Shelf Talkers

Shelf Talkers is a monthly series where independent booksellers across Canada tell us about a book they would put (and are putting!) in everyone's hands, it is that good.

Shelf Talkers: Melting Queens, Mysteries, and More

With all due respect and apologies to the rest of the country (I’m looking at you especially, St. John’s), I’d like us to take a moment to consider winter.

This is a topic with which, until recently, I have been largely unfamiliar. Now, though, having survived two days in which there were several centimetres of snow on the ground in Victoria, I feel uniquely qualified to discuss the frigid season. (Honestly, I’ve never felt more Canadian.)

And I just have to say: I don’t like it.

No sir. Not one bit.

It probably goes without saying that, for me, adding “winter” in front of the word “sports” doesn’t do anything to make them more enticing. And have you noticed that all of these “fun” pastimes are actually accidents waiting to happen? “Hey kids, let’s strap a board or two onto our feet and go down a frozen hill really fast!” “You know what sounds like fun? Tying blades to our feet and trying to stay upright on a sheet of ice!”

Not for me.

And then there’s the matter of trying to figure out where you packed your scarf and gloves twenty-three years ago, after the end of the Blizzard of '96. How can I possibly be expected to keep track of things like that?

No …

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Shelf Talkers: November 2015

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. The air is crisp, the world outlined in the sharpness that only a Canadian cold brings. In the distance, you can hear the sound of sleigh bells...

Wait, no.

Sorry. Those are cash registers.

This IS the most wonderful time of year, but it is also the most intense retail season of the year (as someone who spent more than two decades behind the till, I promise you those things can and do exist simultaneously. Surreptitious Baileys helps). Everyone is out lo …


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Shelf Talkers: Thanksgiving 2015 Edition

The experts say (well, let’s put “experts” in quotation marks here—the “experts” in the Self-Help section say) that an understanding and expression of gratitude in our daily lives is one of the keys to greater happiness and a more thorough sense of well-being in our own existence.

It’s a good suggestion, and likely a valuable process, but an ongoing sense of gratitude is something I have never quite been able to integrate into my generally more cynical days.

Which is why, every year, …


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Shelf Talkers: September 2015

You would think that school would be paradise for a bookish, nerdy kid, like I was. But as any former bookish, nerdy kid will tell you, that was hardly the case. Sure, there was always lots to read, new books to discover, stories to talk about (and sometimes even write!). But there was a downside as well. So often, the books we had to read were old hat, or overly familiar. Things I’d read long before, or things I had no interest in reading.

I lost track, early on, of the number of times I got c …


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Shelf Talkers: August 2015

Normally in this space, I try to write something a little clever by way of an introduction to the current round of recommendations from our panel of independent booksellers. (I say “try”—cleverness isn’t something that one can rely on, as my fourth-grade teacher often told me, usually before sending me out into the hallway to think about what I had done.) This month, though, I’m going to go with something a little different: sincerity. Sincerity and gratitude.

I spent more than two deca …


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Shelf Talkers: July 2015

It’s become a familiar cliché, a trope we’ve all seen all too often in movies, TV, and books... Strangely, though, when I was growing up, I was never, not once, asked to write an essay about what I did on my summer vacation. It would have been a pretty easy essay to write: as a kid, I spent my summer holidays exactly the same way I’m spending this one: reading. Sure, now I’m reading in my comfy chair in my office (usually with a cold beverage of the adult variety) rather than in a tree …


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Shelf Talkers: June 2015

Like most kids, I always looked forward to this time of year with a keen anticipation. I loved going back to school in September, but June brought an incredible rush of joy and elation—for two months, I would be able to read whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted.

I spent the summer months in the hayloft, or in an upstairs bedroom at my grandmother’s house, curled up on the couch or perched in an apple tree, on the front step or in the backyard, but always, always, engrossed in a book. I would …


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Shelf Talkers: May 2015

Hark!

What is that, in the sky? Is it spring, unfolding all around us, after what was, for much of the country, a long and brutal winter?

Is that the scent of flowers on the breeze?

May is upon us, and in the wake of the amazing experience of Authors for Indies Day, we have a selection of recommendations from a handful of Canada’s foremost independent booksellers. Fiction and poetry, adult books and a kids book, this installment of Shelf Talkers is a veritable bouquet of spring blooms. And what b …


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Shelf Talkers Special Edition: Authors for Indies

Oh, my, what a month! April marks the first anniversary of this column, which offers monthly recommendations from independent booksellers across the country—the books you need to read, from people who know reading best.

(Waiting a moment, looking around ... Where’s the balloon drop?)

To celebrate, we have something even better than a balloon drop. We have an entire national movement! This month we have an extra-special, jumbo-sized edition of Shelf Talkers, wherein some of Canada’s finest …


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Shelf Talkers: March 2015

Drip, drip, drip ... Canada is beginning to thaw, and with a new season bursting out, we need new books to celebrate. Thankfully, independent bookstores across the country are here to help. This month, we have five booksellers (including a new addition to the Shelf Talkers’ roster!) with five personal recommendations.

*****


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Shelf Talkers: January 2015

It’s a brand new year which means that booksellers across this fine nation are picking themselves up and dusting themselves off after the blur and chaos of December. They’re both looking back and looking ahead, giving a sense and perspective to the year and the books just past, and gazing hopefully, always hopefully, at the year and books just ahead.

Here are five of our finest booksellers, ready again to help you fill your shelves with the best books this country—and its bookstores—have …


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Shelf Talkers for December

“Ho-ho-holy cow,” booksellers across the country are saying. “It can’t possibly be December already!”

Brace yourselves, all: yes, it is.

The most wonderful time of the year.

The shelves are crammed and sagging under the weight of lovely new books. The aisles are crammed and bulging with readers, eager to find that perfect book. And through it all, the brave and intrepid booksellers of this nation, making the perfect bookish matches for the holiday season.

Yes, it’s the busiest time of th …


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Shelf Talkers for November

The beginning of November always feels like a moment of transition, that sudden shift of time making the autumn nights come earlier, that charge to the air that brings your scarf up over your mouth, the seemingly overnight switch between pumpkin spice and eggnog ...

It’s many booksellers' favourite time of year, a thrilling month of new books read, prizes awarded, and an ever-increasing number of readers coming in to the store. Yes, the countdown to the festive season is upon us, but bookseller …


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Shelf Talkers: October 2014

We’re in the heart of it now—the fall new release season is upon us, new books swirling all around like leaves in a gale. Only the bravest can weather such times, the courageous independent booksellers who stand fast, ardently reading, as the autumn rages around them. Here are a few of their personal recommendations.

*****

The Bookseller: Sue Saunderson, Blue Heron Books, Uxbridge, ON


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Shelf Talkers for September

With September comes back-to-school reading lists (well, except in BC, where the main texts seem to be Supreme Court rulings, political skullduggery, and opinion pieces), new books to delight and illuminate readers. Booksellers across the country are in the same boat, poring over new releases and advance copies to keep abreast of all that is new as the busy fall season kicks into gear. This month's Shelf Talkers is chock-a-block with new books just waiting to meet you.

*****


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Shelf Talkers for August

It’s time for the languorous days of August, those days of carefully conserved motion, constant hydration, and the gradual ebbing away of cares on waves of summer’s bliss ...
That’s the theory, anyway. As we all know, sometimes it doesn’t quite work out as planned.
For Canada’s independent booksellers, August marks the start of the fall book season, which this year looks more impressive than ever. But that’s all still to come. Here’s what our hardy booksellers have been reading and …


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Shelf Talkers Shopping List

49th Shelf is all about making it easy to find your next great Canadian read, and over the past year, we've introduced several series with that goal in mind. One of these is Shelf Talkers, which has author and former bookseller Robert J. Wiersema asking independent booksellers from across Canada what books in particular they're thrusting into the hands of customers. Today's post is a one-stop access point for all our Shelf Talkers so far.

*****


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Shelf Talkers for July

With the echoes of fireworks still ringing in our ears and sunburns still making it hard to find even a remotely comfortable outfit, what better way to celebrate this country than with a selection of Canadian books, recommended by our tireless Canadian independent booksellers (and readers).
This month’s list is as delicious as a fresh strawberry, as memorable as campfire smoke, as invigorating as a cold drink on a hot afternoon ... Yes, the first books of summer are upon us—enjoy!

*****


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Shelf Talkers for June

It’s not just that booksellers sell books (well, hopefully...), it’s that they read. They read not only with a voraciousness and attention unrivalled in the trade, but with a passion and a hope that remains, for the best of them, undiminished, despite years, sometimes decades, of season after season of new books, and new favourites.

The best of those books are the ones they share with their fellow readers in-store, and here, on Shelf Talkers. Here are some bookseller favourites for June.

***** …


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Shelf Talkers for May 2014

When you’re considering adjectives to describe Canada’s independent booksellers, “eclectic” has to be near the top of the list. And this month’s installment of Shelf Talkers reflects that, with cookbooks, kids books, fiction and fantasy and more from booksellers from across the country.

*****

uofm

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Shelf Talkers for April 2014: A New Series by Robert J. Wiersema

shelftalkerslessonphoto

To paraphrase an old cliché: you can find any book online; you need a bookseller to find the right one.

One of the great joys of life as a bookseller is the relationships you build with readers in your community. These people are more than customers, something different from friends . …


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