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December 2017 Staff Picks


Andrea’s Pick: Random Passage (DVD)

51RERjoMgpLA vivid Canadian historical drama by Bernice Morgan, available in both print and DVD form, this is the hard scrabble story of a small community of European settlers in a remote Newfoundland fishing port during the early 19th century.

Andrea’s Pick: The Story Blanket by Ferida Wolff

story blanketThis picture book about community, sharing and generosity – set in a small, possibly eastern European village – is as warm as Babba Zarrah’s blanket.

Andrea’s Pick: Three Wishes:  Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis:

index (1)Through a series of candid interviews with children raised in this conflict zone, a Canadian author portrays the often disturbing effects of war.  Though this book is several years old, it explores the timeless and troubling reality of fear and violence and begs the question of how we might create a more peaceful world for future generations.

Brenda’s Pick: The Glass Castle (DVD)

The_Glass_Castle_(film)For anyone who has or has not read the book “The glass castle” … this movie is so well-made and well-cast that it will open up the story of Jeannette Wall’s life memoir. The experience of her and her siblings’ childhood growing up with unconventional parents, especially her father, Rex (Woody Harrelson) gave Jeannette a deep insight. When she finally came to terms with all that had happened and wrote about it, her book was 7 years as a best seller on the New York Times list. The DVD includes extra interviews and features which greatly augment the story.

David’s Pick: In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power. by Alfred McCoy

indexThis is a very well-written and eye-opening survey of American history, its shift from republic to empire, and its prospects as we enter an age of imperial decline, climate chaos, cyberwar, and the rise of rival superpower China. McCoy, a historian and a longtime chronicler of the dark side of American power, lays out the facts calmly but from a place of passionate engagement with the better and worse sides of the USA. Essential reading for a turbulent time.

David’s Pick: The Red Turtle (DVD)

red turtleThis film is absolute magic: no dialogue, a simple timeless story, mysteries left unsolved, and some of the most sumptuous visuals you’ll ever see. The designers and animators have spent time and energy studying, really looking closely at, water and wind and foliage and how the human figure moves, and the result is utterly stunning, heartbreaking, and exhilarating.

Joanne’s Pick: Recipes from the herbalist’s kitchen : delicious, nourishing food for lifelong health and well-being by Brittany Nickerson

herbalistThis wonderfully informative book has a wealth of information on some common herbs and how to use them not only to nourish your body but also as powerful medicine.  The herbs highlighted in this book are probably the ones you grow in your garden and have in your pantry such as dill, sage, basil, mint, thyme and other common herbs. Each one is described in detail according to their various uses as medicine for common ailments and enhancing meals, drinks or snacks.  The recipes are designed specifically to nourish, comfort, energize and support the body and are beautifully presented and simple to follow.

Megan’s Pick: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall

 index (2)To say I devoured this book would be an understatement. I’d been meaning to read more work by Zoe Whittall after finishing her Giller Prize nominated book The Best Kind of People. In this novel, Whittall takes writers to Montreal in 1995, at a time when the province was about to vote on the referendum to separate from Canada. With the tension of these politics in the air, Whittall also brings together the stories of a group of queer friends, who are facing their own struggles around identity, discrimination and hate, along with mental health and addiction. The characters in Whittall’s novel are dynamic and engaging, and just when you think you might know where the story is going, she manages to throw in a couple twists for good measure.

Mel’s Pick: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

index (3)Meet our hero Paloma. She’s 11, smart, cynical,  Parisian and fed up with the bs of modern life. Surrounded by idiots and artless buffoons, Paloma sees the horror of her empty bourgeois destiny and says “No way!” As she plots her suicide, life intervenes to show her what life, love and friendship are all about.  A heartwarming fairytale for the disenchanted featuring a surprise musical toilet.

Mel’s Pick: The Martian by Andy Weir

index (4)Castaway on Mars, space botanist Mark Watney is determined to live. Good for him! Growing potatoes in astronaut poop is but day one of Watney’s rip roaring journey of endurance. An engaging tale highlighting the importance of having a can-do attitude in the face of self-surgery, endless solar panel repair and certain death.