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 …
The 2018 Giller Prize will be announced November 19, and we're pleased to continue our conversations with the finalists and our contest (to the left) where you can enter for a chance to win the shortlist! Today we’re in conversation with Thea Lim, author of An Ocean of Minutes.
The 2018 Giller jury says of the novel,
"America is in the midst of a deadly flu pandemic. In order to afford medical treatment for her husband, a young woman agrees to travel through time. They agree to meet in the future. What is five minutes for her is twelve years for him. And, in the briefest of moments, they have become irreconcilable strangers. In An Ocean of Minutes, debut novelist Thea Lim asks the reader to confront contemporary issues—social class, immigration, citizenship, corporate power, poverty, and the all too familiar, love and loss. The novel is beautifully written and guides us through a plot that moves backwards and forward—yet, never lets us go.”
Thea Lim’s writing has been published by the Southampton Review, The Guardian, Salon, the Millions, Bi …
It’s a special time of year.
Even the word sounds a little magical.
The kids are back in school, some of us are taking classes, our routines are starting to settle again, after a few months of lovely summer entropy...
This month, our dedicated independent booksellers (including a couple of new folks!) have selected a set of fantastic fall reads. These are all fiction, all novels, but it’s striking just how close these picks hew to the real world, and what is going on in it. Sometimes we read for escape, and sometimes—like now—we read to connect to the world, to have the light of fiction shone into the shadows of the real world.
The Bookseller: Colin Holt, Bolen Books (Victoria, BC)
The Pick: Women Talking, by Miriam Toews
Women Talking, the fantastic new novel from Miriam Toews, tells the story of a group of Mennonite women meeting in secret to decide the fate of their community. Set over 48 hours, and told from the view of the lone male in attendance (because the women are unable to read or write but need this event transcribed), Women Talking is a powerful read about the inner strength a group of women find to take control and change their futures for the better. It is a story that is often heartbreaking but sprinkled with wit to make it bearable …
The very word sends a shiver down the spine, carrying with it memories and echoes of those glorious months from our younger days when the world seemed limitless, and full of potential.
For readers, the summer months have a special connotation. We remember not family trips, per se, but those books we read wedged in the back seat. We remember not pick-up games in the yard, but library reading programs and the stacks of books we devoured, heedless of the outside world. (Did you cross an ocean, measuring the nautical miles in page counts? Or did your reading stats take you on an epic walk? Did you get stickers, or bookmarks, or was the reading simply for its own sake, with no thought of prizes?) We remember all that time we had to read what we wanted, not what we had to read for school. Summer is when we made some of the reading discoveries that have lasted for a lifetime, books and authors who would shape us, in ways we may not even really understand.
As exciting as summer is for adults, it’s never quite so wondrous as those we remember.
But as readers, we can recapture a bit of that magic, whether we’re travelling the world, or sipping coffee on our tiny deck.
This month, the booksellers of the Shelf Talkers column pull back the curtain a little to describe …