Good things from Canada

Dear LifeMy excitement at Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize was intense, but before I got around to blogging about it, Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker. Now that there are hundreds of holds on The Luminaries it’s probably time to look for something to read while we’re waiting.

If your next read must be from a prize-winning author you can’t go wrong with Alice Munro. You won’t have to wait because four holds is the highest number on any of her books at the moment and most don’t have any – you can pluck them off the shelves.

Munro has been called the ‘Canadian Chekov’ but I find that vaguely patronising – why isn’t Chekov ‘the Russian Munro’? She is, in the words of the Nobel committee, ” the master of the contemporary short story”; she is only the thirteenth woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature; she is actually readable, unlike many other Nobel literature laureates; she is modest and she shares a nationality with lots of other great writers and musicians.

The Margarets (Atwood and Laurence). Carol Shields.  The McGarrigles. Leonard Cohen (musician and writer – after all he did write Beautiful Losers, “the most revolting book ever written in Canada”). Neil Young. K.D. Lang.

And Joni Mitchell, my personal heroine, 70 on the 7th of November 2013.

Who is your favourite Canadian? Writer, musician or ice hockey player? Or politician? Pierre Trudeau passed for a hottie among the Commonwealth Prime Ministers of my youth; mind you he didn’t have much competition.

Oxford cleverness online

Logo of Oxford Art OnlineWhen I think of Oxford University I think of stone buildings, towering spires and grown men walking around with black capes on discussing clever things. My Oxford is a sort of older person’s Hogwarts without Harry Potter. In reality, Oxford University is a terribly advanced place having embraced the online world to spread its genius. We can see this at our library with:

  • Oxford Art Online
    Information on all things artsy including architecture, design, fashion and crafts. Includes a range of New Zealand and Pacific content;
  • Oxford Music Online
    The hills are alive with music reference and research within this resource;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
    The life details on the ‘great and the good’ and even the ‘bad and unusual’ who left their mark on the British empire;
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online
    Find spellings, definitions, pronunciation and examples of use. They even explain the  use of the word  bootylicious! Those professors are bodacious (also in the dictionary);
  • Oxford Reference Online
    Oxford reference works combined into a single cross-searchable resource covering every known subject. Very clever and very easy!

Not everyone can strut through the hallowed halls of  Oxford University but with the above collection you don’t have to! All the answers are here just waiting for you to start asking the questions all from the comfort of your sofa.