Tag Archives: Non-fiction

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

Dive Into Reading: Cetaceans

Jane YolenOK, now we’re starting to get into more specific ocean inhabitants. We’ll be focusing on cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) this week before moving on to molluscs in the next installation. And while we’re on this topic, something exciting’s going to be coming to FYL on Mondays for the next few weeks throughout the summer, so this series is going to be coming in slightly more sporadic spurts as a result. Now, onto cetaceans! I’m going to be highlighting a few different types of books so that hopefully everyone will be able to find something that suits their reading needs, from those who absolutely adore reading scholarly articles to those who are interested in something with a bit more narrative, whether it be fiction or memoir.

Starting off with something that probably has the greatest appeal in terms of how broad its audience might be, The Stranded Whale by Jane Yolen is a great book with which to complement the ROM’s whale exhibit! Yolen & Cataldo have done a wonderful job in depicting the little girl and her experience with a beached whale, continuing to explore how this event has affected the girl and her community. The Stranded Whale tugs at your heartstrings while providing some facts about stranding at the end after the story, which I think is a great way to start discussion about strandings as well as about whales in general. Going to the ROM would be great either before or after this book, as you’ll learn all about one of the possible futures for the whale that got stranded in this book: having its bones live at a museum.

A great follow-up for an older audience would be The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins, which I’ll discuss in more detail below, where you will learn that some whales actually beach on purpose. (No, they’re not trying to commit suicide… or are they?)

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Dive Into Reading: Spineless

Susan MiddletonThis is one of those beautiful books that begs to be picked up – I mean, just look at that cover! – and absorbed in wonder.  While it’s most certainly not the type of book you might want carrying around in your bag while you’re out and about (although that’s totally personal preference, and I will concede there might exist someone who likes to lug around tomes in their bags while out running errands or just going around town), the size of the book was definitely a good choice; although there are also a few essays throughout the book, I believe the photographs are what the readers are here for, and the size of the book itself make it so that every beautiful colours jump out at you and every detail – every tentacle, arm, eye, and other appendages – is presented with incredible clarity.

The second installment of the Dive Into Reading series is, as you might have by now surmised, Spineless, by Susan Middleton.

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