COLUMN: February is heart month at Delta libraries

Frances Thomson suggests a heart-themed reading list for February.

During the month of February, hearts abound.

The shape is a universally recognized symbol of love, and the word is used to describe more than just the human organ. It is used to mean tenderness or pity (“my heart goes out to you”) or to have the will to do something (“I don’t have the heart to tell her”). Showing one’s feelings openly is to “wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.”

A keyword search for “heart” in the library catalog yields over 1,000 results of items with the word in their title, subject or description, and not all are love stories or books and DVDs about heart health.

The Heart is French writer Maylis de Kerangal’s first novel to be translated to English. The story takes place over 24 hours, between the car accident on a deserted country road that kills 19-year-old Simon Limbres and the resulting heart transplant to a woman close to death. The deepest emotions of everyone involved, from the grieving parents to the medical staff, are explored in beautifully written prose.

The 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) riot in Seattle is the setting for Sunil Yapa’s book Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist. Library Journal described this debut novel as “a punch in the gut.”

Over the course of one rainy, cold day in November, the lives of seven people will change forever. The fictional group of police officers and activists includes 19-year-old Victor, who is trying to sell marijuana to protesters, and his estranged father, the police chief. The novel, which has been described as “noteworthy, capital I Important and a ripping read,” was on many “best” lists of 2016.

When realtor Steve Jenkins agreed to adopt a miniature piglet in need of a home, his partner Derek was less enthusiastic. It turned out there was nothing miniature about Esther; she was actually a full-sized pig bred for the commercial market.

Within three years she had grown to 600 pounds, but by that time she was loved by both Steve and Derek. They became vegans and moved to a farm where they could care for Esther and other animals. Their story is told in Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time.

In 1972, Roberto Canessa was a second-year medical student and rugby player in Uruguay, when he and 15 other people survived a plane crash in the Andes for 72 days. The story was told in the 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, followed by a movie version in 1993.

I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives is Canessa’s story. Surviving the crash led him to a lifelong commitment to pediatric cardiology, performing heart surgeries on infants and unborn babies. It is an uplifting tale of hope and determination, told with grace and humanity.

Whether you are looking for heart-warming or heart-rending stories, there is something for everyone at the George Mackie Library.

Frances Thomson is the community librarian at the George Mackie Library. For more information about books and events at the library, visit fvrl.bc.ca.