As is my tendency, I walked around Vancouver during my recent visit looking at the city through a bookish lens: always fun to do, and found some fascinating (and impressive) literary hangouts.
I’m always up for a visit to a local independent bookstore, and a quick search online yielded the nugget that the Indigo bookstore was quite close by, and although it’s not that well sign-posted externally (so easy to miss), it’s a treasure trove of literary loveliness inside the actual store.
It’s a well-lit haven of all things to do with the written word, including books (with a special focus on Canadian authors/lit which I found very helpful), but also a pretty well-stocked supply of other authors, big and small, and the usual selection of book-shop extras such as blank journals and other stationary accessories. (These were lovely though, so I’m not knocking it at all.)
I had entered with the intention of buying a title by a Canadian First Nation/aboriginal author, but when I asked an associate, she pointed me to the tiniest display of Canada-related books. I was confused as to the small choice since this place is one of the premier bookshops in Vancouver, so I looked at the selection and then looked up and there, before me stood a whole WALL of Canadian authors/books which had a much larger selection.
After pondering why I hadn’t been pointed to this huge display of possible reads, I mooched over to see what they had – such riches by authors new-to-me and old, but since luggage space was at a premium on this trip, I ended up buying just one book. (They did however have a sale on Moleskin notebooks – sales are rare! – so I ended up buying one of them for 20 percent off. (Seriously – there are never sales for Moleskin journals and notebooks. Never (at least in my experience).)
(Since Canada uses dollars (except they’re Canadian dollars – of course), I kept forgetting to translate prices to U.S. dollars so at first, everything seems sooo expensive, but when I finally remembered to do the exchange rate, things were actually pretty good prices. Sigh. I was such a tourist.)
Another free afternoon later in the week yielded a happy visit to the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) which is, to put it mildly, a FANTASTIC space for readers. Seriously. It’s one of the most modern and biggest libraries that I have ever visited. Floor after floor of literature and numerous other community services (even a musical instrument lending collection (should you need a banjo or a flute, for example).)
The VPL was amazing on each floor (and there were nine floors!). They had writers-in-residence positions, they had so much light and space for its patrons, and get this magical option: they had a roof-top garden available for everyone. This wasn’t just an afterthought as well: it was landscaped with trees and plants, provided shade and tables and chairs (along with benches) and the view was stupendous: you were almost sky-high with all the notable surrounding architecture, some of which buildings also had roof-top spaces for their tenants. I’d never seen anything like it. Even better, it was free and available for anyone in the community.
(Curiously, Vancouver is a very clean city. I didn’t see that many trashcans so I’m not sure where Vancouverites put their rubbish, but perhaps this is sorted out by the commonly available and comprehensive recycling cans? Not sure.)
In case you’re still wondering, I really enjoyed Vancouver!
(For more info about my Vancouver experience, try this post.)
Sign at the recent FoL Book Sale. Yippee for readers with a good sense of humor. 🙂
The FoL summer book sale was held the other day, and although I tried to not go, I did end up spending some time there. (Well, to not go would have been so rude, don’t you think?)
And so this is what I ended up with in my shopping bag, all ready for a future summer’s day. Uncertain which summer it will be, but I’m ready! 🙂
Top to bottom:
- Snow Angels – Stewart O’Nan (usually good fiction writer)
- The Last Picture Show – Larry McMurtry (fiction set in Texas. I first read this in my first semester at American university and hadn’t been in Texas long enough to get the references. I think now that I’ve been here a while, I will appreciate it more.)
- The Best American Short Stories (1999) – edited by Amy Tan (F) (current slight craze on short stories)
- Tinkerbelle – Robert Manry (NF travel – guy has never sailed before, but buys a boat and sails across the Atlantic with many adventures…)
- Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison (F and African-American classic which I haven’t read but with the new focus on reading more POC will do so soon)
- Bailey’s Cafe – Gloria Naylor (F) (see above about the focus on reading more POC authors)
- Advertising in America – (NF) big coffee book with some lovely color plates of old advertising from across the USA
And going against my usual grain of not-reading-things-I’ve-just-bought, I’ve just finished a good read of the Naylor fiction. Loved it so expect more to come about that.
So hmm…. What’s next?
When I found this title on the New Releases shelf at our local library, I immediately picked it up as a great fit for me to peruse. It’s a smallish coffee table book with color photographic portraits of librarians from all over the country, taken when the photographer visited a couple of the ALA annual conferences, and although it seems a little lightweight in scope, this was a fun read. A book about people who love books and information – what’s not to like?
What’s not to like is that this book was full of spelling errors and typos which, considering that the topic is literacy and how to access information, was quite ironic when you think about it. (In fact, one of the misspelled words was actually “literacy”…Sigh.)
I can understand one or two errors. That can happen, but page after page of poor writing started to wear on my writer’s soul after a while. All of the mistakes could (and should) have been caught in a careful pre-printing proof, and this was a shame as I loved the book’s concept. Who wouldn’t want to learn more about librarians? 🙂 In the end, the errors ended up being rather distracting for me.
The author is primarily a professional photographer, so the actual photos were pretty good for the most part, although (and I promise I’m not being too picky here) if you are a prof photographer, there’s really very little excuse for some of the actual portraits that were included being out of focus (wrt depth of field). (Or – even more perplexing: why choose them to be in the book in the first place?)
Come on, buddy. You’re not trying to take photos of a herd of cheetahs running at top speed across the savannah in the middle of the night. These photo subjects are folks who probably agreed to have the photo taken between conference sessions in a hotel lobby with a set of lights and a background, and most of the portrait subjects are either sitting down or standing still. It’s not rocket science, my friend. Why would you include photos that are not quite in focus in a book that revolves around your photographs? (And the depth of field issues are not for an arty creative reason. Or not that I could see.)
Additionally, the book concept was lovely, but was again weakened by the fact that underneath each photo of the various librarians was a short sentence about why libraries are important to the subject, and tbh, after the 23rd person underlining how important libraries are to the community in similar fashion, it was a little tedious.
What kept me going through the pages, though, was looking at the photos of the librarians from across the country, most of whom, both men and women, have a very creative individual fashion sense (which was just lovely). There were very few of the matching cardigan twin set type with pearls, and going by the photos, librarians seem to be a great group with a fun attitude to life.
(And, since it was a book about wonderful librarians, there was naturally a portrait of Nancy Pearl. 🙂 )
So, in the end, although I loved the book’s concept, I am pretty grateful that I used the library for this read. (Thank you, library!)
It was the annual book sale at the local library over the weekend, and, in the spirit of giving and community support, I had to go. (Maybe it was the books… You know how it is… )
I found some good titles, and without much more ado, here are the books:
- Some Nerve – Patty Chang Anker (NF)
- The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux (travel UK)
- I’m Down – Mishna Wolf (autobio) (NF)
- The Best American Short Stories 1997 – Annie Proulx (ed.) (F)
- The Best American Travel Writing 2001 – Paul Theroux (ed.) (NF)
- Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories – Annie Proulx (2004) (F)
- The Party that Lasted 100 Days: The Late Victorian Season – Hilary Evans, Mary Evans (1976) (NF)
What to choose, what to choose….
I ended up having to sort out my book shelves to make space for the new additions, and, in the process, giving back two big bags of books to the FOL to share the love. (Pats myself on the back for such a noble achievement.)
I decided that if I haven’t read the book (or even pulled it off the shelf) in the last few years, obvs I’m not that interested in reading it, so back to the FOL it goes, which, for some of them, was where I picked them up last time. The endless cycle of life. 🙂
In the meantime, I’m reading The Lizard Cage (Karen Connelly), a really good novel about a political prisoner in confinement in Burma….
So May has come and gone, and we’re at the halfway point to the year. Thought I’d do a round-up post to review last month’s read, and see where we are and what we’ve been up to. (Note the royal “we”.)
The reads for May included:
- A Man from Norlands – John Buchan (1936) F
- Medical Apartheid – Harriet A. Washington (2007) NF
- Hope in the Dark (essays) – Rebecca Solnit (2016) NF
- Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (2014) F
So to the numbers:
Total number of books read in January: 4
Total number of pages read: 1,462 pages (av. 365).
Fiction/Non-Fiction: 2 fiction / 2 non-fiction.
Diversity: 2 POC. 2 books by women.
Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): 3 library books, 1 owned book and 0 e-books.
Plans for June: I’m planning not to plan. [Hollow laugh. We’ll see how that goes…!] 🙂
So, as tends to happen on the weekend, I visited the library and ended up leaving with quite the stack. I’m not sure if I will actually get to all of these, but it’s fun to have the choices..
Top to bottom in above image:
- This Side of Paradise – Scott Fitzgerald 1920 (F)
- The Crofter and the Laird: Life on an Hebridean Island – John McPhee 1969 (NF)
- The Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig 1968 (NF)
- Bedknob and Broomstick – Mary Norton 1943 (F)
- Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways – Larry McMurtry 2000 (NF travel)
- Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama 1995 (NF – autobiography)
- As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda – Gail Collins (2012) (NF – political)
- Eyewitness Books: Sports – Tim Hammond 1988 (NF)
- Eyewitness Books: Building – Philip Wilkinson 1995 (NF)
- Eyewitness Books: Castle – Christopher Gravett 1994 (NF)
I was interested to see that the U.S. title for the kidlit book, Bedknob and Broomstick was singular. In my mind and growing up in England, I had always heard it as plural (i.e. Bedknobs and Broomsticks), but that could easily have been a faulty memory on my part. I’m going to read this as part of my ongoing Century of Books project – it fills out 1947 rather nicely.
I am deep into Obama’s autobiography. I miss that guy…