Blog - Library Services Centre

For me, there are few things more soothing than getting lost in a good book and drinking an enormous cup of coffee. So when you find yourself moving to a new city, like I have just done (in the middle of a pandemic, no less‽) I find that reaching for an old favorite and returning to a familiar time and place within a story can be really comforting.

 

This is Where You Belong by Melody WarnickThis Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick is one of the many titles I will be picking to read over the next month or so. There is a ton of non-fiction out there to support all the feelings that come with moving to a new place. This Is Where You Belong looks at what makes people attached to a place, and what makes somewhere feel like home. It also gives some insight into how you can embrace that “I’m not happy here” feeling that sometimes accompanies a move, and turn that into “I never want to leave!” Along the same lines is Love Where You Live: How to Live Sent in the Place You Call Home by Shauna Pilgreen.

 

Braving the Wilderness by Brene BrownBrené Brown is wise in a most significant way, and since I’m such a huge fan of self-improvement books, I seek hers out over and over again, including Braving the Wilderness. As a research professor who studies courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, she believes that these emotions shape the way we interact with the world and each other. Packing up your life and moving to a city you’ve never been to before, all while starting a new job definitely takes courage. Her flair for storytelling, and sharing her own most vulnerable moments makes it easy to relate and in turn find our own strength to be vulnerable with others. I will definitely be reading this one again for some of Brené’s soulful advice.

 

My New Home by Marta AltesJust like me, children may benefit from a story to help understand tough topics or new emotions. If I think moving away from friends and family is scary, I can only imagine what that would be like for a kid who has only known one place. Luckily there are a ton of books out there about leaving home for a new one. There are so many fantastic titles to choose from but a few of my favorites are My New Home by Marta AltesAlexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean it) Going to Move by Judith Viorst, Bella and Stella Come Home by Anika A. Denise, and Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn. And I just know there’s some brilliant guidance in there that even adults (including myself) could use.

 

As a side note, did you know that Tom Hank moved ten times before he was ten? He credits always being the new kid to his developing his kind, unthreatening persona. And why he’s so good at acting, since with every move he had to slip into a new role.

 

Letters from the Country by Marsha BoultonNow, I didn’t move from the “big city” of Toronto to a rural Ontario farm like Marsha Boulton had, but reading about her struggles with adapting to farm life in Letters from the Country is so heartwarming and entertaining at the same. Documenting her experiences and hilarious mishaps through a series of short essay like entries really makes this book easy to pick up whenever I need a good laugh, or put down when I feel like stepping out my front door to explore. Each season on the farm comes with its own set of unique problems for her to solve, and makes me feel like discovering my fancy wine glasses not surviving the move isn’t the disaster I thought it was.

 

Home Again by Michael KiwanukaAt the end of the day, the song Home Again by Michael Kiwanuka I think sums it up nicely. Just like reading, music evokes emotion in all of us and can bring us comfort during challenging times. Having just taken this exciting step forward and settled into my new place, putting on a favorite album really makes things feel like home. And I think most of us can agree, there’s nothing better than music to make the unpacking go by faster!

 

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.

 

In 2021, we will be transitioning the Green Memo into the LSC Weekly Update, delivered via MailChimp. If you want to continue to receive our weekly newsletter, and other notifications and updates, please take a second to update your profile.

 

Stay safe!

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Happy 2021!  Here’s to a better year going forward.  However, the year that was wasn’t all bad, so to celebrate, we asked our staff for their picks of the best books and AV from 2020.

 

In The Quick by Kate Hope Day / an astronaut against a pink backgroundMichael C. in Marketing has both a best book and a best movie.  In the Quick by Kate Hope Day is a sci-fi romance in the vein of The Martian and Station Eleven. June, an ambitious young astronaut, finds fiery romance while searching for her beloved uncle’s lost spacecraft and its crew. The Invisible Man, released all the way back in February, is Michael’s choice for best movie.  Directed by Leigh Wannell and loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel, this sci-fi horror features Elisabeth Moss as a woman trying to escape from her abusive former boyfriend, despite the fact that he’s already dead. Is it her trauma or something else haunting her?

 

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez / a burning pile of garbage with a cityscape on the horizonIn Cataloguing, Shannon O. has had a bumper year of reading and has really struggled to narrow down her choices of the best of 2020.  In adult fiction, her best of the best is Crosshairs by Canadian author Catherine Hernandez, a near-future dystopic novel where a queer Black performer and his allies fight against an oppressive regime and its concentration camps. In adult nonfiction, she chose The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, a Canadian journalist and activist who brings to light the racism and inequality he and other members of minorities struggle with in just one year. 

 

Little Women dvd cover / A close up of Saoirse Ronan, a blonde woman in a blue shirtMoving over to Selection Services, manager Jamie Q. had many picks for just about every category, but narrowed it down to these. In the Half Room by Carson Ellis, a picture fiction book about the half things in the half room. Apartment by Teddy Wayne tells the story of an unnamed narrator who invites a charismatic classmate to live with him, but their living situation puts tension on their friendship. Finally, Little Women, the latest movie version of the classic novel, this one directed by Greta Gerwig and featuring Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh, among others. It was a highlight of her pre-lockdown 2020.

 

Midnight Library by Matt Haig / several orange items, including whales, books, and women, passing through small windows as though weaving in and out of the book coverFiction selector Rachel S. says, for adult fiction novels, she has two top picks: Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. In Bookish Life, the titular Nina is a happy, book-reading loner – until the father she never knew existed dies and she’s expected to meet all her new family members while dealing with her attraction to her trivia nemesis, Tom. She also recommends Midnight Library by Matt Haig

 

The Barren Grounds by David Robertson / four figures walking through snow. Two are children, one is a human sized squirrel, and one is a human bear. Both animals are dressed as humans.Juvenile selector Sara P. has this to say about her selections: “Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a great dislike of squirrels so for me to pick a book for the Best of 2020 that features a squirrel means it must be an amazing story! The Barren Grounds: Misewa Saga Book 1 by David A Robertson is a must-read Canadian middle grade story that brings Indigenous culture, both past and present together within a fun fantasy world. I recently had the opportunity to read to a group of children and I picked up AAAlligator by Judith Henderson and not only was it super fun to read aloud but the kids absolutely loved it. The sign of a great book is when not a peep is heard while the librarian is reading. A unique twist to demonstrate acceptance and a community coming together to help someone in need.”

 

To round up our staff picks of 2020, Carrie P. in HR chose the album Slow Rush by the excellently-named Tame Impala.

 

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.

 

In 2021, we will be transitioning the Green Memo into the LSC Weekly Update, delivered via MailChimp. If you want to continue to receive our weekly newsletter, and other notifications and updates, please take a second to update your profile.

 

Happy new year!

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So, there was an election south of the border, if you weren’t aware. Little thing, barely mentioned on the news *deactivates sarcasm filter*. Which gets me in the mood for presidents from history and from the world of fiction. And so, to add another distraction log onto the fires of 2020, I plunge into the backlist and think about past and pretend presidents of the elephant in the room.

 

How to Fight Presidents Daniel O'BrienA few weeks back, I mentioned one of my favourite comedy/history books, How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country by Daniel O'Brien. This book, from a former Cracked writer and current writer on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, breaks down the reader’s ability to take every deceased president in a fight. It includes insights like, Grover Cleveland “was 5'11" and 250 lbs of president and his fists were described as “ham-like,” which might be delicious but is probably just scary and painful. He loved hunting and often carried around a rifle that he nicknamed “Death and Destruction” which isn’t a nickname a rifle earns for being pretty.”

 

It is a helpful guide should you ever travel back in time/be confronted with zombie presidents. It might be very important one day to know that you could have definitely taken Millard Fillmore in a fight, a man so hated that upon assuming the presidency after Zachary Taylor died (you also could have beaten Taylor in a fight) his entire cabinet resigned, his party abandoned him, and ultimately caused the downfall of the Whig party. “Please know”, O’Brien writes, “that after his presidency he also formed the Know Nothing Party, a political party that was sort of okay but mostly racist, and during his presidency he causally protected slavery. Because Fillmore wasn’t just boring and a bad president, he was a d**k.”

 

The Bully Pulpit Doris Kearns GoodwinStill on the historical side, but less on the funny is presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. I first came to know Goodwin from her many hilarious appearances on The Daily Show and the Colbert Report. While most know her work from her Lincoln biography Team of Rivals (which Spielberg later used as a source for the film Lincoln), I prefer The Bully Pulpit, her biography of the rise and fall of the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft. Roosevelt is one of my favourite US presidents, and Goodwin makes a solid case that Taft is one of the most misunderstood. But the focus of the book is on their friendship, and the betrayal that Taft felt when Roosevelt put his ego in front of that friendship. It is also a fascinating glimpse into the world of the media, the titular bully pulpit, of the time, and seeing the first awakenings of a mass media that has evolved to become all-encompassing in our own time.

 

Hope Never Dies Andrew ShafferOne of the best pieces of surreal fiction in the past few years has been the Obama/Biden mysteries novels Hope Never Dies, and the sequel Hope Rides Again, by Andrew Shaffer. Described by Penguin Random House as "part noir thriller and part bromance", and "a mystery worthy of Watson and Holmes with the laugh-out-loud bromantic chemistry of Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh and Riggs," the books see the democrat duo become a mystery solving team in the streets of Delaware and Chicago. With Biden the President-Elect as of this writing, I wonder if we'll eventually get an addition to the series seeing Kamala Harris join the team, like Rene Russo in Lethal Weapon 3.

 

Superman: President LuthorDid you know that in the world of DC Comics, Lex Luthor ran for and won the presidency back in 2000? The long time billionaire industrialist and Superman villain, an avowed anti-alien racist, who filled his administration with yes-men and people of questionable ability, had ties to corrupt and terrorist organizations worldwide, and is unable to escape his greatest motivation: his hatred of Superman. Eventually, before the end of his first term, his conspiracies and criminal activity while in power are revealed and his is removed from office, becoming a fugitive. I don’t know what made me remember all that. Weird. Anyhoo, Luthor’s term of office is chronicled in Superman: President Luthor.

 

The American President Aaron SorkinI think few could argue that the greatest fictional president is Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen in The West Wing. And while I am a huge WW fan, I am equally a fan of writer Aaron Sorkin’s previous political foyer, The American President, which starred Michael Douglas as President Andrew Sheperd. If we’re talking film presidents, than you also have to mention Kevin Kline in Dave, Terry Crews in Idiocracy, Harrison Ford in Air Force One, Bill Pullman in Independence Day, and Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact. Digging real deep into the long-forgotten box is a mid-nineties movie called My Fellow Americans, in which Jack Lemmon (fresh off his Grumpy Old Men resurgence) and James Gardner play bickering former Presidents who are the target of assassination, and hijinks ensue.

 

A Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesYoung people should definitely have options about at least one fictional President, that being Coriolanus Snow from the Hunger Games series. Snow, far from being anyone's favourite, having presided over the Games for multiple decades. The recent A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes covers Snow's early life as a mentor and his rise to power. For other less savory politicians, there are likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer in VeepTony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald Grant III in Scandal, and Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood in House of Cards. But I think most people have had enough of unsavory politics for a while. 

 

Which fictional presidents are your favourites? More than that, which fictional characters would you love to see run for president? Send your answers to mclark@lsc.on.ca.

 

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.

 

Fictionally Yours,

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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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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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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 don't consider myself a foodie. I'm not picky enough to pull off that moniker. But I do love food, and I love cooking. I am a recipe hog, taking pictures of recipes in magazines, or having innumerable tabs open on my phone to curious concoctions I’ve stumbled across. I’ll try anything, and try to make anything. And very occasionally, I stumble across some unusual cookbooks that really challenge me.

 

My partner and I just completed the Whole30 diet in February. Well, to be fair, it was a Whole28 (leap days don’t count). Now, I’m not one for dieting; I believe that diet culture is as malicious and poisonous as gluttony. Folk have enough body image issues without policing what they eat, and I won’t feed that beast. I believe that food is life’s great pleasures, and should be celebrated in all its configurations. There should be no guilt, no feeling like you have cheated, and no deniying yourself something you love or something you need because of society’s pressures. It turned out though that the Whole30 “meal plan” wasn’t that different from how I normally eat, so in solidarity, I took it on.

 

Whole30 recommends removing grains, dairy, and sugar from your diet for a month. It is a meat-protein and vegetable heavy course, and helped me to realize a deep inner truth about myself: I love bread. I knew I loved cheese, and being cheeseless for a month was hard enough. But never have I so crystalized the notion that bread is an intrinsic part of the my being. You better believe the first thing I did on the 29th was slap a grilled cheese on the skillet. Never has a sandwich tasted so good.

 

I took the tact of seeing Whole30 as a challenge rather than a diet. I have a food comfort zone, the lulls we all fall into when we have neither the time nor energy to attempt a grand production. For some it is frozen fish sticks and crinkle cut fries. For me, its jasmine rice and stir-fry. And a lot of take out. Too much take out. If nothing else, the last month has done my wallet a courtesy. Whole30 made me have to think about my meals again. What are rice alternatives? What are bread alternatives? What are sauce alternatives, sauces purchased in stores laden with excess salts and sugars?

 

There are a myriad of Whole30 recipes books by Melissa Hartwig, but the one I found the most helpful and enjoyable was Whole30 Friends and Family: 150 Recipes for Every Social Occasion. This was more of a snacks and hors d'oeuvre compendium. Sweet potato stuffed dates, for instance, wrapped in bacon was a hit. Potato sausage breakfast bites became a Sunday staple for sure. Lemon garlic sautéed zucchini noodles were a terrific replacement for pasta. Sweet potato waffles (or pancakes) were a quick and easy addition to any meal, made all the tastier with the discovery of a syrup replacement made from pureed dates. While dietitians can argue the health ramifications of diets, I at least found these books a unique looks at how to shake up my food rut.

 

But I’m glad to be back on the bread.

 

As for other books that adorn my shelf, one I return to often is Feeding Hannibal: a Connoisseur's Cookbook by Janice Poon. Ms Poon was Toronto-based the food stylist for the TV series Hannibal, which followed Hannibal Lecter’s murderous and cannibalistic culinary adventures. Her challenge was preparing meals in a way that it looked gorgeous on camera, and the legally available food could reasonably be cooked human. This cookbook brings those recipes to life. While Hannibal might have been cutting into a bit of man-thigh, readers can recreate the recipe with Clay-baked Chicken. Can’t enjoy the mythical French dish of ortolan? Why not sculpt the small birds out of tofu. If you are feeling adventurous, you can make Heart Tartare Tarts from veal heart instead of insurance broker. And despite Hannibal’s insistence, there are vegetarian dishes here too.

 

Speaking of Vegetarian, Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck is a terrific resource for those looking for less meat in their diet, but not wanting to sacrifice fun or flavor. Their motto of verbally abusing you into a healthier diet holds up, as the pages are littered with obscenities as well as delicious recipes. Looking for a pulled pork alternative, why not give the Cola Braised Jackfruit a shot? The Crispy Crabless Cakes make surprising use of artichoke hearts instead of shellfish. And it you’re searching for something hearty, give the pumpkin chili a whirl; all the flavor, none of the beef!

 

And now we come to my favourite way of making food: waffling it. Waffles are not a singular food, they are a genre. Anything can be a waffle if you believe it can be. And there is a whole cookbook with exactly that premise: Will It Waffle by Daniel Shumski. The basic notion is, there are far far more foods that you can cook on a waffle iron than just batter. And you should. If I had my way, all food would come in waffle form. The waffle pocket is the perfect flavor delivery device.

 

Think outside the waffle box. Mix some shredded cheese into mash potato, cook that on the iron, and pour over with gravy, and you’ve got poutine waffles. Want to keep things vegetarian, how about a falafel waffle with hummus? A personal favourite of mine: panko crusted mac and cheese, done in the Belgian style. It’s not just savory and cheese based options. Cinnamon buns are ideal for the waffle treatment, as are double chocolate brownies or cookies or pretty much any construction. Just make sure your iron is hot and well greased!

 

Cookbooks are one of the most published genres of book, and if you dig, there are more than a few that will scratch the itch of an oddball in the kitchen. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go waffle a grilled cheese.

 

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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January 19th, 2020 is the inaugural I Read Canadian day, a day (and week) dedicated to encouraging young people to celebrate the richness, diversity, and breadth of Canadian literature.  The aim is to have Canadians, especially young people, take just 15 minutes out of their day to read a Canadian book, or have it read to them. 

 

Many libraries and schools are participating, including Ajax Public Library, Guelph Public Library, and Lethbridge Public Library. Here at LSC, we asked staff to let us know their favourite Canadian authors and/or books.  See below for their choices!

 

CEO Michael M. notes that one of his daughter’s favourite books was The Paper Bag Princess by the one and only Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko.  Originally published in 1980 by Annick Press, the book has withstood the test of time, Mike feels. Robert Munsch was a theme among our staff, also mentioned by CFO Kirk O., Multilingual Selector Julie K., and Nonfiction Selector Stef W. This year is the 40th anniversary of this classic book.

 

Stef’s personal favourite Canadian authors are Tanya Huff, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Gemma Files.  All three authors have written urban fantasy set in and around Canada: Tanya Huff’s Smoke trilogy and Enchantment Emporium trilogy; Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry; Gemma Files’s We Will All Go Down Together; and short fiction The Puppet Motel from the collection Echoes, edited by Ellen Datlow. 

 

In juvenile nonfiction, Stef recommends the Scholastic Canada Biography series, Indigenous author Theresa Corky Larsen-Jonasson, the Mothers of Xsan series, Eric Zweig, Elise Gravel, Jess Keating, the Haunted Canada series, and Helaine Becker.  In adult nonfiction, be sure to check out Metis author Jesse Thistle’s autobiography From the Ashes; The Skin We’re In: a Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole; and The Vagina Bible by Jen Gunter.

 

Kirk O. cites Patrick DeWitt as one of his favourites; he’s loaned and recommends The Sisters Brothers to friends and family as a great read.  He also loved Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

 

Acquisitions Clerk Fabiana S. recently read Sweep: the Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier and enjoyed it so much that she plans to read the rest of his bibliography.  She also recommends the Lullaby series, which includes Canada Lullaby, British Columbia Lullaby, and Alberta Lullaby.  They’re even available to listen to on Youtube.

 

Rachel S., Adult Fiction Selector, has always had a special place in her reading heart for Gordon Korman.  Not only did she attend the same elementary school he did, but she’s met him professionally (he’s always charming and funny) and his book Don’t Care High was loosely based on the high school she attended.  She also recommends quintessential summer camp book I Want To Go Home, as well as No More Dead Dogs.

 

Outside of Gordon Korman, Rachel makes a point of reading Courtney Summers’s YA fiction, and books like Very Rich by Polly Horvath.  She notes that Dennis Lee wrote a picture book – Lizzy’s Lion – in 1984 that’s one of the most twisted and brilliant picture books she’s ever read, and some of her favourite adult fiction authors are Timothy Findlay, Michael Ondaatje, and Robert Sawyer.

 

Finally, Library Service Representative Michael C. has two recommendations to make.  First up is John Bianchi, who was actually born in New York but came to Canada in 1968 and made his career here.  Snowed in at Pokeweed School was a childhood favourite of Michael’s, and he’s always found Bianchi’s drawing style a delight.  His second recommendation is Canadian writer – and computer programmer – Ryan North.  North created Dinosaur comics, has written a Choose Your Own Adventure style version of Hamlet, and recently published How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveller.

 

These are just some of the great Canadians creating great literature.  For more information on I Read Canadian Day, check out their website, which offers awesome reading lists, including the Forest of Reading Awards and the CCBC Book Awards.

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As a mom of a toddler on the spectrum, recent life has been a crash course about neurodiversity. It’s painful to acknowledge that until recently, the main representation of autism in popular culture was the movie Rain Man, where Dustin Hoffman plays an autistic savant. Things have come a long way since then, but there is so much room for improvement. Still, only characters with “cute” special needs are reflected in popular media. Think Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. What is never addressed is that our world is built for those who are “normal.”

 

Some treatments that were considered effective for autism therapy are being described by the now autistic adults who undertook the therapy as detrimental to their core being. Instead of focusing on inclusion and support, the focus was on compliance, but a tide is turning. Consider for example being nonverbal. Books like Ido in Autismland by Ido Kedar and The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, both nonverbal young adults on the spectrum, have opened eyes globally. Both of them learned to express themselves (from basic needs to complex imaginative thoughts) through a simple alphabet chart. Previous to these books, there was a basic understanding among professionals that nonverbal meant non-understanding; meant non-intelligent.

 

Luckily, we have great author advocates like Meg Raby who released picture book My Brother Otto: An Autism Awareness Book this year. Otto is a young nonverbal crow on the spectrum. The book is told by his sister who describes his traits, likes and dislikes, and how much she loves him. He is pictured ordering bugs and cheese for lunch using an alternative communication device like an iPad. This picture book is ground breaking, in my opinion – the underlying message doesn’t leave you pitying Otto, it’s about two kids’ everyday experiences with an emphasis on kindness and understanding, one of them just happens to be autistic. It is also extremely refreshing to see an alternate mode of communication in popular media.

 

In a similar vein, I shared a copy of I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas with my son’s daycare teachers for reading with his class. The gentle, informational approach describes the sensory challenges people on the spectrum deal with daily, how they might feel like an alien on their own planet sometimes, and how everyone needs a friend for love and support.

 

A less serious picture book we have enjoyed very much is Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK by Clay Morton. This book reverses the common depictions of neurodiversity by showing how a neurotypical (NT) kid is seen by his best friend on the spectrum. The narrator’s funny confusion at his NT friend’s habits (for example, his tardiness for showing up at 4:59pm or 5:01pm instead of 5pm on the dot) show that “normal” depends on who you ask. Similarly, we can all take a page from recent picture book My Shape is Sam by Amanda Jackson, about a square who wants to roll like a circle – but scratch that, Sam ISN’T a square or a circle, he’s just Sam! He doesn’t have to be what others want or expect him to be.

 

The point is, “normal” doesn’t exist anymore. Put your love and patience into high gear and show those who are flappy, nonverbal, hyper, and differently abled from you that you love them, want them around, and that the world is becoming a more inclusive place day by day. 

 

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.

 

Until next time!

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