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Great Reads!

January 31, 2015 | TRL Languages & Literature | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Finding Your Next Great Read

A Readers' Toolkit for Seniors


SmileyLooking for good books to read, but don't know how to find them?

It's easy when you use the library's electronic resources. Let us show you how!

February 3rd from 2-3:30pm

Toronto Reference Library

 789 Yonge Street


To register call: Computer and Library Training at 416-393-7209

TRL Program Calendar February 2015

January 30, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Kick off the celebrations for Black History Month with the Black History Gala.  On a less festive note, learn How to File a Tax Return, and How Off-shore Tax Havens Destroy Governments. Or come meet Norman Doidge on the brain, Albert Schultz on the theatre and Cecil Foster on his novel Independence.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The February 2015 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, check out our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.

February 1 February 2 February 3 February 4

The Consolation of Blizzards? Relief from the Overwhelm

January 22, 2015 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

I really love blizzards. When I was in school it meant a day off. Even if you got stuck on a bus somewhere, it meant you didn’t have to go to/stay at school. It could also mean you didn’t get home early, so you got assigned extra chores.

Blizzard trees
©Amanda Clarke--used by permission

When I started working, it still could mean a day off. Once it took me two and a half hours to get from my apartment in downtown Toronto to my workplace in Don Mills. By the time I arrived, they’d decide to close up and send everybody home. Three hours to get home. But I’ll never forget standing at the bus stop watching six snow ploughs in tandem trying to clear Lawrence Avenue.

It wasn’t just missing school, or chores or work. It was knowing that nobody could expect me to be anywhere or do anything, on time, or otherwise. All my plans, big or small, were out the window, and I had to live just for now, in this moment. The whole world had to stop, and everybody had to stop with it.

Stopping is not the North American way though, especially with the rise of the 24 hour workplace, and the cult of productivity at any cost. Work, the economy, being busy, become ends in themselves—do more, because then you can do more, because then you have more to do.

Several recent books touch on this phenomenon.

Overwhelmed-work, love and play when no one has the timeOverwhelmed: work, love and play when no one has the time

Brigid Schulte looks at working mothers, and the pressures of doing it all—nobody even talks about having it all anymore. Is it money, perfectionist ideals, relentless comparisons with other people’s “success” stories? Or is the overwhelm just plain addictive?





Dangerously sleepy-overworked Americans and the cult of manly wakefulness


Dangerously sleepy: overworked Americans and the cult of manly wakefulness

It’s not just a woman’s problem.  Alan Derickson looks at the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” ethos that drives men to work at the cost of all else.  Not just unfulfilling, downright dangerous.




Free Time-the forgotten American dream


Free time: the forgotten American dream

What exactly are we working for? Benjamin Hunnicutt covers a history of labour that moved from the idea of “higher progress”--time spent on pursuits unrelated to money—to the relentless 21st century mantra that work is, and should be, all-consuming.




What's the economy for anyway


What's the economy for, anyway?

John De Graaf and David Batker ask what exactly is the good life, and why does it have to be about money only?  Maybe it’s not the economy, stupid, but the stupid economy.




The stress of the 24/7 world won’t be gone soon, and neither will those bills to pay. If you can’t slow down any other way, remember the consolation of blizzards, and give thanks for the next big Canadian winter storm.  It’s sure to be coming your way.

A Visit to the Browsery at Toronto Reference Library

January 3, 2015 | Winona | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Did you know that you can borrow current books, movies, music, and magazines from the Toronto Reference Library


Browsery sign


The Browsery is a collection of new, popular, and award-winning adult fiction and non-fiction items that are free to borrow. Everything is available on a first-come, first-served basis; no holds allowed. Which means that if you come at the right time you just might find highly sought-after items on our shelves that you won't find in most branches. Plus, because there are no holds, you can usually renew your items twice!




You can find the Browsery on the main floor of the Toronto Reference Library, on your left as you enter, between the Information Desk and the Adaptive Tech Centre.


Browsery new fiction display Browsery new nonfiction display Browsery new nonfiction display Browsery graphic novels display



Wondering what kinds of things are in the Browsery? Here is a look at what I found on a recent visit.


Gray Mountain by John Grisham

No Known Grave by Maureen Jennings









As I write this, John Grisham's latest legal thriller Gray Mountain, has almost 900 holds (!) but here is a non-holdable copy in the Browsery just waiting for someone to come and snatch it up. Or this, a new mystery by Maureen Jennings, No Known Grave, from the author who inspired the television series Murdoch Mysteries.


The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami















This new reissue of Haruki Murakami's 2008 novella The Strange Library was designed by the legendary book designer Chip Kidd and it is an absolute beauty. To open it, you lift up/pull down the covers, as you can see in the photo on the right. You can also see, just behind it, Shani Mootoo's Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab, which was on the 2014 Scotiabank Giller longlist (and has one of my favourite book titles of all time). And there's a copy of Jane Smiley's brand new novel Some Luck, the first volume in a projected trilogy that will span the last hundred years in American history, from 1920 to 2019.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo Tinseltown by William J. Mann















The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a charming little book, featured in John Elmslie's 20 Fabulous Books Under $20 blog post, and perfect for that post-holiday de-cluttering and organizing blitz that I'm sure to get to any minute now. And here is a copy of bestselling Hollywood chronicler William Mann's Tinseltown, which delves into the notorious unsolved 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor, president of the Motion Picture Directors Association.


Sweet Tooth comics by Jeff Lemire


The Browsery has a small graphic fiction and non-fiction section. I am a big fan of Jeff Lemire's comics, and here are the three latest volumes in his emotionally-charged, post-apocalyptic Sweet Tooth series, which has been described as Bambi meets The Road.


Browsery display wall

Browsery shelves and display wall


The Browsery continues, past the Global Connect TV Wall and the Holds, into the reading room.


Browsery travel books


Thinking of heading south for winter? Here are travel books to help plan your trip.


Special Deluxe by Neil Young Made in Quebec by Julian Armstrong











Or, if you are more of an armchair traveller, you can tour North America with iconic musician Neil Young in his new memoir Special Deluxe, or take a culinary journey through Quebec in the cookbook Made in Quebec.


Heartburn by Nora Ephron audiobookFifty Shades series by E. L. James audiobooks














In audiobooks, here is a copy of Heartburn by the late, great Nora Ephron, narrated by Meryl Streep (!), who also starred in the movie adaptation. Or, for something completely different, how about all three of the Fifty Shades books on audio? That'll liven up my morning commute!


Browsery music CDs

Art Official Age by Prince


I'm sorry to say you actually won't find the latest Prince release, Art Official Age, in the Browsery's music CD section today because I had to borrow it for myself. But I promise to return it soon.


Browsery feature DVDs

20 Feet from Stardom DVDBorgias season three DVD
The Act of Killing DVDBrowsery DVDsOlympia DVD

Browsery DVDsCall the Midwife season three DVDPilates for Beginners DVD








There are also lots of DVDs: feature movies; television shows; documentaries; how-to videos; and more.


Vanity Fair magazine Maclean's magazine














The Browsery also has popular magazines, as well as a small collection of large print books, plus talking books for use by print disabled patrons.

You may be interested to know that North York Central Library also has a Browsery collection; you can read about it in this blog post by Kelli

And so concludes this tour of the Browsery at Toronto Reference Library. Next time you are in the area why not drop in and take a look around for yourself? You never know what you might find.

TRL Program Calendar January 2015

December 31, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Last chance to see the fascinating World War I exhibit Four Families, One War, held over at the TD Gallery until January 11.  Then see the new Turkish Film Series, join the European Book Club, meet authors Peter Carey and  Miranda July, and find out about hacker(s) Anonymous.

Click on each image to enlarge or Download The January 2015 @ TRL as a pdf file.

For a full list of programs to browse or search, check out our Programs, Classes and Exhibits page.


January 1 January 2 January 3 January 4

Your Brain in Action

December 29, 2014 | Pam | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

There are many myths about the brain, and I always assumed most of them were true. A website called calls these Neuromyths. 

Examples of popular myths include: the bigger your brain, the smarter you are; drinking alcohol kills brain cells; you only use 10 % of your brain; and more.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal on the aging process lists other myths concerning the aging process, such as: cognitive decline is inevitable, older workers are less productive, and creativity declines with age.These are largely untrue for the majority of people.   

Denise HenriquesTo learn more about the brain, join Dr. Denise Henriques from York University, Sensorimotor Control Lab, on January 21st at Toronto Reference Library at 6:30pm in the Beeton Auditorium. She will be speaking about the brain's ability to control movements and how the brain repairs itself.

This talk is part of the lecture series, Neuroscience: How Your Brain Lives, Works ... And Dies, presented in collaboration with York University's Faculties of Science and Health.

Toronto Reference Library has a substantial collection of material on the brain, which can be found in the Business, Science and Technology Department on the third floor. Here is a sampling of titles:

Brains way of healing Consciousness and the brain Explaining abnormal behavior Neuroscience of freedom & creativity






Brains Way of Healing: Remarkable discoveries & Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, by Norman Doidge

Consciousness and the brain: deciphering how the brain codes our thoughts, by Stanislas Dehaene. Also an eBook

Explaining abnormal behavior : a cognitive neuroscience perspective, by  Bruce Franklin Pennington
The neuroscience of freedom & creativity : our predictive brain, by Joaquin Fuster

A Child's Christmas in Wales

December 22, 2014 | Monika | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Christmas Eve. The wrapping is finished, the plans have been made for tomorrow, it’s time for a quiet moment before bed.

In the dark living room the tree glows with warm colours, and it feels so cozy and sleepy. A cup of tea or a little nightcap, and a few minutes lost in listening to the snowy, nostalgic story of Dylan Thomas' 'A Child’s Christmas in Wales'. Even though these are not my own Christmas memories, it somehow rings so true and familiar, after so many years of hearing it, as I will do again this Christmas Eve.

Now my daughter shares the pleasure of this holiday tradition with me. We both find ourselves reciting favourite bits along with the recording, finding a comfort in the familiar cadence of Thomas’ voice:

"One Christmas was so much like the other, in those years around the sea-town corner now, out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices that I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve, or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

This year would have been Dylan Thomas' 100th birthday. It makes revisiting the story this Christmas a bit more special.

When I was young, my parents had the Caedmon LP album recording  Child's Christmas in Wales LPof "Dylan Thomas Reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Five Poems", recorded by Thomas in 1952. I remember being entranced as I heard the story, lost in his magic words and images, seeing the snowy Welsh hillside and the narrow streets of his town.

I still have the record and played it for many years, until I found a cassette version. Now, of course, it's also available on CD.

The record jacket is an illustration by the Uruguayan-American woodcut artist, Antonio Frasconi, one of six he designed for Caedmon's Dylan Thomas recordings.

Caedmon Records was started in 1952 by two women, Barbara Holdridge and her best friend, Marianne Roney. Just graduating from college, they were looking for a way to get into the recording business. They heard that the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, would be giving a reading at the Poetry Center at the 92nd Street Y in New York, and they decided to go and meet him. Turned away by the usher, they persisted, and finally did get in touch with Thomas. He came to the recording studio with some poems, but not enough to fill the B side of the LP. He remembered having published a Christmas story in Harper's Bazaar, and they managed to track down a copy of the December 1950 issue of the magazine. 

Thomas read the story for the LP. It was 'A Child's Christmas in Wales'. The story as recorded was actually an amalgam of two different works, 'Memories of Christmas', a script written and broadcast in 1945 for BBC Wales, and 'Conversation about Christmas', a piece published in The Picture Post in 1947. Serendipity, fate, good fortune all led to the discovery of a beloved Christmas story that may well have been lost and forgotten.

The rest is history, as Caedmon (named after the earliest known English poet) went on to record many of the major figures of the literary world.

Today, we can listen to the complete story, on the Naxos Music Library site, accessed with a library card through the library’s website. Search for 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' in the Naxos Music Library.

In an unusual reversal of audiobook production, it was the recording of the story that made it famous. Then publishers took interest and put it into book form.

Many beautifully illustrated versions have since  been published. One of my favourite children's book illustrators, Edward Ardizzone, created just the right images to suit the story. Ardizzone Child's Christmas in WalesOther children's illustrators have delighted families with their own interpretations. Two very different versions are by Trina Schart Hyman and Christopher Raschka.

Trina Schart Hyman. A Child's Christmas in Wales            Christopher Raschka. A Child's Christmas in Wales

Artists and printmakers have created beautiful art books, interpreting Thomas' evocative words and images in their own way.

Fritz Eichenberg's wood engravings may not appeal to younger audiences but they create a unique vision of the uncles, sleeping in front of the fire, and the "few, small aunts". Ellen Raskin's simple woodcuts, illustrating a lovely small edition of the story, leave more to our imagination.

Fritz Eichenberg. A Childs Christmas in Wales cover              Ellen Raskin. A Child's Christmas in Wales

'A Child's Christmas in Wales' never fails to delight, no matter how many times I hear or read it. I see the boys chasing "iron flanked and bellowing he-hippos" in the snow, the postmen with "sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses", and of course, Miss Prothero, who "said the right thing, always".

I look forward to this Christmas Eve as I turn down the lights, get comfy on the couch, and re-visit the "wool-white, bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea..."




True Crime for Serial Lovers

December 18, 2014 | Winona | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Have you been listening to Serial? The hit podcast, which aims to cover one story week-by-week, has just ended its first season. Over the course of 12 weekly episodes millions of listeners followed along with reporter and host Sarah Koenig as she re-investigated the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high school student.

I resisted Serial at first, unwilling to be lured into yet another pop culture phenomenon to have to keep up with, or catch up on. But one evening I relented and by the next morning I was bleary-eyed, having stayed up until the wee hours listening to several episodes of the stuff, and I couldn't wait for more.

Now that the show is over (or, rather, on hiatus until the second season) I am craving something to feed my newfound interest in true crime that will be just as engaging, thoughtful, and spine-tinglingly good.

I found some excellent suggestions in this article on Slate, added a few of my own, and came up with this list of true crime to keep me occupied until the next season of Serial begins.

  Homicide by David Simon Homicide Life on the Street Series 1 The Wire Series 1






The events in Serial take place in Baltimore in 1999, which comes across as a pretty gritty, crime-addled place in time. If you've been listening to the podcast you will know, for instance, that Baltimore's Leakin Park is where all the bodies are buried. Literally. As one resident says, "If you're digging in Leakin Park to bury your body, you're going to find somebody else's."

That casually chilling statement echoes a Baltimore Police Department legend recounted by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon in Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. As he tells it, trainees searching for a missing person in the park are reminded by their supervisor that they are looking for one body in particular: "If you go grabbing at every one you find, we'll be here all day."

Simon's engrossing police procedural describes a year spent with Baltimore homicide detectives and gives readers a detailed insider's view of several murder investigations. It received the 1992 Edgar Award in the Best Fact Crime category and was adapted into the groundbreaking crime drama television series Homicide: Life on the Street. Simon also created the critically-acclaimed series The Wire.


One of the things I found most compelling about Serial is the experience of trying to understand the case from the perspective of reporter and host Sarah Koenig. Her struggle to process the myriad facts, claims, ambiguities, inconsistencies, and their implications, exposes a tension between the expectation of cool journalistic objectivity and her unabashed personal interest in the case, as well as the need to spin a captivating murder mystery tale.

A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm

Sebastian Junger also has both a journalistic and personal interest in the case he examines in A Death in Belmont. In 1963 a murder took place in Belmont, a few blocks from Junger's childhood home, near Boston, that mimicked the Boston Strangler serial killings. A young black man was quickly tried and convicted for the Belmont strangling but Junger wonders if there isn't a far messier truth. Reviewed in The New York Times. Starred review of the audio format in Publisher's Weekly. Also in these formats: audiobook | eaudiobook | large print | talking book.

In Cold Blood is a true crime classic about the brutal, seemingly random, 1959 murder of four family members in Kansas. Widely praised in the literary community upon its release in 1966, it is sometimes regarded as the first ever "non-fiction novel." Some critics have challenged its factual accuracy and others have argued that although author Truman Capote removed himself from the narrative his presence is palpable in his identification with one of the purported killers. Reviewed in The New York Times. Starred review of the audio format in Publisher's Weekly. Also in these formats: eaudiobook | ebook | film adaptation.


The Journalist and the Murderer is a study of the ethics of journalism that likens "the moral ambiguity" of journalism to a treacherous con game. Author Janet Malcolm focuses on the infamous Fatal Vision case, in which journalist Joe McGinniss nurtured a friendship with accused murderer Jeffrey MacDonald and promised to write a book about MacDonald's innocence, but instead published a book that declared his guilt. Reviewed in The New York Times.

  Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere by Poe Ballantine God'll Cut You Down by John SafranMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is the story of author Poe Ballantine's neighbour, a college math professor, who disappeared one day in 2006 and was discovered dead several months later. But was it murder or suicide? It is also very much the author's own story: a quirky, often gently humerous, personal account of his life in a small Nebraska town, his rocky marriage, and his experiences raising his autistic son. Starred review in Shelf Awareness. Recently made into a documentary film.


John Safran, a documentarian and comedian (some consider him Australia's Michael Moore), uses humour to great effect in his re-investigation of the 2010 murder of a white supremacist in God'll Cut You Down: The Tangled Tale of a White Supremacist, a Black Hustler, a Murder, and How I Lost a Year in Mississippi. Just as in Serial, Safran tracks down and interviews several of the key players in the case and documents his experience uncovering many different, sometimes contradictory, narratives in his search for the truth. Starred review in Kirkus. Also in these formats: eaudiobook | ebook.

Safran's book owes a debt to Truman Capote as well as John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, an entertaining bestseller about a landmark murder case in Savannah and the remarkable cast of characters involved. Reviewed in Kirkus. Also in these formats: audiobook | ebook | large print reference | film adaptation.

More true crime, available in both book and audiobook formats, at the library:

Crime Beat by Michael ConnellyFinal Analysis by Catherine CrierLost Girls by Robert KolkerThe Good Nurse by Charles Graeber






  Imperfect Justice by Jeff AshtonThe Innocent Man by John Grisham  Heart Full of Lies by Ann RuleToo Late to Say Goodbye by Ann Rule







Arriving Soon - The City Builder Book Club

December 11, 2014 | Cynthia | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

  City Builder Book Club
Did you know that 'most humans on the planet now live in cities and over the next few decades, another quarter to a third of the world will join them? This urban migration marks the most decisive social and cultural shift since the Enlightenment'.

“We will end the century as a wholly urban species,” notes Doug Saunders, "the consequences of which will affect everything from governance systems and financial markets to climate conditions and fuel resources."

Arrival cities, sometimes known as “slums, favelas, bustees, bidonvilles, ashwaiyyat, shantytowns, kampongs, urban villages, gecekondulars, and barrios of the developing world," are our immigrant neighborhoods, ethnic districts, banlieues difficiles, Chinatowns, Little Indias, Hispanic quarters and Thorncliffe Parks. They are created by people who want to find work, build a life, save and invest, and move on, making room for the next wave of immigrants.

Arrival CityCome January, the City Centre for Ecology will launch the online City Builder Book Club for 2015 featuring Doug Saunders' Arrival City : the Final Migration and Our Next World.

The idea is that an international audience will read the book and participate in weekly online discussions. Contributors might be well-known sociologists, planners, policy-makers or politicians or someone just interested in commenting. Take a look at the site; take out or download Arrival City, and join the discussion.


Look for our weekly listing of relevant books, magazines and multimedia materials to complement each chapter. Most things can be found in the Humanities & Social Sciences Department, 2nd floor, Toronto Reference Library. Many titles can be found or sent to your local branch.

Salaam Brick Lane

Last Train Home 
  Village in the city Planet of slums



December 6: Women, Men, Violence

December 5, 2014 | Katherine | Comments (9) Facebook Twitter More...

Twenty–five years ago on December 6, 1989, a man, whose name you probably know, walked into the École Polytechnique in Montreal and shot to death fourteen women. He wounded fourteen more women and four men. He deliberately targeted the women, saying feminists had ruined his life.

Since that day there have been commemorations and controversies, coalitions for gun control, push back against that. Arguments about individual responsibility, societal responsibility. Whether mental illness was the root cause, or a broken and violent family life, or a society that denigrates women, or a society that denigrates outsiders. Whether men hate women, whether women blame men, whether any of us can live together in this world.

Perhaps one way to start, is to remember the names of the people who died. To remember the women and men who were wounded and damaged and changed forever by what happened to them. People like Lt. Pierre Leclair of the Montreal police, who found one of the first victims and identified her. She was Maryse Leclair, a fourth-year metallurgy student, and she was his daughter.

             Ecole Polytechniques Plaque

             Plaque on the exterior wall of École Polytechnique  Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps another way is to remember how many more have died because of sexual violence or domestic violence or gun violence since that day in 1989.

And still another way is to read and learn the ways others have tried to respond to those events and that tragedy. A short list:


Aftermath- the mother of Marc Lepine December 6 Intimate Personal Violence in Canada Male peer support and violence against women








Aftermath : the mother of Marc Lépine tells the story of her life before and after the Montreal massacre by Monique Lépine

Vivre : dix-neuf ans après la tragédie de la Polytechnique, Monique Lépine, la mère de Marc Lépine, se révèle

December 6 : from the Montreal massacre to gun control : the inside story by Heidi Rathjen

Intimate personal violence in Canada by Anastasia Bake

Male peer support and violence against women : the history and verification of a theory by Walter S, DeKeseredy

  Misogyny-the world's oldest prejudiceThe Montreal Massacre Rage and Resistance Sexual assault in Canada







Misogyny : the world's oldest prejudice by Jack Holland

The Montreal massacre : a story of membership categorization analysis by Peter Eglin

Rage and resistance : a theological reflection on the Montreal Massacre by Theresa M. O'Donovan

Sexual assault in Canada : law, legal practice, and women's activism Elizabeth A. Sheehy   eBook






After the Montreal Massacre

Heidi Rathjen: from tragedy to triumph




National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women--Ontario Women's Directorate

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women--Status of Women Canada

The Rose Campaign


Candle Light Vigil for Lost Lives

Kaz Andrew: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

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