Blog - Library Services Centre

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Happy Reading!

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LSC is proud to announce our Comic Book Subscription Service!

 

Graphic Novels have long been a part of library collections, and have seen increased popularity as interest rises across all age ranges. Libraries have even started putting on their own mini comic cons. However, for those unfamiliar with the material, it can be an intimidating collection to maintain.

 

With so many titles, with on-going and limited series runs, and content appropriateness a factor, it can be hard. LSC prides itself on the value and scope of its Graphic Novel service, it becoming one of our most requested ARPs. We are happy to extend the same diligence and selection to individual Comic Book issues as well.

 

These issues mostly run 24 to 30 pages printed on magazine stock. Many libraries use these issues to add to their juvenile serials collection, though as with Graphic Novels titles are available across all age ranges. This service can also service as a testing ground for titles whose Graphic Novel bound editions could be added to a regular collection later on.

 

LSC is offering this service without cataloguing and processing. Should a demand for a cataloguing record emerge, we will happily develop a format that works for the library on request, likely a serial monograph for these titles. LSC will not be providing processing on these items for the time being, as like magazines they are more fragile, and we feel it is best to extend the shelf of the product to simply ship them untouched. 

 

There are hundreds of comics titles published every month, from a variety of publishers and on a variety of frequencies. Our Graphic Novel Selector will work with libraries to cull this intimidating list down to titles relevant and valuable to each library. If you aren’t sure where to start with your comic book collection, we will offer suggestions based on popularity in other public libraries. Do you already have a popular Graphic Novel collection? We can look together there for inspiration, as to what might be popular for a monthly title.

 

As part of this service, LSC will provide:   

  • Suggested series lists based on popularity amongst public libraries, for collection age groups.
  • Series updates provided, along with suggestions for replacements when titles end their runs.
  • Tracking of series done by the selector.  ex. 14 different Batman variations published in the month of August. 
  • Publication schedules tracked by LSC (bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly).
  • Monthly shipments to libraries.
  • Bulk ordering discount!

Trade discounts will be applied to most titles, and consistent monthly shipments will keep your comic books readers entertained with the newest chapters of stories. With LSC's service, there is no long term commitment to any title. If Scooby-Doo isn't working for you after a couple months, cancel the title and try something else, such as Ninja Turtles. There is also a limited ability to get backissues of titles, so if you'd like to start your collection with several of the most recent issues, we will try our best to accommodate . Availablity of backissues will vary based on title and publishers. 

 

For more information, or to start your own Comic Book subscription, please contact our Graphic Novel selector Angela Stuebing, at astuebing@lsc.on.ca.

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Books scare people. That might seem like an outlandish statement, but it’s true. Not the physical item per se, but the content that’s in them. Throughout history, books have been a popular target of censors. Whether it be because of, sexual situations, racial or religious issues, violence or political viewpoint, People have tried and continue to try to remove books from school and library shelves. Luckily, few books actually get banned in Canada, but many still get challenged.

 

When I was in high school, I was extremely lucky to never have encountered any kind of censorship (that I knew of). I had the privilege of taking many genre courses with really interesting reading lists that included frequently challenged titles such as A Clockwork Orange and The Color Purple. We were also never challenged on what personal reading material we brought to school or choose for independent study with the exception of evaluating its suitability for the project.

 

The other day I read a fantastic YA novel titled Suggested Reading which is a story about standing up to censorship and fighting against banned books. The protagonist learns that the school has banned a list of 50 YA novels such as Speak, Catcher in the Rye, and Perks of Being a Wallflower, and decides to start an “underground library” in her school of these banned books. The book reminds us of the power of words to transform, educate, and challenge us in ways that we often can’t predict.

 

We are very fortunate in Canada that intellectual freedom is guaranteed to us under the Charter of Rights and Freedom. Intellectual freedom is our right to seek out information from all points of view without restriction, and free access to ideas.

 

Libraries are a key part of how we exercise this right. A library provides ideas and information to the public in a variety of formats with the goal of allowing people to educate themselves about these different ideas regardless of how the librarian or individual feels about it. I learned very early on in my role as a selector to keep my feelings out of it. I can like or dislike a book or author for my own reasons, but I have no right to withhold a book on that basis.

 

In Canada, Freedom to Read Week is celebrated annually in the last week of February as an affirmation of our right to intellectual freedom, and several events are held in libraries across the country throughout the week. In honour of this event, I thought I’d highlight a few common titles by Canadian authors that have been banned or are frequently challenged in Canada, many of which I read in school, and some of which might surprise you.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

I first read this iconic novel in University and was both feared it and loved it. I feared it because I was just starting to understand the debate on women’s rights and what we label “right wing” politics. I loved it for its brilliance and for making me think. Not surprisingly, it’s on the ALA’s top 100 banned books of the decade for the 90s and 2000s. At its core, dystopian fiction is a warning about where the author fears we’re headed but it’s also about freedom.  The freedom to think, say, believe and live what and how we want. These books aren’t meant to be comfortable, and perhaps that’s why they are so frequently challenged. Handmaid’s Tale (and recently the graphic novel) has been challenged for violence, offensive language, and sexual content, and it definitely falls into the “because it scares people” category.

 

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

 

This classic Canadian novel put Mordecai Richler on the map, but in 1990, a group of parents in Essex County wanted the book removed from high school reading lists due to sexual innuendo, vulgarity, and sexual expression. Notable Canadian authors defended the book, but the board advised teachers and principals to avoid using potentially controversial novels in class.

 

The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Monroe

 

When Alice Monroe published this coming-of-age novel about a young woman’s passage into adulthood and sexual experience in 1971, she made waves. The book met a highly publicized challenge in Peterborough, Ontario when the school board banned the book due to “explicit language and sex scenes”.  Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were also included on that list for similar reasons. According to CBC, this censorship attempt was the catalyst for the creation of Freedom to Read Week.

 

The Diviners, Jest of God, and Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

 

At the same time that Alice Munroe was facing challenges for Lives and Girls and Women, Margaret Laurence was also facing challenges and subsequent bans in numerous schools due to what Christian Fundamentalists deemed “blasphemous" and "obscene”.  The Diviners is widely considered to be the author’s masterpiece and to be one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written, but it has continued to face challenges over the years. Laurence, who was already dealing with depression and alcoholism was deeply disturbed by the public attacks on her books, but she didn’t speak out until she was faced with a new round of censorship in the 80s.

 

The Wars by Timothy Findley 

 

Timothy Findley’s 1977 novel The Wars was one of those life-changing books for me when I was in high school. I did my O.A.C. author study on Findley, and I think that his portrait of a 19-year-old Canadian officer fighting in WWI was one of the first books that really made me understand the horrors of war. It’s undeniably a difficult book to read, and Findley presented the war in all of its brutality. In 2011, a group of parents in Bluewater District School Board in Owen Sound, Ontario fought to have the book removed from school shelves, complaining about the violence and sexual descriptions. The novel also faced pre-publication censorship with attempts by the publisher to remove a homosexual rape scene. Findley was also vocally opposed to censorship, and defended other authors like Laurence whose works were challenged.

 

As long as there are books, there will always be somebody who steps up to object to them and attempt to impose to limit our access to potentially valuable and powerful material, and the best way to combat that is to resist by reading and discussing those books.  As Alice Munro said, “I think that as soon as one step is taken you have to start resisting because that makes the next step easier.” For more information on Freedom to Read Week and details on events across the country or how to get involved, visit their website.

 

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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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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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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