Sunday, 31 January 2016

Sunday January 31st, 2016 Discover the Books Behind the Oscars

The big entertainment awards season is upon us and as usual most of the major award nominations are based on books. The path some books take to become films can be quick and easy, while other books can languish in the bowels of the movie studio that purchased their movie rights for years. Every year there is a debate on whether the book or the movie is better; the shelves of TBPL are full of the titles used to create this year’s winners and nominees. Beside the Best Picture nominees listed below, some great books such as Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Trumbo by Bruce Cook and The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff are featured in the Acting awards.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
Lewis chronicles the near crash of the world economy through the eyes of four outsiders to the echelons of Wall Street. A full year before the crash of 2008, the group discovered a small silent crash that foretold of what was going to happen and tried to tell the world and especially the FCC what exactly was happening in the background of the mortgage markets. They were largely ignored and ridiculed.  The book is told with honesty and humour but doesn’t hesitate to lay the blame for the loss of countless jobs and homes at the appropriate doorsteps.

Bridge of Spies: a True Story of the Cold War by Giles Whittell
Set at the height of the Cold War in 1962, the true account details the machinations between the US and the USSR over the return of an American U-2 pilot named Gary Powers who was shot down and captured during a reconnaissance mission in central Russia in exchange for British born KGB agent named William Fisher.  Whittell weaves the strands between the intense political tensions at the top and lives of those caught in the web of intrigue that nearly took the world to nuclear war.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
Following the end of the Second World War, young Eilis Lacey is sponsored to go live and work in New York, leaving her mother and sister at home. Sad, lonely and homesick, Eilis forges a life for herself and eventually falls in love.  Finally having accepted America, a tragedy in Ireland forces Eilis home to her small Irish village and her heart is torn between her family and her past, and Brooklyn and the future that she now dreams of.

The Martian by Andy Weir
A dust storm during the first manned voyage to Mars forces the crew to abandon their mission leaving behind a crewman they believe to be dead. Mark Watney is still very much alive and he must find a way to stay that way until he can signal Earth.  Through sheer inventiveness and strength of spirit, Mark strives to help in his own rescue against all odds.

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke
Hugh Glass is a trapper and experienced frontiersman in the wildness of North America in 1823, when a grizzly bear attack leaves him near death.  The two men assigned to care for him chose to abandon him, spurring Glass to survive with one desire only, revenge.

Room by Emma Donoghue
For five year old Jack, the entire world exists of Room. This is where he was born and grew up, along with his Ma. At night, Ma shuts him up in the wardrobe to sleep when Old Nick visits. To Ma, room is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Rather than concentrating on the darker details of the story, it focuses on the strength of love between a mother and her child.

Lori Kauzlarick

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sunday January 17th, 2016 Blue Monday

This year the so-called Blue Monday falls tomorrow on January 18th.  Blue Monday comes out of Cliff Arnall’s work for a travel firm to calculate the most depressing day of the year and boost sales at that time.  A little strange when you consider that one of the contributing factors was debt.

However, while there is no scientific evidence to back Blue Monday, the end of January can be a difficult time for many.  We either don’t see the sun or it’s so cold we can’t enjoy it, credit card bills are coming in, and maybe your resolutions aren’t going quite as well as you’d hoped.   Never fear your library has resources to help.

If your finances have you in a knot we subscribe to both MoneySense and Canadian Money Saver for some ongoing monthly motivation.  These are of course, in addition to, all of the books we have on personal finance and financial planning.  If you read our December 20 column you’ll be aware of Gail Vaz-Oxlade and David Chilton, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.  Check out moolala:  Why smart people do dumb things with their money (and what you can do about it) by Bruce Sellery, and David Bach’s books Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich.  If you’re already a Gail fan you might want to check out Wealthing like Rabbits: An Original Introduction to Financial Planning by Robert R. Brown.  She describes it as “Smart, funny, and totally relatable.”  What can you expect from Brown’s book? At minimum you’ll find popular culture and humour to make the financial planning go down more easily.

Alright, so we’ve tackled finances, what about some of the other reasons for the winter doldrums?  Perhaps your resolutions were a little loftier than you’re ready to achieve or the supports just aren’t in place.  Many people resolve to get fit or lose weight at the start of a new year.  If this is you, check out our fitness books and DVDs as well as our cookbooks.

For fitness check out Born to Walk:  The transformative power of a pedestrian act by Dan Rubinstein, No Excuses Fitness:  The 30-day plan to tone your body and supercharge your health by Donovan Green, and the DVD Jillian Michaels Killer Body 3. While considering fitness please don’t neglect your mind, this will also help with motivation to keep going through the winter.  A couple books to try are No Sweat:  How the simple science of motivation can bring you a lifetime of fitness by Michelle Segar and Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mind Fitness by Joel Levey and Michelle Levey.

Now, into the kitchen where we can improve our eating habits and perhaps find some savings.  I’m a big fan of the brown bag lunch for both nutritional and financial reasons.  The tricky thing is determining what is healthy eating beyond sticking to minimally processed foods and then finding what works for you.  Luckily the librarian who selects our cookbooks takes all of our preferences into account.  So here are a couple books to consider in your quest for healthy eating; Super Fresh:  Super natural, super vibrant vegan recipes by Jennifer Houston, Supermarket Healthy:  Recipes and know-how for eating well without spending a lot by Melissa d’Arabian, Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver, and The Family Cooks:  100+ recipes to get your family craving food that’s simple, tasty and incredibly good for you by Laurie David.

Hopefully the resources shared here and the many more that can be found on our shelves will help motivate you through January and the rest of the year.  Don’t let any Blue Monday, other than the New Order song, into your life!

Ruth Hamlin-Douglas

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sunday January 10, 2016 Local Food

It’s a new year, which means a new set of Lakehead University In Conversation lectures here at the Thunder Bay Public Library!  The first 2016 lecture, “Food Innovation in Northwestern Ontario,” will be held on January 23 at 2pm in the Mary J.L. Black Community Program Room. This lecture is presented by Dr. Connie Nelson, a professor of Social Work at Lakehead University. Dr. Nelson will be talking about five local food initiatives that are creating jobs while helping people live healthier lives in connection with their environment. Dr. Nelson’s lecture is very timely; the local food movement is gaining momentum as many people attend the Saturday morning Country Market and more Thunder Bay restaurants serve local fare. Want to find out more before the 23rd?  Then stop by your local library!

If you are totally new to the idea of the local food movement, check out Amy Cotler’s The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food. Cotler covers all the basics; with her help you’ll be buying, cooking, and eating more local foods in no time.

People in Northwestern Ontario aren’t the only ones eating locally; the local food movement is springing up across North America. Tanya Denckla Cobb profiles 50 different projects from across the United States in Reclaiming Our Food:How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing the Way We Eat. Cobb’s book is a great read if you’re curious about what’s going on elsewhere in the continent. Even though some of the projects detailed in this book are not practical in our climate, their ingenuity is sure to inspire you. Likewise, Robert Bates made a documentary on the American local food movement called Ingredients. Bates speaks with chefs, farmers, and activists to show how the local food movement began; they believe that the North American food system can and should be sustainable, healthy, and tasty.

If you’re interested in growing your own food, rather than just buying locally, we’ve got lots of books to help you as well. An excellent overview of making your home self sufficient is David Toht’s Backyard Homesteading: A Back-to-BasicsGuide to Self Sufficiency. Backyard Homesteading has all sorts of information on growing vegetables, raising livestock, and storing all the food you produce. There’s even a section to help you navigate the local rules and regulations concerning livestock in the city. Toht freely admits that his book doesn’t go into lots of detail on any one topic, so if you want to know more about a certain subject you’ll need to find a more specialized book that is available on the topic. But if you’re wanting a more general overview on self sufficiency, Backyard Homesteading is for you.

In recent years, more and more people have become interested in keeping bees so they can have and sell their own local honey. Local honey tastes good and may help alleviate pollen allergies. If you’re interested in beekeeping but have no experience, definitely check out Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston or The Backyard Beekeeper:an Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden by Kim Flottum. Both books are excellent resources for beginners who want to keep a Langstroth hive (they’re the fastest producers of honey). If you have experience with beekeeping or want to know more about some of the other hive types (like the Kenya top-bar hive or even the Warre hive), check out Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches toModern Apiculture by Ross Conrad instead.

All of this and more can be found at your local library!  And don’t forget to head to Mary J.L. Black on January 23 for Dr. Nelson’s lecture. It starts at 2pm in the Community Program Room.

Shauna Kosoris 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sunday January 3rd, 2016 In Store @ Your Library for 2016

Welcome to a new year and loads of great things in the works at Thunder Bay Public Library! It would be impossible to try and list everything that we have planned for 2016, especially since there will be new projects and adventures throughout the year that I can’t possibly anticipate.

One of the easiest things to foresee though is that the Library has great new books and DVDs on the way this year. Complete lists of the New and Upcoming titles can be found on our website under the Browse tab. You can also sign up for monthly email updates and be the first to know about new and upcoming additions to the collection. To sign up, simply send an email to, and include your email address in your message. There are dozens of titles already in the online catalogue for items that will be released in 2016 and can be placed on hold to ensure you won’t miss out on future favourites.

Transparent Language will be an exciting new addition to the Library for anyone interested in learning a new language in 2016. This new program offers 100+ languages (including Finnish) as well as an App for fast and convenient access. More information can be found online at

Other new initiatives that you will see at TBPL this year include a book spine prose and poetry contest modeled after the recent battle waged online between Kansas Public Library and the Toronto Public Library.  Get your creative juices flowing and visit any location of the Library and find at least three books to compose your unique contest entry. Send a photo of your work to the Library before March 19 to qualify. Entries can be submitted through Facebook (TBayPL), Twitter (@TBayPL) or email (

Science North and TBPL are teaming up to introduce nature inspired programs this year – some of which will include this winter’s schedule for Northern Nature Trading, Science North: Game On! and the Geology, Lapidary and Jewelry Making Club. Full descriptions, times, locations, and registration requirements are available in the Connect @ Your Library Winter 2016 newsletter (which will be distributed throughout the city this week).

And if all that wasn’t enough, there is another new initiative launching this winter in partnership with Northwest Employment Works (NEW). A friendly employment advisor from NEW will be on site throughout the week (Tuesday afternoons at Brodie and Friday afternoons at Waverley) to discuss employment goals and how NEW can help you along your pathway to employment.

All of the above just covers the relatively new stuff happening in the next few months, but the tried and true deserve recognition as well. The World War One Thunder Bay Centennial Project continues to commemorate the impact of the First World War here in Thunder Bay. iHelp and eBook assistance continue at a rapidly growing pace. Workshops and lectures will be held on topics ranging from financial planning to genealogy, food innovation, forestry and more. Book clubs, Readers are Leaders, Youth Advisory Council and the Community Action Panel are all guaranteed sights around the Library this year. To find out what else is coming up that may be of interest, connect with us online at

Jesse Roberts