Book Talk: Disappointment River by Brian Castner

35138368Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner is both a historical narrative and travel memoir that transports readers back to the heroic age of North American exploration. It showcases a rugged but increasingly fragile Arctic wilderness in the process of profound alteration due to globalization and climate change.

Fourteen years before Lewis and Clark, explorer Alexander Mackenzie set off to cross the North American continent with a team of voyageurs and Chipewyan guides to find a trade route to the riches of the East. What he found was impassable pack ice and a river that he named “Disappointment”. Mackenzie died thinking he’d failed in his mission to find a trade route to the riches of the East. In fact, he had found it– he was just over two centuries early.

In this book, Brian Castner not only retells the story of Mackenzie’s epic voyages in vivid prose, he recounts his own adventures retracing Mackenzie’s route in an 1,125-mile canoe voyage down the Mackenzie river, battling exhaustion, exposure, mosquitoes, white water rapids and the threat of bears. He journeys through a world rarely glimpsed in the media, one of tar sands, thawing permafrost, remote indigenous villages and, at the end, a wide open Arctic Ocean that could become a far-northern Mississippi, complete with barges, pipelines and oil money. Here is a world that Alexander Mackenzie dreamed of but could never have fully imagined.

Disappointment River is available to borrow in regular print and in large print at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in April 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM

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Book Talk: All We Leave Behind by Carol Off

31379134An incredible work of non-fiction that reads like a thriller, All We Leave Behind by Carol Off is the true story of a family fleeing the death sentence of a ruthless warlord, written by the journalist who broke all her own rules to get them to safety. In 2002, Carol Off and a CBC TV crew encountered an Afghan man with a story to tell. Asad became a key figure in their documentary on the terrible power of thuggish warlords who were working arm in arm with Americans and NATO troops. When Asad publicly exposed the deeds of one of the warlords, it set off a chain of events from which there was no turning back. Asad, his wife, and their five children had to flee their home. The family faced an uncertain future. But their dilemma compelled a journalist to cross the lines of disinterested reporting and become deeply involved. All We Leave Behind: a reporter’s journey into the lives of others is one of ten titles nominated for 2018’s Evergreen Award and can be requested through the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM

Library Moments: Bestseller Lists

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator:  Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood 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.

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Bestseller lists are an easy way to look for the next great book to read. I like to look at Amazon Best Sellers, not only for ideas for myself but to see if there are any titles that we should put in the library collection. There are many other bestseller lists of course; the Toronto Star, the New York Times, and the Globe & Mail, to name just a few.

Today on Library Moments, Nancy Therrien and I will each talk about a book that jumps out at us from all of these lists.

34912895Nancy Therrien, Programming and Community Outreach Coordinator:  The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah has been near the top of the New York Times bestseller list ever since it came on the market in February 2018. The novel tells the story of Ernt, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD and a wicked temper, his beautiful hippie wife Cora, and his 13-year-old daughter Leni, who is just trying to keep the peace in their household and fit in with a new crowd every time they move.


When the family is willed a plot of land in Alaska, they pick up and move again, hoping this will be their salvation. Despite the remote area, there is a tight-knit community spirit and the neighbours are helpful and welcoming. Leni even meets a boy her age and they develop a strong friendship. Unfortunately, the unforgiving harshness of the Alaskan wilderness and the profound isolation during the long winter nights cause Ernt to become unhinged and highly volatile, endangering the entire family.


The Great Alone is a story of wilderness survival and resilience, the insidiousness of emotional and physical abuse, and about finding love amidst it all. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

30257963Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Canadian author Jordan B. Peterson’s new title 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos is #1 in Amazon Bestsellers Rank as of this writing. The celebrated psychologist’s answer to “what does everyone in the modern world need to know?” uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research. Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. He answers why the ancient Egyptians worshiped the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods and what dreadful paths people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful. Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules For Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.

While the fact that a book is on a bestseller list doesn’t guarantee that you will like it, it is a good readers’ advisory tool and worth the look. If the library doesn’t have a bestseller title that you would like to read, please request it for our consideration to purchase. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening  here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired in March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM

Library Moments: High Holds March 2018

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood 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.

All of us at the library aim to put books in the hands of our patrons in a timely fashion. Sometimes there are waiting lists for popular items. When there are over four people at a time waiting for an item, we see this through a report that we run called the High Holds list. From that report we determine if more copies of those items need to be purchased.  Today Nancy Therrien and I will each talk about a book from March’s high holds list that is of interest to us, as well as to Haliburton library patrons.

34128675Nancy Therrien, Programming and Community Outreach Coordinator:  The Boat People by Sharon Bala is on the high holds list and has been the most frequently borrowed CBC Canada Reads contender at the Haliburton County Public Library during the past two months.

The Boat People is a novel about the arrival of a ship-load of Sri Lankan refugees in Canada, their treatment upon landing, and the circumstances that caused them to leave their homeland. It is told in the alternating perspectives of Mahindan, who is a refugee with a young son, Priya, his inexperienced lawyer, and Grace, a refugee board adjudicator of Japanese-Canadian descent.

Here’s the publisher’s description:
When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is thrown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the “boat people” are members of a terrorist militia. As suspicion swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum.

The Boat People is a powerful story that was inspired by the arrivals of two ships on the coast of BC, the Ocean Lady in October 2009 and the MV Sun Sea in August 2010, carrying over 550 Sri Lankan refugees. It discusses the human side of the Sri Lankan civil war and raises serious questions about how welcoming Canadians truly are to immigrant and refugee newcomers.

The Boat People by Sharon Bala is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Longtime readers of the Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton don’t keep coming back for the fresh plotting. The outline is nearly always the same: a stranger comes to a tiny fictional village in the Scottish Highlands, speedily becomes wildly unpopular, and is murdered. The fun lies in the way Beaton depicts the different annoying, conniving, villainous victims. There is also the Highlands scenery to enjoy, along with a great deal of humor and the engaging series star, Sergeant Macbeth, who is unwillingly thrown into the murder investigations when he’d much rather be fishing or hiking. In Death of an Honest Man, the latest installment in the series, the stranger is a retired London banker who insults everyone he meets. He is found in a peat bog, stabbed to death. Macbeth has a whole village of suspects on his hands but this time the mystery deepens when Macbeth’s detested superior, Detective Chief Inspector Blair, turns up as one of the possible killers. A Booklist review declares Death of an Honest Man satisfying for both established and new Macbeth fans.

Other recent items from the high holds list include; The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson; The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks; The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn and Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson.That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired in March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM

Book Talk: Soon by Andrew Santella

35008530It’s finally here – Soon: an overdue history of procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to you and me by Andrew Santella is an entertaining, fact-filled defense of the nearly universal tendency to procrastinate, drawing on the stories of history’s greatest delayers, and on the work of psychologists, philosophers, and behavioral economists to explain why we put off what we’re supposed to be doing and why we shouldn’t feel so bad about it.

Like so many of us, including most of America’s workforce, and nearly two-thirds of all university students, Andrew Santella procrastinates. Concerned about his habit, but not quite ready to give it up, he set out to learn all he could about the human tendency to delay. He studied history’s greatest procrastinators to gain insights into human behavior, and also, he writes, to kill time.

Drawing on an eclectic mix of historical case studies in procrastination–from Leonardo da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, and from Old Testament prophets to Civil War generals–Santella offers a sympathetic take on habitual postponement. He questions our devotion to “the cult of efficiency” and suggests that delay and deferral can help us understand what truly matters to us. Being attentive to our procrastination, Santella writes, means asking, “whether the things the world wants us to do are really worth doing.”

Soon: an overdue history of procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to you and me by Andrew Santella is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library right now… or you can reserve it later if you want to put it off.

*Originally aired March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Book Talk: Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris

26085732In Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World, award-winning author Michael Harris examines why our experience of solitude has become so broken and how we may grow to love it again. The capacity to be alone–properly alone–is one of life’s subtlest skills. Real solitude is a contented and productive state that garners tangible rewards: it allows us to reflect and recharge, improving our relationships with ourselves and with others. Fueled today by our dependence on online and social media, we have created a network of obsessive distraction that dangerously undervalues solitude. Many of us now lead lives of strangely crowded loneliness–we are ever-connected, but only superficially. Rich with true stories about its life-changing power, and interwoven with reporting from the world’s foremost brain researchers, psychologists and tech entrepreneurs, Solitude is a beautiful and convincing statement on the benefits of being alone. Solitude is one of ten titles nominated for 2018’s Evergreen Award and can be requested through the Haliburton County Public Library.  

*Originally aired March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Library Moments: Fiction About Real People or Events

Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood 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.  

Although it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction, especially in the hands of a skilled author, just remember this – if it reports the truth, it’s nonfiction and if it stretches the truth, it’s fiction. Today Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each describe a title that, while fiction, is based on a real person or event.

35876524Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: When you read the blurb on the book jacket for White Houses by Amy Bloom, you would be forgiven if you thought that it was a nonfiction memoir or biography. White Houses is a fictionalization of the real life relationship between Lorena Hickok and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Hickok – affectionately nicknamed “Hick” was a reporter who covered FDR’s presidential run, but resigned from her post at the Associated Press when her friendship with a Eleanor began to affect her impartiality. She moved into the White House and worked in the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and became an integral part of the Roosevelts lives. Much of what we know about Hickok and Roosevelt comes from correspondence between the women archived at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. The letters between the two reveal what was surely a close and intimate friendship, one that many scholars believe was also romantic. It is also thought that many of the letters exchanged between the two were destroyed. We can’t say in absolute certainty what the exact nature of the relationship between Eleanor and Hick was. We weren’t there in their private moments, and weren’t inside their hearts and minds. Amy Bloom takes the deep affection found in the language of their correspondence and imagines the relationship from Hick’s perspective, creating a fictional account including what those tender moments may have been like between them.  I think the most compelling thing about White Houses is what some of the poorer reviews fault it for – Amy Bloom has taken something that many have reported on as salacious and using empathy and imagination has probably brought it closer to the truth – a deep love between two powerful women in a time and circumstance that would challenge anyone’s relationship. Whatever their private moments entailed, Eleanor and Hick were two formidable women with a keen interest in social justice and integral involvement in FDR’s New Deal, and both ahead of their time accomplished great things. I like to read these kinds of fictional books alongside their nonfiction source material. White Houses would be great paired with the digitized collections found online at the FDR library, or with Empty Without You, Roger Streitmatter’s annotated compilation of 300 of Eleanor and Hick’s most intimate letters. Fictionalizations of history, while they still need to be treated as fiction, can humanize historical figures and allow us to empathize with them across time.
15818107Sherrill Sherwood, Collection Development Coordinator: The Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that transported orphaned and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities of the United States to foster homes located largely in the countryside of the Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1854 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children. This relocation of children ended in the 1920s with the beginning of organized foster care in America. Christina Baker Kline’s novel Orphan Train is an unforgettable story of friendship and second chances that highlights this little-known but historically significant movement in America’s past. Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both. Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
Reading fiction books or watching movies based on real people or events can bring a level of understanding to a topic that may not be reached in any other way. Many movies these days are marketed with the phrases “based on a true story” or “inspired by real events” – this catches people’s attention. That’s it for this week’s Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 Canoe FM.

*Originally aired March 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.