Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Changing my Mind by Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Trudeau has been in the public eye since her marriage to the Prime Minister at the age of twenty two. We watched her as a young mother and thought she was living the fairy tale. The public then watched as her first marriage ended. She had to endure the spotlight again following the deaths of her son Michel, and of Pierre Trudeau.

What we didn’t know was that through it all she struggled with Bipolar disorder. After receiving the diagnosis and learning how to deal with the disease, Margaret Trudeau has dedicated herself to helping others suffering from mental illness and bringing water to families in countries like Ethiopia.

In the book, Trudeau shares many personal photographs, and it includes 3 essays written by mental health professionals.

This book has been on bestseller lists for several weeks. This isn’t just any memoir, but one written by an incredibly interesting and courageous Canadian. The book is held in most library branches.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls' memoir The Glass Castle takes us through the author's experience of growing up in a shockingly dysfunctional family. Jeannette's father, when sober, captured his children's imagination by promising to build them a "glass castle" in the desert, but when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. His dream of the castle was a fairytale that kept Jeannette and her three siblings scrounging through garbage cans for food, and painting their skin so the holes in their clothes did not show. Jeannette's mother was and artist who lived in a fantasy world and described herself as an "excitement addict"; a free spirit.

They lived on the run from collection agencies and family services. The children fed, clothed and protected each other. Eventually the children prospered and offered help to their parents, who chose to live homeless.

This book has been in the library for several years, but still enjoys huge popularity. One of our staff found the book compelling, and it left her marveling at the persistence and loyalty within this family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot, art by Ian Wallace

In my opinion Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy is one of the best Canadian songs ever written. Ian Wallace has taken the lyrics of this iconic song, and produced a wonderful new children’s book, entitled Canadian Railroad Trilogy.

I can think of no other event in our nation’s history that so changed the physical and economic landscape of the country than the building of the railway. The illustrations in this book capture the vision of the politicians and entrepreneurs in the east, the toil and hardships of the navies swingin’ their hammers, and the quiet pristine landscape populated by the First Nations peoples.

This is a picture book, but it is definitely not just a children’s book. There is something in it for everyone. The book includes the song lyrics and music, illustrator’s notes, a brief history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and suggestions for further reading. This book is more than history, it is a work of art.

November 7th marked the 125th anniversary of the Last Spike. It is the perfect time to enjoy this new book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

The weather forecast has been reminding us that this lovely weather will soon come to an end.

Dorothy in our Morden Branch recommends a new book from Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilt Series. The Aloha Quilt is set in Hawaii, and follows the story of one of the quilters, Bonnie.

Bonnie finds herself at a crossroads in her life. She has an unexpected opportunity to go to Hawaii to help a friend set up an exciting new business: a quilter’s retreat at a bed and breakfast amid the vibrant colours and balmy breezes of the Hawaiian Islands. This certainly is not an opportunity to let pass by. Soon Bonnie finds herself immersed in the history and intricacies of making Hawaiian quilts.

This is the 16th book in the Elm Creek Quilt series. Each book offers a personal story of one of the quilters, fascinating folk history, the story of a particular quilt pattern, and a lot of inspiration to create a quilt of your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harperland: The Politics of Control by Lawrence Martin

Last week we talked about the American election, and this week I’d like to focus on Canadian politics, specifically the new book by Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin, Harperland: the politics of control. This book has been on the bestseller lists for several weeks.

Martin draws on interviews with prominent insiders to examine all aspects of Harper’s government. The dust jacket states that “Martin probes the secrecy, the muzzling of opponents, and the workings of an exhaustive vetting system.” Included in Martin’s investigation are Harper’s silencing of the diplomatic service, the centralizing of power, the relationship with the media, the Chuck Cadman affair, campaign financing, the dismissal of Linda Keen, the Afghan detainees cover-up and much more.

Lawrence Martin notes that “Stephen Harper could be gone in a few months or he could be Prime Minister for another ten or fifteen years”. Harperland is available in the library and could help readers decide which of those scenarios will occur.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward

Obama’s Wars is the latest book by Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward. After its release several weeks ago, it instantly rose to the top of the best seller lists.

Woodward chronicles the situation Obama faced when he entered the White House and the subsequent relationship between the Commander-In-Chief, the Pentagon, and his staff. The dust jacket states that “Woodward has discovered how the Obama White House really works, showing that even more tough decisions lie ahead for the cerebral and engaged President.” Woodward also delves into the situation in Pakistan where there is an unstable government, terrorist camps, and nuclear weapons.

It is very difficult for Canadians to escape the news coming from south of the border. In the run-up to the November elections, many books are finding their way into bookstores and libraries. Obama’s Wars is located in several library branches, and many other books on the current administration are also available.