During this COVID-19 pandemic period, a lot of people have turned to reading a bit more. On a nice summer day there is nothing quite like taking a book or tablet outside and getting lost in some stories, fiction or non-fiction.

As the 75 years young Hampstead’s Paul Steinberg decided to put his life story out there, School of Hard Luck : A Memoir of Money and Morals is available on Amazon.

A sales executive at a prominent local car dealership for many years, Paul has run successful businesses in the past. Reminiscent of Mordechai Richler’s “Duddy Kravitz,” School of Hard Luck is a coming-into-wisdom story that takes place in the same era and Montreal neighbourhood. Paul did whatever it took to make something of himself. Bullied as a child, he found it most ironic to see the same thing occur when a boss humiliated him on the job. Each time he persevered. He even beat cancer. Community minded, he volunteers for anti-bullying initiatives and for Dans Le Rue, which supports the homeless. I had a nice chat with him last weekend for my podcast. You can read more on his blog: https://schoolofhardluck.blogspot.com/

THE SMALLEST OBJECTIVE: CSL native Sharon Kirsch’s new book, The Smallest Objective, is both topical and universal. This intriguing narrative non-fiction examines the complexities of lives lived: a personal and literal spring-cleaning—the need to sift, take stock and filter for the important things; our concern for senior members of our family, and the consolation offered by staying close to loved ones, even when we can’t reach them. Entrusted with her mother’s move to an assisted-living facility after 50 years in the same home, the author crafts an intricate literary memoir about the hidden recesses of a Montreal family (some at the fringes of the law), and the treasures that the past can bring in the face of a difficult present. Marking this passage in her life, the book is also a chronicle about mid-century Montreal. It is now available from Paragraph Books, as well as other booksellers and on Amazon and Kobo. You can find a link to the book at: https://www.newstarbooks.com/book.php?book_id=1554201551

SUBURBAN ON AIR: What a thrill it was for me to have iconic Quebec entertainer Gregory Charles as a guest on my latest Cohen in the City episode for Suburban On Air. He was joined by Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) President Jeff Bernstein and CEO Alexandra Schwartz. When will concerts return to large venues like the Bell Centre? You have to watch to see Gregory’s bold prediction. Go to: https://www.thesuburban.com/on_air/cohen_in_the_city/

SOUPER HEROES: Dr. Michael Kalin and his wife Aviva have always been very community-minded. Last week they were featured on Global TV’s Morning Show as Montreal Hometown Heroes. At the beginning of the pandemic they started a volunteer soup donation program that is delivered to various hospitals. It began on a small scale of 20 soups a day and has now expanded to 160. “Souper” Hero provides front-line healthcare workers with a container of frozen soup to take home at the end of their shift. Many such staff leave work physically and emotionally drained and then need to prepare dinner for their family or go home to an empty apartment with no desire to cook. The goal of this project is to help ease the burden of cooking, ensure that healthcare workers have a nutritious meal and make them feel appreciated for the heroes that they are! One of the largest deliveries made thus far was 160 soups to the Royal Victoria ICU and 10 to Mount Sinai Hospital.

Something to share? Email mcohen@thesuburban.com, follow me on Twitter @mikecohencsl and on our blog section at www.thesuburban.com

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