Category Archives: What I’m Reading

E-Reader Guilt? Get Rid of It and Enjoy the Story

I saw this on Twitter and wanted to pass it on: Humans Have the Need to Read, from the Guardian.

I think there is a lot of e-reader guilt going around these days. In some circles, having an e-reader feels a bit like pulling out a pack of smokes in a British Columbia – bad.

I love books, but I love my e-reader too. When I’m travelling, I’d rather not fill up my already over-stuffed suitcase with books, and I really like that I can make notes about passages or highlight interesting quotes without worrying about folding over pages or damaging the book.

I like my e-reader in the tub, too. So far. I have dropped many books in bathwater, but not the kindle, not yet 🙂

When I was a kid, I read anything I could get my hands on: cereal boxes, books, magazines, road signs – if it had text, I read it. Except for comics. My parents didn’t think much of comic books, but I had a secret stash of Archie which I was allowed to look at in the summers only. Perhaps if comics had been marketed as ‘Graphic Novels,’ things would have been different in our house.

Anyway, those comic books never did me any harm. When I’m speaking to kids or teachers or parents, I encourage the kids to read in any format that interests them and ask the parents and teachers to act, not as censors, but as advisers.

And now, I encourage readers to read in any format. Drop the e-reader guilt, if you’ve got it and enjoy the story – that’s what stimulates our brains and keeps us thinking.

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Illinois Woman’s Press Association (IWPA 2012 Contest)

It’s that time of the year already. The IWPA 2012 Communications Contest is upon us and once again, I have been asked to be one of the judges. Active since 1885, the IWPA acts as both an advocate and a voice for women in press and I am honoured to participate in this annual event.

So for the next week, the phone is off the hook while I read through the many entries that arrived in a big box late last week – everything from Feature Stories to News Reporting. If this year’s entries are anything like last years, I can look forward to passionate, interesting and engaging writing. What better way to spend the next little while!

If you want to know more about the IWPA, their website is a wealth of information, links and much more. From their site:

The past 126 years of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association c ombined with the 70+ years history of the National Federation of Press Women has been a powerful force in supporting literacy, women’s issues, the First Amendment and freedom of information. We have developed powerful partnerships with such organizations as the Council of National Journalism Organizations, the National Women’s History Museum and the World Press Freedom Committee.

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Governor General Literary Awards Finalists Announced Today

Today the Canada Council for the Arts released the list of finalist for the GG Awards. I’ve copied the English Fiction list here but interested readers can get the full list the Canada Council Website.

My son gave me a Kindle Reader, just because he is such a great kid, and I think I will download a few of these titles to try it out. At first I was a little wary of the whole idea of reading on an e-reader, but my little den is overflowing with books, so I am looking at the reader as a space-saving device. So far, I have downloaded only one very small book, one I am using for research for the novel I am working on. I like that the reader is so light – easy to stick into my purse and carry with me wherever I go. It has a very long battery life, so, unlike my IPhone, I don’t have to remember to plug it in every night. I really like the search function, and the quick access to a dictionary. I think I am converted, although I still love traditional books and will continue to buy the ones I plan on keeping.

Our next book club book is The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, by John Vaillant and I’ve got the hardcover edition because I’ve enjoyed and wanted to keep his other books. It costs more, almost double to buy a traditional book, but sometimes it’s worth it!

GG Fiction List:

David Bezmozgis, Toronto, The Free World
(HarperCollins Publishers; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-1-44340-399-3)

Patrick deWitt, Portland (Oregon) [originally from Vancouver Island], The Sisters Brothers
(House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88784-289-4)

Esi Edugyan, Victoria (British Columbia), Half-Blood Blues: A Novel
(Thomas Allen Publishers; distributed by Thomas Allen & Son)
(ISBN 978-0-88762-741-5)

Marina Endicott, Edmonton (Alberta), The Little Shadows
(Doubleday Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-385-66891-0)

Alexi Zentner, Ithaca (New York) [originally from Kitchener, Ontario], Touch
(Alfred A. Knopf Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-307-39944-1)

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Super Busy Year Reading – How Great is That?

I’ve returned from paradise, reluctantly and to make leaving Maui even more difficult, it’s snowing in Lotus Land. James is home for reading week, and I want to devout every hour to doing stuff with him, but, alas, I have two days outside work this week and a lot of reading to do.

While I was away, the 2011 Mate E. Palmer Professional Communicators Contest of the Illinois Women’s Press Association (IWPA) sent the first round of work to read for the Print Media category. For those of you who don’t know, the IWPA has an annual contest to provide an opportunity for communicators across the state to gain recognition for their work as published journalists, book authors, photographers, as well as in advertising, among various categories. The IWPA is the oldest state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women.

I am truly honoured to be one of the judges and a little nervous too – after all, I know the competition will be stiff – so much talent!

Then there are the Red Cedar Awards – my living room is full of books for kids and reading them is pure pleasure, except there are so many. I’ll be ready for our next meeting, though and again, there is so much talent, that picking the best of the best is not easy.

And finally, book club. I have bought the books (March: The Places in Between, by Rory Stewart and April: A Farewell to Arms). May, it’s my turn to pick the book and I am thinking Zola.

I have no time to write, which is okay now that the final edits for The Darkness Between the Stars are done :), but I’d like to start a new book, if only I didn’t need sleep.

Re: My invite to Costa Rica that I blogged about earlier. I’m going!!! March 1st and I wish I could put all of this reading on an eReader, but not possible. Maybe by next year?

I have lots more to say about the trip to Costa Rica, but will save that for another time. Stay tuned.

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Red Cedar Awards: What Am I Reading?

This year, I am part of the selection committee for the British Columbia Red Cedar Awards, Fiction – a terrific honour, and my living room is full of books – I actually get to read and call it ‘work,’ and nobody can question what I am doing!

As great as ebooks are, I have to say that the feel, smell and touch of a brand new book cannot be surpassed. So far, I’ve read some terrific books for kids from grades four to seven, and in April, when we somehow decide on the final fifteen, I can guarantee a summer reading list that will ”blow your socks off.” I kind of like that expression – it came to me from out of nowhere!

I have also been chosen one of the judges for the Illinois Women’s Press Association (IWPA) – The IWPA has the annual contest to provide an opportunity for communicators across the state to gain recognition for their work as published journalists, book authors, photographers, as well as in advertising, among various categories. The IWPA is the oldest state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women., along with:

Jennifer Brown Banks
Ashley Mouldon
DeAnna McCleary
David Berner
Joe Nowak
Sylvia Alston

Pretty soon, 30 essays or more should start arriving via snail mail!

And for my Bookclub this month, we are reading: Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America – have to have this read by next weekend. So in answer to, “What am I reading?” Everything.

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Red Cedar Awards 2010/2011

The leaves are falling, dusk is arriving earlier and Halloween is only weeks away, which means, it’s almost Red Cedar Awards time again. Pretty soon information of how you can participate will be up on their website, so keep checking back.

This year I am thrilled to have been chosen as one of the readers/judges for the Red Cedar Awards – as I blog, I am looking at a rather large box of books, but I’ve got until April to get through them – so I guess I’ll have a really good reason to curl up on the couch and do my favourite thing; bury my nose in a book.

Always keep in mind: Good writers are voracious readers. Reading is isn’t a luxury, it’s part of the job!

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The Rhythm of a Writer’s Retreat End Week One @ Val David International Writer’s Res

A writer’s retreat is an odd thing. At first it is almost stressful — the newness of everything — the sense of not knowing where one is in relationship to the geography of the land, to the language, if different, to all those strangers who may or may not be known. Then, a little time goes by; perhaps two or three days and one begins to get a stronger sense of a new place. It’s still foreign, but less so. You’ve sourced out the important things: book store, photocopy store, grocery store and of course, here in Quebec, the SAQ (The Société des alcools du Québec),which began in 1973.

By the fourth or fifth day, you know where to get the best food, who serves the best coffee and who is unfriendly. You make discoveries like the one I did today – a little boulangerie on Rue de Riviere (sorry about the spelling) where everything is fresh and organic and you can sip on a coffee and munch on a garlic, pesto pizza under the shade of towering pine trees with the sound of the River behind you.

And magically, something starts to change in the way you write. Ideas turn into words and sentences turn into paragraphs and pages and new book is born, or a new poem or an new song…the creative shift is so slight, that it is almost indiscernible and you have to make yourself become aware of what is going on. And that’s when the magic really begins.

Is it time without the pressures of life? Is it the sense of timelessness and the feeling that you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. Or is it the luxury of being able to let ideas come, to not be rushed in your thinking or judgmental. Or maybe it’s just change. In a new situation, all animals are more alert, more in tune with their surroundings, more alert to possibilities, both good and bad. Humans are animals and no different from their four-legged cousins in this way.

Whatever it is, writers and artists at every stage of their careers should grab hold of the opportunity to spend some time away from real life in a writer’s or artist’s (often they are mixed) retreat. My best books have been born in these places. What will come from my stay in Val David? I don’t know yet, but I am sure it will be something wonderful.

At night I am reading: Nikolski and l listen to Jonathan GoldstienWire Tap podcasts — the ones where he does his monologues or talks to Gregor, Howard, Tucker, his parents and others on the phone. I’m not so keen on the straight stories…I’d rather read those.

I get the feeling someone is watching out for me

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