Christmas is barely over, but New Year’s Resolutions are around the corner. Some of us may make the resolution to get rid of the STUFF that has been piled, hoarded, packed, and multiplying like dust bunnies in our various junk drawers, garages, closet shelves, basements and cupboards. But this is not just a de-cluttering guide, this is a decorating, repairing and downsizing guide all rolled into one bright little book. Lauri Ward, author of Use What You Have Decorating, explains how to make the transition to living large in smaller spaces – no matter the reason for the change. There are entire chapters on creative storage (you can never have enough), creating cohesiveness when there is not enough wall space, repurposing (or ‘MacGyvering’) older pieces, finding multiple functions for small spaces and how to decide what to keep or ditch – plus an entire chapter on where to ditch the things you decide not to keep, often a stumbling block for those of us who are pack rats at heart. Ward’s explanations are greatly helped by the use of lots of colour photographs of real homes – not the upscale ones you see in designer magazines, but the homes of real families that she has helped. Although some of the hints she suggests are not realistic for everyone (keeping the size of a television in proportion with your space would get pretty expensive after a few moves), most tips and suggestions are quite adaptable (choosing the right fabric for a small space, for instance). There is a handy source guide in the back with many Canadian retailers (although IKEA is notably absent), and the index makes it a snap to locate specific solutions. So whether you need to downsize or you are trying to lead a simpler life, or even if you are just tired of your STUFF, this is one book you need. Happy New Year!

Find this book in SPL's on-line catalogue here.
In the Stratford Gazette on December 26, 2008

Although today we associate Muslims with the middle east, the artistic stamp of the Islamic empire has been left on countries from as far west as Spain to as far east as Indonesia (the largest Muslim country by population), dating back to the seventh century. Encompassing Ottoman and Mamluk art, and influenced by both classical and Byzantine styles that came before, the ceramics, manuscripts, mosaics and towers of the Islamic world reveal much about its history and cultural development. The displays in this gorgeous ‘coffee-table’ type book, The Treasures of Islam, are not simply exotic eye-candy – although the rich patterns and jewel-like colours can provide hours of happy gazing. The author, a professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the American University in Cairo, presents these treasures in rough geographic and chronological order with historic background, religious context, and close-up photos of intricate architectural detail, illuminated manuscripts and even some basic floor plans to some of the bigger structures, like the complex of Sultan Hasan, with its qibla iwan (hall of two hundred lamps). Some of the more impressive masterpieces are showcased in golden ‘special feature’ pages, like the Dome of the Rock in the centre of al-Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary (aka the Temple Mount). Like any university professor would, O’Kane provides a bibliography for further reading, plus a basic glossary and a complete index for quick reference – although this is one book which should be savoured, not quickly read.
Click here to find it in the on-line catalogue at SPL.
In the Stratford Gazette on December 19, 2008

Think of James Herriot but set in rural Ireland instead of Yorkshire, and where the patients are human instead of the four-legged kind, and you’ll have a good understanding for the atmosphere of Patrick Taylor’s books. An author who grew up in Ulster and spent many years in Canada, Taylor draws upon his own experiences as a doctor in Northern Ireland in the 1960’s as his inspiration, although the Ireland he depicts is admittedly a rosier one than actually existed in those violent times. This third novel revolves around the Yuletide season so it is rosier still, but it is not overly sentimental. Sprinkled liberally with references to current events of the time (including the adoption of a certain maple-leaf flag), we follow the young Doctor Barry Laverty as he is about to spend his first Christmas in Ballybucklebo with his mentor, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. As Dr. Laverty hopes that his girlfriend Patricia will make it home for Christmas, Dr. O’Reilly finds himself finally letting go of the torch he has carried for his young bride, killed in the WWII blitz of Belfast. Together they take keep an eye on the competition - a new doctor in town who went to school with O’Reilly – take care of the villagers’ usual and unique ailments, and even work a few old fashioned Christmas miracles. Cozy up to the bar at Black Swan pub in Ballybucklebo, and get to know these charming townspeople and their respected physicians in this entirely enjoyable story.
Click here to reserve a copy in the on-line catalogue.
In the Stratford Gazette on December 5, 2008

Dec. 12, 2008

Ontario has been hit hard by job losses of late and times are getting tough. People who suddenly find themselves without a job may want to consult this book, Get Wired, You’re Hired – it is written specifically for Canada’s job market, and can be found in the the Career Centre at the Library. What makes this book better than your average job search guide (besides the fact that it’s Canadian), is that it shows how to expand your range of work options – beginning with an evaluation of your own skills and leading into sections about exploring different options and upgrading skills (it may be easier than you think). It also tells how to find and apply for - in the correct format – most of those jobs on-line. Part two of the book is a directory of job and career sites in Canada, complete with current (as of printing) pictures of the headers you should see when you go to each site – very handy in case you have misspelled something in a lengthy web-address. It might be tempting to go straight to this half of the book, especially since it has a section specific to industries, but the first part gives great hints at things like getting your resume or cover letter noticed by those impersonal screening programs that many employers now use – and yes, this is a resume writing guide as well. Each web-tool the book mentions has been developed by universities or employment consultants, and there is plenty of practical advice in its “unplugged” section, where the author, president of, answers questions from readers of his Toronto Star column. From new workers to Canada, to those recently unemployed or even those wanting to shift careers but haven’t a clue where to begin, Get Wired, You’re Hired is a good place to start. Click here to find it in the SPL catalogue.

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