December Newsletter

November’s bitter mid-month weather and arctic winds had an impact on the store but we salute those hardy customers who came in anyway. The Beechwood and McKay corner seems particularly subject to blustery gusts but think of the bookstore as a warm haven. The pre-Christmas rush is now well underway. Our sale of Christmas cards and calendars has depleted stocks but there is still a good choice remaining with many original designs. A calendar tailored to the recipient’s interests is a great choice for a small gift. Other gift ideas that we carry include a wide selection of family size jig-saw puzzles, a few board games and a series of wooden construction toys. I like the ones based on designs by Leonardo da Vinci. They would appeal to kids of all ages and are fairly simple to assemble. We even have a few CDs for sale, mostly by local performers such as the Stairwell Carollers. (We also sell tickets to their upcoming Christmas concerts.)     

The best gifts of all are books. We have a selection to appeal to any taste. There is a good selection of cookbooks that we carry year-round but sell mostly near Christmas. Cookbook is a poor description for many of them-they are really food bibles with mouth watering photos and songs of praise for food. Ottolenghi’s latest book “Plenty More” is a great example with its fabulous photos of vegetable dishes. The gift recipient does not have to be an expert cook –just a foodie. We have books on gardening, crafts and nature as well as our strengths of history, biography and politics and fiction.      

On our on-line store ( you can find lists of national best-sellers in various categories plus some staff picks. Look under the Features tab. You can also make up your own lists on line for later ordering or for sorting potential choices and bringing to the bookstore. For anyone stumped for ideas, our staff members often have suggestions. We not only read lots of books, we also get welcome feedback from our customers about books that they have read. Popular choices for gifts are the book prize winners. Here’s a short list of recent winners.

Mann Booker Prize for English Language Fiction: The Long Road to the Deep North” by Australian Richard Flanagan. This is a tale about Australian prisoners of the Japanese who are building the railroad in Burma and about the aftermath for the survivors. It is brilliantly written and necessarily gruesome but what stays in the mind are the post-war consequences for both Australians and Japanese.

The Giller Prize for best Canadian Fiction: Us Conductors” by Sean Michaels. The jurors wrote “Michaels’ book is based on the life of Leon Theremin, the Russian-born inventor of the Theremin, the most ethereal of musical instruments. As the narrative shifts countries and climates, from the glittery brightness of New York in the 1920s to the leaden cold of the Soviet Union under Stalin, the grace of Michaels’s style makes these times and places seem entirely new. …He makes music seem to sing from the pages of a novel.”

The Governor General’s Literary Awards:            

For Fiction: “The Back of the Turtle” by Thomas King.

For Non-Fiction: “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection” by Michael Harris

            For Poetry: “Lake of Two Mountains” by Arleen Pare.

The City of Ottawa Awards:            

For Fiction: “A Pretty Sight” by David O’Meara. The Jury said “David O’Meara’s A Pretty Sight captures wonderfully the strange fragility of human existence. Sometimes serious, sometimes puckish, always perfectly tuned, O’Meara’s poems delight and disturb.”          

For Non-Fiction: “The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006-“ by Paul Wells. The jury said “This no-holds barred romp into the inner sanctum of the “Harper government” is sometimes hilariously irreverent, but always astute and based on meticulously accumulated details.

The RBC Taylor Prize: “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King

The TD Children’s Literature Award: “The Man with the Violin” by Kathy Stinton and Dusan Petrocic.     

Our December hours are the same as usual except that we close at 3.00p.m. on Christmas Eve December 24 and re-open on December 27th. Similarly we close at 3.00p.m. on New Year’s Eve and are closed on New Year’s Day.     

On behalf of our staff, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a Holiday Season full of joy and good books.