Monday Evening Book Club March Selection

Image result for has seen the wind by w o mitchellThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet at 7:00 pm on Monday, March 12 in the Training Room to discuss Who Has Seen the Wind by W. O. Mitchell.

About the book…

When W.O. Mitchell died in 1998 he was described as “Canada’s best-loved writer.” Every commentator agreed that his best – and his best-loved – book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since it was first published in 1947, this book has sold almost a million copies in Canada.
As we enter the world of four-year-old Brian O’Connal, his father the druggist, his Uncle Sean, his mother, and his formidable Scotch grandmother (“she belshes…a lot”), it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary book. As we watch Brian grow up, the prairie and its surprising inhabitants like the Ben and Saint Sammy – and the rich variety of small-town characters – become unforgettable. This book will be a delightful surprise for all those who are aware of it, but have never quite got around to reading it, till now. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell, the only Canadian author recognizable by initials alone, was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914. Educated at the University of Manitoba, he lived most of his life in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, where for many years he was the most renowned resident in High River.

During a very varied career Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Macleans. A gifted teacher, he was visiting professor at the University of Windsor for several years, and a creative writing instructor at the Banff Centre for many summers.

His best-loved book was Who Has Seen the Wind. Since its publication in 1947 it has sold over half a million copies in Canada alone, and is hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood. The classic edition, illustrated by William Kurelek, became a bestseller in 1991. Complementing that book is his 1981 best-seller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel, although Since Daisy Creek (1984) and Ladybug, Ladybug…(1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art’s Sake (1992) and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993), illustrated by Wesley W. Bates, were also well-received best-sellers. Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), he was also noted for his two collections of short stories, Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). Based on the legendary CBC radio series, both classic story collections won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. (Publisher)

W.O. Mitchell died in Calgary in 1998.

CanLit Canon Review #11 (Toronto Review of Books)

Amy’s Marathon of Books (blog posting)

W.O. Mitchell blows up an outhouse (an interview with Peter Gzowski)

W.O. Mitchell talks Christmas presents, 1976

About W.O. Mitchell

An interview with W.O. Mitchell about his life and Who Has Seen the Wind 


Monday Evening Book Club January Selection

Image result for handmaid's taleThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet in Forsyth Hall on January 8 at 7 pm. This month we’re discussing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

About the book…

In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate “Handmaids” under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the “time before” and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator’s Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson. (Publisher)

What critics said about The Handmaid’s Tale back in the 1980’s

Haunted by The Handmaid’s Tale – an article about the book by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood: The prophet of dystopia (New Yorker)

Emma Watson interviews Margaret Atwood about The Handmaid’s Tale

Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again (Boston Review)

Summer Reading Game Book Reviews

The Great Canadian Reading Game is on, and players can spin to find great reads from Jun 28-Aug 22, 2017!

Here’s what you thought of your reads:

819tq-q0n2blSWAMP ANGEL by Ethel Wilson

Maggie LLoyd has made an unfortunate second marriage after her husband is killed in WWII. In what may be the best planned departure from a marriage in a work of literature, Maggie leaves her husband and embarks upon a new life in the interior of B.C., working at a fishing lodge. This idyllic setting is perfect for Maggie, though it becomes complicated by the jealousy of the lodge owner’s wife.
Loved It! ~Staff review by Sheila

32080126Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

A collection of linked stories that reads like a novel (much like her Pulitzer-prize-winning Olive Kitteridge). A masterful writer at the height of her powers — this book did not disappoint. Strout is marvelous at portraying small-town characters and growing up poor. Even better if you first read My Name is Lucy Barton.
Loved It! ~Staff review by Luise

The Back of the TurtleTHE BACK OF THE TURTLE by Thomas King

I loved The Back of the Turtle. It tackled the serious issues of environmental abuses and the treatment of indigenous people in Canada in a darkly humourous fashion. Throughout the novel, King interweaves elements of Christianity and Native myth to create a unique storytelling experience. The protagonist Gabriel returns to his mother’s home which was destroyed by an environmental disaster inadvertently caused by Gabriel. The novel follows Gabriel as he reconciles his feelings and the few people he interacts with while discovering the nearby abandoned town. I highly recommend this novel as it explores both the darker elements within Canada, and also leaves the reader with a sense of hope for the future.
Loved it!

one-brother-shy-cover-lower-resONE BROTHER SHY by Terry Fallis

One Brother Shy is the latest of Terry Fallis’s humourous works. Alex MacAskill is a shy software engineer who discovers life-changing news after his mother dies. This news leads him across the globe to discover more about his family and himself. I loved this novel; it was a great summer read with a powerful protagonist. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a fun, light read with a heartwarming story.
Loved it!

Canada Mike MyersCANADA by Mike Myers

I smiled when I saw a Cherry Blossom and Hickory Sticks the other day. This book brought back memories of my childhood since I’m just a year younger that Mike Myers. But there was definitely a difference between growing up in Alberta as opposed to Ontario in the 60s & 70s. I learned some Canadian history that either I’d never learned or had forgotten about. Overall, he does give readers the sense of what it means to be Canadian and what make us different from our neighbors to the south.
It was OK. ~Staff review by Kemmie




Monday Evening Book Club April Selection

piano-makerThe Monday Evening Book Club will meet in the 2nd floor Training Room on April 10th at 7 pm. This month we’re discussing The Piano Maker by Kurt Palka.

About the book

Helene Giroux arrives alone in St. Homais on a winter day. She wears good city clothes and drives an elegant car, and everything she owns is in a small trunk in the back seat. In the local church she finds a fine old piano, a Molnar, and she knows just how fine it is, for her family had manufactured these pianos before the Great War. Then her mother’s death and war forces her to abandon her former life. The story moves back and forth in time as Helene, settling into a simple life, playing the piano for church choir, recalls the extraordinary events that brought her to this place. They include the early loss of her soldier husband and the reappearance of an old suitor who rescues her and her daughter, when she is most desperate; the journeys that very few women of her time could even imagine, into the forests of Indochina in search of ancient treasures and finally, and fatefully, to the Canadian north. When the town policeman confronts her, past and present suddenly converge and she must face an episode that she had thought had been left behind forever. The suspenseful, emotionally resonant, and utterly compelling story of what brings an enigmatic French woman to a small Canadian town in the 1930s, a woman who has found depths of strength in dark times and comes to discover sanctuary at last.
About the author

Kurt Palka was born and educated in Austria. He began his working life in Africa where he wrote for the African Mirror and made wildlife films in Kenya and Tanzania. He has worked on international stories for CTV and GLOBAL TV, wrote for American and Canadian publications such as the Chronicle Herald and the Globe and Mail, and worked as a Senior Producer for the CBC. The Piano Maker is his sixth novel. His previous work includes Clara, which was originally published in hardcover as Patient Number 7, and was a finalist for The Hammett Prize. He lives near Toronto. (adapted from )

A Globe and Mail interview

Publisher’s Reading Guide

A Toronto Star review

A Manitoban review

A Globe and Mail review

A London Free Press review

Seniors Book Club January Selection

The Seniors Book Club will meet on Wednesday, January 11 at 2:00 in the Training Room on the second floor to discuss Annabel by Kathleen Winter.


About the Book

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once.

Only three people are privy to the secret — the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self — a girl he thinks of as “Annabel” — is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. (Publisher)

Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. It was also a finalist in the 2014 Canada Reads competition on CBC Radio.

About the Author

Born in the north of England and raised in Newfoundland, Winter began her career as a script writer for Sesame Street before becoming a columnist for The Telegram in St. John’s. She is the author of a short story collection entitled boYs, her first novel Annabel, and most recently, a nonfiction book about the north entitled Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage. 

Kathleen Winter was a member of the jury for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She lives in Montreal with her husband and daughter, and is the sister of novelist Michael Winter.

Kathleen Winter on boys, girls and writing Annabel (Globe and Mail)

Interview with Kathleen Winter in the National Post

Review in The Canadian Book Review

Review of Annabel in The Guardian

Review of Annabel in Newfoundland and Labrador Studies

A review of Annabel: “A failed effort to explore the complexities of intersexuality”