wmtc: reading can make you a better person. here’s evidence.

Celebrate #EmpathyDay with a good book. Last year, a prosecutor in the US state of Virginia asked a judge to hand down an unusual sentence. Five teens had defaced a historic structure — a Jim Crow- era schoolhouse for African-American children — with swastikas and other racist graffiti. The judge agreed with the prosecutor — ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: brendan’s way by matthew bin

Brendan’s Way by Matthew Bin is a genre-blending journey story combining adventure, mystery, and conspiracy in a futuristic setting. It’s technically science fiction, as it takes place in the future and features some technology that doesn’t yet exist. But if, like me, you don’t usually read science fiction, don’t let that stop you. It’s an engrossing ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: short reviews of fiction by margaret atwood, madeleine thien, frances itani, elizabeth kostova

I’ve gathered some thoughts about several novels I read but neglected to write about. I enjoyed them all to varying degrees; all are worth reading if you enjoy the type. This is the first of three posts. * * * * The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood is subgenre we don’t see enough of: the ...

wmtc: rip fred bass, who gave nyc a priceless gift

Is there a New Yorker alive who hasn’t spend time in The Strand? A New York City tourist who didn’t thrill to their first visit to The Strand? The man who gave NYC this unique gift died recently at the age of 89. Although his father founded the store, Fred Bass made it the book-lovers’ ...

wmtc: required reading for revolutionaries: jane mcalevey and micah white

I’ve wanted to write about these two books for a long time, but adequately summarizing them is a daunting task. I just want to say to every activist and organizer: READ THESE BOOKS. I don’t want to represent the authors’ ideas, I want you to read them yourself. No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: what i haven’t read and am not reading

Many of my co-workers keep colourful lists like this,or use Goodreads or Shelfari to track their reading.I prefer plain old text. Like most avid readers, my to-read list contains far more titles than I could ever read in a lifetime, even if I did nothing but read. Although I add books at a considerably faster ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: rolling blackouts, graphic novel that asks many big questions

I see by the wmtc tag “graphic novels” that I intended to write about graphic books I read and enjoyed…and I see by the scant number of posts with that tag that I have not been doing so! The last wmtc post tagged for graphic novels is from four years ago, almost to the day. ...

wmtc: listening to joni: footnote #2

I decided to solve the problem of over-interpretation of lyrics in Reckless Daughter (described here) by putting down the book. I’ll go back to it in the future. For now the listening project is more interesting and absorbing to me than reading the biography. This means I’ll review the two books on the nonfiction book ...

wmtc: listening to joni: footnote #1

Reading the biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell while doing this re-listening project is proving to be an obstacle. In general I’m enjoying the book. I love learning more about the artist who created the most meaningful music in my life, and about the woman I have always considered a personal role model. I love ...

wmtc: listening to joni: a new wmtc feature

Two new books about Joni Mitchell have come out, with — strangely — the same title. Reckless Daughter: A Joni Mitchell Anthology, edited by Barney Hoskyns, is a collection of stories about Joni* and reviews of her work. It’s part of an ongoing collection called Rock’s Backpages, which looks at rock through accomplished music writers ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: turtles all the way down, the new book by john green

I don’t usually write about a book while I’m still under its spell, but there are always exceptions. John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is an exceptional book. One reason Green’s writing is so powerful is that he conjures both the specific and the universal at the same time. The Fault in Our Stars, for ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: news of the world by paulette jiles

After burning through several excellent nonfiction books in rapid succession, I have a small pile of novels waiting for me. Here’s the first of, I hope, several fiction reviews. News of the World by Paulette Jiles takes place in the American West, a few years after the end of the Civil War. The US South is ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the radium girls by kate moore

Readers of a certain age might remember clocks and watches with glowing green dials. The dials were painted with radium, the radioactive element discovered by Marie Curie. We had clocks like this when I was growing up. I have a distinct memory of my mother saying, “The women who worked in the factories where these ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the attention merchants by tim wu

Everywhere we look, every available space is filled with advertising. The Toronto skyline is a sea corporate logos. The due-date receipt from my library book features an ad on the back. I once tracked all the ads shown during a major league baseball game — during play, not between innings — and the results were ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: maximum security book club

I have an abiding interest in prison librarianship, and try to learn about it wherever I can. Whenever the OLA Superconference features a session on prison libraries, I attend. I’m always pleased to see how popular and well attended these sessions are. Perhaps that should not surprise. In a sense, prison libraries epitomize librarian values ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: city on fire

I finished City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg’s astonishing debut novel, a few days ago, but stories from the book are still playing in mind. I initially didn’t want to commit to reading a 900-page tome, but as I savoured the last scene, I was sorry to put it down. City on Fire brings you to ...

wmtc: the politics of the hardboiled detective novel

I love these old covers! Last year, I blogged about a wonderful essay by Raymond Chandler called “The Simple Art of Murder“, written in 1950. Reading that, I realized that I knew the work of both Chandler and Dashiell Hammett — the originators of the hardboiled detective genre — only through film adaptations. I hadn’t ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: words on the move by john mcwhorter

John McWhorter is changing my mind about language. And that is no easy thing to do. I’m a grammarphile. Word nerd, language junkie, spelling nut, stickler — whatever you want to call it. I appreciate proper spelling and good grammar, and I cringe at all the bad grammar all around us. Apostrophe abuse drives me ...

wmtc: authors i keep wanting to read but don’t

My book list is extremely long, so long that I don’t call it a reading list or a to-read list, because I will never read even half the books on the List. It’s more like books I would read. A list to narrow down the universe of books to a smaller universe of books to ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the new jim crow by michelle alexander

When I first heard the incarceration of African Americans in the United States referred to as a “new Jim Crow,” I thought it must be hyperbole. So did Michelle Alexander, a fact she discloses in the introduction to her book. As Alexander researched the concept, the more she learned, the more she changed her mind. ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: leaving lucy pear

The year is 1917. A teenage girl from a wealthy family is pregnant, the result of rape — by a man who her mother pushed her to pursue for marriage. Now the girl is being forced to surrender her baby to an orphanage. She has met the person who runs the orphanage, and she cannot ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: swing time by zadie smith

Zadie Smith is on my list of “authors I will follow anywhere”. I may not love everything about every book she writes, but that’s unimportant. For me, her books are always worth reading — the writing is beautiful, the characters feel real, the insights into the human condition are interesting and thought-provoking and ring true. ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: giovanni’s room by james baldwin

James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, a landmark in LGBT literature, is one of our library’s current “Raves & Faves”. The 1956 novel takes place in Paris, narrated by a young American man who is trying to come to terms with his sexuality. In the past, this was said to be a “gay novel;” now it is ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: a mother’s reckoning by sue klebold

On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, two teenagers from Littleton, Colorado, marched into Columbine High School with explosives and automatic weapons. Their plan to blow up the entire school failed — only because their homemade bombs did not explode — so they walked around the school shooting people. They killed 12 students ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: four realistic youth novels

Young-adult publishers’ mania for series, with the emphasis on fantasy, has finally ebbed. There are still plenty of fantasy series to go around, but the new crop of youth novels is chock full of individual titles in the realistic mode. (In YA land, “realistic” means the opposite of fantasy: set in the existing world with real ...