Category Archives: Books

Merry Christmas to Me

Activity Being Avoided: attending to the cat’s every whim (much to her annoyance)
Music In My Head: Barfuß am Klavier — AnnenMayKantereit
Tea Being Drunk: Typhoo (the stupid grocery store stopped selling Barry’s)
Books Being Read: Blood Sports — Eden Robinson, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark — Robert Hough

A few years ago, I had to buy a vacuum cleaner just before Christmas.

Why is that noteworthy? I was a self-employed tutor/writer/editor who was paying for her children’s education (and I still am): vacuum cleaners suck up book money. I couldn’t justify buying myself a Christmas present. Not that I went bookless, of course. I just had a smaller pile of holiday entertainment than usual. It was a Christmas that is forever stuck in my mind as a First World Problems holiday.

I’m not one for literary altruism. Winter in Canada can be cold and unfriendly, and I believe credit cards were invented for a reason. On top of that, this year, I am only paying off the student loans, and am feeling rich because no one is demanding money on a weekly basis. In celebration, I’ve pushed the lack of altruism to a new place on the spectrum. This was the original holiday pile:

TBR

Four of these were gifts from my children; the rest were second-hand finds, so they aren’t financially-relevant, either. (Right?)

When the first of the very cold weather hit Mississauga, and I was walking home from work in the dark, I was feeling extremely sorry for myself. Some stuff happened, and Amazon got a lot of my money.

This arrived today:

Mythos

It was supposed to be available in Canada, but no one accommodated my immediate needs so this was shipped from Ireland. Bonus.

It came with a heart-warming bookmark.

Bookmark

Penguins are very, very nice things. I like the birds, too, but not as much.

There’s still another one to come; it’s due sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Amazon 51daoqlmtol

I’m trying to be better about updating my Goodreads page, so I’ll let you know how the books are. If anything ends up being terrible, you’ll be able to buy it at the Friends of the Library book sale. If you want the really good books, you’ll have to ingratiate yourself with me so I’ll add you to my will.

May all the books you read in 2018 be excellent.

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Word on the Street with Humans

Well, yes, there will be many humans at Word on the Street; the best Humans, however, will be the copies of To Be Human Again.

Sunday, September 24th
11:00-6:00
Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON

Me an’ my Humans will be at the Fringe Beat. Look for Salmacis’ Press.

Word on the Street

September 24, 2017 at Harbourfront, 11:00 to 6:00.

To Be Human Again will be available from Salmacis’ Press on the Fringe Beat.

 

To Be Human Again at Word on the Street 2017

On Sunday, September 24, I’ll be at Word on the Street. I’ll have To Be Human Again with me. (It’s a good thing to have.)

About Libraries

Activity Being Avoided: None. It’s a writing day. I’m allowed to be doing this.
Music In My Head: Kaa Khem — Yat-Kha
Tea Being Drunk: None. It’s water. I celebrated the civic holiday with chocolate cake, and I now have the same stomach ache I recall from childhood.
Books Being Read: Rebecca–Daphne du Maurier, My Happy Days in Hell–George Faludy

The Globe and Mail published this on Friday: Amid growing demand, GTA libraries are helping to fill a social-services gap

That’s my library they’re talking about at the beginning of the article.

Much as I appreciate this article, I’d like to correct the author: libraries have always filled a social-services gap.

 The small town I grew up in didn’t have a lot for kids like me: there were church groups and Brownies, and sport things. As a child, I had some friends but was more interested in books. (The inside covers of my childhood books all have death threats for the sister who had the audacity to thieve from my shelves.) I was eleven years old when I started volunteering at the local library. Very likely, I wasn’t what the average librarian might call helpful, but I was very happy to be there, touching all the books, getting quite side-tracked by reading the books I was supposed to be sorting, and maybe being a little bit useful or something. I felt mature.

I felt like I was being educated in a way that school could never offer.

The building was dusty, high-ceilinged, hushed except for the creaking of old wooden chairs and titanic reading tables. I can’t find any pictures of the interior, but here’s the exterior of heaven:

Image from Canada’s Historic Places

In 1980, someone made a prediction about the town: because of all the sinners and implicit sinning in the area, God was going to lose His patience and deal with the whole sinful mess. Sadly, God (or someone with a flourishing complex) chose fire to express His displeasure. Along with a good handful of other places, the library went down in 1980.

My heart broke. I think there might still be a small fissure beneath the thick scar.

Not to be thwarted, I volunteered at the school library. It was limited in both size and scope, filled with a lot of books that were, frankly, boring. The library contained books that were “appropriate” for W.A.S.P. children up to Grade 8.

I needed better than that. I needed adult books. I needed my big library.

We moved to a larger town just before my 13th birthday. The library there was much the same: old, creaky, educational and safe.

I had even fewer friends as a teenager. Didn’t need them. I had Timothy Findley and Jane Rule.

Can’t think what I’d be, or where I’d be, without public libraries. Certainly, I would be a demand on social services. Where else, pre-internet, would I have learned to be who I am? Where else would someone like me find sufficient sources of words for their sanity?

It’s always good to see public acknowledgement of our need for libraries.

If you need further proof that a good chunk of society’s money needs to go to libraries, you can also check out WMTC’s Things I Heard at the Library. (She’s a librarian, not just someone who would be a drain on society if she weren’t given enough to read.)

Image

Happy Canada Day

Plus Ca Change…

Next Saturday is Canada’s big “150 year” celebration: 150 years since signing a certain piece of paper. Can’t say much more than that about the number, which is otherwise irrelevant.

It has, however, spurred me on to some reading. I just don’t think I know enough about my own (massive) country. There’s no particular direction to my reading: anything that comes across my path is fair game for consumption, with the exception of hate speech, because I hear more than enough of that in the news.

Though Quill and Quire panned it as “elegant bathroom reading”, I recommend Charlotte Gray’s Canada: A Portrait in Letters as elegant bathroom reading–or public transit reading (though it’s a little hefty; one could do arm curls, I suppose, and kill two birds with one stone). It’s lovely to see that Canada has been the same for the last 200 years: money and resources are unevenly distributed, people of one origin despise people of every other origin, eloquent women are considered lesser than men, Indigenous leaders are still asking for the same things, white leaders dictate how things are and will be, and the uneducated are still arguing about how science works.

I wonder when our country will get it together and start acting like one country.

Draw yourself a nice bath, make a cup of tea–no, scratch that: pour yourself a beer, and start flipping through this collection of proof of our humanity.