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I read an article in Publishers Weekly which wondered whether or not publishing has become too reliant on bestsellers. The article discussed how top tier authors are taking over marketing budgets and shelf space in retailers (which also extends to libraries), and how what we call ‘midlist’ suffers as a result.

 

A long time ago when I was just out of university I worked in the box office for the National Ballet of Canada. Now you’re probably wondering what ballet has to do with bookselling, but stay with me here and you’ll see where this is going.

 

I remember a top executive explaining that while internally the staff and the dancers generally hated The Nutcracker, it’s the bread and butter of the company and the revenue generated from this holiday classic helps fund the more modern works that challenge and excite the dancers. Personally I love the full-length classical ballets, but those also need to be refreshed with new choreography, costumes, and staging which are also partially paid for by revenue from The Nutcracker.

 

The same logic applies to publishing. While some of us may roll our eyes at seeing the same group of authors on our bestseller list all of the time, those authors are like a publisher’s version of The Nutcracker. In theory, they generate enough revenue that the publisher can afford to take a chance on a special book that the editor loves, or a debut author whom they hope will find similar success.

 

To some extent that’s true. A publishing house is not made on midlist authors alone, but when bestsellers start drowning out midlist, it creates a vicious cycle where few new titles can break through. If you’ve read my blogs, you probably know that I’m a veracious reader, and while I try to read widely, it’s a lot easier to go back to the authors I know and love rather than spend my precious reading time on someone I don’t know and who I’m not sure I’ll like.

 

That being said, I do have a tremendous appreciation for unusual and original books, and if something catches my eye when I’m sorting through seasonal catalogues, or through online/social media channels, I will often request the title and give it a shot.

 

Recently I read a wonderful fantasy debut titled The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by New Zealand author H.G. Parry. It caught my attention because it’s been labeled Inkheart  for adults, and I love that book. I’ve also seen references to an adult sci-fi series Libriomancer by Jim Hines, which I’m definitely going to check out.

 

Charley Sutherland has a gift. He is what they call a Summoner, which means he can read the characters out of books. That alone sold me. Who wouldn’t love to be able to spend time with their favourite literary characters from time to time? From early childhood, Charley could make mischief with the Cat in the Hat, have tea with Sherlock Holmes, solve mysteries with a Millie Radcliffe-Dix, a Nancy Drew-like character, and hosts of others, and when when he's done, he returns them to their book. 

 

One night, he frantically calls his older brother Robert explaining that he accidentally read Uriah Heep (the villain from David Copperfield) out of the book and he’s escaped. Heep is a pretty dastardly villain, and Victorian or not, you really don't want this guy running around loose in the world.

 

In their pursuit of Heep, they uncover a hidden Victorian street where they meet other literary characters who have been living there in secret, including the White Witch from Narnia, Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray who handles the secret world’s finances and tech, four Mr. Darcy’s from Pride and Prejudice. As it turns out, most people inadvertently summon a character at one time or another, and the version of the character that appears is subject to the reader’s interpretation. Darcy, not surprisingly, is a fairly often imagined character which is why there were four of them. Somehow, all of these ‘summoned’ characters have found their way onto the street, and they live there to keep themselves from being detected, and keep from being sent back into their books.

 

The brothers also discover that the street was created by another Summoner with Charley’s powers and malicious intent who needs to be stopped. All of the characters are aware of the other summoner's plans for a new world, but they don't know who he/she is, or exactly what that means for themselves or the real world.

 

I love books that reference other books, and I really enjoyed seeing different literary characters popping up in the novel. It’s also a wonderful tribute to the power that books and characters have over us, and still manages to poke a bit of fun at the literary theory we were all forced to study in English class. It’s smart and funny and original, and it’s one of my favourite books of all time. If like, me, you’re getting a bit tired of seeing the same old/same old on your bookstore/library shelves, give this one a try and I’m sure you’ll be as enchanted as I was. Or, if you were a fan of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, you'll at home in these pages.

 

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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Everyone is working their way through a new set of to-do lists that look nothing similar to what they were doing in early March. Many budgets have been shifted to electronic collections that patrons could take advantage of during the time library doors were closed. Now that libraries are reopening, staff members are juggling the tasks of filling holds, managing quarantine, cleaning of materials, and trying to figure out how best to spend the remaining collection budgets in a short time frame.

 

LSC’s selectors are trained professionals in spending collection budgets. Their help, with a few LSC tools, can maximize your budget whether you have had to cut, remain the same, or were able to add funds.

 

LSC’s Administrative Console is a very useful tool for budget tracking. The ADMN login is additional to your regular OLSC login and has many handy features, especially the real-time budget tracking. By quickly entering your budget amounts per fund, you can see how much is spent, how much is outstanding, how much has shipped, and more. This quick glance makes making decisions like moving money to another fund, easier.

 

In addition to the publisher catalogue selection lists we produce every week, LSC releases Bargain Books selection lists every 2 weeks that feature backlist and newer titles available at steep discounts. This lists can be especially useful to supplement children’s programming, or to backfill series. You will continue to find our regular monthly LSC catalogues like Mass Market, DVDs, Large Print, Small Press, Graphic Novels and more on our website as well as on Issuu. You'll also find the lists for all Findaway products including Wonderbooks, Launchpads and newly released Reading Academy. 

 

LSC HomepageFrom the front page of LSC’s website, you’ll see featured topical selection lists based on current world events and social relevancy like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, Trans Support, Indigenous Voices, and more. The selectors put these together using resources to ensure they are valuable additions to Canadian library collections. Aside from the topical lists, the selectors can make specific suggestions for your library based on circulation data, budget or collection type. In their ARP selections and suggestions for budget management, they ensure, especially where budgets have been cut, that libraries are still receiving top of the market and popular material.

 

We do anticipate some publication date changes in the seasons ahead, as COVID has affected printing schedules industry-wide. LSC will do our best to communicate these changes to you, and make sure your orders are preserved. LSC’s selectors are here to help. If you need carts put together, specific selection lists created, or simply advice on how to proceed with a smaller budget, they are here to help alleviate some of that stress. Just reach out.   

 

And now, some collection specific updates from the Selectors.

 

Angela Stuebing, ARP Coordinator and Graphic Novel Selector:
Nightschool: Weirn Books Vol 1Graphic Novels are as popular as ever for readers both young and old, and are continuing to be released on a regular basis.  We have specifically seen an increase within the Juvenile collection.  There are so many fantastic titles from some of our favourite authors such as Svetlana Chmakova who wrote the Berrybrook Middle School series (Awkward #1Brave #2; Crush #3).  The first book in the new Weirn Books series shouldn’t be missed as part of your collection either!

 

Young Adult/Adult Graphic Novels should not to be forgotten when looking to boost your current event displays, both in the library and on your website.  The recent announcement of the Eisner Award Winners has overlapped with some of the LSC produced topical lists.  Some highlights include: Best Publication for Teens and Best Writer winner Laura Dean Keeps’ Breaking Up with Me, and Best Graphic Album winner Are You Listening.

Rachel Seigel, Adult Fiction Selector:
The CompanionsFiction publishing has felt the impact of the COVID shutdowns, primarily in the form of delays and cancellations. Many titles that had previously been announced for publication from late winter onwards have been either pushed back to fall or into 2021, but there will be plenty of regular print titles and big name releases to fill out budgets. Thanks to the quarantine, there is renewed attention on “pandemic novels” such as the buzzy new novel The Companions by Katie Flynn which focus on the effects of massive global outbreaks on a population.

 

The areas that have been more severely impacted by cancellations and postponements are mass market and large print where we’ve definitely seen a reduction in available titles. If your library has a large budget devoted to these categories, this might be a good time to look at series gap-filling, or bumping up copies of popular titles.

 

Karrie Vinters, AV Selector:
While theatre closures may have affected box office titles, the rest of the film world seems to be keeping up just fine. Direct-to-DVD, TV series, documentaries and re-releases of classics seem to be releasing as per usual, with maybe fewer children’s titles than normal. Libraries may want to consider opening up their collections to these other areas in order to get their budgets spent. TV series on Blu-ray and DVD are on the rise, with more people staying home and ‘binge-watching’ their favorite shows, both old and new.

 

Playstation 5 with controllerThere were some delays earlier this year regarding video game production, but the fall appears to be heavy with great new releases, including the new upcoming platforms Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X.  With so many people playing video games to pass their time, this would be a great place to increase spending as this collection is known to circulate very well. Similar to video games, some music releases that were slated for a spring release were delayed to the fall, so watch the upcoming music lists for these exciting titles.

 

Stefanie Waring, Non-Fiction Selector:
As an introvert, I like being at home and I keep myself busy; I cross-stitch, write, og jeg lærer til og med norsk (my grammar is atrocious but I have a lot to say about bears).  But with COVID, many more social people are now stuck at home, looking for something to do with themselves and/or their kids.  This has led to a rise in nonfiction about activities at home, both in terms of homeschooling and in terms of stuff to do that isn't just gaming and binging Netflix.

 

Although schools have reopened, their situation is in constant flux and so libraries are especially interested in nonfiction for all ages that supports the school curriculum, including the new commitment to teaching elementary-school kids how to program.  Outside of school, science - especially nature science - has risen in popularity, many people are discovering new recipes, and there's even been an uptick in witchcraft and spirituality.  With the shift towards people working from home, I also anticipate that upcoming seasons will see more nonfiction on remote work, technology that allows it, and how to be productive outside of the office environment.

 

Sara Pooley, Children’s Product Manager:
The CousinsAs a mother of 4 kids myself, I was incredibly thankful and privileged to have a variety of fiction books while stuck in quarantine at home. This helped pass the time and entertain all the girls (and get them off their devices!) However, there are only so many times you can read the same story before you want or need something new. While my one daughter discovered Percy Jackson for the first time (contact me for if you want to refresh your collection with this classic series), my other daughter discovered a love of thriller/murder and young adult horror. Some of her favourites have been Killing November, a thriller set in a secretive boarding school by Adrianna Mather.  The sequel Hunting November was published in May this year. My daughter also loved One of Us is Lying, along with the sequel One of Us is Next by Karen McManus.  She is very excited to read a new book also by Karen McManus; Cousins, a YA book full of family secrets and mystery, coming this December.

 

Little SquirrelAs happy as I am to see Young Adult Fiction taking off during this pandemic, my other favourite collection has not fared as well: board books. Because of the tactile nature (babies love to gnaw and touch these highly engaging books), they have naturally taken a hit, so libraries have cut back spending in this area. I can only speculate that caregivers with babies who would have traditionally taken part in a library “Books for Babies” initiative which allows play, talk and browsing, are not braving the holds queue at the moment for books that harbor germs. That said, if budget allows, there are two amazing new board book titles through Orca that would make great additions: Little Owl and Little Squirrel, part of the All Natural series by Britta Teckentrup.  

 

Julie Kummu, World Languages:
World Language/Multilingual purchasing has continued to rise over the past few years as libraries strive to maintain and enhance the provision of multilingual materials within their communities. LSC has also recognized this need and responded with offering services such as: including original script in MARC records; cover art for multilingual materials; transliteration stickers; selection lists; and, more frequent shipments throughout the year. While the availability for print materials continues to grow, there is a significant downward trend in the amount of AV materials produced in NTSC format & legally copyright for Canada.

 

As countries around the world continue to deal with the impact of COVID, acquisition of multilingual materials in 2020 has been challenging process. Many countries have been forced to lockdown for months, as a result multilingual publications and shipments have been delayed. This continues to be a fluid situation, as second waves are being reported and possible additional closures are required.  LSC is in contact with our multilingual suppliers on a regular basis, receiving updates as the situation continues to evolve.  As information is communicated to us, we will reach out libraries to let them know if there are any difficulties supplying certain materials; at this time, we will provide various options on how we can proceed temporarily to complete the 2020 budget year. 

 

Since we have re-opened in June, LSC has continued to receive a steady flow of multilingual materials, which so far has included materials in the following languages, but is not limited to:  French, Chinese, Spanish, Persian, Hindi, Panjabi, Tamil, Russian and Hebrew.

 

Libraries have had a hard time, and will be living with the ramifications of the lockdown and continued COVID safety measures for months, if not years. As a not-for-profit, LSC is focused on helping in whatever way we can. If you need additional help for a couple weeks, a month, six months, however long, we can take things off your plate and ensure that new materials continue to arrive in a state that saves you money, time, and stress. We will build lists, build carts, develop temporary ARPs, take on cataloguing, processing, whatever you need for however long you need it. It hasn’t been an easy time for us either, but together we’ll be alright.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. 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.

 

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The summer wanes and the world begins once again to smell of red leaves and pumpkin spiced drinks. We're taking Sept 7th to relax before leaning into the fall. Enjoy yourself.

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LSC wraps up it's year today, and we decided to look back at the year that was and present the first annual LSC Awards for Performance for each category of material type. All the material listed here is available for your convenience in Slist 43891. The following items were compiled using our internal sales data based on number of units purchased collectively by our client libraries between July 2019 and June 2020.

 

The TestamentsStarting off the list with Adult Fiction, and perhaps no surprise, is Margaret Atwood's The Testaments. This unexpected sequel to 1985's Handmaid's Tale followed on from the success of the award winning television series adaptation of the original novel. With more than thirty years of real world Western culture seeming to lean increasingly dystopian, Atwood was motivated to return to her own wasteland with a message of hope. The book, before release, was the joint (and controversial) winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, alongside Bernardine Evaristo's novel Girl, Woman, Other. And it was far and away the best selling adult fiction book released this year.

 

Sweetest KuluThe oldest title on our list is 2016's Sweetest Kulu. Written by Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk making her debut as an author, the book is a bedtime poem in which the animals of the arctic come and grant a new born baby with gifts and love. A celebration of Inuit culture, exploring the interconnected web of nature that people are a part of, and gorgeously illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis, it is no wonder that this topped our Picture Book sales this year. 

 

Dog Man 7: For Whom the Ball RollsThe best selling Juvenile Graphic Novel this year was Dog Man vol 7: For Whom the Ball Rolls. Dav Pilkey, long time favourite author of the Captain Underpants series, is on another roll with this hilarious series following the part-dog, part-man police officer. This was the first of two new Dog Man releases in 2019, with two more coming in 2020; vol 9 will be released this September, with vol 10 following next spring. 

 

Taking to StrangersFor Adult Non Fiction, we have Malcolm Gladwell's Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don't Know. Gladwell's most recent work, whose title is not necessarily accurate, studies miscommunication. Gladwell posits humanity's inherently trusting nature, and how that is both a powerful motivator for good, but also something that can be taken advantage of. And, like all Gladwell books, this one elicited its own share of controversy upon release. Interestingly, the audiobook adaptation follows the format of Gladwell's podcast, blurring the lines between literature and radio. 

 

Avengers: Endgame2019/2020's top DVD/Blu ray spot went to the uncontested king of the box office, Marvel's Avengers: Endgame. The culmination of ten years and 23 separate movies, Endgame brought together every hero Marvel had lifted from it's pages and put onto screen, and featured the last on screen appearance of Marvel legend Stan Lee. The recipient of $2.798 billion at the world wide box office, it topped our charts following it's release last fall. 

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking BallIn Juvenile Fiction, Jeff Kinney's Wrecking Ball came in like... er, a wrecking ball and smashed the competition. This is the 14th volume of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, going strong online since 2004 and in print since 2007! Not to mention the four feature films adapted from the material. The next volume of the book series is due in October.


Children of Virtue and VengeanceThe highest selling Young Adult Fiction book this past year was Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Virtue and Vengeance. The second in the Legacy of Orisha series, this Youth Fantasy series draws from West African tradition. The series, written specifically to draw a sharp contrast between the way race has been traditionally treated in Youth and Fantasy literature, and in the second volume focuses on how people with power seem drawn to abuse it. The third volume has no expected release date, but the series has been optioned by Disney and Lucas Films to be turned into a film at some point in the future.

 

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen OrderHighest selling Video Game of the past year goes to the PS4 edition of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Set between Episode III and the original Star Wars film, the game lets the player control Cal Kestis: fugitive Jedi, as he is hunted by Darth Vader and the Empire across the galaxy. Like everything in the Star Wars universe, the interconnectivity between this game, the films, and the various TV shows is absolute, providing lots of fun threads for fans to pick up. And with the recent announcement that this fall's PS5 will have backward compatibility with the PS4, those copies will last just that much longer in circulation. 

 

They Call Us EnemyThe final category is Adult Graphic Novel, and the top title this year is an incredible work from Star Trek actor and activist George Takei, They Called Us Enemy. This autobiographical graphic memoir relates George's experience as a young child in the Japanese internment camps ordered by FDR during the Second World War. The story that Takei tells of his family's struggles during internment and afterward was not published as a response to the US government's internment of peoples along the southern border, but was a timely addition to the conversation. Additionally, the racism Takei experienced during and after the war will doubtless feel alien to Asian Americans and Canadians in the wake of COVID-inspired racism. 

 

Our final category is actually a nesting doll of success, in that it is our top Multilingual materials, in our top seven languages.

 

Language Adult Fiction

Adult

Non-Fiction

Juvenile
French

Traverser la nuit 

 

Mes grands classiques veganes

 

Pigeon Doit Aller a l'Ecole 

 

Chinese

Qi e hui fei = Penguins can fly

 

Nian nian shi guang zhen wei

 

Guo nian 

 

 

 

Spanish

Terra Alta

 

Yo misma 

 

Hotel Bruce

 

Russian

Riabinovyi klin 

 

 

Menia zovut Gosha 

 

Rainbow fish

 

 

Arabic

Bint allati la tuhibbu ismuha

 

Rihlatak lil-takhallus min al-badana

 

Firi yakhaf alzalam 

 

 

Panjabi

Ek kudi ikkali 

 

 

Zindagi aje baaki hai

 

Garmi disha ate gati 

 

Farsi/Persian

Baray-i bihi 

 

 

Iraniyan az nigah-i amrikaiyan

Faqat hamah-yi ma

 

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. 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.

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Between the ages of 13 and 23, I worked in horse barns, first as a volunteer and then as a full time job. This gave me a mouth like a sailor, because there’s nothing quite as appropriate as ‘!@$%’ when a thousand-pound animal hip checks you into a wall. These days I work in an office and the only horse I see regularly is my own - whose interests lie mostly in how he’s never been fed, ever, in his entire life – but I still tend to pepper my sentences with cursing.

 

Swearing is Good for YouOf course, there’s a time and a place for swearing. I control myself around customers, children, upper management, and my mother. If someone indicates that they don’t like listening to profanity as punctuation, it’s only appropriate to stop. However, science has shown there are multiple benefits to a good curse, as laid out by Dr. Emma Byrne in her 2017 book Swearing is Good For You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language. Dr. Byrne argues that swearing is essential to both social and emotional health. It allows stroke victims to regain their language skills, fosters relationships between team members, and even reduces pain, as proven in the Mythbusters episode No Pain, No Gain or illustrated by Stephen Fry and Brian Blessed in Planet Word.

 

Bon Cop, Bad CopProfanity has a long history, though it’s obviously changed since the Romans insulted each other by implying their target was submissive to another man – or worse, a woman.  In Biblical times, swearing was to make an oath to the Abrahamic God, an acknowledgment of omniscience and omnipotence. The Bible forbade ‘vain swearing,’ which in the Middle Ages became such shocking phrases as ‘by the blood of Jesus Christ.’  This kind of swearing has actually lasted into modern times in Quebec, which has a unique type of cursing slang that involves the Roman Catholic church. For a great example of how to swear in Quebec, check out Bon Cop, Bad Cop (and then watch its sequel, just because). Famously swear-heavy TV show Deadwood uses modern, scatological swearing; when they filmed the first pilot, they used period appropriate swear words, which ended up making all the characters sound like Yosemite Sam. 

 

Holy Shit: a brief history of swearingThe big swear words these days are short, sharp, and generally shocking, but a lot of them were simply descriptors in the Middle Ages. More information (including some hilarious place names) can be found in this article by the Irish Times, which took its information from Holy Sh*t: a Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr. These days the effectiveness of profanity derives mostly from how inappropriate it is; I could say ‘daisies’ when I stub my toe, but society at large has no problem with flowers so it doesn’t mean much. In his episode of Inside the Actor's Studio, Alan Alda said his favourite swear word was "horse". It’s also why children tend to repeat any profanity they hear over and over (and over): because most of the time they get a reaction from the people around them, whether anger, laughter – because honestly, is there anything funnier than the sweet, innocent voice of a child dropping an F-bomb? – or any other type of attention.

 

How to Swear: an illustrated guideAs we move into the 2020s, it seems that actual curse words are becoming more mainstream, but epithets are becoming the new swear words.  Epithets are descriptive words or phrases used to sum up a person, from ‘the redhead/brunette/other man’ in fiction (a personal pet peeve), to racial and sexual slurs designed to insult. There’s a general idea that swearing means a lower vocabulary and intellectual level, especially if you’re female; nice girls don’t swear, after all.  However, Professor Timothy Jay at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts co-authored a study in 2015 that found people who were fluent in swearing were also more fluent in other aspects of language. A different study, from 2017 found a positive relationship between profanity and honesty; individuals who swear a lot are perceived as less likely to lie or deceive. This doesn’t, however, give anyone carte blanche to fling curses and slurs at anyone they see; context is the difference between venting frustration and actively insulting another person.

 

A pocket dictionary of the vulgar tongueSo now that you know the benefits of some good profanity, how do you go about improving your obscene vocabulary? Stephen Wildish has some ideas in his book How To Swear: An Illustrated Guide. For the curser on the go, there’s A Pocket Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally published in 1785 but brought back to life in April 2020 so the next generation can swear like an 18th-century London dockworker. Or if you want to know more about how and why we swear, check out What the F by Benjamin K. Bergen.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. 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 love history. That’s a rather broad statement to make, consider that there is between 5000 years of written human history and 13 billion years of universal history. And I’m not choosey. I like it all. Though I am particularly drawn to those corners of history that tend to be forgotten, are a little absurd, and don’t fit neatly into textbooks. That is the history I like.

 

Luckily, there are more than a few authors out there who share my love of the strange, almost forgotten, and frankly unbelievable. These are the books I would rather curl up with, rather than another remembrance of Churchill or Caesar. It’s the bits of history that have fallen through the cracks, and deserves to be vacuumed up and recycled. How else will we remember the likes of Mary Patten, who at the age of 19 and pregnant became the first female commander of an American ship. Mary was travelling between New York and San Francisco when the commander, her husband, developed TB and collapsed. Mary took command, fended off a mutiny, taught herself medicine to keep her husband alive, and personally piloted the ship into port. I think if anyone deserves to be remembered, it’s Mary Patten. Also, where’s her movie, eh?

 

It is in the spirit of these lesser known moments of history that my personal bookshelf is cluttered with books like Fox Tossing: And Other Forgotten and Dangerous Sports, Pastimes, and Games by Edward Brooke-Hitching. This compendium of forgotten “sports” largely played by the Victorians or Edwardians, also by the super rich and clearly bored. The titular Fox Tossing was an event when Victorians would place a fox in the centre of a sheet, and standing in a circle, pull the sheet tight. The fox would be launched high into the air, to the apparent delight of the crowd. If there were rules, or points, or a goal to this, it has been lost, as were most of the foxes who were tossed so maliciously into the air.

 

Other forgotten sports weren’t as cruel as that. Take Aerial Golf, which was just golf, except played via hot air balloon. Hot air balloons play a large role in the forgotten and many would say stupid sports of the uber rich and in-need-of-distraction.

 

Equally rich and occasionally bored were the many Presidents of the United States. And while some of these men were great statesmen, a few were alcoholics, and one got stuck in a bathtub once. Only one book dares pose and then answer the greatest question of all: which could you take in a fight? How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country by Daniel O'Brien is a biographical breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of the 19th and 20th century presidents, and how the average person might fair in a brawl with the Chief Executive. Do not, for instance, take on Andrew Jackson, whose security once had to pull him off a would-be assassin; for fear that Jackson would beat the man to death with his cane. This event happening when Jackson was 68! And 68 in 19th century years!

 

Much more likely to be vanquished was Ulyssess S. Grant. Despite his mythic persona, Gen. Grant (on top of being a resolute alcoholic) was afraid of the sight of blood. So if you can land a punch, he’d probably be on the ropes. Then you can just kick him a bunch, because it’s also important to remember that there is no such thing as a fair fight when fighting the shadows of history.

 

After your victory over the leaders of the free world, it would be appropriate to celebrate. A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization by Robert Evans is the perfect guide to what you should drink or ingest for said celebration. It is also a recipe book for potentially doing physical harm to your friends and loved ones. Robert Evans, a current war correspondent, has a long history with inebriation, and in his history of vice, he walks the reader through the history of man’s attempts to get drunk or stoned at all costs.

 

And because his journalism isn’t theoretical, Evans follows each historical description with a recounting of his attempt to remake the substance in question. From the coffee brewed by strapping the beans to your body and wearing them for weeks while your body heat and sweat ferment them (surprisingly good, according to the poor friends Evans makes test the substances) to the ancient beer recipe he brewed in college and accidently exploded once. If you’ve got ten minutes and want to watch Evans force his friends try some of this stuff (including some unexpectedly powerful hallucinogenic), there is a helpful and hilarious video.

 

Rot-gut drinker and former presidents aren’t the only figures that dot history. Like Mary Patten, there are many thousands of forgotten badasses who marauded, pillaged, or innovated their way through history. And Ben Thompson has been chronicling them for years on his website Badass of the Week. He has also written a series of books starting with Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live. These are not figures who took time and circumstance lying down. These are souls gilded in iron and have insanity pepper hot sauce for blood. People like Khalid ibn al-Walid, a 7th century military commander who helped recapture Mecca and was given the title Sword of God by Muhammad himself.

 

Or Adrian Carton de Wiart, who served in the British Army during the Boer War, World War One and World War Two. Over the course of his career, he lost his left eye, his left hand (removing two fingers himself), was shot down in a plane, escaped from POW camps on multiple occasions, and was also shot through the ear, hip, leg, and ankle. He later wrote "Frankly, I had enjoyed the war," and died in 1963!

 

Many badasses of history straddle the line between real and mythic, and one of my favourite books that examines this line is The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor. Mayor examines the history of the various nomadic peoples who lived in the Eurasian Steppe. A peoples who treated men and women as equals, were fearsome fighters and archers on horseback, and whom Bronze Age Greeks viewed as monstrous foreigners. Mayor's thesis is that these historical Steppes tribes, -the Scythians primarily - were the origin of the Greek myths of the Amazons, the all-female barbarians whom Hercules and Theseus fought for Greek honour, and from whom Wonder Woman descends. Mayor’s journey into the lives of these real tribes, who also invented pants incidentally, is a fully realized depiction of a culture just out of frame to our accepted Western version of the Ancient World.

 

Also out of frame of our Western perspective are the ancient lost civilizations of Central and South America. A duo of books, Lost City of Z by David Grann and Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston do not only recount the great adventures of old. While they spin the tales of mutton chopped colonialist attempting to find these lost cities of treasure deep in the untamed jungles, they also see their authors follow in the footsteps of the Victorians. Breath-stalling action and suspense are on every page, enough that Lost City of Z was adapted into a film a couple years ago.

 

These are but a few of my favourite books that peak under the rock of history and pay closer attention to what remains in the shadow.

 

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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Grace Kelly was one of Hollywood’s most glamorous women, and her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956 captivated the world. She was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite actresses, won the admiration of women everywhere for appearing as close to her natural self in her films and rejecting the “studio look”, and she was a fashion icon. Combine all of this with a somewhat mysterious persona (she didn’t enjoy publicity or talking to the press), and her tragic untimely death, and it’s easy to see why people are still so enamoured with her decades later.

 

I love reading about Hollywood actors and actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Age. It was an era of true movie stars, glamour and style. I personally couldn’t carry off the iconic dresses that Grace Kelly wore, but I love looking at them, and like so many others, I find her life fascinating.

 

What I especially enjoy is reading  novels that portray real people such as Grace Kelly. I learn something about an interesting figure from history while still getting caught up in a story.  That’s why I was delighted to discover one recent and two forthcoming novels where Grace Kelly appears or features  as a character in the story.

 

The first is Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb’s 2019 novel Meet Me In Monaco, which received a rave review in The New York Times, and was listed as one of In Style’s and PopSugar’s recommended summer reads. The story is set in the 1950s in Cannes, using Grace Kelly’s romance and wedding to Prince Rainier as a backdrop for a romance between two fictional characters parfumeur Sophie Duvall and British tabloid photographer James Henderson.

 

Both characters are inadvertently connected to Grace Kelly. Sophie offered her sanctuary from the photographers while James meets Sophie when he follows Grace into her shop. The narrative shifts between James’ and Sophie’s points of view, and is interspersed with news reports about Grace Kelly and the upcoming wedding. Both fans of Grace Kelly and fans of improbable love stories will love this book, and it’s hard not to be drawn into the glamourous and exotic setting.

 

The other two novels were released in early 2020. From February, the title was The Girl in White Gloves: A Novel of Grace Kelly by Kerri Maher. Grace Kelly is the star of this biographical novel, and the author takes readers behind the scenes to look at the private life and struggles of Kelly to not lose herself in her Hollywood identity, and to manage the expectations of her family and her new royal obligations. The chapters alternate between a young Grace just starting out, and the older, more experienced Grace and is filled with rich historical detail. I’m looking forward to reading this and learning a little bit more about the woman beneath the crown.

 

From March came The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz. Similar to The Gown by Jennifer Robson, this novel focuses on her famous wedding dress and three generations of women tied to the dress, beginning a young seamstress who is tasked with sewing a copy of the gown. The book is about love, family, creating and keeping traditions, and how a dress can fulfill impossible dreams. 

 

I love generational stories, and they’re something I relate to.  My maternal grandmother eloped, and I’m several inches taller than my mom and my grandmother so there was never any opportunity for a dress to be handed down, but there have been other things that they've passed down. For as long as I can remember, both my grandmother and my mother have shared their family traditions with me and my brother, and have emphasized the importance of not letting them die. In the years I’ve been with my partner, we’ve created our own traditions as well, and they are ones which I hold dear.

 

The Grace Kelly Dress is the perfect book club book, and the author has a discussion guide, links relating to the book, information about writing the book, and an essay about her inspiration for the novel on her website if you or your reading group would like to learn more. This is definitely high up on the "to-be-read" pile.

 

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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We're taking Monday off for teh Civic Holiday, same as all our friends in Alberta, BC, Saskachewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nunavut. Everyone else, we'll see you on Tuesday.

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The first time I remember being proud of something I made myself was when I was 6 years old, trying to sew a doll purse with fringe. By accident, I figured out that if you sewed it together inside out, you’d get a nice clean seam on the outside. When I turned that purse right-side-out, it was like lightning struck! You can probably remember this feeling from when you were a kid, too - the deep pride and satisfaction of imagining something and making it happen, no distractions, reservations or worries, all within the space of a summer afternoon. 

 

Some say this creative drive, this “flow”, is instinctual until we extinguish it, and I believe that because it certainly becomes harder to access for most people as we age. Maybe we start to care so much about the final product being “good” that we never get started, and lose that natural language. Maybe we become so consumed with being productive and with our responsibilities that we can’t access that undistracted flow anymore.  Pablo Picasso said, “every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

 

Colouring is a great example. Most children enjoy long sessions of colouring or drawing, spending time exploring their minds. Most kids are proud of their drawings, ‘good’ or not, and plenty of adults now use colouring books as a way of meditation or therapy. You can find adult colouring books in any category to suit your interests. It’s a great way to do something we all struggle with these days: focusing on one task and being present. Now more than ever, it’s important we look for ways to destress, and making things with your hands is a fantastic way to do so.

 

Drawing exercise prompts like Lynda Barry’s Syllabus is another great way to get started. Lynda Barry teaches a grid method to break down a sketchbook page – include 3 drawings, 5 thoughts, 8 observations and 1 dream daily. When that becomes rote, it gets more complex. The idea is not to produce good drawings, but to be mindful and to see that practice begets inspiration. 

 

Comics: Easy as ABC by Ivan Brunetti is a guide for kids to make comics, but would work wonderfully for the adult who doesn’t know where to get started with drawing or journaling. Brunetti deconstructs more than comics – he breaks down even simple stick figures to become accessible for the reluctant drawer, and focuses on mindfulness, similar to Lynda Barry.

 

Colouring and drawing prompts may be enough to tap into that satisfied "I Made Something" feeling, or perhaps they open the door for more complex projects. If colouring books and sketchbooks don’t do it for you, take notes from Arts and Crafts founder William Morris who felt that handmade items were of utmost value, and that every practical item can also be beautiful. It is no wonder practical, meditative skills like tapestry, macramé, weaving , embroidery and calligraphy have become popular again – they all take time and focus. As Morris mused, “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

 

We could all stand to slow down a little bit, to focus on one task at a time, and find a way to create like a kid again.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. 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.

 

Until next time!

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I am not a huge TV watcher but there are a few shows on Netflix and Prime that I enjoy and will tune into when I get a moment to sit down. During the last few months though I took the opportunity to get caught up on some of my “must watch” list of shows, one of these being “Cheer” on Netflix. My middle daughter did Cheerleading for three years and I had heard amazing things about this docuseries so I figured I would try an episode to see what all the fuss was about.

 

Within the first 15 minutes I was hooked and ended up binge watching the entire season. It was fantastic and immediately after I finished it I started googling the show, watched the cast on Ellen, with Oprah and finally watched Jerry interview Brad Pitt at the Oscars.  Jerry is a favourite for sure!

 

Since it was on my mind, it also got me thinking about how important sports are to kids, especially those kids who are risk and/or might not regularly attend school. What “Cheer” highlights is that there are so many kids out there with limited opportunities and if given the chance at playing a sport either at a high school level, competitive level or college, being part of a team will keep them from getting into trouble and making horrible personal decisions. Kids, whether they are 2 or 22 need guidance, structure, and acceptance and being part of team with a strong caring coach (and Coach Monica nails it) is so crucial for kids and their mental and physical development.

 

Watching this show also got me wondering about all the sports fiction titles being published that should be highlighted and talked about more. I will confess this is not a genre that I am familiar with nor do I read much of so I reached out to some of the publishing sales reps for their favourites and this is what they suggested.

 

Gravity by Sarah Deming is a young adult novel about a female boxer from a broken home who finds a new start after joining a gym and finding she has the ability to go all the way to the Olympics if she can just keep focused on what is important.

 

Running Full Tilt by Michael Currinder is another young adult novel about a boy as he discovers a love of long distance running, all the while navigating life in a new school, starting a new relationship with a possible girlfriend and dealing with his complicated relationship with his autistic older brother.

 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is the graphic novel adaptation of the Newbery Medal winning book about two African-American twin brothers, basketball and family.

 

My Best Friend and Other Illusions by Suri Rosen. This middle grade story follows a young girl named Charlie who is a budding acrobat who is desperate to attend a gymnastics camp that will help her to qualify for a spot in the renowned travelling circus Circo Circo. The problem is that her family cannot afford it so she must find a way to earn the money on her own.

 

Ice Chips series by Roy MacGregor. This is a great early chapter book series for kids just starting to read on their own. Perfect for kids who love all things hockey.

 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson. The Newbery Honor Award Winner and New York Times bestseller is a heartwarming graphic novel about friendship and surviving junior high through the power of roller derby. 

 

Orca, has some wonderful High Interest Sports action stories for middle grade readers. Great Canadian authors focusing on everything from snowboarding to dirt biking.

 

If you haven’t watched “Cheer” I highly recommend it and I also hope you might consider a new display in your library highlighting some of these great sports titles.

 

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.

 

“Cheers” to you all!

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