Friday, December 15, 2006
On Wednesday, January 10th, the Seniors Book Group will be discussing The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. In her memoir the well-known journalist tells the funny-sad story of her astonishing childhood, a tale of searing poverty and parental alcoholism and neglect. In preparation for that discussion and in the spirit of the season, here's an excerpt from that book:
A Celestial Gift
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In response to popular demand (well, three people from the Monday evening book club), the following is a list of what I think are the ten best books I read in the past year:
An Indo-Canadian heartbreaker culminating with the 1985 Air India disaster.
Dunant, Sarah. 2006. In the company of the courtesan
Sixteenth century Venice from the perspective of a dwarf who is also a high class hooker's business partner.
Fforde, Jasper. 2005. The big over easy : a nursery crime
Who murdered Humpty Dumpty? Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crime Division is out to find the answer. So silly but so very witty.
Gruen, Sara. 2006. Water for elephants : a novel
A beautiful but gritty tale set in a Depression era circus in the U.S.
Lawson, Mary. 2006. The other side of the bridge
Why wasn't this book nominated for any of the big Canadian book awards? An Ontario East of Eden. Beautifully written AND a great story.
Nemirovsky, Irene. 2006. Suite Francaise
The author, a Russian Jew, did not survive the second World War but her story about the French and their German occupiers did.
See, Lisa. 2005. Snow flower and the secret fan : a novel
See's story is based on recent research which uncovered evidence of a secret system of writing practiced by upper class women in one province of China during the nineteenth century.
Setterfield, Diane. 2006. The thirteenth tale : a novel
A not-so-cozy English suspense thriller. Gorgeous book jacket.
Smith, Alexander McCall. 2006. Blue shoes and happiness
The seventh and latest instalment in The No. 1 Detective Agency series. Smith and Precious Ramotswe just keep getting better and better.
Wright, Ronald. 2006. A short history of progress
The only non-fiction entry. Wright provides empirical evidence of the Earth's iminient destruction in a brief, convincing and conversational style. Ignore at your grandchildren's peril!
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Book jackets. Why do publishers burden some perfectly good books with ugly jackets? And some lovely jackets grace books that are otherwise utter drivel. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason. They also like to mess with our minds by publishing the American edition of a Canadian book with a different cover. Sometimes they even go so far as to publish them with a different title but they usually save that librarian-confusing treatment for British books.
Take the Evening Book Group's December selection The Time in Between as an example. It was published in Canada with a gorgeous and appropriate jacket featuring an attractive Vietnamese woman in traditional dress riding a bicycle.
The American edition of the same book also shows a Vietnamese woman on a bicycle but this photo is out-of-focus and of a decidedly nontraditional and somewhat tawdry specimen. Have they improved the cover or made it more representative of the story? I think not plus I don't think it would necessarily sell more books.
The U.S. trade paperback abandons the female cyclist all together and uses a dogtags graphic instead. Less colour and perhaps cheaper to print?
American publishers have also seen fit to replace the cover of the Senior Book Club December selection, The Big Over Easy, as well. The colourful British cover has nursery-rhyme primary colours (or pulp fiction detective story) overtones.
The American jacket is still cartoony, still witty but with much less colour.
Its interesting to note that the reverse seldom happens. Canadian and British publishers usually get the American cover at the same time as they acquire the rights to the text. Do we feel less need to put our cultural stamp on the product? Do Americans feel they need to Americanize book covers so that the content will be perceived to be more palatable? Are Canadians and Brits less xenophobic?
Those of us in the book business in Canada who are obliged to keep the many reincarnations straight readily concur with the old adage that "You can't tell a book by it's cover".
Friday, November 24, 2006
New to Blogs? So are we! Blogs and blogging are a 21st Century phenomena and a wonderful way to share ideas. To this end we are providing virtual access to the Library's book clubs. Even if you can't make it to the Library you still participate in our discussion.
For more on Blogs see Wikipedia.