Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of April Witch by Majgull Axelsson published by Random House Trade
Cover Image of Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital published by W. W. Norton & Company
Cover Image of The Wine Lover's Cookbook: Great Recipes for the Perfect Glass of Wine by Sid Goldstein published by Chronicle Books
Cover Image of A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick published by Algonquin Books
Cover Image of Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt published by Farrar Straus & Giroux
Cover Image of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition by Norman Maclean published by University Of Chicago Press
Cover Image of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories (Oxford Books of Prose) by Theodore W. Goossen published by Oxford University Press
Cover Image of A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance Portrait of an Age by William Manchester published by Little Brown & Co (Pap)
Cover Image of Rivington Was Ours: Lady Gaga, the Lower East Side, and the Prime of Our Lives by Brendan Sullivan published by It Books
Cover Image of Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi published by Scribner Paperback Fiction
Cover Image of Fault Line by Janet Tashjian published by Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks
Cover Image of The Portrait of a Lady (Penguin Classics) by Henry James published by Penguin Classics
Cover Image of The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger published by Lb Books
Cover Image of Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey published by Knopf

LATEST Feature Articles

Ode to a Bookseller: Barbara Jo Closes After Two Decades 

by  - Saturday, May 27, 2017

When I heard the news that Barbara Jo was closing her shop Books To Cookson West 2nd and Burrard in Vancouver I was saddened; another independent book business going by the wayside. Our Vancouver book group, Between the Lines had spent many of our annual cookbook-themed meetings, which were scheduled each June, at Barbara Jo's shop where our group enjoyed a cooking lesson and a delicious meal selected from recipes in a chosen cookbook that came with the activity package. For a bunch of book-loving foodies, this along with liberal pourings of wine paired just right enjoyed in her demonstration kitchen at the back of the bookstore was the perfect send-off to our respective summer vacation hiatus.

As a former Dubrulle Culinary School graduate I always enjoyed seeing a professional demonstrate their craft as the years of experience engender wonderful short-cuts, like wrapping dry linguini pasta in a tea towel and running it over the edge of a counter top to break the strands into perfectly even one inch sections ready for the cooking pot!

Barbara is spending time in her beloved village in France and writes a delightful blog which you may sample here. It's like enjoying a small glass of Pastis under the shade of a country grove. But the post directly below hers is the one I wanted to celebrate with you as this "Ode to Barbara Jo" as I am calling it sums up just what an impact she had on her patrons John Lekich and one of those tragic losses the digital world has created in the march of progress. Here it is reprinted in full - with respect.

After the passage of almost two decades, the memory has a way of playing tricks on you. Over the past twenty years, I have often tried to convince Barbara-jo – the much-beloved proprietress of the recently closed Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks – that I was her first actual customer....
  ...More >>

LATEST Author Interviews

Daniel Levitin wins Best Business Book of 2017 

by  - Monday, May 01, 2017

Neuroscientist, academic and popular author Daniel Levitin has just been awarded $30,000 and named the winner of the National Business Book for 2017 for his latest volume, A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age (published by Allen Lane, Canada). The National Business Book Award is co-sponsored by Pricewaterhouse Corporation, Canada, and Bank of Montreal Financial Group. Now in its 32nd year, the prize is handed out annually to the most outstanding Canadian business-related, non-fiction book of the previous year. The author says the book was written in response to the lack of public skepticism to the erosion of trusted news sources and complacency with information being disseminated through questionable sources and modern derivative news sources like social media. The world seems to have lost its critical thinking skills and is accepting as fact things which are not; accepting as evidence things which are hearsay. Discriminating between real and unreliable sources, propaganda, false and fake news is a grave problem today. Click bait hounds you everywhere on the web. And Levitin objects to the term "fake news" as it indicates something false as being worthy of any attention--which it emphatically isn't.

LEVITIN: I object to the term because it is not simply another variety of news, like “breaking news” or “political news” or “celebrity news.” It isn’t news at all — it’s a lie. Thinking critically begins with not enabling the purveyors of distortions, lies, and made-up "facts."
  ...More >>

Feature Articles >>

Digital Mining of Literature Shows Interesting Facts 

by

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Remember when you got your first e-reader and saw that great Word Search feature that allowed you to find every instance of a word in a particular work - say you wanted to track down every instance of the word "horse" in Cervantes' classic, Don Quixote? What a great shortcut to finding a particular passage, reviewing and analyzing a work, or taking it a step further, using it to compare and contrast many works of literature either for personal interest or for scholarly purposes.

Turns out Ben Blatt did just this thing posting his findings in Publishers Weekly self-reviewing his book Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing (Simon & Schuster), and here are a few of the points inside that piqued my interest:

1. Authorship of previously disputed (or thought to be known) texts can be traced to the real author(s) by the incidence, the order and use of words. For example, they've put to rest the theory that Shakespeare collaborated with Marlow - they positively did.
2. Exclamation points - the so-called marker of not-so-great-writers... Turns out James Joyce, an undisputed GREAT writer, uses them the most! (see below)
3. Comparison of "shortest" and "longest" first sentences between authors. Turns out Toni Morison and Margaret Atwood win for shortest, and Jane Austen and Vladimir Nabokov win for longest.
And there's more. But you'll have to get the book. ....More >>

 

 

Book Reviews >>

A New Book About Joni Mitchell 

by

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchellby David Yaffe (FSG/Crichton, June) - A biography, with dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, reveals the backstory behind the famous songs—from her youth on the Canadian prairie, the child she gave up for adoption, through her albums and love affairs, to the present.

For those of you who did not grow up listening to the music of Joni Mitchell it is fair to say that she remains one of Canada's foremost singer-songwriter-producers of the late 60s and 70s whose body of work has continued to evolve through to her last album released in 2016. She went from folk to pop to rock and roll and has worked with blues as well as jazz artists. She was won through competition and been awarded every accolade a singer and a songwriter of her distinction can be given. She was named 9th on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Best Songwriters list, and 42nd on their Top 100 Singers list. Having just sustained a brain injury, sadly she is confined to a wheelchair. When you play your Joni Mitchell music, you'll likely be pairing it with the likes of other fine Canadian artists: Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and her US contingents in this league: Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

For me her music has intelligence, playfulness and a soulful melancholy individualism. Fellow musicians praise her complex and skillful phrasing, chord changes, tempo changes and timeless lyrics. When she located her own daughter, whom she'd lost to adoption during an era when she was a destitute artist undoubtedly contributed to her philisophic complexity. Her lyrics are lush with observations about the confines of mores and society. Joni simply valued her freedom, to remain "unfettered and alive" as she says in her song "Free Man in Paris". ....More >>

 

 

Publisher News >>

Now Hear This: Print is Not Dead-Long Live Print 

by

Friday, January 27, 2017

I am a subscriber to The Columbia Journalism Review whose features capture the latest thinking on all things pertaining to the medium and the profession. Like you I am a reader of books, and a subscriber to newspapers. Like you, I've been saving the planet by ticking the "electronic version only" to my subscriptions to save the world from destroying oxygen breathing trees and burning carbon fossils on delivery of my subscription.

But more and more I've become nostalgic for the rituals of home delivery of print copies of these items where I can make--an occasion--of sitting back in a comfortable chair with the newspaper and enjoy the page layouts, the smell of the ink and paper, the fact that advertisements are not popping up in my face (on my electronic screen), and tracking which articles I click, and feeding me information in silos of like-topics such that I am no longer served a diversity of features in the way that a well managed print publication provides.

The breakdown between the fourth estate and its public is fewer print subscribers which means fewer advertisers which mean fewer quality staff which means poorer quality journalism and consequentially publications going into the red and off the map.

In the publishing industry people have been predicting the return of book, and why not? Just yesterday I wanted to "lend" my copy of a book to a friend and I couldn't--it's on my iPad in digital format. And this is but one of the joys of physical book ownership that has been lost. Think of the state of your physical library, as in, those colourful and dusty shelves with copies of books you've had since the Gutenberg Press.

All the books on my shelves are from what seems like "another era" because I have added few new titles that reflect any update in my reading habits reflecting new topics of interest. But my kindle shelves show neat little rows of book "covers" backlit in colourful pixels illuminating on my screen and floating in the cloud. No help to anyone in my household or on my trusted lending list. (the ones who return books)

So here now is a more erudite rant on the subject from Michael Rosenwald of The CJR. ....More >>

 

Whistler Reads >>

Leanna Hutchins is WR's New Program Administrator! 

by

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Please join us in welcoming Leanna Hutchins. Leanna has joined Whistler Reads as the new Program Administrator effective immediately. Her role will be to develop and execute new and fresh programming, liaise and partner with Whistler’s literary, business and non-profit communities, and continue a tradition of quality events that Whistler Reads' has provided this community for the past decade.

Leanna brings an extensive background in leadership roles of humanitarian causes with the International Committee of the Red Cross. She was Head of Mission for crisis intervention in several war-torn countries in Africa including the South Sudan. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bishop University in International Relations and Affairs, Liberal Arts and Anthropology and studied Political Science and Government for a year at Sciences Po Lille. She speaks French and Russian and shares many athletic Whistler passions, such as alpine and backcountry skiing, wake-surfing, mountain climbing, yoga and she can be found hanging out mid-air in crazy positions suspended by ribbons of fabric from the ceiling at the Meadow Park Sports Centre with the “SILKS” team. She lives with her husband, Ryan in Rainbow.

Leanna can be reached via email at LeannaH.WhistlerReads@Bookbuffet.com, or her mobile 1(604) 907-1044. To join Whistler Reads go to www.bookbuffet.com and click on the “Whistler Reads” column where all our current and past events are posted. News and events are also posted on our Facebook page and Tweets @WhistlerReads (formerly @BookBuffet).

Whistler Reads – the village book group, was founded in 2004 by Paula Shackleton who saw the need for a public forum in which to discuss books and topical issues germane to the community. Membership quickly grew. To date, the group has hosted 52 public events. Shackleton now runs her family farm on the Similkameen River a few hours from Whistler over the Duffy Lake Road in the Interior of BC. She is thrilled to welcome Leanna on board to Whistler Reads. ....More >>

 

 

WGBH Boston >>

Masterpiece: Victoria 

by

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The 2017 MASTERPIECE PBS season starts out tapping into the insatiable public appetite for young Royals, specifically, British. Their new series about Queen Victoria, titled VICTORIA airs January 15th and is based on the screenplay written by Daisy Goodwin. Buy the hardcover book, Victoria: The Heart and Mind of a Young Queen which is the official companion to the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS, and the DVD box set "Masterpiece: Victoria" .

It stars Jenna Coleman as the young queen portrayed from her coronation in 1837 at the age of 18 through her courtship and marriage to her cousin Prince Albert played by Tom Hughes. Goodwin says her inspiration for Victoria derived from watching her own teenage daughter's vigorous and tempestuous nature and imagining how a monarch at the same age might compare. In this sense, the character takes on a personalized flare.

While the series has been criticized for taking liberties with some specific historical facts in order to make her character more congruent with modern sensibilities and perspectives, it has all the hallmarks of beloved PBS productions that includes an exquisite cast, costumes, sets and settings. As a result, it has usurped viewer turnout for previous period costume dramas, reaching 5.3 million viewers with a production budget of £10m.

So who was Queen Victoria and what were her hallmark contributions to British history? ....More >>

 

 

Wine & Book Club >>

Wine & Book Group Pick for Jan-Feb 2016 

by

Friday, January 01, 2016

It's winter - let's revel in that. Who better to read this January and February than Sheila Watts-Cloutier, the Inuit writer whose book The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet is a manifesto on climate change and its effect on the indigenous peoples of Canada's north. Cloutier is a compelling speaker. I've listened to her in the media and on several radio programs. This book will change the way you view the plight of peoples of the North. Sheila is a member of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the non-governmental body representing the interests of Inuit people living in four Arctic nations. This led to her becoming a powerful advocate for Inuit rights at United Nations climate-change negotiations that garnered her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

But the details of her upbringing and the stark contrast between the experience of living at home in the North compared with living at a lower latitude with a non-indigenous family during her formative years, highlights the importance of cultural identity and traditions.

As Naomi Klein writes in the Mar 13th issue of The Globe and Mail:

As the title of the book suggests, a major theme of The Right to Be Cold is how climate change poses an existential threat to cultures that are embedded in ice and snow. If the ice disappears, or if it behaves radically differently, then cultural knowledge that has been passed on from one generation to the next loses its meaning. Young people are deprived of the lived experience on the ice that they need to become knowledge carriers, while the animals around which so many cultural practices revolve disappear. As Watt-Cloutier has been arguing for well over a decade now, that means that the failure of the world to act to reduce its emissions to prevent that outcome constitutes a grave human-rights violation.

While some may snicker and say more NK hyperbole, we all know that the arctic at both poles are the puffin/penguin in the tunnel, and haunting images of polar bears clinging to a slab of ice condemn us all. Awareness is the forerunner to action, and the time for rhetoric has passed. We each need to become part of the solution to solving our planet's climate change issues. ....More >>

 

 

Author Interviews >>

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance: Insights into Trump Voters 

by

Friday, January 27, 2017

If you want an intimate insight into the firmament of Trump voters then J.D. Vance's bestselling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (published by Harper Collins) is poignant, painful but uplifting book. It describes his childhood growing up in a struggling, dysfunctional family in eastern Kentucky and the Appalachia of America. Closures in the steel industry and the auto industry have erased well-paying jobs, the consequence of automation or globalization. This has led to profound social decline with poverty, alcohol and drug addiction eroding the values of this formerly proud and independent working-class peoples who have become welfare dependent, complacent, and a sometimes angry demographic as a result. These are the people identified as being co-opted by President Trump.

JD Vance describes his upbringing by his "hillbilly" grandparents, without whose love and support he would have become the victim of his mother's failings, and fallen through the cracks of the system. In spite of the odds stacked against him, Vance managed to graduate from high school and turn his life around during a stint in the Marines following which he not only graduated with an undergraduate degree (paid for by veteran funds) from the state university, he was accepted into Yale Law School graduating summa cum laud, and then went on to marry a wonderful partner and live a successful life. He gave up his work in the law and now works with a California hedge fund creating economic development opportunities for the Appalachia. Now others there will have a better chance to turn their lives around as well. His first-person struggle as told in his book could help shape social service policy from this point forward. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a must read.

NPR caught up with the author and here is a link to their podcast and the transcript. I hope you'll take a moment to listen. (Click title to open feature) ....More >>

 

 

Technology Corner >>

They've Come for our Voices: Lyrebird-Voice Synthesis Software 

by

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Canadian company by the name of Lyrebird https://lyrebird.ai is on the forefront of voice synthesis technology. It can mimic our voices with just a 1-minute sample, and given a longer one, say 5 minutes, they claim that it's difficult to differentiate between the native and robotic speaker. They also say they can control the emotional flavour of speech to evoke things such as anger, stress, distress. Sound worrying?

The work came out of University de Montréal in Quebec where three founders are currently PhD students: Alexandre de Brébisson, Jose Sotelo and Kundan Kumar. Their startup is advised by three of the most prolific professors in the field: Pascal Vincent, Aaron Courville and Yoshua Bengio. The latter, director of the MILA and AI pioneer, wants to make Montréal a world-capital of artificial intelligence and this new startup is part of this vision.

It raises concerns about the forgery of voices just the way photographic manipulation by software like Photoshop has forever changed that artistic discipline into an unreliable form of documentation where authenticity is always under suspicion. Ditto for CGI and video content.

The name Lyrebird comes from an Australian bird that is able to mimic its call. Listen to the CBC's podcast on the topic. https://soundcloud.com/user-535691776/dialog "Where will this technology likely show-up?"

Lyrebird is making a bet on the future of voice-controlled computing. They imagine a world where more and more of our interactions with the digital world are done through voice. That means an increased focus on voice recognition and voice synthesis. Right now Lyrebird isn't a consumer-facing tech company. They want other businesses to take their technology and build on top of it. De Brébisson expects Lyrebird will be used to design better personal assistants — like the ones from Amazon, Google and Apple. He also sees applications for video game makers and in animation, movies and audiobooks. A studio could record an actor, build a voice model then artificially generate any dialogue they want." excerpted-here. ....More >>

 

 

Events >>

FOLD - May 4-7th Brampton Ont 

by

Sunday, March 26, 2017

If the axiom of good writing is "Write what you know", then perhaps the axiom of a good reader should be "Read what you don't know." That's how I see FOLD, Canada's first literary festival celebrating literary diversity. It's founded by Jael Richardson and takes place in her hometown of Brampton, Ontario now in its second season, coming May 4-7 2017. "The Festival of Literary Diversity will celebrate stories that are underrepresented in Canadian literature — stories that reflect variations in geography, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and religion, and stories that employ different methods of story-telling." Check out the 25 programs on offer over 3 days. The FOLD will utilize a “three-fold” approach in the programming: engaging readers, inspiring writers, and empowering educators. The main festival runs from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8, but the larger festival includes a workshop for educators and sessions dedicated towards high school students.

What I didn't know is that "Brampton is Canada’s second fastest growing city and the ninth largest city in the country. Located immediately north of Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Brampton residents represent more than 170 different cultures and speak more than 70 languages. People have literally come from around the world to live, work, play, read, and write in this City." Speaking as a Vancouverite - that's a wonderful distinction to celebrate! ....More >>

 

 
 
 
 

MASH UP >>

Loading

 

 

Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of Summerland by Michael Chabon published by Miramax
Cover Image of A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout et al published by Scribner
Cover Image of Molly Moon Stops the World (Molly Moon Books (Hardcvoer)) by Georgia Byng published by HarperCollins
Cover Image of The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition) by Benjamin Graham et al published by Collins Business
Cover Image of Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan by Norma Khouri published by Atria Books
Cover Image of The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan published by Prentice Hall (K-12)
Cover Image of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Cover Image of Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg published by Three Rivers Press
Cover Image of Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman's Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison by Marina Nemat published by Free Press
Cover Image of Eline Vere by Louis Couperus published by Holland Park Press
Cover Image of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 by Robert Dallek, Richard McGonagle published by Little Brown & Company
Cover Image of The Lovely Bones: A Novel by Alice Sebold published by Little Brown & Company
Cover Image of The Slap: A Novel by Christos Tsiolkas published by Penguin (Non-Classics)
Cover Image of Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy) by Naguib Mahfouz published by Anchor
 

&—