Books bol­ster cheer and san­ity

The Georgia Straight - - Gift Guide - By

IBrian Lynch

s sea­sonal shop­ping turn­ing into sea­sonal flail­ing? To the book­store! Here’s a hand­ful of sug­ges­tions that may get you off the gift-buy­ing hook so you can fo­cus on all the eat­ing and drink­ing you need to do.

VAN­COU­VER NOIR (Edited by Sam Wiebe. Akashic) With this, Van­cou­ver joins the long list of cities fea­tured as set­tings of noir col­lec­tions pub­lished by New York’s Akashic Books, which launched the se­ries years ago in Brook­lyn and has since touched down ev­ery­where from Lon­don and Rome to Tehran, Mum­bai, Sin­ga­pore, and São Paulo. The

14 new sto­ries here— se­lected by renowned Van­cou­ver crime nov­el­ist Sam Wiebe, who has him­self con­trib­uted a tale—are by a heavy-hit­ting ros­ter of lo­cal tal­ent, in­clud­ing Car­leigh Baker, Di­et­rich Kal­teis, Sheena Ka­mal, Linda L. Richards, Ti­mothy Tay­lor, and Ya­suko Thanh. The pub­lic­ity info that came with the book re­ally wants to em­pha­size the fact that Van­cou­ver has a se­ri­ous nasty streak run­ning be­neath all the fine scenery and health con­scious­ness. But we knew that al­ready, right? IRON ROAD WEST (By Derek Hayes. Har­bour) If you’ve got­ten the feel­ing that B.C. has been on a devel­op­ment binge in re­cent times, well, B.C. has al­ways been on a devel­op­ment binge—that’s what B.C. is, in a sense. And for many decades, the en­gine lit­er­ally driv­ing it all was the lo­co­mo­tive. This lat­est work by Derek Hayes, au­thor of the es­sen­tial His­tor­i­cal At­las of Van­cou­ver and the Lower Fraser Val­ley, lays out the story of the prov­ince’s rail­way sys­tem in a big, glossy, highly read­able hard­cover. While the archival pho­tos are guar­an­teed to thrill the trainspot­ter on your list, the old maps and doc­u­ments Hayes has col­lected here cre­ate some­thing that will fas­ci­nate any­one with an in­ter­est in how we ar­rived at our cur­rent point in his­tory. BIBLIOPHILE: AN IL­LUS­TRATED MISCELLANY (By Jane Mount. Chron­i­cle) Let’s say all you know about the per­son on your list is that they love books. You’re still stuck, be­cause now you have to ask your­self “Which one?”—a straight path to mad­ness in a crowded book­store. One way around the prob­lem is Bi­bil­io­phile, an ele­gant hard­cover by il­lus­tra­tor Jane Mount. Its large­for­mat pages over­flow with Mount’s vi­brant hand-drawn de­pic­tions of fa­mous and ob­scure book spines and cov­ers, which some­how cap­ture the aura of great vol­umes bet­ter than any pho­to­graph could. With these ar­ranged and an­no­tated by sub­ject, the ex­pe­ri­ence is like brows­ing in one of the world’s great book­stores—per­haps one of those that Mount has also ren­dered here, such as Tokyo’s Daikanyama Tsu­taya, New York City’s Strand, and, of course, Munro’s in Vic­to­ria. Mixed in are quizzes, read­ing rec­om­men­da­tions, il­lus­trated lists of such things as writ­ers’ pets (did you know that Flan­nery O’con­nor had a pea­cock named Limpy?), and im­ages of writ­ing rooms: Roald Dahl’s shed, Ge­orge Bernard Shaw’s shed, Vir­ginia Woolf ’s con­verted tool­shed of her own. (Those 20th-cen­tury Euro­pean au­thors re­ally loved a nice shed.)

OR­WELL ON TRUTH (By Ge­orge Or­well. Harvill Secker) The au­thor needs no in­tro­duc­tion, and the rel­e­vance of the topic needs no ex­pla­na­tion in these days of weaponized bull­shit. Draw­ing from Or­well’s fic­tion, es­says, and jour­nal­ism, this pocket-size col­lec­tion of ex­cerpts is cer­tain to of­fer a jolt of clar­ity and a re­minder of san­ity to any­one dis­heart­ened by the fact that, as Bri­tish politi­cian Alan John­son notes in his in­tro­duc­tion, “The con­cept of ‘fake news’ could have come from the Ing­soc regime in the su­per­state of Ocea­nia.” The spare beauty of the lit­tle vol­ume’s de­sign makes it a stock­ing stuffer with an edge. Not as fes­tive as a man­darin orange, but ul­ti­mately more hope­ful. 40 KNOTS AND HOW TO TIE THEM (By Lucy David­son. Prince­ton Ar­chi­tec­tural Press) You prob­a­bly have a friend or fam­ily mem­ber who, like me, will try to se­cure an ob­ject to a roof rack with a non­sen­si­cal, fast-un­rav­el­ling mass of twine. In that case, you know some­one who’ll ap­pre­ci­ate this pretty lit­tle hard­cover. English graphic de­signer Lucy David­son has cre­ated a guide to an old art that makes some­thing prac­ti­cal, safety-en­hanc­ing, and of­ten beau­ti­ful from as close to noth­ing as you can get. In­struc­tions are here for many of the greats, rang­ing from the trusty ol’ reef knot to the boom hitch, the one-handed bow­line, the sheepshank, and the trucker’s dolly. Maria Nils­son’s grace­ful il­lus­tra­tions turn the book it­self into a kind of art ob­ject. Im­press your friends with these small feats of pri­mal en­gi­neer­ing, which seem to lie half­way be­tween folk­lore and magic trick.

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