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

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.

Book Talk: Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

8034188In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson explores the ideal conditions in which ideas flourish. Everyday innovations we take for granted – the printing press, the pencil, the flush toilet, and the battery all came from a great idea – but how did that idea come into being? Was it in the oft expressed epiphany, lightbulb or eureka moment? Johnson challenges the notion of the flash of genius and argues that really good ideas are spawned from slow hunches, chaotic environments, and the free exchange of ideas between people of various expertise. Whether in the coffee houses of the enlightenment or around the conference room table – or even your local maker hub – Johnson traces the conditions that bred innovation across history and disciplines, and tries to find the commonalities that appear at moments of originality.

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library. You can also check out his TED Talk online. Check it out and be inspired to share your ideas.

*Originally aired in February 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

Book Talk: Gone To Pot by Jennifer Craig

Gone To Pot, a novel by Jennifer Craig, is one of ten titles nominated for 2018’s Evergreen Award. Gone To Pot tells the story of Jess, a spunky, unconventional grandmother who loses her job and learns she might also lose her house because of a bad investment. Jess resorts to growing pot in her basement to make ends meet. She then has to juggle her public life as a grandmother and member of the senior women’s group with her secret life as a pot grower. The unusual characters she meets along the way include Swan, the young woman who introduces her to the grower’s world, and Marcus, the socially awkward “gardener” who shows her the tricks of the trade. Both of her new young friends are more than they appear, and Jess’ adventures in pot growing break down barriers in both her old and new circles. Gone to Pot is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in February 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.

 

Book Talk: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

34912895In The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, Ernt Allbright – a former POW in the Vietnam War – moves his family north to Alaska to live off the grid. His 13 year old daughter, Leni, is desperate to belong somewhere, hoping their new home will lead to a better future for her family. Ernt’s wife Cora will follow him anywhere, even into the unknown. And at first the strong and fiercely independent community they find themselves in seems to be the answer to their prayers – their way out of a parade of lost jobs and uncertainty. But as the long sunny days dwindle into long winter nights, Ernt’s mental health begins to deteriorate and in their small snow covered cabin Cora and Leni realize that there is no one there to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah brings us to Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger – and presents a story of surviving the perils that can come from within. The Great Alone is available to reserve at the Haliburton County Public Library.

*Originally aired in February 2018 on 100.9 CANOE FM.