COOL THING WE WANT #415 | A Copy Of “The Library: A World History” (Hardcover)

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(via) The Library: A World History, is a new book from Thames & Hudson by architecture historian James W.P. Campbell and photographer Will Pryce. From CNN: “When Dr. James Campbell of Cambridge University could not find a book that traced the history of library buildings through the ages, he decided to write one himself.” From the publishers: “Ambitious and wide-ranging, this is the first single volume to tell the story of libraries around ?the world, from the beginnings of writing to the present day.” The 320 page hardcover tome features over 292 images of libraries from around the world and from different eras, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China. We’ve not yet seen a copy in Vancouver to date (although we haven’t looked that hard), but copies are selling for $60 or so online.

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FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #422 | New Unpublished Stories By JD Salinger Leaked

November 28, 2013 

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A few weeks ago I watched a fascinating documentary about the reclusive American writer, J.D. Salinger (he of The Catcher In The Rye fame). The very end of the film was a shocker for me (watch the trailer above), because it came with the revelation that Salinger, who died in 2010, had never stopped writing (even though he hadn’t published a work since 1965), and that he had left instructions for five hitherto unknown new books of his to be released between 2015 and 2020. These include a World War II novel (Salinger was a veteran) and a sequel to The Catcher In The Rye.

As we await those diamonds to drop, there are other infamous Salinger works that have been known to exist but have stayed unpublished. Several of these have long been in possession of the Princeton Library, with Salinger stipulating that they couldn’t be published until 50 years after his death.

Which brings us to today’s shocking news. The library’s security was just breached and a manuscript – Three Stories – has been leaked to an invite-only file-sharing site. It has since found its way to the public net and pirated “first edition” copies are already being uploaded to eBay. Read it and weep.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Burn Through Fahrenheit 451 With A Hot Mezcal Sipper On The Drive

November 13, 2013 

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Ray Bradbury’s master work, Fahrenheit 451.

Why You Should Read It Again | Fahrenheit 451 is considered one of the greatest dystopian novels of all time, tackling censorship, the suppression of ideas, and propaganda. Bradbury once stated that the book was about “the dangers of an illiterate society infatuated with mass media,” which is amazingly prescient since it was published 50 years ago, almost to the day. Clearly the dangers have yet to pass! More importantly, the book encourages resistance to passivity and apathy. It tells us to not be so caught up in our own concerns; to look around once in a while and taste the rain. Cheers to that!

Pair It With | A drink with heat. We would suggest something along the lines of Mezcal. The obvious venue for that is La Mezcaleria on Commercial Drive, and the obvious drink is their Lucia’s Garden. The fiery burn of its chipotle-infused Mezcal combined with the freshness of mint and the sweetness of agave makes it the perfect match for Ray Bradbury’s darkly balanced tale of censorship and liberation.

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READ IT (AGAIN) | Pair Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” With A Spiced Margarita At Lolita’s

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Vladimir Nabokov’s scandalous 1955 novel, Lolita.

Why You Should Read It Again | Although widely considered to be an “erotic novel”, Lolita is just as widely celebrated as one of the best books of the 20th century. Despite its highly controversial theme (a middle-aged literature professor becomes obsessed and then sexually involved with 12-year-old Dolores, nicknamed “Lolita”), Nabokov’s writing has been compared to the prose of James Joyce. Read it again because its literary pastiche deserves as least two or three reads; you’re bound to find something new in every read.

Pair It With | Coincidentally, The Cinematheque and the Vancouver Art Gallery have collaborated on a collection of film screenings in honour of the gallery’s current exhibition, Grand Hotel. This week, the film centre is showing the 1962 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the novel (featuring a brilliant performance by Peter Sellers), so why not brush up on the storyline prior to attending the film? Thumb its pages at the West End’s appropriately named Lolita’s for a spicy chilli margarita before catching before catching the show.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pairing Steinbeck’s East Of Eden With A Stiff Sipper At “The Acorn”

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by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel, East of Eden.

Why You Should Read It Again: It is Steinbeck’s ode to the Salinas Valley, also known as the “salad bowl of the world”. He wrote the book to describe the agriculturally rich region (think broccoli, celery, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, strawberries) to his two young sons while adding his own life experiences to the tale. Considered Steinbeck’s greatest work, East of Eden was inspired by the fourth chapter of Genesis; aka the story of Cain and Abel. In the thick of this sticky summer heat, I can’t think of a better time to read about lush California valleys and the complicated relationship between the Trask and Hamilton family.

Pair it With: Something fresh with a kick, like the Mirror Lake cocktail at The Acorn on Main. Made of ginger, bourbon, mint, lime, ginger beer and bitters, the drink is refreshing and satisfying, just like a Steinbeck story.

READ IT (AGAIN): Pair An “Alibi Room” Pint With The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Douglas Adams’ cult novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. 

Why You Should Read It Again: Published in 1979 from a series of Radio Shows, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is the first novel in a 5 part saga. It’s about a huge number of things. Among these are space travel, the end of the world, the fabrication of planets, the quest for answers to the ultimate questions of life, the universe, and everything. It’s a very easy read.

Pair it With: A pint of bitter at the Alibi Room (157 Alexander in Gastown) whilst channelling the main character, a hapless Englishman named Arthur Dent (preferably in a dressing gown). But be quick about it. Because the world is about to end in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” With A Cocktail At Chambar

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Why You Should Read It Again: Two words. Atticus Finch. Also, it serves as one of the most beloved novels ever written, and one of the first to ever tackle the theme of tolerance. The story is told through the eyes of a young, appropriately named girl called Scout who – together with brother Jem and friend Dill – finds herself for the first time witnessing social injustice as her father, the great Atticus Finch, defends a man wrongly accused of rape. It’s a solid, uplifting reminder that there are still some pretty rad people in the world who fight for what’s right, and a welcome change from all the novels that leave us drained and heartbroken.

Pair it With: The main characters in this book are either too younger to drink or they type to happily pass. So we’ll give you a couple of options here. First, the perfect drink to sip on while stalking Boo Radley from the front porch in the sticky heat of Southern summer is a Spanish Fly from Chambar (orange-infused vermouth, Campari, sherry, house made cherry syrup, and whiskey bitters). Second, Atticus Finch seems like the kind of man to never let a day go by without a good cup of coffee. We therefore suggest a visit to the beautiful Matchstick Coffee Roasters over on Fraser Street. Grab one of their delicious coffees, a croissant, and a chair and get to reading.

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VANCOUVER LEXICON | Duthies

February 20, 2013 

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Duthies | Place | Much has been said about the cultural health of Vancouver – a place that puts jogging the seawall in yoga pants way above, say, going to see live theatre. Duthies Books is a casualty of that imbalance. Founded in 1957, the company flourishing, eventually growing to 8 locations in all. With the arrival of online booksellers and giants like Chapters, however, it slowly languished and died. The last store shuttered in 2010.

Usage: “Duthies was an institution.”

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair “A Farewell To Arms” With Some Quality Whisky At The Shebeen

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel, A Farewell To Arms.

Why You Should Read It (Again) | Hemingway gives us everything he’s got in this bestseller. It’s a classic of love and war with just the right dose of both. The story follows Frederic “Tenente” Henry, an American serving in the Italian Red Cross in World War I, and his affections for a nurse named Catherine Barkley. Parts of it are obviously autobiographical, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

Pair It With | There were 40 occasions in which someone takes a drink in this book, of either grappa, brandy, whisky, Cognac, vermouth, gin or wine. While they’re all tempting choices, we’re thinking a quiet corner in The Shebeen would suit these pages perfectly. Choose a sipper from their ridiculously extensive whisky list and ease into it…

‘What are you thinking, darling?’
‘About whiskey.’
‘What about whiskey?’
‘About how nice it is.’
Catherine made a face. ‘All right,’ she said.

Go ahead and order two.

HEADS UP: The Vancouver Public Library Is In The Midst Of A Massive Used Book Sale!

October 26, 2012 

by Claudia Chan | Looking for some good books to curl up with in this cold and rainy Fall weather? The Vancouver Public Library is having a massive book sale and its already started. Books were going for 75 cents to $2.50 today and the awesomeness continues over the weekend (Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12pm – 5pm). They have thousands of bargains and treasures worth rummaging through, but don’t forget to bring your pockets full of change because it’s cash only!

Alice MacKay Room | Lower Level | Central Library | 350 West Georgia Street

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair An Old Pal Cocktail With John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice And Men”

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked John Steinbeck’s 1937 classic, Of Mice And Men.

Why You Should Read It Again: Though it’s heavy in content and theme, this 75 year old story is still only a novella no thicker than an iPhone 4S. It traces the fates of George Milton and Lennie Small, two opposites both physically and mentally, who are out looking for work in California during the Great Depression with the shared hope of having a place of their own someday. It’s still required reading for most English classes in North America (and for anyone wanting to understand American aspirationalism), and justly so.

Pair It With: A stiff, classic drink composed of Whiskey, Dry Vermouth and Campari called an Old Pal. It should provide a (false?) sense of security with which you can brace against Fall. The drink was invented in the ’20s and would have been well known during Steinbeck’s long reign of fiction, its popularity contemporary with the misadventures of “old pals” George and Lennie. Any of Vancouver’s better cocktail joints should be able to take care of you with one of these.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair A Boozy Shake At Save On Meats With “Slaughterhouse Five”

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s 1969 anti-war satire, Slaughterhouse Five.

Why You Should Read It Again: “All this happened, more or less…” so Kurt Vonnegut Jr. opens his cult, World War 2 classic. After the famous line it’s just go go go with protagonist Billy Pilgrim. It’s a light read – both physically and mentally – and it’s pretty hilarious, albeit in a really dark, war-seriously-sucks kinda way. And if aliens (ahem, Tralfamadorians) and time travel (to both the past and the future) don’t make you want to pick up the book again – perhaps this link with multiple pages of the novel’s take away phrase “So it goes” tattooed on people will.

Pair It With: The book has no direct mention of any particular drink, so one must get a little more creative. Considering how it’s the end of summer and Slaughterhouse Five blends comedy and tragedy seamlessly, I think it’s only appropriate to take a stool at the long bar of Hasting’s Save-On-Meats and grab yourself a thick and boozy Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Milkshake. If that isn’t a blend of comedy and tragedy, then I really don’t want to know what is.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” With A Glass Of Wine At A Beach

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Albert Camus’ 1942 novel: The Stranger.

Why you should read it again: Take an apathetic anti-hero, throw him into a heat wave, and make him go through a bizarre sequence of ill-fated events. What do you have? Your life last week in Vancouver, you say? Perhaps, but I was thinking about Meursault in “The Stranger.” Written in short, sparse sentences and weighing in at just over one hundred pages, it’s a perfect candidate for a lazy August read. The book gets bonus points for inspiring The Cure’s first single “Killing An Arab” and for turning 70 years old this year. Give yourself bonus points if you can read it in the original French.

Pair with: wine seems to be the drink of choice for Meursault and his friends, and with the novel being set in French Algiers, French wine seems to be the obvious choice. The ladies from House Wine recently compiled a list of their favourite summer wines of 2012, and both French reds and whites are in attendance. As for where you should do the pairing, it’s good to remember that the book is seperated into 2 parts: the first near (or on) a beach (preferably white), and the second inside a small, dark room (ideally read). Vancouver has plenty of both, so take your pick and enjoy.

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READ IT (AGAIN): Pair “Madame Bovary” With New Shoes & A Sidecar At L’Abattoir

by George Giannakos and Robyn Yager | Slowing down a little and breaking out a good book is never a bad idea. But what to read? You could walk into any bookstore and roll the dice on a recent release, but here’s another option: pick up a book that you last put down 5, 10, or 20 years ago. For the next book in Scout’s Read It (Again) series, we’ve picked Gustave Flaubert’s 1856 masterpiece: Madame Bovary.

Why you should read it again: Emma Bovary isn’t a typical, provincial French woman from mid-19th century Normandy. She is one of the most twisted, selfish, weak and complex characters in the history of literature – and Flaubert writes her beautifully. The novel is filled with luxurious spending, affairs, lies, romance, passion, lust, debt, greed – all the necessary ingredients for a scandalously good summer read. Parisian public prosecutors tried to get Madame Bovary banned and actually went so far as putting its author on trial for obscenity in 1857 (he was acquitted). It has – unsurprisingly – never been out of print since (it has also been adapted for the screen many times).

Pair with: A fancy new pair of shoes from Rowan Sky and a solo date to L’Abbatoir sitting at the bar complete with a cocktail, preferably the Sidecar, made with brandy, curacao, and lemon juice (curacao is mentioned in the book during one of Mr. and Mrs. Bovary’s first encounters).

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