen, after Hana Barbera"
"Modern Kitchen, after Hanna Barbera" Image courtesy of Mike Licht, via Creative Commons License

Food trends are big business. Food and beverage companies have research departments and consultants who analyze sales data and health research to predict which foods will become popular. These food coolhunters also mine the internet and social media for information on trending ingredients and dishes. The purpose of all this? To help companies identify up-and-coming foods, separate the trends from the fads, and develop the new products we'll soon see on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, there are five stages in a food trend timeline:

  • Discovery: emerges within a limited but influential group, creative chefs, small businesses; butter coffee or bulletproof coffee, coffee mixed with butter and other fats that its fans consider healthy
  • Emerging: moves to the foodies of the world, not yet the general public; fancy high-quality butter, sometimes from grass-fed cows
  • Taking hold: moves to a wider audience; new ways to use brussels sprouts, like raw in salad
  • Mainstream: well accepted, talked about on recipe sites like; gluten-free foods, now widely available, but high-end versions like fresh-baked goods are still emerging
  • Arrived: reaches a mass audience, fast-food menus and most grocery stores; pricey eggs like free range and organic, sriracha sauce

Here are some of the food trend predictions for 2015:

And then there are the trends we are SO over: Food Trends We Hope Don't Make It All the Way Through 2015.

To learn more about our changing food tastes, have a look at the following books:

The Tastemakers: why we're crazy for cupcakes but fed up with fondue

book, eBook


Tasty: the art and science of what we eat

book, eBook, eAudiobook


 And to learn more about some of the food trends mentioned above:

Edible: an adventure into the world of eating insects and the last great hope to save the planet The Art of Fermentation: an in-depth exploration of the essential concepts and processes from around the world Molecular Gastronomy at Home: taking culinary physics out of the lab and into your kitchen
Bones: recipes, history & lore

Fat: an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient, with recipes


Asian Heritage Month Double Event: Iranian Architecture and a Musical Performance

April 24, 2015 | Maureen | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month this May with two events at North York Central Library on Saturday, May 23. The afternoon will begin with an overview of the architecture of Iran. At one o'clock, Dr. Rafooneh M. Sani (Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus) will showcase Iranian architecture from the ancient to the contemporary. The magnificent city of Persepolis will be one of the topics of her presentation. Persepolis has a fascinating history. In 1930 archaeologists began excavations of this ancient city, which dates back to 515 BCE. The destruction of Persepolis came after the army of Macedonian king Alexander the Great looted it in 330 BCE. The city that had been known as “the richest city under the sun” was destroyed by fire, possibly as revenge for the destruction of the Acropolis in Athens 150 years earlier, by Xerxes, King of Persia.

2009-11-24_Persepolis_02  Persepolis. Photo credit: Hansueli Krapf. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0           

After Dr. Rafooneh's talk, you'll have time for a treat at the North York Centre food court (just a one minute walk from the library) before the second event begins. If the weather is fine, you can sip your coffee outside, in Mel Lastman Square, an urban oasis just steps from busy Yonge Street. Sit by the fountain or the reflecting pool and consider the modern Canadian architecture that borders the square.

Be sure to come back to the library in time to get a seat in the auditorium for the three o'clock performance by the Shiraz Ensemble. The musicians will perform Persian instrumental music on instruments with intriguing names: the Tar (Persian long-necked lute), the Tombak (goblet drum), the Kamanche (spiked fiddle), and the Santour (dulcimer).

Both events are free. They will take place in the North York Central Library auditorium and will be conducted in English and Farsi. Please call (416) 395-5639 to register.

Here are some books with beautiful images of the architecture and art of Iran, which you can borrow from the library:

  Persian art and architecture Islam Splendors of Islam  

 If you are an ancient history buff, consider borrowing these movies on Persepolis:

Persepolis rediscovering the lost capital of the Persian Empire "In 520 B.C. King Darius I of the Archaemenids had a forty acre terrace piled up at the foot of the Kuh-e-Rahmat, the Mount of Mercy, in the central Persian plateau. Here the new capital of the Persian Empire was to arise, Parsa, or Persepolis."



Persepolis stage of kings


The pace of this movie is unhurried, and I mean that in a good way. It's a great antidote to movies with explosions, bullets, and nerve shattering sound tracks. The camera lingers on the awe inspiring ruins of Persepolis and the beautiful relief sculpture adorning it's walls and columns, while traditional music softly plays. These sculptures, which scholars believe were once brightly painted, depict fascinating scenes, such as representatives of subjugated nations bringing offerings to the King. It's easy to slip into a dream of the distant past, watching this movie.


Persepolis recreated, or Shukūh_i takht_i Jamshīd (no cover image available)

You have the option of watching this movie in Farsi or English. It begins with a stunning opening shot -- the camera pans the ruins of Persepolis against a crimson sunset sky. The halls and palaces of Persepolis are digitally recreated in this movie.

This is a Big One: North York Central Library presents Mona Eltahawy!

April 23, 2015 | Emoke | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Mona Eltahawy photoAs soon as I heard about Mona Eltahawy's upcoming book entitled: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, I knew I would be interested in this woman's work.

According to her official website, Mona (Egyptian-American activist and journalist) is an award-winning columnist as well as international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues and global feminism. She is based in Cairo and New York City.

Mona is a contributor to the New York Times opinion pages, and her commentaries have appeared in several other publications and she is a regular guest analyst on various television and radio shows. She appeared on most major media outlets during the 18-day revolution that toppled Egypt's President. In November 2011, Egyptian riot police beat, sexually assaulted and detained her. Eltahawy was named one of Newsweek's '150 Most Fearless Women of 2012.'

In her book Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, (released this month), she crafts an argument about the complexity surrounding women's sexual and political identities in the Middle East and uses her experiences of sexual assault as well as her conflicted feelings about the hijab to unveil what she identifies as false choices for women in Islamic societies. Her book is very well-reviewed in Library Journal, which describes her account as "a strong, insightful, and well-researched analysis of many issues connected to Middle Eastern women's autonomy (e.g., the hijab, marriage, female genital mutilation). Her personal insights set this work apart."

Mona Eltahawy will read from her book at the North York Central Library Auditorium on Monday, April 27th, 2015. Free tickets are required and are available by clicking here.

Find her book and others of a similar subject at the Toronto Public Library below:

Book Title: Headscarves And Hymens: Why The Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution  Book Title: Muslim women reformers : inspiring voices against oppression  Book Title: Women in the Middle East and North Africa : change and continuity  Book Title: Price of honor : Muslim women lift the veil of silence on the Islamic world

Link to the ebook version of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution:


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