Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sunday January 27, 2013 Sundown, You Better Take Care


The winter season in Thunder Bay is known for its seemingly endless duration. We all dread the forty below weather, the icy roads, and early sunsets, but don’t let that scare you. Winter can be the most exciting time of the year. Lucky for us northerners Mother Nature has provided a great season for us to take part in.

Have you ever wanted to take up a new winter sport? How about joining a book club to pass those long winter evenings? For all those avid bakers out there, maybe there’s a new recipe you want to try. Or how about reading that one book you always kept putting aside? Next to your shovel, your library card can become a wonderful tool to help you equip for the winter ahead.

Whether downhill or cross-country, skiing is a great way to get active and appreciate the fineness of the winter season. The essential guide to skiing: 201 things every skier must know is a useful guide for the novice or experienced skier to begin or improve their technique out on the hills. For kids, why not try Ski games: a fun filled approach to teaching Nordic andalpine skills. This great resource for the young skier is sure to make their first experience memorable.

For all the wannabe snowboarders wanting to avoid the bruises of the early days of snowboarding, Carve itsnowboarding is the expert guide that breaks down the process of becoming a great snowboarder. The author includes discussion on equipment and gear as well as proper board maintenance. For the seasoned boarder looking to make the most out of their experience, Snowboarding to Nirvana is an insightful and funny read that examines a snowboarder’s journey to combine snowboarding with enlightenment and discovery.

If you are looking to spend even more time outdoors, there is no better way than camping in the wintertime. Thewinter camping handbook: Wilderness travel and adventure in the cold-weathermonths is a must read to prepare you for your journey in the wilderness.

However after spending time outside, we all start to crave the warmth of a fire or of a hot drink. Looking to spice up your run of the mill hot chocolate recipe, check out A cozy book ofwinter drinks: rich and delicious recipes to keep you warm. Just the title alone is sure to entice. Tea lovers are sure to read The tea enthusiast'shandbook: a guide to enjoying the world's best teas. This charming book on the ubiquitous beverage is a must for people who appreciate tea and are looking to expand their tea tasting experiences.

To top it off, what is better than relaxing in front of a fire with a hot drink and a new book? How about Leo Tolstoy’s AnnaKarenina, the story of a doomed love affair between two young people and the hypocrisy that one woman must face in nineteenth century Russia. In similar grand fashion, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is the universal exploration of love, death, redemption, the frailty and perseverance of the human spirit. On the other end of the literary spectrum (and lighter fare), read J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, where the reader is immersed in the fantastical world of middle.

If any of these titles have grasped your interest be sure to come check them out at the Thunder Bay Public Library. Don’t let the cold keep you from enjoying the pleasures this winter season.

Petar Vidjen

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday January 20, 2013 Zombie Reads

Zombies. Popular culture has been fascinated with them for a few years now. During that time, countless books have been written about them and it’s difficult to wade through the deluge to find the really good ones. Luckily the library is here to help!

An excellent series is The Walking Dead. The original story started out as a comic book; the library has the comics collected in graphic novels. The Walking Dead follows a band of survivors led by Rick, a cop who was shot on the job. He awakens in an abandoned hospital and manages to make his way back home. But the world is a changed place; wandering the streets are the undead. Frantic to find his wife and son, Rick sets out to Atlanta, the one place he thinks his family would have gone. The comics have also spawned a popular television series and several novels; both are available at the library.

If you’ve already read The Walking Dead and are looking for something similar, World War Z may be the book for you. It is written as a series of interviews with the people who survived the Zombie War, a zombie outbreak that almost caused the extinction of humanity. Their voices are haunted by the horror they lived through. Thanks to the format, you can easily read this book in either small chunks or its entirety. The author, Max Brooks, has also written The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, so he is clearly an expert on zombie attacks.

If you’re not enamored with books told from the survivor’s perspective, why not check out one told from the zombie’s like Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory? Stony Mayhall was born during the first zombie outbreak. Found by Wanda Mayhall and her three daughters, the baby should be dead but isn’t. The Mayhall family takes him in and raises him, hiding the growing zombie boy from the authorities who would kill him. Another option is Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore, an interesting blend of zombie and mystery fiction. Zombie, Ohio is the story of Peter Mellor, who died in a car crash and is given a second life as a member of the undead. Peter retains his intellect, and once he realizes the car crash was no accident, he sets off to solve the mystery of his murder.

A series that I really enjoyed was iZombie, the tale of Gwen; Gwen works as a gravedigger by day and digs the corpses back up at night to snack on their brains. If she doesn’t eat at least one brain a month she will turn into a shambling monstrosity. But the brains come with memories and the dead want to be at peace. So it’s up to Gwen and her two friends, Ellie, a ghost from the 1960's, and Scott, a were-terrier, to lay the dead to rest.

Thanks to the upcoming movie, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion has been extremely popular lately. And all of this hype is warranted; Warm Bodies is an excellent book. This is the tale of R. After consuming the brain of a teenage boy, R inherits all of the memories of his victim. Chief among those memories is the teenage boy’s love for his girlfriend, Julie. This is the beginning of a touching zombie love story.

Of course, these titles aren’t an exhaustive list. You can find these and many other great zombie stories, such as Allison Hewitt is Trapped, Patient Zero, The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Death Warmed Over at your library.

Shauna Kosoris

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday January 13, 2013 Learn a new Language

A well-known French proverb says VOULOIR, C’EST POUVOIR. An exact translation would be, to want is to be able or where there's a will there's a way. Speaking of, would you like to learn a new language? It might be easier than you think. Studies show that English contains many French words pronounced according to English rules due to the fact that close to thirty per cent of English vocabulary is of French origin. A few French words and phrases also slipped into the English lexicon through art and literature. As such, they have not lost their French character and often ease into daily conversation. Phrases such as à la carte (on the menu), à la mode (with ice cream), au contraire (on the contrary), bon voyage (have a good trip), bon appétit (enjoy your meal),  c’est la vie (such is life), déjà vu (already seen), en masse (altogether), faux pas (a social blunder), haute couture (high fashion), joie de vivre (love of life), potpourri (mixture of dried flowers and spices), RSVP (please respond to my message), soup du jour (soup of the day) vis-à-vis (face to face), and so on. 

Learning another language is beneficial for many reasons. Herbert Geoffrey Willans, English author and journalist once said that you never truly understand a language until you know at least two. Stop by Thunder Bay Public Library’s website, and you will find an abundance of databases free to all library card holders. Click on "Research" and log in to My Giant Search. By scrolling down the list you will find POWERSPEAK LANGUAGES. This fun and interactive language learning resource teaches French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, and Inglés (for English as a Second Language learners). Immersed in both phraseology and culture, the learner quickly begins to gain proficiency in a new language. Only requirements are a library card/pin and you’re off.

More of a visual learner? The library has many additional resources for learning different languages. FRENCH IN MINUTES: HOW TO STUDY FRENCH THE FUN WAY by Liv Montgomery is part of the Made for Success Collection and is available as a downloadable audio book. The author guides the learner to speak competently and fluently with unique speed-learning techniques. 

Maybe Spanish is your language of choice. SPEAK SPANISH WITH CONFIDENCE by Angela Howkins and Juan Kattan-Ibarra comes with three compact discs and a booklet, and is an engaging and approachable way to build Spanish speaking know-how. Vamonos!
Perhaps you would prefer to learn German. SPEAK GERMAN WITH CONFIDENCE by Paul Coggle and Heiner Schenke is located in the Waverley Language CD collection. In three compact discs and one booklet, this German course covers various scenarios from greeting people and asking for directions, to shopping and dining out. Each venue includes two sets of dialogue. Explanations are kept minimal and straightforward. Es ist leicht.

MANDARIN CHINESE; LEARN BEFORE YOU LAND is available as an electronic resource. Part of the In-Flight Series, this is a one-hour CD containing ten lessons of various phrase categories. A pamphlet on Pinyin basics is also included.

For English as a Second Language Learners there is the OXFORD ESL DICTIONARY FOR LEARNERS OF ENGLISH; WITH CANADIAN CONTENT, published by the Oxford University Press in 2012. It comes with a CD-ROM which offers the added bonus of listening to words, then recording your own pronunciation. Excellent. 

El cielo es el limite. Sky’s the limit. It’s always a good time to learn something new and the Thunder Bay Public Library can help. Vous n'avez rien à perdre. You’ve got nothing to lose. 

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday January 6, 2013 National Thank You Month

With the absence of an apocalypse in December 2012, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that January is National Thank You month. With that in mind, the Thunder Bay Public Library sincerely thanks all those that read this weekly article, visit our branches or website, borrow material, participate in programs, and everyone that provides suggestions or ideas to help improve the Thunder Bay Public Library all year long.

I’ve been thinking about all the aspects of my work life for which I am thankful and there are two that stand out - books and stories. These should not be mistaken as the same thing though. Of all the books available through the Library, there are a few reads from 2012 that stand out in my mind.

Based on a recommendation from a colleague, I read Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter (2010). Being a fan of the Clan Of The Cave Bear series by Jean M. Auel, the assumption was that I would enjoy this book as well. This turned out to be an astute assumption. Stone Spring introduces the Stone Age area of Northland (a fictional name applied to the land mass formerly connecting Great Britain and Europe) and the fight of those who live there to hold back the advancing sea levels. Additional plot layers delve into the lives of characters such as Ana, the youngest daughter of a missing leader who struggles to find her place in the community of Etxelur.

A second piece of historical fiction that I particularly enjoyed in 2012 was The Key by Simon Toyne (2012). This is the second installment in the Sancti Trilogy and picks up right where Sanctus (2011) left off. I have had several discussions about these books in which both parties agree that they are similar to The Da Vinci Code but better. There is a balance between action, academics, conspiracy, and historical context.

Another recommendation from a friend brought me to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2011). I wasn’t sure about this one since I have an inherent aversion to all things circus related but once I started reading, just couldn’t put it down. Mixed parts fantasy, mystery, intrigue and romance draw the reader into this tale of a Victorian era traveling circus based out of London. The minds behind this wondrous creation are two magicians who create the circus as a staging ground for competition between their two young protégés. It doesn’t take long for the rules of this contest to take their toll and threaten the fabric holding all the tricks, scenes, and human lives together in this unique world.

My final read of 2012 also turned out to be one of the most intriguing. I started reading The Tattoo Artist  by Jill Ciment (2006) and finished it a day later. It offers a retrospective look at the life of Sara Ehrenreich, a woman who grew up in New York in the early 1900s and falls in love with Philip, a temperamental and would-be artist. Upon leaving North America during the Depression, they become stranded on an island in the South Seas. Over the next thirty years, Sara takes on the identity of her new home, including the tradition of chronicling one’s life in living art.

Aside from books, I am thankful for the multitude of stories that come through TBPL every day. Some patrons share stories about their families, others about how the Library has helped build their business, and still others with stories that have yet to be discovered through our genealogy and local history collections. Our youngest patrons tell us stories that rival the best books and puppet shows we have to offer. In the spirit of the month, thank you for making the Library a part of your life. Looking forward to 2013!

Jesse Roberts