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Books Like Old Friends

Every September since 1997, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival presents THIN AIR, a celebration of books and ideas. Their curated line-up is a perfect fit for curious readers who are ready to discover strong voices and great storytelling in practically every genre. This year, they're presenting a hybrid festival featuring 60 writers, live events, and a dynamic website.

To watch video content Molly Cross-Blanchard has prepared for them, visit the festival website.

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Book Cover Exhibitionist

I find it difficult to read other writers when developing my own voice, as I did slowly throughout the process of building my first collection, Exhibitionist. But there were a small bundle of books that I held hands with during that time, and which were instrumental in finding the rhythm of wry, conversational, and confessional language in my own work. Books that spoke to me like old friends, as I also hoped to speak to my readers. I hope you’ll make friends with them, too.

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Inspire Me Well Offers Tales of Motivation Toward Better Health

Inspire Me Well, by Lisa Belanger and Sarah O'Hara (Insomniac Press, 2012).

Inspire Me Well: Finding Motivation to Take Control of Your Health (Insomniac Press, 2012), by Lisa Belanger, MSc, CEP and Sarah O'Hara, RD, showcases the tales of everyday people who made extraordinary changes to their health and well-being. While making a commitment to run 250 marathons in one year to benefit a beloved charity might seem daunting to the average person, it was an average person who made such a commitment, and you'll meet him, and others, in the pages of Inspire Me Well.

At the turn of each new year, we're surrounded by claims of how to be a better you, how to drop pounds fast and be bikini-ready by March Break. Inspire Me Well boasts a host of tips toward a healthier lifestyle, but at its core is a message of social support and how life-changing experiences are often the precursor to life-changing habits and lives well-lived.

Belanger and O'Hara chat with 49th Shelf about their approach to wellness, how making changes to just one area of your life will automatically (and positively) impact three others (together known as The Big Four), and they offer some tips for how to combat daily stress. You'll also meet Judy, whose story appears in Inspire Me Well, reposted here in excerpt.

Julie Wilson: There are a lot of books in the marketplace that offer a …

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Unlikely Inspirations: Guest Post By Mark Lavorato

 

Things weren’t looking good. I was hitchhiking on a lonely, secondary road in the Maritimes, it had just started to rain, and the night was quickly sinking into the landscape around me, colours taking on ever-dimmer shades of grey. I heard a minivan hissing over the horizon and turned to walk backwards, a half-hearted thumb held out into the road, knowing that, in terms of getting a ride, the odds were certainly not in my favour. A family car, the rain, the dark, the isolation, my beard. I’d be lucky if the driver didn’t speed up just to better spray me on the fly-by.

But this minivan, which looked to be fresh out of a showroom, slowed down, swerved, and came to a stop right in front of me. I opened the door to a hesitant, middle-aged man. “I… I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker before,” he admitted. “Is there some… protocol, something I should be asking you?”

“Uh. Well, generally you ask where I’m headed. Then, if we’re going the same way, you tell me where you’ll likely let me off. And that’s it. So I’ll start. I’m heading to PEI.”

He nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “PEI. I think I might be going there too.”

So we drove, through the long, quiet dark, and we talked for hours. He was balding, slightly overweight, and was living out the quintessential mid-life crisis. The second his divorce papers had been finalized, he sold his house, quit his job, bought a van, and filled three Rubbermaid containers with pricey outdoor gear he had yet to u …

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Video: @BookMadam's Hands On Holiday Book Recommendations #GiveCDN #HolidayGift

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

Rememberer by YORODEO (Invisible Publishing).

This time of year, maybe it's the anticipation of mangling every gift-wrapped item, but I get excited about a hands on holiday. Perhaps it's because we carry more, cook more, put up more—put up with more—that I get a little giggly at the idea of myself as an elf in Santa's workshop—busy, busy, busy. True, in my vision, it's also a reality show in which the elf who finishes the most toys with grace and charm is crowned the winner. But, I digress.

Hands on, doesn't have to equal mad frenzy. Or a circular saw. Me? I like to colour. I like to sit down with a child—cue imaginary friend—and let rip. It's the perfect zen activity for someone who doesn't consider herself an artist. In Lynda Barry's book Picture This, she asks why it is that we don't consider colouring an art form when to sing another's work is still song. Is it all about the act of creation? Or is it about the impulse to use something other than words and language to express ourselves? And that a template is outlined for us has little to do with how we fill that space.

So, this holiday, when I have some time to myself, I'm going to take a colouring book to my favourite cafe, order myself the largest hot chocolate on the menu and bust out my crayo …

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