As a bookseller, there are always a few certain books in the shop that you form a bit of an emotional connection to. When these books sell, it’s a particularly joyful moment – especially if they’ve been sitting on the shelf for far longer than they deserve. Here are a few of my sentimental favourites:
The Girl Mechanic Goes Outdoors
By the Editors of Popular Mechanics
I keep meaning to buy this book, but I’m self-aware enough to know that on the rare days off I get, I’m more likely to read, sleep and eat than to build a chicken coop or rig up a self-watering device for my pot plants. I would very much like to be the kind of person who knows how to do these things, however, and if you’re anything like me and would also like to make a mariner’s compass from a magnetized knitting needle, then you should definitely get this book. Though ostensibly aimed towards young girls, I am yet to meet the person, young or old, girl or boy, whose eyes wouldn’t light up at the thought of finally learning how to build a working lamp in the shape of a yacht (which would make a pretty spectacular Father’s Day gift, too!).
Charley Goes to War
By Glen Hancock
You can always rely on Gaspereau Press to publish books worth reading, no matter the genre. This memoir of World War Two is no exception. I find it alarming how easy it is to absorb films, television shows, and the countless books about the Second World War and think about them in the abstract – as stories, not recollections. The numbers of casualties and the sheer horror of the atrocities committed are almost incomprehensible, and the number of first-hand accounts are becoming rarer and rarer as time marches on. Books like Charley Goes to War bring the War back to us, ground the events in ways we can understand and comprehend again. But Hancock explains this better than I do:
“It is a strange phenomenon that veterans do not talk about the war to their children. This is unfortunate as it leaves a void in the understanding young people have of war in general and of World War II in particular. When veterans do talk about their experiences they downplay the grim side and venerate the good times, the romance, the drama, the personal landscape of men at war. And that personal landscape is an important part of the war experience, because the camaraderie of people serving together in conditions of trust strengthens their sense of dependence on and their responsibility to each other.”
Our entire Literary Criticism and Social Theory section
Literary criticism is an oft-ignored section or genre, but the books housed on our two modest little shelves are some of the most fascinating in the whole shop. From reflections on writing, to the literary origins and history of Wonder Woman, to philosophical classics like Heidegger’s Being and Time, I can guarantee there’ll be a book here that will interest you. My favourites include We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, In the Suicide’s Library by Tim Bowling, and the David Foster Wallace Reader. And a special shout out to our second-hand, hardcover edition of Umberto Eco’s On Literature, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist and… well, everything.
There Devil, Eat That
By JonArno Lawson
I didn’t know very much about JonArno Lawson until I heard him speak at an event at Acadia University. He was discussing his new picture book for children, Sidewalk Flowers (which is extraordinarily good), and also read from some of his poetry books for adults, including this one. I was there to sell his books to the audience in case they wanted them signed, and within the first couple of minutes of his talk I picked out two titles for myself and hid them under my chair. JonArno’s poetry is full of love for his family – his three children and wife – while acknowledging that strange, bittersweet mixture of fear, sadness, joy, exhilaration and restlessness that comprises love. He communicates this push-and-pull, while never wavering from his commitment to this love. No relationship is all fun or all terrible; it is the crazy, heady, mixture of both, of excitement and the mundane, of comfort and resentment, that makes it so difficult to understand and impossible to explain to anyone else.
I saddle up a satellite and paddle out into the night
To search again for your sweet face –
Our love, my love,
Is lost in space.
Hark! A Vagrant
By Kate Beaton
I think I’ll let Ms Beaton’s work speak for itself. This is one of her many, hilarious takes on F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (click on the photo to see more).