Some Member Book Selections

Cover Image of Living to Tell the Tale by GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, EDITH GROSSMAN published by Knopf
Cover Image of The Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing, Cities of the Plain (Everyman's Library) by Cormac Mccarthy published by Everyman's Library
Cover Image of Shopgirl : A Novella by Steve Martin published by Theia
Cover Image of Palace of Treason: A Novel by Jason Matthews published by Scribner
Cover Image of Ordinary Wolves : A Novel by Seth Kantner published by Milkweed Editions
Cover Image of Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara, Fran Lebowitz published by Modern Library
Cover Image of Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart published by Random House
Cover Image of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam published by Weinstein Books
Cover Image of 2666: A Novel by Roberto Bolano published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Cover Image of Independence Day (Vintage Contemporaries) by Richard Ford published by Vintage Books
Cover Image of Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver published by Harper Perennial
Cover Image of Tarts Tatins by Catherine Quevremont published by Hachette Illustrated UK
Cover Image of Stars in the Bright Sky by Alan Warner published by Jonathan Cape
Cover Image of The Australia Stories: A Novel by Todd James Pierce published by MacAdam/Cage Publishing

LATEST Feature Articles

Winner of the National Business Book Award 2016 

by  - Monday, April 25, 2016

The National Business Book Award celebrated its 30th year. The news was announced on April 21st - apologies for being 4 days late. The entire longlist is always worthwhile reading for people interested in business topics in a wide range of interests.

The winners were co-authors: Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff for their book, Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry which chronicles the relationship between Research In Motion founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis.

The NBBA jury panel is chaired by CBC's Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge with jury members: Wililam Dimma, Deirdre McMurdy, David Denison, Anna Porter and Pamela Wallin.

Of the six books that made the longlist

  • Kirstine Stewart, Twitter executive and former head of CBC's English­ language programming for her book, Our Turn, which recounts her experience as a female business leader in a predominantly male industry.
  • John Stackhouse, is the former Globe and Mail editor and author of Mass Disruption: Thirty Years on the Front Lines of a Media Revolution. The book delves into the transition from print to digital journalism and its long­term implications.
  • Jeff Rubin was longlisted for his book The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts. Rubin explores how climate change could influence Canada's oil industry.
  • David Mulroney was nominated for Middle Power, Middle Kingdom: What Canadians Need to Know about China in the 21st Century. In the book, Canada's former ambassador to China discusses its diplomatic relations with the country and criticizes Canadian foreign policy for its lack of ambition.
  • William Watson was longlisted for The Inequality Trap: Fighting Capitalism Instead of Poverty, which explores the relationship between public policy, capitalism and poverty in Canada. 1/4 3/12/2016 David Mulroney, John Stackhouse, Kirstine Stewart on National Business Book Award longlist | CBC Books | CBC Radio  ...More >>

  • LATEST Author Interviews

    NY Review of Books: Canadian Authors in Caricature 

    by  - Monday, April 25, 2016

    I had a lawyer friend when we lived in Los Angeles who happened to be the nephew of a famous New York society cartoonist. He divulged an interesting factoid about this relative that has always fascinated me. When sketching his subjects live at New York plays, the Met and Broadway musicals, he used a small pencil and scratch pad from within his jacket pocket to do the work - sight unseen - so as not to distract or attract the attention of onlookers. A remarkable feat.

    If you have an interest in these sorts of artistic profiles you can go to the wonderful publishing house of The NY Review of Books who have amassed a collection by four artists: David Levine (whose more than 3,500 caricatures have illuminated articles published in the Review since 1963); and John Springs, Pancho (Francisco Grails), and James Ferguson whose works have been published regularly in the Review over the past few years. Preview the extensive list in alphabetical sequence, or enter a subject or category into the search box to obtain a grouping of interest. As a bibliophile and a Canadian I chose the category "Canadian Authors" and came up with David Levine's wonderful collection - a work in progress, judging by the short list. It's all ON SALE right now if you act quickly.   ...More >>

    Feature Articles >>

    Canadian Book Designer Up For BEST IN WORLD at Leipsig 


    Tuesday, March 08, 2016

    This just in from The Alcuin Society: "A Canadian book has just earned international recognition." Congratulations to the designer and publisher!

    "GUILLAUME LÉPINE, designer, La lecture des signes abstraits: une exploration visuelle, by Joséane Beaulieu-April. La chose imprimée (Montréal).

    The Stiftung Buchkunst, based in Frankfurt, Germany, curators of the international exhibition "BEST BOOK DESIGN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD" at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs, selected their 2015 award-winners (for books published in 2014) in an international competition in February 2016. They have just released their list of awards, which will be presented at the Leipzig Book Fair later this month. Of almost 600 books submitted by 32 countries, 14 winners were selected. Only one Canadian designer, M. Lépine, was honoured to have his book chosen as a shortlisted title.

    The 28 Canadian books on exhibit, representing Canada as participants in the international competition, were submitted by The Alcuin Society to the Stiftung. These books were the winners of the 2014 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held in March 2015. The collection has been donated to the German Book and Type Museum in Leipzig, where it will be available for consultation and exhibitions. The winners of this year's Alcuin Society competition will be forwarded to the Stiftung later this Spring.

    Information about the Stiftung Buchkunst may be found at Click the translate flag for language of choice.

    The Alcuin Society ( is a Vancouver-based non-profit society for the support and appreciation of fine books. In addition to the annual Book Design Competition, the Society publishes a journal, Amphora, and organizes lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and field visits on various aspects of the book. Further information on the Alcuin competition may be obtained from ....More >>



    Book Reviews >>

    Who Served Adam Smith Dinner? 


    Saturday, June 11, 2016

    The name Adam Smith in economic and finance circles is sacrosanct. His mantra was simple. People act out of self-interest. This fundamental is at the core of the reasoning behind capitalism and the free market economy. But Swedish author Katrine Marçal asks the question - what about the mothers, wives and workers whose motivation is founded upon love or altruism? Isn't there room for an economic inclusiveness that is not based on self, but on others; on love, not greed; on altruism, not cynicism? And how are they remunerated, or at least accounted for on financial ledgers of companies and countries? Well, I'll bite! Enter Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner: A Story About Women and Economics by Swedish author Katrine Marçal (published by Portobello Book in the UK, 2016).

    About the Author

    Portobello Books tells us that Katrine Marçal is the lead editorial writer for the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, where she writes articles on Swedish and international politics, economics and feminism. On publication in Sweden, Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner was shortlisted for The August Prize and won the Lagercrantzen Award. She lives in London. Do delve deliciously deeper for more background on this important writer on the PB website.

    About Portobello Books

    A little more about Portobello Books. In 2009 they were short-listed for Independent Publisher of the Year. And this I did not know -- they bought the esteemed literary magazine Granta and as such, share design, marketing and sales teams.

    Here's how they describe themselves:

    We aim to give our readers books that are enlightening and searching, with a particular focus on non-fiction. We offer our writers a creative, innovative, and supportive environment.

    The company was founded in 2005 by the philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, the Academy Award-winning film producer Eric Abraham and the publisher Philip Gwyn Jones. Its first books, published that autumn, were Jeremy Leggett’s Half Gone, Nasrin Alavi’s We Are Iran, Gina Ochsner’s People I Wanted To Be and Glen Neath’s The Outgoing Man – urgent non-fiction in ground-breaking form, outstanding short stories from America via Eastern Europe, and highly experimental British fiction.

    Look to their website for font list, midlist and backlist titles (are there any there yet? LOL) Surprise! They represent Hurta Muller who won the Nobel Prize in 2009. That appears to have been a very good year for Portobello.

    Here is the link to her Nobel Prize. Might as well get her book, Land of Green Plums, The: A Novel while you are at it! ....More >>



    Publisher News >>

    Talon Books: Discover This Amazing Vancouver Publisher 


    Friday, March 25, 2016

    Finding great publishers through one of their front-listed books is a great way to discover other worthwhile writers of other great books. It doesn't come about by luck or coincidence. It takes as much talent to recognize and shape writers as it does to be one. Talon Books is one of those publishers whose books have made a difference to the face of Can Lit. And we love their story. We can't tell it any better than them - so here instead, is a rip on their About Us page:

    Mandate To publish work of the highest literary merit by world class authors from the mainstream and the margins of Canada’s three founding nations, as well as from both visible and invisible minorities within Canada’s cultural mosaic, and to work with all of our authors to build their national and international literary careers throughout their active writing lives.

    Principal Accomplishments We have more than 500 titles in print, which have received well over 300 awards. We have built and continue to keep in print one of the finest and most diverse literary lists in Canada.

    Role in Canadian Publishing Talon’s dedication to the publication of over four decades of excellent Canadian literary work, created through an unbroken line of internal mentorship and succession of ownership in the company, has earned our publishing house the privilege of being one of the pre-eminent independent Anglophone literary presses in Canada. We are the only one of the pioneering “first generation” of Canadian literary publishers of the 1960s to have consistently maintained our success and independence over the past 45 years. We are Canada’s largest independent publisher of drama; do more translations from Québec than anyone else; and publish more Native voices than any other Canadian publisher with the exception of First Nations publisher Theytus Books. ....More >>


    Whistler Reads >>

    Republic of Dirt is Whistler Reads Fall 2016 Pick 


    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Susan Juby won this year's Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for her book, The Republic of Dirt. She is this year's Whistler Writer in Residence a post supported by the Whistler Resort Municipality and the local writer's group. Whistler Reads is pleased to select this book out of the excellent offerings at this year's 15th annual Writers Festival in Whistler. "With so much in the world to concern us: continued strife in the Middle East, the sluggish world economy, the travesty that has become the US election, Canada's struggle to make the best decisions related to global warming -- it behooves us to elevate/side-track our minds and spirits through the tonic of humour. After all, we do produce some of the world's most talented comedians," says Paula Shackleton, Founder and Director of Whistler Reads.

    The Stephen Leacock award is a personal favorite. If you've not read the work of the namesake honoring this genre, you must because it gives insights into where our Canadian roots in ironic wit and self-deprecating humour derive. (thank GOD for spell check) Susan Juby is the beneficiary of this award, and deservedly so. A quick peruse of her website is funny from start to finish, er from button titles to deep-down content.

    The fact that she lives in the boonies, and I live in the boonies has nothing to do with it. Really. Oh, well, if you must -- we DO share a love of chickens. Chickens are the original comedian on the farm. Everything about them is true; the pecking order, coming home to roost, cock of the walk... but I digress.

    The WWII motorcycle side-car with the Blue Heeler pup as her mate sold me. Not to mention the serial mugshots gleaned from past author photos. So hope you can join us as we meet Susan Juby in person at the Whistler Writers Festival. And leave comments about your musings on her book on our wall. ....More >>



    WGBH Boston >>

    Fall Season PBS Masterpiece:Indian Summers 


    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 >>

    Wine & Book Group Pick for Jan-Feb 2016 


    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 >>

    British Columbia's 2016 National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction 


    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 >>



    Technology Corner >>

    Why Lament the Takeover of Songza by Google? 


    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 >>



    Events >>

    FOLD: Canada's newest author festival celebrating literary diversity 


    Friday, March 25, 2016

    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 this coming May 2016.

    "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 their program. Starting with PEN's Writer in Exile, Eden Esayu from Eritrea to their fina session titled, The Final Word featuring beloved author, Lawrence Hill (Book of Negros, The Illegal) who novel focus's on the world refugee crisis.

    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 >>




    Some Member Book Selections

    Cover Image of Many Faces To Many Places by Judy Azar Leblanc published by Xulon Press
    Cover Image of The Koran (Penguin Classics) by N. J. Dawood published by Penguin USA (Paper)
    Cover Image of REFLECTED GLORY by Sally Smith published by Touchstone Books
    Cover Image of The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle published by Penguin USA (Paper)
    Cover Image of For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics) by Ernest Hemingway published by Scribner
    Cover Image of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond published by Viking Adult
    Cover Image of BIG SHOW: The Greatest Pilot's Story of World War II (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by Pierre Clostermann published by Cassell
    Cover Image of The Orenda by Joseph Boyden published by Hamish Hamilton
    Cover Image of All the Names by Jose Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa published by Harvest Books
    Cover Image of The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer published by Penguin USA (Paper)
    Cover Image of On Chesil Beach: A Novel by Ian McEwan published by Nan A. Talese
    Cover Image of Cellophane by Marie Arana published by The Dial Press
    Cover Image of David Copperfield (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens published by Penguin Classics
    Cover Image of The Book of Illusions: A Novel by Paul Auster published by Henry Holt & Company, Inc.