Tag Archives: Non-fiction

Way Back When: Discovering 1923 in 2023

Well, it’s 2023, which feels like a strange and unwieldy number for a year to be after the neat symmetry of 2022. I thought for today’s post it would be interesting to look at different events that occurred exactly 100 years ago, and feature various books, movies, and resources for you to explore corresponding to those events. For one thing, ‘those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’, and for another…this makes learning history fun! (For me, at the very least, but hopefully for you too). Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

cover of Red Star Over Russie by David King

January | The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) aka the Soviet Union is established after a period of revolution. Red Star Over Russia by David King has a self-explanatory subtitle; it’s a Visual History of the Soviet Union From the Revolution to the Death of Stalin: Posters, Photographs and Graphics From the David King Collection. I’m a visual learner myself, and this graphic book is eye-catching and eye-opening, and reminds readers of the intersection of art and politics as a revolutionary incentive, as propaganda, and as an art movement in and of itself.

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The World Through a Lens: a Photographic Perspective

The cover of Wild and Crazy

My bio hints at it, but I’ll state this fact plainly: I am a photographer. Not*1 in an “I take pictures” way, but in the “I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography” way. Yup. I was a weirdo arts school kid before being a*2 library school student. I’m also completely over the art world, primarily because of my bachelor’s. All you “I take pictures” photographers? Keep at it! It’s not a degree that makes you a photographer; it’s taking pictures. At least in my eyes.

So why did going to school for art turn me against the art world? I like taking pretty photographs*3 and trying to ascribe some higher meaning to them just to please critics gives me a headache. I’m an uncomplicated photographer; what you see in the picture is what you choose to see. I just saw something neat and framed it in a way that pleased me.

Not all photographers work like I do, though. Some have missions to complete, subjects they excel in capturing, a desire to push the medium forward, or a cause to champion. They shoot for magazinescompetitionsjournalism, or any myriad of reasons. Sometimes those photos are collected in massive books. We’ve all been in a bookstore and seen coffee table books, behemoths full of imagery to peruse while taking a break with a nice hot drink. Lovely to look through, but with homes getting smaller, who has space for them these days? This is where the library comes in*4, borrow the book, look through it for a time, and return it when you’re done, knowing it’ll be there again if you want it.

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

When’s the last time you laughed – a hearty, can’t catch your breath, rib-tickling – kind of laugh? Maybe it’s been a while. Maybe you just don’t think there’s anything to laugh about these days, during this challenging, tiring, and seemingly endless monotony we are living in. Maybe you feel guilty to laugh knowing that people in your community are struggling and suffering, knowing that life may not return to the way you remember. Maybe you are still reeling from the unforgivable atrocity against George Floyd, and rightly so (please see Karen’s enlightening blog post on allyship and anti-racism).

Yes, even with all these sorrows, our collective anger and outrage, we must make room for laughter. Humour can lighten our mental load, provide a much-needed respite from the unrelenting flow of bad news, and help us cope with this new world in which we find ourselves.

We have much to be grateful for. Many of us are surrounded by a loving circle of comrades who are enduring quarantine right alongside us. We have seen so many of our community members dedicate their time, resources, and energy to help those less fortunate. And we have prevailed, finding new and innovative ways to connect, exercise, relax, and nourish our souls (#TogetherVaughan). We are gonna get through this!

I’m here to tell you that laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s a scientific fact! Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, and thereby actually improves your resistance to disease. Take a moment to let that sink in. Laughter, yes, plain old-fashioned heart pumping laughter, is actually a disease-fighting superhero!

Below are some of my tried and true favourites to ease the doldrums, put a smile on your face, and warm your heart. Most are available in digital form, however, if you prefer a physical copy, Vaughan Public Libraries has you covered with curbside pickup at select branches. Continue reading