Cover to Cover

David Broughall
Librarian at Ansley Grove Library

By George Orwell
This was the first piece of adult literature I ever read. Even though I’ve read it half a dozen times, I am still deeply affected by the idea that the state can watch our every move and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

A Tale of Two Cities
By Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities contains perhaps
the most famous opening line in English literature. While Dickens’ story of the French Revolution is a historical epic, it is also, I believe, one of the finest stories of personal redemption.

The Kite Runner
By Khaled Hosseini
This is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It’s a story of a boyhood friendship in Afghanistan that crosses religious and cultural caste lines. It is also a tale of betrayal by one of those friends and his desperate attempt to make amends.

Daniela Pacini
Librarian at Pierre Berton Resource Library

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
By Michael Pollan
From farm to dinner plate, Michael Pollan’s gastronomic journey completely transformed the way I think about food. I will never look at a field of corn the same way again.

Anne of Green Gables
By L.M. Montgomery
This classic story captures my heart from the very first page. I admire Anne Shirley’s curious mind and determined attitude. Anne’s message is one we can all learn from: be true to yourself.

Life of Pi
By Anne of Green Gables
I have been told this is a book you either love or hate. I love it because it tackles themes of faith, love and mortality through the unlikely relationship between a young man and a wild tiger.

Andrea Wesson
Librarian at Maple Library

The Secret of the Old Clock
By Carolyn Keene
This is the first book in the Nancy Drew mystery series. Reading Nancy Drew books turned me into an avid reader and they always remind me how powerful book series can be for young readers. Series books hook children on reading and build confidence in their reading ability.

Bark, George
By Jules Feiffer
Bark, George is a storytime favourite for children, adults and librarians alike!  I was introduced to this book early in my career and it remains one of my first choices for storytime at the library. In the story, when the character of George is asked to bark, he does everything but. There is a twist at the end that always delights the listeners.

I Want My Hat Back
By Jon Klassen
One of my favourite new authors, Jon Klassen, wrote and illustrated this story about a bear hunting for his missing hat. Klassen’s amazing illustrations bring the humour and tension of the story to life.

Dina Stevens
Librarian at Woodbridge Library

The Old Man and the Sea
By Ernest Hemingway
I first read this book when I was 14 years old. I had gone to Chapters with my mother and I was determined to buy myself a book. For some reason that I don’t quite remember now, I bought this one not knowing it would become one of the books that would stay with me my entire life.  This story is about one man’s struggle and perseverance.  The message I took away from Hemingway’s book then was about the nature of life, and even when I read it now, I can find new meaning in the words. The Old Man and the Sea is such a moving story, and I am always able to identify with Santiago, no matter where I am in my life.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
By J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter opened up a world of magic and imagination for me that I had never experienced before.  I was able to get completely lost in a reality that was so detailed and rich, but was completely my own in my imagination. Reading the first book when I was 12 years old, I grew up with Harry and his friends, rereading the books while waiting for new titles in the series. I would even go to midnight book releases into my twenties after waitressing at Kelsey’s just so I could get my hands on the new one, reading well into the morning.  The books became nostalgic as I got older; a symbol of my youth, my imagination, and my great love of reading. These books were a catalyst into a world of books and one of the reasons I went on to study literature and becomea librarian.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland was the first book that taught me that stories can be more than just the words that are written on the page. I first fell in love with the White Rabbit and Alice’s curiosity, how the characters came to life and how Carroll manipulates the words on the page to convey meaning. I was amazed by Carroll’s characters and how they are meant to represent more than their apparent roles in the story.
Simultaneously, I found it a commentary on the fears and anxieties of growing up, and how it can all be just a little absurd. I read this book over and over again.

Vivien Keiling
Librarian at Maple Library

Ender’s Game
By Orson Scott Card
This one might seem a bit cliché, especially with the movie having been released recently and all the new fanfare about it in the last year … However, Ender’s Game is definitely the book I would have to name as one of my all-time favourites, as well as my favourite sci-fi novel.  Unlike some of the recent publication covers and what the movie would suggest, this is not a story written for children.  It’s a science fiction story that examines ethics and human nature and more than just a little bit of politics.  The story takes place on a futuristic Earth, where humans are preparing to defend humanity from invading aliens (Buggers), and after some very close previous battles with the aliens, the leaders of Earth have decided that we need to start training soldiers as children and submerge them in military thinking in order to find future officers who will lead us to victory.  One of the most promising students in Battle School is Andrew (a.k.a. Ender) Wiggin, who, due to his younger age and small stature compared to the older children, finds himself up against a number of opponents.  And then there are the Buggers.

I think I fell in love with this book for a number of reasons — the fact that my mother (who was always an avid reader) loved sci-fi and had almost all of Orson Scott Card’s books was the reason it ended up in my hands, but there was definitely more to it. I loved the characters and the very well described emotions and frustrations that Ender is going through — and having to overcome — on his own.  The futuristic military components completely fascinated me … this was probably the first book I read that introduced me to warfare as something other than history. (I think I first read this when I was in Grade 5). This book was my gateway to science fiction … from this book, I jumped into the rest of the original Ender’s Game quartet (which is not the Shadow series as so many people think), and then to other sci-fi authors and their works: Larry Niven, Anne McCaffrey, Aldous Huxley, Frank Herbert, Robert A. Heinlein, Alan Dean Foster and, of course, Isaac Asimov. I almost always have this book on the tip of my tongue whenever anyone is interested in trying out sci-fi, or for those “reluctant readers,” as Ender’s Game pretty much has it all — adventure, mystery, reluctant heroes and aliens, all wrapped up in an engrossing and nerve-wrenching tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Where the Red Fern Grows
By Wilson Rawls
OK, so this book is not going to be for everyone, it’s a fairly slow-paced novel that is pretty much entirely about a boy living in a small town in the early 1900s in the Ozarks. (At least, I’m assuming that’s the case; it was written in 1961 and the story is narrated by an old man who recollects his childhood). At age 10, young Billy Coleman gets “dog-fever” — something I think a lot of people can relate to, I know I did — and spends the next two years saving away any and all money he can make doing odd jobs here and there for anyone willing to pay him, until he finally has enough saved to buy two Redbone Coonhounds.  And then the story goes on, telling the tale of Billy and his dogs — Big Dan and Little Ann — as he trains them and then goes hunting with them in the mountains, and as they face many trials and tribulations that the three of them overcome.

This book has broken my heart a few times … I don’t know if it is just because I first read it when I was quite young (a potential reason this made such an impact on me might have been a point of pride, I was in the third grade when I read it and it was a book that my brother’s Grade 6 class was reading), but this book continues to reach and grasp all my emotions whenever I reread it. I fell in love with dogs even more than I already had before I first read this book; I was introduced to character death in this book; I learned about how crazy-different the world was not that long ago from everything I knew as the norm; and I was inspired by the courage and devotion that the characters showed.  The book itself is a good piece of writing, fairly simple, but with very sympathetic characters that make you feel their emotions. After this book I went searching for more animal-reads and ended up devouring all the Walter Farley books (The Black Stallion series) and Marguerite Henry novels.

Kushiel’s Dart
By Jacqueline Carey
Now, this was a book that took me by surprise. Let’s just say that when I first picked it up, I was a teenager who had not yet encountered the word “courtesan”, and assumed it was a feminized version of “courtier”, which I was quite familiar seeing as I had already jumped into reading fantasy books and there are a fair number of courtiers in traditional fantasy.

Basically, this book — the first in a trilogy, that ended up being a trilogy of trilogies in this particular fantasy world — was about a woman named Phèdre who — after being sold into servitude by her mother when she was four — becomes a trained spy and uses subterfuge via her public position as a courtesan (a.k.a. a paid concubine/escort … really, courtesan makes the most sense for this particular title) to gather information and help protect her country from twisted plots, assassinations, war and political uprisings. Oh, and she’s also an anguissette — marked by the Kushiel (an angel … I’m not going to get into the world-creation here, but it basically does an interesting twist of European history with Judeo-Christianity as a basis for the religion that is at the forefront of this story) to take pleasure in pain; a masochist.

This world — after getting over my shock when I learned the difference between a courtesan and a courtier — just blew my mind. While I had read a number of books by the time this one came into my life, I had never really felt the impact that such world creation can achieve. The history, lands, religions, peoples and ways of life that all the people in the world that Jacqueline Carey created in the Kushiel’s Legacy series just really was astounding. The political intrigue, the character dynamics, the rather risqué and so totally upfront attitude about sex and the differences between that and love (as well as the similarities) were just so beautifully and intricately written. I adored the characters, their compassion and selflessness (as well as their selfishness); I loved the villain; and I was just besotted with the love story that gets twisted up in all of it.I’ve recommended this book to a number of friends, male and female alike, and they were all taken in by it — one of them so much so that she got a tattoo of the main tenet from the land Phèdre is from: “Love as thou wilt.” Honestly, what a story.

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