As the weather finally improves, the bookstore traffic increases. Our business is quite weather dependent. We added a new feature recently-a bookcase full of Bargain books ($8 each; 3 for $20) from Penguin that we bought as a skid-load sight unseen. There is a fascinating mix of subjects that goes beyond our usual specialities. It’s well worth a browse. Maybe you need the latest translation of Beowulf or to re-read Victor Hugo or, in my case, the classic travel tale of Wilfred Thesinger- “The Marsh Arabs” or an Elizabeth George mystery in hardback. Take a look!
On my vacation, I indulged in a feast of murder mysteries. It included police procedurals set in Brazil, South Africa and Sweden as well as Canadian novels set in Newfoundland, PEI and the Kootenays. It made me speculate about how popular mystery writing has evolved in parallel with the economic and political trends towards both globalisation and regionalisation. A couple of generations ago, the settings of mysteries were pretty much limited to those of the Agatha Christie style often set in an English country house or the gritty police dramas of New York City and with translations of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret for something more exotic. Now we have dramas from around the world-from Singapore to Iceland-all giving us lots of local colour and culture and very often with detailed descriptions of local cuisine enjoyed by the main characters. However, parallel with this global expansion, there has been a strong regionalisation. Settings in England will feature Derbyshire or Yorkshire or Cornwall. These come with descriptions of local character and scenery. Very often, a description will be given of who is drinking which local beer. A pint of Theakstone’s best bitter can tell you a lot about a man’s character. Regional novels abound in Scotland and Ireland too. In Sweden, the setting is likely to be regional and the local feelings about Stockholm get an airing. (Nevertheless, the Swedish central characters almost all share a gloomy and depressed outlook no matter the region). Canada has seen an explosion of mystery writing from coast to coast with lots of local flavour. It would be fun to map them all(my next project?). Are there similarly mysteries in the French Language set in Canada? For Quebec, in English, we do have the brilliant Louise Penney series set in the Eastern Townships. Ottawa is very strong. Notably there are the Barbara Fradkin books featuring Inspector Green and Detective Brian Sullivan. Just recently we were involved with the very successful launch of Brenda Chapman’s “Cold Mourning” which dominated our March best-seller list.
The March best seller list (see below) had some surprises. Joseph Boyden’s “Orenda” is still near the top and Charlotte Gray’s “The Massey Murder” is still there at #19. Very welcome on the list is a set of kids classics lead by “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible no good, very bad day” originally published in 1972. These were the result of some corporate purchases. A new addition is the novel “The Little Old Lady who broke all the Rules” by Catherina Ingelman-Sundberg. The original Swedish version sold about 1.2 million copies-about one copy for every three households. Expect to hear more about this.
We have begun our Teen Reads book reviews. The first is of “Falling Kingdoms” by Morgan Rhodes, reviewed enthusiastically by Sarah Graves of Henry Larsen Public School. Good input for parents & grandparents as well as for teens.
We are working on a follow-up to the Books n. Brew series but in a different location. An event is being planned for Sunday May 25th with advance ticket purchase necessary. Full details will be out shortly.
Note that we are closed on Good Friday April 18th.