Tales of Displacement

When I’m craving a good read, the graphic novel is my go-to genre. When done right, the unique illustration and storytelling style of an author can pull you into a narrative before you know it. Here are some noteworthy recent (and in one case, upcoming) titles that may draw you in, too (pun intended).

Hostage is from French-Canadian illustrator Guy Delisle, an adept and efficient storyteller who previously recounted his experiences in lands such as Burma and North Korea. In Hostage, Delisle tells the tale of Christophe André, who was kidnapped while working for Doctors Without Borders near Chechnya in 1997. Delisle’s panels, primarily done in tones of grey, offer a look into the psyche of a man held against his will for 111 days.

In Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, cartoonist Sarah Glidden tells the stories of individuals she meets in the Middle East while bearing witness to the ethical questions the journalist friends she is traveling with face. How far do you go to get the answers you want? At what point does someone else’s story become yours?

Poppies of Iraq, by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim, offers a series of memories about childhood and family in Iraq. Born to a French mother and Iraqi father in the 1950s, Findakly grew up in an environment of political upheaval that began in 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup. With Iraq in tumult throughout the 1960s, Findakly’s family moved to France in the 1970s. The vignettes in Poppies intersperse sweet and sometimes humorous childhood memories with a look into how life was never the same under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

* Publication date September 5, 2017; ARC obtained from Drawn & Quarterly

The beautiful debut graphic novel by Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, is a moving and highly personal tale of the immigrant experience. The birth of Bui’s child in a California hospital is the catalyst for her look back not only at her refugee journey from Vietnam, via Malaysia, to the United States, but also how her family reached that point of desperation with the rise of communism in the mid-1970s. Painted with washes of red, Bui reminds us that our history follows us wherever we go.

Acclaimed Canadian cartoonist Jeff Lemire is back following Secret Path with Roughneck. This gritty, fictional story centers on former professional hockey player Derek Ouelette, down and out in his hometown after instigating a violent incident on the ice. Ouelette’s life is once again upended when he is reunited with his sister, who is seeking escape from her abusive boyfriend. Together, the siblings face their shared past and try to find a better way.

Liz Tham is a librarian at the Port Moody Public Library.

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RA Roundup

Here are some cool RA-related things happening in libraries and other book-ish related topics. If you’d like to contribute anything your library is doing or something you stumble upon, send an email to raig.active[at]gmail.com or leave a comment.  Happy reading!

Adult Summer Reading Challenges in the Lower Mainland

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s Walk on the Wide Side Summer Adult Reading Club

FVRL’s Summer Adult Reading Club kicked off earlier this week by encouraging a reading challenge similar to the annual children’s one. Patrons can pick up their reading record at their local branch and start their summer reading with a chance to win fantastic prizes!

North Vancouver District Public Library’s Adult and Teen Summer Reading Club

NVDPL wants its patrons to Read Across Canada this summer in honour of celebrating Canada’s 150. Patrons can pick up a BINGO card at any of the branches and start reading across Canada. Once a BINGO line is complete, patrons can enter their cards to win prizes.

Teens have a chance to read across North Vancouver by completing various challenges and a chance to win amazing prizes. Check out the beautiful hand drawn map here.

Port Moody Public Library’s Adult Summer Reading Club

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Taking a note from the kids’ Summer Reading Club, Port Moody is also getting its adult readers to take a walk on the wild side through a “wild” themed BINGO card challenge. Readers have summer to fill up their cards and be able to win fantastic prizes. Patrons are also encouraged to share their reads throughout the summer with #wildreads on the library’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Lastly, the library is also trying to boost its sign ups for both the children’s and adult SRCs by holding an epic water balloon fight on Saturday, July 8th, 2017.

Richmond Public Library’s Adult Summer Reading Challenge

Richmond PL is holding its Adult Summer Reading Challenge (from June 7-August 31) by encouraging its users to complete a BINGO card with a variety of reading prompts/recommendations. Once a BINGO card is completed, patrons have a chance to enter win an eReader and other great prizes.

Vancouver Public Library’s National Aboriginal Day Reading Circle Booklist

In honour of its National Aboriginal Day Reading Circle event on June 17, 2018, VPL curated a specialized booklist along with Aboriginal Storyteller in Residence Jules Koostachin. The list features a wealth of compelling titles by a variety of Aboriginal writers including Maria Campbell, Tracey Lindberg, Lee Maracle, Eden Robinson, and more.

Toronto Public Library’s Monthly Readalikes Booklists

Every month the Toronto Public Library creates a readalikes booklist for books/movies with buzz or genres. For instance, in the month of June, the library created a booklist for Shara Lapena’s The Couple Next Door

San Francisco Public Library’s Pride 2017 Book Recommendations

Need books and ideas to help building Pride displays for your library? Check out SFPL’s Pride 2017 booklist for LGBTQ fiction titles published in the last year.

BookRiot’s List of Upcoming Inclusive Mystery Titles

While the mystery genre tends to be dominated by white, male authors, Jamie Canaves at BookRiot compiled a phenomenal list of some upcoming mystery titles by a diverse set of authors who write inclusive characters and themes. As always, we need diverse books.

 


Stephanie Hong is an auxiliary Library Technician for Surrey Libraries and Vancouver Public Library

Apps for your reading life

Here are some reading-related apps for all of us book nerds:

Litsy

litsyLitsy is basically Instagram for those of us who only care about book photos. In addition to the book cover galore, you can use Litsy as a way to track your reading. Search for a title, add to your reading stack, and when you are done, share your rating, short review, blurb or quote. I am especially fond of the “bail” rating. Thank you for giving me the permission to just close the book and say, “that’s enough of that.”

If you like hanging out with other book lovers, give Litsy a try. There is always good old Goodreads too of course. It’s June already. How are you doing on your annual reading challenge?

 

 

Ambient Mixer

I first heard about Ambient Mixer from this Lifehacker post, and it sounds like a fun way to add to the atmosphere while you are reading, and help you get immersed in the scenes. The website provides a wide variety of themed music loops and mixes so you can create the appropriate background soundtrack to match whatever you are reading. Jon Snow could be walking to the sounds of a “mysterious walk in snow storm”  beyond the wall. Transport yourself to Waystone Inn with the fantasy inn/pub/tavern loop. Or, how about some crowd noise for Ned Stark? (Umm, no thanks!)

 

Forest

forestSure, there are books that completely capture my attention, but alas, my phone has too much power over me, and I find myself reaching for it when I am supposed to be reading. There are lots of apps out there that can help you maintain focus. I chose Forest because of its genius use of guilt. And I love the UI.

When you are ready to start a task, set a timer of how long you want to read, and the app will plant a tree for you. The idea is to not navigate away from the Forest app to go check your email, or watch that owl pooping and fleeing the scene video for the nth time.  If you try, a warning will come up, asking you if you are really prepared to live the life of a tree killer. Not just any trees, as you can see, cute, little trees!

 

Libib

Libib is a super quick way to catalogue your personal book collection. The app is very easy to use. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the book will be added to your collection. Because my husband and I are both SFF readers, we often stand at the bookstore wondering if we own a particular volume in the series or not. Libib solves that problem for us, well, as long as we add our purchases religiously.

What apps have you found useful in your reading life? Share your favourites in the comment section.

Virginia from the Port Moody Public Library

RA Roundup

Here are some cool RA-related things happening in libraries and other book-ish related topics. If you’d like to contribute anything your library is doing or something you stumble upon, send an email to raig.active[at]gmail.com or leave a comment.  Happy reading!

Surrey Libraries Celebrates Canada 150 

Surrey Libraries is hosting its first ever adult summer book club in the form of a BINGO challenge for all things Canadian. Patrons can pick up their BINGO cards at their local branch or print one off directly through the website. Lucky winners have the chance to win an iPad for their participation.

In addition to this, staff helped create a book list with 150 Canadian reads and patrons can also submit their favourite reads for prizes as well.

New York Public Library’s Subway Library

NYPL launched its Subway Library to NYC commuters by offering free wifi to connect to an eBook library. A 10-car train was designed to resemble the Rose Main Reading Room and will travel along the E and L lines in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The Subway Library also provides commuting patrons an opportunity to interact with NYPL’s Twitter and Instagram feeds through photo contests and sharing the hashtag #subwaylibrary.

NPR’s Beach Reads You Need: Four Sandy Summer Romances (submitted by Andrea Davidson)

Need help recommending some romance novels? Look no further than these four recommended titles by romance author Maya Rodale for NPR.

Goodreads: 24 Upcoming Books Librarians, Editors, and Booksellers Think You’ll Love (submitted by Veronica Griffin @ Surrey Libraries)

A list of 24 upcoming titles for this year that garnered buzz at Book Expo America.

 

Stephanie Hong, auxiliary Library Technician for Surrey Libraries and Vancouver Public Library 

20 year-round library display ideas

One of the most fun parts of my job is coming up with display ideas. I find that patrons really enjoy the book recommendations from displays, I see that those shelves get empty pretty fast sometimes.

I dig the world wide web for ideas (why not, right? I LOOOOVE that our community is so generous to share what they do so others can be inspired by them!) and compile those I like in a personal document.

Besides the regular time-sensitive events throughout the year (major holidays, celebratory months for many different causes, etc), I usually try to find timeless themes that can work at any point, specially if it will make parts of the collection that are not so popular move.

So, here’s a list of 20 timeless display themes for you:

1. Kleenex-worthy books

Grab a tissue before you read those!


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2. From the bottom shelf

I bet patrons rarely kneel to see what’s on those bottom shelves.

3. Dear Diary

Memoirs, diaries, personal stories.


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4. I’ve got my eyes on you

This one is more time-consuming, but so fun! Grab those books with eyes on the cover.

(I did the sign above using Canva – it’s free!)

5. Shhh! It’s a secret!

Any books about secrets or with “secret” on the title.

6. Armchair travel

Travel books, travelogues, memoirs about going places, books that take place in other countries.

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7. Pawsitively Pawsome Books

Pet-owners (and pet-owner wannabes) will all swoon!


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8. Out of this world

Sci-fi, outer space, aliens, and so on.

9. Just kidding

Humour, jokes, funny memoirs, anything to make readers laugh out loud.


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10. What’s your name?

Names in the title.

11. If you liked (insert title/author), you will like (readalikes)

12. Small books

In dimensions, not number of pages.

13. Misfit memoirs

14. Once upon a crime


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15. Predicting the future

Distopias, classics like 1984, Brave New World, etc.

16. Way back when

Historical fiction

17. Build something

18. New (or local) authors

19. Award-winning books

20. Literary bad boys

Inspired by NYPL

One of my favourite places to find ideas is Pinterest. There are TONS of boards on library displays.

Now it’s your turn to share other timeless display ideas in the comment section! 😉

Ana Calabresi is a librarian at Port Moody and Burnaby Public Libraries.

The Taibbi Trilogy

Well not really a trilogy, but Griftopia, The Divide and Insane Clown President all riff on the same general theme of a corrupt American society, run by a cabal of robber barons at the expense of the poor. Once you read the first, it’s pretty easy to move on to the next.

Taibbi is our generation’s Hunter S. Thompson. Yes, lighter on the shock-value prose and drug addled stream of consciousness writing, but heavier on the political analysis. And in our the complex world of incomprehensible economic and legal jargon, he’s the Rolling Stone political writer we need. To his credit, Taibbi approaches the material with same requisite snarl and bite as Thompson once did. He’s angry and incredulous, blending in dark humour to lighten the subject matter.

Griftopia

 

With less of an over-arching theme than The Divide, Taibbi tells some free association stories about various grifts and cons that have gone on the in the American economic system over the past decade. In it, Taibbi also provides probably the greatest all-time explanation-for-novices of the crash of 2007 (even better than Michael Lewis). If you’ve ever wondered what a credit default swap is, Griftopia is the place to start.

Perhaps Taibbi’s best work is a chapter on former Chariman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, entitled The Biggest Asshole in the Universe. It chronicles the endless gaffs of a high-society-loving charlatan who was able to convince generations political elites that he was a financial Nostradamus. Taibbi argues that, as with most Friedmanites and Rand enthusiasts, Greenspan’s skill laid in pushing a tragically flawed philosophy, one that simultaneously exalts the pursuit of personal wealth while providing the ‘intellectual’ and ‘moral’ framework for a generation of thieves to convince themselves that they are doing what’s best for society. Taibbi destroys their methodology, point by point. It’s really something.

The Divide

The Divide juxtaposes the two courts of law in America: One for the rich and white and one for the poor and the minority. Taibbi exposes a society where a black man can be stopped, frisked, thrown in the back of a police car and given a court date, all for the crime of standing on the street, while a major bank can ‘illegally’ add five billion dollars off the top of a merger, while stiffing creditors and receiving no blowback, all through the power of their high-priced legal teams.

The Divide is a punch to the gut. It’s horrific, troubling, and illuminating. Easily my favourite of the three.

Insane Clown President

In his newest and most Thompson-esque work, Taibbi dispatches from the Trump campaign trail. It’s a collection of pieces cobbled together from his year writing for the Rolling Stone – much like HST’s famous books of the 1970s and 1980s. It’s hard not to compare Taibbi-Trump to HST-Nixon.

In the book, Taibbi details the fascist-like fervour of Trump’s rally’s, ultimately deciding that Trump is a fitting modern American President, A “human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself. Nixon at least played the piano and read the classics. He was an intellectual with a pig’s heart. Trump is just the pig part.”

Read it now, while it’s still topical, because hopefully time is running out on America’s most famous unhinged carnival-barker.

 

Nolan Kelly is a Library Tech student at Langara.

Gritting it out to reach your Peak

I read Anders Ericsson’s Peak a few months ago, so I’m cheating a bit here, but I loved it and thought I’d share. While, Angela Duckworth’s Grit feels like a sequel to Peak, insofar as it dovetails with the overarching theme of Peak’s thesis: how to become more successful at the things you love. Peak is the methodology for how to practice and achieve success; Grit is the explanation for why some of us achieve more than others, and the prescription for how to become an achiever.

Peak is a game changer if there ever was one.

You’ve likely heard of the 10,000 hour rule that postulates you need that many hours to become an expert in a given field. It was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell a few years back, you know, Gladwell does his is thing where he takes a complex idea, chops out the complicated parts and serves the juicy bits to the masses, as only he can.

Ericsson is the man behind the 10,000 hour rule’s science. His theory: that talent doesn’t exist. That it’s the word we give to hard work and practice.

Which, if you pause to reflect, is the most inspiring notion.

If Mozart had no natural born proclivity towards music and his ‘genius’ was simply the result of endless hours of practice at an early age; if Mario Lemieux’s skill on the ice was the result of countless hours of practice as a child in his basement; if John Irving’s penchant for story telling was built upon a lifetime sitting at a typewriter, it opens up a world of achievement that we assumed closed to us. Ericsson is not saying everyone can or will become Mozart, Lemieux, or Irving, but he is saying that if you work hard, through deliberate practice and expert coaching, you can get close, or perhaps closer than you dreamed possible.

Ericsson underpins his thesis by citing countless examples from his own research, including random test subjects who, with training, become memory experts, and a Hungarian family of chess masters whose intense workload dispels the notion that hi IQ plays any role in chess mastery.

Recently, I put Ericsson’s ideas to work in my own life. For the past six months I’ve been training for a triathlon, making constant improvements in running and biking, failing miserably at swimming. So miserably in fact that I hadn’t improved one bit since I’d started. Four laps and I was exhausted. I treated swimming like biking and running – a test of will and a slow build up of cardio – failing to realize that success in the water is all about technique, and acquiring perfect technique requires deliberate practice. I began by Identifying each key element of a stroke, analysing them and focusing on making them perfect. Within a week of studying strokes and focusing at the pool, I had gone from four laps in a row to 20. A 500% improvement, simply by following the steps laid out in Ericsson’s book. It was an epiphany for me, with far reaching implications for the rest of my life.

Now, you could make the case that I’m an idiot for not realizing this sooner and that practicing something properly isn’t exactly a ground-breaking idea. But when you further dive into the nuances of deliberate practice, it becomes clear that there’s a specific methodology behind it. Ericsson includes a detailed how-to guide that involves explanations on mental focus, mental maps and self-analysis. He’d argue that when most of us practice something, we are often just going through the motions and he offers ways to correct that.

So, if you finally want to master that Rachmaninov concerto, hit that driver farther or, finish that thesis faster, Peak is a great place to start.

Up next, Angela Duckworth’s Grit.

Nolan Kelly is a library tech student at Langara.