Archive for the ‘relationships’ Tag

Alice Munro’s Runaway

Every once in a while I come across a book that I consider a keeper – that is, a book that I know I will return to again and again over the course of my lifetime.  Alice Munro’s Runaway is one such book.  I read it some time ago and now return to it again.  The fact that it is a short story collection makes it the kind of material that is suitable for reading when I am busy with life and need a diversion for an hour or two only.  It is a group of stories that look at different ways of defining what a “Runaway” is.

I recently read two of the stories: “Silence” – about a mother waiting to hear from a daughter who has run off to join a commune – and, “Passion” – about a young girl not ready to make a commitment to a young man.

Munro, who won the Giller Prize for this collection, has the ability to get inside the heads of those characters she writes about.    She does such a good job of describing their thoughts and actions that she evokes empathy from the reader for each character.  It is as if we are there with them and we can feel their anxiety.

“Silence” was especially poignant for me at this stage in my life.  As I read it I kept thinking of the pain the mother must be feeling while she waits to hear from her daughter.  I wanted to shake her and say, “stop waiting!  Go after her!  Be proactive!”  But I imagine how such an event might affect me in the same manner as it did her if it happened with my child.

Runaway by Alice Munro (2004), Penguin Canada.  ISBN # 0-14-305071-0, paperback, 335 pages.


The Incident Report, a novel by Martha Baillie

Martha Baillie’s Incident Report is a librarian’s novel.  It is the story of a women who works in a public library but also a love story.  It walks the reader through a series of incidents that make up the life of this particular librarian.  It is an eye opener for anyone who is thinking of becoming a librarian as it attests to the public service/social aspects of librarianship.   While Baillie’s sense of humour is evident, it is the form of this novel that interests me most.  It is not a traditional chapter by chapter work, with one chapter building on the other.   Baillie herself is a librarian with Toronto Public.  paper back.  195 pgs.  Toronto:  Pedlar Press, 2009.  ISBN  978-1-897141-25-0.

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins’, The Hunger Games (2008) is an interesting take on society in a future North America.  It’s a story of survival for 16 year old Katniss and her peers.  It’s a love story.  It’s a story of a world gone mad.  At one end of the spectrum is the Capital – a place where image is everything.  At the other end you find the surrounding regions – where individuals do whatever they can to survive.  The Hunger Games is where the two come together.

When Katniss younger sister is the one chosen to fight in the Hunger Games on behalf of her region, Katniss steps in for her and we, the readers, are taken on a trip to a world not unlike those we see in survivor television shows only these participants are fighting to the death in order that they will survive.  The Hunger Games is surprisingly difficult to put down.  I would recommend it to all teens, male and female, but I suspect boys might like it best.

Gay-themed Picture Books for Children

The following compilation was assembled by Patricia Sarles of Jerome Parker Campus Library, Staten Island, New York. It serves three purposes, one:  for parents who would like to find books for their children about the experience of being a child in a gay family, or having a gay friend or family member, two: for librarians who would like to develop collections on this topic, and three: for counselors and therapists who would like to use these books in their practices.

And Tango Makes Three

The most challenged title for 2008 was And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.
And Tango Makes Three Image

And Tango Makes Three is a true story about a penguin couple in New York’s Central Park and a really wonderful book to read about love and caring and family relationships.

See the following link for Boing Boing’s article listing other titles and discussing Banned Books Week in the U.S.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Chevalier, Tracy.  Girl with a Pearl Earring.girl with a pearl earring

A coming of age story about Griet, a young maid and assistant to the artist, Vermeer.  Set in 17th century Holland.  Extremely well written.  Chevalier writes like a semiotician in her description of Vermeer’s paintings and like an artist herself in Griet’s thoughts about art and the artist’s way of seeing.

Light on Snow

Shreve, Anita.  Light on Snow. Little, Brown and Company.light on snow

An excellent read about a father and his daughter.  They have lost the man’s wife and youngest child to an accident and move to another town to start over.  The story opens when they discover an abandoned child in the snow.


Barfoot, Joan.  Luck. Carroll & Graf Publishers.

LuckThe story of three women who are left after the death of one man.  He is husband to one, employer to two, and lover to one of his employees.  Well written and enjoyable.  Barfoot questions just what Luck is.  She has been compared to Carol Shields (I think for her use of simple words that are difficult to define, such as Luck, Love, Unless, etc.).  Otherwise her writing isn’t quite up to Shields, but, whose is?  Barfoot’s story is a very enjoyable read.