LitBits 26

Okay, it’s been far too long. Let’s have another LitBits post! I’ve got a few cool things here to tell you about, and the one that tops my list right now for supercoolness is this:

1. Julie Wilson, aka Book Madam, has teamed up with Kobo to promote not only her book Seen Reading, which was released in April, but also reading in general, and especially on your commute. This YouTube video shows Julie and the Kobo street team on the Toronto subway catching people reading on their commute and being rewarded with a free Kobo e-reader. Julie’s book is already pre-downloaded. I gotta tell ya, this random act of fun, generosity, and literary encouragement touched me so much I got a little teary. It was also neat to see what people were reading, like the kid who’s just starting The Sisters Brothers. Cool!

2. I’ve just been introduced (through work) to Montreal author Alix Ohlin (well, she lives in Pennsylvania, but I want to claim her as a Canadian author; she was born and raised there). She’s written several books, and her new collection of short stories, called Signs and Wonders (recommended to me by Sarah Selecky), and novel Inside are both being released this month by Anansi. Signs and Wonders has been featured in June’s Marie Claire mag and is highly praised. I really look forward to reading it. Right now I’m reading Inside, and it’s so excellent I’m totally jealous of her talent but also very excited by it. Yesterday I tweeted that her writing made me feel as though my life is brimming with great fiction. It really is. I’ve been reading so much of it lately! It makes me feel truly blessed. Here are two stories I found online by Alix: “Casino” and “A Month of Sundays.”

3. A neat way of promoting books: this chalkboard mug that allows you to advertise what you’re reading today. Perfect for the office or bookshop!

4. We had a good laugh about this on Twitter talking about how you would get in and out of  it, but I had to post it here because it looks so cozy. A hanging reading pod! I like the idea of it hanging over water (I suppose you’d have to be rowed to it), but I can also easily picture having this hanging from a gorgeous big tree in the country somewhere. Ahhh. Idyllic.

5. HarperCollins giveaway: Excited about the release of Snow White and the Huntsman? HarperCollins Canada has 5 awesome prize packs to give away to Snow White fans! Enter and you could win a copy of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by acclaimed artist Camille Rose Garcia, and a gorgeous signed print of artwork from the book. They’ll also throw in a special bonus prize! Snow White is a breathtaking, wildly original spin on the classic fairy tale, with vivid illustrations in Garcia’s unique style. Find out more about the book here. Hurry, the giveaway deadline is June 4th.

6. Have any of you read Wayson Choy? He’s a very gifted Chinese-Canadian author, who wrote the award-winning Jade Peony as well as the followup, All That Matters. I recommend All That Matters on Open Book Ontario’s website for their Trillium Book Award tribute.

7. The Orange Prize for Fiction, which will be announced tonight, is changing its name, having lost the sponsorship from Orange, a UK phone company. It’s a little strange, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s not an award as much followed in Canada as the Giller or GG Award, but it’s a significant prize that recognizes women writers from all over, and it’s been around for a while (since 1992). The prize of £30,000 and a sweet bronze figurine nicknamed “Bessie” will still be awarded, in partnership with the new sponsor, yet to be named (as far as I know). For today, Canadian author Esi Edugyan is on this year’s shortlist for her novel Half-Blood Blues. The other shortlisted authors are:

  • Anne Enright, The Forgotten (Waltz Jonathan Cape)
  • Georgina Harding, Painter of Silence (Bloomsbury)
  • Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury)
  • Cynthia Ozick, Foreign Bodies (Atlantic Books)
  • Ann Patchett, State of Wonder (Bloomsbury)

 8. Little Bird Singing is an Etsy shop that sells handmade Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games jewellery. Right now it seems the shop is closed, as the owner is under the weather, but you can be informed by email when she opens again. These gems make the perfect gift for the bestseller fans you know! You can also request custom items.

9. Every now and then I imagine what my ideal reading place would be. Random House Books seems to be dreaming, too, since they’ve created a Pinterest board called Bookish Escapes. Many of them make me want to quit everything and create my own space. Right now I read outside, or in my rocking chair by the window in the morning sun, but those places are not as ideal as some of these! Which are your favourites?

10. By now you’ve probably seen this YouTube video called Book People Unite, but in case you haven’t, here it is. It was made to help get books in the hands of kids who need them. Well, duh. ALL kids need them. But we know what they mean. You can join the endeavour at

11. This is the amazing story of a blind woman who was writing a novel longhand and didn’t realize her pen had run out. It is also the story of how kind police officers helped save her words.

12. Have you ever wondered why old books smell so good? Truthfully, I never have, I’ve only just appreciated it. However, here’s an interesting video to explain how chemists have investigated the old book fragrance (they called it odor. Pfft!) and what they found.

13. I can’t resist. These reading buddies are just so sweet! I have one, too. When I’m reading and my dog, Lucy, lies with me in the sun or cuddles beside me and falls asleep listening to the rain, I feel there is nothing better. The “let me help you with that” picture on this Pinterest board especially melts my heart.

14. Awesome bookish cupcakes. Enough said.

15. I don’t know why, but I really like seeing how authors live and where they write. These are fifteen writers’ bedrooms. Gives you an idea of the person, doesn’t it? Look at Flannery O’Connor’s: if you’ve read her writing, the room seems fitting. Makes me realize just how anemic looking and lacking in personality my bedroom is (apart from the books on my bedside table!). Hard for me to pick a favourite out of these, because none of them really appeals to me, but I think it’s Emily Dickinson’s. Thoreau’s is attractive to me, too. But none of them is as cozy as I’d like. Does seeing these rooms change how you feel about their writing at all, give you more of an appreciation?

16. I don’t have kids but would consider doing one of these anyway because I love the ideas. These are 20 cool ways to display children’s books. And I have tons of those. Even still, I could see myself using one of these ideas to display any books I think especially worthy of being showcased.

That’s it for today, guys! I need to get to work. Thanks, as always, for reading. I hope you liked them. If there is anything you’d like to see featured in one of these posts, shoot me a message via the contact page.

PS. Kobo contacted me and asked if I would promote their e-books on my site by linking to them. After much deliberation, I said yes. I’ve been very reluctant to advertise any one company or publisher on this site, and I want everyone to know I review not for compensation but to promote reading great fiction. However, linking to Kobo’s e-books, which makes it easier for you to check out the book and download it if you want, promotes the sales of books, and of course I condone this, even while I don’t own an e-reader myself. This will also provide me with some commission. I see nothing wrong with passive income, and if I can get it while advocating and making easier the sales of books (now that I no longer work at a bookstore), well … bonus! My apologies to anyone who finds this disagreeable. You should know that you always have a choice of where to buy your books, and if it’s paper books you want (as I do), I highly recommend your local indie! 


  1. Amy

    I always think of comments to say as I read through these items and by the end I’ve forgotten the first one and start all over and, well, the loop repeats itself but wow – so many great links and as always, all really awesome. Kobo was actually giving out chalkboard mugs at BEA this year :) Also, I WANT book cupcakes! And Seen Reading, which I may have to wander up and buy from the store later!


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