Book Review: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

waveAlthough I’m an avid book lover, I find it easy to get out of the habit of reading. However, I find it just as easy to get back into the habit which is what happened after I finished reading The Painted Girls, by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Hungry for more delicious literature, I started reading Wave on my Kobo. Partially because it was there and partially because I’d recently watched The Impossible in preparation for movie awards season.

Both The Impossible and Wave are centered around the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The reason why I’m finding this topic so intriguing is because it occurred in such recent history and because I can so clearly remember it happening. I don’t remember the fallout very well (which possibly had something to do with my selfish teenage self focused more on high school prom and university applications), although I do remember my history teacher, a priest named Father T, letting us throw money at him which he tried to catch in a garbage can to give as donations. Continue reading


Minimalism 101

minI went to talk about minimalism tonight at the Centre for Social Innovation. Promoting their new book were minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the two men behind the blog The Minimalists. They spoke for about a half hour about how minimalism changed their lives and increased their happiness and then did a really extensive Q&A with the audience. Continue reading

Grief Tourism

Image from Last Folio

I heard about the Grief Tourism talk at the ROM from a friend of mine and considering my recent visit to Europe, and Dachau in particular, I knew I had to hear it. It was a part of Holocaust Education Week 2012, a week-long event in Toronto that actually wraps up tomorrow night. I heard a survivor speak at least year’s Holocaust Education Week and it was so powerful that I knew that if this talk was anything like it, it would be a great experience. Continue reading

The Legacy of a Jerk

I listened to an interesting Freakonomics podcast on my drive home today. It was called The Legacy of a Jerk and featured several stories related to people who were, or were made out to be, jerks and how their jerkiness was treated after their deaths.

As historians, it is important to be as truthful and accurate as possible when recounting past events and delving into the lives of people who have passed on. But it’s human nature, and perhaps more of a social more, to not speak ill of the dead. How can we reconcile these two very different approaches to remembering the past? Continue reading

A Foray into Board Games of the Past

A large part of my summer internship at the Canadian Children’s Museum at the Canadian Museum of Civilization involved me researching artifacts from the museum’s collection and putting them online, making them accessible to museum-goers. I tried to choose items that were relevant to every generation and meaningful to the average Canadian, a task that proved to be very interesting. My first solo foray into the museum’s collections storage was a little intimidating, as it is housed in a gigantic room located in the basement of the building. I headed down and was sure to bring my building pass so I could swipe into the collection room, and to also avoid being trapped in a stairwell, as the card is needed to open all doors to exit the stairwell (I always kept my pass clipped to my pocket to prevent such debacles from occurring). Continue reading

How much is too much? Information overload in the growing digital world.

Gordon Bell. The man who digitized his entire life. When a friend of his began scanning books into a computer, Bell decided that he would scan everything he had ever accumulated during the course of his life into a computer of his own. Upon first reading the article, I have to admit that I didn’t have a problem with Bell scanning the contents of his filing cabinets and boxes that were stored in his house, and putting it onto a computer. I can even see the practical value of this: get it on the computer, save it, back it up, throw out the originals, and voilà, more space! But I continued reading and saw that he scanned scrapbooks, photographs, and even labels of wine that he’d enjoyed at some point in his life. This is where it stopped being practical and became unsentimental. As someone who has personally made scrapbooks, compiled photo albums, and written journals, it’s difficult to imagine throwing out the real copies and being satisfied with a digital version on a computer screen. Flipping through the pages of these books and reminiscing about all things that have happened in my life just cannot be substituted for scrolling down a computer screen with a mouse. It’s too unsatisfying! Continue reading