Book News Roundup: November 21, 2014

atwood-catIn honor of Margaret Atwood‘s 75th birthday, here are 75 reasons to love her, and an Atwood Infographic!

Great list: 20 authors under 40 you should read.

And another great list: Five gateway graphic novels for literature lovers.

The NPR Librarian discusses the best ways to organize your home book collection. Don’t worry, “there’s no library SWAT police that’s going to show up and tell you you have mis-arranged your books and you must use a different system.” Phew!

Thomas King has won the Governor General‘s Literary Award for fiction.

A fascinating infographic of comparative reading habits by gender.

The National Book Award winners are

Happy weekend!


Image via.

#readwomen2014 Essay Collections

This has been a great year for women writers. Back in late 2013/early 2014, the hashtag #readwomen2014 began gaining traction as a response to the perceived sexism by book reviewers and the publishing industry. You can read more about the movement here.

Suffice it to say, I have been impressed and inspired by the amazing essay collections published by women writers this year. Here are a few you should check out:

badfeministBad Feminist, by Roxane Gay

I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved her novel, which also came out this year, and follow her blog, and am pretty sure this book is going to be amazing.

empathyexamsThe Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison

A collection that explores empathy in all its many forms and iterations.

MenExplainThingstoMeMen Explain Things to Me, by Rebecca Solnit

If you only read one feminist essay this year, may it be the title essay in this collection. The others are also great, but the essay about her encounter with a man who explained the importance of her book to her, without knowing she had written it, is priceless and perfectly illustrative of the issues women face when it comes to being taken seriously in the world.

NotThatKindOfGirlNot That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham’s essay collection is sassy, touching, courageous and controversial. Need I say more?

UnspeakableThe Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, by Meghan Daum

Described as a “bold and witty” “report from early middle age.”  “With perfect precision, she reveals the absurdities of the marriage-industrial complex, of the New Age dating market, and of the peculiar habits of the young and digital. Elsewhere, she writes searchingly about cultural nostalgia, Joni Mitchell, and the alternating heartbreak and liberation of choosing not to have children. Combining the piercing insight of Joan Didion with a warm humor reminiscent of Nora Ephron, Daum dissects our culture’s most dangerous illusions, blind spots, and sentimentalities while retaining her own joy and compassion. Through it all, she dramatizes the search for an authentic self in a world where achieving an identity is never simple and never complete.”

WomenInClothesWomen in Clothes, by Sheila Heti

Short essays on what, why and how we get dressed by more than 600 women, edited by the Toronto novelist Sheila Heti.


Book News Roundup: November 7, 2014

winnie04rvIn this week’s adorable literary animal news, this is the “real” Winnie-the-Pooh.

Miriam Toewes won the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize … it will be interesting to see if she can score another big win at Monday Night’s Giller Ceremony.

Tom Hanks is publishing a book of short stories.

In case you are wondering, eBook sales are slowing down and still lag behind print book sales, as illustrated by this infographic.

Katniss is heading to the stage!

And Lemony Snicket to Netflix!

Ann Patchett’s hilarious letter to the editor in the NYT about an incorrect grammatical sentence used to describe one of her books.

And speaking of grammar, these are some good tips! (You’ll love this one, Mom).

Happy weekend!


Image via

We Remember

Truly magical reading experiences happen when we feel like we’ve discovered a book that few others know about.  These books were meant just for us, we think.  And yet we wonder: how is it that not everyone knows about this book, that not everyone is reading it entranced?  And so we want to share ‘our’ book with select others, so they too can experience the magic of this book, and hopefully love it as we have loved it.

dreamlessRecently, I was assigned the book Above the Dreamless Dead* for a course that I’m taking.  The book was published just this year, but I was lucky enough to find a copy checked in her at the library.  I curled up in one of our armchairs with a hot cup of tea and the rain stream down the windowpanes as I read.  Enchanted.  I wasn’t here in the present day in a public library.  I was gone.

In a matter of pages, I was whisked away to Europe.  To the trenches.  To World War I.poetry

The poetry of the Trench Poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg has been adapted by modern day comic book artists.  Each artist takes on a different poem and their vision breathes new life into old verse.  Reading it I experienced loss and lice, glory and horror.

poppyThis Remembrance Day when we are thinking about how far we have come in the last one hundred years, and how far we still have to go to find peace, I urge you to get lost in Above the Dreamless Dead.  It is a powerful reminder of the cost of war.


*Thank you to NetGalley and First Second for providing an Advanced Readers Copy of this title.

Book News Roundup – October 24, 2014

Jessica_Paré-184x300Fabulous celebrities will present at the Giller Prize Ceremony on Nov. 10th! Do you have tickets yet for the North Van Giller Party?

Why you should not feel embarrassed for enjoying Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, and also a Mindy Kaling reference!

F. Scott Fitzgerald conjugates “cocktail,” the verb.

Joan Didion‘s nephew wants your help in making a documentary about his aunt’s life.

Feeling stressed? Try an adult colouring book.

Do we read differently at different ages?

Happy weekend!


Michael’s Autumn Non-fiction Reads

Ordering books is one of my favourite roles as a non-fiction librarian. I get to peruse all the publishers’ catalogues and anticipate all the great material that’s coming our way. Here are a few of the books on order that I’m looking forward to this autumn:

EpilogueEpilogue: A Memoir by Will Boast

Settling his father’s estate, Boast discovers that his dad had another family before marrying his mother. Boast sets out to meet his newly-discovered half-brothers and finds out how little he really knew about his father – revising his views of his personal history along the way.

FlirtingWithFrenchFlirting with French by William Alexander

In his fifties, Alexander decides he has to master the French language – after all, he is a raging Francophile. But the process turns out to be more complex than anticipated…. Part humorous memoir, part exploration of the neuroscience of language acquisition, this promises to be an amusing plaisir.

HowIWonHow I Won the War for the Allies: One Sassy Canadian Soldier’s Story by Doris Gregory

After challenging UBC’s discriminatory policies against women, Doris Gregory joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corp. She crossed the U-boat infested Atlantic, dodged bombs in London, and smuggled herself into neutral Ireland. A war memoir from an unexpected voice.

InnocenceOnTrialInnocence on Trial: The Framing of Ivan Henry by Joan McEwen.

After twenty-seven years in prison, Vancouverite Ivan Henry was acquitted due to lack of evidence. This important story reviews a terrible miscarriage of Canadian justice – and promises to make your blood boil.

TerroristSonThe Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice by Zak Ebrahim

The son of the terrorist who planned the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, Ebrahim was raised in a fanatical home. Yet as he grew older, he rejected the radical hatred that surrounded him. A plea for a humane worldview, published by the TED talks people, this promises to be an interesting read.


Halloween Reads 2014

With Season 5 of The Walking Dead finally on the air and Halloween fast approaching, I’ve once again got zombies on the brain.  (Okay, I always have zombies on the brain, but it’s more acceptable to blog about it now.)  If you need a good zombie story to get you through until the next episode airs, why not head to our graphic novel collection for your next read?

I recommend:

empireEmpire of the Dead by George A. Romero

This is director George A. Romero’s first foray into comics.  In it he continues the trend (started in the landmark 1968 film Night of the Living Dead) of combining zombie mayhem and social commentary.  Did I mention there are also vampires?

Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacassaarchie

While I was never much of a fan of Archie and his Riverdale crew, I couldn’t put this comic down!  When Hot Dog dies in a hit and run, Jughead looks to Sabrina to bring him back to life.  She does, but Hot Dog will never be the same.  Nor will Riverdale.

daybreakDaybreak by Brian Ralph

You are the protagonist of this story.  Don’t let the cartoony drawings fool you, this story is a thrill ride.  The panels cut off your peripheral vision and create a deliciously tense atmosphere.  It keeps you reading and fighting for survival.

Zombo by Al Ewingzombo

Zombo is a top-secret government experiment — part zombie, part ghoul.  His mission is to save the 33 passengers who survived the crash of Flight 303.  The publishers call it Night of the Living Dead meets Monty Python.  Either way, it’s good fun.


Do you have a favourite zombie comic you’d like to share?  Please comment — I’d love to hear it!