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Alcuin Society’s best-designed CDN books of 2017
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Alcuin Society’s best-designed CDN books of 2017

By 49thShelf
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The Alcuin Society has announced the winners of its 36th annual competition, The Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, held Saturday March 17th, 2018. Awards will be presented this fall in both Toronto and Vancouver. The winning books will be entered in the international book design competition in Leipzig, Germany in February 2019. They will be exhibited in Germany at the Frankfurt and Leipzig Book Fairs; in Japan, at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, in conjunction with the Tokyo International Book Fair; and in almost every province of Canada. The venues are listed on the Alcuin web site. This year’s judges, Sue Colberg, Shelley Gruendler, and Frank Viva, selected 38 winning titles from 235 submissions, from 10 provinces and 107 publishers. This year’s book design winners are:
The Inviting Life

The Inviting Life

An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness

Far more than a guide to homemaking and being a fine host—although it is definitely all that too—The Inviting Life is about how to live each day with a desire and determination to turn the ordinary into something lovely. It’s also a book about why we should bother. Whether the subject is décor, ambience, shopping, feeding weary travellers, mixing cocktails, planning dinner parties, or getting yourself motivated for spring cleaning, Laura Calder affirms the value of our everyday activities …

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A Digestif

It’s a given that when we host a party, or attend one, we’re expected to put our best face forward: we’re at ease, we look good, we’re smiling and welcoming, we’re showing genuine interest in other people’s comfort, and we’re being generous and helpful. It’s not realistic to maintain these levels of grace and charm around the clock, day in and day out, but it isn’t a bad notion to have that ideal in our minds as a guide and at least to strive for that, not just at a black-tie event or a community barbeque, but everywhere—at the office, on public transport, in an overcrowded shopping mall. For one thing, it’s a good way to snap ourselves out of being grouch almighty or from acting like a sulky opera heroine whenever we find ourselves in situations that push our buttons, say in a traffic jam or dealing with a customer-service rep over the telephone.

I suppose every era has the same complaint (at least somewhere on the planet), but I have to say that in my lifetime, the world has never felt more uncivil or full of hatred, violence, and fear. The Middle East is a disaster; much of Africa is in strife; Europe is straining at the seams; the states of America feel about as united as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out of their box onto the floor; the World Wide Web is a perpetual warzone of differing opinions and standards of behaviour. Not that anyone ever said life was all roses, the world one giant, fragrant garden of justice and kindness. Evil is always with us, jerks always among us, and every era has its reasons for getting up in arms.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” If you want to get depressed, it doesn’t take much. It’s overwhelming, too, because when the world is in so much trouble all at once, those of us who care can feel powerless and wonder how we can begin to try to fix it.

I’m hoping that the answer is “little by little.” Our tiny, so-called insignificant daily acts—helping someone across the street, watering a flower, making a good soup—are cracks in the gloom that let in light. The more rays we allow through, perhaps the sooner the skies may clear. “That best portion of a man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,” as Wordsworth phrased it, is, at the end of the day, what’s at the heart of hosting and making home.
These are the thoughts and actions that can flip the coin from hostility to hospitality side up. These oft-dismissed activities in fact can be important leadership roles, major civilizing forces vital to the health of society and an essential place to start taking back power and changing the world.

Ten Ways to Make Life More Inviting Right Now
1. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a while and find out how they are (especially if it’s to heal an old wound).
2. Cook something delicious and invite someone over to eat it, even if it’s just a baked potato.
3. Clean something dirty, even if it’s just a doorknob.
4. Fix something broken, even if it’s just a fingernail.
5. Make something ugly or banal into something beautiful, even if it’s just your thoughts.
6. Say something nice, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself.
7. Do something kind, even if it’s just to smile at a stranger.
8. Give a thoughtful gift, even if it’s just a wildflower.
9. Lend a hand, even if it’s just holding open a door.
10. Write down ten more ways to make life inviting, and start making them happen right now.

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