Books of the Dead

Books of the Dead

“The Weighing of the Heart,” one of 192 spells, incantations, and rituals that make up The Book of the Dead, describes how the heart of a deceased will be set into a tray on one side of a large scale. In the other tray, a feather from Ma’at, goddess of truth. If the heart balances the feather of truth, the dead may continue their journey into the afterlife. If the heart outweighs the feather, Ammat the devourer—a crocodile-headed creature with a cat’s body and hippopotamus hindquarters—will snatch the human heart from the scale and gobble it down.
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A Brand New Breed (of Books)

A Brand New Breed (of Books)

Imagine listening to Maggie deVries’ Rabbit Ears in Vancouver’s downtown east side, among the runaways, addicts, and women of the street she portrays. Or any David Adams Richards book while walking the shore of the broad Miramichi. Or canoeing north of Yellowknife in the company of Liz Hay’s Late Nights on Air. Now imagine a story written to take you to a specific place, where what you see and hear and smell dives you deep, deep, deep into the words. That’s ambient literature.

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How to Disappear/Save a Book

How to Disappear/Save a Book

Madeleine Thien’s Giller- and GG-winning novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, is set partly in China in the culturally turbulent years after the Second World War. Two sisters, Swirl and Big Mother Knife, are story-tellers who travel the country performing story cycles. “Stories, even in times like these, were a refuge, a passport, everywhere.”

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Because sometimes the world moves too fast for books.

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As I wrote Gutenberg’s Fingerprint, I thought a lot about books, what they are, what they mean, why I love them, how they are changing and how they are becoming what they started out to be. The brain doesn’t turn off when an editor says “Stop!” so in Books UnPacked, these thoughts spool on, exploring the past and future of books, and the actual books I’m unwrapping to read.

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