January 2017 Staff Picks

Updated 2017/01/28

Brenda’s Pick: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

commonwealthI picked the right book to start the New Year…Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. This is her most recent story and it rolls along effortlessly from the first paragraph drawing the reader into the lives of her characters. The children of two families wind their way through childhood with back and forth visits and the blending of households disrupted by divorce. Patchett follows her own kind of chronology with the adult children’s observations from the perspective of their present lives. The plot twists when Franny shares aspects of the past with her love interest who is also a famous author. There is humour, pathos and a connecting tenderness to be found in the pages of this novel about complicated relationships.

Deb’s Pick: Sweetland: A Novel By Michael Crummey

sweetlandSweetland is a book about the end at the edge; the end of a community at the edge of a continent. Sweetland is the name of a retired lighthouse keeper who stubbornly refuses to accept a government relocation package even though his neighbours and loved ones rely upon him joining their ranks. Michael Crummey’s writing is the stuff of heartbreak and redemption.

David’s Pick: The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness By Rebecca Solnit

encyclopedia of troubleAnything by Solnit is always welcome and well worth reading. In this collection of essays, she surveys the contemporary landscape of environmental collapse, economic disruption, popular uprisings, the Japanese tsunami & shifting demographics in and around San Francisco, and much more. The subjects are difficult ones at times, but throughout the book there runs a vein of pragmatism, acceptance, & resistance that makes them more uplifting & positive than they might have been in the hands of someone less compassionate.

 Joanne’s Pick: The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme

the-year-of-cozyThis is a good book for those who feel the winter blues and need a little inspiration and pick-me-up.  The Year of Cozy has some great made from scratch recipes, crafts and simple ideas for cozy living.  The photos are clear and tempting and the instructions are easy to follow.  Adrianna draws you into a simpler way of living and how to find joy in everyday things and experiences.

Leanne’s Pick: Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

girl-in-the-blue-coatGirl in the Blue Coat is a young adult historical novel, set in Amsterdam during WWII. It features Hanneke, a Dutch teenager who is keeping her family afloat by finding and delivering black-market goods. One day Hanneke is asked by one of her clients to find something special; a missing Jewish girl that had been in hiding from the Nazis.Initially wanting nothing to do with such a task, Hanneke eventually takes on the job and is drawn into a mystery that will open up her eyes to the world – and the war – around her. This is a quick and easy read; we have the audiobook as well!

Megan’s Pick: The Killer Whale Who Changed the World by Mark Leiren-Young

killer-whaleGrowing up on the West Coast I developed a deep love for whales. For much of my childhood I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist so that I could travel around the oceans around the West Coast following the whales. This story by Mark Leiren-Young takes readers from a time when Killer Whales were one of the most feared animals on the planet and introduces Moby Doll, the whale who as the title reads, changed the world. Now instead of seeing these beautiful animals as apex predators and aquatic pests we see them as intelligent creatures who we stand to learn even more about. For anyone who grew up in Victoria or Vancouver, this book is a must read about an important chapter of West Coast history.

Mark’s Pick: Rear Window (DVD) by Alfred Hitchcock

rear-windowRear Window is a classic Hitchcock mystery thriller film that is rightfully considered to be one of the best films of all time. It is set in 1940s New York city and stars James Stewart and Grace Kelly. In this thriller, a professional photographer Jeff who with a broken leg is confined to his wheelchair spends his days observing his neighbours from the confines of his apartment. It is from his window that he believes that he has viewed a murder. Jeff and his girlfriend Lisa investigate risk their own safety to who they believe is a neighbourhood murderer. It is a very well made and entertaining film well worth watching or re-watching.