November 19, 2015

by Karla,

November 13, 2015 marked the 16th anniversary of World Kindness Day. It aims to highlight good deeds in the community and observe how it empowers humanity. After 16 years, World Kindness Day continues to increase people's happiness in a profound way.

People have different ways of showing kindness. It can be the simple act of saying “I love you,” helping an elderly person cross the street, volunteering, or raising money for charity- it does not matter how small it is, because it’s the thought that counts.

Kindness has a big impact on others, but it can also give us positive health benefits. According to a study by Dr. Allan Luks, helping others actually improves our health! Research shows that that pain, depression and disability all decrease after doing something compassionate. However, we should keep in mind that these effects will only happen if we keep our intentions pure.

In celebration of World Kindness Day, I have compiled a list of books that will help inspire you to do something good.

Wonder by RJ Palacio

WonderIs beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? Auggie Pullman was born with a terrible facial deformity. All his life, his loving family has home schooled and shielded him from the cruel gaze of the outside world. His life is about to change as he attends school with other kids for the first time. Can he prove to his classmates that he’s just like them despite his appearance?  This book will warm your heart as you turn the pages

Random Acts of Kindness by Conari Press

Random ActsIf you’re an always-on –the-go person like me, this book is perfect for you! Conari Press loaded it with touching stories, quotations, and thoughtful suggestions. Random Acts of Kindness will inspire you to spread delight and goodness to others and yourself.

Start Something That Matters! by Blake Mycoskie

Start somethingWhenever you buy you shoes from TOMS, they donate a pair of shoes to someone in need. How wonderful is that? Blake Mycoskie, founder and CEO of TOMS explains how helping the world can be profitable. Blake fills every page with optimism, stories and advice from his fellow entrepreneurs.  Not only can this book give you advice on how to start something, it can also inspire you to follow through. This is a must read for people who want to master the art of success while simultaneously changing the world.



Remember, you can always practice the act of kindness even if it’s not World Kindness Day. After all, no act of kindness goes to waste.




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November 5, 2015

by Rémi,

Last month I took a trip to England and Scotland and got to see some amazing sites. My favourite part was the walking tours in the cities of Edinburgh and London, and what fascinated me the most were the true stories that inspired classic authors to write memorable fiction.  I’ll share with you a few of these inspirational stories.

Jekyll and HydeThere are two stories from the streets of Edinburgh that are stranger than the fiction they inspired: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson. First story, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was inspired by a real person, Deacon William Brodie. He was a well-respected family man, cabinet-maker and, later, city councillor. By day, that is. At night he was a gambler, philanderer, and burglar. His gambling and cheating landed him in some financial troubles, so he had to turn to stealing to help fund his bets and five children to two mistresses. As a well-respected cabinet-maker he was able to gain access to houses of wealthy families where he would then make a wax impression of their keys and come back at night to rob them. His operation became so lucrative that he called upon the help of three criminals, which in the end led him to his demise. One of the criminals helping him warned the authorities of a particular stint in exchange for a pardon to earlier crimes and the police were able to catch the famous William Brodie. The very next day he was hanged, ironically, from the very gallows he had designed! This double life fascinated Robert Louis Stevenson, who has in turn inspired many since. Stan Lee, the creator of many Marvel superheroes, attributes his character the Hulk to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (with a mix of Frankenstein).

Anatomy MurdersBody Snatcher was inspired by the gruesome streets of Edinburgh where two historical characters, William Burke and William Hare, partnered in a terrible operation of murdering strangers and acquaintances and selling their bodies to Dr. Robert Knox. Dr. Knox then dissected them at his lectures. At the time, only convicted criminals could be dissected, and the supply did not meet the demand of Dr. Knox’s popular lectures. It wasn’t before 16 victims were murdered that they were caught. Hare testified against Burke who was left to take the blame. He was hanged and his body publically dissected and displayed the following day.

Young SherlockNot all stories from Edinburgh are dreadful. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, an Edinburgher, was the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Yet, even though most of Sherlock’s adventures take place in London, Doyle’s inspiration for his detective was Dr. Joseph Bell of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, for whom Doyle worked as a clerk. You can read all about the real Joe Bell in the book, Dr. Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock is said to be the most portrayed character in movies, but many book adaptations have also since been recreated. One notable series is Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane.

Sherlock’s residence in London, 221B Baker Street, is a real address, although that was not the case at the time Doyle was writing his stories—the numbers on Baker Street did not go that high. But that has since changed, and its address now houses a museum open to the public.

Name of the StarJust 7 km east from 221B Baker Street, in London’s East End, I followed a walking tour of Jack the Ripper—another story that has influenced many writers. This tour took me to the locations of the brutal killings that frightened an entire city and fascinated countless people, mainly because it still remains unsolved. Many of the locations have changed over time, especially after the World War II, when bombs destroyed many neighbourhoods in the East End. Still, a few locations remain, such as the Ten Bells Pub where some of the victims would have a drink. The tour focused on the deplorable state of those living in London’s East End while giving some of the many theories of who the killer might be.  There are many authors who have fictionalized this and have given their own version of the case: Amy Carol Reeves in Ripper, and Maureen Johnson in Name of the Star who deals with a Jack the Ripper copycat.


Sometimes, the truth can be stranger or even more gruesome than the stories they inspired.




If you're interested in more true stories, take a look at our NON-FICTION booklist to get you started. If you're more the murder, mystery and mayhem type, be sure to head over to the MYSTERY & THRILLER booklist for some reading inspiration!


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October 29, 2015

by Madeleine,


It’s nearly Halloween, and I hope you all have decided on your Halloween costumes!  One of my favourite things to do around this time of year is reread some scary books, or discover some new ones.  (As for scary things to watch: Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and that video of a guy on the news dancing around with a pumpkin on his head: . That's about as scary as I’ll go.  Stay away, Freddie and/or Jason!)  Here are a few spooky titles that will get you in the mood:


Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

Bad Girls Don't DieAlexis is an outcast at school and doesn’t have many friends.  Her sister Kasey starts acting very strangely—she uses language that is outdated, she seems to have gained unusual strength, and her eyes have changed colour.  Her parents don’t seem to notice and think that Kasey is just going through a difficult time, but Alexis suspects there is more than meets than eye.  Alexis finds help in Megan, a girl at school whose past might be tied to Alexis and Kasey’s house and the reason behind Kasey’s odd behaviour.  Bad Girls Don’t Die is a satisfying ghost story, and there are two sequels—From Bad to Cursed and As Dead As It Gets.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have AlwaysWe Have Always Lived in the Castle is the last published work of American author Shirley Jackson.  You might have read her short story, The Lottery or her book The Haunting of Hill House in English class.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle is my favourite story by far.  Mary Catherine Blackwood (Merricat for short) and her sister Constance live with their invalid Uncle Julian in Blackwood House in a small village.  They used to be part of a large family,but six years ago, someone poisoned the sugar bowl used to sweeten the blackberries at the breakfast table at Blackwood House.  Merricat had been in her room so had not used the sugar.  Constance never took sugar on her blackberries.  Uncle Julian was poisoned but unlike the other family members, he survived, though it took a toll on his health.  All the villagers suspect that Constance is the poisoner, although she was acquitted .  They are hostile to Merricat whenever she goes into the village to buy groceries (Constance never leaves the property).  One day, the girls’ cousin Charles comes to visit and the lives of the Blackwoods are irrevocably changed.  The characters are very compelling, and while there is nothing of the supernatural in this story, it is nonetheless quite spooky.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe horror/classic literature genre came about a few years ago.   Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the one that started it all and is the most well-known and popular.  If you like your Jane Austen mixed with some brain-eating, this will be for you.  Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth still have plenty of verbal sparring, along with real sparring with the undead!  There is even a film adaptation to be released next year starring Lena Headey (Cersei from Game of Thrones) and Lily James (Cinderella from the live-action Cinderella).


The Diviners

The DivinersThe Diviners is a current series by the author of the Gemma Doyle fantasy trilogy, Libba Bray.  The Diviners takes place in the 1920s in New York, where numbers of young people are dealing with supernatural powers.  Evie is sent by her family from Ohio to live with her uncle Will when her power (she can discover things about people’s pasts by touching objects that belong to them) accidentally reveals a scandal concerning the son of wealthy family.  She meets Theta, a Broadway chorus girl who is running from abuse in Kansas, where her incendiary powers caused great damage.  Memphis lives in Harlem with his brother and aunt—his healing powers all but disappeared years ago, and are only just now showing signs of returning.  When a serial killer starts taking the lives of people from all over the five boroughs, Evie and Will (who runs a paranormal museum) along with his employee, Jericho, begin to suspect that the killer is not entirely human.  This is a captivating and well-researched mystery mixed with magic.  The second title in the series, Lair of Dreams, was just released in August, and there are two more titles forthcoming.


If you need more spooky insparation, check out the HORROR & GHOST STORIES reading list, with handpicked titles selected by WPL!


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October 23, 2015

by Kyle M., 

I was trying to think of other things to write about.  I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as the guy who wrote about music every couple years.  But I realized I should stick with what I’m good at.  I know that the end of the year is two months away but I figured it was a good enough time to do My Favourite Albums of the Year.  I’m excited, aren’t you!

This year I’ve made a particular effort to keep up with the new, hip music.  Usually I would just ignore the new stuff coming out and just listen to it years after the fact, but I found this made discussing albums with people very difficult. 

I put this out to highlight lesser known groups, as well as to highlight that the library has a really cool, extensive collection of music.


And now, in no particular order:


Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, sweet and other distress

AsunderDo you wish a song would go on forever? Well you’re in luck with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who are known for having songs 20 minutes in length. One of their albums clocks in at 1.5 hours with only four songs. 'Asunder' is more accessible, being only 40 minutes in length for four songs.  You’re probably wondering how you can listen to a song for that long and not get bored. Well, Godspeed You! Black Emperor has a beauty to them. I like putting them on, closing my eyes and being transported to another place.  The best way to describe them is "rock orchestra;" They have a lot of members, their songs are very dynamic (going from very soft to loud), and they have no vocals. 


Band formerly known as Viet Cong – Self-titled

Viet CongThere is a major controversy around Viet Cong regarding their name.  An extensive article about it can be read here.

They said they are going to change it.  I hope sooner rather than later.  Let their controversy be a lesson that it does matter what you name your band.  Though according to The Guardian, there are no more good band names, so maybe don’t bother putting to much time into coming up with a name.

The name aside, this album is amazing. It’s noisy and loud, but with pop sensibilities, and in my opinion, the last four songs are some the best done this year.  


Ken Mode – Success

SuccessWinnipeg’s own Ken Mode!  If you like music on the heavier side this one is for you.  I think it’s great that Winnipeg’s libraries support Winnipeg music, especially since there are so many other great bands with ties to Winnipeg, such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Crash Test Dummies, The Weakerthans, and Propagandhi, just to name a small few!


Braids – Deep in the Iris

Deep in the IrisBy far my favourite album of the year.  I have basically been listening to it non-stop for two months.  Braids is a trio that combines electronic music with traditional instruments (drums, guitar).  They also have beautiful vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. One track, “Miniskirt,” talks about what it’s like to be a woman or girl in this oversexualized era.  The nine songs on this album will breeze by and you’ll listen to them again and again.   

Other notable mentions: To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar), I Love you, Honey Bear (Father John Misty), Goon (Tobias Jesso Jr.), Strangers to Ourselves (Modest Mouse)

By mere coincidence all the bands I chose are Canadian.  I didn’t plan it that way, but Canadian artists are putting out some the best music at the moment.  My advice is to go out there and try something new.  I like going to the library and grabbing random CDs that look interesting based on the band name, cover art, or song titles.  You can check them out for free from any branch in the city! You can also check out these eMusic options, available 24/7 from the comfort of your home!




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October 15, 2015

by Tannis C.,

Why we took the carWhy We Took The Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf was a great read from beginning to end. Yes, they steal a car but no, the book didn’t promote “stealing” cars  (which did make me curious to read it to begin with). It does make you very aware of the inner turmoil  from “peers”  that can cause teens to do some very crazy things, however.

The story is told through the eyes of Mike,  a 14-year-old boy who is on the outside looking in. He’s by no means a “Napoleon Dynamite,” but Mike is a quiet, shy boy who would really like to be acknowledged as cool, or even just be acknowledged at all. He doesn't belong to groups, and popular kids exclude him from parties.  Mike feels that he doesn’t fit in anywhere. Even at home, his parents have serious problems of their own and ignore him. However, when a new kid from Russia shows up in class one day, Mike’s life suddenly changes.

Tschick comes to school smelling of alcohol and doesn’t seem to care what he wears and when he shows up to class.  His is a life with no rules, no parents, and no boundaries. Tschick decides to make Mike his friend, however reluctant Mike may be.  When Tschick inadvertently finds out that Mike is heartbroken about a popular girl who couldn’t be bothered to even invite him to her birthday (even when she invited everyone else), Tschick convinces Mike that they need to prove they are “cool” and that they don’t really care about the party.  They’ll show those kids that he and Mike don’t need them. The plan involves “borrowing” a car to deliver a gift, then taking off, leaving everyone shocked  and in awe of  them for: a) driving and b) DRIVING!!!  Of course, being a fiction book, the boys end up going on a farfetched  misadventure  with real life consequences at  the end.

Why We Took the Car is worth reading, as it is fast paced and hits on a lot of issues 14 year olds deal with in real life. These include popularity, sexuality, and normal teen anxieties. There are a lot of funny parts, as well as some not-so-funny parts.


I googled the author to find out more about him and was saddened to read that he died tragically after his book was published. I am left wondering if he was writing about himself, and if so, which character he was….


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