Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fiction fotos

The evening of female fiction with Zoe Whittall and Elise Moser was as fabulous as advertised. Full house enjoyed the readings and the improvised one-author-interviewing-another-author-discussion, and at the Q & A period attendees were curious to know how does an author's workday look alike, and if both of them always knew they will become authors.

Zoe's novel Holding Still For As Long As Possible took us to the streets of Toronto, were her witty 20something characters were wrestling with paramedics work, inner insecurities and relationship puzzles.

Zoe holding her newest novel. She told that she was four years old when she published her first book - it was a hand made book from cover to cover, covers were made of wallpaper.

Elise's magical voice transferred us to Montreal, where her main character Julia was coping with her sudden losses, surprising news and relationship puzzles as well.

Elise signing a copy of her book Because I Have Loved and Hidden It for the fellow author, Zoe. Elise read heavily already at young age, and her 8th grade classmate noted that "one day Elise will have to write a book because she will have read all the other books of the world."

The informal chatting with the authors (Zoe on the left, Elise on the right) went on late to the night.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Photos from Yann Martel event

The interartistic evening with Yann Martel and Back Burner art exhibition at the Patrick Gordon Framing was a great success, we want to do this again!

Martel turned out to be as witty speaker as he is as a writer. He shed light on his on-going writing process of What Is Stephen Harper Reading?, how he selects the books (for example, the book has to be under 200 pages and relatively easy to read) and how the bi-monthly deadline is always around the corner. He was puzzled by the fact that Harper has never mentioned in public any of his favourite novel or as a matter of fact, if he reads fiction at all. "It's ok to read Robert Ludlum, if that's what he likes, as long as he just reads fiction!"

Yann Martel was astonished and honoured when he saw the art exhibition Back Burner. PM might be getting a letter with Back Burner flyer soon .... Stay tuned with the "Canadian Author VS. Canadian PM" battle and click at

The audience listened carefully what Yann Martel had to say about art, politics and the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The art exhibition Back Burner is still hanging at the walls of
Patrick Gordon Framing, go and have a look!

More photos of the evening also at

In addition to the 29 Back Burner artists, Yann Martel and What is Stephen Harper Reading? inspired also the New Political Theatre The Wrecking Ball in Ottawa.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Launch for Sheema Khan's Of Hockey and Hijab

The last 40th anniversary year event will be the launch of Sheema Khan's Of Hockey and Hijab and a panel discussion on women’s rights, integration and cultural understanding, and finding the balance between security and civil rights.

Since 2002 Sheema Khan - Canadian hockey mom, Harvard PhD and liberal, practicing Muslim - has been writing a monthly column for Globe and Mail on issues pertaining to Islam and Muslims. Her columns on a variety of issues, such as terrorism, human rights, Islamic law, women’s rights, and the meaning of hijab, are now being published as a collection under the title Of Hockey and Hijab.

At the book launch she will be joined by Kerry Pither, author of Dark Days; Farhat Rehman, Women’s Rights Activist; and Keith Neuman, VP Environics Research Group, in a panel discussion. The moderator of the evening is human rights lawyer Yavar Hameed.

The event takes place on Monday December 7, at the Auditorium of the Main Library (120 Metcalfe) at 6:00 pm. As usual, there's no admission fee, and in addition, there will be some light refreshments after the official part of the event is over.

The event is sponsored by CAIR-CAN ( and Muslim Presence Ottawa (

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Birthday party pictures

Our 40th birthday party on October 30 at the Carleton Tavern was a huge success, thank you all for being a part of it! Over 100 people came to celebrate the store's long journey, meet friends old and new and share the stories of the colorful history of Octopus Books.

Here are just some of the photos from the night, we'll be soon posting a link with more glimpses of the evening. Photos taken by our poster designer Nadia Collins,

Jean-Claude Parrot, the former CUPE leader and hero of many birthday party attendees covered the past, present and the future.

From left: former store employees Jennifer (emerging local
author) and Fiona (MC of the evening) with the owner Lisa.

Carleton Tavern was packed!

One of the early 1970s Octopus figures, Bruce Winer,
is cutting the cake with Lisa.

Archival Footage (in the photo) , Brothers Creeggan and
the Bidiniband entertained the crowd late in the night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fabulous Female Fiction - evening with Elise Moser and Zoe Whittall

We are thrilled to be hosting Elise and Zoe as they launch their newest works of art. The event takes place on Saturday, November 28 at 7 pm at the store, 116 Third Ave.

Elise is a dear friend of the store, and an inspiration to those who know her. We are excited about her book, and tickled pink to be able to introduce you to her. Elise Moser is the current president of the Quebec Writers' Federation. Her short stories have been published and broadcast in Canada, the U.S. and across the Commonwealth. Her stories "Malke's Baby" and "Advanced Pilates Tickle Trunk" have won the CBC/QWF Short Story Competition in 2004 and 2006 respectively. After many years working as a buyer at Paragraphe Bookstore in Montreal, Elise is now familiar to many stores across the country as a sales rep with Lexa Publishers' Representatives. She is also the Literary Editor of The Rover, an electronic independent review of arts and culture. Elise lives in Montreal.

Zoe Whittall is a newer friend who knocked our socks off when she was here in 2007 reading with Stacey May Fowles. She is the author of two novels - Holding Still For As Long As Possible, and Bottle Rocket Hearts, named one of top 100 books of 2007 in the Globe and Mail and top 15 books in Quill & Quire magazine. She won emerging author of the year in Now Magazine, and the Dayne Ogilvie Award for Best Emerging Gay Writer in Canada. Her poetry books include The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (McG, 01) and The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare, 06) and Precordial Thump (Exile, 08).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Monday will be big...

For weeks, the same nightmare theme has been returning once a week. The launch of What Is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel is about to start, and suddenly
* we realize that we've been promoting the wrong night, and no one comes to the event.
* the venue is so full of people that we can't fit everyone in.

Both options have had several endings, but the absolute favorite is the one with the happy ending: Patrick Gordon Framing is fully packed and there's a long lineup outside. We are trying to find a solution how to fit everyone in. We're thinking thinking thinking but nothing helps. Until we suddenly realize that there is a huge building with a giant auditorium next to PGF (building actually landed from the outer space - remember that this is a dream); in a trice the whole crowd is smoothly relocated and the event can start.

Luckily there's not much time for nightmares anymore, since the real thing is on Monday, hurray!

The art exhibition by 29 local artist, Back Burner, was opened already today, and it's definitely worth of visiting, and visiting with time. 29 different and differently thought-provoking pieces of art reflecting the importance of art. Tonight at the exhibition opening PGF was buzzing with people, and we hope it to be so on Monday night again. Come early, at 6.30pm when the doors are opened, so you will have time to see how local artists got inspired by Yann Martel. .

See you there!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Is Stephen Harper Reading? asks Yann Martel

We are thrilled to co-host an interartistic evening with Patrick Gordon Framing on November 16: the launch of What Is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel is accompanied with Back Burner, an art exhibition by 29 local artists inspired by Yann Martel.

Martel’s new book is a collection of letters, and over fifty recommendations of great books, which he has mailed to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper since March 2007. Martel’s admiration for and strong belief in the power of arts in one hand, and his frustration with art funding cuts on the other hand inspired 29 artists to create an exhibition Back Burner with a common theme “message to the government”.

It will be an evening of great discussion on literature, visual arts and importance of Canadian art. The MC of the evening is Peter Honeywell, the Executive Director of the Council for the Arts in Ottawa.

The event takes place on Monday, November 16 at Patrick Gordon Framing, 160 Elm Street. (

Doors open at 6.30, speakers at 7 pm.

No admission fee, no advance tickets, better to come early!

Back Burner artists: Adrian Gollner, Andrea Sutton, Beth Levin, Bill McCann, Christopher Griffin, Christos Pantieras, Daniel Marchand, Daniel Sharp, Danny Hussey, Dave Cooper, David Barbour, John Barkley, John Moffat, Justin Wonnacott, Maggie Knaus, Marjory Loveys, Mary Spicer, Michele Provost, Mike Ross, Mirana Zuger, Pat Durr, Patrick Cocklin, Patti Normand, Pedro Isztin, Peter Shemlzer, Petra Halkes, Reid McLachlan, Remi Theriault, Wojciech Jakobiec.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Adria Vasil helps you to make your home greener

"We spend so much time at home—why not make it a sustainable haven instead of a polluting, off-gassing cesspool?”

Yeah, why not? Come and learn from Adria Vasil how you can make your home greener. Her new book, Ecoholic Home: The Greenest, Cleanest and Most Energy-Efficient Information Under One Roof, has just been released, and Octopus Books is excited to co-host the launch with Arbour Environmental Shoppe.

The launch will take place at the Arbour Environmental Shoppe (800 Bank St) on Monday November 9 at 7:00 pm. Free Admission.

Ecoholic Home offers reminders and tips on how to keep your castle (however humble or small) clean, energy-efficient and healthy. The book addresses the green side of the economic crisis, and includes a resource guide for finding designers and contractors, and for renovating and shopping green.

Ecoholic Home is the highly anticipated follow-up to the massively successful and bestselling Ecoholic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunny Saturday at the Main Farmers' Market

What a relief it was to wake up for a sunny morning on October 17 --- the outdoor event with Thomas Pawlick wouldn't be blown away by an autumn storm!

Indeed quite the opposite, for at 11 am when Pawlick started to talk about his newest book "The War In The Country", the Main Farmers' Market was autumnal warm and sunny, and buzzing with people. In his speech Pawlick emphasized the importance of locally produced products in order to keep our food nutritious and safe. He encouraged the audience to support local farmers and congratulated the market and its vendors for good work: "The goal is to have as many farmers' markets as there are supermarkets!"

Market Manager Greer introducing Thomas Pawlick.

Crowd listened carefully what Pawlick had to say about decreasing levels of nutrients in our food, factory farms and government politics towards small scale farmers.

The winner of the lunch with the author was a two-week-old baby! She and Thomas enjoyed the delicious food of the Green Door Restaurant and saw eye to eye on things.

Buy a book! Participate the free raffle! Come to our next event!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Only three days more...

... to the amazing 40th birthday party!

Excitement is building up as the details are being finalized.

Invitations have been sent to left and left... Posters have been (and are still being) spread all over the city… Delicious snacks have been ordered… Cake, the beautiful Octopus cake, has been ordered… Decorations for Friday evening are being prepared… Final to-do-lists are being made and lost and re-made… “Whatelsewhatelsewhatelse, have we forgotten something” is being thought. And re-thought. And re-thought.

Yes, we might have forgotten something that we don’t even know about yet. But after all, all that matters are people. YOU. That you will come to the party, enjoy your time there, share your story, share your experiences in and memories of the store with us and with the many other Octopus-friends. With your help, the store has been kept alive for forty years and we wish to thank you and celebrate with you on Friday

See you soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It's hard to figure out how to mark the 40th birthday of a bookstore that has seen hundreds of people behind the scenes, keeping it alive and thousands of customers who have stuck with us through it all. BUT! We think we have done it - a little something for everyone who has helped make it what it was, what it is and what it will be.

If you have ever volunteered, worked, shopped or visited the store please join us for a great celebration of all that is good in the world!


Friday October 30, 2009

The Carleton Tavern 223 Armstrong Avenue (at Parkdale and Armstrong)

Doors open at 6:30

7:00 Jean-Claude Parrot (of CUPW fame) - his theme "the past 40 years - where have we been,where are we going?"

8:00 Jennifer Whiteford (local author and one time Octopus staff member ) will read some of her newest work

9:00 Archival Footage - a fabulous local band will kick off the musical portion of the evening (p.s. three former Octopus staff members in this band!)

10:00 The Brothers Creeggan

11:00 The Bidiniband

It promises to be a night of fun, friends and fabulous entertainment.. Please join us for all or some of it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thomas Pawlick brings The War In The Country to Ottawa

After a looooong blog silence we're on fire today... second post within half an hour!

We're getting very excited about our next 40th anniversary event - the launch of The War In The Country - How The Fight To Save Rural Life Will Shape Our Future by Thomas F. Pawlick.

The book launch will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m. at a fresh, local and organic venue - the Main Farmers' Market (223 Main St.) Come early to fill your shopping basket with local products!

In addition, we'll have a raffle: two lucky winners will go home with a copy of the new book, and one lucky winner will take Mr. Pawlick for a a lunch at the Green Door Restaurant.

Pawlick's new book The War In The Country is a provocative look at rural communities and a passionate call to arms to save them. Rural life in North America has changed dramatically over the past fifty years and the few remaining family farms now struggle to survive. They have been replaced by corporate-backed factory farms, mining interests, and large-scale tourism developments, all favoured by governments with little understanding of or sympathy for traditional rural life—a life that is sustainable and healthy.

Pawlick, himself a farmer, uses the microcosm of his own rural community in eastern Ontario to portray the groups involved around the world who are waging a war to save their rural way of life. The outcome of these clashes will decide not only the future of rural life globally but also the quality and sustainability of our food, our water, our soil, and our air—of the environment on which we depend for survival. The War in the Country argues, passionately and persuasively, that every one of us must join the fight to secure our food future.

Thomas F. Pawlick has more than thirty-five years of experience as a journalist and editor, specializing in science, environmental, and agricultural reporting. He is a three-time winner of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award and received a National Magazine Award for his agricultural reporting.

Flashback from August

Better late than never... If you missed our August 26 event We All Have A Right To The Truth or want to refresh your memory, you can finally watch the presentations and Q & A session at: (presentations) (Q & A)

You can also listen or download the Rabble podcast at:

The event with its heavy topic - violation of the human rights and civil rights, increasing surveillance, torture, and accountability - attracted over 80 people to the Glebe Community Center. Moderated by Carleton U human rights instructor, Bill Skidmore, the two-hour discussion was enlightening and thought provoking.

The first speaker, Abdullah Almalki, a Canadian who was detained and tortured in Syria based on the information provided by the Canadian government agencies, told that the release from the Syrian prison in 2004 was only a beginning for a new struggle – search for justice in Canada: “My life has been destroyed, my family has been severely affected and a good number of Canadian citizens have faced similar ordeals but until today not a single government official has been held accountable.”

Yavar Hameed, the counsel for Abousfian Abdelrazik (another Canadian whose civil rights were violated by the government) pointed out the need for solid journalism in order to make cases like this public, and to correct the misinformation that the government tends to spread whenever higher levels of governance are or have been involved. Hameed also reminded the audience about the importance of grass roots involvement: in Abdelrazik’s case, the project Fly Home was launched and over 100 courageous Canadians helped to purchase a ticket for him, even though they could have been subjected to federal prosecution.

The final speaker, Maureen Webb, the author of Illusions of Security, linked Almalki’s and Abdelrazik’s experiences to the new global security environment. This environment, including the creation of global registration system and the global surveillance of movement has lead to intensified international data sharing and mining. “Surveillance is used not just to follow up on leads, but rather to generate leads. And it’s used even more alarmingly, to predict who among us might be a terrorist.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

We All Have A Right To The Truth

Here at Octopus Books, we been watching closely as case ofter case of Canadian citizens having their civil rights trampled by CSIS, the RCMP, and the government keep making the news... barely. Instead of just reading about the torture of Canadians and the creation of a tiered citizenship in Canda, we decided to confront the issues and celebrate our 40th anniversary all at the same time by hosting an evening of discussion with Abdullah Almalki, Yavar Hameed, Maureen Webb, and Bill Skidmore.

Wednesday August 26, 7:00 pm

Scotton Hall (Main Hall)

Glebe Community Center

175 Third Ave.

Admission is free. Wheelchair accessible.

We All Have A Right To The Truth is a panel discussion on the shocking abuses of civil rights of Canadian citizens by our government. Please join us to learn from and discuss about the experiences of:

Abdullah Almalki - Canadian citizen who was detained, interrogated and tortured in Syria.

Yavar Hameed - Human rights lawyer, counsel for Abousfian Abdelrazik

Maureen Webb - Human rights lawyer, co-chair of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and author of Illusions of Security: Global Surveillance and Democracy in the Post-9/11 World.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Bill Skidmore, who teaches human rights at Carleton University and is particularly interested in torture and other forms of political repression, as well as the impact of warfare on human rights.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Welcome to the dollhouse

We haven't been able to stop thinking about all of the lofty ideas that John Bellamy Foster strung together for us last week when we hosted an event with him. We're not sure we fully understand the nuances of the current economic meltdown as he explained them, but there is no doubt that we learned a lot that night.

In keeping with the atmosphere of the event at the Glebe Parent's Daycare we decided this lovely pink dollhouse was a perfect podium. Someone in the audience joked about the stability of its mortgage. For two hours, John talked about stagnation and financialization as he stood at the dollhouse, surrounded by cheerful butterflies and flowers, and clouds that appeared a little less foreboding by virtue of the fact that they were raining sparkly streamers.

It was a very Octopus moment.....serious discussion with a nice touch of light hearted ridiculousness. It's what we strive for in this crazy world.

This is Steve who traveled from Toronto just for the event, without so much as a place to stay for the night. Since that makes him an A-1 John Bellamy Foster fan we figured he was the best person to introduce the man himself, so here he is talking about why Bellamy Foster's work is important to him and why it should be important to everyone. He was a lovely smart guy and Octopus was thrilled to make his acquaintance.

As always, a good evening was had by all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We're so excited and we just can't hide it!

Mark May 31st on your calendars because Eduardo Galeano is coming to town to launch his new book, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, translated by Ottawa's very own Mark Fried, and we'll be there slinging books at Saint Brigid's Centre for Arts and Humanities (314 St. Patrick @ Cumberland) at 7:00 p.m.

Mirrors, is an unofficial history of the world seen through history’s unseen, unheard, and forgotten. As Galeano notes: “Official history has it that Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first man to see, from a summit in Panama, the two oceans at once. Were the people who lived there blind??”

Recalling the lives of artists, writers, gods, and visionaries, from the Garden of Eden to twenty-first-century New York, of the black slaves who built the White House and the women erased by men’s fears, and told in hundreds of kaleidoscopic vignettes, Mirrors is a magic mosaic of our humanity.

Eduardo Galeano’s works, which have been translated into twenty-eight languages, include Memory of Fire (three volumes); Open Veins of Latin America; Soccer in Sun and Shadow; Days and Nights of Love and War; The Book of Embraces; We Say No; Walking Words; Upside Down; and Voices of Time. Born in Montevideo, he lived in exile in Argentina and Spain for years before returning to Uruguay. He was the recipient of the first Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom.

Galeano defies easy categorization as an author. His works combine documentary, fiction, journalism, political analysis, and history. The author himself has denied that he is a historian: "I'm a writer obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America above all and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

John Bellamy Foster in Ottawa

We feel awfully lucky to be hosting an event with John Bellamy Foster, editor of the long-running, highly esteemed socialist magazine Monthly Review and author of a long list of important books on economy, ecology and empire. He's our kind of guy.

We will be helping him launch his newest book, The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences, on Thursday, May 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the Glebe Parent's Daycare (10 Fifth Ave.).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Coach House appreciation night

We are happy to have an evening with two great authors published by our good friends at Coach House Books. From its early days of printing draft-dodger pamphlets and commemorative flags to nurturing the literary careers of Ondaatje, Bowering, Anne Michaels and bpNichol to being the birthplace of current electronic publishing technology, Coach House has been the headquarters and meeting place for creative figures of every stripe.

Please join us for the launch of Amphibian, the first novel by Carla Gunn, and a reading by Ottawa-area local Mike Blouin, author of Chase & Haven, on Wednesday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m. here at the store.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

First fiction addiction

We are so excited to welcome two of our favourite fiction discoveries of the past year to town for a reading on Saturday, May 9th at 7:00 p.m. at the Royal Oak on the Canal (221 Echo Drive).

Both Pasha Malla and Andrew Hood wrote wonderful and impressive debut collections of short stories that have left us wanting more.

Pasha Malla's debut, The Withdrawal Method, was nominated for the 2008 Giller Prize. His extraordinary stories grant us entry into fascinating worlds -- the complex world of children acting out half-understood fantasies of adulthood; the modern world of young couples navigating hairpin emotional turns; a near-future world where Niagara Falls has run dry. Haunting and fresh, shot through with empathy and humour, The Withdrawal Method peels back the layers to reveal the strange, the wondrous and the unexpected.

Pasha Malla writes regularly for McSweeney's, has had multiple stories nominated for the Pushcart and Journey prizes, and was a pick for Best American Nonrequired Reading (selected by Dave Eggers).

Andrew Hood’s debut collection, Pardon Our Monsters, heralds a young talent with an irresistible style and merciless eye. These unapologetic stories deal with an assortment of foolish self-destructive small town anti-heroes. A newly-wed conjures a ghost in an attempt to contact her absent husband. A seventeen-year-old is blackmailed into buying drugs for his English teacher. A tumescent young Blue Jay’s fan and his tumor-addled sister are swept up in the tempest of the Blue Jay’s 1989 run for the World Series. An estranged stepmother and stepson embark on a pilgrimage to the Michael Jackson trial. Hood’s cleverly wrought lyrical prose is the perfect foil for a prevailing lack of forgiveness, which becomes the overriding monstrosity of each story. Every character wants only to be pardoned, but will not, themselves, grant it.

Andrew Hood’s won the Irving Layton Award for Undergraduate Fiction at Concordia University, and his stories have appeared in Concordia’s Soliloquies and Headlight Anthology.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Elizabeth May is Losing Confidence

Please join us to celebrate the launch of Elizabeth May's new book, Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy, at Parliament Pub (101 Sparks Street) on April 28th at 7:00 p.m.

Losing Confidence is a ringing manifesto for change from the leader of Canada’s Green Party.

Canadians are waking up from our long political slumber to realize that there will not be change unless we insist upon it. We have a presidential-style prime minister without the checks and balances of either the US or the Canadian systems. Attack ads run constantly, backbenchers and cabinet ministers alike are muzzled, committees are deadlocked, and civility has disappeared from the House of Commons. In Losing Confidence, Elizabeth May outlines these and other problems of our political system, and offers inspiring solutions to the dilemmas we face.

Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist and lawyer. She is the author of seven books and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Canada medal. Since her 2006 election as leader of the Green Party of Canada, she has led the party to an unprecedented level of support among Canadians.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Join us for the launch of Blowback

We are thrilled to welcome activist and journalist Chris Arsenault to launch his book, Blowback: A Canadian History of Agent Orange and the War at Home, here at the store (116 Third Ave.) on Tuesday, April 21st at 7:00 p.m.

This is the story of a war coming home; a story of the military and economic currents that allowed Agent Orange to blow through trees and into rivers in New Brunswick. More than anything, it’s a story of soldiers, civilians and local residents who blew back against the government and companies who poisoned them.

Chris holds the 2008/09 Phil Lind Fellowship at the University of British Columbia’s Dept of History. A former contributor to CBC Radio, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, THIS Magazine and numerous other publications, Arsenault is currently Canadian correspondent for Inter Press Service, a United Nations affiliate based in New York. Arsenault has reported from Cuba, Colombia, Vietnam, northern Alberta and Chiapas, Mexico and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, York University, Laurentian, St. Fx. and the Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico City.

“Chris Arsenault’s tenacious reporting uncovers an important, and untold, chapter in Canada’s history. This book shows how Agent Orange and its toxic friends continue to poison people and ecosystems around the world—and frequently, in our own back yard. In telling this story, Arsenault has shown the diligence of a historian, the righteousness of a crusader, and best of all, the legwork of a private eye. It’s a humane and engaging combination.” — Graham F. Scott, Editor This Magazine

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shani Mootoo book launch

We are very excited to be hosting the Ottawa launch of Shani Mootoo's new novel, Valmiki's Daughter, at our favourite watering hole, The Manx Pub (370 Elgin) on Saturday, April 4th at 5:00 p.m.

Get a sneak preview and check out this clip of Shani reading from Valmiki's Daughter...

Joining Shani that evening will be one of our favourite Ottawa poets and all-round nice guy Rob Winger who will read from his book Muybridge's Horse, which was shortlisted for the GGs for Poetry in 2007, and will treat us to some of his new writing.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In case you missed it.....

If you missed our event last week with Dr. Gabor Mate and Dr. Samantha King you can get a sense of the evening by visiting where an audience member wrote about each of the speakers and gives a great synopsis of each discussion. There are also a lot of great comments, so check it out.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Judy Rebick book launch

Please join us in celebrating the launch of veteran activist, writer and broadcaster Judy Rebick's new book
March 10, 200 at 7:00 p.m.
Raw Sugar Cafe
692 Somerset West

In her new book, Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political, Judy Rebick explains how globalization and mass communication technology are revolutionizing our understanding of power and producing profound new ideas about social and political life. Whether it’s the election of President Obama, the rise of democracy in Bolivia, or the success of Wikipedia, it’s the process that’s key: bringing communities of people together to produce something new; building a movement from the bottom up; sharing experience, knowledge and wisdom; emphasizing co-operation and consensus over confrontation and political partisanship.

Meaningful response to the environmental crisis and social injustice requires substantial, sustainable change at every level, which can only come through building power from the grass roots, from the people most impacted. In Transforming Power we discover the ideas, the people and the practices that can provide the paths to the change we need.

Judy Rebick is a well-known social justice activist, educator , writer, and speaker. She currently holds the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Ryerson University.

Judy is founder of, Canada’s most popular independent online news and discussion site and the author of several books and articles, most recently Ten Thousand Roses: The Making of a Feminist Revolution (Penguin 2005). Her other books are Imagine Democracy (Stoddard 2000) and Politically Speaking (Douglas & McIntyre 1996).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Doctor who?

Octopus Books presents an evening with Dr. Gabor Maté and Dr. Samantha King
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Centretown Community Health Centre
(420 Cooper Street)
Admission is free

For over ten years Dr. Gabor Maté has been the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm reduction facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV and, in many cases, all four.

In his compassionate and compelling book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Dr. Maté begins with a dramatically close view of his drug-addicted patients. He weaves the stories of real people who have struggled with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. Providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties.

He also takes aim at the hugely ineffectual, largely U.S.-led War on Drugs (and its worldwide followers), challenging the wisdom of fighting drugs instead of aiding the addicts, and showing how controversial measures such as safe injection sites are measurably more successful at reducing drug-related crime and the spread of disease than anything most major governments have going.

Dr. Samantha King’s engaging book Pink Ribbons Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy challenges the corporatization of the search for a breast cancer cure.

In 2005, more than one million people participated in the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure, the largest network of 5K runs in the world. Consumers thoughtfully choose products ranging from yogurt to cars, responding to the promise that these purchases will contribute to a cure for the disease. And hundreds of companies and organizations support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, founded by a pharmaceutical company in 1985. What could be wrong with that?
Highly revelatory—at times shocking—Pink Ribbons, Inc. challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement and its influence on ideas of good citizenship, responsible consumption, and generosity.

King traces how breast cancer has been transformed from a stigmatized disease and individual tragedy to a market-driven industry of survivorship. In an unprecedented outpouring of philanthropy, corporations turn their formidable promotion machines on the curing of the disease while dwarfing public health prevention efforts and stifling the calls for investigation into why and how breast cancer affects such a vast number of people. Here, for the first time, King questions the effectiveness and legitimacy of privately funded efforts to stop the epidemic among women.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking it to the airwaves

We had the pleasure of sitting down with the guest host at CBC's In Town and Out on Saturday morning to talk about all things Octopus.

We've made the interview available here for your listening pleasure.

You will need to use RealPlayer to listen to the interview which is available here.

(For those of you who care, that link takes you to a BBC specific version of RealPlayer which does not contain the usual spyware included in RealPlayer. Unfortunately an open source alternative to RealPlayer does not exist for the RAM file format.)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jim Stanford's Powerful Points

For those of you who attended our event on Friday and even those who didn't but want to know what they missed, Jim Stanford has made his great powerpoint presentation available through the magic of PDF.

To get a copy of the presentation which Jim gave on Saturday, Click Here

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Economics and the World Food Crisis

An evening of digestible discussion about food and capitalism with Wayne Roberts and Jim Stanford.

Octopus Books is pleased to present an evening with Wayne Roberts, food security activist and author of the essential No-Nonsense Guide to World Food, and Jim Stanford, the Globe and Mail economics columnist and author of the hugely successful Economics for Everyone.

Looking back at a year of food riots on several continents and a crumbling global economy, the discussion will look at how we got where we are in both instances and where the parallel collapse of economic and industrialized food systems might overlap.

The event will take place in the auditorium of Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington) on Friday, February 13, 2009 with a free reception with local snacks beginning at 6:00 p.m. and speakers beginning at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Universities at Risk

Please join us for the book launch of Universities at Risk

Editor James Turk and contributor Marcus Harvey will discuss ethics, politics and the integrity of post-secondary education on Tuesday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m. at Octopus Books (116 Third Ave).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

More Upcoming Events For Those Who Plan Ahead

We've put together a short list of upcoming events for the 40th Anniversary. Don't be fooled though! Our events don't stop on March 10th, only our ability to reliably predict the future. So stay tuned for more information on events coming down through the intertubes.

Jim Stanford
and Wayne Roberts
February 13, 2009
Reception with light refreshments at 6:00 p.m. and event beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Library and Archives Canada auditorium (395 Wellington)

Gabor Mate and Samantha King
March 4, 2009
7:00 p.m.
Centretown Community Health Centre (420 Cooper Street)

Judy Rebick
Book launch for Transforming Power: From the Personal to the Political
March 10, 2009
Raw Sugar Cafe (692 Somerset West)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Join us for The Age of Persecution

Octopus Books presents three perspectives on torture in our time, hosted by CBC’s Adrian Harewood on Saturday, January 31st at 7:00 p.m. in Room A of Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington).

Hope and Despair is the inspiring story of Monia Mazigh’s courageous fight to free her husband, Maher Arar, from a Syrian jail.

This is a remarkable story of personal courage, and of an extraordinary woman who lets us into her life so that other Canadians can understand the denial of rights and the discarding of human rights her family suffered.

Kerry Pither has worked as a human rights and civil liberties advocate for almost twenty years on a wide range of local, regional, national and international issues. She is the author of Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror, which chronicles the shocking story of how four Canadian men experienced similarly devastating ordeals. One of these men, Ahmad El Maati, says that despite everything that’s happened, “I always remember that we are the lucky ones. Since 9/11 so many others have just disappeared, or are still in secret prisons, with no right to ask questions. At least we have the right to ask questions about why this happened. At least we might get answers.”

Alan Cumyn is the author of the novel Man of Bone and its sequel Burridge Unbound, which tell the story of the kidnapping of a Canadian diplomat abroad and his subsequent struggles after surviving the terrifying ordeal and returning home. Cumyn spent eight years writing on international human rights issues for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Admission is free.

Please join us for an evening of discussion with these three local writers for the first event of many celebrating Octopus Books 40th anniversary. We are proud of our history as a progressive independent bookstore and our commitment to providing books on social justice issues and supporting community initiatives since 1969.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Octopus Books is celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2009!!!!

The year was 1969 and big things were brewing in the basements of Ottawa. Next to a boiler which would become our namesake, Octopus Books was born. Now a whole 40 years later, 2009 is here in a big way at Octopus Books!

We are planning a full year of talks, speakers and events to celebrate 40 years of progressive thinking and change and to thank you for your continuing support throughout the years. So drop by the store to see what's new and keep your ears to the ground and your eyes to the web, phone poles and community events boards near you for updates on all the exciting goings-on here at Octopus Books.

Everyone here at Octopus is super excited for the year and we hope you'll join us as we strive to make this our best Octoyear yet!!

Happy 2009,
The Octoteam