Blog - Library Services Centre

Victoria Day Long Weekend is the unofficial start to summer in Canada, and that means it's nearly time for vacations, long sunny (hopefully) days, and lots of summer reading. And we want to know what your book recommendations are for this summer, for a future blog post! Send your name (how you want it presented), library (if you wanted it to be identified), and recommendations to socialmedia@lsc.on.ca.

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It was when my twins were in Kindergarten that I first heard about the Roots of Empathy program. We were sent home a note explaining that the mother of one the girls’ classmates’ would be bringing her newborn to the classroom throughout the school year.

 

The children would get the opportunity to observe the baby’s development by interacting with the baby and then talking about the baby’s feelings. By doing so, it was hoped that by the end of the year the children would have learned more about empathy and compassion by reflecting on their own feelings and those of others around them.


According to the Roots of Empathy website this emotional literacy taught in the program “lays the foundation for safer and more caring classrooms, where children are the Changers. They are more competent in understanding their own feelings and the feelings of others (empathy) and are therefore less likely to physically, psychologically and emotionally hurt each other through bullying and other cruelties.”


My girls loved having the baby visit their classroom and I am so very thankful that both my twins and then later on, my youngest daughter, were given this opportunity as I do think programs such as these are essential in assisting parents with teaching children about caring for others. But not everyone or every school gets the chance to experience programs such as the Roots of Empathy.


It has been proven that children need to learn about empathy when they are young in order to develop healthy social and emotional relationships. To help parents and caregivers, libraries can enrich parenting collections, do more displays and/or focus on a wide range of diverse, socially conscious, teachable picture books that will help children understand empathy, compassion and learn how to read all at the same time.
 

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld should be on every library shelf. It is a most beautiful and touching story that teaches young children about grief and empathy. When something upsetting happens and the little boy in the story is upset, all the animals in the book try to give advice to the boy about how he can feel better but none of it works until the Rabbit arrives and just listens. This is exactly what the little boy needed. By simply being there the rabbit shows empathy and support.


Pass it On by Sophy Henn is a great book that teaches about positive emotions by sharing happiness with those around you. Children will not only read and learn how fun it is to share but also when you least expect it, the goodness that you give may just come back around to you.

 

Come With Me by Holly McGhee shows how important it is to be kind and inclusive even when things seem scary and uncertain around you. The father and the mother of the little girl ask her to “Come with Me” when she has questions about an upsetting news report. They show her how she can help make the world better by being open and kind to those around you now matter who they are. The little girl then ask the boy across the hall to “Come with Me” when walking her dog and together, even if they are small and what they do is small, they can still make a positive difference to those around them.

 

One by Kathryn Otoshi is a fantastic story to teach young children about bullying and standing up for yourself and others. Blue is quiet and Red likes to pick on Blue. All the other colours (Yellow, Orange, Green and Purple) witness the bad behavior but don’t know what to do. When One comes along he/she teaches the colours how to work together and count. Through the power of One, the reader learns about accepting all differences and how all it takes is one person to stand up to make a change.

 

The Silence Slips In by Alison Hughes shows both the reader and listener how even after the busiest day and feeling overwhelmed, as the day turns to night and silence appears, we can all learn to feel calm, at peace and be still.

 

I Am Human: A book of empathy and I Am Love: A book of compassion by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds are just two books in the bestselling Wellness series. Both are perfect read alouds to teach children that it is ok to make mistakes, to say sorry and to give love to both ourselves and to those around you.

 

How To Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham is a beautifully illustrated older picture book that still holds true on how to teach children about the importance of taking care of others even when life seems too busy to so. When a little boy sees an injured bird laying on the ground and everyone around him is in too much of a rush to help, the little boy and his mother gently pick it up and take it home to heal.  This is a story of compassion and hope.

 

Feeling and having empathy is key to lifelong success and understanding. Let’s hope by reading and listening to the children around us we will create a better, safer more empathic kind world. If you would like more book recommendations on empathy and compassion or any social theme that your collection needs help building, please feel free to contact me at spooley@lsc.on.ca

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Take care!

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Please click here to read LSC's official statement regarding the ceasing of the SOLS Delivery Service.

 

The Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) has announced that, as a result of immediate and massive budget cuts by the provincial government, the inter library delivery service operated by SOLS will cease on Friday, April 26th.


More information about this decision can be found here:
https://www.sols.org/index.php/interlibrary-loan-and-delivery-service-changes

 

Here is what this means for LSC:

  • There will be NO disruption to deliveries to libraries.
  • There will be NO changes to pricing for delivery or any other LSC services.

LSC will immediately move all libraries that get material through the SOLS delivery service to private courier services. There may be a final delivery through SOLS in the week ending on April 26th.


Material will leave LSC on the same day of the week that it was shipped through SOLS. Delivery to the library may move slightly as commercial services have different processes than SOLS.

  • If the delivery day does not meet your needs, simply contact your LSC customer service representative and we will make the necessary changes.

Bins
LSC currently uses returnable bins for all SOLS shipments. This will no longer be economic for some libraries and we will shift to boxes for those libraries. We expect to be able to continue to use bins for many libraries and will work out the collection process for the return of the bins shortly. Until then, we ask that libraries hold their bins. Except:

  • If libraries are able to return LSC bins that they currently have in the remaining days that SOLS will operate, that would be appreciated.

Returns
LSC will work out a new return process for items that were previously sent back to LSC through the SOLS system. Details will be announced as soon as we have the new process in place. In the interim, LSC is happy to issue credits in advance of the receipt of material where that would assist libraries.


Questions?
We are happy to answer any questions that libraries may have. Email Michael Monahan, mmonahan@lsc.on.ca .

 

But no, we have no idea what possessed the government to make this decision.

 

For the orginial PDF version of this announcement, please click here.

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Ah Easter, that most transitory of holidays.  It zig-zags its way through early spring like the bunny that is its most prominent symbol.  Brightly-coloured eggs, cheerful bunnies, and little yellow fluffball chicks all remind us of a fresh new beginning, as winter fades and the new season begins.  And frankly it can’t come soon enough, even if Easter is late this year.

Easter’s date is determined by a lunisolar calendar rather than a strictly solar one, meaning that it falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon of spring.  Depending on the cycles of the moon, that means Easter can be any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.

 

What’s the significance of the moon?  Like Christmas, Easter was originally a pagan celebration named for a Germanic goddess called Ēostre or Ostara.  Feasts were held in her honour during the Old English month that corresponds to April, welcoming in spring.  Germanic traditions have remained attached to the celebration as it moved through the years, such as decorating eggs and the Osterhase (Easter hare) bringing treats to well-behaved children.  Other celebrations, like sword dancing and “heathen pastries” (as Jacob Grimm called them), have not, at least here in North America.

 

Easter is also an important modern religious holiday.  In Christianity, Easter Sunday is celebrated as the Day of the Resurrection, and for centuries it was the most important observance within that faith.  For books on the Christian exploration of Easter, check out The Story of Easter by Helen Dardik, The Berenstain Bears: Easter Sunday by Mike and Jan Berenstain, and God Gave Us Easter by Tawn Bergeren.

 

In the Jewish traditions, Easter and Passover fall within the same general timeframe, though they aren’t related.  Passover by Grace Jones offers a factual breakdown meant for young readers, and Around the Passover Table by Tracy Newman and Pippa’s Passover Plate by Vivian Kirkfield convey the meaning of the holiday through fictional stories.

 

Of course we can’t forget the classics when it comes to Easter books.  Happy Easter, Little Critter by Mercer Mayer was published when I was already in my teens, but I still have fond memories of the series.  Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog also have their own books celebrating the holiday.  No Easter collection is complete, however, without It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz, a book surpassed (only slightly) by the TV special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great new books coming out that celebrate Easter.  We’re Going on an Egg Hunt, illustrated by Laura Hughes, promotes deduction and hand-eye skills for our littlest readers, even as it thrills them with beautiful illustrations.  Bill Cotter’s Don’t Push the Button: an Easter Surprise is an interactive story that introduces children to the concept of antici…pation with each turn of the page.  And for something with a Canadian flavor, look for Tiny the Toronto Easter Bunny by Eric James.  When the Easter bunny becomes stuck, Tiny must deliver treats to Toronto, but discovers than an elephant trying to fill a bunny’s shoes is a little harder than it seems.

 

In Australia, given that rabbits are an invasive species, there’s been a push to make the Easter bunny an Easter bilby, one of the few native Australian animals that probably doesn’t want to destroy humans.  Probably.  Those interested in learning more about the bilby can check out Bilby: Secrets of an Australian Marsupial by Edel Wignell.

 

Back to rabbits, many people get a little caught up in the bunny craze around Easter and start thinking they should get one for their kids as a pet.  However, rabbits – like all creatures – should be bought or adopted as a family decision, not as an impulse purchase.  Rabbits can live a decade or more and need social interaction, exercise, and a healthy diet to stay as happy as possible.  Capstone’s Caring for Rabbits can help children understand how to take care of their new pet, and for adults there’s Skyhorse’s Raising Happy Rabbits.  For bunnies and their humans who might need to learn how to relax a little, there’s the delightful, mindful Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo.

 

For those who don’t want the actual responsibility of owning a rabbit, many places open their petting zoos around Easter, where you can not only interact with rabbits, but sheep, goats, ponies, and even llamas or alpacas.  Many cities and communities offer Easter egg hunts, and for those of us without children, there’s the traditional Tuesday hunt for half-price chocolate.  Whether taking the kids out or getting together with the family for a feast (lamb is traditional), Easter is a season for new beginnings and new plans.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Enjoy!

 

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I’m a sucker for dog stories. I've lost hours watching funny dog videos on YouTube and I love reading the shared stories of doggy antics on social media. A novel about a dog will usually find its way into my book pile, and I'm the first in line for dog movies. 

 

The irony is, with few exceptions, dog stories also make me cry-probably because as the central character in Gordon Korman's middle grade novel No More Dead Dogs pointed out, you pretty much know the dog is going to die in the end. In fact, the mortality rate of dogs in books and film is so high that there is a website called  https://www.doesthedogdie.com/ that allows readers/viewers to track whether or not the dog dies in a book, movie or video game. The site also has a section for cats, horses and other animals in general if you’re worried.

 

It’s hard to quantify what makes us such gluttons for punishment that we continue to subject ourselves to the emotional devastation of seeing a dog die in a book or a movie.  Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend. They are part of the family. They give us unconditional love and loyalty. They give us companionship, joy, and laughter for as long as they live.  We know that our time with dogs is limited, but we love them for as long as we have them and are enriched by them.

 

Maybe we love these stories because we connect with them on a personal level. When we read a story about a dog like Marley, we nod and smile seeing something of ourselves and our dogs in the story. We become emotionally invested in these doggy characters, and care about them as if they are our own. These stories reflect our own experiences, and make us hug our dogs even tighter. 

 

One of my favourite books growing up was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. Growing up, my family had a brother and sister pair just like Old Dan and Little Ann and I loved reading about the bond between the two dogs and their boy. I also remember bawling my eyes out when the dogs died. I smiled through my tears at the ending *spoiler alert* when Billy discovers the red fern growing between their graves which is a sign that an angel is watching over them (as per an in-book Indian legend that says only angels can plant the flower). It’s a beautiful and heart-wrenching book and it got to the point where I couldn’t even open the book without starting to cry, so I haven’t reread it in a while.

 

As an adult, two recent books (within the last decade) sit high on my list of favourites, mostly because they capture the bond that an adult has with their dogs. I adored my family dogs, but it’s a different experience when it’s your own dog.

 

From the first page of The Art of Racing in the Rain I was hooked, and I totally fell in love with Enzo the dog. The story follows Denny, an aspiring race car driver, through his trials and tribulations, but from Enzo’s point of view. Enzo is preparing for his life as a human and has some astute observations about humanity. His narration is witty and philosophical, and he shares his reflections on dogs and humans with the reader. The book perfectly exemplified the bond that my partner and I had with our dog, and of course, I could fully imagine what he would have to say if it were he who was narrating the story.

 

As I told everybody I gave it to, the book will make you cry and smile at the same time. I like to believe that my dog will someday return as a human who will come back into our lives, and that we’ll know him when we see him. This is a book I have continuously lent out, and it even got my brother - who was reluctant to read it - to stay up all night finishing it. The film adaptation of the book is currently in production, and I can’t wait to see my favourite book on screen!

 

My other favourite dog novel is Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. I knew it would be difficult to live up to Art of Racing in the Rain, but Rowley does it successfully. This story is perfect for anyone who has lost a dog, as it’s about the grief we feel over their deaths.

 

The novel begins when Ted, Lily’s 42-year-old owner discovers a tumor on her head, which he calls the octopus because of its shape. He imagines the octopus is alive and is an enemy which needs to be defeated. Ted will do anything he can to save Lily, but eventually has to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize her and end her suffering.

 

Once again it’s a book that will make you cry and smile. It’s profound, funny and just a beautiful read. It’s also semi-autobiographical, which adds to the authenticity of the story. I hoped against hope that Ted would find a way to save Lily, and I laughed and cried with Ted throughout.

 

With the recent death of my old dog to cancer, this book touches me even more profoundly. When I first read it, it made me more aware that my partner and I would eventually have to make that tough decision, and now that we have, I feel Ted's grief all the more.  Amazon studios has optioned this book for film, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it popping up on either the big or small screen sometime in the near future.

 

In a quick Google search for “happy dog stories” I was hard-pressed to come up with anything, but we love dog stories because they are human stories that touch our hearts, and that's something we can all appreciate! 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

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Automatic Release Plans (ARPs) are growing at LSC and one collection in particular which has been gaining a lot of attention is Graphic Novels.  This can be an overwhelming collection to get started, and is even more overwhelming to keep up with, when there are so many titles and series to choose from.  Most – but not all - libraries have worked a graphic novel collection into their annual budget, and there has most likely been a need to increase your budgets over the past 3-5 years since they have grown in popularity among the general public.

 

For many patrons, a desire to read graphic novels comes from seeing the most recently blockbuster on the big screen. The release of superhero movies are eagerly anticipated by kids and adults alike, and publishers such as Marvel or DC use the cinematic adventures of their characters as an opportunity to draw attention to the series which inspired the film. Most of the time, publishers will use the release of a film as a chance to rerelease older titles, in order to bring in new readers (this tactic is currently being used by Dark Horse with their deep library of Hellboy titles and spinoffs, in advance of the new film being released in April). 2019 will see the most superhero movie releases to date, with 11 of them due in theatres throughout the year.  This is a jump from 2018 during which there were 9 releases from all of the big production companies, including Disney, and Warner Bros. 

 

 Aquaman left theatres earlier this year, but how do you know which Aquaman graphic novels to get when there are so many volumes, from so many authors, published over so many years to choose from? That is where we come in to assist you. As LSC’s graphic novel selector I have access to publisher reviews, suggestions, and circ and sales data from public libraries, which I use to compare series. If you are looking for that perfect Aquaman series for your older readers, I would suggest checking out the DC Comics Rebirth series, published in 2017 & 2018 and includes a compilation of all the original Aquaman comics.

 

March saw the opening of Captain Marvel, which will have readers young and old wanting to find out more about Brie Larson’s – star of Room and Kong: Skull Island (which was also adapted from a 3-part graphic novel series) – leading character Carol Danvers.  You can find out more about her in a brand new series called The Life of Captain Marvel, with volume 1 having just been released this past February.

 

What are some of the benefits of letting us handle, or at least make recommendations for, your graphic novels selection?  First and foremost, this will be a huge timesaver for your selector in this area – or possibly to several of them if you have your collections broken out by juvenile, young adult & mature/adult content.  There is a lot of time spent searching for previous titles within series, and figuring out which similar character series should be ordered over another. Secondly, your staff may simply not have the experience of working with graphic novels. They might not be able to tell Spider-man from Antman. Or, a western-style comic from a Japanese manga series, whose sheer numbers, intimidating lengths, and varying levels of appropriate content make them an entirely different battle to wage. A battle we are happy to wage on your behalf. 

 

As previously mentioned, publisher’s information, looking at sales data, and seeing what is circulating in others libraries are the best tools that can be offered when selecting this material.  Most titles will have pre-publication ordering done which will be a big benefit to your patrons. Many of whom are impatiently awaiting the release of the next volume of their favourite title, and will be able to put holds on the upcoming big hit – have you ordered the next title in the Dog Man series that is due to be published in August 2019?  I am sure most of you are still struggling to get through the holds lists from volume 6 which was released just before Christmas! On the Booknet Canada top 10 Juvenile and YA Books of 2018, 4 of the top 10 titles were from this series.  Volume 6 and 7 are sure to make the 2019 list as well so you don’t want to miss this one.

 

One question that I get asked quite frequently by customers who are new to the ARP world and have multiple branches in their system:  How do you know which branches to continue the series in if we have ordered them in the past?  For existing customers who have ordered from LSC in the past this is easy as looking at the historic ordering data in LSCs database.  For new customers, I work directly with your online library catalogue to find out information such as:  Do you carry the series?  Which branches should I be ordering for?  And into which collection to do classify that upcoming Lumberjanes title, Juvenile or Young Adult? 

 

If you are looking to find out what the next steps are in getting your library set up on a Graphic Novels ARP, please get in touch with Angela Stuebing for some sample profiles and outlines of the information that is needed.  This is a quick process and ordering can be started for your collection within days of gathering your library likes/dislikes, budgets and processing details. 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

See you in the funny pages!

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Who among us wouldn't prefer to be walking the cobbles of Dublin, letting a day slip by in the fields of Cork, or getting in a pedantic argument about the occurances of snakes on the Emerald Isle? As much or more a sign of spring than waiting for groundhogs to make wild pronouncements about weather patterns, St. Patrick's Day is that time of year when we can all embrace a little Irish in ourselves. So, we went around the office and asked everyone, what are some of your favourite Irish authors, stories, and fictions?

 

Lesley H - Of course, the quintessential modern classic of Irish literature is Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt’s memoir following his family’s forced emigration from America back to Ireland. The book was an instant hit twenty three years ago, and was followed by a film adapation and two sequels: 'Tis and Teacher Man

 

 

Lee-Ann B. - The trinity of Great Irish authors are, of course, James Joyces, WB Yeats, and Jonathan Swift. If you are looking for the classics, these are the authors to look at first.

 

Linda F - I’d suggest Days Without End by Sebastian Barry.  It seems weird for this Irish author to be writing about the American West, but the book is wonderfully written, just so full of vigor and life despite the horrors it depicts (maybe sustained by the humanity of the narrator).  A short, muscular, intense book that seems very American in spite of its Irish author.

 

Carrie P - Dublin Murder Squad is a fantastic series, each focusing on a different detective in the Dublin police homicide division. And, written by an American living in Dublin. Brooklyn is an arresting period piece that was also adapated into a film. And anything by the master of wit, Oscar Wilde.

 

Karrie V - My family is very Irish, so I have grown up watching Irish movies. My favourite movie of all time is Darby O’Gill and the Little People, where Sean Connery sings! Some others that are good include Philomena, Quiet Man, Far and Away, HungerSecret of KellsMy Left FootWind That Shakes the Barley, In the Name of the Father, and Commitments.

 

Rachel S - I read Maeve Binchy for years- one of my favourites being Circle of Friends. And of course, the author of our favourite vampire Dracula - Bram Stoker

 

Nancy B - Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb, in which Eve Dallas' Irish vacation is disturbed by a murder.

 

Kirk O - For a historical fiction book about Ireland, I love Trinity by Leon Uris. Uris always has strong characters around pivotal historic events and this book delivers that as well.  From the Irish famine to the uprising in 1916, this tells the story of Conor Larkin and his family.  It was so good I have actually read it three times over the years, making a trinity myself.  And if anyone is planning a visit, as I did in 2018, and loves Guinness as I do, the tour of the St. James’s Gate Brewery was a highlight. A few pints overlooking Dublin is a great way to spend an hour. Perhaps reading Pint-Sized Ireland: In Search of the Perfect Guinness by Evan McHugh, an Australian travelling Ireland in search of a perfect pint.  

 

Michael C - I'm going to go way off the beaten path here and recommending Grabbers, a comedy horror film in which an idyllic remote Irish island is invaded by enormous bloodsucking tentacled aliens. I'm also going to recommend the works of director/playwrite Martin McDonagh; specifically the mobster dramedy In Bruges. Also his brother John Michael McDonagh's film Calvary .

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Sláinte mhaith!

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I love language. I am effervescent in its multitudes.  I rejoice, exclaim, wallow, and exult in the verisimilitude of the vernacular. I delight in dialects, pontificate on puns, saturate in slang, and generally gestate in grammar. Often, I have been accused of using ten words when three would do, because why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to run wild with syntactic abandon when given the chance?

 

Of particular interest to me is the history of language. Where do our words come from? How has time and history and culture shaped the way the world pushes air out of its throat and rolls it across its tongue. It’s all well and good for the Académie française to try to keep French on the straight and narrow. But what about English, who is more likely to push another language into a dark alley and “borrow” some loan words? And it still comes out short compared to German, which produces words like Treppenwitz, literally “stair case joke”, for the comeback to a joke or insult that you don’t think of until later.

 

Reading for me can be a laborious task, as I’ll be working merrily through a text when suddenly I’m jolted out of the narrative by an errant word. What is this delightful collection of syllables, I’ll think? What precise congress of meanings have crafted such an expression? And off I’ll pop to look up its etymology. And where better to start than that trusted friend, the dictionary?

 

In the world of words, consistency of meaning is key to understanding. If we don’t all agree that the word “horse” means a large, four legged mammal with a long face and mane, then a trip to the farm is going to get very confusing very quickly. Enter the Dictionary, that compendium of terminology which keeps us on the same page. A concise definition of every word in the language. A thing of beauty.

 

But definition is only half the work. The other half is context. Knowing not just what a word means, but when it is appropriate to use are the cardinal ingredients in a delicious language recipe (garnished liberally with grammar, of course). Which is why dictionaries include something that you may have overlooked, or don’t pay that much attention to: an example of use. For examples, From the Collins Dictionary:

 

Certificate - An official document that you receive when you have completed a course of study or training. The qualification that you receive is sometimes also called a certificate. Ex. To the right of the fireplace are various framed certificates.

 

One person who didn’t overlook these snippets of speech was author Jez Burrows, who developed an ambitious plan: to write short stories comprised of just the example lines from dictionaries. To hear him tell it, he started by compiling a massive catalogue of every example line from a range of dictionaries, then sorted them into groups, including those that feature a person doing an action, or emoting, or the rarest of all, speaking. Treasured were sentences describing the condition of an object.

 

Taking all these disconnected, brief and context-lacking lines, Jez strung them together into short tales of absurdity, suspense, and melancholic beauty. What were once pieces of linguistic illustration become “I began to speak, but stopped short at the look on the other woman's face. It was not prudent to antagonize a hired killer.” Those line comprised of entries from the Collins English Dictionary and New Oxford American Dictionary.

 

I am in love with this idea. Creating a jigsaw of story from the leavings of language; putting to work the orphans of description. These brief lines, once stagnating on the dictionary page have found bizarre and unexpected new purpose under Jez’s direction. It seems to me to be a form of linguistic collage, part and parcel with gluing sea shells and pine cones onto a picture frame. This concept seems tailor made for the era of Twitter and the character limit, but Jez has collected his foundlings and knitted them together into a tome entitled Dictionary Stories: Short Fictions and Other Findings.

 

A brisk read, but surprisingly soulful and elegant, and a love letter to language. A perfect companion to a snowy winter evening, or to share betwixt friends. A meal made of morsels has never tasted as sweet or been as filling. More about Jez and his work is available at http://www.dictionarystories.com/.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Yours, Fictionally

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If you asked most people, the one thing they’d wish for other than more money is time. Regardless of your position in life, time is finite. There is only so much time in one lifetime and we always wish for more of it. From the time we are children asking to stay up for just five more minutes, there is never enough of it.

 

The exploration of mortality is a popular subjects in fiction, and was a central theme in the ancient Greek myths and epics, filled with immortal gods and demigods. In the 19th century, Bram Stoker gave us the immortal vampire Dracula, and Oscar Wilde examined the quest for eternal life in his gothic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian sells his soul in exchange for eternal youth and his portrait, not Dorian will age. Through his portrait, he comes face-to-face with his true self, and everything cumulates in a brutal but fitting end.

 

These themes have also extended to several recently published novels, and examine immortality from a more philosophical perspective. One of my favourite reads this year is the sleeper hit How to Stop Time  by Matt Haig. Thanks to a rare condition that has drastically slowed the aging process, 41-year-old Tom Hazzard has been alive for 439 years. While he could die from a gunshot wound, he’ll never get sick, and he could be a thousand years old by the time he could die of old age. 

 

This condition also means he has to start his life over somewhere else every 8 years or so when the people around him notice that he isn’t getting any older. He's also not allowed to fall in love. After all, forming attachments means he risks exposing not only his secret, but his heart.

 

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the way Haig explored the positives and negatives of being immortal. On the upside, he pretty much has all the time in the world to explore the things that interest him. How many times have you wished you had enough time to learn a particular skill or to pursue a hobby? Tom loves music, and having unlimited time has allowed him to master 30 instruments.

 

Tom has also lived history we can only read about. From the plague to wars to massive generational shifts, he’s seen it all. He’s played with Shakespeare, dined with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, sailed with Captain Cook, and encountered countless other popular figures in history. Fittingly, Tom’s current job is a history teacher, and not surprisingly, he’s pretty good at it.

 

There are also some lighter moments in the book such as when Tom muses over what birthdate to put on his Facebook profile, realizing that 1581 just isn’t going to work.

 

On the down side, being a literal old soul makes him an outsider and has effectively forced him into a permanent exile.  Anybody he once loved is gone, and he can’t get close to anyone because they would eventually realize that he didn’t look a day older and risk exposing him. Aside from the fact that most people would think he was certifiable if he tried to explain, there is a genuine danger that he could be turned into a lab rat and exploited by those who would try to profit from his condition.

 

The book really made me wonder if given the choice, would I choose to live forever. While I definitely wouldn’t want to be a child or a teenager forever, I wouldn’t mind being frozen in my 30s or 40s. Having all the time in the world to do everything I want to do (like making a substantial dent in my to-be-read pile) is an attractive prospect. I’d also love the opportunity to see how the world will evolve over the next several centuries, but not if I can’t share it with anybody. Not keeping any friends or putting down roots somewhere would be a deal breaker, as wood having to say so many goodbyes.

 

A new book called Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return by Debut author Martin Riker takes a different take on immortality, and it’s getting a lot of buzz.

 

The book starts with Samuel Johnson waking up in the body of the man who killed him. Unable to die, when one body expires he jumps to another, all the while searching for a way to get back to the son he left behind.

 

This idea fascinates me and it seems like a much more interesting and less lonely way to live forever. Sure, there’s always a possibility of getting stuck in a crappy body, but imagine being able to literally view the world through somebody else’s eyes! He’d also probably be the only person who could say he’s lived a thousand lives and mean it, which also has its perks. Comical and philosophical, it is a unique take on an old theme, and is worth checking out!

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

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Remember back in the early nineties, when The Simpsons joked that the Grammy Award was a disposable and meaningless award? 26 years later, that sort of opinion continues to dog what is meant to be the preeminent award for music. On Sunday, February 10th, the 61st annual Grammy Awards were celebrated and were no stranger to controversy both on and off stage.

 

This year, the Grammy’s were hosted by R&B singer Alicia Keys. Keys opened the ceremony alongside Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez and surprise guest Michelle Obama. Performances throughout the night included Post Malone with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (amazing!) as well as Dolly Parton singing my favorite song Jolene with goddaughter - and newly married - Miley Cyrus.  

 

The opening performance was on fire, with Camilla Cabello singing her hit single ‘Havana’ alongside Ricky Martin and J Balvin.  During the performance, Balvin could be seen off to the side, holding up a newspaper with the headline ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls’; an obvious but subtle political statement regarding the current issue surrounding the US Border. 


This year’s winner for Record of the Year was This is America by Actor turned Hip Hop artist, Childish Gambino (AKA Donald Glover). This is the first time ever that a Hip Hop song has one in this category.  This is America was also the winner for Song of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance. The single was released in 2018; there is rumor that the song will be included in the artist’s full album, releasing mid-2019. 

 

Another surprise win went to Kacey Musgraves for her 2018 Album Golden Hour, which won an astonishing 4 awards. The awards which Musgraves won for this album were: Album of the Year, Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, and Best Country Album.  It is not often that a Country album takes home Album of the Year, so this was a good win for the Country music genre.

 

Best new artist went to Dua Lipa, a rising star from the UK.  Along with this award, Lipa won Best Dance Recording for her song Electricity, a collaboration with Silk City. Songs such as IDGAF and One Kiss (alongside Calvin Harris) shine the light on Lipa’s talent. Dua Lipa’s debut album released in June 2017, and was in Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Pop Albums of 2017.

 

The award for Best Pop Vocal Album went to Ariana Grande. Despite it being her first ever Grammy win, Grande did not attend the awards ceremony. Prior to the ceremony, Grande had taken to social media to voice her concerns and frustrations about her pending Grammys performance. She had made statements referencing some disagreements with producers over her set list. Grande had an emotional year in 2018, losing her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to a drug overdose, and shortly after, breaking up with fiancé Pete Davidson. Here’s hoping 2019 brings her peace and further success.

 

Winning posthumously for Best Rock Performance was Chris Cornell for the song When Bad Does Good. This award was announced at the pre-show telecast, and was accepted by Cornell’s two children, daughter Toni, 14, and son Christopher, 13. The two gave a beautiful speech honoring their late father. Cornell died May 27, 2017 due to suicide. Chris Cornell was an amazing musician and vocalist, and his music will forever be part of my life.

 

Canadian superstar Drake won Best Rap Song for his hit God’s Plan. Drake accepted his award with a controversial speech that ended up getting cut off. Drake told his fans, along with everyone else listening, that it is not just the awards that make someone a success, but the people singing your songs and buying your concert tickets. I might not personally be a fan of Drake’s, but I thought his message was bang-on.

 

Finally, the award for Best Rap Album went to Cardi B, for her upcoming album release Invasion of Privacy. While Rap music isn’t my favorite genre, Cardi B is definitely one of my favorite celebrities. She is loud and outspoken, but she is also a very real person. She may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you have to love her honesty and humility.

 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter, and to subscribe to our new YouTube Channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the weekly Green Memo, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy listening!

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