Tying up our 2016-17 Season with a Bow

Photo of CWLC Guest Speaker Shelley Youngblut, WordFest CEO, at 2017 CWLC Luncheon

Shelley Youngblut, WordFest CEO and Guest Speaker at 2017 CWLC Luncheon

In the gorgeous setting at the Calgary Golf and Country Club on April 26, we shared lunch and stories at tables given a  decorative touch by CWLC members. We were thoroughly entertained by our guest speaker, Shelley Youngblut. We closed out with a brief Annual General Meeting in which CWLC President Margaret Sparkes tied the year up with a lovely bow, highlighting how this year’s theme of Favorite Authors gave us an insight into those who presented, through their choices. Margaret has led a very successful year for our Club, with the introduction of several new members. This event gave us a great chance to get to know each other better.

Shelley Youngblut, our guest speaker, presented her personal literary crush, George Saunders. That’s a significant recommendation, coming from the CEO and Creative Ringleader of WordFest, who must be in the know about dozens (or more) contemporary authors and their work! Sometimes Shelley is lucky enough to spend time with authors “up close and personal”, as she has with George Saunders. Shelley was captivated, not only by his writing but also by the warmth and magnetism of his personality.

 Here is one of the many anecdotes Shelley shared with us.
George Saunders followed some advice he had read, from another author: Dedicate three months to working on a new book. The author’s theory was that pursuing something (anything) for three months is long enough to make headway but short enough to let it go with little regret if it comes to naught. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! The technique worked and Saunders published a very successful book. Interestingly, Saunders met the writer sometime later and explained how well the three-month advice had worked for him. To Saunders’ surprise, the other author revealed he never actually used the technique himself! Nonetheless, Shelley and many others in the room believed the concept could be effective for a lot of our “I would someday like to…” wishes.
What a fun, upbeat, motivating way to celebrate our latest season!

Nagaland? Where is Nagaland? (Find out May 17th)

CWLC’s Janet Samber will be giving an illustrated talk May 17 as part of the CALL (Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners) Treks and Travels  Speaker Series.

Entitled Nagaland? Where is Nagaland ?,  it will be held May 17, from 7:30 –9:00 PM at the Rosedale Community Hall 901 –11 Ave NW.  Free for members of CALL, there is a $5 charge at the door for non-members. Guests are welcome. No registration is required.

See the CALL website for details

Travel photos

The Cake that Cures Everything and other reasons to read Ruth Reichl

Book cover for Ruth Reichl's Delicious

Image: penguin random house

Before I moved away from home, I was the dessert maker of the family with no interest whatsoever in learning how to make the rest of the wonderful meals my Mom prepared. I learned to cook through mouth-watering pages of magazines such as Gourmet. Elaine Bucknum revealed Ruth Reichl as a favorite author… who happens also to be a chef, restaurateur, food writer, restaurant critic, editor-in-chief of Gourmet, producer of a few PBS series, novelist and author of critically acclaimed, best-selling memoirs.

For Elaine Bucknum’s presentation April 4, Janet Samber prepared a Ruth Reichl recipe, The Cake that Cures Everything, which has been lauded by everyone lucky enough to have tasted it.

Fortunately, it’s published online here!

Find out more about Ruth Reichl.



“I can’t read historical fiction because I find the real thing so much more interesting.”




Mary Queen of Scots, after François Cloutier, Wikipedia



The above quote is from Antonia Fraser, renowned for her historical biographies on (to name a few):  Mary Queen of Scots; Cromwell, the Lord Protector; King James VI of Scotland, 1 of England; King Charles II; The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s lot in 17th century England;  The Warrior Queens;  The Wives of Henry VIII; Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot; Marie Antoinette; Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King; Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

In addition, she has written a series of mystery novels (Jemima Shore), memoirs, contributed to anthologies and edited books. She was also newsworthy for her relationship with Harold Pinter, the exceptionally influential British dramatist. For her services to literature, she has received the title Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE).

With a bibliography of 36 publications, so far, Helle Kraav explained Antonia Fraser’s incredible output being, in part, a gift of being able to speed read at a very young age. She grew up in a home where debate and discussion abounded. She was encouraged to have limitless imagination and ambition. She was allowed to read anything at hand. Her fame took off in 1969 with the publication of Mary Queen of Scots. Using original documents and her own research, she wanted readers to see Mary in the context of the times she lived. Fraser’s factual research on historical figures and events has stood the test of time.

Don’t miss Helle Kraav’s summary of Antonia Fraser, here.

Wanderlust? Read Pico Iyer.

Photograph of a woman with backpack

Image courtesy photographer Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash

Janet Samber is one of our Club’s most intrepid travelers. So it’s not surprising when she shared her favorite author, travel writer Pico Iyer.  Iyer has brought something new and important to the genre. By acutely observing our emerging global culture, his travelogues moved into social criticism, philosophizing on the effects of travel on the traveler, and the traveler’s effect on the places traveled to.

But he writes so much more, as well.

There is much more to learn about this amazing author, here.




Shane Book, U of C’s Writer-in-Residence, was our guest speaker

Introducing our guest speaker, Margaret Sparkes noted the appropriateness of having poet Shane Book on March 21, World Poetry Day!

Shane gave our group an illuminating and fascinating presentation on his life’s journey and how he ended up becoming a renowned writer and filmmaker. As the child of a Canadian father and a Trinidadian mother, he was born in Peru and spent several years as a child in Ghana, as his father worked for the Canadian International Developmental Agency as an economist and diplomat. They later returned to Canada where he lived in Vancouver and Ottawa.

While at the University of Victoria and New York University, he began to study poetry in earnest. He also began to seriously want to make movies.

His philosophy is that everything comes from poetry.  Many novelists say they are failed poets. Poetry forces the writer to pay attention to each word. Poetry also trains the ear.

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