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CBC’s Canada Reads announces 2016 longlist

Canada Reads Longlist 2016
It’s the event that makes winter in the great white north all worth while for us Canadian book nerds. Created in 2002 by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), the beloved annual battle of the books, Canada Reads, celebrates the best in Canadian Literature. Each year, the battle and the books in it must relate to a theme. This year’s theme is all about “Starting Over”. CBC reports, “The show will feature books about transformation and second chances, stories of migrants, immigrants and others who are choosing – or forced – to make major changes in their lives.” The critically acclaimed Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) and All the Broken Things (Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer) fit right in.

On January 20th, the longlist of 15 will be whittled down to just five and the panelists defending them will be announced. 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 Canada Reads 2016 Longlist:

All the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz

Buying on Time by Antanas Sileika

Landing Gear by Kate Pullinger

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter

Niko by Dimitri Nasrallah

Sitting Practice by Caroline Adderson

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson

Sweetland by Michael Crummey

The Amazing Absorbing Boy by Rabindranath Maharaj

The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, with art by Kelly Mellings

Come back January 20th to see the shortlist and meet the panelists!


Discover the books bought on Christmas Day: from ‘How to Stay Sane’ to Lemony Snicket and dieting

Lemony Snicket novels were popular on Christmas Day

Get up early, open your presents, telephone the relations, stick the turkey in the oven and then….. go online and buy some books! This appears to be the Christmas Day ritual for thousands of booklovers in North America and Europe.

Far from being a quiet day for online bookselling, December 25 is actually similar to a typical Sunday in terms of books sold via the AbeBooks marketplace. Our Christmas Day buyers were located in 73 different countries – including the likes of Chad, Mongolia, the Réunion Island and the Northern Mariana Islands – and purchasing trends varied from ‘how to’ books, to dieting, Star Wars, car manuals and Lemony Snicket novels.

The majority of books went to countries celebrating the Christian Christmas, but buyers were also located in Oman, Qatar, U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, India and Indonesia.

Perhaps Christmas Day is an ideal day for online shopping? The majority of the population in North America and Europe are at home. Travel is minimal for most people, and, during the day, there are long periods of free time (while that turkey cooks) to go online and shop for books that were not found in a stocking or under the Christmas tree.

The bestselling author of Christmas Day was Lemony Snicket followed by Terry PratchettJ.R.R. Tolkien and M.C. Beaton. “How to” books were in demand with buyers clearly planning activities for 2016. Examples of ‘how to’ books bought on Christmas Day include:

How to Tune Your Car by Spencer Murray

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber

How to Stay Sane by Philippa Perry

How to Tune Your Car by Spencer Murray

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish

How to Run Your First Marathon by Ardy Friedberg

How to Play Bebop by David Baker

How to Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart

How to Survive Modern Art by Susie Hodge

How To build Small Barns & Outbuildings

How to Draw Pond Life by Vere Temple

How to Build the Grandma Connection: The Complete Pocket Guide by Susan V. Bosak

How to Build Small Barns & Outbuildings by Monte Burch

How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman

Oddly numerous car maintenance manuals were also purchased, including the Datsun 1200 Workshop Manual from 1973, BMW 5 Series Service Manual 1997-2003, VW Polo Service and Repair Manual 1994-1999, and VW Vanagon Official Factory Repair Manual.

Another popular genre of the day was diet books but we cannot be sure whether these purchases were being made before or after Christmas dinner. Clearly, customers do not wait until New Year when considering whether to a shed a few pounds after a heavy festive period of merrymaking. Diet books purchased on Christmas Day included The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, The 80/10/10 Diet Journal, The 20/20 DietThe Bulletproof Diet and The Beautiful People’s Diet Book.

British Tits – in demand on Christmas Day

My personal favorites from the list of Christmas Day sales are A Hamper of Recipes from Jamaica by Jill Roberts, A History of Norwegian Music by the wonderfully named Nils Grinde, A Jazz-Inspired Easter by Craig Curry, B-24 Liberator Pilot’s Flight Operating Instructions, Goats of the World by Valerie Porter, and Happy Cat, Happy You: Quick Tips for Building a Bond with Your Feline Friend by Arden Moore and the unforgettable British Tits by Christopher Perrins.

The most expensive book sold on Christmas Day was a German book published in Heidelberg in 1664 about the brutal aspect of the Spanish colonization of South America.  It sold for $4,285.

AbeBooks’ five bestselling items on Christmas Day 2015 were:

1. The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket

2. The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket

3. Audubon Nature Wall Calendar 2016

4. The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality by Phil McGraw

5. The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel


Emma Watson launched a feminist book club and everybody’s joining

My Life on the Road by Gloria SteinemWe first fell in love with Emma Watson as the clever and independent Hermione Granger. Last night, as United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma launched a feminist book club and we’ve fallen in love all over again. She announced the club, Our Shared Shelf, on Goodreads:

Dear Readers,

As part of my work with UN Women, I have started reading as many books and essays about equality as I can get my hands on. There is so much amazing stuff out there! Funny, inspiring, sad, thought-provoking, empowering! I’ve been discovering so much that, at times, I’ve felt like my head was about to explode… I decided to start a Feminist book club, as I want to share what I’m learning and hear your thoughts too.

The plan is to select and read a book every month, then discuss the work during the month’s last week (to give everyone time to read it!). I will post some questions/quotes to get things started, but I would love for this to grow into an open discussion with and between you all. Whenever possible I hope to have the author, or another prominent voice on the subject, join the conversation.

If you fancy it, please join up and participate. Everyone is welcome. I would be honoured!

Emma x

In less than 24 hours the group has accumulated 48,000 members and generated 100 discussions between members, ranging from introductions to reading suggestions. January’s book is My Life on the Road by writer and activist Gloria Steinem, a title that’s been on the bestseller lists since it was published in October.  My Life on the Road is Steinem’s candid account of her life as a traveler, a listener, and a catalyst for change. It’s her first book in 20 years.

What books do you hope to see on Emma’s list?

 


Raptis Rare Books, selling the finest books in rural Vermont

Matthew and Adrienne Raptis

Deep in the southern Vermont countryside, you will find an ornate Italianate villa simply packed with sumptuous books worthy of any collector’s bookshelf. Welcome to Raptis Rare Books and the world of husband-and-wife bookselling team Matthew and Adrienne Raptis.

Matthew and Adrienne specialize in fine first editions, signed and inscribed books, and books that are quite simply important.

You will see them at the major books fairs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, and you can visit their Vermont villa, if you have an appointment.

They have sold via AbeBooks since 2003 and their inventory covers the biggest names in literature.

The home of Raptis Rare Books in Vermont

Raptis Rare Books stands out for the high quality photography that accompanies their listings on AbeBooks. Just browsing their books is fascinating – a first edition of Ulysses, a first edition of The Great Gatsby complete with its dust jacket, a Fourth Folio of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. These are books that are simply important.

Prices range from $20 for signed copy of The Flaming Corsage by William Kennedy to $160,000 for a first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

Adrienne kindly took a few minutes away from the business to answer our questions.

AbeBooks: How did you get into the bookselling trade?

Adrienne: “Matthew started collecting books when he was a young child. He was very interested in history, particularly the American Civil War, and started with a small collection of antiquarian books. His collection grew over the years to encompass many other fields, such as literature, economics, architecture, and photography. The business in rare books was a natural development from his passions.

“I came into the business by virtue of being married to Matthew, so it was less of a direct journey. My degrees are in the sciences, but I have always loved books and read voraciously. A funny thing is that I used to pretend when I was a child that I was a bookseller. We actually came across a photo a number of years ago after we returned from the San Francisco book fair that shows me with my books fanned out in a very similar way to how our books our displayed when we are at a fair. It must have been destiny because I love this business and being surrounded by such amazing pieces of history.”

An example of Raptis’ photography – The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

AbeBooks: What’s the most expensive book you have ever sold?

Adrienne: “We’ve sold a number of books in the six figures, but we’d rather not say specific titles or amounts. (Editor’s note – Adrienne is being discreet. In September 2015, Raptis sold a signed 1964 first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl for $25,000 on the AbeBooks marketplace, so you can see their inventory can command top dollar prices.)

AbeBooks: What’s the first edition you have always wanted to offer for sale but never yet found?

Adrienne: “Our holy grail of books would be a first edition Don Quixote. There was one that was known in the 1980s and went for around $1.5 million.​ If you find one in your attic, give us a call.”

Books galore in the Raptis gallery

AbeBooks: How do you acquire your inventory?

​Adrienne: “This is a question we get asked quite often. We do a lot of travelling and have both been to over 65 countries. W​e travel to purchase items from private collections, bookstores, rare books, and auctions.”

AbeBooks: What’s the most thrilling aspect of bookselling – discovery, closing a sale, making customers happy?

Adrienne: “We love making our customers happy and finding specific titles that they are looking for.​”

AbeBooks: “You are located in the heart of New England – would you describe it as a bookish part of the world?

​Adrienne: “This is definitely a bookish part of world. New England is known for its schools of higher education​ and literary events. You can still find many small and used bookstores in the ​area. Brattleboro in particular has a literary history, with famous authors such as Rudyard Kipling, Saul Bellow, and many others living and writing in the area. We also have a wonderful yearly literary festival.”

Search Raptis Rare Books


December’s bestselling signed books

December's bestselling signed books

Here it is, the last signed books list of 2015. M Train by Patti Smith has crept up the list to the number one spot. Despite being released late in the year, the popular memoir was one of AbeBooks’ bestselling signed books of 2015. December’s list includes some brand new reads alongside a few books that have stood the test of time.

1. M Train by Patti Smith

2. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

4. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello

5. Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

6. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

7. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

8. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

9. Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates

10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


What We Read in 2015

At AbeBooks we have software engineers, accountants, marketers, customer support reps, account managers and we all share one thing in common: a passion for books. We asked people around the office to share some of the books they read this year – it’s a fascinating list and perhaps you’ll be inspired to read some of these recommended titles.

Share your favorite books of the year in the comments section below.

Emily

Emily B

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak This was a wonderfully emotional and thoughtfully written book about a young German girl during the 2nd World War. Highly recommended to anyone who doesn’t mind letting a tear or two warp the pages of their novels.

2. The Kingkiller Chronicle (books one and two) by Patrick Rothfuss (waiting on the third one!) Would strongly encourage anyone who’s missing the Harry Potter school days and anxiously waiting for the next Game of Thrones book to give these a read. Lyrically written with action, romance, and music aplenty.

3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins Funny, odd, and charming, this book has helped stave off winter doldrums with enchanting characters and quirky humor. It has also inexplicably increased my beet consumption by 100%.

emily-books

 

Thomas N

Thomas N

1. Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognizes his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognize him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. A strangely entertaining look at today’s media landscape, using one of the biggest taboo subject in Germany.

2. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick Having been to Korea this year I enjoyed this fascinating look into North Korea’s daily lives. A sometimes “scary” trip into my personal past behind the iron curtain.

3. Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho Simply one of the most beautiful written books I ever read. Well, kind of read for the third time…

thomas-books

 

dawn

Dawn P

1. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter I really enjoyed this book, it was a little dark and graphic at times and if you have a teenager daughter it may be a book to avoid reading.  Great story!

2. The Stolen Ones by Owen Laukkanen Human trafficking is not something I ever thought about.  This book is a great story and truly puts it into perspective.  A little dark but a great read!

3. Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs I’ve read a lot of Kathy Reichs and usually enjoy them, I guess reading so many make them a little predicable.  I knew the ending a long way from the end.  I’m probably going to avoid future Kathy Reichs unless her style changes.

dawn-books

 

Yuriy Z

Yuriy Z

1. Wait Until Spring, Bandini by John Fante I was hooked: will the family stand as catholic mother shuts down seemingly unfaithful and constantly unemployed father? What kind of man will a young Arturo become as he wrestles with his Italian heritage and his attraction to carnal affairs?

2. The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante I was annoyed: a teenager is a teenager, even if it’s Arturo Bandini.

3. Ask the Dust by John Fante I was mesmerized: Arturo meets Camilla Lopez and the drama develops so fast and so strong, yet so gentle and profound by balancing explosive personalities and vulnerable hearts. This is now one of my all time favorite books.

4. Dreams from Bunker Hill by John Fante I was sad: it’s simply impossible to measure up to “Ask the Dust”. Bandini is now an up-and-coming Hollywood writer, and he’s more miserable than ever. Arturo is trying to find his place between hollow and pretentious studios, and gritty and rich Bunker Hill.

 

shi

Shi H

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez One does not simply write an epic story across seven generations, he shall also name all the characters after their fathers. All those love, hate, pain and struggling that are so vivid at the time, all eventually faded in history and became a part of the eternal time.

 2. The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard”. A book that makes you rethink about your life.

3. Takemitsu Zamurai An epic seinen manga series I would totally recommend. It was drawn with ink brushes and very oriental artistic.

shi-books

 

Cliff M

Cliff M

1. Future Crimes by Marc Goodman If you want to be scared into taking better care of your data online, this is the book. At times it felt a bit sensationalistic, but after double-checking his stories, it all just plain scary.

 2. I Must Say by Martin Short This is a fantastic auto-biography of a fascinating person. But I have one caveat: don’t read this. You absolutely MUST listen to the audiobook – which is performed by Martin himself.

3. Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung An amazing, true-life story of one person’s escape from North Korea. If this doesn’t get turned into a movie, I’ll be seriously disappointed. Reading this sends you through sadness, fear, excitement, jubilation, and then back to the beginning all over again.

4. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe The best science book of the year. Not only is it highly educational, but it’s absolutely, gut-splittingly, hilarious. Ever wondered if you could cook a steak from the re-entry heat of dropping it from space? Yeah, me neither – but the answer is here anyway.

5. The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth The funniest thing ever written about the English language. The best part is how the author uses each technique to introduce the next chapter. Well worth reading a second time.

6. Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia A brand new fantasy novel from one of my favorite authors. Novels always live or die on the strength of their characters, and Larry creates some of the best.

cliff-books

 

Christi K

Christi K

1. Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik This is a non-fiction book about journalist Adam Gopnik who moves to Paris with his wife and child. It follows the trials and tribulations of living abroad.

 2. Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius A non-fiction book about the author who fell ill in grade-school and became completely unresponsive and mostly paralyzed. What no one realized is that mentally he was still very aware, with no way to communicate, until finally someone gave him a chance.

3. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless Written by the sister of Chris McCandless (of Into the Wild fame) this non-fiction book is about their childhood and gives insight into perhaps why he ultimately made the decisions he did that cost him his life.

4. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald A memoir about the author losing her father. Grieving her loss she closes off the rest of the world and dedicates herself to her passion of falconry and trains a notoriously sour bird, a Goshawk.

christi-books

 

udo

Udo G

1. The Fall and The First Man by Albert Camus I was pretty much disappointed by “The Fall” (maybe the translation was bad) but after that began reading Camus’ posthumously published “The First Man” which I enjoyed immensely.

 2. Mr. Sammler’s Planet by Saul Bellow “Mr. Sammler’s Planet” was great too but I got stuck towards the end and still need to finish the last 10% some time.

3. Down and Out in London by George Orwell George Orwell’s first book, published in 1933, is a much thinner book and I finished it in a couple of weeks – highly recommended.

udo-books

 

ryan

Ryan P

1. The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson Sanderson introduces another refreshing magic system to us in the world of Roshar in an epic fantasy destined to be his magnum opus. Highly Recommended!

 2.Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson Sanderson made 1000+ pages fly by in the follow up to Words of Radiance. If you liked The Way of Kings you’ll love Words of Radiance. My best read of 2015!

3. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1-1) by Brandon Sanderson An innovative and complex magic system based around properties of certain metals keeps the pages turning. Recommended!

4. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge A classic Sci-Fi novel involving many intelligent races from different zones of the galaxy fighting for the fate of millions of lives. Highly recommended!

5. Shift Work by Tie Domi As a big fan of Tie Domi and hockey enforcers in general, it’s a nice insight into how players end up in those roles. Recommended for hockey fans!

ryan-books

 

Julie O

Julie O

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah This is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. As a mother of two young girls, there were parts that were difficult to read as a parent, but it’s just so good (and sad and hopeful and heartbreaking and full of love) that I recommend this book to everyone!

 2. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill Considered a love story, this short novel takes a profound look at a marriage that was once full of love but starts to fall apart as the years go by. Written in a journal-like account, this story is both funny and sad.

3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng An intimate look at a family grieving over the death of a family member. I read this book in one sitting – I couldn’t put it down.

4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr This shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book has shown up on this list – pretty much everyone has read this Pulitzer prize winner (if you haven’t read it, you must!). This epic story takes place during World War II and focuses on a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives cross paths. What’s so incredible about this novel is how knowledgeable the author is about so many subjects. This book is definitely at the top of my “favorite books of all time” list.

julie-books

 

Richard D

Richard D

1. Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby This was my favorite book of year. It’s an amazing piece of non-fiction about how Newby escapes from a German POW camp in Italy and is then hidden in the mountains by various families and lonely souls in remote villages.  It’s a story of kindness and also very, very funny, particularly when Newby is living on a farm with a family that was two very forward teenage daughters.

 2. When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss This is a massive biography of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi – the man who was misquoted to have said: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” It took me 10 months to pick up the book after getting it in Christmas 2014. I loved hearing about how he started out before even ending up with the Packers.

richard-books

What were the best books you read this year?


Just a smidge of a trailer for JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts

And it never ends (but secretly we are all very happy about that). Here’s the trailer, “just a smidge” of a video, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off. We have to wait until November 2016. You’ll remember that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was on Harry’s first-year reading list at Hogwarts.


Bookseller Q&A: Bison Books

Aimee Peake, Bison Books

Aimee Peake, owner of Bison Books

We recently caught up with Aimee Peake, owner of Bison Books in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Aimee told us all about her experience as a rare and collectible bookseller, from the oddest thing she’s found inside a book (you’ll never guess) to the literary treasure she covets most.

AbeBooks: How did you become a bookseller?

Aimee: Twenty years ago last fall, I was 19 and taking Philosophy at University. Out for coffee with friends one evening, I saw a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of the adjacent used bookstore, so I went in the next morning armed with my resumé and idealism. I’d happened upon one of Canada’s well-respected antiquarian bookstores, Greenfield Books. In my first year there, I vividly remember moving the shop to a new location, painting and assembling bookcases, and hauling countless loads of books. Trial by fire! I worked there on and off for years, inching along in my apprenticeship as I worked on my degree and came and went from the city. In 2001, the proprietor offered me the management position at the new shop he was about to open: Bison Books. I had my run of the place! I enjoyed the independence and responsibility and wanted more of both, so I became a partner in the business in 2007 and assumed sole proprietorship in 2010.

AbeBooks: What do you love most about selling books?

Aimee: I love the books! Also the customers, and the daily challenge of running my own business. I love the unending possibility of discovery – of anything from a book of poems I know will garner a smile from a particular customer, up to a breathtakingly-illustrated antiquarian treasure to enrich the life of its next owner. I love that every day, I feel a sense of community as customers turn into friends. I love the characters who are attracted to bookstores, and I love that I am contributing to the maintenance of history and literacy by stewarding my books through this era. I have been taking forays into Collections Development with a few clients, and I love having the opportunity to follow them into their niche, help them discover the treasures they covet, and sharing in the excitement when we peel open the packaging on their newest acquisitions!

AbeBooks: What is the most prized item in your inventory? Why?

Aimee: My “pet” book-of-the-moment from my inventory is an 1868 Hachette copy of Fables de la Fontaine: a tall, handsome leather-bound book filled with classic but whimsical stories, profusely illustrated with the engravings of the incomparable Gustav Doré. That said, I have hand-picked every single book in my inventory because I deemed it worthy of redemption, so I love them all.

Bison Books, Winnipeg, Manitoba

It’s a booklover’s paradise inside Bison Books.

AbeBooks: What’s the one book you covet most? Why?

Aimee: I am not very purpose-driven in my acquisitions. I like it when a book finds me serendipitously. But, if my hand was held to fire I would have to admit that for years I have longed to own a copy of the Nonesuch Press turquoise vellum Herodotus. I first handled and fell in love with it years ago during my apprenticeship, and again recently missed the opportunity to acquire a copy, which I regret deeply, price tag notwithstanding. One day!

AbeBooks: What’s the oddest thing you’ve found in a book?

Aimee: A furry animal tail. No kidding. From something smaller than a cat…. maybe a ferret. I find it so perplexing that I cannot consider it logically.

AbeBooks: What’s your most memorable moment as a bookseller?

Aimee: I recently exhibited at my first ILAB-affiliated book fair: the ABAC’s Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair. It was truly an honour to be in the company of so many beautiful books and esteemed colleagues, and such a joy for me to swim around a larger pond for a few days, meeting and learning from so many kindred people, and enjoying the company of more fascinating and consequential books than I had ever before found myself amongst.

AbeBooks: And of course, what’s your favourite book?

Aimee: When I was a kid, I refused to pick a favourite toy for fear of hurting the others’ feelings. I remain egalitarian in my affections, to a fault (it could also be called “scattered” ;) ). I casually collect nice editions of favourite books, unusual things that catch my eye, and beautiful editions of the classics. My favourite authors include Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Zadie Smith, Dostoyevsky, Roald Dahl, Cervantes, and L M Montgomery, to name a few, but I also love art/illustrated books, fine bindings, philosophy, history, biography… see? Scattered.

Bison Books, Winnipeg Manitoba

The perfect escape from Winnipeg’s cold winters!

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November’s bestselling signed books

November's bestselling signed books

1. Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

2. Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

3. Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham

4. Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

5. M Train by Patti Smith

6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

7. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

8. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

9. Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music by John Fogerty

10. The Martian by Andy Weir


Sam Wenger and his Quest for Arthurian Literature

Sam Wenger and his Woodstock bookshop sign

Bookseller Sam Wenger’s spiritual home isn’t California, or upstate New York, or any of the other places that he has called home. He would like to settle and enjoy life in Camelot – the residence of King Arthur, still Britain’s greatest hero, and his famous knights of the round table.

Sam (full name Samuel Alton Wenger) specializes in books about Arthurian and Celtic mythology as well as medieval and mythic literature. He’s long been inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien – that professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, who also dabbled in a little fantasy writing.

Today, Sam is found in Los Angeles but his bookselling adventures began in 1977 when he and Moira Joyce opened a bookshop called Three Geese In Flight Celtic Books in Woodstock, New York – yes, that Woodstock.

“Moira’s family were Gaelic speakers from Ireland, as well as Micmac from Nova Scotia,” said Sam. “I was drawn to Celtic culture. The stories, the legends, the poetry. I was then teaching Celtic Myth at the Irish Arts Center in New York City and at Ulster County College in Stone Ridge near our Woodstock bookstore. At the time, combining King Arthur with Celtic Studies was considered odd, and having a bookstore with this as a focus was considered odder still.”

Located in the Catskill Mountains, Sam also began to stock folklore books around witches and legends that Washington Irving made famous with Rip Van Winkle, and the Headless Horseman.

Eventually, Sam moved West where he now teaches, lectures, writes (a little Arthurian fantasy) and sells online and by appointment out of his apartment. “We also feature books about the American Revolution,” he added. “We see that struggle as an extension of the Heroic Age.”

His unique inventory stretches from England’s (or Wales’) Camelot to Yiddish Arthurian legends, as well as many books on Celtic Studies, including Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Breton history. He supplies books to collectors of Arthurian folklore around the globe.

Find books from Three Geese in Flight Celtic Books

Selected Items from Sam’s Inventory

A Latin bible from 1602

A 1602 edition of Biblia Sacra Veteris Et Novi

A pre-King James Latin bible (pictured above) containing the Old and New Testaments bound in thick calf skin on wood with four fold-out maps, including a map of the 12 tribes of Israel. The oldest book in Sam’s selection.

The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance And Celtic Tradition

The Dwarfs of Arthurian Romance And Celtic Tradition by Vernon J.Harward Jr.

Published by E.J.Brill in 1958, this unusual book covers dwarfs in medieval, French Romance and Irish mythology. An uncommon book.

Myrddin Wyllt Yn Nghyd A Ber Hanes O’I Fywyd Wedi Eu Tynu Annan O’Lyfr Y Daroganau (Merlin Chap Book) by Twm O’r Nant / Thomas Edwards.

An eight-page Merlin (that’s Myrddin in Welsh) chap book from 1849. Twm o’r Nant was the pen name of Welsh poet Thomas Edwards (1739-1810), also known as Tom of the Dingle. He was famous for writing short plays.

Baptiste Larocque Legends of French Canada by Paul A.W.Wallace

A 1923 hardcover edition published by the Musson Book Company of Toronto. It includes a hand woven blue, yellow and gray sash. The book contains 25 tales of French Canadian folklore.

Granny’s Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne

A collection of children’s fairy tales written by Browne, the Irish poet and novelist (1816-1879). She was blind from the age of 18 months after falling ill with Smallpox.

Heroes of the Dawn by Violet Russell

Heroes of the Dawn by Violet Russell

Published in Ireland in 1914, this is a piece of Irish mythology retold by Russell and illustrated by Beatrice Elvery. One of the plates features the underworld shooting fire at Finn MacCool, the great hunter-warrior of Irish legend.

Three Middle English Romances by Laura A. Hibbard

A 1911 first edition of Middle English Arthurian romances. Hibbard was the wife of Arthurian Celticist Roger Sherman Loomis.

The Children Of Kings by W. Lorcan O’ Byrne

A 1904 hardcover published by Blackie, a Celtic mythic fantasy novel that combines Welsh, Cornish and Irish Arthurian and Tristan legend.