Bill Ptacek, CEO, Calgary Public Library, shares his sHelfie:

“I think a library is so powerful. It builds community. It helps people have more success through all that occurs through reading; whether that’s people searching for jobs, building their knowledge in higher education, or children reading and finding the magic in stories. At the Calgary Public Library we celebrate the amazing power of reading and strive for a more literate community.”

The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

“As a youngster, this was the book that got me most interested in reading. I didn’t do well in grade two and three and really had a turnaround with this book. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, these stories took me somewhere quite different—and, I really liked how Sherlock Holmes ‘deduced’! A great read.”

The Dreadful Lemon Sky by John D. MacDonald (or any by him)

“Back in the 1980s my wife (she’s a librarian too) and I moved from Chicago to Idaho Falls – it was quite a change; you couldn’t get much further away! We had our first child, a daughter who was developmentally disabled and it was a very difficult time for us. We started reading mysteries together and discussing them (we had no cable and no family nearby) . . . and these truly helped save our lives.”

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

“This is one of the very first books Oprah recommended through her book club; it’s a story of strong women growing up in tough circumstances. This had a real impact on me and my wife. We’d gone on to have two more daughters so helping young women grow and develop well was important to us. I gave it to my middle daughter to read when she was in middle school and the teacher was horrified . . . but we felt it was an important experience for her to explore strong women, ability and perseverance!”

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

“This book shares instructions on writing and life. It was recommended to me by a friend when I was battling cancer and speaks to how handling one thing at a time, working through something chunk-by-chunk – and not trying to deal with everything at once – is a successful strategy. This book helped me through my challenging health period; I believe its message can resonate in many situations, for many people. It’s very good. The Calgary Public Library has copies, of course.”

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

“This book is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. This powerful story shows how he is able to deal with ‘being wronged’. Nancy Pearl, the renowned US librarian and tremendous book promoter chose this novel as her ‘reading in community’ pick in Seattle when she encouraged thousands to read along together.”

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