All posts by Rachel P.

About Rachel P.

Rachel is an Adult Services Librarian at Civic Centre Resource Library. She enjoys cooking (but not cleaning), travelling, and reading just about anything.

Reading Challenges 2022

January Challenge: Read a book about joy, or that makes you laugh

For many book lovers, the start of the new year is a time to make resolutions in your reading life. The easiest way to do this is usually to set a quantifiable goal. Something like, I plan on reading one book a month. Or one book a week. Or one book more than I read last year. However, when your goal is based on how much you want to read, it’s easy to take shortcuts. Instead of tackling that 800-page tearjerker, you might read a few page-turners that you’re not as excited about, just so you can stay on track. And that’s fine! But I find that what I remember the most about the books I’ve read over the past year isn’t how many I read in a week or month (although I am proud when I finish a book in a single sitting). What I remember, looking back, are the books that surprised me, or triggered a strong emotion.

So instead, we want you to challenge yourself to read more broadly, read outside your comfort zone, discover something new, and have fun! The library is instituting a new Reading Challenge for all adults for the year 2022. New challenges will be updated on this page and on social media monthly. To help you read something that meets this challenge, Bibliocommons staff lists will be created each month, but there are many, many books that will meet each challenge goal – and you can pick the right book for yourself.

The challenge for January will be: Read a book about joy, or that makes you laugh.

Many excellent books are about trauma, or grief, or serious and weighty topics. But we want to focus on things that make us happy – especially after yet another year of uncertainty, fear, and grief.

A book that brings you joy will be different for different people. Same as a book that makes you laugh. But if you need some inspiration on getting started with this challenge, here are a few books that are generally cheerful, heartwarming, or amusing – and a longer list of other books to choose from.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I love reading romances. I love knowing what’s going to happen (there’s always going to be a happy ending), I love recognizing tropes, and seeing how the author will subvert them too. But even more than most, I thought this romance novel by Ali Hazelwood was an absolute delight. There was witty banter, heartfelt discussions, silly hi-jinx with low stakes, and of course, the aforementioned requisite happy ending. If romances are the sorts of thing that make you happy, also check out this list of recent romantic comedy novels available at VPL.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

This is a bit of a cheat – I don’t literally mean The Hobbit (although yes, this is an absolutely delightful, escapist fantasy read). But maybe a book that brings you joy is rereading a childhood favourite of yours – something that inspires that childlike joy and wonder that you experienced when you read it for the first time. For me, reading The Hobbit as a child inspired my love of fantasy – and I feel that sense of escapism when I read a new fantasy novel. Or reading about love, fantasy and whimsy in Anne of Green Gables. Whatever that novel is for you, rediscover those feelings you haven’t felt in years, and reread something you love!

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

Comedians are literally paid to make us laugh. That’s the only reason why people know their names. So if you’re in need of a book that makes you laugh this month, why not turn to one by one of the experts in humour? My pick here is the most recent book of essays by Samantha Irby, which is hilariously self-deprecatory, emotionally honest, and goes into graphic details about the failings of our bodies. Other recently published books by comedians includes Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson (the Goodreads Choice Award winner for Best Humour), Yearbook by Seth Rogen, and Please Don’t Sit On My Bed In Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson.

The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Sometimes, to get to those moments of joy, we do need to endure some grief and hardship first. You’ll find that with this book, The Girl with the Louding Voice. This is a heartbreaking yet inspirational story about Adunni, a 14-year old Nigerian girl who learns that she will be entering an arranged marriage with a much older adult neighbour, instead of returning to her education like she longs to do. While Adunni’s story is filled with obstacles and adversity, she is determined to find her ‘Louding Voice’ and speak up for herself and other girls in her situation – and find joy and hope in the worst of situations.

For more books that will make you laugh or bring you joy, check out this list on Bibliocommons, or ask for recommendations in your library.

What about the Music Fans?

silhouettes of people enjoying a concertWith the discussion of COVID-19 Stage 3 re-openings in Ontario and the related timelines, I decided to look through the list of businesses and services myself, to see what York Region might be able to expect in the coming weeks. And for those people who feel ready to participate in these re-openings, there’s a wide range of businesses for us to start patronizing again. But there is one significant hobby that is necessarily being left out by the closures… and probably for a long time. It’s the music fans! Some of the few remaining restrictions present in Phase 3 include “dancing at restaurants and bars” and “private karaoke rooms”. Concerts and live shows have gathering limits, and large outdoor events such as concerts are not permitted. And when you think about what these kinds of events entail, it makes complete sense that they won’t be permitted just yet. Some of my absolute favourite music-related memories are a complete nightmare in the COVID-19 age.

Music appreciation, music enjoyment, is such a communal experience. When you’re at a concert – the reverent hush of the crowd while the band plays a deep cut b-side it. Or the intensifying buzz and cheers as the crowd begins to recognize the opening chords of a hit single. It’s magic and there’s nothing like it. And for those of you who may disagree with my inclusion of “private karaoke rooms” in a live music appreciation post – there’s no greater compliment than choosing a song for karaoke! Pick a song that you’ve listened to a song so many times that you know the lyrics by heart, and then choose to share that love with your friends (or strangers).  When you plan a karaoke evening with friends, you know it’s going to be about celebrating your favourite songs, or guilty pleasures, looking to impress your friends with your next song pick. Continue reading

Other Magic Schools

hogwarts castle, at the wizarding world of harry potter
I never dreamed about getting a letter to Hogwarts. Not really. Even though I followed Harry throughout Hogwarts when we were the same age, I guess I was happy enough in the present world to not need an escape. I completely understand everyone who did, though. Magic school is a place to reinvent yourself. In books, especially in the Harry Potter series, magic school is life changing for the child or person who felt like they never really fit in. Discovering that you’re magic or special in some way means you get to be a whole new person. You’ve been chosen! Either through hard work, or luck, or just destiny. Most of the time, books with magic schools have a clear delineation with the before – the setting is cold, grey, lifeless, the protagonist feels like they don’t fit in anywhere – and the after. For most people, Harry Potter and Hogwarts was probably one of their first introductions to magic schools – especially if they read it in their youth, like I did. It’s why Hogwarts sticks as much as it does. It’s also probably why Universal Studios, home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, saw a huge jump in admission once the Harry Potter Park was built – almost 10 million people visited the Orlando park in 2018. I visited earlier this year and most people were wearing their house robes and brandishing interactive wands, just for a taste of magic. Continue reading