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Appreciating the Freedom to Read

FTR 2016

“Freedom to read can never be taken for granted. Even in Canada, a free country by world standards, books and magazines are banned at the border. Schools and libraries are regularly asked to remove books and magazines from their shelves. Free expression on the Internet is under attack. Few of these stories make headlines, but they affect the right of Canadians to decide for themselves what they choose to read.”

~ Freedom to Read 2016

February 21 – 27 is Freedom to Read Week, and we’ve got a few things to share with you to mark the occasion.

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85 QUEEN: An Evening with Carrie Snyder

1920s runners

Carrie Snyder, author of Girl Runner, with the photo of the original “girl runners” who inspired her novel.

girl runnerLast night we welcomed critically acclaimed author Carrie Snyder to the beautiful Reading Lounge at Central Library for a reading and discussion of her 2015 novel,
Girl Runner.

This was the most recent in our 85 QUEEN series, featuring critically acclaimed authors, thought-provoking films, current events, and controversial issues.

Read Girl Runner with your book club

Girl Runner follows Aganetha Smart, an athlete who captured international attention at the 1928 Olympics. Now she’s 104 years old, in a nursing home, with her racing days seemingly forgotten by everyone. It’s a story that travels back to Aganetha’s past, and the challenges women faced as athletes and in general.

The novel has been translated and published in a dozen countries, including Sweden, Poland, Spain, Turkey, and Greece.

“An extraordinary, accomplished novel of love and family: a wonderful story of a free spirit forced to make difficult choices.”  ~ Author Sarah Gruen

Carrie, a runner herself, was inspired by the Matchless Six, a group of Canadian women who participated in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Carrie’s first book of short stories, Hair Hat, was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award for Fiction. The Juliet Stories, a novel told through a set of linked stories, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award in 2012 and was named as a top pick of the year by the Globe and Mail. Last year, she published her first children’s book, The Candy Conspiracy.

You can learn more about Carrie on her popular blog, but be warned – you’ll either feel extremely lazy or extremely motivated after reading a few posts.

She’s a mother to four children, owner of two dogs, teacher at the University of Waterloo, a leader of writing workshops, and reads widely and diversely. She also takes beautiful photographs, plays and coaches soccer, swims, and practises yoga.

Carrie Snyder and Leslie GordonLeslie (left) and Carrie

We invited Leslie Gordon to lead the discussion with Carrie. Leslie is familiar to many of you who watched her on CTV as a health and lifestyle reporter for more than a decade. She also served as an editor at Oxygen magazine and has appeared on CNN. She’s now  known as Buff Mom, and is a certified personal trainer, life coach, entrepreneur, and mother.

We think her experience as a journalist – and as a woman who helps other women, and men, achieve their goals – made her the perfect interviewer for this evening’s discussion.

Those who attended were treated to a wide-ranging discussion about the writing process, following your passion, and making tough decisions – as Carrie had to do when she was accepted to midwifery school on the same day she sold her book for publication.

Carrie’s advice for aspiring writers? “Read the things you would like to write … and write like a writer you love to read.”

Thank you to both Carrie Snyder and Leslie Gordon for participating, to all of our attendees, and to the Canada Council for the Arts for its financial support.

Join us for our next 85 QUEEN event, A Morning with Susanna Kearsley. You’re also invited to meet Susanna Kearsley in a small, book club setting at Meet the Author Book Club.


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85 QUEEN: An Evening with Catherine Bush

85 Queen An Evening with Catherine Bush

On December 9th, library customers were treated to a fascinating conversation about the nature of accusations. Can we ever really know the truth of a situation?

Andrea Bellemare, journalist with CBC-KW, interviewed  author Catherine Bush about her most recent critically acclaimed novel, Accusation.

The novel tells the story of a journalist, Sara Wheeler, as she seeks the “truth” behind an alleged crime. Raymond Renaud, a Canadian who is running a children’s circus in Ethiopia, has been accused of abusing the children he works with. The novel was inspired by actual events, and a circus that Catherine wrote about for the Globe and Mail.

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Tell us your Best of 2015

best of 2015 2

Five of the most popular fiction picks for 2015. How many have you read? Photo courtesy of Daytime 20.

It’s that time of year: the Best of 2015 lists are coming out. Every newspaper, magazine and website is featuring the critics’s picks of 2015 – the best of fiction, non-fiction, YA, poetry, children’s books . . . the categories are endless.

These lists are a great way to pick up suggestions, track what you’re reading, watching, and listening to compared to the broader culture, and to find holiday gift ideas.

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Book clubs: new members always welcome

Book clubs

Reading is one of the greatest solitary pleasures in life. But for many of us, one way to make the pleasure of reading even greater is to share it with someone else. We offer a wide variety of reading clubs that vary by interest, location, and day or time.  We even have a reading club that gives you the opportunity to meet and chat directly with the author.

Here’s what’s coming up over the next three months (December, January, and February). Find the right club for you, and click on the book cover for more info or to register. Join us for fun but thought-provoking discussions. Get reading, and get social!

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Andrew Pyper: On demons, dryers, and Canadian identity

Andrew Pyper 3

“Pyper’s gift is that he deeply respects his readers, yet still insists on reducing them to quivering children.” – Gillian Flynn


I think anyone who’s read an Andrew Pyper novel would have to agree with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Andrew’s stories are terrifying and dark and demonic. But they’re also tender, wise, and somehow full of genuine beauty. The Canadian literary scene is lucky to have Andrew Pyper, and so was Kitchener Public Library. I was honoured to get the chance to interview him during an 85 Queen event in the Reading Lounge. Andrew was incredibly personable and insightful, and he gave our audience a lot to think about. For those who couldn’t make it on October 26th, here’s a rundown of my favourite Pyper highlights.

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It’s ThanksBooking weekend!

thanksgiving book

thanksbooksOne of the books I’m most thankful for is Patrick Will Grow by Gladys Baker Bond. As the youngest of seven children, I empathized with Patrick – who couldn’t wait to grow as big as his older siblings. I have very specific memories of my mother reading this book to me as a child.

My mother died five years ago today, but I’ll always have those memories. I also still have the book!

So this week, I asked you on social media – what books are you most thankful for? Here are a few of your responses. You picked these books because they helped you through a tough time, made you a better person, because you learned something from them, because they invoked old memories or created new ones.

Thank you so much for sharing!

Sherry Erb is thankful for The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Cathy Zimmerman – Peter’s Painting by Sally Moss:  “It helped my child learn to read. And wow does she ever love to read!”

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