Heidi’s Under-the-Radar Fall 2014 Picks


Over the weekend, I thought about how my recent Fall Picks post featured mostly literary heavyweights and books that have already received a good bit of hype. Nothing wrong with that. But I’m also pretty excited for a few Fall books that are more under the radar. Here they are:

FameLunchesThe Fame Lunches: On Wounded Icons, Money, Sex, the Brontes, and the Importance of Handbags, by Daphne Merkin (Sept. 2)

A collection of essays on everything from handbags to John Updike, lip gloss to Michael Jackson, and everything in between.

WomenInClothesWomen in Clothes, ed. by Sheila Heti (Sep. 4)

A tribute to self-expression based on the expertise of more than 225 contributors, including interviews, essays, sketches and photos.

WolfWhiteVanWolf in White Van, by John Darnielle (Sep. 16)

Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of 17, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined.

BookStrangeNewThingsThe Book of Strange New Things, by Michael Faber (Oct. 28)

Called to perform missionary work on a world light years away where the natives are fascinated by the concepts he introduces, man of faith Peter Leigh finds his beliefs tested when he learns of natural disasters that are tearing Earth apart.

UnspeakableThe Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, by Meghan Daum (Nov. 18)

Essays on sentimentality and its impact on the way we think about death, children, patriotism, and other matters.





Book News Roundup – Sept. 12, 2014

mag-14Dunham-t_CA0-master1050The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced this week. What do you think?

If you are at all as fascinated by Lena Dunham as I am, check out this profile of her by essayist Meghan Daum in the New York Times Magazine.

Did you get roped into naming your most influential books on Facebook this week? Well, many people did, and Facebook compiled the info to determine the 100 most influential books.

Lisa Genova fans will be happy to know that Julianne Moore is getting rave reviews for her role in the movie adaptation of Still Alice, which is currently screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.

A.O. Scott on the death of adulthood in American culture.

Happy weekend!


Image of Lena Dunham by Benjamin Lowy via.


Heidi’s Fall 2014 Picks

I know I might offend some people by saying this, but I am so ready for Fall. Sweaters! New leather boots! Crisp days and cool nights!

But most importantly, publishers seem to tap into our atavistic back-to-school mentally with their Fall releases. It’s when they bring out the big guns: the heavyweight authors, big ideas, meaty tomes we want to sink our teeth into with the end of Summer’s languorousness. (Yes that is a real word, I looked it up).

Here are the books I can’t wait to get into this Fall:

WeAreNotOurselvesWe Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas (Aug. 19)

Entertainment Weekly gave this WWI-era family saga an A, calling it an “absolutely devastating debut (that) is a very traditional novel written with minimal flair.”

BoneClocksThe Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell (Sept. 2)

If I have to tell you why I’m excited for this book, we can’t be friends anymore.

StationElevenStation Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel (Sept. 9)

A post-apocalyptic novel about the power of art in a world that has been upturned by a pandemic. The main character, Kirsten, is an actress with the Traveling Symphony, a small troupe that moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Tattooed on her arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.”

PayingGuestsThe Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters (Sept. 16)

I am a fan of Sarah Waters’ spooky historical novels, and this one is getting rave reviews. For example, this is what Michael Dirda has to say about it in the Washington Post: “Some novels are so good, so gripping or shattering that they leave you uncertain whether you should have ever started them. You open “The Paying Guests” and immediately surrender to the smooth assuredness of Sarah Waters’s silken prose. Nothing jars. You relax. You turn more pages. You start turning them faster. Before long, you resemble Coleridge’s Wedding-Guest: You cannot choose but read. The book has you in thrall. You will follow Waters and her story anywhere. Yet when that story ends, you find yourself emotionally sucked dry, as much stunned as exhilarated by the power of art.

UsUs, by David Nicholls (Sept. 30)

I LOVED David Nicholls’ One Day, so I have high hopes for this follow up about marriage and parenthood in London.

NotThatKindOfGirlNot That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham (Sept. 30)

Lena Dunahm (of Girls‘ fame) could write a post card and I’d be excited to read it, so I’m really looking forward to her first collection of essays.

What about you? What are you excited to read this Fall?



Five reasons to join a book club

BookClubBeachOur NVCL Drop-in Book Club is entering its fourth year, and I have to say, I think joining a book club is one of the best things you can do. Have you thought of joining one? Never thought of joining one?

Either way, here are five reasons you should:

  1. You will make time to read.

There is nothing like an impending book club meeting to force you to quit making excuses and make time to read. Sometimes, having that accountability is what you need to do the things you want to do, but can’t seem to find time for.

  1. You will read books you normally wouldn’t.

It is one of the things people love and hate about book clubs. You end up reading things you would normally never dream of reading. Sometimes this is awesome and exposes you to new, challenging material that you absolute love and feel so grateful for having been forced to read. Other times, you want to murder whoever suggested the selection because you hate it so much. Both are part of being in a book club. You will read fiction, nonfiction, short stories, graphic novels, and sometimes even young adult or kids’ books. Some of my favourite books have been ones I read for a book club that I NEVER would have picked up on my own. (For example: Just Kids, by Patti Smith and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman).

  1. You will meet people you normally wouldn’t.

Especially in a library book club, or one that is not organized by your friends. Very few people in the NVCL Book Club knew each other before coming to meetings. But now, friendships have been struck, connections have been made, book exchanges have occurred and local knowledge has been shared. You might not love everyone you meet, but you will make some friends and learn how to deal with those you don’t.

  1. You will feel more connected to your community.

As a result of number three, you will start to feel like you are more connected to your community. You will learn about events, restaurants, and resources in the community that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You will run into your new book club acquaintances around town. You may join other community groups, which will then increase all of these connections exponentially.

  1. You will have opportunities to learn new skills, like communication and facilitation.

You will have to learn how to communicate your ideas, feelings and opinions about the book effectively, as well as learn how to listen to others and respect their opinions. Even if this is something you already do, you can never practice effective communication enough. Additionally, you will have opportunities to facilitate conversations, which is a great skill to learn and hone. In the NVCL book club meetings, we always break into small groups of 5-7 people, and I ask one person to volunteer to facilitate the discussion. I notice that as time goes on, the folks who facilitate get better and better at it, and it seems to build their confidence.

If you are interested in joining the NVCL Drop-in Book Club, you can find all the info here, or email me at hschiller@cnv.org.

Happy reading!


Book News Roundup – Sept. 5, 2014

DavidMitchellHollywood‘s love affair with books this Fall.

An until-now-unpublished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter from the estate of Roald Dahl!

Why we value creativity.

Finalists were announced for the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Some great books on there!

Roxane Gay, author of two of this year’s most anticipated books, live-Tweeted her reading of this year’s September Vogue Issue. It was sassy and spot on.

Is anyone  else as excited for the new David Mitchell book as I am?!?!

A lovely list of amazing sentences.

Image of David Mitchell by Jackie Nickerson via.

Patricia’s Fresh Picks for September 2014

Today is the first day of school.  Normally many of us would be breathing quiet sighs of relief that our precious offspring are off to school.  We’d be saying goodbye to the luxurious disruption of summer.  Not so this year.  This year is the year of The Strike and it is anything but normal.  Instead we are more harried and uncertain.  We are trying to build after-school activities around an absence.  Our children need childcare, they need to be entertained, and what’s more they need educating.  If this were a normal September, I’d be posting now about what’s new to our fiction collection; novels parents might enjoy now that they have a bit more ‘me’ time.  This year, that just feels wrong.

My Fresh Picks this September are books that are new to our collection that I’m hoping will make lives easier in the days (fingers crossed it’s not weeks or months) ahead.  You can check which items are available by clicking on each title individually.

familyFamily Meals

Short on time?  Want to make one meal the whole family will enjoy?  Try this cookbook from celebrity chef Michael Smith.  There’s a helpful section on make ahead meals and one on quick dinners.  My favourite part about the book is that it has lots of photos (so I know how dinner was supposed to look).


math50+ Super-Fun Math Activities

We own Grade 2 through Grade 5.  For those of us who never dreamed of being math teachers, each book features more than 50 ready-to-go activities.


yogaPizza Party and Jillian Michael’s Yoga Inferno (Downloadable Videos)

Two digital yoga classes.  One for the kidlets and one for the parents.  All together now… breathe!

Happy September — it’ll get easier.


Book News Roundup — August 29, 2014

HeartofDarknessIllustrationGreat books you won’t read in school.

How book lovers react to people who don’t read.

Congratulations to Dee Robinson on her retirement after 34 years in the independent bookselling business! Dee and her husband, Chuck, own one of my all-time favourite bookstores — Village Books — in Bellingham. (A fantastic day-trip destination!)

New clips from the movie adaptation of the chilling psychological thriller (some might call it the precursor to Gone Girl) Before I Go to Sleep!

Check out these illustrations from around the world of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

If you are like me and enjoy reading in the bathtub and at the beach, you’ll probably want to get your hands on one of these.

Happy weekend!


Image by Kit Russell via.