musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Monday, January 15, 2007

story sharing

In Toronto, the big story today is the weather. I woke at 6:30 to CBC Radio's litany of collisions and cancellations. Seemed like a good excuse to pull the blankets over my head and declare a personal ice and snow day.

As I lay abed, comfortably pondering the merits of napping vs. coffee, I found myself listening to an interview with Ontario's lieutenant-governor, James Bartleman who is again asking the public to donate books for schools and libraries in Canada's remote north. Over a million books were donated in the first year of the program but the need is still great. This year the campaign focuses on books for children and adolescents. "Without books," said Bartleman in an earlier CBC interview, "the children will never learn to read, will never develop the self-esteem that comes from obtaining an education, and will never escape the despair that fuels the suicide epidemic among children and youth that has been raging out of sight and out of mind in the north of our province." New or gently used books can be dropped off at any police station in Toronto or at OPP offices anywhere in Ontario. Deadline is January 31st.

Have you ever walked past an old building or driven down an interesting street in your city and wondered about the history of the place? [murmur] is a program in Toronto (also in Vancouver, Montreal, and San Jose) that lets you listen, by phone, to the stories and reminiscences of people who know. You can try it out online, too, by clicking a red dot on the map. What a great idea, and yet another incentive to get out there walking.

When it comes to sharing stories, Suzanne Beacher of, should win a prize. She's personally responsible for at least 50% of my own to-be-read pile, which is pretty much out of control. (I've even got paperbacks stashed in my son's sock drawer...and when you consider that his bedroom is so small it was once used as a closet, you get some idea of just how dire the situation is!) I try to abide by a one-in/one-out rule, passing on the books I've read to friends, family, and charities. But just when I think I've got a handle on things, Suzanne sends along another intriguing story or two, I forget my rule, and the pile(s) grow again. This week, she's tempting me with excerpts from:

THE BOOK OF NAMES by Jill Gregory & Karen Tintori - "A fast-paced historical thriller that explores Jewish mysticism, ancient history, and the Kabbalah." ('Read it First' email book club)

47 RULES OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BANK ROBBERS by Troy Cook - "What if your father raised you to be a bank robber? Instead of Barbie & Ken, you played with Smith & Wesson? And now you're twenty-two and ready to flee the nest, but your homicidal pop won't let you go?" ('Mystery' email book club)

JOURNEY INTO THE HEART by David Monagan - "...compelling biography and a multifaceted tale of medical discovery and business intrigue. The twentieth-century journey to understand the human heart was an epic saga, on par with the race to the moon. This book tells the story as never before." ('Prepub' email book club)

Sadly, I won't be catching up on any reading this afternoon, though. Snow days just haven't been the same since the invention of telecommuting. Break's over. It's back to the ol' remote desktop for me.


At 12:06 am, Blogger Pammie said...

Hi Ostara, thanks for the tip on Vancouver, I am going to listen to the Vancouver ones!

Good luck with the book donations, it's a great idea. I'm new to the country, so I can't help but, isn't the government supposed to be stocking libraries and schoolrooms for children all over Canada?

At 12:47 am, Blogger Ostara said...

I agree it should work that way, Pammie, but unfortunately it seems our government has other ideas about how best to spend taxpayers' money.

There was another participant in the Bartleman radio interview on Monday morning -- unfortunately, I can't recall his name but he's the principal of the aboriginal elementary school in Attawapiskat, way up north on James Bay in Ontario. The school was condemned back in 2000 after a diesel fuel leak and the 400 students were put in portable classrooms with no gym or library or other facilities. They are still in portables seven years later.

You can read about it from the point of view of a student at the school at this 2005 blog:


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