LATEST Feature Articles
by Sunday, January 24, 2016-
Climate change was on scientists' radar much earlier than 2006 when the world got a compelling advocate in Al Gore whose book, film and speaking tour titled, An Inconvenient Truth shocked the world into awareness and action.
I urge you to watch this award winning documentary about a movement called Mission Blue that is powerfully alerting the public to the dangerous plight of our oceans through the compelling work of an inspiring and tireless advocate, Dr. Silvia Searle.
Dr. Searle's life has been dedicated to studying the oceans - she's probably spent more time underwater than above it. Like Gore, she is changing the way we think about the urgency required to stave off the growth of dead zones underwater and the decimation of fish stocks. She advocates for the creation of Hope Spots where fishing and industry are restricted to allow the ecosystem a desperate chance to recover and, with hope, flourish. These underwater parks - just like land-based National Parks – become places for study and the advancement of marine science, where the public can access to understand just what is at stake of being lost. As Dr Searle points out, from the surface the ocean looks ...More >>
LATEST Author Interviews
by Tuesday, January 26, 2016-
Mark your calendar for February 4th, 2016 at 11:45 when the annual luncheon hosted by The BC Achievement Foundation holds the British Columbia National Nonfiction Awards in the ballroom of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver 900 Canada Place Way. Created in 2005 to honour Canada's finest nonfiction writers, the prize is one of the largest in the country - $40,000 will go to the winner.
I have had the pleasure of attending the past 4 years and look forward to this event again with fresh anticipation. The four finalists are always of a stunning calibre, and the topics of their books are as varied as they are fascinating. Names like Thomas King, Modris Eksteins, Charlotte Gill, John Vaillant, Ian Brown, Russell Wangersky, Lorna Goodison, Noah Richler, Rebecca Godfrey, and Patrick Lane are a few of the past winners.
However the erudition of the speakers chosen to introduce each author and their book is what makes this event particularly entertaining. I am quite sure that these four writers will not receive a better introduction in their careers than what is said about them here. Add to that the opportunity to mingle with a cross-section of BC and the nation's literati from Candian publishing heads to top literary agents to festival organizers, to university chancellors and MFA writing programs, to our wonderful library system professionals — all avid readers and supporters of the literary arts.
Here are the nominees **starting with my pick** for the winner... (—Book blurbs courtesy of the BCAF's Website.) ...More >>
Feature Articles >>
Sunday, December 06, 2015
Looking for books for loved ones on your holiday shopping list? There are plenty lists of "best books of 2015" courtesy of reviewers like the New York Times, London Review of Books, The Guardian, and the Globe and Mail—but who wants to browse ponderous lists of 100 to 200 books, the majority of which will miss the mark?
Bookbuffet has culled a modest collection from our own past year of reading and also from a close peruse of the above. We've sprinkled in some gems from the arts, science and business sector. One of these is sure to please most everyone on your holiday gift list.
Reading is a wonderful pastime over the holidays. It helps to bridge the passing year and introduce the next with new inspiration to make the world around us, a better place to live.
Top of our list is a book of poetry. Yes—poetry! We are ambushed by words everyday in our texts, emails and web browsing, but not very many of us read poetry with any regularity and that is such a shame. Poetry makes us appreciate words and the meaning behind beautifully placed words that evoke powerful thoughts and feelings.
The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is just $22
The former U.S. Poet Laureate, now 87, is known for his unpretentious poems about nature; he selected his favorite work for this collection.
Next to poetry comes philosophy. When I started a course in philosophy at Univeristy of Los Angeles, way back when, the professor began his lecture by saying, "In this course I shall endeavor to teach you how to think," period. (my addendum) Everyone needs to dip into a book with philisophical merrit and here's one that intrigues: The Meursault Investigation, By Kamel Daoud. Translated by John Cullen. (Other Press, paper, $14.95.) This rich and inventive Algerian novel imagines the story of the Arab murdered on the beach in Camus’s “The Stranger.”
Book Reviews >>
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Anyone who has ventured out of the city to spend time in the wilderness knows that it takes planning, talent and ingenuity to create an appealing meal and that some of our most vivid and satisfying food experiences are heightened during such travel. Now imagine that your voyage has taken you to the polar region of the planet and your makeshift kitchen must somehow sustain the palates of a consortium of hungry volunteer workers who have joined you from seven nations and four continents for the exclusive purpose of an environmental clean-up project. That is exactly the challenge and the feat accomplished as told in The Antarctic Book Of Cooking And Cleaning: A Polar Journey, the story of Carol Divine and Wendy Trusler's "journey through an austral summer" to a small island 120 miles off the Antarctic Peninsula.
Part travel/work log, part cook book, and part homage to historic expeditions of the past, this volume will capture your heart and your stomach as you follow the team from concept to completion (and from strangers to an esprit de corps) in this collaborative effort to return the pristine environment of one of the world's last remaining wilderness destinations. The fact that it occurred 1995-96 marks this as a formative example of the positive trend toward eco-conscious travel.
In the process we see the region's unique appeal through the principal photography of Sandy Nicholson whose images comprise: ice formations, polar landscapes, rich marine wildlife and members of the team engaged in various activities, along of course with Chef Wendy, centre stage, prepping satisfying ethnically diverse food, served in appealing rustic presentations that reflect the culinary tastes of the volunteer brigade from Russia, Canada, Chile, the Ukraine, People's Republic of China, Brazil and Uruguay. To paraphrase Carol and Wendy, "Food might not be the first thing you think of when embarking upon Polar travel - but it should be the second." Check out recipes... ....More >>
Publisher News >>
Monday, October 05, 2015
I've just discovered the most amazing publisher of books entirely devoted to diverse topics on sustainability. I want to order a dozen books immediately! Meet Chelsea Green Publishing. Founded in 1984 in Vermont, it has emerged as the go-to source for people with a serious interest in organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more. They have over 350 titles in print and digital download. A scan of their new releases brings up an intriguing list of titles: The Biointegrated Farm, The Art of Leading Collectively, Make Mead like a Viking, The Book of Pears, The New Livestock Farmer, Beyond the War on Invasive Species, Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture, Start Your Own Wood, The Local Economy Solution, Will Bonsai's Essential Guide to Radical Self-Reliant Gardening, Thinking for Social Change, The Lean Farm, Two Percent Solutions for Understanding Roots, The PawPaw, The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America, and so on...
I came upon Chelsea Greens's website when looking to book a local cheesemaker, David Asher for a cheese making workshop. His book The Art of Natural Cheesemaking/a> is published by this Vermont-based business despite David Asher being located on a small island in the gulf on the west coast of British Columbia. Saltspring, home of the delicious producer of Saltspring goat cheese, is just a short ferry ride from Vancouver. People say the salt sprayed forage browsed by local sheep populations make the meat particularly tastey - we love the soft mild cheese they produce at the creamery with varieties topped in wildflower petals, peppercorns or roasted garlic! What I like about his book and the Chelsea Green style of publishing is that they are totally in sync with today's modern thinking farmers, ecologists, hobbyists and policy makers.
In 2012 Chelsea Green became employee owned with 78% of the staff owning the company's private stock. They also rely upon customers for marketing of products through social media and offer new subscribers discounts on books for posting reviews and links on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus networks. A great way to instantly reward customers and spread their philosophy of reaping benefits from our own educations on topics of sustainability.
In 2012 Chelsea Green became employee owned with 78% of the staff owning the company's private stock. They also rely upon customers for marketing of products through social media and offer new subscribers discounts on books for posting reviews and links on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus networks. A great way to instantly reward customers and spread their philosophy of reaping benefits from our own educations on topics of sustainability. ....More >>
Whistler Reads >>
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Are you a person who loves books and interacting with people? Whistler Reads is looking for a new Director to lead groups and manage the program. This will involve picking titles, working up discussion points and questions, organizing meetings, leading groups and keeping up with content for our blog and social media platform.
Whistler Reads is a community literacy program that has operated for over a decade. As the first public book group, Whistler Reads has brought innovation and creative ideas to stimulate dialogue and discussion around books in Whistler. We've profiled prize-winning authors and local talent. Our events have ranged from close readings to expert speakers and panel discussions, to political skits to book themed costume parties, to video productions and podcasts. We've partnered with numerous Whistler groups and organizations and festivals to serve this mountain community's related interests and broaden the scope with popular and provocative published titles: Whistler Museum, WORCA and Crankworks - Pecha Kucha, Cornucopia, WPL to name a few.
A lot has changed in Whistler over the ensuing decade since our inception in 2005: a new public library facility (2007), the active writing community and growing success of the annual Writers Festival, the growth of the Whistler Arts Council and their grasp of the concept to make Whistler a "cultural tourism destination". Then there is last year's initiative to unite the corridor in coordinated literary events via "One Book One Corridor" (2015), and now a new group, The Dream Makers Literacy Committee (2016) whose goal is to incorporate other forms of learning encompassed in the general definition of literacy (numeracy, computer and digital literacy) for fuller cognitive competency in our community.
Whistler Reads has always maintained that open discussion of books contributes to personal development as well as community development. People new to the community have a place to come and meet other locals. Visitors who attend events contribute their worldly perspective - and enjoy meeting Whistlerites as though in our own living room. As we come together as a community to read and discuss books, we grow in ways that benefit community connectedness, enrich our relationships, influence our families, and improve our workplaces. We hone our listening and communication skills, improve our vocabulary, foster inclusivism, tolerance, and understanding. Civic engagement improves -- we vote, we volunteer, we flourish. Studies have even shown reading helps us sleep better and stave off neural decline.
For a list of all our previous events and books that encompass this social enterprise, click on the subject titles of our feature article list (in this column) to see a decade of programming.
Submit your resume and a statement of why you think you'd make a great Whistler Reads Director to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sincerely, Paula Shackleton
Whistler Reads Founder ....More >>
WGBH Boston >>
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Since 1971 the good folks at WGBH Boston have been producing award-winning series of programming for television. Their run-a-way success "Downton Abbey" took the world by storm and is now in its 6th season. Fall 2015 kicks off with a dramatic program series set in a subtropical paradise during the twilight era of the British Empire. Indian Summers explores the collision of the ruling class English with their Indian subjects, and the intricate game of power, politics, and passion that ensues. Julie Walters (Harry Potter, Oscar® nominee for Billy Elliot and Educating Rita) stars as Cynthia Coffin, the glamorous doyenne of an English social club, and is joined by Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Jemima West, Nikesh Patel, Roshan Seth, and Lillete Dubey.
Told from both the English and Indian perspectives, the drama of Indian Summers unfolds as illicit agreements, romance, and revolution abound. Though the English socialites are having the time of their lives in Simla, the local Indians have started to call for national independence, a path which is quickly rendering the world’s greatest empire helpless. As pressure builds, the two sides alternately clash and merge in a passionate and dangerous game. Indian Summers airs in nine sweeping episodes, and premieres on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS. ....More >>
Wine & Book Club >>
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 >>
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Jamaican born Marlon James was only 6 years old when his country's iconic singer, Bob Marley, faced an assassination attempt in his home by seven gunmen from the burrough of West Kingston, Jamaica. The fact that the author's mother and father were both police officers at the time leads you to understand Marlon's fascination with the details surrounding the case. His mother went on to become a prominent detective, his father became a lawyer, and Marlon James went on to become the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize on October 13th with wide audience approval for his 704 page, sprawling character-driven historical fiction. It's titled, A Brief History of Seven Killings (published by Riverhead Books). Listen to this interview with Miami Book Fair host Jeffrey Brown who asks James about his relationship to the story, how it ended up so long, his use of characters and distinct dialects, and the tie-in to the Cold War era involving the CIA as well as the intricacies of criminal justice and political system in Jamaica during the period.
MBooker's describes "A Brief History" thus,
"On 3 December 1976, just weeks before the general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica concert to ease political tensions, seven men from West Kingston stormed his house with machine guns. Marley survived and went on to perform at the free concert. But the next day ....More >>
Technology Corner >>
Monday, February 01, 2016
When I first started using Songza a few years ago [circa 2012] I felt both elated and relieved! Elated that someone with brains had designed a music app that cost nothing and provided endless hours of streaming playlists curated to any musical genre or mortal mood, all coordinated around hypothetical tasks at any particular time of day in the week. It was a relief to finally pack up my CD collection, which I had reverted to in frustration after Apple had once too often dumped my music library and carefully organized personal playlists for the zillionth time during yet another forced system upgrade to my iPod or iPhone - sorry Apple, not everyone has a PhD in computer science to manage the workarounds!
Now another technology behemoth has bought Songza along with all their clever ideas and my favorite playlists. What is in store for us? Well on January 31st we saw the Songza team bid us farewell, and on February 1st we saw the Google Play Music (with its branded, baby-talk name) take over. The question is, will Google's computer generated algorithms pick new playlists to match the clever variations and subtleties of the playlists created by the many real live music experts consulted by Songza? I doubt this. And how long will it remain free - of ads or other placed content?
Skepticism aside, I do want to remind you of the enthusiasm and creativity of the original Songza team. Here they are back in 2012 talking to Tech Crunch. ....More >>
Friday, July 03, 2015
Each year much of the book world convenes in London for the annual London Book Fair. LBF is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content. This year was the largest in its 42 year history with over 25,000 people in attendance from 114 countries. Who are they and what do they do? Visitors include anyone involved with the creation, distribution, sale or treatment of content: book sellers and book buyers, small to large publishers, acquisition editors, book designers, translators, authors, agents, talent scouts, editors and digital authorities.
This year held no clear single news-maker, but two debut novels were rumoured to sell for seven-figure deals: Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and DeSales Harrison's The Waters & the Wild. The first is an epic set in 18th century Ghana and the second is a literary thriller. It seems the most photographed personality was Austrian singer and drag-queen artist Conchita-Wurst, who gained celebrity after winning a Eurovision song contest and recently launched her book in Berlin. (Holding a copy)
Independent and self-published topical sessions were extremely popular, seeing a rise from previous years. People are also interested in e-book distribution systems and traditional publishers are looking at ways out of the "no" culture they've created with prospects who are flogging to independent methods of pub and distribution. There's talk on how to adapt to market needs with services that aid prospective writers with better experiences on the road to some form of published product.
Amazon remains the behemoth in the room with their self-publishing arm and subscription service. And last, library lending of e-books remains prickly with many authors complaining that the system lacks standardization and is difficult to find. ....More >>