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 ...

wmtc: down these mean streets: raymond chandler’s "the simple art of murder"

Netflix has added many older movies to its library, including several classics and modern classics. Among them I noticed “Mean Streets,” the 1973 film that put both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on the map. I always thought Scorsese took the film’s name from Piri Thomas’ autobiography, Down These Mean Streets. Thomas’ work is ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: welcome to the goddamn ice cube

Canadians might be disappointed to learn that Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North is not about Canada. We sometimes refer to Canada as the Great White North, but the Canada that most Canadians inhabit has little in common with the stark landscapes that author Blair ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the underground railroad by colson whitehead

Colson Whitehead is a literary genius. In The Underground Railroad, he has found a way to tell the story of 400-plus years of African-American oppression without delivering an awkward march through history, and without using characters as billboards for ideas. Instead of linear time, Whitehead employs a geography of time: different eras, different historical moments, ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: born to run by bruce springsteen

This is a run-don’t-walk review. Fans of Bruce Springsteen: run to find a copy of The Boss’ memoirs, Born to Run. This book was seven years in the making, and (like Chrissie Hynde’s and Patti Smith’s memoirs) written by the artist himself. It is by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, poignant and gripping, and always profoundly ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: your heart is a muscle the size of a fist, by sunil yapa

If only Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist could be required reading. Everyone who has ever scoffed cynically at protesters. Everyone who has ever seen a mainstream news report showing a burning car, over and over and over, but not showing tens of thousands of peaceful protesters, and looked no deeper. Everyone ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the evil hours, a biography of post-traumatic stress disorder

The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an outstanding book — meticulously researched, but written in a compelling, accessible style, and with great humanity and compassion. Author David J. Morris unearths the social and cultural history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the US. He surveys ...

wmtc: labour day readers’ advisory: books and movies that celebrate labour

I spoke to a customer yesterday who was visiting from Denmark. He described himself as a trade-unionist, and he came to the library, looking for me, to learn about our strike! He also said he had read a book he loved, and was looking for more like it. He described the book: “by a Canadian ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: the deserters, a hidden history of world war 2

No one knows exactly how many US soldiers deserted from the Vietnam War, nor how many young men resisted conscription by going either to jail or to another country. The most conservative account puts the number at about 50,000, the highest at about double that. The majority of those went to Canada, where – after ...

wmtc: awful library books and why we remove them from our shelves

A while back, I blogged about weeding, every library’s not-so-dirty little not-so-secret. Daniel Gross, writing in The New Yorker, looks at weeding, too – from a library-users’ revolt in Berkeley, California to the hilarious Awful Library Books blog: Weeding the Worst Library Books. It’s a sweet story about a necessary evil that is really a ...

wmtc: what i’m reading: every exquisite thing by matthew quick

I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance reading copy of Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick. Quick – a/k/a Q – is the author of The Silver Linings Playbook, which I have not read, but now will. Every Exquisite Thing combines a few stock elements of youth fiction into something heartfelt, authentic, and compelling. I ...