LitBits 25

A sunny but cold day here in Belleville, Ontario, and a quiet day. I’m in need of some picking up, and you  may be too. Here’s a few literary tidbits to add a bit of fun.

1. I don’t know why I haven’t mentioned this magazine before. It’s called Bookmarks: For Everyone Who Hasn’t Read Everything. It’s American with a small staff, but it’s an impressive compilation of letters, selections (including literary, genre, non-fic titles), Have you Read? and Coming Soon books, books that have won awards, Now in Paperback summaries, reviews, and an overview of the year in books (this issue covers 1977, when Leon Uris’s Trinity and Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family were sitting at number one on the New York Times Bestseller lists for fiction and non-fiction, respectively). There are also feature articles: Jan/Feb’s issue has a special on Murakami, for those fans who are interested, as well as an article called “The Regency in Modern Literature.” The mag is well done, in my opinion, really a wealth of info for anyone looking to lose themselves in book recommendations. It’s US $5.95 US and CDN $7.95.

2. On January 13th this year, the Telegraph featured an exclusive new story by one of my favourite short story authors, Lydia Davis. It’s called “The Landing.” Emily Keeler, who writes an intelligent blog called Bookside Table and has challenged herself to review 100 short stories this year (I’m embarrassed I’m not doing that myself), reviewed it and that’s how I came to know of and read it. Thanks, Emily!

3. Jodi Picoult fans will be pleased to know she has a new book coming out on February 28th, called Lone Wolf. To celebrate, Simon & Schuster is hosting a nationwide contest with five prizes. The contest runs Feb. 1 to March 2. The two grand prize winners will receive a pre-event meet and greet with Jodi in Toronto, 2 tickets to her Toronto event and backlist of Jodi novels. This is open to residents of the GTA only, sorry! The 3 secondary prizes consist of a complete Jodi backlist and a signed copy of Lone Wolf. Again, the link to the sweepstakes page with all the info!

4. The OLA has announced the 2012 Evergreen Awards shortlist! Among the authors are Robert J. Wiersma, for Bedtime Story, which I haven’t yet read, and Brian Francis, for Natural Order, whose book I’ve reviewed already. You can view the shortlist at Quill & Quire.

5. The Millions has compiled a list of literary Tumblrs. Have a look at their categories, including publishers big and small, and “single servings,” and if you want to add any more you love in the comments, feel free! One of my favourites has long been Booklover. She posts so many lovely bookish images and quotes.

6. This has been going around so perhaps you’ve already seen The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore? It’s a beautiful, poignant, and imaginative animated short that celebrates not only the dedication of people to books but also the ability of books and their stories to bring life to people, to inspire, revitalize, even to be comforting companions.

7. Who loves pin-ups? What about literary pin-ups? Author Patrick Rothfuss has “accidentally” published a literary pin-up calendar. While at a conference he met graphic designer  Lee Moyer, who showed him a few of his lit-inspired images but told him he was having a hard time finding someone to print the calendar. Patrick says he looked at the Dickensian chimney sweep coyly brandishing her broom, and impulsively volunteered to print it. The calendars are now available to order; a cheeky birthday or Christmas gift for your significant other or for yourself?

8. Er, whatever you may think of me, I’m actually quite the prude. But you wouldn’t know it from my next tidbit here, after the pinup girls: on library porn. I have to say, I really do love the vintage covers. With titles like Nympho Librarian and Naughty Voyeur Librarian, how can you resist? Seriously, though, it’s actually an interesting article, called “Checking Out,” in the Paris Review. Those booklovers who enjoy erotica might find some Reader’s Advisory suggestions here!

9. Simply put, I want this: the typewriter laptop sleeve. Unfortunately, my laptop is 17,” not 13″. But I would consider buying a new one just to fit.

10. If you have ten minutes, you can read this excellent new story by Michelle Berry called “Knock, Knock.” Ten minutes, if that. That’s what I love about short stories. They’re short. You can fit them in anywhere. Even brushing your teeth. There’s no excuse for not enough time. They’re a flash of light in the day.

11. A cool site I just discovered recently, thanks to Amber at Coteau Books: Fictional Food: Bringing food from page to plate. Hey, that was my idea…which I never did do anything about. Anyway, have a browse. It’s not content rich yet, but the idea is pretty cool. It’s great if you’re thinking of hosting a Hunger Games party soon to celebrate the upcoming movie release in March; there’s a bunch of Hunger Games recipes. Also check out the Mockingjay pin cupcakes (vid), A Wrinkle in Time Cake, and Remy’s Ratatouille, from one of my very favourite animated films, Ratatouille.

12. Penguin Books cufflinks, anyone? Or Sherlock Holmes cufflinks and earrings! Or Jane Austen literary lovers book earrings (Pride and Prejudice). Also see Watership Down-inspired soaps, with fragrances like Clover and Kehaar’s Sea Breeze.

13. I know of artist George Walker because of my sister, Thérèse Neelands, who had him as a teacher at OCAD. (Thérèse is also an artist. You can find her her Etsy store here and her other illustrations at her site, Strawberry Snail, if you haven’t seen it already.) I’ve since seen several of Walker’s lovely books with woodcut illustrations, but I only just heard of his short film, called The Book of Hours, posted on Twitter by The Porcupine’s Quill. The Book of Hours is a wordless narrative told in 99 wood engravings.

14. Lastly, for today, here is author Heather O’Neill (Lullabies for Little Criminals) on how to date a writer. I liked this even more for its imagination and humour than practical advice!

It’s Valentine’s Day, as you know. A day often fraught with expectations, guilt, and even loneliness. Let’s put aside the commercialism and love who we love, as we do every day no matter what, but let’s not forget ourselves, either. Loving ourselves means we have even more to give. Today, I say, treat yourself to some small act of liberation! Or, if you prefer, a big one.

“You, whose day it is, get out your rainbow colors and make it beautiful” (traditional Nootka song).

Thank you for reading here, everyone.


    1. Steph Author

      Thanks, Christie! Isn’t that Lessmore video awesome? Made me teary, too, and even more so when my coworker showed it to me on her iPad yesterday: it’s an app and it’s a book being read aloud to us. You see the text, hear the voice reading, and you turn the pages. It’s excellent! Here’s the address: I think you can get an app for android, too.

  1. Rebecca

    Hello there–I keep seeing the “on this your day, get out your rainbow colors” quote as attributed to the Nootka, but can anyone cite a reference/source for me? Many thanks.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *