At our February video chat, we discussed Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland.  Comprised of eight stories, interlinked by the history of a painting, the book begins in current day with a mystery of sorts. After attending the funeral of a colleague, the math teacher, Cornelius Engelbrecht invites Richard, the art teacher to his home. He wants to show him something. That ‘something’ is a painting. “A most extraordinary painting in which a young girl wearing short blue smock over a rust-colored skirt sat in profile at a table by an open window.” Cornelius claimed that it was a Vermeer. And thus begins the mystery and the history. How did Cornelius father acquire the painting? The second story, titled ‘A Night Different from All Other Nights’ is set in Amsterdam during World War 2. The painting is in the home of a Jewish family and we gain insight into the theft of the painting and explains how it came to be in the possession of Cornelius in the previous episode. And so it goes through the book, each episode taking us further back through history and finally reveals the origins of the painting. Several of us found the transition between time periods disorienting. We talked about what the painting meant to the various characters in the book, and what art means to us. And the question remained at the end of the book – “What happened to the painting in the end?”. An interesting read, more like a series of related short stories. (Cover with permission, Penguin Books)


And here are some recommended reads available from the Hamilton Public Library. To borrow them or place a reserve, go to  .

Mafiaboy by Michael Calce & Craig Silverman. In 2000, 15-year-old Michael Calce, aka “Mafiaboy”, was arrested in Montreal by the RCMP & the FBI for hacking & shutting down the websites of CNN, Yahoo, eTrade, Dell, Amazon and eBay. His arrest ended the search for the most wanted “man” in cyberspace. The book takes the reader into the fascinating world of hackers; their motivation, their determination, and their goals. Calce walks the reader through his early life which seems to be pretty much that of a typical young boy going to school, hanging with friends, being part of a family; but there was something remarkable about his young life. His advanced computer skills were self-taught from the age of 6 when his father bought him his first computer. Calce speaks candidly about his attraction to computer-user clubs.  It was a community built on an obsession with computers and the free exchange of information, however his actions went too far.  He was subsequently charged and convicted.  Luckily, he emerged a better person and is now a cyber security consultant. Calce says, “Mafiaboy is dead.  You can call me Michael”. A good read.

Paige Turner

From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way. By Jesse Thistle

Abandoned by both parents as a toddler, Jesse shares the painful, often gut-wrenching but ultimately redemptive story of his journey through despair, addiction and homelessness. A school dropout and now a scholar at York university where he is an assistant professor ad PHD Candidate. His focus is on Métis history and the impact of intergenerational trauma. A Canada Reads 2020 contender defended by Canadian Country singer George Canyon. In Thistle’s own words, “I want readers to be left with a sense that I am, and people who are like me, who are in that situation and have addictions and cycle in and out of the justice system, we’re just like everybody else.” I believe that he has succeeded in this. An inspiring read, brutally honest and sometimes difficult, it is worth the effort. Kit Darling

Note: The bookmobile will be at Eastwood Park on Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:00. There will be no access to the bookmobile to browse, but staff will be on hand for contactless returns and holds pickup.

Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at .