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Ultimate Survival Stories – Man vs. Nature

Wreck-Medusa-heroFor a story to engage a reader, conflict is essential. When the conflict involves man versus nature, it is guaranteed that the tale will be engrossing, horrifying and compelling. There have been countless stories of harrowing journeys, expeditions and conquests that prove humans have a strong desire to reach the uncharted, explore the unfamiliar, conquer the unknown and ultimately survive all that is thrown at them.

This genre of survival storytelling is utterly compelling with no shortage of captivating tales. Having just recently seen The Revenant – an ultimate survival story, our love of tales of survival has been rekindled. Like many of the books mentioned below, The Revenant is a tale that shows how far a human will go to survive against the odds. Freezing temperatures, inhospitable terrain, vicious animals, starvation, unquenchable thirst – these elements found in The Revenant are all integral ingredients for a good survival story.

There are some incredible stories of survival including Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing and Nathaniel Philbrick. But, have you read the story about the man whose sailboat sank in the Atlantic and spent 76 days drifting 1,800 miles in a five foot inflatable boat? Or the tale of a woman who falls 60 feet in the Sierra Mountains, breaks both of her legs but still manages to pull herself to safety? Or the classic tale of The Wreck of the Medusa where survivors of a 19th century shipwreck are forced on a makeshift raft where mayhem, mutiny and murder ensues?


Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan

This is a book that I tell everyone to read, it’s that good. This survival story is about a man whose boat sinks in the middle of the Atlantic, 800 miles west of the Canary Islands with nothing but a little bit of food and water – enough to last a few days. Steven Callahan spent 76 days adrift on the Atlantic in a tiny raft and lived to tell the tale.


Alive by Piers Paul Read

In 1972, a plane goes down in the snowy, remote peaks of the Andes. Only 16 of the original passengers survive for 10 weeks in frigid temperatures with no food. This is a terrifying tale but highlights the resilience of man’s will to survive.


Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft

Tami and her fiancé set sail from Tahiti and all is good, until they meet a monster hurricane which destroys their boat. Oh, and her fiancé is missing.


Lost in the Jungle by Yossi Ghinsberg

It’s hard to say what would be more terrifying, adrift on an expansive ocean, or lost in a jungle. In this book, four travelers set out on an expedition in the Amazon rainforest but things quickly take a turn, for the worst. The group is split up and only some of them back it back.


Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King

Man’s will to survive is tested in this account of a crew who miraculously survives a shipwreck and finds themselves in a hot and desolate desert. They are starving, severely dehydrated, desperate to be found and are then robbed and enslaved. It’s a hard read, but thrilling to the end.


Angels in the Wilderness by Amy Racina

A hiking trip gone wrong, terribly wrong. Amy Racina was hiking by herself in California’s Sierra mountains when she fell 60 feet and broke both her legs. Yet, she manages to survive four days and nights and is eventually found and rescued.


Island of the Lost by Joan Druett

Shipwrecked on Auckland Island, a crew survives and thrives while another crew succumbs to starvation and cannibalism 20 miles away.


The Lost City of Z by David Grann

A man dedicates his life to finding a lost city – The City of Z, buried in the depths of the inhospitable Amazon jungle. Other people have spent a lifetime searching for evidence of Z and meet disease, starvation and death in their quest to locate the city.


Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

A fascinating tale of survival in the harshest conditions. A US cargo plane crashes in Greenland and all survive. The plane sent to Greenland to rescue the men encounters its own problems. The men left alive are ill-equipped to survive 148 days in sub-Arctic weather – ferocious winds, freezing temperatures and white-out blizzards are just the beginning of their problems.


The Wreck of the Medusa by Jonathan Miles

Perhaps the most famous shipwreck of them all, The Wreck of the Medusa inspired the famous painting by Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa. After the boat sinks and the captain claims the lifeboats, the rest of the crew are left to survive on makeshift rafts – things get ugly and not everyone survives.

AbeBooks Sponsors the LA Art Book Fair


Guests at the LA Art Book Fair 2015

AbeBooks is pleased to be a sponsor at the LA Art Book Fair taking place this weekend (February 11-14) at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

Presented by Printed Matter, the LA Art Book Fair features over 250 booksellers, international presses, artists and independent publishers. Visitors to the fair will see an impressive selection of art catalogs, periodicals, monographs and zines. Several AbeBooks booksellers will be showcasing their items at the fair including Arcana: Books on the Arts, MODLITBOOKS, Derringer Books, 6 Decades Books, KARMA and 20th Century Art Archives.

AbeBooks is proud to sponsor a full day of Special Programming on Friday February 12. Sessions include Libros Mutantes (self-publishing in Spain), Showcase (a 60 minute audiovisual showcase hosted by Libros Mutates), Frieze magazine presents: Claire Evans and Martine Syms in Conversation and Billy Miller in conversation with William E. Jones.

If you’re in the LA area this weekend, be sure to visit the LA Art Book Fair.


He Was Right – Celebrating Einstein with Ephemera and Books


Original etching of Albert Einstein by J.J. Muller. 1934.

In honor of today’s scientific discovery, AbeBooks has gathered a selection of unique and fascinating pieces of ephemera and books related to Albert Einstein.

So it looks like Albert Einstein knew what he was talking about. After years of searching, scientists have confirmed that they have indeed detected gravitational waves for the very first time. These waves are caused by black holes that come smashing together. Those involved with this groundbreaking research say that the colliding black holes are approximately 30 times the mass of the sun and are 1.3 billion light years from Earth. This is mind boggling and the most incredible part is that Einstein wrote about this one hundred years ago in his revolutionary theory of general relativity.

A team of more than 1,000 researchers from 15 different countries have spent years looking for gravitational waves. Using a device called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) – basically two very large lasers that can detect incredibly small vibrations, scientists converted the wave signals into audio waves and could actually hear the black holes colliding together.

Einstein was born in Germany on March 14, 1879 and spent most of his life dedicated to physics and the philosophy of science. He was a prolific writer and throughout his career published hundreds of articles and books. Signed copies of Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein have sold on AbeBooks, including a $12,500 copy.



Relativity. The Special and the General Theory. First American Edition, signed by Einstein. 1920


Handwritten letter from Albert Einstein to his son. Written in 1932, counseling his son on the meaning of life. Signed “Papa”.


Photograph of Einstein – Original photo of Einstein taken during his visit to California in 1932 and 1933. Inscribed by Einstein.


Guest book signed by Einstein which includes an original ink doodle of a stick figure peering through a telescope at a sailboat on a lake with a mountain in the background


Signed copy of The World As I See It by Albert Einstein. First Edition, translated from German. 1949


Original photograph of Einstein with Ralph Lazarus, president of the Albert Einstein Foundation. 1946


Gelegentliches von Albert Einstein. 1929 FIRST EDITION of a work privately distributed to members of the Soncino Society and put together by the Soncino-Gesellschaft of the Friends of Jewish Books in honor of Einstein’s 50th birthday. Publication was limited to 800 copies.


Original lithograph of Albert Einstein by Eugene Spiro. Spiro was a renowned portrait painter of his time.  Signed by Einstein.


Einstein postcard from Lotte Jacobi to friends in Germany. Jacobi was a German portrait, theater and art photographer who photographed Einstein.


Out of My Later Years by Albert Einstein. Signed, first edition, published in 1950. A collection of essays considering everything that interested him as a scientist, philosopher and humanitarian.

The Books of the Films of Meryl Streep

She’s an icon of modern cinema with more than 50 film roles to her credit. She has a trophy closet full of silverware, including three Oscars and eight Golden Globes. You’ve probably seen the majority of her films. We’re talking about Meryl Streep – the leading lady of Hollywood’s leading ladies.

Meryl Streep by Karina Longworth

But, as so often with movies, books have inspired many of Streep’s films. In fact, if you want an original reading list for a year of solid literature then you could do a lot worse than the books that served as the basis for her movies.

Oddly, for an actress who has appeared in so many influential films, there are not many good books about Streep herself. Perhaps only Phaidon’s Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor by Karina Longworth and Ian Johnstone’s Streep: A Life in Film are worth a look.

Streep, born in New Jersey in 1949, is one of only six actors to have won three or more Academy Awards.

There are some major literary successes on this list including The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Bridges of Madison County, The Giver, Out of Africa, Kramer vs Kramer, and Sophie’s Choice. These books also cover cooking, blogging, foxes, numerous love stories and families falling to pieces, fashion, and music.

Meryl’s Movie Bookshelf

Pentimento by Lillian Hellman

Julia (1977)

Based on Lillian Hellman’s memoir Pentimento, Julia was Streep’s first film role after she cut her teeth in theater. A chapter of Pentimento describes Hellman’s relationship with Julia, who fought against the Nazis in the years prior to World War II. The movie starred Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, and Maximilian Schell with Streep in a supporting role.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

This remarkable film about the Vietnam War was based in part on an unproduced screenplay called The Man Who Came to Play by Louis Garfinkle and Quinn K. Redeker, about Las Vegas and Russian roulette. There is a novelization, by Eric Corder, of the screenplay.

Manhattan (1979)

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles

The screenplay of this romantic comedy was written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman. You can find the screenplay in a book format in Four Films of Woody Allen (and Annie Hall, Interiors and Stardust Memories are the other three films).

The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

The screenplay of this political drama, featuring a senator who has an affair, was written by Alan Alda, who also played the title role. A novelization by Richard Cohen exists.

Kramer vs Kramer (1979)

Adapted by Robert Benton from the novel of the same name by Avery Corman. Streep starred with Dustin Hoffman in this bitter tale of a family split in half.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981)

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

Based on the 1969 novel by John Fowles, it’s a non-traditional Victorian love affair where gentleman and naturalist Charles Smithson falls in love with Sarah Woodruff. Jeremy Irons starred alongside Streep.

Still of the Night (1982)

Not based on a book, the screenplay was written by Robert Benton and David Newman. In case you’ve forgotten, this movie was a psychological thriller co-starring Roy Scheider.

Sophie’s Choice (1982)

A National Book Award winner in 1980, William Styron’s novel concerns three people sharing a boarding house in Brooklyn – a young writer, a Jew and his lover, who is a concentration camp survivor. The catastrophic decision referenced in the novel’s title is believed to be based on actual events.

Silkwood (1983)

Plenty by David Hare

The screenplay was written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen. There are now several books about the life and death of activist Karen Silkwood, including The Killing of Karen Silkwood by Richard L. Rashke, and Who Killed Karen Silkwood? by Howard Kohn.

Falling in Love (1984)

Michael Cristofer wrote the screenplay. We can skip this romantic comedy co-starring Robert DeNiro, although there is a scene in the Rizzoli bookstore.

Plenty (1985)

Adapted from David Hare’s play of the same name. The story concerns an Englishwoman who struggles to recover from her experiences of fighting with the French Resistance in World War II.

Out of Africa (1985)

Ironweed by William Kennedy

Inspired by Isak Dinesen’s autobiographical book Out of Africa (Dinesen was the pseudonym of Danish author Karen Blixen) published in 1937. The book focuses on Blixen’s life in Kenya, then called British East Africa, and offers an insight into colonial life.

Heartburn (1986)

The screenplay by Nora Ephron is based on her semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, which was inspired by her marriage to Carl Bernstein and his affair with Margaret Jay. Streep starred alongside Jack Nicholson.

Ironweed (1987)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by William Kennedy, who also wrote the screenplay. Again Nicolson co-stars. The story features a homeless couple and their travails during the Great Depression.

Evil Angels / A Cry in the Dark (1988)

The Live and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon

A film with two names. The screenplay by Fred Schepisi and Robert Caswell is based on John Bryson’s 1985 book, Evil Angels. The story details Australian Lindy Chamberlain, who was tried for the murder of her baby. She claimed the child was taken from a tent by a dingo.

She-Devil (1989)

A very loose adaptation of the 1983 novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon. An ugly woman goes to great lengths to wreak revenge on her cheating husband and his pretty mistress.

Postcards from the Edge (1990)

This film was based on Carrie Fisher’s 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. Fisher, who rose to worldwide fame as Princess Leia, had a bizarre Hollywood upbringing as the daughter of screen star Debbie Reynolds.

Defending your Life (1991)

The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred in this romantic afterlife comedy. Let’s be thankful there’s no book.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

Scripted by David Koepp and Martin Donovan. A forgettable black comedy fantasy – again no book.

The House of Spirits (1993)

Based on the 1982 novel La Casa de los Espíritus (The House of Spirits in English) by Isabel Allende. This debut novel was conceived by Allende when she heard her 100-year-old grandfather was dying. It tells the story of four generations on the Trueba family through Chile’s many social and political upheavals.

The River Wild (1994)

Screenplay by Denis O’Neill. No book. A rafting adventure in which Streep nearly drowned during filming.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Robert James Waller. A love story between Robert Kincaid, photographer and free spirit, and farmer’s wife Francesca Johnson. Clint Eastwood starred opposite Streep.

Before and After (1996)

Based on Before and After by Rosellen Brown. The story centers on a death in a small Massachusetts town. Liam Neeson co-starred.

Marvin’s Room (1996)

Based on the play of the same name by Scott McPherson. The tale of one family’s journey through humor, heartache, separation and self-discovery around physical and mental health.

Dancing at Lughnasa (1998)

Adapted from the Brian Friel play of the same title. Five unmarried sisters in a remote Irish village just before World War II see their isolated world fall apart. Irish angst galore.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

One True Thing (1998)

Adapted by Karen Croner from the novel by Anna Quindlen. The story is based on Quindlen’s real life struggle to accept the death of her mother in 1972, due to ovarian cancer. William Hurt co-starred.

Music of the Heart (1999)

Pamela Gray wrote the screenplay. It’s a dramatization of the true story of Roberta Guaspari, who co-founded the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. There is a book about it called Music of the Heart: The Roberta Guaspari Story co-written by Warren Larkin.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Streep has just a small part in this science fiction film. The screenplay is partially based on the 1969 short story Supertoys Last All Summer Long by Brian Aldiss, which deals with life in an age of intelligent machines.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

The Adaptation (2002)

A comedy drama directed by Spike Jonze based on Susan Orlean’s non-fiction book The Orchid Thief, which deals with the poaching of rare flowers in South Florida.

The Hours (2002)

Based on Michael Cunningham’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title. The book concerns three women affected by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway novel, including Woolf herself.

Stuck on You (2003)

Streep makes an uncredited cameo appearance. It’s a comedy (!) about cojoined twins. There’s no book.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon

The film is based on Richard Condon’s 1959 novel of the same name. Denzel Washington stars. The novel is a rollicking good political thriller with brainwashing, communists and lashings of conspiracy.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

You all know Daniel Handler’s bestselling series of children’s books. The movie covers the first three books – The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window.

Prime (2005)

A prime flop. A romantic comedy starring Uma Thurman. Streep plays a therapist. No book. We’ll move along.

A Prairie Home Companion (2006)

Directed by Robert Altman. A fictional vision of behind-the-scenes at the famous NPR show of the same name. There are all sorts of books associated with the show.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel of the same name. Anne Hathaway starred as the college grad terrorized by Streep’s fashion magazine editor. Was Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, the inspiration for Streep’s character?

The Ant Bully (2006)

A computer-animated children’s adventure based on the 1999 children’s book of the same name by John Nickle.

Dark Matter (2007)

This film is loosely based on a shooting at the University of Iowa. No book.

Evening (2007)

A drama based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Susan Minot. A dying woman looks back on her confusing past.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Rendition (2007)

A thriller about the CIA and their abduction practices. No book.

Lions for Lambs (2007)

A modern warfare drama film. No book. Robert Redford directed.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

“Gimme, gimme, gimme, a man after midnight. Won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away?” Meryl sings too. The film version of the smash Broadway production, which salutes the songs of ABBA.

Doubt (2008)

A drama adapted from John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning play Doubt: A Parable. Misdeeds in a Catholic school.

Julie & Julia (2009)

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

A comedy drama inspired by a blog and a book. The film looks at the lives of chef Julia Child and New York blogger Julie Powell, who aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child’s iconic cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a challenge that moved from the blogosphere to the printed page (Julie and Julia).

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

The farmers versus the foxes. Roald Dahl’s much loved children’s story was the basis for this animated film. Streep provided the voice of Mrs. Fox.

It’s Complicated (2009)

It got mixed reviews. Another rom-com where Streep is a bakery owner and single mother of three who starts a secret affair with her ex-husband. No book.

Higglety Pigglety! Or There Must be More to Life (2010)

The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout

A live-action/animated short film about the adventures of Jennie the dog. It’s based on Maurice Sendak’s 1967 children’s book.

The Iron Lady (2011)

Not based on a book but there are several notable biographies of Margaret Thatcher, including The Iron Lady by Hugo Young. Alan Clark’s Diaries describe her downfall from the inside. For the other side of the coin, try Things Can Only Get Better by John O’Farrell.

Hope Springs (2012)

Yet another romantic comedy, this time with Tommy Lee Jones. No book.

August: Osage County (2013)

A drama based on John Wells’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor also star in this tale of a dysfunctional family that reunites after a disappearance. No book.

My Own Story by Emmeline Pankhurst

The Giver (2014)

Streep plays the Chief Elder in this dystopian science fiction drama based on Lois Lowry’s much loved and much studied 1993 novel set in a peaceful, ordered community that has some dark secrets.

The Homesman (2014)

A period drama set in the 1850s Midwest based in Glendon Swarthout’s novel of the same name. Streep plays the wife of a priest in this story about pioneer women on the edge of a breakdown.

Into the Woods (2014)

Inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales, this is a musical fantasy based on the Broadway musical of the same name.

Ricki and the Flash (2015)

A comedy drama where a wife leaves her family to become a rock star. No book.

Suffragette (2015)

An historical drama with Streep as Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British suffragette movement. It’s not based on a book but My Own Story by Pankhurst tells her remarkable tale of fighting for women’s rights.

January’s bestselling signed books

January's bestselling signed books

Another month has come and gone, which means it’s time to look at AbeBooks’ bestselling signed books! January’s biggest signed sellers are a mixture of brand new books (My Name is Lucy Barton), award winners (A Brief History of Seven Killings), page-turners (Rogue Lawyer) and books on the big screen (Room).

1. M Train by Patti Smith

2. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

3. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

4. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

6. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

7. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

8. The Martian by Andy Weir

9. Room by Emma Donaghue

10. Eileen: A Novel by Moshfegh Ottessa

Amazon’s Top 10 Books: February 2016

It’s that time again when we get to see Amazon’s list of the top ten books to read this month – which books are going on your must read pile?


A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin

Spanning seven decades as it moves from California to Princeton to the Midwest to New York, A Doubter’s Almanac tells the story of a family as it explores the way ambition lives alongside destructiveness, obsession alongside torment, love alongside grief. It is a story of how the flame of genius both lights and scorches every generation it touches. Graced by stunning prose and brilliant storytelling, A Doubter’s Almanac is a surprising, suspenseful, and deeply moving novel, a major work by a writer who has been hailed as “the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation.”


Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Wainwright

This is a unique look into the huge and fascinating multi-billion dollar international drug industry. Rather than reporting it as a “war,” Wainwight looked at the drug trade as a business, with a quarter billion customers and worldwide revenues of about $300 billion a year—with similar concerns as any Fortune 500 business, such as human resources, outsourcing and corporate social responsibility.


All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages. A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.


My Father, The Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt

After inheriting 400 novels of pornography written by his father in the 1970s and ‘80s, critically acclaimed author Chris Offutt sets out to make sense of a complicated father-son relationship in this carefully observed, beautifully written memoir.

Over one long summer in his hometown, helping his mother move out of the house, Chris began to examine his deceased father’s possessions and realized he finally had an opportunity to come to grips with the mercurial man he always feared but never understood. Offutt takes us on the journey with him, showing us how only in his father’s absence could he truly make sense of the man and his legacy. This riveting, evocatively told memoir of a deeply complex father-son relationship proves again why theNew York Times Book Review said, “Offut’s obvious kin are Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff, and Ernest Hemingway.”


The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family by Gail Lumet Buckley

Beginning with her great-great grandfather Moses Calhoun, a house slave who used the rare advantage of his education to become a successful businessman in post-war Atlanta, Buckley follows her family’s two branches: one that stayed in the South, and the other that settled in Brooklyn. Through the lens of her relatives’ momentous lives, Buckley examines major events throughout American history. From Atlanta during Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow, to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance, and then from World War II to the Civil Rights Movement, this ambitious, brilliant family witnessed and participated in the most crucial events of the 19th and 20th centuries. Combining personal and national history, The Black Calhouns is a unique and vibrant portrait of six generations during dynamic times of struggle and triumph.


Walking the Nile by Levison Wood

The Nile, one of the world’s great rivers, has long been an object of fascination and obsession. From Alexander the Great and Nero, to Victorian adventurers David Livingstone, John Hanning Speke, and Henry Morton Stanley, the river has seduced men and led them into wild adventures. English writer, photographer, and explorer Levison Wood is just the latest. His Walking the Nile is a captivating account of a remarkable and unparalleled Nile journey.


Perfect Days by Raphael Montes

Teo Avelar is a loner. He lives with his paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, he doesn’t have many friends, and the only time he feels honest human emotion is in the presence of his medical school cadaver—that is, until he meets Clarice. She’s almost his exact opposite: exotic, spontaneous, unafraid to speak her mind. An aspiring screenwriter, she’s working on a screenplay called Perfect Days about three friends who go on a road trip across Brazil in search of romance. Teo is obsessed. He begins to stalk her, first following her to her university, then to her home, and when she ultimately rejects him, he kidnaps her and they embark upon their very own twisted odyssey across Brazil.


Morning Star: Book III of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.


The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for thatsomething else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it. Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.


Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.


Debut Spotlight:

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing. And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone. Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good. Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

CBC Canada Reads picks final contenders

2016 CBC Canada Reads Finalists

Earlier this month we shared the 2016 CBC Canada Reads long list. This week, the beloved annual battle of the books announced their five contenders and the famous Canadians that will be defending them. While most awards keep their debates behind closed doors, Canada Reads lays it all out in the open. Beginning March 21st, each panelist will defend their chosen book on live air, and each night a book will be taken out of the running until, on March 24th, there is only one book left standing.

The final five:

Actor Adam Copeland will defend Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter: “It’s about falling flat on your face, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and how you walk on.”

Olympic medalist Clara Hughes will defend The Illegal by Lawrence Hill: “It’s heavy, it’s lively, it’s playful, and it gave me hope. It brings humanity to the struggle.”

Social entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip will defend Birdie by Tracey Lindberg: “For all of us who care about reconciliation, and frankly we all should, this book opens that path.”

Actor and screenwriter Vinay Virmani will defend The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami: “The Hero’s walk shows that while life throws challenges our way, it also gives us the gift of a second chance.”

Activist Farah Mohamed will defend Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz: “This is about deception. It’s about despair. But ultimately, it’s about love.”

Which book has your vote?

9 Books You Have to Read Before the Oscars

Behind most great movies lies an even better book. In fact, more than two thirds of the Academy’s Best Picture winners were based on books (see the whole list here). Odds are that list will grow come February 28th – six of this year’s Best Picture nominees are based on books, and a few more appear in the Best Actor and Actress categories. So here it is, our list of the exceptional books you need to read before Oscar season is over.

Best Picture

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punte

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punte

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, The Revenant is nominated for a whopping 11 Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role. The book by author Michael Punte is based on the story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass. Set in 1823, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.


Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Toibin, Brooklyn is nominated for three Oscars. Saoirse Ronan is nominated for her role as Toibin’s main character Eilis who immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950s, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, meets Tony – but just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.


The Martian by Andy Weir The Martian by Andy Weir

Nominated for seven Oscars, The Martian stars Matt Damon as author Andy Weir’s leading man, astronaut Mark Watney. Watney’s dialogue makes for a very entertaining read: “I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.”


Room by Emma Donoghue Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world. . .. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. It’s the kind of book movie producers dream of! The film adaptation of Canadian author Emma Donoghue‘s bestseller is nominated for four Oscars, including Actress in a Leading Role for Brie Larson who plays Ma.


Bridge of Spies by Giles WhittellBridge of Spies by Giles Whittell

Who were the three men the American and Soviet superpowers exchanged at Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge and Checkpoint Charlie in the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces their paths to that exchange on February 10, 1962, when their fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War. These events are adapted for film in Best Picture nominee starring Tom Hanks.


The Big Short by Michael Lewis The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Yet another film adaptation for non-fiction writer Michael Lewis, who also penned Moneyball (the movie starred Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill) and The Blindside (this one starred Sandra Bullock).  The Big Short has its own star-studded cast including Christian Bale who plays Michael Burry, the eccentric money manager who anticipated the 2008 financial crisis and bet against the housing industry.


Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role

The Danish Girl by David EbershoffThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history. Eddie Redmayne is nominated for his portrayal of Lili, while actress Alicia Vikander is nominted for her  role as Lili’s wife, Gerda.



Trumbo by Bruce CookTrumbo by Bruce Cook

Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the “Hollywood Ten,” the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see his name on the screen again. This intriguing biography shows that all his life Trumbo was a radical of the homegrown, independent variety. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is nominated for his role as Trumbo.


Carol by Patricia Highsmith Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt in 1952, and until now it’s remained a little-known cult classic. Now titled Carol, the book is based on a true story plucked from Highsmith’s own life –  the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy.  Cate Blanchett is nominated for her portrayal of Carol.


Which film has your vote?

Rare Books Uncovered by Rebecca Rego Barry: A Review

Rare Books Uncovered by Rebecca Rego Barry

If you have ever dreamed of finding a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird in a flea market or discovering a bundle of comics worth millions in a basement, then Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Rego Barry is worth a place on your bookshelf.

Rebecca is well known in the North American rare book community as the editor of Fine Books and Collections magazine. Her book, which contains an introduction from Nicholas Basbanes, offers a collection of 52 stories about rare book discoveries in the most unlikely places.

Her sources are booksellers, many of which sell on the AbeBooks marketplace, collectors and librarians. Each story leaves the reader thinking: ‘That could have been me.’ But being in the right place at the right time is only half the battle. Her stories cover how our heroes researched their finds, verified value and what they subsequently did with them.

Rebecca’s love of books started early. She interned at Random House, and worked for Simon and Schuster after college. Her interest in collecting/treasure-hunting was sparked by the discovery of a first edition of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in a church book sale. A pretty good find for $1 as these listings show.

Anyone who loves used and rare books has stories to tell about discovering gems in unlikely places. These tales become badges of honor for bibliophiles and no-one has more stories of literary discoveries than booksellers.

Ken Sanders, the legendary bookseller and ‘bibliodick’ from Salt Lake City, is featured in a delightful story about how he volunteered to appraise books at a charity fundraiser and a man walked in off the street with a 500-year-old copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Brian Cassidy, a seller located in Maryland, details how he picked up a bibliography hand-annotated by Jack Kerouac (although it took a year-long quest to verify this fact) at the San Francisco ABAA Book Fair for just $20.

Sammy Jay, a twentysomething Oxford graduate, recounts how he discovered a first edition volume one of Frankenstein inscribed by Mary Shelley to Lord Bryon on top of a dusty bookshelf while sorting through his grandfather’s library. He describes it as a “light, slightly tatty volume.” Peter Harrington later sold the book on behalf of Jay’s family for an undisclosed sum – that’s ‘undisclosed’ as in a great deal of money.

Stuart Manley of Barter Books in Northumberland in the UK explains how he found one of the original red ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters from 1939 at the bottom of a box of old books purchased at an auction in 2000. The box was left unsorted for several weeks until Stuart and his wife Mary began to go through the items and found the poster at the bottom. The Manleys framed the poster and displayed it in their shop where it was a huge hit with customers. In 2005, a writer on The Guardian newspaper featured the poster in an article and sparked an industry totally devoted to the phrase – posters, t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, parodies. The poster was one of a series of three propaganda messages designed to ensure Brits kept stiff upper lips in the face of German aggression but they were never issued for display. What didn’t work in 1939, resonated with many people in 2005. With an expired copyright, the Manleys never profited from their find but probably have the greatest dinner party story of all time.

Oregon-based bookseller Phillip Pirages details how a discovery at a garage sale inspired him to become a book dealer. It was an English translation of the French book, A Treatise on Architecture, originally written by a Roman author, Vitruvius. The book is a manual for Roman construction site managers (hard hats and togas?). Philip haggled the price down from $45 to $35. After researching the book, he approached a dealer who specialized in architectural books and sold it for $1,000. Part of the deal was that Philip would be informed of the price when the dealer subsequently sold the book to a collector. It was resold for $3,000 and Pirages realized that his future lay in bookselling.

Rebecca’s collection of stories is fun and informative. It shows the thrill of the hunt is by far the most exciting aspect of collecting and selling books, and the next great discovery can turn up almost anywhere.

Buy Rare Books Uncovered

2016 Caldecott Medal Awarded to Finding Winnie

The prestigious Caldecott Medal, awarded annually to an American artist of a children’s book, has been given to illustrator Sophie Blackall for her contributions to Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, written by Lindsay Mattick.

The Caldecott Medal was first awarded in 1937 and is named in honor of the nineteenth century English illustrator Randolph J. Caldecott. Each year, the Caldecott Medal is given in conjunction with the Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to American literature for children. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña is this year’s recipient of the Newbery Medal.


2016 Caldecott Medal winner for best illustrator – Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mallick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall



2016 Newbery Medal awarded to author Matt de la Peña for his book Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson.


The synopsis for the book states that “Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. And she was a girl! In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war.”

Anyone with small children will undoubtedly be familiar with Sophie Blackall, the illustrator of Ivy and Bean. Any parent with young girls in the house will be quite familiar with Blackall’s work. For Finding Winnie, Blackall uses Chinese ink and watercolor art and beautifully captures the story of friendship between a boy and a bear named Winnie.

Previous Caldecott Medal winners include:


2015: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat



2014: Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brain Floca



2013: This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen


2012: A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka

2012: A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka