Saturday, November 19, 2005

Book checkup

Canadian books
The Globe and Mail reports on the newly released list of the top 100 Canadian books (of which I've read a whopping 8) published in The Literary Review of Canada.
The point was to pick books that shaped the national psyche rather than judging literary merit, she explained, adding that the list, which does include 11 French-language titles, did not attempt a comprehensive overview of Quebec books.

Book lust
Cross Country Checkup this Sunday checks up on books, offering recommendations for Christmas gift giving, and blog-buddy Patricia of Booklust will be joining Rex Murphy to talk about some of her favourite books.

Book pride
Blog-buddy Rachel has a few things to say about Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the book and the new film version. If you think you know anything about this book, and I don't think I do, read her review and be enlightened.

Boy book
It's A Boy, edited by Andrea Buchanan, a collection of essays on the experience of raising boys, has been released, and the blog tour is in full swing. I've been following it with great interest, even though I don't know anything about boys, let alone raising them. Excerpts of the essays are posted on Andi's blog (Mothershock) along with discussions with the book's contributors. There you'll also find links to those blogging about the book, including personal reflections on specific essays and interviews with Andi.

Whether you have a boy or girl, infant or teenager, there's much food for thought in this collection regarding gender stereotypes, societal expectations, and general motherhood-induced anxieties. I don't have a copy of the book myself, but I know someone who's getting it for Christmas. I'm also looking forward to being part of the blog tour to promote the companion volume, It's A Girl, in the spring.

Book don
In case you missed the news, I did finish reading Don Quixote. It's not too late to say something about it.

Book store
I dropped into a big-box bookstore the other day, just for a minute, and while these visits tend to feed various frustrations, I overheard an exchange that restored my faith in the employees.

A mother was asking how long before the most recent Lemony Snicket book is available in paperback. Her son is very impatient. Well, it seems none of them are in paperback. But rather than push the sale of the hardcover, the employee struck up a conversation with the boy in question (and I paraphrase):

"You know, sometimes I wait 2, 3 years for a paperback. There's so many other things to read in the meantime. Do you know what the price difference is? If I wanted the hardcover straight away, I'd have a to work a whole extra 2 hours here to pay for it."

Of course, the employee may not know anything about books, but he did seem to know something about customer relations.

I thought about piping in to reassure the kid, that maybe he could wait till Christmas — someone would surely find it in their heart to give him the gift of book the twelfth, even though it allegedly recounts ghastly unfortunate events. Heck, I'm still waiting, hoping it finds its way into a birthday package for me next week.


Cipriano said...

A very encouraging note about the big-box stores. As you may, or may not know, I pretty much live in one of these stores. I am in one right now, even. And usually, when I overhear the employees discussing books with customers, I wince at how little they seem to really know about the inventory in this place. They practically RUN to the nearest computer terminal in hopes that this will bail them out of having to say anything extemporaneous. So your vignette of someone really taking some time to talk with a customer, especially it being a little kid, it was encouragiung to read this.

Suzanne said...

Good heavens; I've read two of those Canadian books. Very sad for me indeed.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at a big box bookstore, and I have a mixed reaction to that first comment...

Bookselling requires one to be well-read, intelligent, and educated to do it well, and yet, at the end of the day, it's still retail (with all the tedium that involves) and it pays for crap. Someone smart enough to do it well should be smart enough to get a better job. So you get lots of people who aren't that good, and the occasional nutjob who loves it madly for its own sake.

I remember one afternoon at the Borders help desk, overhearing a couple customers behind me who couldn't find The Iliad.

"Let's ask at the help desk," said one.

"Nah, they'll think I mean Homer Simpson!" said the other.

When they finally did come up to ask me, I smiled as sweetly as I could, took them straight to the shelf, and refrained from sarcastically asking, "Which translation?"

So, uh, the irritation runs both ways. But yeah, it was always kind of embarrassing when a coworker had to look up the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird"...

(BTW, I know the word verification letters are randomly generated, but mine contains the word "Nazi"!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the plug! Hope you had a chance to listen to the show. If not, apparently there have already archived the show online.

Isabella K said...

Suzanne: And you're not even Canadian! A handful of them are standards on the high school curriculum, which is how I came to read half my total.

Cipriano, Rachel: You're right, it IS retail at the end of the day. Really, I'm bemoaning the state of customer relations generally, but also the decline of common general knowledge — I guess I hope for just a little bit better from the average bookstore clerk.

(Rachel: My verification contains the word "agnc." Freaky.)

Patricia: I'm listening to the archive this morning. I LOVE The Daughter of Time!