Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 31, 2016


Lynn Fish IMG_1061

Reader of the Day #66 Lynn Fish

Lynn is a retired teacher who is a regular attendee at the Thursday Cafe Vera Coffee Gathering. It is at these meetings that the exchange of books or discussion of books takes place – and right out in public.

Lynn does all of her reading on an iPad . . . as of today, her brand new iPad. Because she suffers from an eye affliction, the iPad allows her to enlarge the print so it’s readable. She gets all of her eBooks from Apple books. She tells me this service allows her to acquire current best sellers and well . . . everything. A current read is “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi.

Lynn, thanks to her mom, started to read at an early age. Mom consistently ensured that she and her sister had books that were appropriate to their reading levels; at just the right time it was Winnie the Pooh, then The Wizard of Oz, then (and I could even hear her smiling) Anne of Green Gables.

For some time, in her adult life, she spent a great deal of time reading British mysteries. She says now she reads books that have more of a philosophical bent and lots of non-fiction. One of the best ever is Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos but the very best are the poems of T.S. Eliot. Lynn says, “He is the most accomplished writer, a great thinker!”

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 30, 2016


Garry Ryan

READER OF THE DAY #65 Garry Ryan

Garry Ryan is a friend who I met through the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. He is a retired teacher (must be salt of the earth) and a writer. He has published seven books in the Calgary-based Detective Lane series; the eighth (Indiana Pulcinella) will be out this April. I have enjoyed reading every one of them; I’ve also enjoyed the first two books in his other series about women pilots in World War II: Blackbirds and Two Blackbirds.

I thought that a writer might give a different perspective to being a reader. Here’s what Garry said:

The problem is I’m always reading. Reading signs, emails, books, newspapers, people, our dog. There’s this insatiable need to understand what’s going on making me sift clues from words, colours, expressions, tone, shapes, wind, clouds. Reading is all part of that. Trying to see what’s really going on. When I read a book like Kite Runner or This is Where I leave You, it begins a process where images and experiences gather to create novel. I keep a collection of photographs like this sunset image taken on a sidewalk in San Jose Cabos San Lucas. The reading, the photographs, the experiences, the impressions, eventually come together to create a novel from all of it.

Indianna Pulcinella

Detective Land and his impetuous partner Nigel Liz find themselves back on the hunt, this time looking for the perpetrators of a gruesome killing with a crime scene matching that of a man put away by Calgary Police years earlier.

As more innocents fall victim to the copycat killer, Lane and Liz must team up with some unlikely new allies in Calgary’s trendy Kensington area to crack the case.

Meanwhile, with the birth of his nephew Indiana, Lane’s happily chaotic households faces a new challenge, as the laconic detective’s estranged fundamentalist family reappears to try and raise the baby their way.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 29, 2016


Marty Chan

READER OF THE DAY #64 Marty Chan

I can’t remember when I first had the pleasure of meeting Marty but it’s been interesting and fun for some time. He spoke to the Writers’ Ink group at the annual Spring Workshop, and has presented at our local teachers’ convention. I had the honour of interviewing him when I wrote an article (The Relentless Reinventions of Marty Chan, Volume 32, Number 3, May/June 2012 ) for the Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s WestWord magazine.

Marty’s website is worth a visit. Here’s link to his “About” page

As a writer, his views on reading are these:

As an author, I have the excellent excuse that I need to read for work. I often pick up non-fiction books to help me research a subject. For example, I have three shelves bursting with books about New York history because I was working on a steampunk fantasy novel set in 1890s New York. I’ve also devoted a bookcase to books by authors I have met, and nothing makes a book come to life better than meeting the person who wrote it and hearing their voice in person. If you ever get a chance to go to a book signing or public reading, go out and meet authors. It’s a great way to get insight into the origins behind their books.

When I’m reading for fun, I let my mood dictate the next book I pluck off the shelf. Sometimes, I feel like reading a mystery. Other times, I’ll feel like reading a biography about a celebrity. I just picked up Karen Bass’ The Hill, a YA thriller set in Alberta, and I can’t wait to read it. I just finished reading the magnificent novel, We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen. Both writers are Canadian, and I encourage everyone to find a book by a Canadian author and give it a read. You’d be amazed at the talent we have within our borders (and they’re still living).”

Wikipedia has this to say about steampunk novels:

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power.

Infinity Coil

Here’s a bit about Karen Bass’ The Hill:


Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop―with no cell service―the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, things seem very wrong. And worst of all, something is hunting them. Karen Bass, the multi-award-winning author of Graffiti Knight and Uncertain Soldier, brings her signature action packed style to a chilling new subject: the Cree Wîhtiko legend. Inspired by the real story of a remote plane crash and by the legends of her Cree friends and neighbours, Karen brings eerie life―or perhaps something other than life―to the northern Alberta landscape in The Hill.



Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 28, 2016


Barista pic

READER OF THE DAY #63 Melissa Barista (okay, not really her last name)

Melissa served cousin Patrick and I at the new Chill Out Cafe on Ross Street. The breakfast was great coffee, egg and cheese croissant and a ‘to-die-for-fresh-out-of-the-oven’ cinnamon bun.

As part of the READER OF THE DAY project, I am trying to randomly ask people if they like reading. Melissa’s response was an immediate, “Oh, yes. I love to read. I wish I had more time.” She said her favourites are biographies and that she was waiting for a book at the public library – Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. When I asked for another example, Melissa said, “The Help (by Kathryn Stockett) is a book that everyone should read.”

Melissa went on to say that she also listens to a lot of books. I told her I had used but was now using Hoopla. Her source is the free or sometimes inexpensive audiobooks available on YouTube. When I checked out her source, I found lots of older books that are now beyond copyright; it’s definitely a site that will taking some searching.

Chill Out Cafe IMG_1055

Into the Wild

The Help

YouTube books online

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 27, 2016


Jill & Maryview tour

READER OF THE DAY #62 Jill Griffith

I first came to know Jill during my Reading College days, the summer program for 60 Grade Two students who struggle with reading. Jill was consistently helpful with all aspects of the program but one memory stands out – the time she came to Special Reader Day. Jill read with such enthusiasm and was extremely good with the kids; it was  awesome. Since then, I have come to see that reading plays a major role in her life.

(She also mentioned during one of our chats the other day that it wasn’t Roald Dahl who wrote Nate the Great, it was Marjorie Weinman Sharmat.)

When I asked her to share her thoughts, she wrote:

Jill Griffith is the Youth Services Manager at the Downtown Branch of Red Deer Public Library, but she prefers to call herself a children’s librarian, because it’s the best job in the whole wide world. She believes that children who don’t read or claim that they don’t like to read, just haven’t found the right book yet, and that there is at least one special book, if not a thousand, for every child out there.

She herself began to read when she was four years old and the first story she remembers reading to herself was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She has been reading non-stop ever since. In fact her parents always described her as that girl who always has her nose in a book. Jill tells every child who will listen that reading is the most important thing you will ever learn in your lifetime, and she spreads the gospel of literacy everywhere she goes.

Her favourite books to read out loud are funny books that engage even the most serious child in reading. She counts Mo Willems, Roald Dahl, Melanie Watt, Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen among her favourite current children’s authors but they change daily because there are soooo many good ones out there!

When not at work she can usually be found with a cat on her lap and her nose buried in a great mystery or Canadian work of fiction. Not that she doesn’t enjoy some good chick lit every once in a while. Which brings me to another important tenant that Jill lives her book life by – always encourage children to read whatever they are interested in. As long as they’re reading – graphic novels, comics, gaming guides, Captain Underpants, whatever – let them read without judgement.

That’s the single most important advice she can give to any grownup that guides children in reading. Oh, and that reading is FUN!

*** Here’s a cool project Jill just finished (look closely).

Jill's book art


Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 26, 2016


Sharon Williamson

READER OF THE DAY #61 Sharon Williamson

Sharon is another of my friends who loves to read, who is a reader’s reader, who reads constantly, and who reads fiction and non-fiction and, well . . . you get the picture. She’s also in a BOOK CLUB. I’m capitalizing BOOK CLUB, because I haven’t yet discussed that phenomenon.

Here’s a bit of what Sharon told me:

  • Our book club has between 7 and 10 members depending on who is around. (Sharon missed last month’s meeting while she vacationed in Mexico and when the group decided to read Ru by Kim Thuy)
  • the hostess usually decides what book should be read for the next meeting
  • the group enjoys diverse literature so all genres are covered
  • members aren’t required to finish every book (and on the “finishing” note, Sharon doesn’t finish all the books she starts . . . if after the first 1/4 to 1/3 they aren’t working, it’s adios)
  • the book club has both a social aspect and a discussion aspect so we discussed the latter. Making one a more observant reader is one of the perks of knowing that you will be taking your turn to give your opinion on chosen book in the near future.

During our chat, Sharon mentioned a number of books she enjoyed:

A Wake for the Dreamland by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne (Lacombe author)

The Golden Son by Silpi Samaya Gowda

Asylum, A Mystery by Jeanette de Beauvoir (about the Duplesis orphans)

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay


Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 25, 2016


LeeAnne Shinski

READER OF THE DAY #60 LeeAnne Shinski is the Executive Director of the Lifelong Learning Council of Red Deer. She also heads the Literacy Sub-committee of CAPRA, the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance. At our monthly meetings, along with a variety of others who work to improve literacy, we work to find ways reduce poverty by increasing the literacy rate of Central Albertans. And on the side, we share our love of reading. LeeAnne says:

As a Mom of four boys, I have had the pleasure of sharing my love of reading with each one of them. Whether I’m using a (really poor) Spanish accent to read Skippy Jon Jones or trying to pronounce dinosaur names as best I can, I try to add a little fun! My sons read the books I have from my childhood (before Scholastic there was Grolier) and love to add to their library at school book fairs.

My eldest son is now 21 years old and we share our favorite novels with each other. Time spent reading with my children has been the most precious for me. I still can’t get through Love You Forever by Robert Munsch but I hope one day I’ll get the opportunity share my love of reading with my grandchildren.

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 23, 2016


Jeff reading

READER OF THE DAY # 59 Jeff Falls

Jeff is another late entry to the world of reading. It’s only since becoming a driver for Red Deer Transit that he has taken to reading on a regular basis. There are short breaks and longer ones on his daily schedule and Jeff takes advantage of them all.

Jeff’s first favourites were sports biographies like Playing With Fire by Theron Fleury. Later, he discovered John Grisham. On a road trip to Vancouver, he and Kim listened to Grisham’s The Client and enjoyed it so much they grabbed coffees quickly along the way so they could get back to the story.

Books on the Bus bus

Where Men Win Glory



Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 22, 2016


Janet reading

READER OF THE DAY #50 Janet Mackenzie (my bride)

Janet’s daily routine is to start and end the day reading. When time allows, she also reads at other times and she loves it. Some of the time, we read the same books but often she chooses ones recommended by friends and sometimes Kindle suggestions or by perusing the library or . . . When she’s done, she summarizes each book in her journal.

This is what she said about reading:

“Reading – what it means to me:

  • quiet time
  • learning time
  • renewing energy
  • relaxation
  • learning about history
  • something to talk about with other people
  • escaping from the mundane into another world

I have been reading from a very young age. Walking to the downtown library when I was 10, feeling safe and stimulated at the same time by what was available. My mom (a middle school teacher) tried to kick me out of my room to socialize other kids my age but I preferred reading a book.

I’m a little obsessive in that when I find an author I like, I read just about everything they write. Leon Uris, back in the day, comes to mind.

My favourite book? Lots of them, I think, “I don’t want this to end.” One that stands out is Gone With The Wind.

Jan’s last ten reads:

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Revenant by Michael Punke

Fever Dream & Cold Vengeance & Two Graves by Preston and Child

North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout


Jan's journal

Posted by: jockmackenzie | March 21, 2016


Laurie TaitIMG_1019

READER OF THE DAY # 57 Laurie Tait

Laurie Tait is the librarian at Normandeau School in Red Deer. On a recent visit there to give out book to all of the Reading College kids from the past four years, I was amazed at her enthusiasm for reading. And it was just that she wants others to read, she actually glowed when she described the weekly visits she and her husband take to the Red Deer Public Library.

I had the privilege of listening in as she read to a class of Grade Threes – see her smiling picture below. Laurie said that after each book reading, many of the kids are anxious to sign out the book she’s just read. (and read with oomph) Wise lady that she is, she often reads from the ‘oldies but goodies’ because kids just don’t know that books like Roald Dahl’s Nate the Great are . . . well, great.

 Laurie says, “My love of reading has always been a part of me. It has taken me to places I will never see and to periods of time that are both frightening and intriguing. My favorite books are historical fiction but with so many wonderful books in the world who knows what I have yet to discover!

I am allowed to share my love of reading with students as I am the school librarian in a K-8 school. I love to read to the students and our favorites right now are the Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems. I continue to try to spark the interests of our older students and am encouraged when I am able to match a student to a book that they enjoy.”

Mo Willems' books IMG_1021

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »