Penguin Random House tour!

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This week brought the privilege of touring Penguin Random House Canada’s gorgeous new facilities in downtown Toronto, sponsored by the Ontario Library Association’s 2017 Super Conference (#OLASC). As soon as we walked through the front doors, the wonderful smell of new books greeted us, and set the tone for the tour.

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Reception area at Penguin Random House Canada

When Penguin merged with Random House in 2013, it just so happened that the leases on their separate business offices were coming due shortly thereafter. Because of this fortuitous coincidence, a brand new location was renovated to house the new, combined company. We had a lovely tour guide from the architectural firm that built the new office, and she was wonderfully informative, showing us all the innovative designs that were used to build the open-concept space that truly fosters creativity and collaboration.

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We were invited to view individual work stations, as well as meeting rooms and casual spaces designed to promote spontaneous interactions and conversations. The end of the tour brought us to the brand new retail store that opened over the summer (@PenguinShopTO). Even though it is only 158 square feet, this little shop holds a great many treasures for book lovers including paperback and hardcover books, mugs, bags, water bottles, and more!

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Full disclosure though, the tour would have been even better if we had learned about what Penguin Random House actually does as a publisher. The tour was focused on the space where all the magic happens, but not on the magic itself. All in all, however, it was still a great way to spend an hour, and I think everyone on the tour would agree that it was interesting, informative and a lot of fun!

 

Interview with Words and Peace blog

Hello, Readers! A fellow blogger and I wanted to get to know each other a bit better, and also wanted to do a little advertising, so we’ve decided to co-publish an interview we did with each other on our blogs.

Emma from Words and Peace is posting my answers to these questions on her blog, and I hope you will enjoy her responses below, and also stop by her blog and get to know her!

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  1. What made you want to start a blog?

First of all, I would like to thank you Jess for interviewing me. The idea was born during BBAW, I’m glad we finally took the time to do this. Your followers who are interested in your answers can come and read them on my own book blog.

I launched Words And Peace in September 2010.
I have always loved reading and talking about books, to anyone ready to listen.
One day, I discovered evolution had produced a rare species, book bloggens. I was overjoyed to discover other members were not far from me, just a few computer keys away, and that I could communicate with them in a common language. So we started talking, and one day, I decided to join their lively community. I have not regretted it once.
So when I can’t talk books with people around me, I can always go and find other book bloggens members. Through them, I have discovered zillions of books I would never have heard about otherwise.

  1. What is it about books that is special to you?

I devour about 110 books every year, and I practice book polygamy, that is, I always read several books at the same time. I usually have one or more going on in print, one or more in a digital form, and always one in audio form. I am always in the process of reading a religious book, Lent or not, and I try to have another one pertaining to nonfiction as well.

So far, nothing that exceptional for a book blogger. Maybe more special is the fact that as soon as I have a minute when my hands are going to be busy and my brain free, I do not listen to music or podcasts, but to an audiobook: preparing dinner, doing the dishes, dusting, ironing, exercising or painting (I’m also an artist). Also during long road trips.

And I have decided not to have TV at home, so I basically have around 5 hours of leisure time every night to read. I usually do not read before 6pm, too busy with work (tutoring and translating novels), but after that, I can relax with a good book.

  1. What are some of the unexpected rewards that have come to you as a result of your blog?

When I started book blogging, as said above, I was just looking for a place to talk about books with others. In the process, I got familiar with all kinds of events related to book blogging, such as, among many other things, virtual book tours.
Visiting many other book bloggers and participating in blogging events made me become more aware of new releases and discover more closely the world of publishers. Little by little, I realized how many books published every month were set in France. So the idea gradually grew in me that there was a niche for me if I combined these two things.
That’s how book blogging led me to start my own virtual book tour company, in 2013, focused exclusively on books related to France.

For years, I’ve been aware of a heated debate among book bloggers, whether getting a book for free to review is pay enough, or whether you should get remunerated for talking time to read a book and write a review. There seems to be a brand new trend opening right now for book reviewers, where some companies are willing to pay to get some good quality honest reviews –we are not talking about “bribes” by sales platforms here. I have been recently accepted by one of these companies and another invitation is pending, so I have the feeling book blogging is going to morph for me and open onto other things down the line.

  1. Is blogging everything you thought it would be?

Book blogging has opened up wide horizons for me, much wider than I ever imagined, as far as connections with bloggers, authors, and publishers are concerned.

I had never thought either that it would push me to write public pieces on a regular basis in English, which is not my native language. It is quite exhilarating, even though I am aware of the persistent presence of syntax mistakes.
It has also offered to me the unexpected opportunity for more visibility regarding my translation jobs – I translate English novels into French, and I have the feeling this is also going to grow.
Besides, for whenever I have time, I also have a book project of my own. It will be the fruit of both my book blog and my virtual book tour site. I published an anthology a few years ago, so it would be really thrilling to put together a second book.
So book blogging has ended up being so much more than I thought it would be!

Thanks Jess, for your wonderful questions.

Emma at Words And Peace and France Book Tours

Words And Peace is also on FacebookTwitter, Google+Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube

And you can see here the novels I have translated so far

*** Thank you for this fun opportunity to spread the word about a fellow book-lover’s blog. All the best to you, Emma, and to those who stopped by to read our interview. ***

Book-ify your office!

Perhaps you, like me, love to be surrounded by books? And perhaps you also work in a place devoid of those articles which inspire, entertain, educate and delight. Did you know that without brining a stack of your own books to work and piling them on your desk, you can bring the books to you? It’s true! There are many ways to make your workspace more bookish, if need be.

  1. Library or bookish computer wallpaper. It’s true that this will be covered up for most of the day with various open and functioning apps, but to me it brings a smile every day when I log in and just before I log off.
  2. There’s always room for a book-themed poster or two (to three) on cubicle walls, so don’t be afraid to get something affordable from Art.com or Allposters.com and give yourself something to smile at all day long. This is what I have up in my workspace:
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  3. What about a library mousepad? Or a literary-themed calendar? I find that these little touches enable me to keep my inner book-lover alive and at peace while I spend my days away from actual books. And if you’re in my shoes, I hope these ideas will brighten your days as well.

Girl Power!

Lately there have been some very exciting news articles about young girls effecting positive change in the lives of their communities, and abroad.

#1000blackgirlbooks reached international news with the inspiring story of a young girl from New Jersey who started a movement to gather books that weren’t just about ‘white boys and their dogs.’ She wanted to collect 1,000 books and surpassed her goal with the help of many generous donors:
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*image retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/09/marley-dias-1000-black-girl-books-hits-target-with-outpouring-of-donations

Also in February, we learned of two teens in India who saved their district library from decay. They formed a girl-power coalition, and approached the district’s administration about not only saving it, but giving it a facelift. Read more about it from the Times of India’s article, “Girl power puts district library in revamp mode.”

Recently, more good news from India reached us about a girl who sets up a small library at her home every day after school so the children nearby can access books they would not otherwise have access to. Read more on this amazing story here.
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*image retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/andreborges/a-9-year-old-girl-is-running-a-library-for-underprivileged-c#.djvQNkz3w

What amazing, fearless, inspirational stories!

I heart Little Free Libraries

Do you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood? I’ve never seen one in real life, but I love the concept of them!

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Photo retrieved from http://www.shareable.net /blog/ever-wondered-how-little-free-libraries-change-neighborhoods

In December 2014, the Globe and Mail published an article about them entitled, When your neighbor’s yard is a library. The article paints an appealing picture of neighbors getting to know each other and swapping books they never guessed would appear in these impromptu libraries.

If you don’t have one near you, and you’d like to put one up, there is a fantastic website called LittleFreeLibrary.org that has absolutely everything you need to start your own. You can learn about the movement’s history, you can buy supplies and/or accessories to make your own Little Free Library, you can register it, you can also buy The Little Free Library Book – a volume I would like to add to my own collection. There are marketing materials to help spread awareness of your new Little Free Library, and many more useful resources. This website is a great resource to anyone who wants to start one or who just wants to find out more about them.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), not everyone in the world loves Little Free Libraries. Last February, The Atlantic published, The Danger of Being Neighborly Without a Permit and I think you can guess what that article is about (sad face). NOW Toronto also released an article in August 2015 about the under belly of Little Free Libraries – that people were putting garbagey books in them just so they didn’t have to throw the books away: Little Free Libraries have sprouted across Toronto, but yield few treasures.

Little Free Libraries are, in my opinion, a wonderful idea and I would definitely put one out if I could. But what do you think? Do you like the idea, or do you think they should require a permit and are just a way for people to throw out books they don’t like with a clear conscience?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

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Hello! Today marks Day One of #BBAW (book blogger appreciation week) and it’s off to a good start: choosing a mere five books with which to represent ourselves. Thank you, Estella Society! I love a good challenge as much as anyone, so I thought I’d go for it.

Book #1: This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti
I read this book when I was 13 and will never forget how it painted such a clear picture of spiritual warfare. This book illustrates my beliefs as a Christian, as well as my appreciation for a gripping story.

Book #2: A book of bees by Sue Hubbell
I am a honeybee enthusiast and this book provides an idyllic portrayal of the life of a beekeeper. It was written in the 1980s, before many of the pests which plague honeybees today came to North America, so it really is an idyll now. But it still encourages me in my dream to one day keep bees.

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Book #3: The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley
This book was thoroughly enjoyable to read because most of it takes place *in* a bookshop. For a bibliophile, that right there was enough to make this book part of the ones which represent me. However, there is the added delight of it being set in the past (actually, it was written in the past – even better), another of the things I love in a book. So this selection sums up nicely my affinity for books and reading about the past.

Book #4: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Another thing about me: I love children’s books. I have all the Berenstein Bears books from before 1990 (what I really learned to read on), the Noddy books, some Bill Peet classics, a select few YA books from the 1950s (Minnow on the Say, Gone-Away Lake, Tom’s Midnight Garden) and most of the books from my childhood (Father Fox’s Penny Rhymes, What’s the Matter With Caruthers? and many, many more). The Phantom Tollbooth warms my heart every time I read it and I think it’s the perfect book to describe that part of me.

Book #5: The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart
Trees, flowers, worms, bugs, animals, I love them all. I’m a softie. When I was young, many rainy days saw me getting to school late because I was saving so many worms from puddles along the way. So this book was not only fascinating (there is more in it than just facts about worms!), but also comforting to know there are others out there who appreciate our subterranean friends.

So there you have it! That sums me up a fair amount. Not completely, of course, but it’s a good start.

So. Many. Challenges.

Is reading a competition? With so many reading challenges out there, I feel like it’s becoming a competition, or at least a means of putting one’s self on a pedestal. But maybe that’s because I haven’t done one yet 😉 I honestly don’t have the time – or maybe I do?

Have you noticed how many reading challenges there are out there? Some of them definitely pique my interest, and I find myself tempted to participate. Like this one from Modern Mrs. Darcy: 12 Books, 12 Categories, 12 Months. Now that, I could do.
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Then there are the incremental challenges that I see and think, “I could do that.. I could do that one too, probably.. Nope, couldn’t do that… Do these people read for a living?!” Like this set of challenges on challies.com. The Light Reader does 13 books in a year. No problem! Easy. Definitely doable. The Avid Reader does 26 books a year. Also possible. I consider myself around (if not technically in) the Avid Reader category, so 26 books in one year should be fine. But then comes The Committed Reader, with an entire book in each week. I have to ask myself, are we reading books that are 100 pages long? Are we speed reading? I begin getting skeptical at this point. But, there is yet another category: The Obsessed Reader. This category reads 2 whole books each and every week for an entire year. Really? Is that possible? Again, the skepticism; but, maybe it can be done – after all, I’ve never tried (or kept track)! If you are looking for a reading challenge for 2016, I hope you clicked on the link because there is a wonderful chart for keeping tack of your books for each level (Light, Avid, Committed and Obsessed) on Challies.com.

When looking for some fun reading challenges for this post, I came across You, Me, and a Cup of Tea which has a wonderful assortment of themed reading challenges and links to the websites/blogs that host them. Like the audiobook challenge by HotListens.com and the Back to the Classics challenge by Books and Chocolate, and even the Hard Core Re-Reading challenge hosted by You, Me, and a Cup of Tea! So if you’re looking for a challenge to guide your reading this year, please check these out. And happy reading! Maybe next year I will be posting about a challenge I completed…

 

 

Christmas Books at Christmas time

Do you have books on your wish list? I sure do, and some of them are Christmas-themed, so I thought I would share them with you on this very special day, Christmas Eve.

First, Dear Santa published by Chronicle Books. ‘Children’s Christmas Letters and Wish Lists, 1870-1920’ how cool does that sound? Amazon’s link to the book shows a couple of sample pages with letters from 1896 and 1907, and they are adorable. It looks like the perfect addition to any Christmas enthusiast’s book collection:
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Next, A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer. Reviewers rave about the amazing detail and intricacies of the pop-ups, and frankly, I am desperately hoping to add this to my collection soon! It looks absolutely beautiful and also deserves a place in the Christmas Book aficionado’s library:
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*both images from the same link

Another version of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol that I have on my wish list is the one illustrated by P.J. Lynch. The illustrations are lovely, and really bring the story to life. This book is could easily become a family heirloom.
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I wish all of you a happy, blessed Christmas! And may you read all the books you hope to in the New Year 😉

Broke & Bookish Secret Santa

Happy November, everyone! I have to apologize for not posting in over a month. Truth be told, I’ve been uninspired lately. BUT, I just found The Broke and the Bookish‘s Secret Santa and I’m so excited that I wanted to share it with you. There’s not much time left, though, so sign up now if you’re interested!

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http://www.brokeandbookish.com/2015/10/6th-annual-broke-bookish-secret-santa.html

This is such a great idea! Send in your address and a list of books you’ve got on your TBR list (you can even send a link to your wish list), along with some other details, and you’re in. I just signed up and I’m really looking forward to it. Enjoy, good luck, and Merry Christmas!

To Buy, or to Borrow?

Which do you prefer? I almost always buy my books, unless I’m not sure it will be a good read, in which case I borrow it from the library. If I like the book I borrowed, I’ll probably buy it after reading it and add it to my collection. The question is, where will I buy it? Online, or from a physical bookstore?

The other day I was in a bookstore and saw a book I liked, but did not buy it, for various reasons. Yesterday, I decided to go back to the bookstore to purchase that book, but it was out of stock. Amazon, however, has the book, but unlike most of the time when the book is much cheaper on Amazon.com, it is the same price. I decided that I would forego the instant gratification of buying the book right then online, and would wait the extra few days until it’s in stock at the bookstore. But it’s so hard to wait!

Have you ever had to make that choice, between buying a book online, or waiting to buy a book from a physical bookstore? What did you do? I admit, most of the time, I do buy my books from the cheaper online source, but often price is the deciding factor. In this case, however, when the price was the same, I felt a moral obligation to support my local independent bookseller.

On the other hand, a lot of people choose to borrow books instead of buy them. What makes one choose borrowing or buying? For me, I love books and want to have a collection of my own. Do those who usually borrow not want their own collection?

What do you think? Do you buy or do you borrow? Do you buy online or from a bookstore? Is supporting the local indie bookstore a lost cause anyway?