All posts by Lily

About Lily

Information Assistant at CCRL. I enjoy trying different things. I'm curious about my surroundings and I'm a tree hugger.  |  Meet the team

Van Gogh’s Ear: The True Story (by Bernadette Murphy)

Van Gogh's Ear

Van Gogh’s Ear is a journey to discover the truth and revisit some of the myth surrounding Vincent Van Gogh’s tormented yet passionate life. In this book, Murphy looked into forgotten archival materials, visited towns and museums, and brought Van Gogh’s world vividly to life, including some of the most important people he was involved with, such as police inspector, “Rachel” who he gave his ear to, his brother Theo, and fellow artist Gauguin.

Murphy took lots of effort trying to piece together clues that might shed light on the artist’s life and his mental state. This book can be also seen as an interesting and in-depth detective work. What amazed me the most was how often Van Gogh was in distress yet able to keep painting. Symptoms for mental illness were clear but back then the treatment for mental illness was very minimal and rudimentary. After reading this book, I can never look at Van Gogh and his painting the same way. I feel deeply sorrowful for what Van Gogh went through in his short and intense life, however,  I think the world is so much richer for what he had done.

An animated biography drama film called Loving Vincent ( was released last year. It is the world’s first fully painted animated feature film about Van Gogh’s death. It was an unique experience and beautifully done. This movie is also nominated for an Oscar this year. I’d recommend this film to anyone who is interested in Van Gogh’s story or looking for a different movie experience.


Loving Vincent [DVD] ON ORDER

Loving Vincent [Bluray] ON ORDER

Van Gogh’s Ear (2016, Documentary)

Lust for Life (adapted from Irving Stone’s novel)

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers (Picture book)

Camille and the Sunflowers (Picture book)

The Artist and Me (Picture book)

Van Gogh: His Life and Works in 500 Images : An Illustrated Exploration of the Artist, His Life and Context, With A Gallery of 280 of His Finest Paintings

Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh (2005, Documentary)

Mystical Landscapes: Vincent Van Gogh to Emily Carr (an exhibition from the AGO, 2016)

Irises: Vincent Van Gogh in the Garden

Van Gogh’s Imaginary Museum: Exploring the Artist’s Inner World

Brother (by David Chariandy)

Longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust BrotherFiction Prize, Brother is a short but tight story contains so much emotion and is very intense. It explores masculinity, family, race, and identity as they are played out in a Scarborough housing complex.

Personally, I really connected with the immigrant experience and problems surrounding this community. I love the fact that this book didn’t shy away from sadness. Grieving is a complicated process and ongoing, whether it’s for death, lost love, lost life, or lost memories. Sometimes it will take collected effort to keep the healing going. In addition, I can better understand the disadvantage in the black community after this book, for that’s what happened to Micheal and Francis. Brother is an important and relevant story today.

I read The Sun and Her Flowers (Rupi Kaur) after this book, and I feel that some of the passages in Kaur’s poems really echo with themes in Brother. These connections between the two books are kind of unexpected and serendipitous.

Brother has an ending that satisfied me; without giving anything away, I just want to say that the very last word charged me with power and energy. It’s not the kind of ending where everyone lived happily ever after, but it offers comfort, support, and it acknowledged that it is ok to have scares in your heart. In the end, what really matters is to express, to reach out, and to heal together.

You might also like:


One of the Boys

The Idiot


Also by David Chariandy:


Mozart’s Starling (by Lyanda Lynn Haupt)

31932836I came across this book at a book event a few month ago. Not knowing much about Mozart or starling, I started reading not knowing what to expect (except for the fact that the person at the even spoke highly of it).

I usually read non-fictions pretty slowly, but not this time. Mozart’s Starling is a lighthearted charming little book inspired by starlings, the most hated birds among ornithologists since it is considered an aggressive invader to the local species, and the fact that the most well respected composer in the world Mozart had a pet starling during his most productive and turbulent years of his short life. In order to understand the bird and how it is like living with one, Haupt raised a baby starling. This book is a mixture of fun facts, unknown history, and reflection on inspiration, harmony, and the natural world.

Part natural history, part story, Mozart’s Starling will delight readers as they learn about language, music, and the secret world of starlings.

You might also like…

The Urban Bestiary

Crow Planet

The Hidden Life of Trees

Wesley the Owl



The Thing with Feathers