Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sunday December 22, 2013 Quilt the days away

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but cuddling under a quilt is so delightful.  After the true winter weather we’ve been experiencing, my thoughts have turned to keeping warm.  The only question was, should I delve into knitting or quilting?  As you may have guessed I chose quilting this time around.  There’s something so comforting about a beautifully crafted quilt, two layers of fabric sandwiching batting in between.  This week I have four fantastic quilting books from our collection for your reading pleasure.
First up we have QuiltEssential:  A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns,Fabrics and Color by Erin Burke Harris. The book is divided in to four sections:  Fabrics, Colors, Designs, and Assembling.  In each of these sections there is ample information for both the experienced quilter and the novice quilter alike. Everything from calculating quilt sizes, to embellishment options are covered in this gem of a book.  I especially like that Burke Harris features both contemporary and traditional quilting in QuiltEssential.
In preparing to write this column, I selected two books with a more contemporary spin:  Tula Pink’s City Sampler:  100 Modern Quilt Blocks and Quilting Line + Color:  Techniques and Designs for Abstract Quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji. 
Pink’s book is reminiscent of other sampler style quilt books with a number of blocks for the quilter to choose from and some ideas of how to arrange them.  Where her book differs, is that none of the blocks have names.  The idea being that the quilter can name them as they speak to the individual.  Seasoned quilters often know the story behind favourite blocks, but Pink opens us up to creating our own narratives. 
Quilting Line + Color is entirely different.  Jinzenji provides a variety of projects with a fresh modern aesthetic.  All use an abundance of white fabric to highlight all the gorgeous bright colours one might find in one’s fabric stash.  The quilting truly adds to the effect of each piece whether it’s a simple tote bag or a full size quilt.  We are introduced to using sheer fabrics for effect and there are detailed directions on reverse appliqué.  While the quilts may not be to all tastes, this book is a treasure trove of information.  Personally, it serves as an inspiration as opposed to being simply a pattern book.  In fact Jinjenzi says in the Introduction that “If you begin a quilt with your own vision and your own design in mind, you will soon see your own unique style taking shape.”

The final book in our quilt journey is Material Obsession:  ModernQuilts with Traditional Roots by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke.  This book really uses fabric to great effect.  I was instantly drawn to the Retro Starburst pattern simply due to the funky fabric used in the blocks.  While I may not be able to find that precise material what struck me was the manner in which they featured the fabric.  So many large scale prints are beautiful, but difficult to integrate into a quilt without losing more of the design than I would like.

These books can either inspire one to quilt, or merely to snuggle under a quilt and read.  From my perspective, either one is a good use of time.  Quilts can warm us whether completed or in progress.  My mother likes to piece her quilts in the summer and sit under them hand quilting in the winter.  I wish you all warmth this winter.
Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sunday December 15, 2013 Interesting Titles

What is it that makes a book title memorable? Working at the Thunder Bay Public Library I come across interesting, amusing and downright bizarre titles every day. My own two favourites are Life is Elsewhere by Milan Kundera and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Like other good titles they tease you to pick them up and read them, with the provocative suggestion that the writing inside will be clever and unique. (It is). I’d like to share with you my shortlist of book titles which have that “hook” and which, silly or serious, somehow convey something about the inner nature or soul of the writing.  And in case you get hooked by one or two, they are all available at Your Library.
Fantastic Fiction TitlesDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea by Morgan Callan Rogers
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Notable Non-Fiction Titles
Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger’s Memoir by Charles Wilkins
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith
Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar and Other Oddball or Gross Maladies,   Afflictions, Remedies or “Cures” by David Haviland
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
Clever Kid Lit Titles
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
The Barefooted, Bad-tempered Baby Brigade by Deborah Diesen
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman
Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom by Susan Nielsen-Fernlund
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems
The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Grown Ups Get to Do All the Driving by William Steig
Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe
Olive the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Angela Meady

Monday, 9 December 2013

Sunday December 8th, 2013 Holiday Magic at TBPL

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With December upon us and holidays approaching, it is a perfect time to check out a good read.  How about these titles from the Globe and Mail’s best seller non-fiction list?   They are compiled using sales figures from bookstores Canada-wide.  And the Thunder Bay Public Library has them for you.

An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield who gives us first-hand experience on how to think like an astronaut complete with advice contrary to conventional wisdom.  Includes suggestions such as prepare for the worst, definitely sweat the small stuff and pay close mind to what others think. 

A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey by Stephen J. Harper is on order at TBPL and presents a captivating portrait of hockey’s early years.  This book looks at when the Toronto Professionals (1908) and the Toronto Blue Shirts (1914) took turns vying for Toronto's first Stanley Cup. Those "forgotten Leafs" built the foundation of an extraordinarily profitable hockey franchise today. 

Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr.  One of the greatest sports figures of all time with records and trophies to boast talks of the people and things that have inspired him the most and some of the valuable lessons he has gleaned.  Now both a parent and a grandparent, he feels strongly that the things he learned bear repeating.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (available in the non-fiction section, on CD book and as digital media through Overdrive), is the sobering story of a family uprooted by global terrorism that loved and encouraged their daughter to obtain an education no matter how dear the cost. 

Still not sure what to read?  That’s easy.  Just check out the Reader’s Advisory section on the TBPL website ( where you will find a link to Novelist, a database that helps you find author read-a-likes, provides reading recommendations and much more (you will need your Thunder Bay Public Library Card & PIN to log in).  You will also find links to New and Upcoming (a monthly list of new titles at the Thunder Bay Public Library), Overbooked (a great resource for voracious readers), Book Browse (a guide to exceptional books), and best sellers lists from both the New York Times and Maclean’s. 

Pick up a new book from TBPL and enjoy the holidays.  As Voltaire (the French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher) once said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Caron E. Naysmith

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sunday December 1, 2013 50 Years of Dr. Who

Last weekend saw the anniversary of the beginning of the television series, Doctor Who.  The series was created by Canadian Sydney Newman, who was then the BBC’s head of drama. It was first shown during the weekend of the Kennedy assassination.  Despite critical dismissal, the series gained a strong following and ran on the BBC, in its first incarnation, till December of 1989. The Doctor’s ability to regenerate made it possible to use a number of actors in the role and anyone who knows the series can name his or her favourite incarnation.  For me, it’s a tie between Tom Baker (the fourth Doctor) and David Tennant (the tenth).  Despite cancellation, interest in the series never died as it was kept alive with novels, fan clubs, a magazine and conventions.

The series was revived in 2005 and has gone on to outstrip its previous popularity in terms of numbers of fans, and garnering accolades and awards throughout the world.  The premise of the show is simple, an unidentified human-like alien travels though time and space in his TARDIS, which resembles a British police call box, righting wrongs and preventing catastrophes.  The character, who has come to be known as the Doctor, is accompanied on his adventures by a human companion or companions.  The popularity of the series has grown to the point that the recent anniversary special, “Day of the Doctor”, was the largest simulcast ever.  The future of Doctor Who looks bright as the series prepares to refresh itself with a new actor, Peter Capaldi, becoming the next Doctor.  As the years have gone by, the library has collected a wide variety of “Who” materials in many formats, so grab your sonic screwdriver and head down to the library.
In DVDs, we carry the most recent incarnations of the Doctor Who, beginning with the 2005 re-introduction of the Doctor starring actor Christopher Eccleston.  We also have some classic episodes on DVD, such as Doctor Who, the Peter Davison Years, 1982-1984.
For listening, we carry tales of the Doctor in cd book, playaway and downloadable formats.  Some of the stories are classified as adult, while others are designed for a young adult audience, which would be a great choice to share on a family car trip.  Standouts in this category would be Doctor Who: The Taking of Chelsea 426 by David Llewellyn, or Doctor Who: Peacemaker by James Swallow.
If reading is your preference, than Doctor Who is available in novel and graphic novel formats.  Two of the most recent additions  include a story by the late novelist Douglas Adams, who worked as a script writer of the original series, and one of his unproduced ideas has become Doctor Who: Shada : The Lost Adventure.  Completed by author Gareth Roberts, the story follows the Doctor, his companion Romana and his mechanical dog, K-9, as they try to prevent an ambitious alien from controlling the universe by making himself into a Godlike creature.  The story showcases the wit, whimsy and inventiveness of Douglas Adams.
While a novel like Shada showcases the lighter side of the Who universe, Stephen Baxter’s Wheel of Ice, takes a much darker tone and places the Doctor and his companion on a mining colony on the ring of Saturn where danger to the Doctor and company, as well as the neighbouring earth colony, continues to mount as the pages turn.

For the true Whovian, we carry a number of trivia and behind-the-scenes type of books, including Doctor Who: A Celebration, Two decades through Time and Space by Peter Haining.  Doctor Who: Companions looks at the actors and characters that have accompanied the Doctor throughout the years.  The newest is The Brilliant Book 2012 which is published annually by the BBC and details everything about the making of the series.
Lori Kauzlarick