All posts by Claire

About Claire

Claire is an Information Assistant at Vaughan Public Libraries. Avid cooker, concertgoer, coffee drinker, TV and movie watcher, washi tape enthusiast, and unabashed fan of romance in all its varieties (even Hallmark movies).

From Page to Screen: Cookbook Edition

We’ve all heard of books being adapted into Netflix series or blockbuster franchises, but what about cookbook authors who make the leap from page to screen? The media landscape for foodies is rich and varied. More and more, food writers are being asked to extend their skills to media production. I wanted to share some of the books and authors who have meant something to me in my life because of both the quality of their writing and their charismatic presence on my computer or television screen. 

Claire Saffitz 

Cover image for the cookbook Dessert Person.

After the fallout at Bon Appetite magazine and YouTube channel regarding allegations of inequitable practices and unfair treatment of racialized staff, Claire Saffitz made the move to her own YouTube channel, penned Dessert Person. Her new cookbook of the same name arrived shortly after. Dessert Person videos are somehow both calming, leisurely strolls through a recipe and, at the same time, bely an immense need to achieve perfection at all costs. Saffitz is methodical, analytical, and measures every ingredient to several decimal points (I’m mostly kidding). 

The great thing about her recipes is that she embodies something Julia Child would have loved, which is scientific workability, or the ability to reproduce anything she makes in your kitchen at home. She includes a lot of detail, specific descriptions of how things should look, and alternative methods if you don’t have the time or equipment to make it her way. Saffitz is in no hurry with her baking, which over the years I have found is a good mindset for baking. If you’re in a hurry for your dessert to be done, the dessert doesn’t care. It simply deflates, overcooks, undercooks, doesn’t combine properly, or the carrots in your carrot muffins turn green. Don’t get me started. Don’t be in a hurry. Let your ingredients and recipe set the pace for you. Your baking will turn out better for it. 

Continue reading

Hidden Wonders of Hoopla and Kanopy

I have a sneaking suspicion that the wonders of our digital services remain woefully unknown to too many of VPL’s customers. With the increased cost of platforms like Netflix and the recent return to colder temperatures, I wanted to explore the two main streaming services we provide access to — entirely for free — and provide some recommendations to cozy up with while we wait for warmer days. 


The range of Hoopla’s content might surprise you. There are e-books, audiobooks, movies, and even music. If you haven’t used it before, you will have to sign in through the VPL website here (scroll down to Hoopla). Once you create an account using your library card number and pin, you’re good to go. Here are some titles that have become favourites in my house, available now in no particular order.


Movie poster image for Misbehaviour film.

It’s difficult to sum up the complex story this film tells. I take that as a good sign. The real-life events at its heart are multifaceted and worth reminding audiences of. I will endeavour to do my best, however. In 1970, at the Miss World pageant in London, controversy ran rampant. To begin with, South Africa was allowed to send contestants to compete, which was interpreted as tacit endorsement of apartheid. The decision to have two contestants from South Africa (one white and one black) was also criticized. During the pageant, a group of Women’s Liberation protesters (played in part by Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley) interrupted the televised proceedings, throwing flour in outrage over Bob Hope’s chauvinistic jokes. This would also be the first year that Miss World was won by a black woman: Jennifer Hosten from Grenada (expertly portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw). 

Continue reading

The Indubitable Value of Reading Without Finishing the Book

There is, without a doubt, a stigma against not finishing books. Unread tomes on our bookshelves are often alluded to in hushed tones, guilty secrets only we know about, like that dentist visit we keep putting off. (Who would do such a thing? Not me, of course.)

Lately, I’ve had the conviction that this is nothing to be ashamed of. I have started and not gotten to the end of many a book in my time, and I will most likely do so for the rest of my life. I read a book up until the point where I decide it’s not worth its remaining hours. There is also a different sort of timing to consider. As in the realm of relationships (what is reading if not a relationship you have with a book for a period of time), sometimes you’re not at the right point in your life’s trajectory to connect with a story and appreciate it for how great it is.

As a result, there are several books that I have spent a good chunk of time with and never finished. Many of them I would recommend to anyone, but I just reached a point where my interest waned. More than that, I felt satisfied by what I’d read up until that point, like a seven-course tasting menu that fills you up by the third dish. I’m highlighting them here because they are all worth any amount of time you have to spend. Given that there are so many books in VPL’s collection, especially when you include digital subscription content, you don’t always have endless hours to read everything to completion. Nor do you necessarily want to. Don’t let that stop you from reading or listening to an audiobook of whichever work has grabbed your interest in the present moment. Seriously, don’t.

Conversations with Friends

Book cover image for Conversations with Friends.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Normal People — Rooney’s literary romance bestseller. I listened to it on audiobook and found it quietly heartbreaking, an almost ironic lack of romanticism audible in the Irish narrator’s voice. That sharply trained focus on realism and melancholy vision of high school love kept me listening the whole way through.

Before Normal People, there was Conversations with Friends. In the beginning, I was really excited about its narrative voice, which was dry, witty, and intelligent. The main character is Frances, best friend to Bobbi and aspiring professional writer. The two become entangled with older couple Melissa and Nick (a successful journalist and actor respectively). I read to about halfway, to a point in the plot where it’s clear where the relationships are headed. This is often where I leave stories like these. Once I know where we’re headed and the majority of how we’ll get there, it’s hard for me to persevere to the end. I very much enjoyed the part I read, however. As they say, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, and this book was like a road trip filled with stimulating dialogue and gorgeously-written scenery.

Continue reading