Folklorama's Executive Director Debra Zoerb was born in Brandon. She moved to Winnipeg at the start of high school and has been a proud "West End Girl" ever since.
Always a voracious reader from a young age, she eventually managed to forgive her family for teasing her about becoming a 'zombie' while reading and not hearing repeated calls to come to dinner.
Always drawn to themes over details, no matter how much she loves a book she admits she is absolutely horrible at remembering the names of authors or characters. She says with gratitude that "her fellow book clubbers tolerate her contributions to the conversation being prefaced with expressions like "you know, the main guy".
Zoerb is actively working towards cultivating a love of books in her two nieces (who are much better at remembering names of authors and characters) and can't help but smile when she sees them lost in a book, not answering the repeated calls of their mom.
SCENE asked Zoerb to share some of her top picks.
"Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter (HarperCollins)
The book I should be reading right now is The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker
but since I haven't yet managed to actually get the book, it's going to have to wait until after Folklorama. Hopefully I'll manage to finish it in time to avoid any shame from my book club.
For the few recent times I've decided my brain absolutely needs a reading break, I've been turning to Jess Walter
's Beautiful Ruins
. Although I'm only part way in, the chapters set in Italy make me wonderfully nostalgic for my past travels.
As for anything I've actually finished and might recommend, I used to be rather insistent that everyone should take in anything and everything by Tom Robbins, however I've come to understand that my love for his quirky writing style is not going to be universally adored, no matter how much I wish it would be.
"Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins (Bantam)
Even so, Jitterbug Perfume
remains my all-time favourite and one of the few books I'll reread every so often. It covers topics of immortality, the importance of scent and taking deep breaths and the overarching power of beets. The book also features the Olympic god Pan as a prominent character and spans a period between the 8th century and modern times. What's not to love about that? Tom Robbins
' characters are always fascinating to get to know, and the entire gang featured here run amok with the best of them.
"The Girls" by Lori Lansens (Little, Brown & Co.)
If beet-based philosophies and magical possibilities providing an alternate explanation for how the universe works isn't your cup of tea, I'd recommend Lori Lansens
' The Girls
. The tale of conjoined twins born in rural Ontario in the early 70s may not seem like an obvious suggestion for anyone preferring a bit more realism to their fiction, but that's the true beauty of this book; Lansens successfully brings them to life in a manner so absolutely believable that it transcended my initial expectations.
As a story in and of itself, it's masterfully told. As an allegory for how we're all striving to be true to who we are while having to constantly compromise, it is powerful. What does it mean for the rest of us when two people who are literally joined at the head can still keep secrets from one another? To think of these characters who know each other so intimately yet are never able to directly look at one another opens up all kinds of contemplation. There are many rewards available to anyone willing to give this compelling, empathetic and at times heart-breaking book a try.This content is provided by Debra Zoerb. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not resonsible for this content.