My Brain on Books! by Sharren Reil

blog July 30

I have always preferred a good book over a movie or T.V. show and now neuroscientists are telling me that this benefits my brain!  Recent studies into how the brain works are revealing that reading, and also listening to stories, has positive effects on brain development.  Listening to stories, like our available EBooks, makes your brain work.  Different areas of my brain light up depending on the topic discussed.

When we read or listen to words our brains makes pictures, or photos of what we are reading about.  I guess that is why when we see a picture of a radio host, we are often surprised that they look so different from what we pictured them to look like!

Reading about experiences is almost the same as living them. Our brains react as if we are in an experience when we read about it!  It is like athletes or musicians who think about playing and their brain stimulates the same areas as when they are actually moving those muscles.  This helps me understand why I love nonfiction adventure stories so much.  When I read about Shackleton and his crew, my mind thinks I am there and it is so exciting!

Neuroscientists have shown that story structure encourages our brains to think in sequence and expands our attention spans.  Thinking in sequence allows our brains to link cause and effect.  The more you read, the better the brain gets at thinking this way, and our attention span increases. read-515531_1280

Reading can also change our brain structure!  The more you read, the more white matter you develop in the language area of the brain.  That is so cool!  It really is true that what we do with our brain determines how it is wired and the areas that either grow or atrophy.  Use it or lose it, baby!

Deep reading, meaning reading that really makes you feel what the characters in a story feel, makes us more empathetic to people and more aware of and alert to the lives of others.  I feel that books have given me greater insight into other people’s motivations and choices.

I have not been able to find anything about the following attribute of books online, but reading has saved the world from my impatient wrath many, many times.  I am always on time and appointments or people that run late would drive me to homicide, were it not for books.  I always carry one, so I can read instead of seethe!  I really just can’t imagine live without books and reading.  And now, instead of wondering if I really should be doing something else, I can kick back and realize that I am growing my brain.  Really, what could be more important than that?

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What’s Your Reading Routine? By Alison McCorkle

We’ve been busy at the Temiskaming Shores Public Library with Summer Reading Contests for both adults and children who read in English and Défi de lecture for adults and children who read in French.

I’m sad to say that I think I’m only on my second book of the summer!  I read for pleasure every day but I’m not going through my book choices very quickly at all!  I think the reason is that I’m too tired and I usually do most of my reading when I go to bed at night.

What is your reading routine like?  Do you read in the morning with your coffee to get a quiet start to your day?  Are you a mealtime reader who prefers a book to conversation?  Do you carry your book with you wherever you go, be it the dentist’s office or the garage for your car’s oil change, and read while you wait?

Does the time of year influence your reading routine at all?  Do the lazy days of summer make you want to swing in a hammock and read away the afternoon?

Does curling up on the couch with a nice cup of tea and a good book on a crisp autumn day tickle your fancy?

Would you enjoy cuddling under a cozy throw on a snowy day, with a great novel and a hot chocolate?

Perhaps you would prefer the sound of rain on the roof, lamplight glowing and a story and tea that beckon you to rest awhile.

Whatever your reading routine is, or if you really don’t follow any particular reading routine at all, my advice is to just keep reading, whenever and wherever you can.

There have been many scientific studies done on the incredible benefits of reading.  Here are some that come to my mind immediately:

  • Reduces stress
  • Promotes mental health
  • Expands vocabulary
  • It is contagious, so you’re setting a great example
  • Improves general knowledge
  • Makes you more empathetic
  • Free entertainment if you use your library!!

That’s my opinion any way!

George R.R. Martin wrote in his novel A Dance With Dragons “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.”  I feel there is truth in his words.


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Experience a Different Culture Through Fantasy by Elesha Teskey

Fantasy books are a wonderful escape to worlds full of potential and adventure. Typically thought of as a male savior with a sword or magic who sets off on a quest to defeat evil looking to conquer a world based on Western culture (Game of Thrones is a good example), the genre is much more than that.

What’s great about many fantasy books being released lately is that they are being set in non-Western cultures. These books give us a look inside a different way of life while still providing a great story with magic or myths.

Some we have at the Temiskaming Shoes Public Library are…


The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Set in China)

The poppy warWhen Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Set in Nigeria)

They killed my mother.Children of Blood and Bone
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.


The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore (Set in post-apocalyptic Southern Egypt)

the perfect assassinDivine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

Every life has its price, but when the tables are turned, Amastan must find this perfect assassin or be their next target.


David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Set in post-apocalyptic Lagos, Nigeria)

David Mogo


Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.



Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Set in Russia)

Shadow and BoneSurrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

We encourage you to take one of the books out and try something different.

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My Favourite Book Genre by Hannah Wight

I love to read. As a library clerk, that hardly seems surprising. Working in the library has exposed me to a variety of authors and genres, but there is one genre that never seems to disappoint me, and that is historical fiction. To me, there is something so intriguing about reading a book that takes place during a real historical event, such as during WWII, but has the added creativity of a fiction novel. When the backdrop for a novel is based on real events it gives me the feeling that what I’m reading is a more believable story. It’s also fun to imagine that the fictional story could have actually happened. For example, take the tragic story of the Titanic sinking. This was a real event that created the backdrop for a romance film. The story of Jack and Rose was fictional, but many people love to think that maybe two people from different social and economic classes really did meet and fall in love. It could have happened.

Reading historical fiction is also a great way for readers who may not like non-fiction to learn about real world events while still being entertained by a fictional storyline. Since historical fiction is set in the past, it pays attention to the social, cultural, and economic constructs of whichever time period the novel is set in. Reading historical fiction allows the reader to be filled with knowledge about the past while also being captivated by a new story.

Some popular historical fiction novels that we have at the library are:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

All the lightThe HelpGerman GirlGuernsey literarybook thief3 MusketeersOutlanderPillars of the Earth

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Here’s to a Beloved Classic! by Carmen Peddie

Blog To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

If you have never read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great story! It contains just about every emotion you can think of: anger, sadness, humor, compassion, righteous indignation, jealousy, racism, envy, and more…and, it makes you think!

To Kill a Mockingbird is about conscience and how it is instilled in two children. It is about a courageous Southern lawyer Atticus Finch “appointed to defend a Negro on a rape charge” in the midst of grave racial tension.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – the Movie

The Library also owns the movie by the same title. I have always immensely enjoyed it when a movie closely resembles the book and this one indeed does. Screen legend Gregory Peck stars in this classic movie based on the Prize-winning novel. It is indeed a rare find!


Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

This second book is set two decades after the author’s Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although I have to admit that the first time I picked up the author’s second book it did not catch my interest. I was actually disappointed as I read the first couple of chapters. Just recently however, I reread “To Kill a Mockingbird”, I re-watched the movie and tried once again to read “Go Set a Watchman”… and I am so glad I did!! I encourage you to do the same.

I wasn’t sure where the author was going with this book and not until I read the entire book did I get it! Like the book jacket says this second book, “not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.”

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Addicted to Adventure: Non-Fiction Adventure Tales and Me by Sharren Reil

Non-fiction books for Sharren's blog
I have always been an avid fiction reader, but one day I stumbled across the story of Earnest Shackleton and his 1914-1917 trans-Antarctic Endurance Expedition.  Wow! This has to be one of the most incredible adventure stores of all time.  I was hooked.  I was a young, bored girl living in Victoria with a huge desire for adventure.  I started stalking the aisles of our local Carnegie library, always on the search for stories of life on the edge, of struggles and survival, and often death.  My love of a good adventure spurred me out of my safe life and I hit the road for the Yukon while in my twenties.  I spent over twenty years living in the bush, commercial fishing in the summer and running a wild team of McKenzie river huskies in the winter.  I had many close calls, made many good friends, and left the Yukon with two babies and hundreds of adventure stories of my own.  Here are some of the nonfiction adventure stories that the two branches of the Temiskaming Shores Public Library have in their collection.  Pour a cool glass of lemonade, head out to a shady spot on the deck and go on an amazing adventure from the comfort of your home!


438 days438 Days-An extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin (910.916 FRA)

Two shark fishermen in a small open boat off the coast of Mexico get caught in a storm and swept out into the Pacific Ocean.  For over a year the boat was adrift in the open ocean.  One man died, but the remaining man finally washed ashore on a tiny atoll with a few people. A gripping tale of courage and perseverance that is well written.




into the wildInto the Wild– A haunting tale of a young man who hitchhiked to Alaska and headed off alone into the bush by Jon Krakauer (917.9804 KRA)

In 1992 a young man from a wealthy Washington family hitch-hiked to Fairbanks Alaska and headed out into the bush north of Mt. McKinley.  His body was found months later by moose hunters, and Krakauer weaves a brilliant story from his own observation of the place and the journal left by the young man.  A really well written story that is both chilling and engrossing.




Into_Thin_AirInto Thin Air-A breathtaking account of the deadliest season on Mt. Everest also by Jon Krakauer (795.5 KRA)

This account of a climb gone horribly wrong was so spell bounding that I stayed up all one night reading the account.  I could not put this book down!  Krakauer writes in a way that makes me feel like I am right there on the mountain in the blizzard.  What a tale of death and survival!





Mad TrapperThe Mad Trapper of Rat River-The incredible tale of a famous Canadian Manhunt-Helena Katz (364.1 KAT)

A mystery trapper shots a Mountie who comes to his remote cabin to inquire about native traps that have been tampered with. The hunt is on over the frozen wilds of the Yukon and Alaska tracking the mad trapper for seven weeks and over 240 kilometers often at -40 below. Sled dog teams, native trackers, an airplane, and thousands of radio listeners follow the man hunt of the century.  What a tale of desperation, madness, and the sheer power of will!




southSouth-The last Antarctic expedition of Shackleton and the Endurance-Shackleton (919.89 ALE)

In 1914 twenty-eight men aboard the ship Endurance set out to cross the vast Antarctic land mass.  It turns into a two year adventure that sees the ship stuck, then crushed in the ice, the impossible journey over the inhospitable Antarctic, a thousand mile trip by open boat, months living under the overturned wooden boats and then the unimaginable rescue of all the crew. I have never read a more riveting tale of adventure and survival!




frozen in timeFrozen in Time– in 1942 a U.S. cargo plane slammed into the Greenland icecap.  A B-17 searching for them also crashes, then yet another plane searching disappears! – Mitchell Zuckoff (940.54 Zuc)

This book is an amazing account of the harrowing crashes and the fate of the survivors as well as a modern adventure that set out to find the missing rescue plane “The Duck” now under some thirty-five feet of ice buried in a glacier.  What an interesting read!




north to the poleNorth to the Pole-An account of the 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition which set out to reach the North Pole by dogsled-Will Steger and Paul Schurke (910.91 STE)

In an attempt to recreate the realities of the early explorers the team of seven men and one woman hauled all three tons of the supplies they would need and had no outside assistance.  They spent fifty-five days and traveled over a thousand zigzag miles in temperatures that reached -70°.  I especially enjoyed this book as I have been on the trail at -40° myself and have some appreciation of how hard everything becomes at those temperatures, as well as how well the dogs must be cared for.  The extreme cold becomes like a living beast that will kill you if you make one mistake!  Ah, but when you make it to a cabin, light a woodstove and brew a pot of tea you are filled with overwhelming gratitude for the simplest of pleasures.  I guess that is why I am drawn to adventure stories, they help me remember what I have!

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Children’s English Summer Programs by Alison McCorkle

Dale Carnegie library New Liskeard 2010

We are busy preparing for this summer’s children’s programs in both the Haileybury and New Liskeard branches.

On Wednesdays, starting 3 July, from 11:00 a.m. to noon at the Haileybury branch we will be having our T.D. Summer Reading Club Family Storytime.   This program will alternate between the branches weekly. Check our website or Facebook page for dates and times or call us at 705-647-4215 or 705-672-3707.  Children accompanied by an adult are invited to join us for stories, colouring activities, and playtime. There are no age restrictions for the children but we will be choosing picture books that are suitable for children from around 3 to approximately 7 years of age.

This summer we are offering our first Pen Pal program and are very excited to partner with the Kenora Public Library.  This is for children aged 8 to 14 and will take place in the New Liskeard branch on the following Friday afternoons from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.: July 5th and 19th and August 16th and 30thIt will be a wonderful opportunity for the children to make friendships that may last a lifetime with youth in another community and socialize with like-minded peers here at home.

As a very special treat, on Thursday July 11 at 10:30 a.m. we invite families to come to the Riverside Place for a live performance of The Firebird by the Little Red Theatre Company of Toronto.  This event is sponsored by the Temiskaming Shores Public Library so your attendance is free.

We will also have Saturday programs at the New Liskeard branch on July 13, and 27 and August 10 and 24.  We haven’t finalized plans yet but they will follow the natural world theme and include crafts, stories, various activities and hopefully even a guest or two. Check our Facebook page for details!

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