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Librarian in Residence: Christmas picks, part 1!

By Jessica Green on November 4, 2014


As you nurse that mini chocolate bar hangover, I have some bad news and good news: you’ll have to listen to THOSE songs as you hit any of the shops from now until Christmas, but on the brighter side, I have lots of good finds to share that you may consider for your loved ones. I’ve assembled them into triplets; that is three picks per type of book. This is only part one as I’ll be concentrating on kids’ stuff exclusively in part two, coming soon.

Adult Non-fiction

For your fashion fiends – The WORN Archive – The collected best from WORN Fashion Journal. Really awesome photography and art juxtaposed with insightful articles. I want to own this! And as it is based out of Toronto, it has some interesting Canadian thoughts and essays which is always nice to see.

For your Chris Hadfield fans – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth  – This is a really interesting memoir and I don’t tend to go for memoirs. I liked reading all the bits about space as I’ll never get there, and Hadfield is your quintessential Canadian guide to life outside Earth. A fun read.

For your science buff – Gulp: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach – Roach is the master of fun pop science reads and Gulp is no exception. She covers such topics as megacolons, flatulence, gastric juices and saliva with curiosity. You follow the narrative from mouth to that last final sphincter, with odd stories along the way and meet with scientists who are looking at how we digest.

Adult Fiction

For anyone who still loves dystopian tales there were two trilogies that stood out for me this year. One released the final book, Burn in its series by Julianna Baggott. It finishes the story that began with Pure and Fuse. The other was by Hugh Howley, which started with Wool, followed by Shift and Dust. I found this trilogy to be far more satisfying in its resolution. Both books feature governments that made bad decisions which impacted their populaces in quite different ways. Pure has some characters horrifyingly mutated and others who are not. Wool takes place in a silo deep in the ground, but all is not what it seems, because why does IT have more power than the mayor?…..

For an offbeat romance story – The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion. – This hot, new must-read, much like the offbeat, 100 year old man book, follows the adventures of Don Tillman, a genetics professor who decides it is time he found a wife. He applies his scientific know-how to the Wife Project to find his perfect partner, and as the cliché goes, “mayhem ensues”. It makes for a delightful read and I am waiting to get my hands on the recently published sequel, The Rosie Effect.

For fans of really solid action novels – The Martian by Andy Weir – This space book is set in the near future and is about astronaut Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars. It follows his adventures in trying to get off Mars, getting into and out of numerous scrapes. This was one of those books I really enjoyed reading, but had to put down from time to time because I kept thinking “HE DID THAT IN SPACE! AAAAAHHHH!” (I have an irrational fear of the vacuum in space). A simply fantastic novel, and it is being made into a movie as we speak.

Teen Books

If you know a teen or tween girl trying to figure out where they fit in – Popular by Maya Van Wagenen is written by a teen who stumbles upon a guide to popularity from the 1950s. With her mother’s encouragement, Maya tries out the advice offered during her last year of middle school, and this memoir tells of what happened. A very cool slice of life read.

A good teen read with some meat to it – Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – Although I adored her book Fangirl, Eleanor and Park is an equally great but much grittier story. Set in 1986, Eleanor is a big girl with bright red hair who has to deal with the travails of high school while being poor. Park is half Korean, adores comic books and good music. The two characters meet and have a surprising romance, and there’s real drama – not just teen drama, but real white knuckle stuff. It’s a great story, and I do wish there was a sequel if only to know it all worked out for both characters….

For teens who like sci fi – Empress of the Sun by Ian McDonald – Your main character is Everett who has a map and device that allows him to safely travel to alternate Earths. He’s also trying to find his dad who disappeared, as well as save his Earth from the evil machinations of Charlotte Villiers. Yes, you should read the prequels, Be My Enemy and Planesrunner so you know all the characters, but you’ll be glad you did!


For anyone who grew up in the 80s watching wrestling – Andre the Giant: Life and Legend – A neat graphic novel that illustrates some of the stories about Andre the Giant. Definitely for adults, as some stories show him warts and all, but Andre really did live a big life (pun intended). I liked the spare artwork style in the book quite a bit.

For your dystopian fan – Snowpiercer: Volume 1 and Volume 2 – It’s bleak, and very much written by someone from France in parts, but it’s a gripping story in black and white art. Volume 1 is the source material for the movie of the same name that came out earlier this year. A must read in English or in French (known as Transperceneige)

For a really trippy read – FPB: Federal Bureau of Physics Vol 1 – The Paradigm Shift – I loved the artwork in this first volume about a version of Earth where the laws of physics are completely turned around. You follow Adam Hardy as he’s on a rescue mission in a “BubbleVerse” but conspiracies are afoot, and all is not what it seems….

Coming very soon is part two which features books for children!