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March 2016 Staff Picks

David’s Pick: Dubliners by James Joyce


My staff pick is one of the revered texts of literary modernism, we can all agree on that; but is a book that people continue to read and find interesting? As I write this staff pick, I see that the Powell River Public Library no longer has a print copy of this, although Library users can download it as an e-book. So maybe 102 years has put too much distance between the average modern reader and the harsh judgments that Joyce was passing on the late Victorian moral order on the eve of The Great War, which did its part to hasten the end of the old political regimes and the beginning of the modern era. If you’ve never read these stories, or if it has been a while since you read them last, you could do worse than take another look. They are fantastically well constructed, clear-eyed, and prophetic. It may be over a century since they first appeared, but we continue to grapple with self-deception, failed love, cowardice, stagnation, miscommunication, and all the other impairments that Joyce was honest enough to see and fearless enough to write about.

Deb’s Pick: Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

those shoes

Maribeth Boelts speaks to her readers, young and old, of a situation most of us have found ourselves in. I wouldn’t say that we are all misfits and outsiders but at some time or another we have each wanted something to help us belong, fit in, feel accepted. While reading Those Shoes I understood Jeremy’s plight. He was a “have not” in a schoolyard of “haves”. Jeremy wanted a pair of high-top shoes, black with two white stripes. His Grandma, told him “There’s no room for “want” around here – just “need” And what you need are new boots for winter.” She knew their budget well. So she buys him boots. Remember that sinking feeling when grown-ups were so darned practical you didn’t have a hope? Jeremy has that feeling. When he sees a pair of high-tops in a thrift store window it seems like his wish has come true. He spends his own money on them but there’s a problem… By the last page of Those Shoes Jeremy has learned something amazing. Something that will serve him well for the rest of his life. This book, written simply, illustrated beautifully, will leave you with a lump in your throat.

 Joanne’s Pick: A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

kid's herb book

Even though this book is written for school age children and contains stories and songs for children the information and remedies are great for adults too. Few people today know just the basic information that our grandparents knew about common plants and how to use them. The author has chosen well known herbs and spices that many people have in their gardens and cupboards already. The pages of this book are filled with wonderful information and easy to follow herbal remedies such as salves, syrups, powders, pills, tinctures and many wonderful things to do with herbs. I really enjoyed the recipes for tooth powder, slippery elm lozenges, cinnamon halvah, natural lip balms, tea blends and remedies for bug bites all made with ingredients I had on hand. It has wonderful ideas to help children get involved in a fun and informative way with their health and to help them connect with the natural world around them.
I really enjoyed the recipes for tooth powder, slippery elm lozenges, cinnamon halvah, natural lip balms, tea blends and remedies for bug bites all made with ingredients I had on hand.

 Leanne’s Pick: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

in order to live

In Order to Live is a true story of a young woman who escaped from the totalitarian country of North Korea. The book covers three portions of her life. She begins with her childhood growing up under the tyranny of the Kim dynasty, her escape to China where she became a different kind of prisoner, and finally her escape to freedom in South Korea. She is now a human rights activist, determined to show the world what really goes on in North Korea. As I read this book, I had to keep reminding myself that this happened in the 21st century; so many of the situations that she found herself in seemed like something that could only happen in medieval times. It was a real eye-opener for me to get a glimpse into the oppression that millions of North Koreans are still living under. This is a very inspirational story. Yeonmi Park knew that there had to be more to life than what she had been brainwashed into believing. In her own words, “This is my story of the choices I made in order to live.”

 Mark’s Pick: To Caucasus, The End of All The Earth by Fitzroy Maclean

to caucasus

Fitzroy Maclean served as a British commando and diplomat during the Second World War and the Cold War and his real life adventures served as inspiration for the James Bond character. “To Caucasus, the end of all the earth” recounts one of his adventures travelling through the mountainous Caucasus region of the Soviet Union. Beautifully illustrated by his photos, the book documents the way of life of modern history of the lands of the Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. By writing this adventure travel Fitzroy Maclean, the real life James Bond, has allowed us to see this fascinating part of the world through the eyes of a diplomat who and military attaché who was an expert of Russian life and history.

 Megan’s Pick: Good Ol’ Freda (DVD)

good ol freda

Being a kid born in the ’80s, I never grew up during Beatle Mania, but someone very close to me did. My mom had a big collection of Beatles records, including Sgt. Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club Band, which included badges and epaulettes you could cut out and wear. I saw Good Ol’ Freda in Victoria when I was there for a trip and immediately felt a connection to my mom. Good Ol’ Freda tells the largely untold story of Freda Kelly, who was not only the secretary for the Beatles, but also a lifelong friend. While the story of Freda was compelling, what resonated with me most, is how often the big stories, of our parents, our friends and even strangers go untold. This is a great movie for anyone who loves the Beatles, loves music, but also just loves a story that existed at the height of Beatles hysteria, and no one knew.

 Sandra’s Pick: This is Happy by Camilla Gibb

this is happy

Camilla Gibb’s memoir is a story like no other—not simply because she has lived through her unique challenges, but also because she’s shared herself with such raw and skillful prose. When I first heard that her revealing book included an absent mother, mentally ill father and drug addicted brother I wasn’t sure I was up for the truth of it. Why read about someone else’s strange and difficult life when we have our own to deal with, right? Wrong. I’m so glad I read this book. Despite its heavy content it was a quick read, masterfully presented and it made me thoughtful about her life, my life and the connections that make a life. In the end, This is Happy, is about the family we’re born into as well as the family we create.