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All stories by Allison MacLachlan

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Book links roundup: Toronto library saved from millions in cuts, NYT book reviews show gender imbalance, and more

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What Toronto budget cuts could mean for libraries

As Toronto’s city council enters final debates on the 2012 budget, here’s a look at what could be ahead for the Toronto Public Library.

TPL has been asked to meet a 10 per cent reduction target (cutting about $7 million from its annual budget) despite having the busiest year on record in 2011, with more than 19 million visitors borrowing over 33 million items.

A few motions on the table at city council argue for reversing budget reductions. One motion asks TPL to meet its 10 per cent target without cutting back on hours, instead saving money by buying fewer movies and magazines. Chief librarian Jane Pyper estimates that cutting 19,444 hours at 59 branches could save TPL $5.4 million, but this would likely affect all branches.

Another motion proposes that the $7 million in library cuts be scaled back to $4 million, using new revenue from property tax assessment growth to make up the remainder.

Toronto’s literary community has unleashed protests against proposed cuts, too. More than 100 well-known literary figures signed an open letter to Mayor Rob Ford and city council, and the Toronto Public Library Workers Union placed an ad in the Toronto Star this week.

Meanwhile, TPL continues to search for ways to bring in more money. The National Post reported on one new membership program designed to attract the bookish under-40 set to exclusive library events for a roughly $300 annual fee.

Just this morning, the TPL Foundation announced a $1.5 million donation from Toronto philanthropists Marilyn and Charles Baillie to support the Toronto Reference Library’s revitalization, an ongoing program with a $34 million price tag. The Baillies’ donation will go towards the Special Collections Centre, a new reading room set to open in 2013 that will display items related to Canadiana, performance, and documentary art.

Library cuts are on the agenda for debate this afternoon. Check out the liveblog at Torontoist for the latest updates, and keep following Quillblog for more information.

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Book links roundup: Kobo’s global expansion, Hitler’s Mein Kampf republished in U.K., and more

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BookNet bestsellers: Fiction

Stieg Larsson’s thrillers dominate this week’s list following the release of David Fincher’s U.S. remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Canadians Esi Edugyan and Patrick deWitt also appear with Half-Blood Blues (#5) and The Sisters Brothers (#7).

For the two weeks ending Jan. 8:

1. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
(Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780425232200)

2. The Jefferson Key, Steve Berry
(Ballantine/Random House, $11.99 mm, 9780345505521)

3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
(Penguin, $18 pa, 9780143170112)

4. The Girl Who Played with Fire, Stieg Larsson
(Penguin, $18 pa, 9780143170136)

5. Half-Blood Blues, Esi Edugyan
(Thomas Allen Publishers, $24.95 pa, 9780887627415)

6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
(Penguin, $18 pa, 9780143170129)

7. The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt
(House of Anansi Press, $22.95 pa, 9781770890329)

8. Toys, James Patterson and Neil McMahon
(Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, $10.99 mm, 9780446571746)

9. Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson
(HarperCollins, $21.99 pa, 9781443404068)

10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (movie tie-in edition), Stieg Larsson
(Penguin, $18 pa, 9780143186007)

11. Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
(St. Martin’s Griffin/Raincoast, $15.50 pa, 9780312370848)

12. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
(Knopf Canada, $32 cl, 9780307362032)

13. A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness
(Penguin, $17 pa, 9780143119685)

14. Locked On, Tom Clancy
(Putnam/Penguin, $31 cl, 9780399157318)

15. The Book of Negroes: Illustrated Edition, Lawrence Hill
(HarperCollins Canada, $19.99 cl, 9781443412193)

16. The Next Always, Nora Roberts
(Berkley/Penguin, $18.50 pa, 9780425243213)

17. One Summer, David Baldacci
(Grand Central/Hachette, $14.99 pa, 9780446583152)

18. Moonlight in the Morning, Jude Deveraux
(Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster, $9.99 mm, 9781416509745)

19. Private: #1 Suspect, James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
(Little, Brown and Company/Hachette, $29.99 cl, 9780316097406)

20. Innocent, Scott Turow
(Grand Central/Hachette, $10.99 mm, 9780446562409)

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Book links roundup: Lil Wayne to pen prison memoir, Harvard Business Review on why we need fiction, and more

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Canadian literary event roundup: Jan. 13-19

Here are just a few of the literary events happening across the country in the next week:

  • Literary agent Hilary McMahon offers publishing tips at Writers’ Community of Durham Region meeting, Ajax Convention Centre, Ajax, Ontario (Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m., $25. Register at wcrd.org)
  • Melanie Tinken, Kathleen Whelan, Lily Quan, and others perform at Draft Reading Series, the Only Café, Toronto (Jan. 15, 3 p.m., free)
  • Poet Brandon Wint kicks off Dusty Owl Reading Series with open mike event, Elmdale House Tavern, Ottawa (Jan. 15, 3 p.m., free)
  • Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre launches Winnipeg Chinatown: Celebrating 100 Years – A Remarkable Achievement, McNally Robinson Grant Park (Jan. 16, 8 p.m., free)
  • New Glasgow Public Library hosts creative lunch for writers, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia (Jan. 17, 12 p.m., free)
  • Author Michelle A. Demers leads introduction to self-publishing, Vancouver Public Library (Jan. 17, 7 p.m., free)
  • Sara Paretsky discusses her latest mystery, Breakdown, with Q&Q contributing editor James Grainger, Toronto Reference Library (Jan. 17, 7 p.m., free. Register at torontopubliclibrary.ca /appelsalon)
  • Holly Luhning reads from her debut novel, Quiver, UPEI Faculty Lounge, Charlottetown (Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Introduction to ebooks and e-readers, Westwood Library, Winnipeg (Jan. 19, 6 p.m., free. Call 204-986-4742 to register)
  • Poet Ray Hsu kicks off Signature Reading Series, Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Regina (Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m., free)
  • Storytelling Circle, Crow’s Nest Officers’ Club, St. John’s (Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m., $3)

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Book links roundup: White House disdains The Obamas book, U.K. stamps honour Roald Dahl, and more

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Spring preview 2012: international books

In the January/February issue, Q&Q looks ahead at the spring season’s new books.

FICTION

Two prolific American literary novelists are set to publish new titles this spring. Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison is back with her 10th novel, Home (Knopf Canada, $25.95 cl., May). Exploring themes of masculinity and belonging, the short novel follows a self-loathing Korean War veteran as he surmounts defeat and finds a place to call home. • Also in May, part-time Toronto resident John Irving returns with his 13th novel, In One Person (Knopf Canada, $34.95 cl.), a tragicomedy narrated by a bisexual protagonist who reflects on life as a boy, a young man, and an adult.

Jack Kerouac’s first novel, The Sea Is My Brother (Da Capo Press/Raincoast, $26.50 cl., March), was written in the 1940s but never published. One of several Kerouac manuscripts that has recently resurfaced, the story follows the divergent fortunes of two sailors and explores an important theme in Kerouac’s later work: rebellion. • A book of little-known stories written by Anton Chekhov at the end of his career is forthcoming from Biblioasis. About Love ($12.95 pa., May), the Russian writer’s only linked collection, is translated by David Helwig and contains illustrations by Seth.

One of the most buzzed about debut novels of the season is Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles (Bond Street Books/Random House, $29.95 cl., June), a unique coming-of-age story about a young girl who wakes up one morning to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow, upending life as she knows it.

Jodi Picoult’s new novel, Lone Wolf (Atria/Simon & Schuster, $32 cl., Feb.), tells the story of two siblings who disagree over the treatment of their comatose father. • Best known for his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, British author Mark Haddon returns with The Red House (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., June). The book is narrated by eight characters, all related, who spend a week together in a countryside vacation home.

From the best-selling (co-)author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes another new take on an old story. Seth Grahame-Smith’s Unholy Night (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette, $27.99 cl., April) reimagines the personalities of the three kings of the nativity, injecting the well-known Bible tale with thievery, escape, and intrigue. • The author of 12 previous novels, Christopher Moore continues in the surreal, satirical style of Lamb and Fool in his latest book, Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art (William Morrow/HarperCollins, $34.99 cl., March), which follows friends of Vincent van Gogh as they vow to uncover the truth behind the painter’s death. • Neurosurgeon and medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, whose non-fiction books Chasing Life and Cheating Death were New York Times bestsellers, makes his first foray into fiction with Monday Mornings (Grand Central/Hachette, $27.99 cl., March). In the vein of TV medical dramas, the novel follows the daily lives of five surgeons.

From Argentinean writer Liliana Heker comes The End of the Story (Biblioasis, $19.95 pa., April), a novel about Argentina’s Dirty War translated by Andrea Labinger. Set in 1976, the book follows a group of women living against a backdrop of state-sponsored violence. • Waiting for the Monsoon (House of Anansi Press, $24.95 pa., Feb.), by Threes Anna and translated from the Dutch by Barbara Fasting, is about a British woman’s relationship with the Indian tailor to whom she rents a room in her crumbling mansion.

Australian author Elliot Perlman’s third novel, The Street Sweeper (Bond Street Books/Random House, $32.95 cl., Jan.), explores the unlikely intersection of two characters’ lives: a history professor whose career and relationship are unravelling, and a black man from the Bronx who struggles to reintegrate after serving a prison term for a crime he didn’t commit.

MYSTERY, CRIME, AND FANTASY

Stephen King’s latest novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole (Scribner/S&S, $29.99 cl.), is set to publish in April. The eighth book in the Dark Tower series – chronologically set between volumes four and five – tells the story of gunslinger Roland Deschain’s first quest.Camilla Läckberg is a household name in her native Sweden. In The Drowning (HarperCollins, $19.99 pa., April), translated by Tiina Nunnally, a man is found murdered and frozen beneath the ice. After discovering a similar incident, police realize the killings are connected and look into each victim’s past for clues. • Best-selling psychological suspense writer Brian Freeman returns with Spilled Blood (Sterling/Canadian Manda Group, $29.95 cl., May), the story of two Minnesota towns locked in a violent feud over the carcinogenic waste one town’s research corporation is releasing into the other community.

U.K. writer Benjamin Wood, who completed a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, is set to publish his debut mystery novel. In The Bellwether Revivals (McClelland & Stewart, $29.99 cl., March), bodies turn up near an elegant Cambridge house, and the young narrator and his lover become entangled in the search for the villain. • The 500 (Little, Brown/Hachette, $28.99 cl., June), a first novel from Matthew Quirk that is in development as a feature film, follows a young lawyer at a powerful Washington, D.C., consulting firm as he is pursued by two of the world’s most dangerous men. • A New York family is involved in a financial scandal in lawyer Cristina Alger’s debut thriller, The Darlings (Penguin, $28.50 cl., Feb.).

In Sara Paretsky’s latest crime thriller, Breakdown (G.P. Putnam and Sons/Penguin, $28.50 cl., Jan.), girls from some of Chicago’s most powerful families stumble upon a corpse in an abandoned cemetery. Detective V.I. Warshawski investigates childhood secrets to get to the bottom of the killing. • In Cloudland (St. Martin’s/Raincoast, $28.99 cl., March), the latest crime novel from Joseph Olshan, a newspaper reporter gets involved with the search for a serial killer after discovering a murder victim’s body. Meanwhile, a failed love affair surfaces and acquaintances emerge as suspects.

BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIR

Sally Bedell Smith’s biography, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (Random House, $34 cl., Jan.), chronicles the public persona and private life of the reigning English monarch, offering a close-up view of her routines and relationships. • In Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World (HarperCollins, $24.99 cl., Jan.), biographer Simon Callow explores the Victorian novelist’s status as an early celebrity and his little-known love of the stage.

Iconic American singer-songwriter Carole King is set to publish a memoir, A Natural Woman (Grand Central/Hachette, $29.99 cl., April). Chronicling King’s early years, her musical career, and her present-day activism, the book features behind-the-scenes concert photographs.

Revolution 2.0 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Thomas Allen & Son, $29.95 cl., Jan.) is former Google executive Wael Ghonim’s first-hand account of his capture and interrogation in Cairo during the Arab Spring protests. The memoir also looks at how social media helped foment revolution. • Norwegian writer Halfdan W. Freihow reflects on his attempts to help his son, who has autism, make sense of the world in Somewhere Over the Sea (Anansi, $14.95 pa., June), translated by Robert Ferguson with a foreword by The Boy in the Moon author Ian Brown.

What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? (Artisan/Thomas Allen, $23.95 cl., April) follows four twentysomethings during their journey to complete a 100-item bucket list. Five years into their quest, Ben Nemtin, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Jonnie Penn share what they’ve accomplished.

POETRY

Political activist, writer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has become a symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. His collection June Fourth Elegies (Graywolf/D&M Publishers, $27.50 cl., April), translated by Jeffrey Yang, honours the memory of fellow protesters in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

GRAPHICA

Following his internationally acclaimed debut, The Wrong Place, Belgian graphic novelist Brecht Evens is back with The Making Of (Drawn & Quarterly, $27.95 pa., May). Using watercolour images and deadpan humour, the book details the misadventures of an honoured guest at a country art festival. • Tom Gauld reimagines a familiar Bible story in Goliath (D&Q, $19.95 cl., Feb.). Focusing on the reluctant fighter, the graphic novel pairs minimalist drawings and witty prose. • In My Friend Dahmer (Abrams/Manda, $27.95 cl., March), cartoonist John “Derf” Backderf creates a haunting, intimate portrait of Jeffrey Dahmer, a high school friend who later became the notorious American serial killer.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

New York Times Washington correspondent Jodi Kantor invites readers on a tour of the White House in The Obamas (Little, Brown/Hachette, $32.99 cl., Jan.), a detailed look at the family’s attempts to lead a normal life while juggling public roles and responsibilities. • The decade-long search for Osama bin Laden is the subject of CNN national security analyst and Holy War, Inc. author Peter L. Bergen’s new book, Manhunt (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., May). • In Newstainment: Why the News Is Bad for You (Picador/Raincoast, $18.50 pa., June), Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll argue that brief, up-to-the-moment bulletins are revolutionizing news media but failing political discourse.

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid confronts crucial questions about U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan (Viking, $28.50 cl., March). A follow-up to the acclaimed Descent into Chaos, Rashid’s latest explores solutions for achieving stability in the war-torn region. • In Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/D&M Publishers, $31 cl., April), U.K. human rights lawyer Sadakat Kadri takes an historical approach to explaining the evolution and implications of Islamic law.

An economics historian, British MP, and son of African immigrants, Kwasi Kwarteng explores the global reverberations of colonial history in Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World (Public Affairs/Raincoast, $34.50 cl., Feb.).

HISTORY

Long before the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010, the country had a history of poverty and corruption. In Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (Henry Holt and Company/Raincoast, $29 cl., Jan.), Laurent Dubois traces the Caribbean nation’s troubles back to the 1804 slave revolt and sheds light on the country’s overlooked successes. • Jenny Balfour-Paul probes the roots of the world’s oldest dye in Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans (Firefly Books, $39.95 pa., Jan.). Covering the history, science, and cultural significance of indigo dye, the full-colour book also explores its use in sustainable development initiatives.

LIFESTYLE, SCIENCE, AND SELF-HELP

Following his quests to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover (The Know-It-All) and live according to a literal interpretation of the Bible (The Year of Living Biblically), A.J. Jacobs is back with another experiment. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (S&S, $29.99 cl., April) follows his efforts to become the healthiest man in the world. • Tae kwon do master Jim Langlas discusses seven principles of the martial art that also build character in Heart of a Warrior: 7 Ancient Secrets to a Great Life (Free Spirit/Georgetown, $17.50 pa., April). • For fans of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret comes another guide to living a fulfilling life. The Tools (Random House Canada, $29.95 cl., June), by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, identifies and offers solutions to four common barriers that hold people back.

FOOD AND DRINK

First Lady Michelle Obama argues for the need to improve access to healthy, affordable food in her first book, American Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools, and Communities (Crown/Random House, $34 cl., April.). • Food writer (and son of Baskin-Robbins founder) John Robbins goes undercover in No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution (Conari Press/Georgetown, $18.95 pa., March) to investigate the feedlots and slaughterhouses that satisfy modern appetites. • In The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier (Morrow/HarperCollins, $38.99 cl., March), best-selling author, blogger, and ranch wife Ree Drummond shares easy country cooking recipes.

The fine print: Q&Q’s spring preview covers books published between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2012. All information (titles, prices, publication dates, etc.) was supplied by publishers and may have been tentative at Q&Q’s press time. • Titles that have been listed in previous previews do not appear here.

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Book links roundup: Waterstones drops apostrophe, Harvard video targets “iPhoneys,” and more

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Book links roundup: Elton John writes book about AIDS, former employee on The Book Mark’s closing, and more

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Hall of Honourers

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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