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April 2018 Staff Picks

Brenda’s Picks – “I am not your negro” DVD by  James Baldwin; Between the world and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

i am not your negrobetween the world and meThese two items provide a deep insight into racial politics in the US, the American identity and a personal glimpse into the lives of two men, one contemporary and the other who died almost 30 years ago. As Toni Morrison said about Coates book…”This should be required reading.”  In order to gain some kind of understanding of what is happening in our neighbouring country with the “Black lives matter” movement, self-education is necessary. James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

David’s Pick – Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne

beautiful animalsOsborne is a ferociously talented and steely-eyed chronicler of the clashes between the cultures of the developed & underdeveloped worlds, someone who loves to probe into the places where the good intentions of liberals go awry, and where people with bad intentions prey on the innocent and not-so-innocent. His latest is the story of two bored, well-meaning (?) young women who strike up a friendship of sorts on the Greek island of Hydra, and decide to take a Syrian refugee under their wing, with results that the reader sees coming with a sense of growing dread. Sun-drenched, melancholic, gripping.

Jayme’s Pick – The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

memoery keepersThe memory keeper’s daughter is a page-turner, a wonderfully crafted tale of two sets of people tied by the lie of one man. What is most fascinating to the reader is the parallel stories of the two children, twins who grow up in separate environments, becoming as different as night and day.  While Phoebe blossoms into a productive and healthy woman, her twin Paul grows up in her shadow, not knowing she is alive, finding that he is competing with her for his parents’ attentions despite the fact that she is “dead.” This is what drives the story — as one family thrives, the other one deteriorates.

Joanne’s Pick – Little House Living: The make-Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life by Merrisa A. Alink

little house living This book is full of ideas to help you downsize and live more sustainable life.  The recipes for safe cleaning and personal care products are simple and effective and most are made from items you already have on hand.  The author also includes products you can make for your children and pets such as watercolor paints, play dough, sidewalk chalk, pet flea wash and pet treat mixes.  The second half of the book is dedicated to make-ahead mixes and uses for common household items and products like vinegar and bees wax.  This is a wonderful book to help you have a safe and comfortable home for your whole family and pets.

Mark’s Pick – Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

man's search for meaningViktor Frankl is an extremely insightful man – a professor and psychotherapist who survived three years of internment in Auschwitz during World War Two. This book is an autobiographical and psychoanalytical journey through his internment. His observations in Auschwitz helped him to develop an effective approach to therapy where we focus on the future in order to reorient and reinforce the meaning of our lives.

Megan’s Pick – Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Indian HorseIt’s hard to use the word ‘beautiful’ when describing Richard Wagamese’s book, Indian Horse, but there is beauty in this story that includes such pain. Indian Horse tells the story of Saul Indian Horse whose life was turned upside down as a child when residential schools tore his family apart. While this is an important story that depicts one of the darkest times in our history and the impact racism has had Canada’s First Nations community, there is a lot of wonderful moments in how Saul is able to connect with a community and rediscover a new family. This book should be mandatory reading for all Canadians.

Megan’s Pick – We’ll All Be Burnt in our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes

We'll all be burnt in out bedsImagine going on a cross-country Canada with one of the most unlikable characters, that is We’ll All Be Burnt in our Beds Some Night. The story’s protagonist, and narrator, Johnny Keough is not a character readers want to like, but through his journey bits and pieces of life emerge that leave the reader questioning if Johnny is just a victim of circumstance or whether he is an active player in his tale that seems more like a Greek tragedy. This book is not for the faint of heart, but if you stick with it, you’ll be won over by Keough, and Joel Thomas Hynes’ amazing writing.

Natalie’s Pick – The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

flamethrowerKushner introduces a dynamic female lead named Reno, who is an artist living in the East Village of New York in 1975. Reno combines her love of motorcycles into an art project and enters the speed trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Her racing adventures lead her to Europe, but her travels do not evolve as planned and she finds herself seeking refuge with a group of radicals in Italy. A well-researched and descriptive novel, with an admirable protagonist.