Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Faith Club : a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew -- the women search for understanding by Rany Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

Each day we are bombarded with news reports about conflict in the Middle East.  We wonder why people can’t just respect each other’s differences and live in peace.  The book, The Faith Club : a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew-- three women search for understanding, by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, might be a good starting point to understand the complex issues behind the struggle. 

Shortly after 9/11, Ranya, a mother and the Muslim of the group, wanted to write a book for children about Islam, Christian and Jewish faiths that would foster understanding and tolerance.  Soon she realized that she didn’t know enough about Christianity and Judaism;  so she invited two mothers from her children’s school, a Christian and a Jew, to join her in this project.  Soon it became clear that the women themselves needed an honest and open discussion about their stereotypes and misunderstandings of one another.  Each person writes from her own point of view in a readable, conversational style. It almost feels like the reader is eavesdropping on some of their private conversations. 

Pursuing this club with women of other faiths took courage to face issues of prejudices and preconceptions.  It was interesting too that each of them had to re-examine their own faith and found that their discussions caused their faith to deepen. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Charted Knitting designs by Barbara G. Walker

Have you ever started a knitting project and gave up in frustration.  Help is on the way.  One of the staff, a self-proclaimed knitting addict, highly recommends, Barbara G Walker’s Charted Knitting Designs.  The book is as old as some of the library staff and the illustrations look outdated, but the information inside is timeless.

There are 2 sections to this book.  First of all, the introduction is about designing projects.  The way she explains designing, it doesn’t sound complicated at all, because that’s where charted knitting comes in.  Each design in the book is charted, tidily drawn on graph paper, so you can see what the design is supposed to look like, where you are in the pattern, and how it relates to the rows below it and the rows above.  The book includes a selection of designs, different kinds of stitches to produce textures, two- color patterns, lace, and cables: and the exact steps to make the stitch, sometimes with two or more methods.   A short glossary of chart symbols gives you the standard pattern abbreviation for the symbol.   

Our knitting addict says it’s like the difference between a descriptive paragraph and a photograph.  She says she loves charted designs because they make sense. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis is entertaining, political satire, and a book that has been enjoyed by many since it was voted the 2011 Canada Reads book. 

Daniel, the narrator, has had it with corrupt politicians and his cheating girlfriend.  He leaves his position as a speechwriter for the leader of the opposition to teach English at the University of Ottawa. There is one condition – Daniel must find a Liberal candidate for a constituency that has voted Conservative for as long as anyone can remember.  When absolutely no one wants to run against the conservative minister, Daniel turns to his landlord, Angus McClintock.  Angus, a Scottish engineering professor, has just been informed he must teach English to engineering students – a task he detests.  Daniel offers to teach it for him in exchange for Angus letting his name stand as the liberal candidate.  Daniel assures Angus that he doesn’t have to campaign and that there is no way he can win the election.  The only people Daniel can get to work on the campaign team are Muriel, a woman with Parkinson’s living in a senior’s home, and two engineering students with a punk style. 

Despite their best laid plans, many surprises occur.  This book is about more than politics: it’s also about friendship, romance, and grief.         

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi has received rave reviews from many and is a staff recommendation.  The heroine of the book is a young woman named “Boy” who has endured terrible cruelty at the hands of her father.  She leaves home at 19, looking for a new life that is the opposite of all she knows.

In Flax Hill Massachusetts she meets and marries Arturo Whitman, a widowed historian turned jeweler,  She becomes the stepmother of “Snow”.  Eventually she gives birth to their child “Bird”, and it becomes apparent that there is a family history she did not know about. 

This simple story is embellished with fantastical touches involving mirrors, shadows, classic fairytales and the tough realities of gender and race relations in the American south of the late 1940’s. The relationship between the half sisters is strained by a long period of separation but suggests a possibility of redemption. In the end, everyone must learn to live with the life that they have fashioned for themselves.

This is a beguiling, thought-provoking and beautifully written story. At times bewildering, at times gritty, it can leave the reader wanting to read more by this clever young author.