Q&Q polled booksellers across the country to find out which Canadian non-fiction books sold the best this year. Click on the thumbnails below to learn more about each title.
There were plenty of cheers on Oct. 10 when Alice Munro became the first Canadian resident (and the 13th woman) to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. But did the excitement translate to actual book sales?
BookNet Canada wanted to determine if there was a Nobel effect on book buying. The non-profit agency partnered with Nielsen Book to analyze sales in 10 countries, including Spain, India, South Africa, and Australia. The report covers an eight-week period, from the week ending Sept. 21 through to Nov. 10, and includes all of Munro’s available in-print titles (hardcover and paperback only) in both English and in translation.
Here are some of the report highlights:
- There was a Canadian sales increase of 4,424 per cent between the weeks of Sept. 21 and Oct. 19
- The week of the win had the highest increase, from 94 units to 6,345 units (translates to a rise of 6,650 per cent) nationwide
- Out of all the countries surveyed, the U.S. saw the biggest spike, increasing from around 3,000 units to more than 32,600 units the week ending Nov. 2
- In comparison with the Nobel and other honours, Canada Reads still comes out on top with a 4,465 per cent sales increase from the time when the shortlist is revealed to when the winner is announced
BookNet Canada concludes the report by stating it would like to send Munro “a virtual high five and a bear hug.”
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Toronto’s Liss Gallery will resemble Whoville this Saturday, with a special day of exhibitions dedicated to the art of Dr. Seuss creator Theodor Seuss Geisel.
From 1 to 3 p.m., there will be a children’s exhibition featuring celebrity readings of Dr. Seuss classics. A reception from 6 to 9 p.m. will highlight Geisel’s illustration collection and his “secret art,” which he created for personal enjoyment. Bill Dreyer, official curator of the collection, will provide some insight into the beloved author’s life and work.
A portion of proceeds from the day will be donated to Kids Help Phone. (RSVP required: 416-787-9872 or email@example.com.)
Q&Q spoke to Dreyer about Dr. Seuss and the exhibition.
How did you become involved with Dr. Seuss’s art? I have been in fine-art publishing for about 23 years now. In 1997, I was in New York City for the first exhibition of what has become known as the Secret Art of Dr. Seuss. Like so many people, I was taken aback by this treasure trove of imagery that he created. This is the body of work that he painted or sculpted at night for himself that he rarely, if ever, exhibited during his lifetime.
I needed to see more of what the good doctor had created and started to explore his body of work. I found an elaborate group of paintings and sculptures that boggle the mind, but are full of Seussian expression. I wanted to work on it, and about a year and a half later, I came on board full-time, exclusively representing the collection to galleries and museums.
How does the arrangement work? Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’s widow, has given the company I work for the exclusive ability to represent the art collection. All the original artworks are in the home or at the Dr. Seuss archives at the University of California in San Diego.
The originals are priceless and will go to a museum at some point, and the paintings and sculptures at the house will go too, but will never be sold or made available. Audrey did allow one collection of limited editions to be created, and those are the artworks that are represented at about 20 to 25 art galleries around the world. Liss Gallery in Toronto has represented the collection for about a decade.
What works are included in the Secret Art of Dr. Seuss collection? The are fewer than 100 artworks and paintings. There are only 17 known taxidermy sculptures, which I think are the gem of the collection. He created this body of work in the 1930s, when he got real animal parts from his father, who was the superintendent of zoos in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he grew up. His father would give him horns, beaks, antlers, and shells from deceased animals, and Dr. Seuss made what he thought these animals would want to be reincarnated as.
Why didn’t he exhibit these works while he was alive? He really did them for his own personal enjoyment. Working on books, advertisements, or editorial cartoons was hard work for him. The thing he enjoyed most was to paint. That was how he would relax at the end of a long day.
It wasn’t until he got to the end of his life that he realized he should show these works to the world. He let his wife know that when he was gone she could show them.
What works are on display at Liss Gallery? It’s a broad view of his artistic legacy: imagery from his best-known children’s books and works from the Secret Art of Dr. Seuss, including a taxidermy sculpture.
Will there be any surprises? Most people come expecting to see Cat in the Hat and Horton, and they do, but most people leave with a broader respect for what he was doing artistically. In some cases, the artworks are a little more grownup in nature. Nothing that crosses the line, but there is certainly great adult humour.
I don’t know if this is going to be at the gallery, but there’s an artwork of a bird-woman in a coffin and she’s talking on the phone. So often with Dr. Seuss he gives you the punchline, and, in this case, he writes that she’s saying, “I’d love to go to the party but I’m absolutely dead.”
There’s another one called “After Dark in the Park.” It’s from 1933, four years before he wrote his first children’s book, and yet you see the Seuss train coming down the track. Turtles are stacking up just like they do 20 years later in Yertle the Turtle. You see One Fish, Two Fish–like characters. All of his wacky, wonderful characters were developed years before he wrote his first children’s book.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Twitter Canada managing director Kirstine Stewart is set to publish her first book with Random House Canada in spring 2015.
According to a press release, Our Turn is about women in leadership roles “in a time of generational shifts in the workforce and changing corporate values and opportunities.” Derived in part from a speech Stewart gave at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management in October, the book will draw on her experiences in her job at Twitter Canada, as well as her previous roles as CBC English services executive vice-president and programming vice-president for Alliance Atlantis. Stewart will also look at how new-media technologies encourage flexibility and creativity in business, and the opportunities that are opening up for women as a result.
Our Turn was acquired by Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group publisher Anne Collins and Random House of Canada president Kristin Cochrane from agent Chris Bucci of Anne McDermid & Associates.
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It may be the 35th anniversary of his eponymous dance company, but Toronto choreographer and artistic director Janak Khendry hasn’t been taking it easy. For the past three years Khendry has been focusing on one of the biggest challenges of his career: an adaptation of John Milton’s 1667 epic poem Paradise Lost.
During the two-hour performance, Khendry mixes contemporary dance with classical forms of Indian dance to depict Milton’s archetypal struggle between good and evil, and to draw parallels between the literary work and ancient Indian scriptures. As part of his extensive research, Khendry brought in two Milton scholars as advisers: Tulsiram Sharma and Philip Pullman, who is best known as the U.K. author of The Golden Compass.
Q&Q spoke to Khendry prior to the performance, which runs Dec. 6–8 at Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre.
Why did you want to adapt Paradise Lost? It goes way, way back to when I was a student. We read the shorter version, and I couldn’t understand the whole thing, but I loved it. I have a strange habit of keeping ideas in the back of my mind, where they keep germinating. Finally, when the right time comes, they emerge.
For the last 11 years I’ve been working with a very important Indian scholar, Dr. Tulsiram Sharma. We were researching another project on 4,000 years of the Ganga’s history, and out of nowhere I asked him if he wanted to do it. His face lit up, as his doctorate from the University of London was on Paradise Lost.
How did Philip Pullman become involved? I went to the bookstore and there was a huge shelf with copies of Paradise Lost. I pulled a book out, brought it to the studio and started reading Philip Pullman’s introduction. I was laughing loudly at this dry British humour, thinking, “I have to know this person.” I looked him up on the Internet, and called the international operator right away.
Is there a connection between India and Paradise Lost? In the book, Milton mentions India 11 times. Also, Books VIII, IX, and X echo content in Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, two very important Indian scriptures. It always amazes me how two minds from two different cultures could have the same thought and write it down.
What were the biggest challenges in creating this work? The writing is so complicated and has taken a lot of planning and thinking. With writing you can move back and forth in time, but in dance, you can’t go back to something on stage. So I had to work out a system to develop the story in sequential order.
How much liberty did you take with the story? I stuck very close to the Indian scriptures. I don’t change those at all. But choreographers and artists do have the liberty of how they want to present the story.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Archie Comics co-CEO sued for discriminating against male employees, Quebec approves book price fixing, and more
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Q&Q contacted independent booksellers across the country to find out which Canadian kids’ books were most popular this year.
Lisa Doucet, a bookseller at Woozles in Halifax, noted that 2013 was a strong year for middle-grade books, including debut kids’ books by Sue MacLeod and Meghan Marentette.
Click the thumbnails below to read more about booksellers’ top kids’ books.
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