Archive for December, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club, by William Schwalbe

December 31, 2012

[Lesley] This book was surprisingly not maudlin and not as much about books as about the real integration of books into people’s lives – especially when the books are shared. Will Schwalbe’s mother (Mary Anne – or Ann) was an amazing and fascinating woman. Their similarities and differences, and their approach and reaction to books was interesting, but her life alone could have filled two books this size. I loved that they read newly published books and went back to reread old favorites. The list at the end of the book (of books read and mentioned) is an excellent reading list for anyone.

Available as ebook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive

The End of Your Life Book Club - ebook

Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens

December 31, 2012

[Lesley]  I haven’t read much by Christopher Hitchens, but I will be reading more after this one. Clear, articulate writing on a difficult and emotional subject. He isn’t so scientific that the heart is missing from this book, but he is so intellectually curious and spry that the book is somehow a delight to read

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan

December 31, 2012

[Lesley]  I loved this book – I like the narrator’s voice, the setting, the “mystery”, the glimpses of google world, and most of all the solutions. This almost seems like other literary puzzle novels we’ve been getting over the past couple of decades but it’s never really life-or-death like others and the way the book plays – with the idea of immortality, creativity and making, and cultures within cultures – is delightful and refreshing. Not enough play in books. Highly recommended!

Available in audio on Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

December 18, 2012


This is a such a fun book, both satirical and surprisingly sweet. As one of our library users put it, “This book is ridiculously good.” The author, who was a writer for tv shows like Arrested Development, strikes a nice balance between hilarious caricatures of wealthy, privileged and clueless Seattle elites, while at the same time giving the main characters much more depth than you think they will have.  It made me laugh and surprised me several times, which are both qualities I love in a book.

Available as ebook and audiobook on Libby/Overdrive

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Audiobook

Music CD Review: Halcyon by Ellie Goulding

December 12, 2012


Music CD review: Halcyon

Artist: Ellie Goulding

US release date: 9 October, 2012

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”       —Karl Marx

At a certain point in life, you begin to realize that whatever you may think, read, or have heard, about old Karl, scribbling away in the British Library, there are times when he really did nail it. It is not for me to question either Marx or Hegel. So I won’t. However, there is a singer that you might not have heard of, who again it is not for me to question, because she is one of those people who have a rare thing, a voice which sounds new and like old Karl, really does nail it. And not only to me, millions of other people think so too.

One cannot turn on the radio or internet today, without being assaulted by the tragedy and farce of popular modern music. For the most part its banality in sameness is as a desert. Whether pretty boy bands or the latest female teen idol pewling at the top of her lungs, the pain is often more than can be borne. For it seems as though both cream and feces do rise to the top.

In talking about Ellie Goulding, it must be noted that she, Goulding, is not one of those singers that you want to avoid. She is most definitely the cream which has risen to the top and the CD Halcyon is, thankfully, in my mind a jewel. It is a jewel because, as I never tire of saying, it is rare.  Why? Listen, listen, listen. Her voice is attractive, as are the lyrics. In other words, this woman can sing. The band’s instruments and synthesizers all come together well. The lyrics when read are actually interesting. A lot of thought obviously went into them. More importantly it is highly listen-to-able. This in itself is high on my list. And let’s be blunt. This gal is good. Very good. The music is good. Very good.

“Anything can happen”, is my favourite track, with “Figure 8” a close second. My own copy has four bonus tracks, including the smooth, somewhat jazzy and almost hypnotic “Lights”. Thoughtful, uplifting and memorable are terms which come to mind of this CD and this voice. Goulding is another one of those English singers who can pass as American or Canadian, surely no bad thing in this market / audience / scene of the second decade of the 21st century.

The WML have “Halcyon” and that too is neither a tragedy nor a farce. It might have even gotten a smile from Hegel, if not Karl Marx.

bill littlefield

14 december, 2012