Archive for January, 2011

Book Count

There’s a really interesting article in The Globe & Mail today (Jan. 12th) titled “Book count aims to show that books count. A campaign to add up the number of volumes bought and checked out this week will help form the national literacy strategy.” Here in Canada we view ourselves as readers with only 13% of the population saying they’re non-readers. And according to stats we spend 40 minutes a day with our head buried in a book.

Let’s show them we’re readers… head to the store or your library this week and get a book. The more money put into books and reading the better!

The Tally is in… Canadians bought or borrowed more than 2,500,000 books last week. Book sales amounted to 1,110,568 and the rest were library loans. How’s that for a country with only 33,000,000 people!! This is the country’s first book count and it was organized to draw attention to reading on the eve of the second Reading Summit which is being held in Montreal.

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The Widower’s Tale

Julia Glass is a favourite author of mine. I had no intention of taking her newest book The Widower’s Tale: A Novel (published by Random House) with me on holiday but when it became available at the library I decided it would be a great read over Christmas. Glass is a great writer and I was not disappointed. It’s a fantastic book. Midway through the book I thought I’d better start putting those tiny post-it note strips on the pages where I thought the passages deserved to be read again. The book ended up looking like a dictionary with all the little tabs sticking out of the side – 9 and counting just in the second half of the book alone. OK … enough about my weirdness. The book is essentially about Percy Darling, a “darling” senior, many years a widower, who lives just outside Boston. His routine life is disrupted when he decides to allow his barn to be taken over by a much loved preschool in dire need of  new headquarters. The cast of characters Glass includes are all really well drawn and interesting… Percy’s daughters Clover (a teacher at the preschool) and Trudy (Dr. Trudy) his grandson Robert, and Sarah, one of the mothers from the preschool who becomes involved with Percy – much to his surprise and delight. There’s also Ira, Celestino and Arturo, all fascinating people.  The story gets complicated, as life always does, and of course things don’t always work out as hoped. But that makes the story interesting and real. It’s a great read, well written, and there are so many passages well worth reading again and again… like  “He, the child, might not have been happy all or even most of the time, but his surroundings had been remarkably serene and cheerful. That was the “hood” part of childhood, the context, the environment, ecosphere – call it what you like.” I loved that. The book is full of moments like this. It’s a winner!

I really think you should also read her National Book Award Winner Three Junes as well. I loved it. Get your Julia Glass “fix” this winter.

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Beautiful Lie the Dead

Beautiful Lie the Dead (An Inspector Green Mystery) is Barbara Fradkin’s 8th Inspector Green novel. I’ve been a huge fan of hers since I first discovered Honour Among Men on the shelf of my local book store (it’s book #5 and I loved it so much I had to track down the first 4 and then work my way forward). I highly recommend her to everyone out there who loves a good mystery. Set in Ottawa, Inspector Michael Green and his band of buddies at the Ottawa Police force never fail to impress with their dedication and determination to solve all the crimes that land on their doorstep on Elgin St. I love how Fradkin injects just the right amount of “Ottawaness” to her books, always revealing something of the city that I find interesting or bang-on in her interpretation of how things are here. She’s the only Ottawa writer who seems to see the city with my eyes, and that amazes me. In this her latest book, Meredith Kennedy and Dr. Brandon Longstreet are planning their wedding when Meredith mysteriously disappears. When a woman’s body is found in a snowbank in Rockcliffe Park everyone is certain that it is Meredith. But it isn’t. And it soon becomes evident that this case is connected to Meredith’s disappearance. A large portion of the book is set in Montreal, making me nostalgic for Schwartz’s smoked meat, and a host of other well drawn bits & pieces of the city that I fondly remember and miss. The book never gets bogged down or boring, and I was definitely sorry when I came to the end. Fradkin deserves way more recognition and accolades than she gets. She is definitely one of Canada’s best mystery writers. My suggestion is that you read all her books, in chronological order just to keep the background info on the characters straight. That aspect alone makes her books well worth reading, never mind the ingriguing mysteries she develops. But if you only had time for one, this is the one. But I bet you won’t be able to stop at just one.

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It’s a Book

We got this amazing book for Christmas (Thanks so much Heather!!). Yes, it’s called It’s a Book. It’s actually in the children’s section of the book store, or library I guess, but adults will surely appreciate the message written in the few words on each page. It’s by best-selling children’s writer and illustrator Lane Smith. I hate to say this but you can even read it standing in the bookstore just leafing through it. There are so few words… but it’s so good. And if you’re part of a family who disagree on paper books versus electronic books, so much the better. Take a peek, and pass on the recommendation. This book deserves to go “viral”… the old fashioned way – by word of mouth.

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