With apologies to Clement Moore.
'Twas the week before Christmas and all 'cross the land
The booksellers were racing, stacks of books clutched in hand.
They doled out some Ravi, Rick Mercer, and Washington Black
And if they couldn’t find it, why, they checked in the back.
They raced up the aisles, they dodged the kids’ wails,
They thrived on the bustle, they rang up the sales.
They walked and they walked, and their blisters brought a tear
Until they heard a faint voice, one they often did hear:
“You’re an indie bookseller, the best of the best.
You work before dawn, you work without rest.
You’ve read all the books, you could pass any test,
Now, could please tell me, which one was the best?”
The booksellers paused, the booksellers stilled
It was an impossible question, one that pricked like a quill.
Who could say what was best, who could even compare,
Not just apple and orange, but mango and pear!
Put two books together, and how do they rank
When one is a novel, the other history frank?
“Impossible,” they said, “that’s not how books work
To say one is the best would make me feel like a jerk.”
“All right,” said the voice, loaded with care,
“Which book is your favourite, that you want to share?”
“Ah,” said the booksellers, “this I can do,
Just give me a coffee, and a moment to stew.”
And the booksellers weighed in, with their picks of the year
It was a list most compelling, and rich with good cheer.
The voice tried to thank them, but they waved it away,
Turning back …
Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.
This month we're pleased to present the picks of Shawna Lemay (The Flower Can Always Be Changing), Andrew Battershill (Marry, Bang, Kill), Claudia Dey (Heartbreaker), Elinor Florence (Wildwood), and Sarah Henstra (The Red Word).
Shawna Lemay picks Nicole Brossard’s Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon
It’s difficult to say precisely how well known an author is but it seems fair to say that Nicole Brossard should be much more appreciated. Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon is virtuosic, a work of art, in the way that Virginia Woolf’s books are art. Two women meet at a hotel bar every night and talk. One of the women is trying to finish her novel, and the other catalogues artefacts at a museum. They enter into a dialogue that is both shifting and solid, detached and intensely engaged. One of the characters asks, “What is the value of a question in a dialogue? How important are the answers?”
The shape and the construction of the book is something Woolf surely would have ap …