Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of The Road Home: A Novel by Rose Tremain published by Back Bay Books
Cover Image of Post Captain (Aubrey Maturin Series) by Patrick O'Brian published by W. W. Norton & Company
Cover Image of The Night Listener: A Novel by Armistead Maupin published by Perennial
Cover Image of Netherland (Vintage Contemporaries) by Joseph O'Neill published by Vintage
Cover Image of Cat Among the Pigeons (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) by Agatha Christie published by Berkley
Cover Image of Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg published by Three Rivers Press
Cover Image of Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice by Edward C. Chang published by American Psychological Association (APA)
Cover Image of Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood published by House of Anansi Press
Cover Image of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Cover Image of Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan, Richard Holbrooke published by Random House Trade Paperbacks
Cover Image of The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Cover Image of Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo published by Dundurn
Cover Image of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon published by Picador USA
Cover Image of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman published by Spiegel & Grau

LATEST Feature Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature 2017 

by  - Thursday, October 05, 2017

Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature 2017. In their press release, the Nobel committee said, "Kazuo Ishiguro, who in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki Japan in 1954 and moved with his family to Surry England where he would study American literature and philosophy at the University of Kent. He obtained his MFA in Literature at the University of East Anglia but went on to work briefly as a social worker, but has been a fully committed writer since the publication of his first novel, A Pale View of the Hills. In 1983 he was anointed by the British Council as one of the talented young British writers and his work appeared in the literary publication Granta along with Rushdie, McEwen, Julian Barnes,  ...More >>

LATEST Author Interviews

Ian McEwan on Writing Love 

by  - Wednesday, September 20, 2017

McEwen waited 20 years to write his first sex scene (the library scene in Atonement). Here he discusses the challenges of writing about relationships in novels and particularly the variations found throughout. Enjoy his fluency and insights with references to a variety of his own novels and also people like Tolstoy. The point that the form of the novel has evolved, is a good one. The novel (and poetry) remain resilient because "we have not yet invented an art form that allows us such access to the minds of others."  ...More >>

Feature Articles >>

Musings On The Community Public Library 

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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.

Book Reviews >>

Stephen King Has One of the Top Books On Writing: Read It 

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Notes on “Stephen King's "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”

There are plenty of books on writing, but few are any good. Stephen King may not write the genre of book you like to read, but his success at selling books and having several of those books adapted to feature films that have been box office success is a powerful reason to explore his book on the writing craft as worthy a peek.

Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (published by Random House) begins with a history of his childhood, his family background, his high school mishaps, his first jobs, his college experience, how he met his future wife, his first years of marriage and as a parent, his work as a teacher while writing fiction in his spare time, his first published work and his first big payment from his publisher. This is the memoir part of the book, and there are lots of insights embedded inside which will resonate with readers, particularly people who enjoy his books. This is what makes Stephen King tick. The second half is all about Stephen's rules of writing - the meat of it.

It slams you with a confession ....More >>

 

 

Publisher News >>

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

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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 >>

Dr James Maskalyk: Life On The Ground Floor 

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Please join Whistler Reads in welcoming Canadian humanitarian, physican and two-book author, Dr. James Maskalyk from Toronto who is here to speak about his latest book, Life on the Ground Floor: Letters From The Edge of Emergency Medicine on October 19th from 6:30-8:30 pm at the beautiful Audain Art Museum. Eventbrite Tickets

Dr. Maskalyk (that's pronounced Mah-ska-lick) divides his time between Saint Michael's Hospital in Toronto where he works as an emerg doc and award-winning teacher in the emergency and trauma unit, contrasted with a life abroad working for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in places like the Sudan, Kenya, and Myanmar.

His first book Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village was a gripping account of conditions told from his sensitive and humane perspective. This was where one is not only dealing with the life and death situations of your patients but where ones' own safety is at stake. Described as "piercingly authentic" is was a best-seller.

In Life On The Ground Floor Maskalyk delves further, providing "deeply personal insights into modern-day medical practice with all of its paradoxes, ambiguities, and uncertainties."

Your host will be Whistler Reads program administrator, Leanne Hutchins, who herself has had incredible experiences in Africa working with the Red Cross. This will prove to be a compelling and thought-provoking evening as we compare what it means to provide health care in such contrasting circumstances and still maintain one's clarity and compassion. ....More >>

 

 

WGBH Boston >>

Ken Burns & Lynn Novik Talk Vietnam 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In anticipation of this epic 10-year exploration of the Vietnam War by award-winning documentary producers Ken Burns and Lynn Novik, this interview reveals their motivation, methods, and dedication to encapsulating this divisive and painful period of history, which some say, America has never fully recovered from. PBS and the sponsoring foundations and charitable entities are to be congratulated for their support of this project. It will undoubtedly impact those who participated in the era and those who come after, as we try to understand the nature of war and the dark side propelling us toward it that exists within our very selves.

Here is a short list of some of the source material, fictional and nonfiction books by authors on both sides, as mentioned by the team:

Wine & Book Club >>

Wine & Book Group Pick for Jan-Feb 2016 

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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 >>

Daniel Levitin wins Best Business Book of 2017 

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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 >>

 

 

Technology Corner >>

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

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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 

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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 David Copperfield (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens published by Penguin Classics
Cover Image of The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle published by Penguin USA (Paper)
Cover Image of Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation by Kevin Donovan published by Goose Lane Editions
Cover Image of Waiting (Vintage International) by Ha Jin published by Vintage Books
Cover Image of Of Human Bondage (Signet Classics) by W. Somerset Maugham published by Signet Classics
Cover Image of The Lovely Bones: A Novel by Alice Sebold published by Little Brown & Company
Cover Image of The Sea (Man Booker Prize) by John Banville published by Knopf
Cover Image of Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara, Fran Lebowitz published by Modern Library
Cover Image of Living in Hope and History: Notes from Our Century by Nadine Gordimer published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (Pap)
Cover Image of Dancer : A Novel by Colum McCann published by Picador
Cover Image of The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy published by Bantam Books
Cover Image of To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty (Introduction) published by Harvest Books
Cover Image of The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride published by Riverhead Books
Cover Image of Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald published by Broadway
 

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