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LSC wraps up its year tomorrow, and we decided to look back at a messy, unpredictable year that was and present the second annual LSC Awards for Performance. The following items were compiled using our internal sales data based on number of units purchased collectively by our client libraries between July 2020 and June 2021. All the material listed here is available for your convenience in Slist 45438, in case you missed any of these hits.

 

a time for mercy by john grisham / space and a sunrise at the end of a long country road with a large tree at the end.The first award is for Adult Fiction. John Grisham’s Time for Mercy topped our charts this year. This is a sequel to both his first novel, A Time to Kill, published 32 years ago, as well as 2013’s Sycamore Row. It appears that his return to southern courtrooms was well anticipated. Don’t worry though, he released another two novels this past year. He’s not going anywhere.

 

The top selling Adult Non-Fiction was the memoir of former US President Barack Obama, Promised Land. I can’t possibly think why in 2020 there would have been such an interest and nostalgia for Obama’s hopeful terms of office. Must have been a coincidence.

 

salma the syrian chef by ahmad danny ramadan and illustrated by Anna Bron / an illustration of a young girl holding a bowl and wearing a chef's hat, with nine people of various ethnicities behind herThe prize for Picture Book is the delightful Salma the Syrian Chef, by Ahmad Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron. This delightful book follows a recent newcomer and refugee to Canada as she tries to cheer up her mother by making food from home. A wonderful message of community and hope, and a subject that is seemingly evergreen.

 

Marking our first repeat winner at the LSC Awards, following a similar performance in the category of Juvenile Fiction is Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Deep End by Jeff Kinney. Yes, the adventures of Greg continue in the 15th(!) installment of the series. This one follows directly on from last year’s winner Wrecking Ball, and will continue in Big Shot, coming in October of 2021.

 

Best Young Adult Fiction goes to Cousins by Karen M. McManus. This mystery thriller following three cousins as they unravel the web of family secrets left behind by their mysterious grandmother was a hit, perhaps reminding people of the twists and dark turns of VC Andrews.

 

This Place: 150 years told / an illustrated half face of a young indigenous child standing before the world, with north america centredTop selling Adult Graphic Novel this year was the exquisite This Place: 150 Years Retold, an anthology of stories by 11 Indigenous authors and illustrators, telling diverse stories of Indigenous peoples across Canada, and what they have experienced in the time since Contact. An essential component of any library collection.

 

Our second repeat winner runs the table yet again in Juvenile Graphic Novel, as Dav Pilkey defends the title with Dog-man: Grime and Punishment. The ninth in the series, though far from the last as a tenth book has also been released and an eleventh is on the way. Will Pilkey retain this position for a third year? Only you can determine that.

 

With this past year being one of the stranger for the film industry, with no master blockbusters having been released, it is nice to see that the top selling DVD this year was the winner of Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Nomadland. Directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Frances McDormand, this quiet film about the modern nomads of America stuck a cord in a year where there were fewer CGI explosions to drown it out.

 

super mario 3d world plus bowser's fury / a busy picture centred on the title, with mario, luigi, princess peach, mario in a cat suit, princess in a cat suit, and mario and bowser junior staring at a giant volcano BowserTop Selling Video Game was a wider field this year, as there were two generations of Playstation and two generations of Xbox on the market. And yet, winner of this category goes to Super Mario: 3D World and Bowser's Fury on the Nintendo Switch. Yes, everyone’s favourite plumber – who turned 35th this year – jumped over the turtles and mushrooms of the competition and landed on the flag pole at the top of the charts.

 

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

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When I was nine or ten, I sat down and rifled through my Mom’s collection of VHS tapes, almost entirely things she had recorded off TV. I quickly noticed that the majority of them were the final episodes of TV shows. MASH, Cheers, Family Ties. And among them was something call Star Trek TNG. The only Star Trek I knew at the time was the movie with the whales, which I liked, so I popped it in having no idea where it was about to take me.

 

poster for star trek next generation, featuring the faces of Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Maria Sertis, Michael Dorn, Brett Spiner, Gates McFadden, and LeVar Burton in costume, as well as the USS Enterprise D over a planet, and a Borg Cube in the backgroundAll Good Things..., the two-hour final episode of The Next Generation is largely considered one of the greatest final episodes of any TV show ever. It has influenced a generation of writers who, like me, were confronted with “the unknown possibilities of existence.” It also capped off seven years of a television show that did, for the time, the impossible. It not only revived the cult kitsch 60’s series Star Trek, but it reinvented what television science fiction could be. It ushered in a new paradigm, inspiring future shows to take us to strange new worlds, this time with better special effects and production budgets.

 

I had no idea who these characters were, what they were talking about, and really what was going on at all. The episode bounces through time, visiting the very first episode of the series (seven years earlier), and 25 years into the future, with the characters old and full of regret. And in all these times, throwing around worlds like tachyons, temporal paradoxes, and causality. It broke my brain, and I became obsessed.

 

a poster for the original Star Trek, featuring the faces of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, DeForest Kelly, Walter Koenig, George Takai, and James Doohan in character, with the USS Enterprise above a planetLearning that there were 177 other episodes of this series was like falling into a mineshaft full of treasure. And not just TNG, but three seasons of the original Star Trek, seven movies - including the one with the whales - plus by that time there were three season of something called Deep Space Nine and a season of a show called Voyager? All things I could watch out of order, in syndication, taped off the local cable access channel at midnight? Even then, I could see my teen years evaporating into a cloud of technobabble, trivia books, and strong opinions about William Shatner.

 

Around 2004, both the larger culture and I seemed to get off the Star Trek transporter pad. We moved on. Trekkies certainly kept the flame lit, but the high-water mark seemed to truly be that final episode of Next Generation, with Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard pin balling through time, confronting his failures as a man and a captain.

 

And yet, Trek had become such a powerful cultural touchstone, either derisively or earnestly, it was impossible to escape. The rise of the digital era, with laptops and cell phones whose designers took direct inspiration from Trek, meant that we were increasingly living in a world that seemed like it was aligning with the show’s vision of the future. Kirk and Spock remained a seemingly universal reference. It was logical that it would rise again.

 

a shot from the 2009 Star Trek film, featuring Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho in characterJ.J. Abrams tried, with a trilogy of reboots, which saw movie stars like Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, and Zoe Saldana play the classic characters, but they felt philosophically empty. Trek was always more about the metaphor than the explosion. In the era of Intellectual Property farming, and every company needing content for a streaming service, it was only a matter of time before Paramount went to warp with Trek again. Quentin Tarantino claims to have a script ready for a new film, as does Fargo series creator Noah Hawley. 

 

a poster for season two of Star Trek Discovery, featuring Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Michelle Yoeh, Anson Mount, and Ethan Peck in character, with the Starfleet Delta bhind them, and the USS Discovery and USS Enterprise in the foreground.And so, 55 years after the original series first appeared on screens, we are now living in something of a Trek Renaissance. There are three new television series airing, with at least three more on the way. Discovery, which is filmed in Toronto, and is shortly to be spun off into the two additional series: Strange New Worlds (following a young Spock early in his career) and Section 31 (starring Michelle Yeoh). There is an adult animated series, Lower Decks, which follows the comedic adventures of the least capable members of Starfleet’s less-than-stellar ship. There is a children's animated series, Star Trek: Prodigy, coming in 2021. And, 25 years after the original airing of All Good Things..., Stewart reprised the role of Picard in the so-titled series where the characters are old and full of regret. How is that for temporal causality?

 

a poster for Star Trek Lower Decks featuring the animated characters of Mariner, Boimler, Tendi, and Rutherford with the USS Cerritos and various planets in the backgroundThis flood of new shows means that there is also a flood of new Trek materials available for libraries. Discovery’s fourth season will premier in late 2021, but all three previous seasons are available on DVD and Blu-ray. It has also resulted in a new series of novels from Pocket Books, a range of graphic novels from IDW, and the technical guides and deep dives that Trekkies have always loved. There is also a book all about the ship’s disgruntled cat, Grudge. Lower Decks season two started airing on August sixth, and season one of Lower Decks is available on DVD and Blu-ray

 

a poster for season one of Star Trek Picard, featuring Patrick Stewart and a dog standing in a vineyard, with a planet and a sunrise behind themPicard season two will premiere in early 2022, with season one available on DVD and Blu-ray. Picard has likewise inspired a new set of novels from Pocket Books, filling in the chronological gaps of the last twenty years. Also available on DVD and Blu-ray is a collection of shorts, called Short Treks, which serve as character pieces from all of the new series. Newly released is also the feature length documentary What We Left Behind, a look back at the making of the series Deep Space Nine

 

I don’t consider myself a Trekkie anymore. But, while I can’t rightly tell you what I had for dinner last night, I can tell you that the Enterprise-D had a cetacean operation station on deck 13, and that Klingons prefer to eat their gagh alive. The shows, their premise, and the philosophy of post-scarcity utopia they showcased is an enticing one. And one that I doubt the culture will be willing to give up on. I suspect that James Tiberius Kirk will take his place along side Sherlock Holmes and Bruce Wayne as a cultural figure that will last until the real world goes where no one has gone before.

 

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

 

Live Long and Prosper.

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I love cycling. I'm passionate about it. But not in a spandex-body-suit-and-bullet-shaped-helmet sort of way. I'm passionate about it as a regular old form of transportation. One that predates the car (and was only beaten by the train by 13 years). I love biking to work. I love biking in the rain. Even *gasp* in the snow. So, since June was Bike Month, here are some books about bikes.

 

a 19th century drawing of a man on a primitive bicycleBut first, here is my favourite fact about bicycles: they contributed to the Women's Rights Movement, and the Feminist Movement in general. The bike was invented in 1817 by German inventor Karl von Drais because two years prior a volcanic eruption on the other side of the world caused massive crop failures across the world, and his horses died (this is, by the way, my second favourite fact about bicycles). Horseless and with places to be, Karl invented a proto-bike that he could power himself to get from place to place. And his invention might have been forgotten, except that by the end of the century they were adopted by women as a method of escape and self-expression.

 

The Victorian era was not great for giving a lot of liberties to women, but with a bike they could peddle about town, through the park, to tea on their own *gasp*! This, you might expect, caused a stir in society. Not just because women were riding amok, but also because the act of peddling meant that their legs might be seen by random passers-by *gasp*. So, to cover their legs while biking, women began wearing that most corrupting and sinister of garments: pants.

 

an ancient greek vase depicting five Amazons wearing leather and battling with shields and spearsMy favourite fact about pants, by the way, is that they had been invented about 3000 earlier by women. The Scythians were a horse-driven nomadic people living on the steppes north of the Black Sea, and were known for being completely gender neutral in their politics. Women were equal to men, went to war, ruled their society. But riding a horse can get a bit... chaffy, so the fierce warrior women of Scythia invented pants as a solution. These pant-wearing Scythians were so morally offensive and secretly alluring to the Greeks that they entered their myths as the Amazons, and that is my favourite fact about the Scythians.

 

What was I talking about... right, bicycles! So, Victorian women are now wearing pants and riding about town and start to get a sense that they like this "being able to wear what they want, do what they want, and go where they want" thing, and it added more fire to the growing movement towards female equality. Pants went on to play a powerful role in the Feminist movement. Pockets, however, were not integral to either gender equality or riding bikes, and so the struggle continues. 

 

little pig, the bicycle and the moon by pierrette dube / a drawing of an enthusiastic pig riding a bike under a crescent moon while two chickens watch in amazement. If you would like to read more about the places where bicycles and feminists cross paths, I suggest Bikes Not Rockets: Intersectional Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories edited by Elly Blue. If you are interested in the adventures of a girl called Bicycle, I recommend Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss. Switching gears (see what I did there?), there is Na'ar ha-ofanayim / Bicycle boy by Eli Amir. And at an entirely different speed (eh eh) there is Little Pig, the Bicycle, and the Moon by Pierrette Dube.

 

Recommendations continue with the likes of Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella. Add to that Bicycle by Adonia Lugo, and Splendid Book of the Bicycle by Daniel Tatarsky, and Tour de Oz: The Extraordinary Story of the First Bicycle Race Around Australia by Brett Harris.
 
chain breaker bike book by shelly lynn jackson / a drawing of a bike in disrepair, in purpleIf you want to know how your bicycle works, give Chainbreaker bike book : a rough guide to bicycle maintenance by Shelly Lynn Jackson a gander. And if you'd rather just colour some bicycles, there is the Classic Bicycle Coloring Book by Taliah Lempert.

 

Bicycles are wonderful. During the pandemic, there has been a bike shortage because no one was at work and everyone remembered how wonderful it is to take a ride and feel the wind on your neck. And with electric bikes (which provide a slightly powered assist) and a vast array of cargo bikes, they are splendid replacements for the car in a time when fewer cars on the road is more and more climatically important. And bikes are considerably cheaper. And they run on hamburgers. Or carrots. Anything really. Cheese.

 

So, what are the lessons here? One, pants lead to revolution. Two, pants make you more attractive to repressed ancient Greeks. Three, bicycles are better than dead horses and living cars. But not living cars like in the movie Cars. Are there bikes in the Cars movies? Are they all cyclops? Or the skeletons of motorcycles? I've started to think too much about this; better end things before it gets weird. 

 

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

 

Fictionally Yours,

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June is National Indigenous Peoples History month and today, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples History Day. As Settlers, we are educating ourselves on the history and heritage of Indigenous Peoples, and reflecting on how we can contribute to the ongoing process of reconciliation. Today, we present without commentary several resources that can be used to aid others in their journeys of education and reflection.

 

LSC operates on the traditional territory of ‎the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Attawandaron, on the Haldimand Tract. On October 25, 1784, Sir Frederick Haldimand, the governor of Québec, “granted” this tract of 950,000 acres, - of which only 5% remains - to the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Six Nations, for their service during the American Revolution. The Haldimand Tract extends 10 kilometers on both sides of the Grand River, from Dundalk Township to Lake Erie.

 

To find out whose land you are located on, the interactive map Native-Land.ca allows you to search by address and see who called this home first. It also allows you to toggle between territories, languages, and treaties. The map’s creators are quick to point out that this map is not meant to be definitive, but an educational tool that is meant to start how we think about where we live. They also provide a quick form to be alerted of errors or required updates.

 

The Residential School System in Canada is a long-standing tragedy that many Canadians are only just discovering. The CBC has developed a map that allows you to enter an address and identify the nearest residential school to that location. It also provides the years the school was operational , and can be a good starting point in your research and learning. Additionally, the Government of Canada has set up a 24-hour National Indian Residential School Crisis Line, for those experiencing trauma from the Residential School system. Callers can access emotional and crisis referral services at 1-866-925-4419. 

 

Critical resources in our reconciliation journey are the reports and materials generated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. These reports include the 94 Calls to Action that were delivered in 2015, but include a wide array of valuable, educational, historical materials that uncover the full scope and impact of colonization on the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

 

For some library focused material, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations has its own report, delivered in February 2017 and endorsed by 33 library associations and organizations across Canada. This report contains 10 calls to actions for libraries to aid in decolonization and indigenization efforts.

 

Looking to add some educational credentials to your experience? The University of Alberta offers both a credited and an audited primer course in Indigenous Canada through their Faculty of Native Studies. This 12-week beginner course is a primer for any stage of your journey. 

 

If you are looking for book and film recommendations for either your own learning, or to aid in your educating of children, teens, and other adults, educator Megan Tipler has compiled a massive list of materials across all ages and collection types, all of which are by Indigenous authors. She also has a small list of works by non-Indigenous authors that are of particular note and value. She makes notes where some works may be problematic and includes a short list of authors to actively avoid. You can follow her on Instagram @tiplerteaches where she has links to her resources, including book displays and posters.

 

IMBD has a list of films on the subject of Residential Schools for your reference, and NFB has curated a collection of shorts by Indigenous filmmakers and allies on the impact of the Residential School System. CBC Gem also has a selection of documentaries, including Inendi and We Were Children, to watch.

 

This is far from an exhaustive list of resources. It does, however, provide a starting point for those seeking to learn more, re-educate themselves, and be a better - and better informed - ally moving forward.

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I love science fiction. It is probably my favourite genre. Hard or soft, I'm not particular. I do find that, more than any other genre, I grasp hold of certain authors and follow them wherever they lead. Barry Crouch, John Scalzi, Martha Wells, Peter Clines, these are active authors taking the genre to interesting places, and taking me along for the ride. But without question, to my mind the best author working in sci-fi today and one of the best modern authors period, is Becky Chambers. 

 

annihilation by jeff vandermeer / in lime green, a dragonfly and a squid-like plant coil around the black letters of the title (three letters per line on four lines) against a beige fieldI discovered Becky Chambers via the now defunct website i09, likely at the recommendation of then editor Charlie Jane Anders (who has become a prominent author in her own right). It was 2014, a very good year for sci-fi. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer hypnotized audiences with it's blaring unique style, Lock In by the aforementioned John Scalzi merged the genre with mystery for a few hundred pages, and the event of the decade for the genre, The Martian by Andy Weir was published. The Martian had originally been self-published, and 2014 was it's arrival in high (publishing) society with the backing of Crown. 

 

the long way to a small angry planet by becky chambers / a small lone figure stands on a hill with the milky way sprawling across the sky above themThese three examples come to mind if only because they stand in stark contrast to the first work of Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. What would become the first in the Wayfarers series is emblematic of all her works: down to earth (even if the characters are in zero gravity), character-driven, and broad in scope without getting bogged down in detail. The Martian is a wonderful character piece, but it is largely driven by the technical challenges Watney faces. Annihilation is philosophy wrapped in mystery, and Lock In is a good old fashioned murder mystery with robotic overtones. 

 

Long Way, which was also originally self-published thanks to a kickstarter campaign, has a lot of the trapping of a Star Trek or Mass Effect-style space opera. There is a galaxy of species out there who have banded together into a political alliance. But Chambers is far more interested in the personal than the technical. And far more interested in telling new kinds of stories within a familiar framework. Her Galactic Commons is not a shiny utopia, nor is it dystopia on the brink of collapse. It is simply complex.

 

Complex in a way that most novelists are uninterested in exploring. She doesn't spend chapters going over the technical details of faster than light travel. Instead, she world-builds by creating cultures and behaviours for her aliens that make them feel ancient and lived in. That they have motivations spurred by behaviour, not plot dependence.  The plot, the titular long way to a small angry planet, is a secondary consideration. Instead, the story is in the interactions between the crew of the Wayfarer, and reveals the depth and scope of her universe through them. It is a world realized by the characters in it, not characters realizing their world. 

 

The Wayfarer, as a ship and crew, have all the hallmarks of a successful on-going series. Science fiction has been built on the backs of the tightknit, rag-tag crew whose adventures we follow. And so much of my respect for Chambers is that, for her second novel, she leaves them entirely behind. The further installments of the Wayfarers series explore other corners of this universe she created. Imagine if, instead of following the Skywalkers, each Star Wars film was set on a different planet or ship. That is the radical and monumental choice Chambers made, to utter success. There are some threads of connection - the protagonist of book three is the sister of the captain from book one, for instance - but by and large the "series" installments stand by themselves. Making it literally a shared universe of stories.

 

a closed and common orbit by becky chambers / two figures stand on a hillside while a shower of falling stars fills the sky above themBook two, A Closed and Common Orbit, broke me as a person. I challenge anyone to read it and not dehydrate themselves through the eyes. I have not cried this hard at anything that didn't involve grievous bodily injury in years. The story is told from two perspectives: Lovelace, an AI struggling with their newly awakened identity, and Jane, a young orphan struggling to survive a harsh and inhospitable life. To say more is to risk revealing too much, and these are not stories you want to know too much about before digging in. Not that there are LOST-style spoilers to be had, but because the journeys you go on are so aggressively personal, you want to experience them with the characters, not as cold, unfeeling segments of a tome. Thankfully, the stories are so deep and go in unexpected directions that the plot synopses on the covers barely scratch the surface.

 

record of a spaceborn few by becky chambers / a lone figure sits on a plain with their legs pulled close to their chest with a nebula sprawling in the sky above themBook three, Record of a Spaceborn Few, is the most human-centric, and the most meandering. If I'm being honest, it was the one I formed the weakest connection with, but I blame myself more than the book. In a kind of anti-Battlestar Galactica mode, the book takes place in a crumbling fleet of ships united by the conviction that humanity can fend for itself without alien assistance. Like the pilgrims or Mormons of history, this group of zealots float through space hoping to find a place to keep to themselves, all the while questioning the conviction of their beliefs. It remains deep and profound materials to focus on, when other authors would be more interested in the iridescent aliens who communicate through flashing colours.

 

the galaxy and the ground within by becky chambers / a low mountain range with a calm, purple tinted night sky above them2021 is a great year for fans of Chambers, as there are two new books arriving from her this year. In June comes the concluding entry in the Wayfarers series, The Galaxy, and the Ground Within. This book promises to be the least human entry, and if the press is any indication, might resonate with an audience who have spent the last year being locked away from their lives while their world grinds to a halt. I'll be sad to see the universe go, but if it means Chambers starts exploring new worlds and new stories, all the more power to her. In 2019 she released her first unconnected work, the novella To Be Taught If Fortunate, a short tale about astronauts surveying planets for potential colonization. And in July of 2021 the novella A Psalm for the Wild-Built will be released, the first in a new series following a Monk and a Robot, searching for the answer to one of life's great questions: what do people need?

 

a psalm for the wild built by becky chambers / in the lower right hand, a man sits in a carriage drinking tea; in the upper left a small robot stands. the cover is a jumbled wave of a path between them intermingled with flowers and vines and the titles.Chambers works feel immensely personal. The characters are fully realized, to an extent that it can feel invasive to read about them. The books are wonderfully and proudly inclusive and Queer, and treat that inclusivity and Queerness with such banality and matter-of-factness, to support the idea that what makes people (be they human, robot, or alien) special is simply who they are. And that no matter where you go in the universe, you can find people who accept that.

 

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

 

Fictionally Yours,

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As part of our ARP services, we manage the holds lists for a few of our libraries, and in the last few weeks I noticed something interesting in the holds. While most are current bestselling titles or the latest celebrity book club title from Oprah or Reese, once in a while an older title pops up that gives me pause.

 

song of achilles by madeline miller / a golden Grecian helmet on a turquois fieldSong of Achilles by Madeline Miller, a nearly 10-year-old fiction book with a moderate amount of popularity suddenly spiked on three different lists, prompting me to do a bit of digging into why. My first assumption was that there was recent media surrounding the book such as a TV appearance, or a movie or TV announcement but that wasn’t the case. After a bit more investigating, I discovered that the book is very popular on “TikTok, signaling the growing influence of the book side of TikTok.

 

If you’re not familiar with TikTok, it’s a video-sharing social network used to share a variety of short-form videos ranging from 15 seconds to a minute. In recent months, the bookish community have started using the platform to post videos recommending books and about and their general love of books, now commonly referred to as BookTok.

 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab / the title on a black field with a constellation within the word, connected with golden threadIn addition to popularizing Miller’s book, one viral video significantly increased sales in Victoria Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, all three of which are books I highly recommend as well.

 

Now publishers are wisely recognizing the value and influence of BookTok just as they did with bloggers several years ago, and are not only creating a presence for themselves on the platform, but are reaching out to the BookTokers to send them advance reading copies of books they’d like to promote, and even paying them to make videos about them.

 

midnight library by matt haig / a white building filled with rainbow light, against a blue-black fieldRight now, the platform is primarily used by the 16-30 age range, with YA fiction being some of the most talked about books, but it has been invaluable in bringing attention to books with more diverse plots and authors, as well as introducing readers to genres and titles that they may never have discovered otherwise.

 

If you’re interested in checking out BookTok, sign up for a free TikTok account, and search the hashtag #Booktok where you’ll find a variety of creators to follow. Searching that hashtag also brought up #BookRecommendations and #bookish for some additional book-related content. I confess that I was somewhat overwhelmed when I first started looking into it, but there’s something for everybody including  dystopian, books that had the reader sobbing, heartbreaking books, if you like this Netflix show, read this, and books that the reader would “sell their soul” to read again. That last one certainly piqued my curiosity!

 

they both die at the end by adam silvera / two figures in silhouette walk along a railing with a grim reaper cast in their shadow. in the background a city scape rises, with a full moon peaking out behind a skyscraperAs for what caused the sudden explosion of BookTok? Some people attribute it to the ongoing pandemic to driving more people online, and with bookstores and libraries being closed across the U.S. and Canada, it does seem natural that people would start using social media to find like-minded people. It probably also helps that more and more authors are joining the community and discussing their writing process, which definitely appeals to the sector of their fandom who love to analyze all of the details of a favourite book.

 

If time is a at a premium (and when isn’t it to be honest), and you just want to know what books are popular, you can find a top 10 BookTok list on Indigo’s website, a slightly longer BookTok list on Barnes and Noble, or on the Goodreads BookTok shelf.

 

It’s hard to predict how BookTok will evolve over the next few years, but if Miller’s surge in popularity is any indication, I think it's safe to predict that it will become an increasingly important place for book discussion and discovery.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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Growing up, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. From the first time I encountered the trials of Hercules in a picture book in my school library, these ancient tales of gods and monsters had me hooked. As I grew up, my appreciation for these stories also grew beyond just the cool magical powers of angry creatures. The metaphor laced within the stories emerged and beguiled me anew (though, for the record, monsters are still awesome). However, more than 3000 years later, do these myths have a place in the modern world?

 

antigone rising by helen morales / a greek bust wearing burnt orange sun glasses against a hot pink fieldAntigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths, by Helen Morales is a witty and passionate look at the legacy of antiquity, especially the legacy of reinterpretation of ancient stories. These myths were constructed thousands of years ago, usually by men, to fulfil a social aim. They were to perpetuate a belief, or a moral, or a cause. Over time though these stories have been adopted, and adapted, and purposefully misinterpreted so that they fit a modern context or need. Even within the first thousand years of their existence, tales were retold to fit a Roman perspective rather than a Hellenic one. 21st century interpretations of Tiresias as a trans idol, or the titular Antigone as a feminist icon are the result of careful selective reading of what are largely misogynist texts.

 

women and other monsters by jess zimmerman / an artist's rendering of a half woman, half squid creature against a green field and behind a green fog Morales considers this the intrinsic power of these stories. They are not set in stone, demanded to be read as scripture. These are stories from the oral tradition, and were meant to be fluid based on audience and the creativity of the teller. Rather than be restricted to telling stories that are internally inconsistent and demeaning to every character other than the hero, authors throughout history have breathed life into the minor or the mistreated and discovered new facets to explore in them. Jess Zimmerman’s Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology is a feminist analysis of the prominent female monsters that are prolific throughout Greek Mythology. Where as the “traditional” view of Medusa is of a horror turning men to stone with her gaze, a deeper analysis of her story reveals a victim of abuse and a woman who is tormented by constant unwanted advances from men.

 

Circe by Madeline miller / an drawn golden face wreathed in leavesThis trend is nothing new in modern fiction. More than a decade ago, Margaret Atwood gave us The Penelopiad, a contemporary and feminist look at the Odyssey, from the perspective of Odysseus’ long waiting and long suffering wife, Penelope. The Odyssey is rife with opportunities for re-examination, as Madeline Miller did with her novel Circe, a likewise feminist reinterpretation, this time from the perspective of the witch Circe with whom Odysseus spends several years during his journey. This was Miller’s follow-up to her debut The Song of Achilles, which was a Queer reinterpretation of the Iliad, and both of them are fantastic piece of literature. I wait with baited breath for whatever Miller releases next.

 

ariadne by jennifer saint / a drawn woman's face with greek columns and a sun blast behind her headPerhaps as a response to Miller’s success, there are plenty of authors preparing feminist re-examinations of the countless other mistreated women in myth. Jennifer Saint has her debut with Ariadne, which takes one of the most mistreated women from Greek lore and gives her centre stage in a tale of family tragedy, placing her between her brother, the Minotaur, and her younger sister, Phaedra. It also grants her agency when Theseus comes to call. In myth, Ariadne is responsible for helping Theseus defeat the Minotaur (himself the product of misogyny visited upon Queen Pasiphae), but is abandoned by the “heroic” prince on the first island they encounter heading back to Athens. She is then claimed by the god of wine Dionysus, and promptly disappears from legend. Saint returns Ariadne to the prominence deserving of a princess of Crete.

 

daughters of sparta by claire heywood / two drawn faces of women, one red haired, one brown, haloed in golden weedsAlso this summer, from Claire Heywood, is Daughters of Sparta, which tells the tale of the Trojan war from the perspective of two sisters: Helen and Klytemnestra. Helen’s involvement with the Trojan war is already fraught in the “canon” of mythology, with some saying she willing left with Paris, others saying she was kidnapped, while others still leave her abandoned in Egypt while the war rages on the Turkish coast. Klytemnestra is likewise treated an adulteress and opportunist by the chauvinists writing myth. In Heywood’s version, the women are all too familiar with the expectations of society, and all too willing to push against them for their own happiness.

 

troy by stephen fry / a minimalist drawing of a castle on fire, against a golden fieldPersonally, I hope that someone gives a modern spin to the story of Medea, one of the most misunderstood characters in myth, and all too happy to be painted a villain and a witch by years of male scholars. Definitely deserving of some re-evaluation.

 

These books all do deep dives and reform the image of specific characters. If you are looking for a modern sensibility with more of a general overview of the world of Greek myth, you could do worse than Stephen Fry’s trilogy of Mythos, Heroes, and Troy. Based on his one-man show from the Stratford festival, these are the classic versions of myths punctuated by Fry’s dry wit and cutting tongue, lacing the tales with awareness and satire. 

 

love in color by bolu babalola / a drawn black man and woman leaning in to kiss, surrounded by vibrant coloursI would be remise not to mention that for all the wonder and splendor that the Greeks contain, they are tales well worn and familiar to any Europe-centric upbringing. If you are looking for a different cultural exploration, you should check out Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola. Babalola does bring forward, and from a Black perspective, romantic tales of the Greeks. However, her purpose is to focus on tales of love from Africa, and bring them both to a wider audience and to the modern world.

 

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

 

Fictionally Yours,

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In some of my previous posts I’ve talked about my effort to deliberately seek out new genres and authors to stretch myself as a reader. For every 100 books that I read, there’s hundreds more that I haven’t read, and the ever-so-helpful reading lists generated by magazines and websites remind me of that fact.

 

Let’s be honest. Humans are creatures of habit, and time is limited. When it comes to books, it’s tempting to stick to what we know we like and never take a risk on anything new. In seeking out new authors and somewhat less publicized titles, I’ve discovered a lot of really great books that I never would have guessed I’d like. Like so many readers, I always fantized about having the time to read them all. Then... the world was on lockdown. Theoritically I could concentrate on checking out of all the interesting new e-books I’d put on hold months ago. Instead, I started seeking out some of the familiar bestselling authors I know I’ve enjoyed in the past.

 

Before books became my career, I read everything by authors such as Nora Roberts, and Stephen King. If I found a new title by these authors in the bookstore I’d grab it, and probably read it right away. My not reading them in recent years wasn’t due to a loss of interest or a dislike of their books, but time. Time was a factor in losing track of many popular authors who I enjoyed, and as much as I’ve tried to keep up with their books, I realized long ago that I can’t read everything.

 

Any avid reader will admit that their To Be Read pile contains more books than they’ll read in a lifetime (I know mine does) and sometimes, my desire to read whatever catches my attention at the moment overtakes my desire to read something by someone I already like- especially when I know the author is a bestseller and will be a must-have for libraries regardless of whether I read it.

 

Coming back to these authors felt like a comfortable old piece of clothing for my brain when the daily news was too bleak to follow and my stress-levels were at their max. They’ve been around for years, they’re familiar, and other than briefly wondering if they were still a good fit after so many years, there wasn’t a lot of risk involved in reading them. I knew I’d enjoyed them in the past, and I knew exactly what I could expect from their books.

 

Under Currents by Nora Roberts / a dock on a lake, shrouded in purple lightAs it turned out, I enjoyed the books very much, and I felt a teeny pang of remorse that it took me so long to get to them. Under Currents by Nora Roberts 3889630 was a good blend of romance and suspense, and I was so invested in the characters that I was physically worried for them whenever they were in peril. The romance was predictable, but Roberts writes well, and predictable fit the bill of what I was looking for. A little bit of substance, a little bit of sweet, and happily ever after.

 

The Institute by Stephen King /  a boy sitting on a bed in a bedroom that is inside a train car on a trackThe Institute by Stephen King 3629240 was every bit as creepy and disturbing as I’d remembered his books being, and it was a good thrill. The premise was original, the bad guys were really bad, and naturally, everything boiled down to good-versus-evil. While it’s not the same kind of happy ending that you get from a romance novel or a fairy tale, it was a satisfying ending, and it felt good to see good triumph.

 

In the end, going back to these old favourites turned out to be a great thing because I realized something important. As important as it is to read broadly and diversely, it’s also important to read what and who you like, and in my efforts to stretch, I lost sight of the importance of comfort reading. Not everything I read has to a well-reviewed title or by someone I’ve never read before. Discovering new authors is great, but sometimes you just need those comfy old sweats to feel comfortable.

 

The Return by Nicholas Sparks / a flower framed porch and doorNow that a year has passed and the world might start to go back to normal, I took some time to review my holds list at the library. I added some new books to the list by more of my favourites, and am really excited to rediscover some of the books I’ve missed by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Nicholas Sparks, and more. Hopefully reading them will make me happy, and the best part is that I won’t feel guilty at all if and when they do.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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This summer I’ll have been working in the book industry for 22 years, first as a bookseller and then for library wholesalers. Over that time I’ve seen many short-shelf life titles. These are the books that either get returned to the publisher at first opportunity, or titles that are popular for a brief burst and then fade into oblivion. With the recent deaths of Clive Cussler, Mary Higgins Clark, Joanna Lindsey and M.C. Beaton (all of whom were still publishing before their deaths), I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what gives these or any authors staying power.

 

I first discovered Mary Higgins Clark’s mysteries through my mom, and continued to enjoy her books for many years. Believe it or not, she published her first novel Where Are The Children in 1975, and since then, most or all of her 38 solo suspense novels (not counting those she co-authored with son Alafair Burke and daughter Carol Higgins Clark) have become bestsellers and have perpetually stayed in print.

 

In an age where up to 1 million books are being published annually in the United States alone, shrinking attention spans, and limited shelf space, the fact that an author can still get new titles on the bestseller list is quite a feat. Digging deeper, when I examined a top 100 list of most popular fiction authors, I discovered some pretty interesting facts about authors that I either used to read or currently read who have been around for decades.

 

wedding dress by danielle steel / a bride in a tapered dress against an purple fieldPopular romance author Danielle Steel is the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time, and has sold over 800 million copies of her books since her first the publication of her first novel in 1973. She even set a Guinness World Record in 1989 for spending the most consecutive weeks on a bestseller list- 390 weeks or 7.5 years in total, which rarely happens. To put it in perspective, only about 37% of fiction titles stay on the list more than 4 weeks, and the longest number of weeks of any title currently on the New York Times Bestseller list is 74. These days, she can be counted on to release around 6 books a year, and while they may not be reaching Guinness levels, they are consistently in demand.

 

hideaway by nora roberts / a flower garden on a cliff over looking the ocean

Nora Roberts, who does double duty writing as herself and under the pen name J.D. Robb published her first novel in 1981, and has more than 400 million copies of her books in print. 59 of her books have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and she’s been dubbed America’s favourite novelist by The New Yorker. She’s been a favourite of mine for several years, and the million copy print runs of her recent releases suggests that the title is accurate.

 

devoted by dean koontz / a tree in silhouetted against a sky on fireSuspense novelist Dean Koontz, whom I also discovered through my mom, has been around since 1968 when he published the sci-fi novel Star Quest, but he really gained notoriety when he started writing suspense/horror fiction. At least 14 of his books have hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. These are just a few examples, but authors such as Sandra Brown, Stephen King, Fern Michaels, and Stuart Woods have also been publishing since the 70s or 80s, and are still consistently popular with readers.

 

So what does give all of these authors their amazing staying power? Mass appeal is one reason. All of these authors managed to find a mass audience for their books, and they retain their audience because they tell good stories and the books are extremely readable. Calling a book addictive is high praise because it means you can’t put it down. If an author is successful in giving you that experience, naturally you’d want to read another of their titles. There’s also comfort in familiarity, and it’s a lot easier to stick with what you know than to break away and try something new.

 

Compelling characters would be another reason. There is something about their characters that draws us in, makes us care about them to the point that we become invested in their lives. We laugh with them, cry for them, wish we could be them, and want to continually read more about them. Pride and Prejudice was published over 200 years ago, and yet Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy still resonate with modern audiences. To Kill a Mockingbird is over 60-years-old, and Atticus Finch is one of the most beloved characters in literature.

 

the return by nicholas sparks / a garden gate door covered in vinesThe third commonality is that they have universal themes that readers relate to. Whether it’s the struggle to reach a personal goal, a struggle with humanity, life and death, good and evil, and the ever-popular love, the most famous novels address some or all of these themes. Nicholas Sparks who is best known for his tragic love story The Notebook has a huge following, and he’s widely considered the standard for modern romance. He writes about ordinary people who find love and often lose love through tragedy. While some people may criticize the author for his saccharinity and sappiness, there is something about these stories that draws readers and keeps them coming back for each new book.

 

Obviously these aren’t the only reasons that keep us sticking with our favourite authors, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the popular authors of today who are still hitting bestseller lists in 10, 20 or 30 years, all of their books will have these things in common.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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There is something comforting about reading a series. They afford us the opportunity to constantly revisit familiar characters and locations. Through our favourite characters we solve mysteries, travel through time, discover lost relics, etc... without ever leaving our homes, and there are seemingly endless stories to enjoy.

 

The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child / two highways crossing in an x.

Characters such as Jack Reacher, Alex Cross, Stephanie Plum or Stone Barrington continue to be popular with readers, and the authors dutifully come up with new stories to tell about them. So what actually constitutes a series? In broad strokes, it’s any sequence of books with characteristics in common that link them together. Where series become complicated is the different ways that they are organized.

 

A novel sequence set is a series that has themes, characters, or settings in common, but each book has its own title and can stand alone or as part of a series. All of the characters I referred to above are an example of this. Books may make reference to something that happened in a past book, but for the most part, the character changes very little. These can be numbered, or just grouped together like the Harlequin Romances. These make a great casual read because you can pick it up from anywhere and not have missed much. I like to start with the first book because it introduces the character, but it's not necessary.

 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon / a golden crown on a red field.The other type of series is a chronological series such as Song of Ice and Fire or Outlander where the characters go through changes and the books build on past events. A series like this needs to be read in order, and if you miss one, it can be very difficult to catch up.

 

Aside from these traditional series, there are trilogies (three books), books that are one novel split into multiple volumes such as Lord of the Rings, prequels and sequels.

 

The release of the next book in a beloved series is a big deal, especially in the JUV/YA market where the recent Hunger Games prequel and the forthcoming Twilight novel are big news. And should George R.R. Martin ever get around to finishing the next novel in the Game of Thrones series¸ you can only imagine the celebrations that will happen virtually or in person should that be a possibility by the time the book releases.

 

I have a love hate relationship with series. I love them for a few reasons. When an author creates a character or characters I really like, I love having a chance to revisit them in additional books. While there aren’t a lot of novel sequences that I currently follow in print, I do enjoy dipping back into the world of David Baldacci’s Amos Decker or Jude Deveraux’s Montgomery family when I get a chance. In the case of Deveraux, the stories span multiple time periods and generations, and I love reading about the Montgomery family past and present.

 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory / a black woman and a white man hiding behind a menu sitting at a table while fireworks occur behind them I've also really enjoyed the romance novels of Jasmine Guillory who has written several loosley linked books featuring the same characters. Each book tells a different character's story, and only lightly reference events from the other books so they don't have to be read in order. 

 

My love for chronological series is less about the characters and more about the ongoing story. Sometimes there’s just too much story to tell in just one book, and the series format allows the author to tell a more detailed story from beginning to end. On the other hand, novel sequences can continue for as long as the author feels like writing about them which could be 10 books, 50, or 100. One such author has openly admitted his wish to kill off his character and end the series, but don’t worry—he’s not actually going to do it.

 

Chronological series are not without their frustrations, and this is where the hate part comes in. There can be long waits in between books (again, George R.R. Martin we’re looking at you), and unless you have the memory of an elephant, if too much time passes, you run the risk of forgetting what was going on unless you reread the previous books. Finding time to read the entire series can also be difficult, and in the case of both types of series, keeping track of all of the titles in a long-running series requires time and organization. 

 

When I was a kid, my grandmother lived around the corner from a Coles and she would keep a list in her purse of the next title in whatever series I was reading so she could pick it up when it came out. This was a great pre-tech way to keep up, but if she lost the paper, she’d have to wait until we were both at home so I could check my shelves and help her start the list over again.

 

Thanks to book tracking apps such as Goodreads and My Book Pledge, it’s a lot easier to keep track of which series titles I have or haven’t read, but it’s still something I have to check.

 

When it comes to chronological series, my preference is to binge read the whole series once all of the books are released. This is definitely easier to do when there aren’t ten 500 page books, but if I’m enjoying it and want to read the next book, I love being able to pick up the next one and continue without interruption. It’s torturous enough waiting a few months for the next season of an ongoing TV drama after a cliff-hanger ending, let alone waiting a year or two for the next book.

 

If a new series is generating a lot of buzz I might be compelled to pick it up and start it, but I’ve left a lot of series unfinished because I never get back to it after the second or third book. I always intend to, but there are just so many other books to read!

 

Whether you read them slowly and one at a time, or quickly and all at once, series get us excited and keep us engaged with reading, and what more can you ask for from a book?

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, 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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