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Chilling With Cool DIY Culture

Throughout this month, we've been thinking about chilling, about cold beverages, summer breezes, and all the best ways to relax. And one of these best ways to relax is, oddly, by keeping our hands busy, by making stuff, pursuing hobbies and craft. Such pastimes no longer come with a stodgy air. Partly thanks to books like these, DIY culture has never been so cool. 

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Book Cover Yarn Bombing

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore

Vancouver's Leanne Prain really is the Canadian Queen of Cool DIY. She made waves with her first book, Yarn Bombing, which she created with Mandy Moore. The book came around at just the right time, when yarn bombing was just beginning to be acknowledged as part of an international activist movement. Yarn Bombing received wide attention, notably in the New York Times with a feature that summed the book up just right: "It is part coffee-table book, with color photographs of creative bombs, and part tutorial, with tips like wearing "ninja" black to avoid capture. The book borrows from the vernacular of street graffiti and half-jokingly positions yarn bombing as an illicit alternative for knitters bored making yet another Christmas sweater. It asks readers to get off their rocking chairs and 'take back the knit.'" 

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Graphic Novels for Summer

Each month, our children's librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks. 

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Bliss is a hammock in summer and a stack of graphic novels. Right on top of the pile should be This One Summer, by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It’s the story of Rose and her family’s annual trip to Awago Beach—a summer spent eavesdropping on a grownup world; the cute guy at the variety store who’s rumoured to have gotten a girl pregnant; Rose’s arguing parents; her mother’s confession of a miscarriage. Cottage life is captured in the graphic details: handmade cottagers’ road signs hammered onto a pole, a shampoo bottle floating in a bucket whilst washing hair in the lake. The plot is punctuated with poetic moments, particularly of Rose swimming and there’s a wonderfully playful scene of pudgy cottage best friend Windy, aka HipHop, showing off her “krunk moves.”

The Tamaki’s first book, Skim, is similarly brilliant. Its quiet, insightful narrator, Skim, is a little on the heavy side, the kind of girl who shows up to a Halloween …

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What’s So Relaxing About Murder Anyway?

Book Cover Dying for Murder

We do so love the idea of a zoologist sleuth that we included Suzanne F. Kingsmill's Cordi O'Callaghan on our Canadian literary sleuth list last December. And O'Callaghan is back in a new installment, Dying for Murder, in which her attempt at a relaxing getaway to a research station off the coast of South Carolina leads her into another scene of death and chaos, presenting new mysteries to be solved. It seems that murder and relaxation do not go hand-in-hand.

Or do they?

In this guest post, Kingsmill fills us in on the merits of relaxing with a good thriller.  

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No murder mystery writer would ever dream of lulling their readers into a total sense of relaxation, or—horrors!—putting them to sleep. Tension, exhilaration, and suspense are the hallmarks of a good mystery. The idea of “relaxing with a good book” is a well-worn one, but a bit of a misnomer for a mystery, where tension should be running high, the reader on the edge of her seat. And then the author does a slam-dunk, ending each chapter with a cliffhanger, so that you definitely can’t turn off the light and go to sleep, even though it’s 2 a.m.

In a good mystery, the reader’s mind is working overtime, matching wits with the author’s, processing the clues, trying to foresee the future and g …

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Marissa Stapley's Perfect Dock-Side Reads

Book Cover Mating for Life

Looking for your big summer read? Then look no further than Marissa Stapley's Mating for Life, an absorbing novel of tangled family ties, with a Joni Mitchell soundtrack and a perfect cottage setting. It's a novel in which characters get up to their own summer reads, characters perching on the ends of their docks, paperbacks in hand. It's a ritual that Stapley knows something about, as she tells us here, sharing her own favourite setting for summer reading and some books that would make for great reading there.

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Every July we rent a cottage in Muskoka. It’s a place my husband and I have been visiting since before we were married, and it’s the place I modeled the cottage in Mating for Life after. There are many ideal reading spots here, but my favourite is the end of the dock. (I sometimes imagine I’ll look up and over at the dock next door and my character Laurence will be sitting there, reading Junky, by William Burroughs.)

I know there are many other beautiful places in the world, but none touch me quite the way this property does. It feels accessible, like I belong in it, like I don’t have to leave it to go home because I already am home. Also, being Canadian, I understand how important it is to savour these moments of warmth under the sun. Too soon, …

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