Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of Flash House by Aimee Liu published by Warner Books
Cover Image of Cosmopolis: A Novel by Don DeLillo published by Scribner
Cover Image of The Human Stain by Philip Roth published by Vintage Books
Cover Image of Foundation by Isaac Asimov published by Bantam Spectra Books
Cover Image of Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 by David Crystal published by Oxford University Press, USA
Cover Image of Old Yeller by Fred Gipson published by HarperTrophy
Cover Image of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt published by Farrar Straus & Giroux
Cover Image of The Juggler's Children: A Journey into Family, Legend and the Genes that Bind Us by Carolyn Abraham published by Random House Canada
Cover Image of Adam and His Kin: The Lost History of Their Lives and Times by Ruth Beechick, Michael Denman published by Arrow Pr
Cover Image of Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding published by Penguin USA (Paper)
Cover Image of Shanghai Grand: Forbidden Love and International Intrigue on the Eve of the Second World War by Taras Grescoe published by HarperAvenue
Cover Image of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi published by Random House
Cover Image of Living in Hope and History: Notes from Our Century by Nadine Gordimer published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (Pap)
Cover Image of The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language by Mark Turner published by Oxford University Press

LATEST Feature Articles

Musings On The Community Public Library 

by  - Thursday, July 27, 2017

I just passed my third month as a new employee at a community library in rural BC. Here are 5 things that I've learned.

  • The book collection is a living, breathing thing reflective of the seasonal and changing interests of the patrons. What I mean by this is that as people order, read and return books to our branch library, the entire collection of books that end up on our shelves changes. For example, when I first began work at the end of April 2017 there were very few gardening books. As the growing season kicked in, more and more people reserved books from the shared book inventory that circulates between all 29 locations, and consequently, we now have two shelves of books on gardening, permaculture, organics, aquaculture---you name it.

    I've noticed that a patron with a love of history has been reading and returning a lot of books on WWII and that a new resident with an interest in poetry and philosophy has been ordering and returning some lovely titles that were not typically circulating here.

    The Kettle Valley Railway used to come through here and one of the big employers is the busy local mine just west of town - hence there are several books on the history of the KVR and its design engineer Andrew McCulloch, and some fascinating books on BC's geology and more specifically on the placer gold and platinum mining.

  • The library is a refuge for people of all circumstances. We have...  ...More >>

LATEST Author Interviews

Daniel Levitin wins Best Business Book of 2017 

by  - Monday, May 01, 2017

Neuroscientist, academic and popular author Daniel Levitin has just been awarded $30,000 and named the winner of the National Business Book for 2017 for his latest volume, A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age (published by Allen Lane, Canada). The National Business Book Award is co-sponsored by Pricewaterhouse Corporation, Canada, and Bank of Montreal Financial Group. Now in its 32nd year, the prize is handed out annually to the most outstanding Canadian business-related, non-fiction book of the previous year. The author says the book was written in response to the lack of public skepticism to the erosion of trusted news sources and complacency with information being disseminated through questionable sources and modern derivative news sources like social media. The world seems to have lost its critical thinking skills and is accepting as fact things which are not; accepting as evidence things which are hearsay. Discriminating between real and unreliable sources, propaganda, false and fake news is a grave problem today. Click bait hounds you everywhere on the web. And Levitin objects to the term "fake news" as it indicates something false as being worthy of any attention--which it emphatically isn't.

LEVITIN: I object to the term because it is not simply another variety of news, like “breaking news” or “political news” or “celebrity news.” It isn’t news at all — it’s a lie. Thinking critically begins with not enabling the purveyors of distortions, lies, and made-up "facts."
  ...More >>

Feature Articles >>

Life On The Ground Floor 

by

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dr. James Maskalyk has written the most humane book of ABCs I have ever read. He uses his vast medical experience as a framework to navigate his reader through the alphabet of medicine: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Drugs, etc.; all the while explaining the medical significance of each step. “A breath is not an idea, like the airway, something you don’t know is there until it’s gone. It’s the real thing, all action. Even during that flat pause between inhalation and exhalation, each cell is breathing. Your brain, your heart, each pore.” And yet, it is not the medicine that is enticing, it is the human stories that connect to each letter. It is the brief glance into his patients’ lives that makes the medicine real, makes it sing with story and truth; and occasionally makes me cry (perhaps because I’m a huge sap).

We meet the Toronto patients: the old confused man brought in from a nursing home, the worried mother with her sick son, the asthmatic man who has come in a dozen times struggling for air. A few letters later, Dr. Maskalyk travels to Ethiopia to support and teach the newly formed emergency medical team in Addis Ababa. We meet the Ethiopian patients: the man with the nose bleed that won’t stop, the girl in the oxygen mask, the girl hit by the lorry; and despite the language and culture barriers it becomes clear that people are people. The team at the hospital in Addis has neither the equipment, drugs, nor bed space that Toronto does, but medicine is medicine. The brave men and women training to be Ethiopia’s first ER doctors become heroes in my eyes as I watch them struggle against all the odds they are up against.

Beyond the medicine and patients, the reader is also shown the inner world of Dr. Maskalyk himself. We see the pain, the love and the struggles he endures as he navigates the ground floor of the emergency rooms around the world. We see him at his most vulnerable, not in the Toronto ER or in the streets of Addis, but in the third setting of the book: a remote cabin in Northern Alberta where Dr. Maskalyk spends time with his dying grandfather. ....More >>

 

 

Book Reviews >>

A New Book About Joni Mitchell 

by

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchellby David Yaffe (FSG/Crichton, June) - A biography, with dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, reveals the backstory behind the famous songs—from her youth on the Canadian prairie, the child she gave up for adoption, through her albums and love affairs, to the present.

For those of you who did not grow up listening to the music of Joni Mitchell it is fair to say that she remains one of Canada's foremost singer-songwriter-producers of the late 60s and 70s whose body of work has continued to evolve through to her last album released in 2016. She went from folk to pop to rock and roll and has worked with blues as well as jazz artists. She was won through competition and been awarded every accolade a singer and a songwriter of her distinction can be given. She was named 9th on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Best Songwriters list, and 42nd on their Top 100 Singers list. Having just sustained a brain injury, sadly she is confined to a wheelchair. When you play your Joni Mitchell music, you'll likely be pairing it with the likes of other fine Canadian artists: Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and her US contingents in this league: Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

For me her music has intelligence, playfulness and a soulful melancholy individualism. Fellow musicians praise her complex and skillful phrasing, chord changes, tempo changes and timeless lyrics. When she located her own daughter, whom she'd lost to adoption during an era when she was a destitute artist undoubtedly contributed to her philisophic complexity. Her lyrics are lush with observations about the confines of mores and society. Joni simply valued her freedom, to remain "unfettered and alive" as she says in her song "Free Man in Paris". ....More >>

 

 

Publisher News >>

Now Hear This: Print is Not Dead-Long Live Print 

by

Friday, January 27, 2017

I am a subscriber to The Columbia Journalism Review whose features capture the latest thinking on all things pertaining to the medium and the profession. Like you I am a reader of books, and a subscriber to newspapers. Like you, I've been saving the planet by ticking the "electronic version only" to my subscriptions to save the world from destroying oxygen breathing trees and burning carbon fossils on delivery of my subscription.

But more and more I've become nostalgic for the rituals of home delivery of print copies of these items where I can make--an occasion--of sitting back in a comfortable chair with the newspaper and enjoy the page layouts, the smell of the ink and paper, the fact that advertisements are not popping up in my face (on my electronic screen), and tracking which articles I click, and feeding me information in silos of like-topics such that I am no longer served a diversity of features in the way that a well managed print publication provides.

The breakdown between the fourth estate and its public is fewer print subscribers which means fewer advertisers which mean fewer quality staff which means poorer quality journalism and consequentially publications going into the red and off the map.

In the publishing industry people have been predicting the return of book, and why not? Just yesterday I wanted to "lend" my copy of a book to a friend and I couldn't--it's on my iPad in digital format. And this is but one of the joys of physical book ownership that has been lost. Think of the state of your physical library, as in, those colourful and dusty shelves with copies of books you've had since the Gutenberg Press.

All the books on my shelves are from what seems like "another era" because I have added few new titles that reflect any update in my reading habits reflecting new topics of interest. But my kindle shelves show neat little rows of book "covers" backlit in colourful pixels illuminating on my screen and floating in the cloud. No help to anyone in my household or on my trusted lending list. (the ones who return books)

So here now is a more erudite rant on the subject from Michael Rosenwald of The CJR. ....More >>

 

Whistler Reads >>

Leanna Hutchins is WR's New Program Administrator! 

by

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Please join us in welcoming Leanna Hutchins. Leanna has joined Whistler Reads as the new Program Administrator effective immediately. Her role will be to develop and execute new and fresh programming, liaise and partner with Whistler’s literary, business and non-profit communities, and continue a tradition of quality events that Whistler Reads has provided this community for the past decade.

Leanna brings an extensive background in leadership roles for humanitarian causes with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders and other NGOs. She was Head of Mission for crisis intervention in several war-torn countries in Africa including the South Sudan, Central Asia and the Caususes. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop's University in International Relations, Liberal Arts and Anthropology, and studied Political Science and Government for a year at Sciences Po Lille, France. She speaks French and Russian and shares many athletic Whistler passions, such as alpine and backcountry skiing, wake-surfing, mountain biking, yoga and she can be found hanging out mid-air in crazy positions suspended by ribbons of fabric from the ceiling at the Whistler Gymnastics Centre with the “Silks” team. She lives with her husband, Ryan Nadeau in Rainbow.

Leanna can be reached via email at LeannaH.WhistlerReads@Bookbuffet.com, or her mobile 1(604) 907-1044. To join Whistler Reads go to www.bookbuffet.com and click on the “Whistler Reads” column where all our current and past events are posted. News and events are also posted on our Facebook page and Tweets @WhistlerReads (formerly @BookBuffet).

Whistler Reads – the village book group, was founded in 2004 by Paula Shackleton who saw the need for a public forum in which to discuss books and topical issues germane to the community. Membership quickly grew. To date, the group has hosted 52 public events. Shackleton now runs her family farm on the Similkameen River a few hours from Whistler over the Duffy Lake Road in the Interior of BC. She is thrilled to welcome Leanna on board to Whistler Reads. ....More >>

 

 

WGBH Boston >>

Masterpiece: Victoria 

by

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The 2017 MASTERPIECE PBS season starts out tapping into the insatiable public appetite for young Royals, specifically, British. Their new series about Queen Victoria, titled VICTORIA airs January 15th and is based on the screenplay written by Daisy Goodwin. Buy the hardcover book, Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen which is the official companion to the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS, and the DVD box set "Masterpiece: Victoria" .

It stars Jenna Coleman as the young queen portrayed from her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18 through her courtship and marriage to her cousin Prince Albert played by Tom Hughes. Goodwin says her inspiration for Victoria derived from watching her own teenage daughter's vigorous and tempestuous nature and imagining how a monarch at the same age might compare. In this sense, the character takes on a personalized flare.

While the series has been criticized for taking liberties with some specific historical facts in order to make her character more congruent with modern sensibilities and perspectives, it has all the hallmarks of beloved PBS productions that includes an exquisite cast, costumes, sets and settings. As a result, it has usurped viewer turnout for previous period costume dramas, reaching 5.3 million viewers with a production budget of £10m.

So who was Queen Victoria and what were her hallmark contributions to British history? ....More >>

 

 

Wine & Book Club >>

Wine & Book Group Pick for Jan-Feb 2016 

by

Friday, January 01, 2016

It's winter - let's revel in that. Who better to read this January and February than Sheila Watts-Cloutier, the Inuit writer whose book The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet is a manifesto on climate change and its effect on the indigenous peoples of Canada's north. Cloutier is a compelling speaker. I've listened to her in the media and on several radio programs. This book will change the way you view the plight of peoples of the North. Sheila is a member of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the non-governmental body representing the interests of Inuit people living in four Arctic nations. This led to her becoming a powerful advocate for Inuit rights at United Nations climate-change negotiations that garnered her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

But the details of her upbringing and the stark contrast between the experience of living at home in the North compared with living at a lower latitude with a non-indigenous family during her formative years, highlights the importance of cultural identity and traditions.

As Naomi Klein writes in the Mar 13th issue of The Globe and Mail:

As the title of the book suggests, a major theme of The Right to Be Cold is how climate change poses an existential threat to cultures that are embedded in ice and snow. If the ice disappears, or if it behaves radically differently, then cultural knowledge that has been passed on from one generation to the next loses its meaning. Young people are deprived of the lived experience on the ice that they need to become knowledge carriers, while the animals around which so many cultural practices revolve disappear. As Watt-Cloutier has been arguing for well over a decade now, that means that the failure of the world to act to reduce its emissions to prevent that outcome constitutes a grave human-rights violation.

While some may snicker and say more NK hyperbole, we all know that the arctic at both poles are the puffin/penguin in the tunnel, and haunting images of polar bears clinging to a slab of ice condemn us all. Awareness is the forerunner to action, and the time for rhetoric has passed. We each need to become part of the solution to solving our planet's climate change issues. ....More >>

 

 

Author Interviews >>

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance: Insights into Trump Voters 

by

Friday, January 27, 2017

If you want an intimate insight into the firmament of Trump voters then J.D. Vance's bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (published by Harper Collins) is poignant, painful but uplifting book. It describes his childhood growing up in a struggling, dysfunctional family in eastern Kentucky and the Appalachia of America. Closures in the steel industry and the auto industry have erased well-paying jobs, the consequence of automation or globalization. This has led to profound social decline with poverty, alcohol and drug addiction eroding the values of this formerly proud and independent working-class peoples who have become welfare dependent, complacent, and a sometimes angry demographic as a result. These are the people identified as being co-opted by President Trump.

JD Vance describes his upbringing by his "hillbilly" grandparents, without whose love and support he would have become the victim of his mother's failings, and fallen through the cracks of the system. In spite of the odds stacked against him, Vance managed to graduate from high school and turn his life around during a stint in the Marines following which he not only graduated with an undergraduate degree (paid for by veteran funds) from the state university, he was accepted into Yale Law School graduating summa cum laud, and then went on to marry a wonderful partner and live a successful life. He gave up his work in the law and now works with a California hedge fund creating economic development opportunities for the Appalachia. Now others there will have a better chance to turn their lives around as well. His first-person struggle as told in his book could help shape social service policy from this point forward. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a must read.

NPR caught up with the author and here is a link to their podcast and the transcript. I hope you'll take a moment to listen. (Click title to open feature) ....More >>

 

 

Technology Corner >>

They've Come for our Voices: Lyrebird-Voice Synthesis Software 

by

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Canadian company by the name of Lyrebird https://lyrebird.ai is on the forefront of voice synthesis technology. It can mimic our voices with just a 1-minute sample, and given a longer one, say 5 minutes, they claim that it's difficult to differentiate between the native and robotic speaker. They also say they can control the emotional flavour of speech to evoke things such as anger, stress, distress. Sound worrying?

The work came out of University de Montréal in Quebec where three founders are currently PhD students: Alexandre de Brébisson, Jose Sotelo and Kundan Kumar. Their startup is advised by three of the most prolific professors in the field: Pascal Vincent, Aaron Courville and Yoshua Bengio. The latter, director of the MILA and AI pioneer, wants to make Montréal a world-capital of artificial intelligence and this new startup is part of this vision.

It raises concerns about the forgery of voices just the way photographic manipulation by software like Photoshop has forever changed that artistic discipline into an unreliable form of documentation where authenticity is always under suspicion. Ditto for CGI and video content.

The name Lyrebird comes from an Australian bird that is able to mimic its call. Listen to the CBC's podcast on the topic. https://soundcloud.com/user-535691776/dialog "Where will this technology likely show-up?"

Lyrebird is making a bet on the future of voice-controlled computing. They imagine a world where more and more of our interactions with the digital world are done through voice. That means an increased focus on voice recognition and voice synthesis. Right now Lyrebird isn't a consumer-facing tech company. They want other businesses to take their technology and build on top of it. De Brébisson expects Lyrebird will be used to design better personal assistants — like the ones from Amazon, Google and Apple. He also sees applications for video game makers and in animation, movies and audiobooks. A studio could record an actor, build a voice model then artificially generate any dialogue they want." excerpted-here. ....More >>

 

 

Events >>

FOLD - May 4-7th Brampton Ont 

by

Sunday, March 26, 2017

If the axiom of good writing is "Write what you know", then perhaps the axiom of a good reader should be "Read what you don't know." That's how I see FOLD, Canada's first literary festival celebrating literary diversity. It's founded by Jael Richardson and takes place in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario now in its second season, coming May 4-7 2017. "The Festival of Literary Diversity will celebrate stories that are underrepresented in Canadian literature — stories that reflect variations in geography, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion, and stories that employ different methods of story-telling." Check out the 25 programs on offer over 3 days. The FOLD will utilize a “three-fold” approach in the programming: engaging readers, inspiring writers, and empowering educators. The main festival runs from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8, but the larger festival includes a workshop for educators and sessions dedicated towards high school students.

What I didn't know is that "Brampton is Canada’s second fastest growing city and the ninth largest city in the country. Located immediately north of Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Brampton residents represent more than 170 different cultures and speak more than 70 languages. People have literally come from around the world to live, work, play, read, and write in this City." Speaking as a Vancouverite - that's a wonderful distinction to celebrate! ....More >>

 

 
 
 
 

MASH UP >>

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Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews published by Vintage Canada
Cover Image of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut published by Dial Press Trade Paperback
Cover Image of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate_Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben published by Greystone Books/David Suzuki Institute
Cover Image of Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Cover Image of Atonement (Signed, First U.K. Ed.) by Ian McEwan published by Jonathan Cape
Cover Image of Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and Their Planes by Kenneth T. Walsh, Robert Dallek published by Hyperion
Cover Image of The Amazing Absorbing Boy by Rabindranath Maharaj published by Knopf Canada
Cover Image of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, N.C. Wyeth published by Atheneum
Cover Image of Buffalo Calf Road Woman: The Story of a Warrior of the Little Bighorn by Rosemary Agonito, Joseph Agonito published by Falcon
Cover Image of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek published by Portfolio
Cover Image of The Origin of Species (Barnes & Noble Classics) (B&N Classics Trade Paper) by Charles Darwin published by Barnes & Noble
Cover Image of The Lovely Bones: A Novel by Alice Sebold published by Little Brown & Company
Cover Image of The Real Thing: The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan by Briony Penn published by RMB
Cover Image of The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi published by Anchor
 

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