About

2011-07-29 13.06.34A long while ago now, I had the crazy idea that I was going to ban myself from buying any new books. Instead, I planned to read the many books on my shelves I haven’t yet experienced. Writing a blog seemed like a good way to track my progress. At the same time, I was working somewhere unrelated to books and my life was feeling irrelevant. The blog idea was also to reinject bookishness into my days.

Steph’s Bookshelves didn’t sound right, so I used my middle name, Isabelle, or Bella, instead. I think the ban lasted all of one week, and soon after that HarperCollins found me and offered me books for review. That started a chain of emails from various publicists and authors, several of whom have since become friends. And now, as well as book reviews, I post about book news and issues and also literary tidbits I find interesting (the LitBits people seem to enjoy!).

I’m passionate about many things, like animals, tea, peace, good food, great writing, nature, classical, choral, and jazz music, but most significantly books. I’m a freelance copyeditor, proofreader, and writer (for over ten years now; clients include Thomas Allen, Ltd, House of Anansi Press, ECW Press, UBC Press, and UOP), and a book blogger, of course. And I’m a stalwart promoter of authors, publishers, indie bookshops, and Canadian literature in particular—I’m very proud to say I review for the Quill & Quire, a magazine I’ve loved for years. I grew up with a librarian mom, got in trouble by schoolteachers for reading too much, and studied English lit in university where I was actually encouraged to read more than I could handle. I continue to attend author readings and events, and have carried jobs in a publishing house, libraries, bookstores, and as a freelancer.

Although I’ve read thousands of books, I’ll probably never consider myself very well-read. There are countless stories I haven’t yet enjoyed, and to that end I want to commit more time to reading. Writing about what I read allows me to digest the content before moving on.

To my fellow bookworms and bibliophiles: I lift my cup of tea to you. May you be always inspired to read more, hone your reading skills, and build up your collections.

~Steph

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  39 comments for “About

  1. JK
    24 February, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Steph,
    I’m how blown away by how close our reading tastes are! And I too don’t get through a day without a cup of tea. I’ll definitely be back to your lovely site, and hopefully one day your bookstore!

    PS- You should start the Keepin It Real Book Club: Belville chapter!

  2. 24 February, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    JK: I know! I’ve been thinking about it…I love the idea. The trick will be figuring out how to do that when I have two jobs. But I can think of a few people already!

    I’d love to welcome you to Biblio when it’s built. :) Wouldn’t it be cool if the Belleville and Kingston, say, chapters (is there still a Kingston one, since you’re in TO?) met at the shop for a collective book club session some evening? Of course, tea and goodies would be served, on the house!

  3. 24 February, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Okay: PS. I have an honours degree in English and history too! :)

  4. 20 May, 2010 at 7:52 am

    My dream is to own a book shop too :) I can’t think of anything nicer than being surrounded by books all day and recommending and talking about books to customers. Bliss!

    • 20 May, 2010 at 9:00 am

      We are kindred spirits, Boof!

    • 29 September, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      Ahhh Boof, you are a kindred spirit. How I would love to own a book store too!
      And Dear Bella, LOVE your site! Great illustration too!

      • 29 September, 2011 at 11:39 pm

        Why, thank you! The illustration was done by my sister. See the side widget for her link.

  5. Katerina
    9 June, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Hi Bella,

    I was looking at your site and it looks simply wonderful!

    I was wondering if you would be interested in reviewing any HarperCollins Canada titles.

    Email me at katerina.ortakova@harpercollins.com and we can take it from there.

    Thank you!
    Katerina

    • 9 June, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Katerina,

      I’ve sent you an email. Thank you!!

  6. annie
    13 June, 2010 at 3:35 am

    I’m reading about Little Bee now. But the book is called The Other Hand, by Chris Cleave. I’m confused!

  7. 13 June, 2010 at 8:56 am

    It’s the same book, but as is common, the title was changed for North America. The way Joanne Harris’s The Lollipop Shoes was (unfortunately) changed to the Girl with No Shadow here. They did it with Harry Potter too (the Sorcerer’s Stone instead of the Philosopher’s Stone).

  8. 22 June, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Hi Bella,

    Some interesting background here on my new book THE TRIALS OF BROTHER BELL…

    http://saltyink.com/2010/06/18/a-quick-chat-with-prolific-new-brunswikian-author-raymond-fraser-about-his-new-2-in-1-book/

    Regards,
    Raymond Fraser

    • 22 June, 2010 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Raymond,

      I read that this The Trials is your 20th book, and that you have five books in Atlantic Canada’s 100 Greatest Books—WOW!
      Congratulations on your award in 2009, and in general on your great success, and thank you for bringing our attention to your work!

  9. Kate Cottrell
    25 June, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hi Steph,
    I love your new site. The photo makes me want to curl up in one of your blue chairs in that bookshop.
    Just want to suggest a great book of short stories by a Canadian writer named Sarah Selecky. I took her writing workshop at the Picton Author’s festival, and plan to sign up for the on-line course in the fall. She is an inspiring and supportive facilitator. Her website is her name, if anyone wants to find out more.
    I am reading her book of short stories, “This Cake is for the Party”, and am really enjoying it. Did you know that selling 5000 copies makes a book a best seller in Canada? Sarah is going for it with “This Cake…” !
    Happy reading!

  10. 25 June, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you for the suggestion! I’ll check her out; I noticed you sent me an email on it, too.

    I’ve just had a meeting with Greenley’s and plan to start working there in July; maybe we can get Sarah there for a reading or workshop!

    PS. Those blue chairs in the picture above are my own. That’s my living room!

  11. 7 July, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    First of, can I just say I LOVE the pic of all your bookshelves? My books are spread throughout the house and I’m hoping one day to build a library in our loft.

    And personally, there is nothing better in the world than a great book and a hot cup of tea. :)

    • 7 July, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      See? I told you we sound like the same person! :) I even used that very same theme you’re using before switching to my own domain.

      I know just how you feel about wanting your books all in one place. It bothers me to have them spread out! Now that my wall space is full, I’m struggling with where to put new books. I need a library room, because the living room just isn’t conducive to growth…

  12. 9 August, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Holy cow! Even our bookshop tea room dream is similar! Only mine (along with my husband) will be called Wagglebelly’s Book Emporium!

    Also I love that photos of your bookshelves with the chairs. So relaxing!

  13. 9 August, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Cat: I think I’ve found another kindred spirit!

    Wagglebelly’s Book Emporium: I can’t wait to visit. It sounds magical!

  14. 15 August, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Ahh, my husband and I dream of opening a book/coffee/tea shop. Gourmet coffee is all the rage these days, and I have a caffeine addiction. I also adore tea, it is my first love. Therefore, we have quite a lot in common! Wishing you well in your plans :)
    ~Lily

  15. 16 August, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Lily, your idea is of course lovely. I wish you well, too!

  16. 1 October, 2011 at 11:07 am

    I was looking for reviews on the book “Far to go” and stumble upon your website. Interesting blog. I majored in the hard sciences but I have a passion for books as well.

    • 1 October, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you, Janice, and welcome! I noticed on your blog you’ve got quite a few books. It’s rare, for me, to find someone both interested in science and the arts! I have a coworker like that. She loves maths and science and is thinking of being an engineer, yet she works very happily in a bookstore and is an avid fiction reader. I envy people like that. I’m totally about the arts. My brain freezes up the second numbers are involved.

  17. 11 February, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    So glad to have found your blog. We are definitely Canliterary soul sistas!
    Thanks for the link! I’ll definitely be following your writing from this point forward with interest and enthusiasm.

    • 11 February, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you, Kerry! I’ll be reading yours too!

  18. 26 June, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Hello Steph,

    I came across your blog through Amy and wow does it look wonderful! Okay, I just wanted to say that. I will be popping by regularly, I think.

    • 5 July, 2012 at 12:06 am

      Thanks, Iris!

  19. theconfabulist
    20 May, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Hi! I nominated you for a Liebster Award — it’s a sort of fun award/meme that’s passed around by bloggers. You can check it out here: http://buriedbeneathallthelies.com/2013/05/16/liebster-award-questions-answers-bookish-links/

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