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Kim Thuy's new cookbook celebrates mothers, food and love.

Stories unite us. There is no doubt about that. And finding great storytellers is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Without question, Kim Thúy is a great storyteller. I can vouch for that personally, as I have seen her speak at Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, on the top floor of Toronto Reference Library. While her smile lights up a room, her stories evoke a visceral connection to the audience, ninety percent of whom aren’t even Vietnamese, or French Canadian. 

As I was face-to-face with her getting my book signed, I happen to mention that I used to know French, but unfortunately now because of not using it as much, have forgotten most of it. Well, she said, “The best way to learn French is to get a French boyfriend.” I mentioned that it probably was not possible as I have a husband. She looked at me with a serious expression and asked if that was really a problem. I couldn’t help laugh at this frankness.

I don’t know why I didn’t know this before, but between her career as a …

It's never too late to seriously start thinking about your health...

When you are young, you don't think about immortality much. But when suddenly life catches up to you, and a blood test indicates something off in your body, you start to seriously consider what you put in your body. 

So, here's a start. Three books from DK to start getting your life back on track; believe me your body will thank you.

Healing Foods 
Eat your way to a healthier life with 175 ingredients. 

What you'll learn: Benefits of each food, how to gain the maximum benefit from it, and ideas for simple tasty preparation. 
Did you know that Figs are a great source of potassium, which helps regulate heart rate and reduce blood pressure? And when it's in a dried fruit format, figs also contain pectin, which helps reduce blood sugar. 
Thinking of discarding the leaves of raspberry plants? Think again. The astringent leaves of red raspberries are traditionally taken as a tea in late pregnancy. I don't recall Handmaid's Tale educating me about this fact. I guess, you ca…

Professor Chandra follows his bliss

Everyone has a turning point, and Professor Chandra has just had his. Narrowly losing out on winning the novel peace prize for economics (again), he finds himself at a loss for what to do with his life.

His wife left him for a shrink in Colarado. Their youngest daughter lives with her, and this teenager is going through quite a phase, perhaps exasperated by her parents’ divorce. Professor Chandra is estranged from his eldest daughter Radha. His other son, Sunny, lives in Hong Kong and is some sort of a wellness, spiritual guru whose primary uniform is a Nehru suit. (If you are Indian in origin, you will understand that context.)

A bicycle accident leaves Professor Chandra with a renewed perspective on life. For the first time, he has time to think about the course his life. He wonders if there was a time when he was really happy. Was he ever present in his every day? Everything he has devoted his life to – work and family – seems to have alluded him. Life is transient.

So, instigated by …

The Parade by David Eggers

Coming full circle, Dave Eggers brings his fans another literary tale that oozes of cynicism, questioning whether it’s all worth it.

The story centres around two characters, referred to as Four and Nine, who find themselves on an assignment in an unnamed developing country. Their mission: to help unify the country by paving a new road.

The two characters couldn’t be more polar opposites. Four is a by-the-book kind of guy, who follows the rules. He has no time for the flippant nature of Nine’s character, who goes with his whim and has a zest for life. It is their dynamic, chaotic, and sometimes amusing relationship, which is the glue that keeps the plot development moving forward.

The other thing that keeps the plot moving, is the hope that one day this road will eventually be built and the parade requested by the president will take place. There is a greater grandeur hope that the country that was recently torn apart by civil war will finally be united. Is building a road the solution to…

Tales of India

Folktales from Bengal, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. 
Illustrations by Svabhu Kohli & Viplov Singh. 

"Delightful creature and most charming princess," said she,
'you have regaled me with an excellent story.
But the night is long and tedious. Pray tell me another.'"

Tales of India by Svabhu Kohli & Viplov Singh, is a collection of short folktales that will excite inquisitive and curious minds. Some of the stories include a shape-shifting tiger and a pretentious rat; and a clever princess and a prince who returns from the dead. 

Goddesses, royalty, and characters full of humour and adventure. Take a magical journey to India with these tales that have lived and been told for thousands of years. Full of history, these stories should never be forgotten, and with this book by Svabhu Kohli and Viplov Singh, they will continue to live on.

To vegan or not to vegan

Let me preface by saying, "I am not vegan." 
And, until now, I've really been opposed to the idea of becoming vegan. The word "vegan" itself evokes a sense of abstinence to me. Abstinence from meat, being the obvious. But also, an abstinence from the delicious scrumptiousness of meals, that the foodie in me has come to expect. 

I have a few millennial colleagues who are either vegan or vegetarian. I also worked with a designer who lives in the burbs raising chickens, and whose immediate family is vegetarian. These are the influences in my life who converted my thinking (if only to try out some vegan food). So, yeah I was partly convinced when I tried foods like vegan Caesar's salad, and A&W's Beyond Meat Burger. I asked my vegan-devoted colleague about recipes, and it just sounded like I'd have to rejig my grocery plans to find some of the ingredient substitutes. So even though I wanted to find alternatives to foods that would not screw up my dige…

Let's go swimming on doomsday

Choice is something we take for granted here in the western world. We may complain of growing pains, but our challenges are nothing compared to sixteen-year-old Abdi. 

He's a Somali refugee, who is forced to join a jihadi group called Al Shabaab as a child soldier. His brother Dahir is supposedly also in this group and Abdi's capturers want him to work as a spy and gather intel about the group's activities. Can he infiltrate the group and get to his brother? Will his entire family be killed if he fails?

It was three years ago when he last saw his brother being led away at the back of one of Al Shabaab's battle trucks. Abdi always assumed that he was dead. 

Al Shabaab welcomes him because of his link to Dahir, who's one of the high ranking leaders in the group. But it's clear that his brother has changed. Dahir seems to have been brainwashed and now he only sees things one way...the Al Shabaab way. 

Let's Go Swimming On Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson is an imme…