The Human Side of War: Andrew Iarocci, Jack Granatstein, Thomas Weber, Denis Smyth – Nov 4th

All Proceeds from Ticket Sales Got to Restoration of The Soldiers' Tower

Four great Military Historians/Authors Read and Talk About The Human Side of War

In honour of Remembrance Day, University of Toronto Bookstore will honour the students, staff and faculty who were part of WWI and WWII by featuring four well known Canadian military authors Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. 

The event’s prominent Military Authors and Historians will read from their books, sign autographs and discuss the emotional and physical impact of war on soldiers, family friends and the community, especially in WWI and WWII.  Jack Granatstein will be discussing The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History, Andrew Iarocci will be reading from his book, The 1st Canadian Division at War, 1914 – 1915, Thomas Weber will read from his new book, Hitler’s First War and Denis Smyth will read the amazing story, Deadly Deception: The Real Story Behind Operation Mincemeat. Images and artifacts from the Soldiers’ Tower about the U of T Alumni will be on display.

 

EVENT DETAILS:

WHAT: The Human Side of War Reading Series Event

WHERE: Great Hall, University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College Street, Toronto, ON, M5T 3A1

WHEN: Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.  (Doors open at 6pm)

TICKETS: $15 for general admission and includes coffee and tea.  All proceeds from ticket sales go to The University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower Visit www.uoftbookstore.com/soldiers-tower or call 416-640-5829 for tickets.

 

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Bill McKibben, eaarth

As part of the Reading Series, Bill McKibben’s new book, eaarth was launched to a sold out crowd at U of T Bookstore 

Bill McKibben's, eaarth

 last night.  Margaret Atwood had a conversation on stage with him.  There are only about a dozen books left in the store today – I think almost everyone bought one. 

Before the event started a man ran into the store and desperately wanted to purchase McKibben’s book because he had heard him speak on CFRB and Canada AM earlier that day.  We asked him if he’d like to leave it with us and we’d have it signed for him, but he said, “No, I just really need to read it”.  Need.  

Need indeed. 

All of us need to read Bill McKibben’s book, eaarth.  It’s written for a general audience (meaning, while it’s full of facts it doesn’t read like an essay, technical journal or a manual).  In fact, it’s dripping with sarcasm, with ideas never thought of – such as the impact the environment has on the psyches of war torn countries and sooo, so much more.  eaarth is not about changing our light bulbs – it’s bigger than that, it’s about needing to ask governments to change environmental legislation and not renege. 

Well, I needed to read it before the event yesterday.  I was the MC for the night.  I raced through Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of The Flood – they were great reads, as we usually come to expect from Margaret Atwood.  I read the advanced reading copy of eaarth last.  I have to admit the reason I had read it last was that I thought it was going to be a daunting affair, that my brain, being more artsy than science-based, wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend, that I’d have to sit beside my computer to look stuff-up. I knew Bill had a huge following and that he was the top dog at www.350.org, but I thought the book would be about proverbial “flux capacitors.”    

Well, as fate would have it – I needed to read that book.  It was a great read, chocked with things that have made me see the world around us a lot and I mean a lot differently. I was absorbed in the book, like a child full of wonder.  The week before I read eaarth, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the weather in Toronto, last week.  Now I think, last weekend I wore shorts, during the week I carried an umbrella for three days rain and then yesterday, the day environmentalist, Bill McKibben was in the store it snowed.  The “creative” side of my brain couldn’t have thought up that type of punctuation to begin my intro on stage when he covers things like that in his book. 

Previously, I skimmed through the “environment-type” issues in The Metro, on my commute in to Toronto on the Go Train.  There seems to be information overload on environmental stories, like health stories – what to eat, what to do, what not to do, wine is good for you, wine is bad for you type stories.  Last week, on one day in the paper there were two big environmental issues… 

“The death toll hits 100 in Brazil from rains and mud slides – the heaviest deluge on record.  In our own Toronto city, Grassy Narrow, residents came 1800 kilometres to march in front of the legislature because, and I quote, “the water has stopped flowing in a clean way and it has become our poison.  Mercury poisoning in the First Nation is worse than in the late 60s, early 70s when a paper mill dumped the equivalent of 9-thousand kilograms of mercury into the Wabogoon River.  McKibben’s book speaks to what big business has done in regards to mercury and how it affects the planet as we know it. 

I’m not saying I would have not read the stories in the paper – I like to keep up on current events.  What I am saying is how reading one book, that I needed to read for work, changed my thoughts.  Look what we’ve done to our world.  Global warming does exist and those 100 people in Brazil may be alive today if we didn’t have more rain.  Grassy Narrow residents are fighting for what we in Toronto take as fact…we turn on the tap and clean water comes out. We did this, government policy did this. 

I needed to read this book, I needed to see the world differently – I needed to change.

Win Tickets Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben – U of T Bookstore Reading Series

Enter now to win tickets to Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben - eaarth book launch

After a brief haitus the U of T Bookstore Reading Series returns with a great author event:

Enter now to win tickets to Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben – eaarth book launch

Intimate conversations with Margaret Atwood & Bill McKibben about his new book, eaarth. 

It’s a small, invite only event, but you can get your name on the list by entering on the U of T Bookstore website

The event is Friday April 9th @ 7.30pm (doors open at 7) at 214 College Street, Toronto (Koffler Building). 

eaarth will be available for purchase (and signing!!!) at the U of T Bookstore- eaarth doesn’t go on sale to the public until the following Monday.

The Review: Collections of Nothing, William Davies King

The Review:  Collections of Nothing, William Davies KingCollections of Nothing
William Davies King
University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 978-0-226-43701-9
$13.71

Reviewed by University of Toronto Bookstore Staff, James Bell

I’ve collected various things over the years: comic books, CDs, stamps, baseball cards.  The first two I would classify as useful items (I read every comic, listened to every CD), while the last two were extravagances, mere symbols of things that interested me (history, art, sport).  Comics and CDs took over much of my discretionary income for large periods of my life, but I wouldn’t say that they ever became obsessions–I rarely paid more than face value for a comic book, for example, and few of them made it into mylar protective bags.

William Davies King rarely paid a dime for the things he collected, because they were nothing anyone else wanted.  Cereal boxes, pieces of tooled metal, envelope liners, stickers from fruit, business cards–these items and many others, detritus from our consumer culture, make up the bulk of King’s collection of nothing (a Seinfeldesque nothing, meaning everything).  What he collected is only part of the story of Collections of Nothing, a fascinating and poignant memoir of an extraordinary–though populated by the extra ordinary and banal items that we touch every day without thought–life of a fifty-something professor, father, husband, and yes, collector.

“Collecting is a way of linking past, present, and future.  Objects for the past get collected in the present to preserve them for the future,” writes King, who takes the reader into his own past in an attempt to explain why he collects in the present, while remaining uncertain of his future, and the future of his collection.  As the book closes, he’s about to move to a new house, and must contemplate moving his collection, leading him to wonder if his children will want it–they say they do, they say they’ve begun to understand the collection, but he’s not sure. 

While King shares an acquisitiveness reminiscent of stories we’ve read about hoarders who fill their houses with newspapers, he’s more akin to Henry Darger, the janitor whose lifelong project/novel/art was revealed to the world only at the end of his life.  King can argue that his collections are art, that he has functioned as a curator, the subject being life in the second half of the twentieth century, specifically his own life and the goods, packaging, and discarded bits that surrounded him in a society inundated with stuff.  He has the academic credentials to back him up: Scholar of the House in his senior year at Yale, university professor and later Chair of his department, published author.  But apart from rare occasions, he hasn’t shown his collection to others, hasn’t made a career or a life out of his art, but in spite of it.  “Why, I wonder, do I create objects that I presume others won’t want to see?  Self-hatred shouts out in this,” he writes, “or guilt.  And it’s all rather beautiful.”  It’s not normal behaviour to have kept the labels from hundreds of different brands of bottled water, as King has, and he’s aware of it, but he also knows that “I’ve got something here, an entity, in these collections of nothing, though the entity cannot stand alone. . . I have to be there with it for it to be something other than an enigma.  My impulse to write about the collections responds to that need for me to be present, like a father, but also to my need to let them go, like a father.”  Writing this book, revealing his collections, is King’s way of coming to terms with the difficulties of his life–an abusive, later institutionalized sister, the loneliness of being sent away to school at thirteen, never to live with his family again, the breakdown of his marriage.  This is the real heart of the book, where King conveys how collections of nothing became something, and sometimes everything.

Buy Collections of Nothing, William Davies King Now!

The Review: Portobello, Ruth Rendell

Portobello
By Ruth RendellThe Review:  Portobello, Ruth Rendell
ISBN: 978-1-4000-2550-3
Random House
$10.99

Reviewed by University of  Toronto Press Staff, Andrea-Jo Wilson

Lacking the menace a casual mystery reader would associate with the genre, Ruth Rendell’s latest novel, Portobello,  nonetheless builds a formidable atmosphere of suspense, as the lives of a few are impacted by the seemingly innocuous discovery of a small sum of money found lying around London’s busy Portobello Road.

Preferring the whydunit to the whodunit, Rendell relies on the uncertainties of human behavior and not a masked villain to provide the necessary drama. “Like his mind,” she says of her main character, “his house in Chepstow Villas held many secret drawers and locked boxes.”

Famous for her Inspector Wexford mysteries set in the fictious small town of Kingsmarkham, Rendell’s talent has always been her eye for detail and finely drawn character studies. The author of over 40 novels, in addition to 11 more under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, Rendell is as famous in Britain for her obsessions (vegetarianism, punctuality) as she is here for her best selling novels.

The characters that inhabit Portobello are a believable mix of quirky and mundane, their sugar-free candy addictions, time management skills and interior decor  preferences keenly drawn, although none are as lucid as Rendell’s preferred foil, the city of London. Neither hero nor villain, Rendell’s London is prepared to take the long view and so bears the vagaries of human behavior and fate with an empathetic smile. “Some say the Pubs are to be renamed because no one knows who the Earl of Lonsdale was, still fewer the Prince Bonaparte, and those wanting change favour that cliché name the Slug and the Lettuce. But there are always rumours, and mostly they come to nothing.”

Buy Portobello, Ruth Rendell Now!

The Review: Angel Time, Anne Rice

Angel Time
By Anne RiceThe Review:  Angel Time, Anne Rice
ISBN: 978-0-676-97808-7
Random House
$35.00

Reviewed by University of Toronto Bookstore Staff, Ceri Nelmes

In Angel Time, Anne Rice moves beyond the despairingly dark vampires, witches, and beauty protagonists that we’ve come to expect from her and portrays a deeply troubled and soulless contract assassin named Toby O’Dare.  In the first half of the novel, Toby is forced to reinvent himself after his abysmal teenagehood comes abruptly to a tragic halt.  Unknowingly searching for a purpose, love, and acceptance, Toby finds a Father Figure – something he’s never had before.  When injustice strikes Toby initiates a protective battle for what is right, commits the ultimate sin, and soon becomes a contract assassin.

Before the end of the first half of the book a skeptical Toby meets a seraph, Malchiah, who has a mission for him.  After the angel convinces him that he is a messenger from God, Toby’s work transforms into a quest to save lives instead of end them.  His first task is to save a 13th Century Jewish couple accused of ritual murder. In order to do so he is transported back in time by Angel Time and must attempt to end conflict in the town of Norwich.

Part two is a struggle for rightness in a cast of would-be martyrs . The landscape in England surrounds an accused “sinner” couple who are choked by thorns of religious difference and familial expectations.  Fluria and Muir are accused of a child’s ritual murder which, in an attempt to find justice, creates a tumultuous and festering witch hunt.  Enter the town Friar, the lawman, the woman and her child who have brought forth the accusations, the loving-but-zealous Grandfather, and numerous other characters who believe that what they are doing what is right.

Toby grows while he watches beautiful yet equally festered humanity play out. Almost all of the main characters lie to suit their purpose and, surprisingly, we are left somewhat relieved. The puritanical go against everything they believe in and lie when put on trial in order to save lives.  Seeing this, Toby struggles with his former self and the demons that continually beat him. He forgives himself, just as he was righteously forgiven by God, proving that one good deed vanquishes all of your past deeds as long as you are genuine in your request.

The events during Toby’s perilous mission affect his own tangled web of emotions.  Toby’s childhood, choice of career, and the resulting struggle is heart wrenching. Although he embodies the traits of a stereotypical killer, we sympathize with him despite ourselves because we know how addiction and selfishness stole his childhood.

Buy Anne Rice’s Angel Time Now!