Library Moments: Favourite Read from the Holidays

reading in winter

Image retrieved from femmblend.com.

Bessie Sullivan: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.

For most people having some time off from work like we just did means a little extra time in general.  Both library staff and library users tend to stock up on reading, viewing, and listening materials around holidays to take advantage of that extra time.

Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each tell you about something from the library that we enjoyed over the holidays.

my brilliant friendSherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: My Brilliant Friend is the first of the Neopolitan Novels, a quartet written by Elena Ferrante about the lifelong relationship of two girls, Lila and Elena. At the very beginning of My Brilliant Friend, Lila, at the age of 66, has disappeared – likely on purpose. Elena, the book’s narrator, is now a well-known writer. She reacts to the disappearance of her old friend and nemesis not so much with concern, as with anger: walking away from her entire life is just the kind of thing the willful and self-destructive Lila would do. And so Elena decides to write everything she remembers about their friendship. “We’ll see who wins this time,” she says to herself, which sets up nicely the tone and tension of the story that follows. The tale begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly deviate and join, Elena and Lila remain best friends. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between the unforgettable Elena and Lila. The author of these hugely popular novels, Elena Ferrante, is described as one of Italy’s best-known least-known contemporary writers. Ferrante won’t take part in conferences or discussions, and won’t go to accept prizes, if any are awarded. Ferrante informed her publisher through a letter that she has already done enough by writing her novels and wrote “I will be interviewed only in writing, but I would prefer to limit even that to the indispensable minimum”.  And that is it. What she looks like, what her real name is, when she was born, how she currently lives— these things are all unknown. All four titles of the series are in the Haliburton library system.

the affinitiesErin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Over the holidays I read The Affinities by Canadian author Robert Charles Wilson. With social media, people have been able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future, brain scanning, gene-mapping, behavioural analysis, all amped up by the latest data analytic techniques has created the ability to sort people into holistic social groups, where people who work the best together – in all aspects of life – can thrive. Joining one of the new and trendy twenty-two affinities has been said to change a person’s life for the better. When Adam, at loose ends professionally and personally, qualifies for the Tau affinity, he finds all his problems resolving. He encounters a group where there is instant camaraderie, shared passions and inhibitions, and a commitment to have your back whatever the cost. It starts out utopian but as the affinities grow more and more influential, Adam finds himself in the thick of a social revolution, dangerous global politics, and torn between his affinity and his family. 

The Affinities is a quick read, and explores our collective need to belong to a group, even if it means that we are divided in other ways. While the tension and suspense in the book stem from how this can go very wrong, it also shows how good things can happen when we’re willing to help one another.

frozenBessie: Besides reading, holidays for me mean some movie watching.  Having heard the buzz for the last two years, I really wanted to see the animated movie Frozen.

Frozen begins when a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.  Not only is this animated, it is also a musical, so if either of those things don’t work for you, steer clear. This movie won two Oscars one for the best animated feature and one for best original song, “Let it Go.”  I personally loved the character of Olaf the snowman and his song “In Summer.”  We all know what happens to the snow in summer, but Olaf yearns for warmth just like the rest of us. This is the ultimate “feel good” movie.

We hope you found something nice to do over the recent holidays and that it involved lots of things that you borrowed from the library.  Here’s to more borrowing in 2016.  Thank you for listening to Library Moments here on 100.9 CanoeFM.

*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM January 10th – 16th, 2016.

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