Author Archives: corenebee

2016 Reading Challenges

Reading is a solitary pursuit by nature unless you are at terrible cocktail party. This cocktail party would be full of people one-upping each other to see who is the most well-read. This cocktail party would have people saying “Yes but have you read Proust in the original French? In his original handwriting?”

I imagine that Norman Mailer is probably at their cocktail party.

At the end of this cocktail party, you would return home and never leave it.

But, reading needn’t be a solitary pursuit (cocktail parties and reading the choicest excerpts from “A is for Arsenic” to your roommate notwithstanding). Reading Challenges are a delightful way to make reading social, competitive (if you like), and expand your horizons.


So good


Here are some 2016 reading challenges to inspire you:

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge gives readers 24 tasks to accomplish over the year (and a handy-dandy chart to keep track).

The #BustleReads challenge has 20 reading suggestion with a focus on reading women and people of colour.

The Goodreads challenge lets people set their own amount of books they want to read for the year. You also get an adorable widget.

POPSUGAR raises the bar for their 2016’s Ultimate Reading Challenge has a dizzying 40 challenges to complete over the year.

For those with a staggering pile of unread books by the bedside (and the coffee table and the kitchen table… and the crafting table), the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2016 will force you to read the books that are ever threatening to take over your house.

Have any libraries out there issued their own library challenges? Or run a program with reading challenges for the year? Or challenged readers to make their own reading resolutions?

Happy reading in 2016!




Best Books of 2015 RA Program

BestbooksIn what has become a year-end tradition, the children’s librarians at the Port Moody Public Library have chosen our Best Books (for kids) of 2015 and taken the show on the road.

In late October, we contact local schools and offer 20 minutes booktalks to each classroom promote the top ten picks for kindergarten to grade 5 and tell them about our contest. Each classroom receives a ballot with their grade’s top ten books and the students can vote on which three books they would most like to read. We draw one winner from each school who will receive a free book every month for the rest of the school year.

Unlike our summer reading club visits which promote high-interest books to entice them to the library (ie. ALL the Minecraft books), the Best Books are chosen primarily for their literary merit.We try to choose books with strong hooks that will challenge readers at all reading levels within the grade.


Picture of covers for Grade 4/5 books

Grade 4/5 Best Books

We have been pleasantly inundated with kids asking for The Nest and “the book with the farting”. For those waiting on hold lists, there are readalike displays in the children’s area:

Book holder with decorative text that says

The program has been a hit with students and schools. Like a “One Book, One City” program, the Best Books creates a passionate conversation about books. Students argue, persuade, and haggle with classmates to make sure their books win. Classes spend entire blocks trying to whittle down their choices to just three. Some schools post their ballots on the bulletin board in the hallway. We also receive RA requests from teachers looking for readalikes and readalouds for their classroom.

Grade 2

Grade 2 Best Books

The Best Books program has become a cornerstone of our school-age programming. It allows us to reach a huge number of students, gets the kids excited about reading for pleasure just before the holidays, and strengthens our connection with schools.

And, of course, the students come to the library to find these books and more (and sometimes to argue with the children’s librarians about how other books are better).



How I Learned to Stop Loathing Canadian Literature OR Let’s Talk About Bear OR How to Read Books You Hate


I would not have called myself a fan of Canadian literature. And this is because of prairie angst.

You might know what I am talking about: Two sisters (one plain and hardworking, the other frivolous and beautiful) live in an isolated farmhouse on the prairies. Where it is cold. And isolated. Their mother is cruel/a husk of a human being after having the life sucked out of her by farming/dead and their father is a drunk/terrible farmer/book burner/dead or all of the above. They live in the cold and the snow in an isolated cabin where it is isolated. They are all alone with their angst until one winter’s night (because it is always winter), a Handsome Stranger from The City knocks at the door. There is often incest.


This was the first ad that popped up when searching “Canadian Fiction” – coincidence? I think not.

I was fully aware that this was not every single Canadian book ever written but I was so biased and entrenched in my reading comfort zone that any suggestion of Canadian Lit was immediately filed in my mental “NEVER WILL I EVER” folder.

However, one of my professional goals last year was to develop my RA skills by reading widely and daringly. Inspired by some reading challenges, I decided that this was the year to diversify my reading. This meant forcing myself into brave new northern reading worlds. But how do you take those first steps without feeling like you’re back in high school, kicking and screaming your way through assigned reading?

don't wanna

… to 819

Identify what it is in particular about the genre/age group/topic that you find unappealing. Hate the gore of horror? Think YA is all about the love triangles? Can’t stand the angst in the prairies? No genre is a monolith. Use your RA tools to weed out what won’t work for you as a reader and find some titles that have high personal appeal. Ask a friend/co-worker who enjoys the genre to suggest a title for you.

Start small. There’s no need to commit to 457 pages of your life right off the bat. Short stories, anthologies and novellas are a great gateway into a genre. They are short, punchy and can lead to longer works by authors that catch your interest.

Read blogs of people that are enthusiastic about your subject. 49th Shelf, CBC Books, Kevin From Canada, Obscure CanLit Mama, and the Canadian Book Review were all excellent places to start exploring. Their passion was infectious and I soon began accumulating titles for my to read pile.

Check out award winners. Not every award winner is worth reading but it can certainly provoke a conversation. Notably, the 1967 Governor General Award winner “Bear” by Marian Engel has been the source of much discussion, argument and (mostly) laughter in my group of friends. This is the classic story of a lonely librarian who has a passionate love affair with a bear.


Oh Canada

Join a genre-challenge. There are plenty of online genre challenges on a variety of platforms. If you prefer face-to-face, challenge your coworkers and friends. It’s always good to rope people in to your goals to keep you accountable. Identify genre-knowledge gaps in your workplace and make it part of your professional development.

If at first you don’t succeed, PUT DOWN THE BOOK. If the first book you try is a slog, don’t force yourself. Give it just a few more pages than you would give an ordinary book (my limit is about 5 pages – with Canadian Lit, I give it 5 1/2) and if it doesn’t grab your attention, put it down. This is not assigned reading, you will not be graded for participation. You don’t have to like every flavor of pie and you don’t have to like every book. Take a break and try again with a different book.

These are the steps that I used to transform myself from rabid anti-Canadiana to peaceful CanLit supporter (Speaking of which, have you read Circus by Claire Battershill? No snow-swept sisters in sight!).

Anyone want to share their tips on how to venture outside of their reading comfort zone?