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Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC)

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Bone and Bread
Bone and Bread
by Saleema Nawaz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.57
8 used & new from CDN$ 10.05

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 12 2013
This review is from: Bone and Bread (Paperback)
Transitioning from short story writer to novelist, Saleema Nawaz has produced an ambitious, beautiful debut set in Montreal and Ottawa. "Bone and Bread" centres on Beena and Sadhana, two sisters from a previously published short story, and explores the theme of motherhood as both a blessing and an affliction.

The novel opens with news of Sadhana's sudden death. Beena, taking on the role of narrator and memoirist, depicts the sisters' physical and psychic connections while also reconstructing the family's past and her own present. She describes her childhood, living in a small apartment above their Sikh father's bagel shop in the heart of Montreal's Jewish community and ultimately dealing with the death of both her parents. When Sadhana's eating disorder takes over her life and Beena becomes pregnant at 16, the sisters' lives diverge into virtual estrangement. As Nawaz writes through Beena, she evokes memories with verve, attacking them with precision and often anger.

Despite an awkward sub-theme of racial politics, "Bone and Bread" delivers a subtle, astute study of sibling rivalry that grasps readers' attention and provokes thought about the solitudes of family life.

How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
How Do You Wokka-Wokka?
by Elizabeth Bluemle
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.60
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Sept. 11 2013
A boy wakes up, goes to the window and greets the day with arms thrown up in the air. A kitty next door watches and follows the boy downstairs. It's the kind of day in which you "just gotta wokka" and greet everyone you pass. Evidently, "nobody wokkas in the same wokka way;" one girl "wokka-wokka like flamingos in a flocka" and another boy like a "mariachi with maracas."

A fun and vibrant rhyming story, "How Do You Wokka-Wokka?" will have preschoolers dancing and walking crazily around the room. A surefire way to elicit a few giggles and teach movement, body parts and sound recognition at the same time.

Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City
Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City
by Robin Nagle
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.06
30 used & new from CDN$ 2.73

5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 9 2013
Anthropologist Robin Nagle has written a fascinating and deserving profile of the hardworking men and women who form the seventh most hazardous occupation in the US (according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics). She provides insight on both the job of garbage collection and on the people who scour New York City's streets every day of the year.

The physically strenuous job description of the Sanitation Worker encompasses garbage collection, disposal and snow removal. These laborers receive “scant notice and even less praise” from the public though, without them, cities become unliveable. Nagle's research immersion in the sanitation process included manning a garbage-collection route from which she exasperatedly reports that the job requires juggling on-site perils, early-morning start times and the sheer physical resiliency required for successful employment.

Nagle astutely points out that our “lushly consumptive economy and culture” keeps san workers in business. She takes the science of scavenging seriously, as evidenced by her postgraduate seminar “Garbage in Gotham,” which included a tour of the colossally expansive Staten Island Fresh Kills landfill. Ultimately, "Picking Up" garners newfound respect for an essential yet greatly underappreciated workforce. You may go through your whole life never needing to call a cop or a firefighter but everyone relies on a sanitation worker everyday.

Lonely Planet Great Adventures 1st Ed.: 1st Edition
Lonely Planet Great Adventures 1st Ed.: 1st Edition
by Lonely Planet
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 31.34
35 used & new from CDN$ 26.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 5 2013
Intrepid globetrotters and "stay-cationers" alike will agree that "Great Adventures" captures experiences of a lifetime. In his introduction, Ben Fogle artfully describes the adrenaline rush achieved by each journey and, from there, the reader hurdles through hundreds of pages of breathtaking text and photos of some of the world's most beautiful, dangerous and remote spots.

Well organized and easy to follow, the book features chapters on hiking, diving, biking, "above and below" (canyons and caves), climbing, ice and snow treks, animals, water, and drives. The description of each adventure includes "essential experiences," planning details, armchair traveller recommendations and, of course, a map.

This fun and beautiful book deserves to be left out, passed around among guests and savoured over and over.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
by Beth Terry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.05
36 used & new from CDN$ 14.39

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 5 2013
Convenient, ubiquitous and impactful, plastic has become integral to our daily lives. Most can't imagine life without the material but Beth Terry has succeeded in kicking the "plastic habit." In "Plastic Free," she provides a brief but useful overview about plastics and their effects, then tackles plastic bags, bottles, and the challenges of recycling. She offers strategies for freeing ourselves from plastic in our kitchens and bathrooms and includes a variety of helpful resources.

Terry constantly highlights the importance of choosing “the steps that feel right for you,” refrains from guilt-tripping and devotes an entire chapter to coping with feeling overwhelmed. The book also has a very reader-friendly format as it breaks down information and suggestions into clear, short chunks and includes fun photos, checklists, recipes, and quick tips.

Terry doesn’t pretend that winning the war against plastic comes easily but she does highlight the many ways individuals can make a difference and emphases why our personal changes matter.

The Interestings: A Novel
The Interestings: A Novel
by Meg Wolitzer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.50
42 used & new from CDN$ 1.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 4 2013
In the summer of 1974, a group of teenaged friends self-dubbed "The Interestings" meet at an arts camp catered to upper-class kids from New York City. Guitar-playing Jonah lives in the shadow of his mother, a has-been folk singer “trying to stay relevant.” Julie, a wannabe comedic actress, adopts the nickname “Jules” to shed her Long Island ordinariness after losing her father to pancreatic cancer. Cathy, an aspiring dancer, bears the curse of big breasts and Ash and Goodman, a sister and brother pair, become the group's leaders by virtue of their glamour and wealth. Only Ethan, a frumpy cartoonist from a broken home, actually seems destined to succeed as an artist. At camp, he creates a brilliant animated fantasy about a young boy who enters a parallel world via a shoebox under his bed.

As Meg Wolitzer convincingly follows The Interestings (plus supporting characters) through four decades, she proves the value of persistence and resilience. Jules, for example, moves from shy teen to failed comedic actress to wife, mother, therapist, and then empty nester contemplating a second career. Her professional life and her marriage to an ultrasound technician who suffers from severe depression emerge as more satisfying and even more “interesting” than her younger self could have imagined.

The other friends undergo everything from legal, financial, and marital troubles to mental and physical illness to the vicissitudes of current events. Wolitzer richly and painstakingly portrays both her characters and the times in which they live. At times, details about a spate of historical events such as the Preppie Murder, the outbreak of AIDS and 9/11 threaten to distract from Wolitzer’s skillful storytelling. However, Wolitzer's major novel ultimately succeeds in weaving together explorations of sex, love, parenthood, friendship, class, art, youth, and age.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships
by Marshall B. Rosenberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
60 used & new from CDN$ 4.81

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Aug. 31 2013
"Nonviolent Communication" strives to help readers connect with each other in a respectful, non-antagonistic manner. The book progresses smoothly from how to start thinking differently about communicating through to putting the techniques into practice. Real-world conversations serve as examples of the discussed approaches and tie the methods together nicely.

First, Rosenberg challenges readers to distinguish between phrases indicating observation and those indicating evaluation. "He is angry" contains an evaluation; the speaker couldn't know this for sure unless "he" told him/her. On the other hand, the observation, "he yelled at me" could easily lead to the evaluation, "he is angry." Rosenberg posits that the English language often loses this distinction, resulting in hard feelings. Thus, speaking only in terms of observations provides the first key to nonviolent communication; it leads to reflective discussion in which you simply observe what the other person says and repeat it back to him/her indicating your attempt to understand.

Next, Rosenberg focuses on communicating feelings. He points out a general tendency to expressing feelings ambiguously; a phrase such as "I feel stupid" doesn't help the other person understand because stupid is not a feeling. Instead, Rosenberg advocates for taking ownership of feelings, offering the sentence structure of, “I feel ______ because I ________” as a guide to better determine the source of your feelings. Most importantly, only you can control your feelings; no one else can force you to feel anything.

Although some of the book's conversation examples seem scripted and forced, "Nonviolent Communication" does contain a host of sound advice. Ultimately, Rosenberg teaches how to identify the other party's needs and listen empathetically rather than judging. An important lesson for anyone wanting to improve communication skills.

House Beautiful Kitchens: Creating a Beautiful Kitchen of Your Own
House Beautiful Kitchens: Creating a Beautiful Kitchen of Your Own
by Lisa Cregan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 27.59
35 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Aug. 25 2013
As House Beautiful's Editor-in-Chief Newell Turner notes in the introduction to "Kitchens," "we've come a long way since avocado." In this artistic, inspiring tome, Lisa Cregan takes readers on a tour of more than 100 kitchens from bold to balanced, modern to vintage, proving that kitchen design today defies fixed formulae.

"House Beautiful Kitchens" brims with both gorgeous photos and advice on how to build a functional and fabulous cooking space. Cregan includes all the information we need to mix and match salvaged materials with the latest in appliances, flooring, and more. She adds interviews with designers, architects and homeowners as well as a "Stalking the Look" page for each kitchen, making it easy to envision the kitchen of your dreams.

Full Upright And Locked Position
Full Upright And Locked Position
by Mark Gerchick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.62
43 used & new from CDN$ 5.92

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Aug. 24 2013
A hot meal? Free checked baggage? A welcoming smile from a living, breathing employee? Forget it. Welcome to the world of modern air travel, a mean, profit-seeking business that places passengers at its mercy. In his entertaining and fascinating new book, former FAA chief counsel and Transportation Department policy official Mark Gerchick explores the industry's transformation since the jet fuel cost explosion in 2008 and the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Gerchick provides peeks into seat-price schemes and shows why the hassles of airline miles programs outweigh their benefits. He gives insight into the causes of flight delays and of lost (and damaged) luggage. He rattles off statistics about onboard fatalities and divulges why forcing passengers to arrive uber-early equals profitable “dwell time” for airport businesses. He revolts readers with health-related information pertaining to the barely potable water used to make coffee and the zillions of bacteria residing on the bathroom door lock. Perhaps most resonantly, he explains how airlines no longer sell flights but rather “a bundle of separable, flight-related services — transportation of luggage, making a reservation, having a seat assigned, snacks and drinks, legroom, even jet fuel.”

Although some mild repetition throughout the chapters becomes tedious, Gerchick effectively and engagingly brings light to the "new normal of air travel." He does smartly include some hope for the future in the form of forthcoming technological improvements to the industry but, by in large, sitting back and relaxing appears to be a thing of the past.

The Color Master: Stories
The Color Master: Stories
by Aimee Bender
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.14
33 used & new from CDN$ 11.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Aug. 21 2013
In her most recent collection, Aimee Bender explores the undulations, oddities and surrealisms that define both loneliness and companionship. The fifteen stories share similar themes, symbols and character types but diverge in setting and particulars. Most read like modern folk tales, featuring obvious or subtle magic, and all emerge as compelling, provocative tales.

Bender's opening 2-page story portrays a dark scene that poses a relevant questions for the entire book: do we exist in fantasy or reality? Symbol or solidity? Later, the reader meets two sisters who travel to Asia to heal skinless tigers. The title story features characters stitching clothing in the colours of the sun, moon and sky, indicating uncertainty and transformation. An ogre's wife mourns the loss of her children and a family inexplicably begins to find extra objects around the house. As "The Colour Master" blurs the line between mundane and fantastic, elements of real life weave with shimmering glimpses of an unknowable exterior world.

Bender also highlights emotional isolation and awkwardness. A college-age woman spends a strange evening with an elderly man, a boy cannot or will not see the faces of the people around him, a teenage girl at the mall with her friends acts like a social and temperamental outlier and a man keeps losing the "words of things," remaining incapable of committing to a relationship with a woman he truly likes.

One could certainly read this collection in one sitting thanks to its brisk pace and straightforward style. However, each story deserves to be mulled over, unpacked and contemplated in order to appreciate the complexity of the author's ideas.

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