Book Beat- Jane Austen’s Death, Wellcome Prize and Richard Wagamese’s Legacy

Happy Thursday, book lovers! It’s me, Ashley, again! I missed talking about the weekly book news round up! I am currently in that awful period of the semester when I have all my final essays due before exams start. So right now, the only thing I am reading is scholarly, peer-reviewed articles. Boring, I know. As boring as my life might be, it certainly hasn’t been a boring week for book news.

When I saw Jane Austen’s name on Twitter, my first thought was that there was going to be a new movie adaption. I was so wrong. I never knew, and you might not have either, that Jane Austen died young, at 41, to an unidentified disease. Scholars have speculated that it might have been cancer, tuberculosis, or Addison’s disease. However, new research from the British library says otherwise and points to arsenic poisoning as the cause. An article by Town and Country magazine outlines the theory through the evidence of eyeglasses that belonged to Austen, showing her vision seriously deteriorated before her death causing cataracts. An optometrist confirmed the theory; the cause of cataracts could have been heavy metal poisoning, like arsenic.

Every March 14, math lovers celebrate Pi Day (3/14). This year on campus, a local pizza joint was giving away pizza priced at $3.14 and actual pies! I’m not a fan of math, but I quickly got on board. If you do love math, or pies, or both, check out this list of pi and pie books.

In some literary award news, the shortlist for the 2017 Wellcome Book prize has been announced. These books are touted as “shifting perceptions” and includes both non-fiction and fiction books. The frontrunner so far seems to be Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. Kalanthi would be the first posthumous winner; the book details his diagnoses of terminal lung cancer amidst training to be a neurosurgeon. I have had many customers at the bookstore ask for this book, having heard about it through support groups and word of mouth. Check out the full list here.

If you live in or around Toronto, Canada, you know our weather right now is so bad the only thing you can really do is cuddle under covers with a good book. If you’re looking for a new read make sure to check out the Friends of Toronto Public Library, South Chapter’s clearance sale. These events only happen a few times a year and all books are priced between 10 and 50 cents. Seriously! The best part is, all proceeds go towards programs at the Toronto Public Library. This sale will happen between Thursday, March 16 and Saturday, March 18 at the Toronto Reference Library. I am going to try to check it out, and I hope you will too!

Portrait of Ojibway author, Richard Wagamese, taken from a CBC article about his death
Richard Wagamese Ojibway Author Taken from CBC article on his death

I was hit hard this week by Richard Wagamese’s death. I had the pleasure of meeting the remarkable Ojibway author last year and heard him speak. His words and his story moved me. His books, the most commonly known is Indian Horse, told the stories of intergenerational trauma from residential schools. You can read more about the legacy he leaves behind here. His books told stories that needed to be written, to be heard. I am heartbroken.

Ashley Ash

Ashley Ash

Ashley is a proud Torontonian, third year social worker student, full time child advocate and national award winning writer. She will defend Anakin Skywalker and Jon Snow till she dies.