Blog - Library Services Centre

Whether we realize it or not, books are not just a solitary activity. Book lovers love to share their thoughts about the books they are reading, and to recommend books to friends, family and colleagues. Seldom do we just shelve a book immediately after reading, never to think about it again. Instead, we share our reading choices on Social Media, mention it in conversation, or give it to a fellow book lover to read.

 

Book clubs have existed in some form since at least the 1630s when Puritan groups got together to discuss the bible, and have taken many forms since then.  In 1727, Benjamin Franklin organized the Junto Literary Society to discuss philosophy, morality, and science. In 1840, the first bookstore sponsored book club in the United States began in Boston, and they have continued to grow and evolve.

 

According to Booknet Canada, as of September 2018, 7% of Canadian adult book buyers belong to a book club, 28% of readers belong to a book club or reading group (whether they buy books or not), and 8% of those surveyed said they found their last read through a book club.

 

Traditionally, book club picks were selected by members of the group, the library, or the book store, and members would meet in person to discuss the book.  This changed in 1996 when Oprah Winfrey, the queen of daytime television used her power and influence to “get the whole country reading again”, and launched a televised book club.

 

Beginning with Jaqueline Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean, she invited viewers to read the book, and then hosted the author on her show a few weeks later. In the 15 years of her original club, she recommended 70 books, many of which have become bestsellers.

 

In 2012, Oprah launched the 2.0 version of her book club in conjunction with her magazine, and television network, this time incorporating social media platforms. Later this year, she’ll be officially reviving her book club again, this time on the new streaming platform Apple TV+.

 

In many ways, celebrity book clubs are one of the best things to happen to publishers and authors since the founding of the book-of-the-month club in 1926. Prior to the onset of bookstore chains, a book-of-the-month club selection was one of the best ways to get wide distribution for your book.

 

Today, having a celebrity such as Oprah recommend your book can increase sales by the millions. Oprah has 15 million followers on Instagram and 4.4 million followers on twitter, and her endorsement is publishing gold. Recently, she announced The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates as her latest pick, and the book will almost certainly land on bestseller lists.  

     

Two other celebrities influencing readers are actresses Sarah Jessica Parker and Reese Witherspoon. Parker is a voracious reader, and recently completed a two-year term as honorary chair of Book Club Central for the American Library Association. She is also the editorial director for her own imprint SJP for Hogarth, where she acquires books that appeal to her own taste as a reader.

 

Witherspoon launched her book club in 2017, and it was born out of her love of reading. Witherspoon is an avid reader, and she casually started posting pictures of the books she was reading on her Instagram. The club grew into something more formal from there, and now has 1.1 million members.

 

Since 2017, Witherspoon has selected  28 titles, many of which have landed on the New York Times Bestseller list, Her 2017 selection of debut author Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing is currently #9 on the Globe and Mail Bestseller list, has spent 54 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, and was the top selling print book in the U.S. for the first half of 2019.

Would the book have been a bestseller regardless? Possibly, but it’s more likely that the 1.1 million U.S. sales can be attributed to the power of Witherspoon’s endorsement.

 

Witherspoon’s September 2019 pick The Secrets We Kept by Laura Prescott was inspired by the true story of the CIA’s mission to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the U.S.S.R. where nobody would publish it, juxtaposed with the love story between author Boris Pasternak and his mistress Olga.

 

Naturally the book has rocketed to bestseller status, and film rights have been acquired. The publisher reportedly paid $2 million for rights, signaling that they expected big things from it, but being a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick has almost certainly helped.

 

Normally, celebrities don’t influence me to read a book, but this one intrigued me, and I ended up really enjoying it. I learned something about a period in history I knew nothing about, and I was invested in the characters and the story.  I confess I’ve never read Zhivago, but after reading this, I want to. It has also made me take notice of Witherspoon’s other picks, a number of which I’m interested in reading.

 

While enjoying this one title doesn’t mean that I’ll actively seek out future celebrity book club recommendations, as a book lover I appreciate what they do for discovery and exposure, and anything that gets millions of people reading and talking about books is good with me!

 

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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With the end of the year rapidly approaching, we asked staff here at LSC to choose their favourite books, movies, games, and/or music of 2019.  And boy did they have some.

 

Nan M., our Plant Manager, chose Kate Mulgrew’s second memoir How to Forget (3544210), following 2015’s Born With Teeth.  In How to Forget, actress Kate Mulgrew returns home to Iowa to care for her ailing parents, and discovers long-hidden family secrets after their deaths.  Nan says the book hooked her immediately and Mulgrew, most famous for Star Trek: Voyager and Orange is the New Black, is a great writer.

 

Paul A. in Shipping chose Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi as his top movie of the year.  Based on the book Caging Skies, the film follows a young boy in Nazi Germany who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic, and who must face blind nationalism with the help of his imaginary friend – Adolf Hitler.  Paul says, ‘Great acting, great story, above average production values and above all else, a human story with wicked social, moral and intellectual value. It will make you chuckle, think, and maybe tear up a bit too.’  His runner-up movies are Judy and Rocketman.  

 

Cataloguer Ray G. chose two movies as his top of 2019.  The Farewell is based on Lulu Wang’s What You Don’t Know radio essay and features a Chinese family returning to China to say goodbye to their matriarch – who doesn’t actually know she only has a few more weeks to live.  Avengers: Endgame is, of course, the conclusion to the Avengers storyline (for now), where the Avengers have to restore balance to the world after Thanos snapped half of it into nothing.  Ray also chose More Giraffes, Ali Gatie, and Guardin for best music of 2019, but loved too many games to choose just one.

 

From HR, Carrie P. chose Crawl – also Quentin Tarantino’s favourite movie of 2019 – and Downton Abbey as her top movies of 2019.  While Downton Abbey continues the story of the wealthy Crawley family in the early twentieth century, Crawl is a creature feature horror movie about a girl and her father trapped by a hurricane in a house filled with alligators.  Carrie’s favourite book of the year is Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, an adult fiction novel about a legendary rock band of the 70s – and the reasons why they broke up just when they were most popular.

 

In Selection Services, Children’s Product Manager Sara P. picked a board game as her favourite of the year: Ms. Monopoly, where female players collect $240 when they pass Go.  Her favourite book is Holly Black’s Queen of Nothing, the third in the Folk of the Air series.  Sara says Holly Black is the queen of writing about the Fae.

 

Michael C. in Marketing had three great book selections for 2019.  If, Then by Kate Hope Day, in which three neighbours start seeing visions, almost ghosts, of their lives on very different paths. Are they hallucinations? Are they another world, another time? The book is emotionally focused on these characters and the existential ramifications these visions have on their lives, each reacting in a wildly different but completely believable way. 

 

Recursion, by Blake Crouch was also one of Michael's favourites. As with his previous novel Dark Matter, Crouch explores the nature of self and reality through the tragedy and perseverance of his characters, while driving us through the chapters with action and intrigue. In this novel, a grief and guilt stricken police officer has to contend with the outbreak of a disease which implants an entire life's worth of new memories into people, memories they cannot stand to live with.

 

Finally Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch. McCulloch explores how the internet and mobile technology has created an entirely new facet to language. From the evolution of slang and text abbreviations, to memes and how digital communication has changed over the last 20 years, this book is a fun read for anyone who wants the TL;DR on 21st century language.

 

Back to Shipping, Patrick B. has a favourite book, movie, and music release.  His book choice is Booker Prize shortlist nominee Quichotte by Salman Rushdie, a comic but tender love story about a TV-obsessed travelling salesman, his imaginary son, and their road trip to find love, as told by spy novelist Sam DuChamp.  In movies, Patrick enjoyed Us, directed by Jordan Peele, where a family’s vacation at the beach turns to horror when they’re attacked by doppelgangers.  For music, Patrick’s choice is the second studio album, South of Reality, by The Claypool Lennon Delirium, a psychedelic rock band comprised of Sean Lennon and Primus’ Les Claypool.

 

Accounts Payable Clerk Lee-ann B. already knows she’s going to love the new Star Wars movie, but her movie pick for 2019 right now is Motherless Brooklyn.  Based on the Jonathan Lethem novel, and written, produced, directed, and starring Edward Norton as a private investigator with Tourette’s, Motherless Brooklyn is a neo-noir focused on Norton’s character’s quest to solve the murder of his mentor.  Her best book choice is a tie between domestic suspense novel The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald and The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad, which Lee-ann says taught her a lot about the service of homing pigeons during World War II.

 

Kirk O., our CFO, said, "while looking for something to read I find that I can never go wrong with titles that have been nominated for consideration for the Man Booker Prize.  I did wander down to my local library, Idea Exchange, to grab two titles that are nominated and were available.  Both are new authors for me.  The first was My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.  I didn’t read this book so much as inhale the 238 pages in a few days.  Engaging story with great characters taking place in modern day Nigeria.  I highly recommend this book.  I will also be looking for other titles that she has written.  If I would compare her to anyone in style I would say it is Patrick DeWitt, another author I enjoy.

 

"The second title that I tackled from this list is The Wall by John Lanchester.  Once again a well written book that I enjoyed immensely.  Whereas the book above was as light hearted as a serial killer book could be, The Wall, set in the near future, takes on a much more serious tone.   You can read this story with a thought to both migrants looking for a better life as well as the effect of climate change on future generations.”

 

Customer Experience Manager Jamie Q. has two favourite books for 2019 in Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis and Guestbook: Ghost Stories by Leanne Shapton.  She said, “Carson Ellis beautifully illustrates a poem about winter solstice by Susan Cooper. The moody illustrations remind us of the origins of Christmas, and what a celebration light is after a dark winter.  Shapton creates tales by combining writing, photographs, artifacts and other ephemera to express the cryptic imperfection of human life. It has the feeling of marveling over someone’s private cabinet of curiosities, or being in a dream.”

 

Last but not least, Elizabeth K. in Cataloguing chose a contemporary fantasy called The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry.  In the book, Charley Sutherland is hiding an unpredictable ability: he can call literary characters out into the real world.  He discovers he’s not the only one who can do this when the escape of various literary characters threatens the world itself, forcing Charley and his older brother, Rob, to save it.

 

Those were but a handful of the media we enjoyed this year. And now, with 2019 behind us, we can look forward to starting all new lists in 2020. As, we expect, will you.

 

Happy new year!

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On average there are 240 mass market titles published every month.  It can be a challenge and a huge time constraint to source these without going through multiple websites, publisher packages and catalogues. LSC has long offered comprehensive and customizable Mass Market Paperback and Graphic Novel services, with materials available for Adult, Teen, and Juvenile collections.

 

LSC is able to provide weekly shipments for these materials with no additional charges. This would enable the library to have titles on the shelf at an earlier date. These titles are available via Automatic Release Plan (ARP) or direct selection, and available with full cataloguing and processing if so desired. With some exceptions, the majority of both mass market and graphic novel items would qualify for full trade discount.

 

LSC has made the process a simple one for our customers by gathering all of the information together in one spot.  LSC has dedicated selection specialists who compile all mass market titles in the Adult, Teen, and Juvenile collections and turns them into a monthly catalogue. This catalogue lists titles two months in advance of their publication date. A Graphic Novel catalogue is produced to the same specifications.

 

Via the LSC service, title specific and series ordering is possible. We manage existing series by working with the library catalogue and LSCs database for previous titles ordered.  Based on the profile of each specific library, we are able to order at the branch level to continue series that have previously been purchased. New series will be ordered and continued, unless there is communication from the library that we should not continue with it (eg. The series is not circulating well at the library).

 

Within the catalogue the Adult section is sorted by genre.  The first section of the catalogue highlights top selling Quick Pick titles for the month.  Within the rest of the catalogue you will find sections for Fantasy, General Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction & Western.  We also include a Backlist section for those libraries who would like to refresh the titles by longstanding authors such as Louis L’Amour, Debbie Macomber and the 2-in-1 special issues from your favourite Harlequin authors.

 

To make the catalogue more user friendly and of use to the selector we have listed previous ISBNs for all titles within a series.  This is a quick way to find out if you carry the existing series, and where the series titles sits if you operate a branch-specific collection. For the Juvenile and Teen titles, we have also listed the age ranges for each title. Also noted, using an “FP code”, are titles which are first printings in the mass market binding.  This allows for a quick selection process when there is no overlap wanted between hardcover and trade paperback bindings.

 

LSC has specific vendors and publisher catalogues who focus on Canadian and Indigenous authors, which are typically listed in the LSC produced monthly catalogues. All Canadian titles are marked with a Canadian flag which make them easy to distinguish throughout the catalogue. Selectors also do independent audit of materials available to ensure we have the full breadth of titles available to libraries.  These titles are ordered based on the library profiles. While many of these titles come from well established publishers, a significant number of them will come from small publishers who do not have a regular output of these material types.

 

LSC deals with all of these small publishers because of our overall scope and because of our long standing specialist program focused on Canadian small presses.  This heightens our awareness of such titles and allows us to include them where other vendors might not see them. LSC does not impose discount terms on publishers before allowing them to participate in LSC automatic release plans.  Imposing discount terms on publishers has the direct impact of reducing the availability of titles from smaller Canadian publishers who do not match the discounts offered by large multinational publishers.  

 

In the new year, LSC will be implementing optional de-colonized Indigenous subject headings to our catalogue.  This will be the first step towards fully de-colonizing our cataloguing service. This vital process is not and should not be a simple process or serve as lip service towards actual reconcilable action. There are currently over 700 identified existing headings from the LC or Canadian subject headings that have more culturally reflective replacements, and over a thousand more awaiting updating. LSC will begin the process of using the corrected headings in new materials acquired and catalogued, and will expand to removing the headings from older records both internally and with client libraries in the future.

 

LSC can provide reporting on this collection as libraries require. If the library is doing their own selection, reports already available in the catalogue can be generated at a moment’s notice, and the Budget Maintenance feature will update your purchases against your set budget in real time. If you have an ARP, we can provide monthly updated ARP reports so that you can see the progress in spending for each ARP. These would all be broken out by collection and then by branch level.

 

ARPs are offered as a free service for this collection and has proven to be a popular one amongst existing customers.  The library and selection specialist will work together to set up a profile specific to your library needs.  Some options include ordering a range of titles based on the likes of your library and patrons; ordering a certain number of titles within a specific genre each month; Or giving a list of series that you would like to continue adding to your collection.

 

We have selection specialist dedicated to each of these materials. Mass Market Paperback items are not treated as a separate selection collection, but are an integrated component of the regular selection of fiction materials by those selectors. Graphic Novels are selected separately. Review of acceptable content for graphic novels according to each library’s intended audience is part of our process for all libraries receiving this collection type. The staff responsible for these collections are as follows:

 

Juvenile Mass Market

Sara Pooley, B.A. (Hons) M.L.I.S.,  Children’s Product Manager
Sara Pooley is responsible for the design and implementation of all LSC’s selection services that focus on Juvenile and Young Adult material. She produces Award Lists, Curriculum Lists and special replacement lists, including, the Children’s Bestsellers. After a two-year sabbatical during which she was the Health, Science and Education Librarian at London Public Library, Sara returned to LSC in May 2013 to retake her position in Selection Services as the Children’s Product Manager. Her work experience prior to LSC includes working as a children’s librarian and reference librarian in school and public libraries, in both England and Canada.

 

Adult Mass Market

Rachel Seigel, B.A. (Hons), Selection Specialist
Rachel Seigel is an avid reader and book enthusiast. She has over 15 years of experience doing children’s and adult fiction/non-fiction selections for elementary school, high school and public libraries spread across three Canadian wholesalers. She has chaired and served on a number of review and award juries, including most recently the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and Best Books for Kids and Teens through the Children’s Book Center. In addition, she has written four educational non-fiction books for children, is a frequent contributor to Canadian Children’s Book News and co-hosts a weekly Middle-Grade Literature Chat on Twitter (under the handle @rachelnseigel). She also regularly contributes to Publishing Crawl Blog (www.publishingcrawl.com) along with several other authors and industry professionals. Her degree is in English Literature from York University.  She also has a Montessori Certificate from the Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute.

 

Graphic Novels

Angela Stuebing, Mass Market and Graphic Novels Product Manager
Angela Stuebing joined LSC in 2000. She has a background in Business and Marketing and over 15 years’ experience in the customer service field.  Angela spent several years in the Customer Service Department, most recently as the Customer Service Manager, which has given her extensive knowledge of LSC’s Flexpak Operating System.  In 2009, she moved to the position of the Mass Market and Graphic Novels Product Manager.  She is responsible for creating and promoting LSC’s Mass Market Program and the Automatic Release Plans.  Angela is a member of LSC’s Children’s Best Sellers Committee.  Angela has a library technician diploma from Conestoga College.

 

Any of these options, or a combination of all of these, can be discussed with an LSC selector and set up immediately.  While January is a great time to get the ordering started, we are flexible to work with you at any point throughout the year.  We can happily provide references to libraries currently and historically receiving these collections from LSC.


Please contact Angela Stuebing (519-746-4420 ext.631) for additional information related to setting up an Automatic Release Plan.

 

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When I was 16, a friend of mine asked me if I’d heard of NaNoWriMo.  It turned out that there was this event going into its second year called National Novel Writing Month, where the goal was to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.  Both of us were writers and at 16, my only real time concern was being in my last year of high school, so we decided we would both sign up and attempt this challenge.

 

NaNo (as it’s known to us Wrimos) was small back then, at least compared to today; its inaugural year in July 1999 featured a whole 21 participants.  By the time I heard of it, I was one of 5000, and the event was being reported in the L.A. Times and the Washington Post.  I won that year with a terrible novel about vampires, a talking cabbage, and a hellhound named Fluffy, because when you need to write 50,000 words in a month, reality is the least of your concerns.  I’ve participated every year since, in both the original NaNo and in the spinoff Camp NaNoWriMo, which began in 2011 and allows me to choose my own wordcount goal rather than sticking to the 50K.  I’ve also won every year, sometimes legitimately, sometimes by cheating... I mean, rebelling.

 

In 2003, NaNo’s founder, Chris Baty, wrote No Plot? No Problem (updated and revised in 2016), a guide to writing a novel, whether in 30 days or not.  My copy hangs out on my overburdened bookcase along with Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Dreyer’s English. NaNo taught me a lot about writing a first draft quickly, including the fact that it will suck and that’s okay.  As King says, you write your first draft with the door closed.  And preferably locked, when you live with your parents or roommates who inevitably want to know what you’re doing (writing), why (because I want to), and if they can be characters in your story (no).

 

In past years, there’s usually been one or two news articles or blog posts questioning NaNo and whether it’s ruining the sanctity of the written word.  They usually point out that a novel written in 30 days probably isn’t very good, and also such a singleminded focus on length won’t improve that.  This is true.  A novel written in 30 days will be awkward and ungainly, full of run-on sentences, illogical actions, and plotholes you can drive a truck through.  Characters change names, appearances, and occasionally gender.  Authors forget how to English (or whatever their language is), as proved by the hilarious NaNoisms thread that pops up every year for participants to chronicle their worst typos and brainfarts.  At the end of the month, you have a novel that is certainly not in any state to be published, or even shopped around to agents.

 

That’s not the point.  The point of NaNo is to get yourself writing.  It’s to train yourself to sit down in your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write some words.  Sometimes that’s only a sentence.  Sometimes you drag out the first few (hundred) words and your muse finally engages and you’re off flying, words spilling out so fast your fingers can’t even keep up.  Either way, you’re doing something many people say they’ll do but never carve out the time to actually do it.

 

Of course, there are plenty of novels out there that started as NaNovels and were beaten into submission, polished, and published by real live publishers.  They include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Wool by Hugh Howey, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and many more.  And this year, though I haven’t actively been searching for any, I haven’t seen any handwringing about how NaNo is destroying writing as an art.  I have seen news articles, pep talks from famous authors, and library programs in areas like Burnaby, Montreal, and Cambridge’s Idea Exchange.  I’ve seen another official NaNoWriMo handbook in Brave the Page, a juvenile nonfiction guide and inspiration for middle graders.

 

In the 18 years I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve written almost 1 million words.  I’ve written halves of novels, full novels, short stories, novellas, 104K in a month, 50K in 6 days (Surgeon General’s Warning: not recommended unless you like uncontrollable tremors).  Whether I finish a full novel or rebel by rewriting older stories (or by writing blog posts), NaNo has taught me to just put my head down, stop complaining, and get it done.

 

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

 

Enjoy!

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When it comes to categorizing fiction, mystery, thriller, and suspense are words commonly used to define genre, but if you’re anything like me, you might have trouble defining exactly what the difference is between them.

 

While the three do overlap a great deal, they are actually separate genres. To make matters more complicated, the terms tend to be used so interchangeably, that identifying where in your library they belong, or even making a recommendation to a patron eager for one or the other becomes a challenging task.

 

In recent years, the mystery, thriller and suspense genres have been grouped under the crime fiction umbrella. In these genres, authors write about a crime that has happened or is about to happen, there’s an investigation of some kind, and a resolution where at least some of the reader’s questions are answered. So with all of these commonalities, how do you know which is which?

 

Let’s start with mystery. A mystery story is one where a crime is committed at the beginning, and the rest of the novel is devoted to figuring out the truth about the crime. Regardless of what kind of mystery it is, there is someone investigating the crime. That person can be a traditional detective, a police officer, or an amateur sleuth with a day job.

 

The novel is also basically one big puzzle, with all of the “pieces” needed to put it together being contained within the novel. Readers of mystery novels typically enjoy trying to solve the crime alongside the investigator, and personally, I get a certain amount of satisfaction from figuring it out before the investigator does. 

 

Shari Lapena’s novel An Unwanted Guest is an example of the locked room type of mystery that was perfected by the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie. In a locked room mystery, the murder is committed under circumstances where it would be seemingly impossible to get in or out of the crime scene, includes a number of suspects with no way to leave or be rescued, and the plot is resolved at the end.at the end. Christie's famous novel And Then There Were None is one of the bestselling crime novels of all time, and Lapena’s book has a similar feel.

 

The guests arrive Friday night for a weekend stay at an Inn in the Catskills and are immediately snowed in with no way to leave, no phone service or internet access, and no power. One of the guests is murdered, and naturally, the murderer has to be one of them. As the weekend progresses, the bodies start piling up, and it’s a race against time to figure out who the killer is before it’s too late.

 

Thrillers are a bit more difficult to define- especially since many thrillers can also be something else. The protagonist is in danger right from the outset, and the plots are extremely action driven. Thrillers are high stakes, non-stop action, contain plot twists, and move at a rapid pace. In these stories, solving the crime is less important than the obstacles placed in the hero’s way, and how they overcome them.

 

Thrillers can be psychological, crime, mystery, action, military, legal, or spy, and illicit an intense reaction from the reader.  Series like Jack Reacher, and Alex Cross or Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects are examples of popular thrillers, the latter being a good example of the psychological subset.

 

Suspense novels are also tricky to define as they tend to be more subtle. Suspense novels are about the build-up and the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know something is about to happen. Reading a suspense novel is like cranking the handle on a jack-in-the-box and waiting for the figure to pop out when the melody is done. You know before you start turning the handle that the joker is going to pop out, but you still jump when it does.

 

Adrian McKinty’s The Chain is a great example of a suspense novel.  On a day that starts out like any other, Rachel receives a phone call informing her that her daughter was kidnapped while waiting for the school bus. The caller is the parent of an already kidnapped child, and informs her that she is now part of something called the chain.

 

Rachel has 24 hours to follow specific instructions that will get her daughter back which includes kidnapping another child to keep the chain going. If she fails to do what she's told or tries to involve the police or anyone else, they will kill her and her daughter and find a new target. Who is behind the chain is secondary to what Rachel must and will do to get her daughter back. It’s intense and terrifying, and the kind of novel you read in one sitting.

 

Regardless of which genre you prefer, there is one key component that is present in all successful mystery/suspense/thrillers and that’s suspense. The author makes the reader feel excited and/or anxious about what’s going to happen next. Suspense is what drives me to stay up all night reading because I can’t put it down, or has me so engrossed that I miss my bus stop (which I have numerous times) and don’t hear the phone or the doorbell when it rings. That feeling is what draws me to these genres over and over again, and why the world will always embrace them both on the page and on screen.6 

 

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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Have you ever asked someone what they are reading only to have the answer be accompanied by a sheepish apology for reading it? “Oh, it’s my guilty read” they say, as though they were a 12-year-old caught reading  50 Shades of Grey.

 

Somewhere between learning to read and adulthood, the language we use to describe genre fiction changes and the general attitude towards it becomes outright snobbish.

Critics wrinkle their noses at ‘women’s fiction’, romances, or sci-fi as if they are somehow inferior to the ‘literary’ fiction’ title that is beautifully written but virtually unreadable.

 

And yet, while being nominated for an award or a strong media campaign definitely increases the popularity of some of these literary titles, for the most part, those aren’t the books that are receiving print runs in the hundreds of thousands, or flying off the shelves in bookstores and libraries.

 

In a 2014  New Yorker profile, bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, author of the recently released Mrs. Everything,  noted the disparity in how books like those that she writes are treated in comparison to perceived literary titles.  And yet, Weiner has a a degree in English literature from Princeton University, and her books have sold over 4.5 million copies.

 

To call Weiner's books fluffy and lightweight because she writes women's fiction is supremely unfair. Weiner’s characters are women with complex emotional lives who challenge stereotypes. Weiner writes these stories with charm and humour, and readers (including myself) respond in droves.

 

So why is there such a bias against genre fiction? One theory for the different treatment is the invention of the mass market paperback during WWII. Obviously, a hard cover book isn’t practical to stick in your pocket, and mass markets were cheap to produce, lightweight, and easy to carry around.

 

When paperbacks started outselling hardcovers, publishers started producing the more popular genre fiction in this new format to further bolster sales. As a result, genre fiction unfairly earned the reputation of being lesser than the realistic fiction being published in hardcover.

 

Speculative- fiction also suffers from a similar bias, with critics dismissing the genre as inferior and unbelievable. Believe it or not, when The Hobbit was first published in 1937, despite receiving a glowing review from Narnia author C.S. Lewis and The New York Times, Time Magazine didn’t review the U.K. or U.S. edition at all. When Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings books a little over a decade later, they received a similar reception, not receiving much critical notice until the sales of paperback reprints exploded on college campuses.  

 

I’ve always been a strong reader with varied tastes and I’m also a huge genre fiction reader. I read Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford and Robert Sawyer, all of whom are among my favourite authors, and whom I consider to be really great writers. 

 

Recently I read a really great  romance called Waiting for Tom Hanks. The heroine of the story is obsessed with the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-coms of the 90s, and is waiting for her own Tom Hanks (a sweet, sensitive, romantic  hero)  to come along. The story reads like a 90s romance movie, and it was a quick, fun read that will appeal to romance fans, and to anyone who has ever wished for their own romantic movie hero.

 

It’s the kind of book that is usually dismissed with words like “light”, “breezy”, and “fluffy”, or with the phrase “it’s totally unrealistic but…”  and this is the kind of language that really drives me crazy.

 

When I read I want to be engaged ,and I want it to make me want to know what happens next. I want a good story with 3-dimesnional characters and good writing, and most importantly, I want to be entertained.

 

We all live busy, stressful lives and we have to work at fitting in time to read. Why shouldn’t that time be spent reading something we enjoy, and why should anybody be allowed to shame us or make us feel badly for reading it?  Who cares if the book is commercial or if it’s not going to be nominated for a prestigious award?

 

There are an estimated 7.4 billion people in this world, and countless cultures and tastes. Not everybody enjoys John Grisham any more than everybody will enjoy Washington Black. For that matter, there are few books that my mom, my dad, my brother and I have all read and enjoyed.

 

I’m certain that my dad will love Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens because it will appeal to his sense of humour, but it’s definitely not something he’ll be passing along to my mom or my brother. My brother really enjoyed Kite Runner, but my mom couldn’t get into it and found it depressing.

 

Just like anything else, not all books are created equal. There are good books and bad books, but genre has nothing to do with it. Whether it be romance or mystery or sci-fi, if that’s what you like, read it, and don’t be embarrassed or ashamed of answering the question “what are you reading?”

 

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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I love a good sci-fi-dystopian thriller, and especially one that makes me think. Recently I read an advance copy of Rob Hart's forthcoming book The Warehouse and it's one that I can't stop thinking about. 

 

Like most of you, I’ve grown so accustomed to the presence and availability of things like cloud technology and online shopping that I scarcely give using it a second thought. If I can order something online from the comfort of my home and get it cheaper and faster than shopping in a store I will.  

 

Let’s face it. Bit by bit we are moving our lives online. From communication to shopping to entertainment, there is almost nothing the internet can’t give us.  With some companies now offering same day delivery, we barely have to wait for anything. But what if Amazon/Google ruled the world and our survival depended on them? This is the world Rob Hart imagines.

 

In a near future dystopian world, a megacorporation called “The Cloud” is everything. Big box retailers and independent businesses have almost entirely disappeared. Outside of the Cloud people are starving and unemployed, crime is so high nobody wants to go outside anymore, and the world is in shambles.

 

Getting a job at the Cloud is the best option for survival. It provides employees with shelter, housing, and entertainment, all paid for with credits to be used in the Cloud. Need something right away? Order it on the Cloud and it will be delivered to your door immediately. There  is nothing that the Cloud can’t give you as long as you work hard and follow the rules.

 

Assuming you pass the interview process and get hired, you’re sorted into an employment stream that management feels suits your abilities and experience. Maybe it’s not the one you were hoping for, but there are no bad jobs at the Cloud!

 

 All employees wear a wristband tracker that is a cross between an Apple Watch and Big Brother. It knows where you’ve been, where you are and what you’re doing. It opens doors, tracks when your shift begins and ends, and you can never take it off. Well actually, you can for a brief period of time at night while it charges, but it also knows if you’ve had it off too long. And don’t think about trying to cheat the system by handing it off to someone else, because it's specifically coded to you. 

 

Work performance is strictly monitored and ranked from 1 to 4 stars. Drop lower than 3 stars and next cut day, you’re out. No second chances, no explanations. Just out. Since there are pretty much no other options for work, you can imagine the pressure. Rank 4 stars and you live to work another day and get some perks or even a promotion. 

 

Disagree with his bullying approach to doing business? The market dictates as Gibson would say. The Cloud customer wants the lowest price possible. If a company wants their product sold on the Cloud, work with them to bring the pricing down to what they ask. If not, the Cloud will engineer a cheaper version and drive you out of business.

 

The novel alternates between two different voices, with each chapter beginning with a blog post from Gibson. From his viewpoint, he and the cloud have solved many of the world’s problems and are working on solving more. If the outside world is a dystopia, life inside the Cloud is a utopia. Gibson is dying, and he teases readers with a forthcoming announcement about who his successor will be.

 

One of the voices belongs to Paxton, a former prison guard and man who was driven out of business when he couldn’t meet the deep discount that Cloud was asking for his product.  His plan is to bide his time until his patent comes through, and then try again. When Paxton gets invited to be part of a special task force to uncover a drug smuggling operation within the cloud, he jumps at the chance. 

 

The other voice is Zinnia, an industrial spy who has been hired by a mystery employer to penetrate Cloud’s technology and figure out how things work.  It's a job she's done many times before, and it's money, so why should she care?  As the story progresses, their missions converge in unexpected ways all leading up to a shocking conclusion.

 

This is not your typical dystopia. This is a cautionary vision of the future that makes a statement about the danger of corporate power and greed and it terrified me! Google and Amazon already know my interests and my shopping habits. They know what items I’ve looked at online and tailor advertising to those specifications.

 

Amazon already has a frightening amount of power over its customers and its suppliers. Physical retailers are disappearing, and the future pictured in this book doesn’t seem so implausible. The author also touches on sexual harassment in the workplace and #MeToo when a creepy supervisor threatens Zinnia's position unless she gives in to his advances. 

 

This is book is receiving huge buzz. Film rights have been optioned by Ron Howard, excerpts have been printed in EW and online, and it was recently featured at Book Expo/BookCon in New York. If you’re looking  for a thriller that is riveting, fast-paced, and will make you ponder the future, this is for you!

 

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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I have always enjoyed mysteries. I sleuthed alongside the Famous Five, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as a kid, and Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot and even Perry Mason as I got older. Mysteries play to our natural curiosity.  We love suspense, but we also hate not knowing the answers to all of our big questions. People are inquisitive by nature and we love having something to puzzle over and figure out.

 

When I moved into the adult fiction space after having done juvenile purchasing for my entire career, the term “cozy mystery” was something I hadn’t really encountered before. After quickly Googling the term, I discovered that they were basically Murder She Wrote in a book, and I LOVED that show. The show has been off the air for decades, but the book series is up to #49 so Jessica Fletcher Lives on. ​

 

 

Today, cozy mysteries are one of the most popular sub-genres of the mystery category, and they sell like hotcakes! Writers like Rhys Bowen, Alan Bradley, M.C. Beaton, Joanne Fluke and Alexander McCall Smith are consistent bestsellers, and there are new series and authors breaking through every day.

 

Mysteries are appealing because as bestselling author David Baldacci explained, in these stories, questions get answered, bad guys get caught and punished, and unlike real life which is perpetually messy and full of loose ends, everything gets tied up in a neat little bow.

 

In a cozy mystery, readers not only get all of the above, but there’s the added satisfaction of seeing an everyday person work tirelessly to solve a crime and find the answers we crave. The protagonist of a cozy mystery could own a garden shop, a bookstore, or a bakery. They could be a mystery writer, a librarian, a nurse, or work in a coffee house.  There is no limit to how the sleuth from a cozy mystery might occupy their time as long as they are amateurs and they have a flexible schedule with lots of free time to solve mysteries. These (largely) women have no special training as detectives, but they are smart, tenacious, and use logic and common sense to find and interpret clues.

 

Whenever I read one of these cozies, I always think about how great it would be to live in one. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to just wander through an idyllic community like Cabot Cove solving mysteries like Jessica Fletcher.  Even better, I’d like to be in a British cozy where all of the murders take place in a picturesque village  with pretty gardens, old manors, or sweet little cottages.  I imagine myself interviewing the victim’s friends, families and acquaintances, finding out information that they wouldn’t or couldn’t reveal to the police while sipping tea or lemondae and eating fresh-baked cookies or scones. 

 

There will probably be a few red herrings or false leads that initially throw me off the trail, If I get stuck, not to worry- I can talk it out with my faithful animal sidekick named something clever and cute who will point a paw at the real clue, and together, we’ll get back on track.

 

I share the clues I’ve unearthed with local law enforcement, giving them leads when their investigation is at a stand still. Since they all take place in small communities where everybody is connected, they not only know me, but are probably a friend/relative who will gently admonish me for interfering in their investigation, but ultimately be glad for the assistance. 

 

Since there is a killer on the loose, I know that there is some risk of danger, but I’m not that worried about it because I’ve taken self-defense classes and know how to take care of myself. By the time law enforcement rushes in to save me from my impending doom, I’ve already subdued the killer. If I’m really lucky, the killer was more than happy to explain exactly how and why they committed the crime. This person is no serial killer or psychopath. He or She is probably someone who lives in the community who felt completely justified in committing murder because the victim wronged him/her and probably a lot of other people too. In fact, nobody really liked the victim anyway, so they kind of did everybody a favour. 

 

Now that the crime has been solved, and justice has been served, everything goes back to normal. The crime quickly fades from the collective memory of the people, I go back to my day job, and I can finally take time to pursue the romantic interest I met during the investigation. Not a bad fantasy right? In real life I live in a large city of nearly 3 million people, and I can’t imagine the city police being particularly receptive to some random person trying to crime-solve. But then, thats why we have books, isn't it?

 

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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At LSC, we endeavor to ensure that Canadian libraries have unparalleled access to Canadian content, whether that be materials by Canadians, about Canadians, or what is important to Canadians. Part of that commitment is improving access to materials by Indigenous Peoples. Thanks to some recent initiatives, we now have additional tools to help with that.

 

Back in June BookNet Canada announced a research project they had undertaken, to generate a list of materials specifically dealing with Canadian Indigenous topics. As a starting point, they used BISAC codes to isolate the sales data on materials associated with Indigenous or Native American/Canadian headings. They were then able to see how these materials have sold compared to other English language materials. Happily, from 2016, there have been consistent gains in sales for Indigenous themed material. Next, they pulled just the data from Junes 2018 to 2019, identified the top sellers and broke down the results into Fiction and Non-Fiction categories for Adult and Juvenile. The resulting four lists they are calling the Bestselling Indigenous Books in Canada.

 

They are quick to point out that only two of the forty items were not written by Canadian or Indigenous authors. They also point out that Canadian publishers are responsible for most of the items on the list. This is all to say, this list represents a collection of books in which Indigenous Peoples are telling their own stories, a critical and foundational aspect of decolonization.

 

For a more complete breakdown of their methodology, see their announcement post here. For your ease, we’ve put all four lists together into one single Slist, from which you can purchase the items directly. The Adult Fiction list includes recent favourites by Joseph Boyden and Thomas King, as well as brand new books like There, There by Tommy Orange, and Starlight by Richard Wagamese. The Non Fiction list is a fantastic list of items that would bolster any collection, including All Our Relations by Tanya Talaga, and Indigenous Relations by Bob Joseph.

 

The children’s lists consist of many items that I know are already being used in many elementary schools, including Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and The Sharing Circle by Theresa Meuse. As well as newer titles that will hopefully find their ways into the hands of more young Canadians, like The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette and Go Show the World by Wab Kinew and Joe Morse.

 

In addition to this, the UN General Assembly has designated 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. This resolution came about as “40 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,700 languages were in danger of disappearing— the majority belonging to indigenous peoples.” They hope to raise awareness of these languages and the cultures they represent internationally. You can see the full scope of their initiative here

 

Map: Chris Brackley/Can GeoIn Canada, 2011 census data shows that there are 60 active Indigenous languages, belonging to 12 root language families, spoken by 213,000 people across the nation. Canadian Geographic has put together a wonderful graphic mapping these languages, which can be viewed fully here (Image credit: Chris Brackley/Can Geo.)

 

To support this Year of Indigenous Languages, LSC has put together a list of recent and prominent Indigenous materials. This list of 101 items is a mix of Fiction and Non-Fiction, Adult and Juvenile, English and French. The items are all by Canadian Indigenous authors, again ensuring that people are telling their own stories. These items would form a powerful foundation to an Indigenous collection, and satisfies two of the UN’s five key action areas: “Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation”; and “Elaborating new knowledge to foster growth and development.”

 

LSC is committed to helping libraries decolonize and increase the representation in their collections. Indigenous languages are part of that commitment. We list Southern Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway among the languages available through our World Languages program. We are constantly looking out for new materials from new and existing publishers, in Indigenous languages. As demand for this material grows, so will supply, and LSC will be there to help libraries build the best collections for their customers.

 

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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One of the reasons my bookclub fellows and bookworm friends keep me around is for the book recommendations. They know I have the inside track on what is currently popular, but also what is coming. And that is a great perk of working in libraries: knowing months in advance what books are to be published. But who do librarians turn to for reader advisory? That’s where Loan Stars comes in.

 

Loan Stars, for those who don’t know, is an amazing reader’s advisory program. Run in conjunction by BookNet Canada and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, this service aggregates the recommendations of working library professionals into monthly lists. And unlike some commercial lists, which focus on bringing existing books to the public’s attention, Loan Stars is focused on the future. Their monthly lists consist of the most recommended items that will be published within the following month.

 

How does it work? Anyone working in a library in Canada can sign up for a free CataList account. Then, so long as you are logged in, you will see a “recommend” button next to eligible titles. Click the button, and that’s it. At the end of every month, the super computers and clever folk at Loan Stars tally the results, and the ten books with the most recommendations are added to one of two lists: adult and juvenile.

 

This is a fantastic way to get the word out about books that people haven’t heard about yet. At LSC, we swim in the galley proofs that are sent to us by publishers, and from my days in libraries, I know the case is true there too. And it is a (nerdy) thrill to have the inside track on a book that no one else will be able to read for months. I’m sure we’re all the same, when you read a good book, all you want to do is tell people they should read it. Loan Stars is one of the best ways to tell colleagues across Canada what they should keep an eye out for, or get the jump on and order in advance.

 

We all use things like the New York Times Best Seller list, or Canada Reads to build our collections, but those are reactive lists, and much of the demand for those items is driven by patrons. Loan Stars gives you the chance to get ahead of the rush on items no one has heard of yet, but will want. What I like about it is, it’s not just the best sellers. Those books are going to be popular regardless, they barely need our help. These are recommendations coming directly from staff; their actual opinions, not just what they think will be popular but what they think should be popular.

 

Take a book like Vessel, by Lisa A. Nichols, or Grass, by Kuem Suk Gendry-Kim. These are not books that would usually end up on conventional lists. But enough of your peers across the country liked them so much, they ended up on recent Loan Stars lists. It has effected my personal reading; every month there is at least one book that catches me by surprise and that I immediately put on hold at my local branch. I don’t know if I would have found No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, without it.

 

 

 

What’s on their lists for August? Some choice morsels include:

  • Translated from Gibberish, by Anosh Irani, is a collection of short stories exploring his life and experience as an immigrant. Knitting together his life through seven tales set in India or Canada, with wit and heart, Irani presents a raw – if not entirely truthful – autobiographical journey.
  • Snow, Glass, Apples, by Colleen Doran and Neil Gaiman, is a graphic novel adaptation of Gaiman’s original short story from Smoke and Mirrors, itself a twisted version of the story of Snow White. As only Gaiman can, the story weaves melancholy and pathos with vampirism and necrophilia. This volume pairs that with Doran’s crisp style which blends clean characters with conceptual layout design. This is their second collaboration, having recently also graphically adapted Gaiman’s Troll Bridge (one of my personal favourites).
  • Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me, by Anna Mehler Paperny, is a frank, honest, and at times absurd memoir detailing her time in a psych ward after her first suicide attempt, and her journey through the long-term treatment of living with depression. While not unique to the experiences of those whose life is touched by depression, Paperny’s perspective is a uniquely Canadian one in publishing. There are few books that touch on the Canadian Health Care system, the Canadian pharmaceutical system, the Canadian Mental Health system as it relates to depression, which are far more relevant to Canadian readers than anything coming up from south of the border.
  • Code Like a Girl: Rad Tech Projects and Practical Tips, by Miriam Peskowitz, is a great resource for kids who want to learn how to code, and offers step-by-step instructions for actual projects, like building a motion sensor for their room, or creating smartphone gloves.
  • And, I would be remise in my duty as a professional and a connoisseur of fine literature if I did not point out that Does It Fart: A Kid's Guide to the Gas Animals Pass, by Nick Caruso, absolutely made this month’s list. As well it is should.

Now, you’re asking yourself, “how do I read these monthly lists?” There are two ways. One is to sign up for the Loan Stars monthly email, which has the lists delivered direct to your inbox. However, if you want to be able to see the list and immediately purchase the items on it, LSC creates an Slist version of every Loan Stars list, so you can view and add the items to your cart in our catalogue. Here are the links to the most recent Adult and Juvenile Loan Stars lists for August, and you can find older lists under the “Special” heading in the Slist page

 

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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