Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oliver's twist by Craig Oliver

Christmas seems to have snuck up on everyone this year. Don’t let it catch you without a book this holiday, so hurry in now. This is the season to catch up on all the new titles that are released in the months before Christmas.

Such a book is Craig Oliver’s, Oliver’s Twist: The life and times of an unapologetic newshound. Craig Oliver is well known as the chief parliamentary correspondent for CTV news. His experiences in that position alone could fill many volumes. This book is much more. It begins with the sentence, “My father was a bootlegger and, for a short time, a jailbird.” With an opening sentence like that, who can resist. The book documents Oliver’s decades as a journalist and offers his reflections on the changes in the relationship between the media and those in power from the carefree attitudes of the 1970s to the tightly controlled communications of recent years. The most startling revelation of the book is that Oliver has been legally blind for more than a decade.

Lawrence Martin writes “A storehouse of insights, anecdotes, and eye-popping close-ups that make for a strappingly good book”. If you enjoy a great political book, this is a must.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

100 days that changed Canada

If you were asked to list some of the important dates in Canadian history, how many could you come up with? Most of us probably couldn’t come up with very many. Mark Reid has compiled a new book, 100 days that changed Canada, in which he offers important dates in our history and the story behind them.

It is the photographs that first catch the reader’s eye, but one is quickly drawn into the story behind each headline. For example, April 12, 1876, the Indian Act came into force; November 16, 1885, Louis Riel is executed; June 21, 1919 is a day that is remembered as Bloody Saturday when Mounties charge into the crowd during the Winnipeg General Strike. More recent events, like April 27, 1967, the opening of Expo 67; and sports celebrations like October 24, 1992 when the Toronto Blue Jays won the world series; and Feb. 28, 2010, when Canada owned the podium at the Vancouver Olympics, are easier to recall. Political events that have shaped our country like the FLQ crisis, and the abolition of the death penalty are included, as are Canadian’s contributions to the arts. Articles are written by prominent Canadians from backgrounds that are as diverse as the people they write about.

Sometimes at this time of year our thoughts focus on the past. This book full of memories, and is as beautiful as it is informative.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Christmas Carol

“Marley was dead to begin with … Old Marley was as dead as a doornail”. So begins one of the most loved Christmas stories of all time; Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol. The story of the old miser, Ebeneezer Scrooge, the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” has been loved since it was first published in 1843.

The library holds many editions of this classic. To get the true sense of Scrooge’s terror at seeing the ghosts, or the horrid living conditions of the poor, I would suggest an unabridged copy of the original. The strength of Dickens’ language, phrasing and imagery are best enjoyed that way.

The library also holds some abridged versions that are appropriate for younger readers. One of these is the Stephen Krensky adaptation, in which the artwork by Dean Morrissey is exceptional.

The Altona Library will be hosting a reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol on the evening of Dec. 12, at 7:30. Guests will be reading and refreshments will be served. Admission is free, but in keeping with Dickens’ own interests and advocacy, donations will be accepted for the Empty Stocking Fund.