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Pickle Me This

January 21, 2009

On the new Globe & Mail Books

Last August I was one of many hysterical book lovers contacting The Globe & Mail about its books section’s two week “summer vacation” from the Saturday paper. My email received a rapid reply assuring, “This is only a two-week pause before the fall season. There is no plan or intention whatsoever to discontinue the Books section.” Which was totally a lie! Kind of nervy, but at least then I wasn’t surprised in December to learn that the paper’s freestanding Books section would be no more in 2009. The section emerged reborn two weeks ago combined with the Focus section, partnered with expanded online coverage.

Now that I’ve finally figured out how to view the RSS feeds, I find that I’m enjoying the new Globe & Mail Books online section more than I thought I would. Though the now-shrunken print edition disappoints– I really love getting newsprint ink all over my fingers on Saturday mornings, and no amount of online coverage could replace curling up on the couch with the paper and a cup of tea. I also don’t love the thematic reviews– books on film the first week, Obama-esque books last week in honour of the inauguration. The theme is to hook, I realize, but I really do prefer books in general. Fabulous, however, that last week’s section included a poem, and I also adored the new feature on underrated books we should know about.

Online, I am enjoying the daily reviews (though I’m never very interested unless it’s fiction and there isn’t enough fiction!). As well as pieces such as Lisa Gabriele’s (whose The Almost Archer Sisters I’m a fan of) on writing fiction autobiographically, and Julie Wilson on well-worn books. In Other Words is interesting, frequently updated, and various– I liked Ben McNally’s response to Jane Urquhart’s underrated text and the fact that his bookshop sold both copies of The Blue Flower the following Monday. And Martin Levin’s Shelf Life is delightful.

So I’m happy, even though I hate change. I just hope the Globe Books follows on with its momentum. And that I never open my paper on a Saturday morning to find a print books section that’s just a page or two long.

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