Dysfunctional Families, Spreading the (Book) Love, and Other News for December at PQL

Every year on Christmas Day, in that awkward lull that falls somewhere between churchgoing, present opening, and the preparation and consumption of massive quantities of food, my family watches National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). At this point, the film is firmly entrenched as one of our most hallowed holiday traditions. By now I’ve seen it dozens of times so I can pretty much recite it from memory, but nonetheless, I always chuckle at the same jokes, chortle at the slapstick and snicker at the wit. Watching this movie again and again is, to me, almost like rereading a cherished favourite book—it is comforting and pleasant and nostalgic all at once.

family decorating Christmas tree

“Families are like fudge—mostly sweet, with a few nuts.”
—Actor and writer Les Dawson (a guy who clearly knows what he’s talking about)

The movie is admittedly not for everyone, but for me, the enduring appeal is that it serves as a reminder that no matter dysfunctional my family might seem, no matter how many disasters we might face, the holiday season really is about family. It’s about love and togetherness—and forgiveness, if necessary. It’s about being generous and grateful and finding a little bit of joy in the ability to gather and share.

In the lead up to the holidays this year, remember the true spirit of the season is not found in stressing out about finding the perfect gift for Grandma, or in buying the biggest turkey in a 100-kilometre radius. Kick back, relax, enjoy the lights. Read a couple of books. Share your favourites. Spread the love!

Speaking of spreading the love, we do that every year with … well, scroll down to the end and you’ll see.


What’s happening this month…


This one’s for the theatre buffs! We’re working on an all-new book for you—Beyond Walls by Peter Jobin. This book tells the fascinating story about one of Canada’s most innovative theatre companies: Theatre Passe Muraille. This book really is a roller coaster ride! And it’s full of photographs to make history really come alive. It’s going to press any minute now, and will be available soon.

In Toronto.

Bound Book Arts Fair

Don’t forget to visit the BOUND Book Arts Fair at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club on December 9th, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be printers and publishers and all kinds of bookish artisans. It will be a marvellous event in a spectacular venue, so do stop by and do a little shopping.

In the world.

December 7 is Letter Writing Day. We don’t write enough letters nowadays. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a lovingly written letter from a friend or family member?

December 18 is Bake Cookies Day. I think this is a wonderful idea! A warm kitchen. The smell of shortbreads. A decorating station laden with sprinkles and coloured sugar. Let’s do it!

And finally, December 28 is Card Playing Day. Who’s coming over to play pepper? Anyone? Six-handed? Yes?


From the porcupette’s corner…

Two things to highlight this month. First, we just received some stupendous news: Ian Hampton’s wonderful book, Jan in 35 Pieces, has been longlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in the field of literary non-fiction and is awarded to “the author whose book best combines a superb command of the English language, an elegance of style, and a subtlety of thought and perception.” We have our fingers crossed for the shortlist announcement in January!

The Porcupine's Quill Holiday Giveaway

The second thing is great for you, loyal readers. It’s that time of year! We’re back and better than ever with three more weekly giveaways of bookish loot. Check back every Tuesday for your chance to win a variety of prizes. If you’re keen to check them all out, make sure you sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media so you don’t miss a thing.


PortraitHappy December, folks! Glad you’ve popped over to check out our news, events, and random bookish musings this month. Hope to see you back for more as we get those giveaways started.


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.