A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love was The Afterword Reading Society book club selection for Nov 26. I stupidly, and for a second time in a row, was not my usual 100% and I missed submitting my information. That said, my untimeliness in no way represents how much I enjoyed this book, nor how much I appreciate receiving a copy of this fine novel.

Alma Whittaker, born Jan 5, 1800, bears witness to the vast changes taking place in science, religion, commerce and class, all without leaving her home White Acre. Ok, she does leave near the end of her life, but what leads her to that point is such a sweeping tale of botany, early childhood education, colonization through cultivation of plants for medicine and food, charity (misplaced or not) and a family lineage that is fearsome in its tenacity. The story is told through Alma’s interactions with a number of visitors who come to White Acre to meet with Alma’s father Henry Whittaker. Henry Whittaker made his fortune travelling the seas as a young lad on behalf of Joseph Banks and the Kew Gardens. He was a swift learner and had few scruples so he quickly used his knowledge of botany and commerce to his advantage. When the time was right, he picked a wife, moved to America, set up a partnership for a profitable pharmaceutical company and continued to add pennies to his pockets through his expeditions.

The story moves from Henry’s travels to London to Peru to Philadelphia, then follows Alma’s trek to Tahiti and Amsterdam. There are beautiful descriptions of orchids, mosses and other botanicals. There’s adventure on the high seas, a retracing of human history, Darwin’s theories of evolution, and the push by abolitionists and adventurers to reconsider the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It reminds me of Anna Pavord’s The Tulip, which was a nonfiction look at the cultural baggage this bulb brings with it. The Signature of All Things: A Novel is The Tulip’s fictional counterpart.


Check it out on ElizabethGilbert.com along with the reading group guide and other goodies, including a Signature of All Things cocktail. Yum.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Michael Tamblyn at FutureBook 2013 on 50 Infinite Shades of Grey

“Is it bestiality if he turns from a dolphin into a human while they’re having sex?” – October 14, 2013

Kobo COO Michael Tamblyn at FutureBook 2013, “Infinite Shades of Grey: The Promise and Peril of Self-Publishing,” on 9 days of hell.

On October 12th, Kobo had a significant catalogue of self-published titles in the UK. Tens of thousands of authors and hundreds of thousands of titles, a thriving part of our UK business. Living the dream, as they say.

On October 14th, we had zero self-published titles available in the UK from zero authors and our 300-year-old retail partner had suspended their web presence.

For more context please read this first:
http://janefriedman.com/2013/11/28/writing-on-the-ether-118/

Or start with the video and transcript here:
http://kobowritinglife.com/2013/11/25/infinite-shades-of-grey-the-promise-and-peril-of-self-publishing-in-the-uk/

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent — How to Read a Book

Francis Bacon once remarked “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Today’s StumbleUpon advent find is this article on How to Read a Book, which looks at the four levels of reading Mortimer Adler wrote about:

Elementary
Inspectional
Analytical
Syntopical

In short, the goal of reading determines how you read.
http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/how-to-read-a-book/

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent — BookSeer

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BookSeer.com helps you find what to read next.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent — Bookmobile

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Chicago, 1940

My StumbleUpon advent calendar stumbled upon my cold that laid me up in bed for the last few days. Alors, here we go with an archive photo of a travelling library. This photo reminds me of a similar one in Todd Babiak’s Edmonton Public Library Centennial book.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Advent — Digital Classics

Today’s advent discovery on StumbleUpon is more than 100 literary masterpieces bound in the finest electronic leather.

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Source: http://imgs.zinio.com/retail_srvs/classics/

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Advent — Comic Books

Mark Grambau’s poster series celebrates the form, dynamism, and unique aesthetics of superheroes. Each characters is represented with their iconic color palette, silhouette, and catchphrase or slogan.

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See more posters here: http://www.behance.net/Gallery/Superherovillain-posters/194362/?_nospa=true

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Advent — Light Reading

How Kindle’s Paperwhite Technology Works

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The Kindle Paperwhite uses a unique lighting system to illuminate its electronic ink display. Rather than using a backlight as on LCD-based tablets, the Paperwhite uses a transparent light guide that directs light from four edge-mounted LEDs down toward the surface of the display. See how it all works!
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/12/26/technology/light-reading.html?ref=technology

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Advent — A List of Books

Today’s StumbleUpon Advent find is 13 “Top 100 Books” lists combined and condensed into one master list. That’s 623 books in all!

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Source: http://www.alistofbooks.com/?_nospa=true

Notables reads for me within in the top 100:
Catch-22
The Catcher in the Rye
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Mrs Dalloway
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Advent — Paperwork

Day 2 of my StumbleUpon advent calendar. This one is beautiful!

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照片 189 by Ginger Garden
Source:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ginger1977/4129130815/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent — Night Light

The Christmas spirit has captured me this year so each day I’m going to play with StumbleUpon as a little digital advent calendar. Instead of a paper calendar I’m going to push the StumbleUpon button and see what I get. One a day, leading up to Christmas. I’ll post the reveal here for you to also enjoy.

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Source: http://kevron2001.deviantart.com/art/Night-light-345379702

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak

Todd Babiak’s latest novel about a Canadian family accidentally caught up with mobsters in the south of France needs to be read with the lights on and the doors locked!

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This is not earnest Canadiana. Babiak has written a spine-tingling, torture-ridden, political drama about the Kruse family who end up hunted by a Corsican crime family hired by a political party with connections throughout the country and in the gendarmerie.

Christopher and Evelyn Kruse bring their 4-year-old daughter Lily to South France in an attempt to rekindle their love. Instead they are driven apart when their daughter is hit and killed by a drunk driver who happens to be their landlord and the poster-boy candidate for the Front National party, Jean-Francois de Musset. The next morning Jean-Francois and his wife are found brutally murdered, Evelyn is on the run, and Christopher discovers Russian goons hired by a Corsican crime family are hunting his wife. He must draw on his security forces training and own investigative skills to find her before they do.

Come Barbarians is a fantastic thriller where South France is as much a character as Christopher himself; dark, mysterious and desperately seeking some form of stasis.

If you like The Wire tv series, you’ll like Come Barbarians.

I think I also enjoyed this novel because we were in South France last year and visited many of the towns mentioned in the book, including Vaison-la-romaine where the book opens.

Door knocker

Cote de Rhone loop drive

Vaison-la-Romaine

Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak
Published by HarperCollins

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

My little jailbird is out at a halloween party today.

Jailbird


No problem getting the cuffs off.

Jailbird


WANTED!
For Milk Rustlin’

Jailbird


Also wanted for stealing candy from monkeys.

Jailbird

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Black Bond Books

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Third Generation Bookseller BLACK BOND BOOKS Celebrates 50 Years! (CNW Group/Black Bond Books)

Oh hooray for Black Bond Books! Canada’s largest independent bookselling group—based in BC—is celebrating their Golden Anniversary this October. Black Bond Books was founded in Brandon, Manitoba in 1963, by Madeline Neill, now retired. She moved to BC in 1972, and with the help of her children, Cathy, Vicky and Michael, the company grew to 10 locations over the years. A true, family business, Madeline’s daughter Cathy Jesson is President, granddaughter, and third generation bookseller Caitlin Jesson manages the Vancouver location, and Mel Jesson, business partner, keeps the financials in order. (Source: Press Release)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Writing Prize Honours Michael Fellman

Calling All Historians & Journalists! Do you know about the Michael Fellman Award? This $1000 award was co-established by the SFU History Department and The Tyee to honour a piece of publicly accessible writing that offers a bold, erudite political analysis tied to history.

The inaugural prize honours this historian’s skill at unpacking complex issues and providing context to current day and historical events. Fellman passed away in 2012 and the Michael Fellman Award was created to reflect his spirit of public engagement, bold thought, clear analysis, and writing that rests on well-researched historical understanding.

The submission deadline is fast approaching! Entries are due before November 1.

Deadline: Nov 1
2,500 words
Email doc to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); Subject Line: Submission for Michael Fellman Award

Full details are available here:
http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2013/09/12/Fellman-Award-Deadline/

More about Michael Fellman, professor emeritus of history at SFU and historian of the 19th Century, the Civil War, and American Violence: Michael Fellman in Memoriam: an essay by Christopher Phelps