A blog about writing and self publishing

The Giller Shortlist, Pros and Cons of Virtual Events, and the Rise of Political Memoirs: This Week in Book News

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Hello and happy first Friday of the fall, everyone!. I know, I know, *technically* summer doesn’t end for another ten days, but the kids are back in school, it’s been a chilly and grey week in Toronto, and I’m currently sipping on a Pumpkin Spice Latte… as far as I’m concerned it’s autumn. Which means the busiest season of the publishing industry is upon us!

And speaking of the busiest season of the year, remember all of those titles that were delayed due to Covid-19? Well they are starting to get released and UK booksellers are reporting an unprecedented boom in sales.

‘We haven’t seen anything like it since Harry Potter’: UK bookshops report record week

Booksellers up and down the UK are reporting a boom in sales since readers returned to bookshops after the lockdown, with the first avalanche of Christmas titles giving them their best first week of September since records began.


The Frankfurt Book Fair has (finally) cancelled it’s in person event and has moved online.

Frankfurt Cancels Physical Fair, Goes All Virtual

The Frankfurt Book Fair has canceled its physical, in-person fair and will proceed as an entirely virtual, online-only event. It will take place, as scheduled, October 12-18. The fair cited travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for the cancellation.

Now that we’re six months (!!!!!!!) into the pandemic, virtual events have become the standard across almost all industries. But are they as good as in person events?  A group of publishing industry folk have weighed in on the pros and cons of virtual events.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Events Weighed by Publishers, Booksellers

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association co-hosted a panel September 8 on a topic very much on industry professionals’ minds: “Virtual Author Events from the Publishers Perspective.”


Penguin Random House has released a report on diversity within its workplace and its results, while disappointing, are not all that surprising.

PRH Releases Workforce Report on Diversity

An internal report on workforce demographics at Penguin Random House shows that 78% of PRH non-warehouse employees are white. In addressing the report, PRH U.S. CEO Madeline McIntosh said the company is determined to make its workforce reflect the demographics of American society.”


Ayad Akhtar has been announced as the next president of PEN America.

Ayad Akhtar to Lead PEN America

The Pulitzer-winning playwright, whose new book, “Homeland Elegies,” comes out this month, succeeds the novelist Jennifer Egan at the literary organization. PEN America on Tuesday announced that the playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar would serve as its next president, succeeding the novelist Jennifer Egan.

Eurovision winner Dana International has been signed on to work as a literary agent for The Blair Partnership.

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Lots of folks have used quarantine as an opportunity to clean out their houses and their bookshelves, but how can you safely donate your books during the pandemic?

Donating Books During COVID-19

With all acknowledgement of my privilege, I must say that the COVID-related cancellation that hit me the hardest was my town library’s annual book sale. This sale is my Christmas, Super Bowl, and COLUMBUS DIDN’T DISCOVER AMERICA Day all rolled into one. I eagerly await it each year.

A teacher in Baltimore publishes her students’ work in an effort to demonstrate what it means to give students a voice. 

Teaching Black Teens to Write the Books They Read

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Hall’s publishing plans were upended. Before schools closed in March, the majority of Hall’s 11th graders wanted to participate; by the time See Me with Clarity went to print in May, all of her juniors had withdrawn.


Political memoirs during the current administration have seen and uptick in both volume and time spent on the bestseller lists.

Trump Books Keep Coming, and Readers Can’t Stop Buying

White House memoirs, journalistic exposés, full-throated defenses of the president: Publishers are producing books for every partisan and wondering if the gravy train ends on Election Day. Since it was released in May, the latest book in the Hunger Games series, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” has sold 1.3 million copies, a home run of a best seller by publishing’s standards.

And while we’ve had (more than) our fair share of books about the current commander in chief, New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos will be publishing a book about the Democratic nominee Joe Biden this October.

The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos to Publish Book on Joe Biden with Scribner

NEW YORK, September 8-The New Yorker staff writer and National Book Award-winning author Evan Osnos will publish a book on Joe Biden this fall with Scribner. Titled Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now and scheduled for publication on October 27, the book will examine Biden’s political

Alternatively, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the previous administration, Simon and Schuster Audio have announced that they’ll be releasing an audiobook of Barack Obama’s 60 Minutes interviews this October.

A new audiobook compiles 60 Minutes interviews with Barack Obama | CBC Books

Books Barack Obama: The 60 Minutes Interviews will come out on Oct. 13, 2020. More than a dozen interviews originally aired on TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes with former U.S. president Barack Obama, beginning when he was a U.S. senator, have been compiled into an audio release.


There has been a lot of literary prize news recently. The longlist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize has been announced, and my to read list has grown by roughly 13 books.

14 books make longlist for $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize | CBC Books

A graphic novel and three debut novels have made the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Fourteen titles made the list in total. The $100,000 award annually recognizes the best in Canadian fiction. Seth has made the longlist for his graphic novel . This year marks the first time graphic novels are eligible for the prestigious literary award.

The finalists for the International Dublin Literary Award have been announced.

Esi Edugyan among finalists for $155K International Dublin Literary Award | CBC Books

Esi Edugyan is the only Canadian among the 10 finalists for the International Dublin Literary Award, an annual €100,000 ($155,458 Cdn) prize that goes to the best work of fiction written in English from anywhere in the world. The 10 novels were whittled down from a longlist of 156 books, which included seven Canadian writers.

Maggie O’Farrell has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her novel Hamnet & Judith.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell wins $51K Women’s Prize for Fiction | CBC Books

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell has won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, a £30,000 ($51,292 Cdn) prize, for expressing “something profound about the human experience.” Now in its 25th year, the annual U.K. prize recognizes the year’s best novel written by a woman in English.

If you’re hoping to get a little prize money of your own (and are a Canadian author), the CBC Short Story Prize has opened for submissions!

CBC Literary Prizes – 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

RULES & REGULATIONS | FAQ WHAT: Submit your original, unpublished stories up to 2500 words in length. There is no minimum word requirement. **Please note that as of the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize, the rules regarding how we determine word count have been modified.


September in Toronto usually means huge crowds of film lovers and celebrities gather around the red carpets of the Toronto International Film Festival. Of course in 2020, the year of virtual events, TIFF is online and more accessible to folks outside of the city! CBC has compiled a list of literary adaptations to look out for as you plan your TIFF screening schedule.

7 book-to-screen adaptations to watch for at TIFF | CBC Books

This year, the Toronto International Film Festival will include both physical and digital screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a list of literary-inspired films at the festival this year. TIFF runs from Sept. 10 to 20, 2020.

The producers responsible for HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones have decided on their next project: an adaptation of The Three-Body Problem.

Game of Thrones producers to adapt Chinese sci-fi ‘The Three-Body Problem’ for Netflix

The Chinese science fiction trilogy “The Three-Body Problem” has won awards around the world and been heralded by fans including Barack Obama and sci-fi giant George R. R. Martin. Now, the creators of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” are bringing the series to Netflix in an English-language adaptation.


If you’ve had your books translated, you might appreciate this interview with Ann Goldstein, the person who translates Elena Ferrante’s books from Italian into English.

The Hardest Elena Ferrante Lines I’ve Translated

Ann Goldstein translates Elena Ferrante’s books from Italian into English, but she has never read the author’s acclaimed Neapolitan novels all the way through. Turnaround time was so tight while she was translating that she had to think of them piecemeal, as individual sentences and phrases to straighten out and unwind.

Even the most beloved books get poor review.  Just check out these one star reviews for true crime masterpiece In Cold Blood.

The 45 Best Bad Amazon Reviews of In Cold Blood

For the latest installment of our bad Amazon review series, aka Books You’re Wrong About, we’re taking a look at some consumer responses to a classic American genre-bender: Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood .

With school back in session, and many parents taking on home schooling responsibilities or helping their kids through virtual learning, NPR has curated a list of the best 100 books for young readers.

Welcome To Story Hour: 100 Favorite Books For Young Readers

It’s been such a strange, lost summer. Camps and schools and activities have shut down during the pandemic, leaving kids and caregivers stuck at home and climbing the walls – and sometimes the garden fences. With that in mind, we decided that this year’s summer reader poll should be all about keeping kids occupied.

Have a couple extra million dollars kicking around? Well the home said to inspire Wuthering Heights is on the market!

Wuthering Heights: House that inspired Emily Bronte classic for sale

Sisters Emily and Anne, who began writing as children along with their sibling Charlotte, first came across Ponden Hall during the Crow Hill Bog Burst, a mudslide that occurred following heavy rainfall in September 1824.


My two favourite pieces of the past two weeks reside on opposite sides of the literary spectrum. First, I highly recommend this gorgeous and heart wrenching piece by novelist Jesmyn Ward, who was written her way through the grief that followed losing her husband to Covid-19.

On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic

My Beloved died in January. He was a foot taller than me and had large, beautiful dark eyes and dexterous, kind hands. He fixed me breakfast and pots of loose-leaf tea every morning. He cried at both of our children’s births, silently, tears glazing his face.

And second, like most writers, Stephanie Meyer has a word she tends to overuse: “murmur”. The word appears almost 400 times throughout the Twilight Saga, and Slate has done us the great service of ranking every single one of them.

All 349 “Murmurs” in the Twilight Saga, Charted and Ranked

About three things readers are absolutely positive. First, Edward is a vampire. Second, Bella’s only personality trait is wanting to be a vampire. And third, author Stephenie Meyer is unconditionally and irrevocably in love with the word murmur.

Have a great weekend, y’all!


Staff Pick
Joni, Author Engagement Specialist

Dear Emmie Blue was released in July and was such a charming and heartwarming read! The book tells the story of Emmie, who as a teenager, released a balloon with her name and email address – and a dark secret. Weeks later, Lucas found her balloon and emailed her, sparking off a friendship that lasts for years. Now Lucas is getting married, and Emmie is trying to hide the fact she’s desperately in love with him… I read it in a single sitting and it was the perfect distraction from all the general background stress of 2020. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a great story and warm, fuzzy feelings!”

Dear Emmie Blue ebook by Lia Louis – Rakuten Kobo

Read “Dear Emmie Blue A Novel” by Lia Louis available from Rakuten Kobo. “A delightful story about how the things we imagine to be best for us usually aren’t. The reason you will love Dear Emmi…

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