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What Do I Read Next?  

Reading recommendations, discussions and more to help you discover what to read next.
Last Updated: Apr 26, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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    News about Books...

    March 22, 2017

    The Libraries of Mosul:

    The devastating war in Iraq has taken its toll on the collected cultural history of the country. A combination of battles and deliberate ISIS policy have destroyed much of Mosul's library holdings including rare manuscripts registered as UNESCO treasures. For more details, please read Chloe Farand's article in the Independent.. Another article of interest discusses the ideological basis for the destruction of books and the ideas they represent with the more draconian weeding policies practiced by many major libraries. For more information, please read Jonathon Sturgeon's article on Flavorwire

    The library of the University of Mosul. Photo: Reuters

    March 22, 2017

    Colin Dexter Dies:

    Colin Dexter, the beloved author of the Inspector Morse series has died. Remember his through his many titles available at VPL. For more details, please read Dennis Barker's obituary in the Guardian.

    Colin Dexter. Photo: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian

    March 22, 2017

    Feeding My Mother:

    Canadian musician Jann Arden is about to release a book called Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss. The book describes Arden's experiences in caring for her mother who has Alzheimers. For more infromation, please read this CBC Books article.

    Jann Arden and her mother Joan

    March 21, 2017

    World Poetry Day:

    March 21st is designated as World Poetry Day. To help you celebrate, we offer three poetry themed booklists: Poetry Can Change Your Life, Contemporary B.C. Poetry, and our Community Reads National Poetry Month booklist.

    Mar 17, 2017

    Richard Wagamese:

    Canada has lost one of it's most important writers. Ojibway author Richard Wagamese has died. Meny have chosen to remember him by reading one of his titles. For mor detail, please read Wab Kinew's remembrance in the Globe and Mail.

    Richard Wagamese. Photo: Tibor Kolley for the Globe and Mail

    March 7, 2017

    Baileys Women's Prize:

    Three Canadian authors have been longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. The nominees are Margaret Atwood for The Hag-Seed, Heather O'Neill for The Lonely Hearts Hotel , and Madeleine Thien for Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Originally known as the Orange Prize, the Baileys Prize Women's Prize was founded in 1996. For more information, please read this article published by the Toronto Star.

    March 7, 2017

    Jhumpa Lahiri:

    Jhumpa Lahri's latest project is the translation of Dominico Starnone's novel Ties
     For more information, please check out this article published on the Literary Hub site.

    March 7, 2016

    B.C. Book Prizes:

    The shortlists for the B.C. Book Prizes were announced this week. Please follow this link for full details.

    March 1, 2017

    Fifteen Dogs:

    Congratulations to Andre Alexis, Canadian author whose novel Fifteen Dogs has been named one of the winners of the Windham-Campbell Prize. For more details, please read this article found on the CBCBooks blog

    Andre Alexis.

    February 23, 2017

    The PEN America Literay Award winners were announced recently. For a full list of winners in all categories, please read this article.

    John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction Matthew Desmond Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
    E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Luke Dittrich Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets

    Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History

    Aleksandar Hemon How Did You Get Here?:Tales of Displacement
    Open Book Award Helen Oyeyemi What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
    Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography  Joe Jackson Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary
    ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA
    Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry
    Natalie Scenters-Zapico The Verging Cities
    Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship
    Phillippe Diederich Finding a Home at the End of the World
    PEN Translation Prize Tess Lewis Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap
    PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
    Simon Armitage Pearl: A New Verse Translation by The Pearl Poet

    Henry Molaison - the subject of Luke Dittrich's PEN America award winning book Patient H.M.

    February 23, 2017

    Daddy Dearest?

    Fans of Eveyln Waugh's Brideshead Revisited will remember the cold and distant relationship Charles Ryder had with his father. VPL's reading experts wonder what sort of father Waugh turned out to be. According to Philip Eade recent biography Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited, the answer to that questions is unsettling. Check out this brief article by Violet Hudson in the Times Literary Review for more detail

    Evelyn Waugh with his wife and family, 1959 © Mark Gerson/Bridgeman Images

    February 15, 2016

    From the Vaults - The Epic of Gilgamesh:

    In ancient Sumer, clay tablets were the medium used to record royal achievement, business & legal transactions, observations of the natural world, science, mathematics and much more. Over several thousand years, the writing system evolved from pictograms to a more abstract cuneiform. The writing system was so complex that scribes were usually required. Legal documents were signed using signature seals – attractive, cylinders inscribed with figurative designs. One of the great surviving works of classical literature comes down to us by way of the clay tablet. The Epic of Gilgamesh, no doubt, began in the oral tradition. Initially it recorded great accomplishments of an actual ruler, the building of a network of canals etc. Factual details were embellished with mythical tales of divine interaction. As with Homer’s Odyssey, details were likely added to the original stories through the ages. Versions of the Gilgamesh stories were inscribed on clay tablets and images representing its chief characters appeared on the signature seals. It was also one of the texts used in the temple schools to teach the written Sumerian. Examples of the story have been discovered throughout much of the Ancient Middle East. Today the epic survives in fragment form – the standard text is derived from tablets found at the site of the library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh in 1853. Here’s a story by Osama S. M. Amin concerning the discovery of a new fragment. Today, the Gilgamesh stores have entered the popular culture in the form of fiction, plays, graphic novels, and movie adaptations.

    Sumerian signature seal

    February 14

    Happy Valentine's Day:

    VPL's Reading Experts wish you a happy Valentine's Day and hope you enjoyed our 5 Days of St. Valentin posts. To cap off the holiday, here's our Isn't It Romantic list we've selected that covers themes from Regency to contemporary romance. Enjoy! 

    You may also enjoy our Classics of Unrequited Love lis

    February 13, 2016

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Day 5: The Valentine’s Day Card:

    Even the child who didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card on February 14th, fantasizes about a message from a secret admirer. Perhaps the discovery of a misplaced card causes you to regret a former love. Perhaps a misdirected card, causes you to pine for an unlikely love. If this rings a bell, you need a good love overcoming adversity novel.

    The seismic impact of Elezibeth Percer’s Valentine’s Day novel All Stories Are Love Stories is not just metaphorical, it’s literal. It’s Valentine’s Day and an earthquake has left San Francisco in ruins. But, what really matters are the complicated love lives of three survivors. 

    Perhaps a Valentine’s Day card means only one thing to you: “How much is it worth on eBay?” If this is you, be sure to borrow Robert Brenner’s Valentine Treasury: A Century of Valentine Cards

    Anonymous Valentine’s Day cards seem innocent enough, but in the hands of the right novelist, the device can be positively creepy. Intrigued ? Try Be Mine by Laura Kasischke - a writer described as “a bold chronicler of dark obsessions.” 

    February 12, 2017

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Day 4: All That Glitters:

    It’s Valentine’s Day and your partner has taken you out for a romantic, candlelight dinner. The wine has lent a soft, mellow glow to the evening when out of the corner of your eye, your see something unexpected nestled in your baked potato. Could it be a diamond?

    There’s something about Valentine’s Day that brings on marriage proposals. Perhaps your new engagement ring is the first serious piece of jewelry you’ve owned? Perhaps it will be the the beginning of a serious collection. If you need a book to inspire you, try Julie Baumgold’s The Diamond.

    Are you curious to see what you might aspire to as a serious collector? Try Marian Fowler’s Hope: Adventures of a Diamond

    Perhaps you saw Blood Diamond and the film has got you questioning the ethics of the diamond industry? Try Matthew Hart’s Diamond: A Journey into the Heart of an Obsession. 

    February 11, 2017

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Day 3: Lingerie:

    Black see-through, red satin, or lace, lingerie is the gift that “blesseth him/her that gives and him/her that takes.” One of the best novels illustrating the transformative power of clothes is Paul Gallico’s Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris. Sadly, VPL’s copy is no more, but it’s well worth searching for. Instead, try Rosalie Ham’s empowerment and revenge novel, The Dressmaker. 

    Perhaps your obsession with lingerie is more of a technical one. Those of you interested in the bones of the garment, couldn’t do better than Jill Salen”s Vintage Lingerie

    Of course, there is a darker aspect to gifts of lingerie. Body shaming and the quest for the unattainable figure create voices in our head that tell us we are excluded from basic pleasures. The perfect antidote is Whitney Way Thore’s I Do It With the Lights On.

    February 11, 2017

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Day 2: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not:

    Flowers in general and red roses in particular are the must gift for Valentine’s Day. For a flowery romance of love and devotion, try Alexander Dumas’ The Black Tulip.

    But flowers often send mixed messages. Is “a rose is a rose is a rose?” For help deciphering flowers and their meaning, the go to book is Kate Greenaway’s The Language of Flowers.

    The collecting and cultivation of flowers has a darker side as well. Consider, for example, the cult of the tulip in Anne Goldgar’s Tulipmania: Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age

    February 11, 2017

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Day 1: Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate:

    From Martha Washington to Laura Secord, chocolate is, perhaps, the most popular Valentine’s Day gift. The best book to celebrate the seductive powers of the cocoa bean is Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate.

    But what if you don’t share Forest Gump’s delight in a box of chocolates? Are the ingredients safe to eat? Perhaps you should ask your Valentine for a book on allergen-free eating such as Heather Christo’s Pure Delicious

    Perhaps your chocolate concerns are ethical. Exactly how are the cocoa beans harvested? Carol Off’s Bitter Chocolate may be just the book for you. 

    February 11, 2017

    The Five Days of St. Valentine - Introduction:

    We celebrate the 24 Days of Advent, the 12 Days of Christmas, and the 8 Days of Hanukkah. Vancouver Public Library’s Reading Experts feel that now is the time to celebrate the 5 Days of St. Valentine.

    What started as a sentimental holiday to celebrate your one-and-only, has evolved over time into a consumer extravaganza with little reference to the heart. VPL’s Reading Experts may have the solution. Over the next 5 days, we will post a list of books representing a traditional Valentine’s Day gift as well with an antidote / alternative title to balance the scales.

    Please watch for our 5 Days of St. Valentine posts which will appear from February 9th to February 13th followed by a final Valentine’s Day post on February 14th.

    February 11, 2017

    The Handmaid's Tale:

    It seems 1984 isn't the only work of fiction to enjoy a sales boost followingthe U.S. election. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is also enjoying a surge in popularity. Check out this article from the Guardian for more details.

    Margaret Atwood. Photo: Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

    February 6, 2017

    The God Abandons Antony:

    Today's Poem of the Week is C. P. Cavafy's "The God Abandons Antony." VPL's Reading Experts feel it is definitely a poem for our times.

    The God Abandons Antony

    When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
    an invisible procession going by
    with exquisite music, voices,
    don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
    work gone wrong, your plans
    all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
    As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
    say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
    Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
    it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
    don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
    As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
    as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
    go firmly to the window
    and listen with deep emotion, but not
    with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
    listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
    to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
    and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.

    If you would like to know more about Cavafy, please read Dan Chiasson's article published in the New Yorker.

    C. P. Cavafy

    Feburary 6, 2017

    A Song of Ice and Fire:

    Could it be? The long awaited new installment of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series may be finished this year. Martin originally promised The Winds of Winter would be out in 2016, so we will have to wait and see. Please read Kim Renfro's article in the Business Insider for more details

    George R.R. Martin

    February 2, 2017

    The Physical Book:

    In a recent article on the Millions blog site, James McWilliams offers an interesting commentary of the impact of books as a physical presence in our lives. We all love our tablets and ebook readers, but the article does make us pause and consider our relationship with the printed page.

    February 2, 2017

    Costa Award:

    The Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Award) has selected Sebastian Barry's Days Without End as this year's prize winner in the fiction category. For more details, please read Stephen Moss' article published in the Guardian

    Sebastian Barry Photo: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

    February 1, 2017

    Margaret Wise Brown:

    VPL's Reading Experts are enjoying this review published on the NPR blog of Amy's Grant's biography of Margaret Wise Brown called In the Great Green Room. Margaret Wise Brown was a fascinating individual and a bit of a rebel who confounded expectations. In one interview she even told reporters. "I don't particularly like children." 

    Margaret Wise Brown Photo: Consuelo Kanaga

    January 31, 2017

    Refugee Tales:

    Despite the border turmoil in the United States and the horrific killings this past week in Quebec, it's heartening to see our citizens rallying around refugee communities. Now might be a good time to reflect on the sacrifices and suffering they have suffered. VPL's Reading Experts would like to share this thoughtful booklist compiled by Paul Kingsley for the Guardian

    January 31, 2017

    Canada Reads 2017:

    It's time once again for one of our favourite literary events - C.B.C.'s Canada Reads. Here's a list of the nominated books and their sponsors:

    For more information read this article posted on the C.B.C. website.

    January 27, 2017

    Nobody Waved Goodbye:

    Don Owens' 1964 film Nobody Waved Goodbye. It was one of the first English-language Canadian films to make an impact with international film critics.Great things were predicted for its young star, Peter Kastner. A recent article published in the Globe and Mail shows just how sad his life actually unfolded. The article is notable for the reminiscences of Peter's family members.


    Peter Kastner in Don Owens' Nobody Waved Goodbye.

    January 25, 2017

    The Collectors:

    When does collecting books crossover from hobby to obsession? In a recent essay published in the Guardian, Lorraine Berry looks to her own habits and those of famous collectors for whom the collecting of books could be described as a pathology.

    January 25, 2017

    Stonewall Awards:

    The American Library Association recently published a list of the winners and honourees for the Stonewall Book Awards. This is one of the most important awards for the GLBTQ community. The Stonewall Boook Awards includes  the Barbara Gittings Literature Award which was presented to Chris McCormick for Desert Boy, and the Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award which was presented to David France for How to Survice a Plague.

    January 11, 2017

    RBC Taylor Shortlist:

    The shortlist for the RBC Taylor Prize was announced this week

    By Chance Alone Max Eisen
    Mad Enchantment Ross King
    Pumpkinflowers Matti Friedman
    Marconi Marc Raboy
    This Is Not My Life Diane Schoemperlen


    January 11, 2017

    Aboriginal Storyteller in Residence:

    Vancouver Public Library is pleased to welcome Jules Koostachin as our new Aboriginal storyteller in Residence.

    Jules Koostachin

    January 11, 2017

    From the Vaults - James A Michener (1907-1997)

    When I was in my teens, James A. Michener ruled the bestseller lists with his sweeping historical novels and family sagas. Michener wrote more than 40 novels on topics ranging from the history of Hawaii to Poland. Michener’s non-fiction publications include travel essays (Iberia), books about poetry (A Century of Sonnets), the art of writing (Ventures in Editing), and politics (Kent State: What Really Happened). Michener’s book about the U.S. Electoral College (Presidential Lottery) is especially relevant at this moment in time. Michener also published a memoir called Collectors, Forgers - and a Writer. During his lifetime Michener donated more than $100 million to various charities, schools and cultural institutions. His largess helped create Canada’s Journey Prize. Many of Michener’s works are available through the VPL catalogue. For more information please read the Michener profile in Wikipedia and Albin Krebs' obituary published in the New York Times.

    James A. Michener

    December 23, 2016

    Libraries of the Famous:

    One of our favourite book blogs is The Millions. Recently they posted an article by Brian Peppos about the private library collections of prominent writers, dignitaries, and politicians through history. What does your library say about you?

    December 23, 2016

    Best Graphic Novels of 2016:

    What are your picks for the best graphic novels of 2016? Sam Thielman offers his choices in the Guardian.

    Is Julie Doucet's Carpet Sweeper Tales the best grapic novel of 2016?

    December 22, 2016

    From the Vaults – Miss Read:

    Dora Jessie Saint (1913 – 2012) is known to readers of cosy fiction as Miss Read. She published two series The Fairacre novels and the Thrush Green novels from the mid-1950s into the 1990s. Her gentle, closely observed novels of village life and the natural world appealed to readers still recovering from the war who found Miss Read’s universe a safe and comforting haven. Saint was also a schoolteacher by profession. Drawing on her own experiences, Saint created Miss Read, an unmarried schoolteacher, to narrate her Fairacre series. Saint also published two autobiographies later reprinted in a single volume called Early Days. For a season read, try Winter in Thrush Green.  For a more complete overview of her life, please read Dennis Baker’s obituary in the Guardian.

    December 22, 2016

    Alan Bennett Interview:

    When 82-year-old Alan Bennett ( The Uncommon Reader, The Clothes They Stood Up In, The History Boys) agrees to be interviewed, almost any topic is likely to come up - and his legion of fans is always delighted. If you enjoy Bennett's wry and witty writing, you won't want to miss this interview conducted by Robert McCrumb and published by the Guardian.

    Portrait of Alan Bennett by Sam Dalby

    December 20, 2016

    Hidden Gems:

    If December marks the season to celebrate the best books of the year, it's also the season to reconsider titles that were popular with critics and other writers, but failed to make an impression on the public. Check out the Guardian's "Hidden Gems of 2016: The Best Books You May Have Missed article

    December 20, 2016

    Travel Tuesday:

    Today's Travel Tuesday selection is Morality Play by Barry Unsworth. First published in 1995, this Man Booker nominated novel is set in the late 14th Century. This is a deep winter novel featuring a group of travelling actors en route to perform a traditional Christmas play. Short of funds, the players stage a performance in a small village. Their traditional offering is not well received and they opt for a piece based on a murder that took place in the village. VPL's Reading Experts love the transitional theme of theatre expanding beyond the traditional, Bible-based morality and mystery plays, to engage their audience with themes that are drawn directly from their lives. Challenging convention, of course, can be a dangerous proposition as the actors discover in this intriguing novel.

    December 20, 2016

    Best of 2016:

    VPL's Reading Experts look forward to the annual "Best Of" book lists. It's always fun to see how our personal favourites measure up. The latest list to come our way is The C.B.C.'s Best Books of 2016. Enjoy!

    December 14, 2016

    From the Vaults – Sir Thomas Mallory:

    The Morte d’Arthur is not so much a “lost” classic as a work that is little read outside the classroom – which is a shame. First published in 1485 and possibly while the author was an inmate of Newgate Prison, The Morte D’Arthur is a retelling of English and French tales of King Arthur, his court, and the mirror realm of King Mark. Whether a single works or a collection of works as some critics claim, the book offers intrigue, vengeance, illicit love affairs, brutal dealing of various kinds, and beautiful language. The Morte d”Arthur is, of course, a primary source for much of our contemporary Arthurian fiction including T. H. White’s marvelous The Once and Future King. For more detail, please enjoy this entry from the British Library.

    December 7, 2016

    December 6, 2016

    Travel Tuesday - The Beautiful West & the Beloved of God

    Today's Travel Tuesday selection takes us to modern day Montreal and Cairo. The book is Michael Springate's The Beautiful West & the Beloved of God. In this contemporary work of literary fiction, Vancouver author Springate challenges the reader to address some of the difficult truths about the political and religious landscapes of Canada and the Middle East. The story focuses on Elana and Mahfouz who discover that the world's preoccupation with terrorism trumps all individual rights. For more information, please read Timothy Niedermann's article inThe Ottawa Review of Books.

    December 4, 2016

    Best Books of 2016:

    If you enjoy the book reviews published by NPR, you will love NPR's Book Concierge a filtered site that helps you brows more than 300 titles recommended by NPR reviewers. Check out the site here.

    December 4, 2016

    The Winds of Winter:

    If you are a fan of George R. R. Martin's The Song of Ice and Fire series, you are no doubt eager for the next published installment. The anticipated sixth volume in the series is to be called The Winds of Winter. What can fans expect? At a book fair Martin warns us that the chapters he has produced to date are dark and it looks like Winter may be coming.There is no release date for The Winds of Winter at this time. For more details, please read Jack Shepherd's article in the Independent.

    George R. R. Martin

    December 4, 2016

    Sherman Alexie Meets Wolverine:

    Fans of Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian will be happy to note that the book has been adapted for thescreen and will be produced by Hugh Jackman. For more details, please enjoy this ScreenRant article.

    December 4, 2016


    Good news for John Lennon fans, Clarion Books will publish Imagine - book featuring the lyrics from John Lennon’s famous song with illustrations by Jean Jullien. For more details, please read this article published in the Washington Post.

    November 30, 2016

    From the Vaults – Lafcadio Hearn:

    Abandoned in childhood by his mother, father and guardian aunt, Lafcadio Hearn eventually found himself left to fend for himself in Cincinnati. He became a successful journalist who specialized in sensational coverage of local crimes. His marriage at 23 to an African-American woman was viewed as illegal according to local law and he was dismissed from his job. My favourite Hearn quote from this period is “It is time for a fellow to get out of Cincinnati when they begin to call it the Paris of America.” Hearn relocated to New Orleans where he wrote extensively about Creole culture, migrant workers, and social conditions. Hearn’s next stop was Martinique. Among his published works during his two-year stay is Youma, The Story of a West Indian Slave.
    Hearn’s lasting fame came from his time in Japan. He arrived in 1890 and stayed till his death in 1904. During this time he took on a variety of teaching positions at schools and universities, married a Japanese woman named Koizumi Setsu, fathered four children, and published many books about Japanese customs and folktales. These early references to pre-industrial Japan fascinated Western readers and ensured his literary reputation. Today he is best remembered for the Japanese ghost stories he adapted such as “Hoichi the Earless.” In 1964, Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi adapted four of Hearn’s stories into the film Kwaidan. For more information, please read John Moran's article in the Irish Times.

    Lafcadio Hearn with his wife Koizumi Setsu and one of their children.

    November 28, 29016

    Jim Munro Dies:

    We heard the sad news over the weekend about the passing of Jim Munro, founder of Munro's Books in Victoria. The public is invited to sign a book of memories at the bookstore located at 1108 Government Street in Victoria. For full details, please read Katherine Dedyna's article published in the Times Colonist.

    Jim Munro. Photo: Bruce Stotesbury / Times Colonist

    November 21, 2016

    International Dublin Literary Award:

    Of all the literary awards, VPL's Reading Experts are especially fond of the International Dublin Literary Award. As well as being one of the richest prizes on the award circuit, its nomination process is unique. Libraries from around the world nominate their favourite books of the year and a panel of judges eventually announces a winner. The longlist for 2016 has just been released. We've always found this a great source for new and unknown authors and titles. For more details, please visit the International Dublin site.

    November 21, 2016

    William Trevor Dies:

    More sad news. Acclaimed writer William Trevor's dies this past weekend. He was 88.. Trevor had a long an illustrious career and received praise for his writing - especially his short story collections which were sometimes compared to Chekhov. For more details, please read Sian Cain's tribute in the Guardian.

    William Trevor. Photo: Jane Brown for the Observer

    November 15, 2016

    Edible Gifts:

    It's that time of year again when thoughts turn to holiday gifts. Perhaps you'd like to try your hand at canning, preserves or other handcrafted, edible gifts? If so, why not join VPL's Cook & Tell Book Club on November 21. The theme this month is Edible Gifts. Spaces are still available. Can't make the meeting? Fear not - here's a booklist we hope will inspire you

    November 15, 2016

    Goldsmiths Prize 2016:

    It's literary awards season once again. One of the less mainstream awards is the University of London's Goldsmith's Prize. Now in its fourth year, the Goldsmiths honours novels that are more experimental and daring than their mainstream contemporaries and stretch the possibilities of the novel. This year's winner is a case in point - Irish writer Mike McCormack's Solar Bones was written as a single sentence. Intrigued? Read the full details in Claire Armistead's article posted in the Guardian. Among the shortlisted authors for the £10, 000 prize was Canadian author Anakana Schofield for her novel Martin John.

    Mike McCormack. Photo: the Guardian

    November 9, 2016

    From the Vaults – Hans Fallada

    The early life of Rudolf Wilhelm Friedrich Ditzen was marked by serious Illness, injuries that led to addiction, stints in mental institutions, and failed suicide pacts. Between post-WW I and 1932, he became better known under the pseudonym Hans Fallada. His best known novel of the period, Little Man What Now?, became a Book of the Month Club selection and was adapted into a film. His writing was in the style of the New Objectivity movement and reflected social conditions in Germany. As the National Socialists gained power, they viewed Fallada’s writing with interest. Goebbels liked his anti-Weimar social commentary. While many of Germany’s celebrated authors fled the country, Fallada chose to remain. He played a cat-and-mouse game with Goebbels for the duration of the war and only produced children’s books and other pieces of a non-political nature. In the final days of the war, Fallada wrote his best-known novel Every Man Dies Alone / Alone in Berlin.It’s said that the book was written in a mere 24 days and was published in 1947 two weeks after Fallada’s death. The plot is based on the true story of Elise and Otto Hempel or Anna and Otto Quangle as they are known in the book. They are an elderly German couple critical of the ruling government and unable to find an outlet for their protests. They leave anonymous anti-government postcards around Berlin in hopes of reaching people who share their views. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the novel is the police procedural conventions it employs. Ironically, it is the Gestapo officer who serves in the role of private investigator.

    Elise and Otto Sempel, the inspiration for Falalda's Anna and Otto Quangel

    November 8, 2016

    Travel Tuesday with T. H. White:

    Today's Travel Tuesday selection takes us to the derelict estate of Malplaquet - a once stately home with links to British satirist Jonathan Swift. The time period in post World War II Northamptonshire. The book in question is T.H. White's Miss Masham's Repose. The story follows a lonely orphan girl named Maria who discovers the descendants of Swift's Lilliputians living on the estate. In a coded reference to Imperialism and the exploitation of colonial subjects, White positions the girl as the protector fighting the greed of those holding power over Maria. A charming novel for readers of all ages.

    Miss masham's Repose. Illustration: Fritz Eichenberg

    November 8, 2016

    Giller Prize 2016:

    Congratulations to Madeline Thien the 2016 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. For more details, please read this article by Lauren La Rose in the Globe and Mail.

    Madeline Thien. Photo: Alastair Grant / Associated Press

    November 4, 2016

    Swing Time:

    Popular author Zadie Smith has a forthcoming novel called Swing Time. For more information, please read Aminatta Forna's review in the Guardian

    Zadie Smith. Photo: Wendell Teodoro / WireImage

    November 3, 2016

    2016 Writers' Trust Awards:

    The winners of the 2016 Writers' Trust Awards were announced on November 2. Winners include Eden Robinson, Gregory Scofield, and Yasuko Thanh. For more information, please read this CBC article.

    November 2, 2016

    Beyond Nordic Crime Fiction?

    If you are a fan of Scandinavian mysteries, but would like to explore other crime fiction from Europe, you might enjoy Barry Forshaw's article in the Independent.

    November 2, 2016

    Natalie Babbitt:

    Sad news for fans of Tuck Everlasting. Author Natalie Babbitt died recently. She was at 84 at the time of her death. For more details, please read Sam Robert's obituary in the New York Times.

    Natalie Babbitt. Photo: William E. Sauro / the New York Times

    November 2, 2016

    From the Vaults - Lynda Barry:

    Today we're going to catch-up with Lynda Barry the creator of the beloved series Ernie Pook's Comeek. Outspoken, cheeky, and a author who recognizes both the dark and light side of adolescence and complicated family relationships, Barry now spends time in the classroom. For more detail, please read Pat Grant's interview in the Guardian. Be sure to check out Barry's brilliant novel and Syllabus - the graphic rendition of her teaching notes.

    Lynda Barry. Photo: Jeff Miller / University of Wisconsin-Madison

    October 21, 2016

    Happy Birthday Ursula K. Le Guin!

    Celebrate Ursula K. Le Guin's birthday with us! This award winning American novelist has written extensively throughout her literary career including several books, essays, short stories and poetry mostly in the science fiction and fantasy genres. For an in-depth profile, please read The New Yorker's article, "The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin" (2016):

    Le Guin says she is “not just trying to get into other minds but other beings.”

    Illustration by Essy May from The New Yorker

    October 13, 2016

    The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016:

    Congratulations to Bob Dylan, the 2016 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Bob Dylan was recognized "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." For a taste of Dylan's lyrics, take a look at "Our Favorite Dylan Lyrics" by The New Yorker.

    File:Bob Dylan in Toronto2.jpg


    September 29, 2016

    Diverse Reading:

    Inspired by the We Read Diverse books cause, a movement to put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children, VPL is undertaking a diverse reading challenge. We are encouraging each other to recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities through the written word. Ideally, we hope that everyone will be able to see themselves in the pages of a book. Here is a list of some of the books we read by our Information Services department in September!

    Tahar Ben Jelloun's The Happy Marriage is on our September Diverse Reading list

    September 29, 2016

    How to Cure Writer's Block

    Novelist Rabih Alameddine made a big splash with his novel An Unnecessary Woman and is about to release a new work entitled The Angel in History. I've just learned an interesting fact about the author. When dealing with writer's block, he likes to post art images on his Twitter account. Not only does Alameddine find the process "calming", he has built up a strong following for his Twitter and blog posts. For more details, please read Jonathan Blitzer's article in the New Yorker.

    Rabih Alameddine

    September 28, 2016

    The Goldsmith Prize:

    Anakana Schofield has been shortlisted for the Goldsmith's Prize for her novel Martin John A big shout out for local women authors achieving high Anakana and Man Booker Prize shortlist authoress Madeleine Thien. Congratulations! For more details, please read Alison Flood's article in the Guardian.

    The Goldsmith Prize shortlist

    September 21, 2016

    Librarian of Congress:

    Clara Hayden has been appointed as the 14th Librarian of Congress. She is the first woman and the first Afro-American to hold the post. The Librarian of Congress is appointed by the President and the U.S. Senate for a ten year term. As well as presiding over the Library of Congress, Hayden's responsibilities include appointing the Poet Laureate and the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. For more details, please read Baynard Woods' article in the Guardian.

    Clara Hughes. Photo: Pable Martinez Monsivais / AP

    September 19, 2016

    W.P. Kinsella Passes:

    Another literary death to report is that of storyteller, novelist, baseball enthusiast and advocate of right-to-die movement, W.P. Kinsella. Mr. Kinsella died according to his wishes with the assistance of his physician.  Mr.Kinsella who was 81 at the time of his death, will probably be best remembered for his novel about American baseball, Shoeless Joe which was adapted into the film Field of Dreams. For more details, please read Paul Viera's obituary in the Wall Street Journal.

    W.P. Kinsella Photo: Reg Innell / Toronto Star File Photo

    Are you stumped as to what books to read next? We can help!

    What Do I Read Now?

    Finding a good book to read is often challenging. The resources listed here provide reading suggestions for a wide variety of reading interests. You may find another book much like one you’ve loved or an entirely new and recommended one.

    “My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all of the time, with my eyes hanging out." -Dylan Thomas


      Books To Help You Find What To Read Next

      Call Number: 028 R41op
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      Book smart - Mallison, JaneEdit/Delete
      Call Number: 809.3 M37d
      Expand your reading and take on some of the most compelling books of all time and become “better-read”. 2008.

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      Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide - Cassar, VincentEdit/Delete
      Call Number: 809.3X B65k
      Explore the world of writing through a rich survey of the best novels set in practically every country of the world. 2007.

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      Joy of reading - Van Doren, CharlesEdit/Delete
      Call Number: 028 V24j1
      Look through a chronology of time and choose from a variety of the world’s greatest fiction, poetry, children’s books, philosophy, history and science. 2008.

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      More book lust - Pearl, NancyEdit/Delete
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      Read what an “addicted to reading” librarian recommends after years of inspired reading. 2005.

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      Read this next - Newman, SandraEdit/Delete
      Call Number: 028 N55r
      Find new and amazing books that are organized under the chapter headings of Love, Memoir, Family, History, Politics, Humor, Work and Money, War, Religion, and Death. 2010.

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