Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Events this week

If you weren't here last night, you missed the fantastic Jonathan Raban. I had meant to make a note of the event on this blog, but forgot, and offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Raban—one of my favorite local authors—for the oversight.

But that was only Monday. Tonight at 7pm, visitors can bask in the presence of National Book Award winner Pete Dexter, who will be reading from his new book Paper Trails. It's a collection of his finely wrought, dark, brilliant newspaper columns, and as Pete Hamill says in his introduction to the book, the essays "are as good as it ever gets."

On Wednesday, a young Oakland writer named Daniel Alarcón will be by to read from his first novel Lost City Radio. Alarcón's debut book of short stories, War by Candlelight was well-received, and he's an Iowa graduate. I'm an Iowa graduate as well. So. Go Hawks. Come see him.

Women searching for a new occupation might stop by on Thursday to see Michelle Goodman read from her new book The Anti 9 to 5 Guide.

And Friday! Oh, Friday! Fantasy fans of all ages should be here, because the one and only China Mieville will be in our Event space reading from his new book Un Lun Dun. This event comes with Duane's highest recommendation.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Oscars...fun, funner, or funnest?

Jessa Crispin at Bookslut reminded me that the man who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay used the word "funnest" in his speech. He was referring to a long trip his family took when he was a kid. I suppose—as a friend and coworker of mine pointed out—it is possible he simply reverted to his kid-self when considering the road trip, and we can let it go. Maybe.

If you are—even though the ceremony has passed—still riding a kind of Oscar-inspired giddiness, and would like to engage in some Oscar-related reading, I would like to suggest you pick up Tom Perrotta's Little Children. Few contemporary writers pull off Perrotta's trick: writing novels that are satiric, powerful, and deeply poignant.

(Perrotta is, for some reason, linked in my mind to Walter Kirn. Not sure why. Maybe it's because they are the two favorite writers of a good friend of mine. Maybe it's because they look similar. No Oscar nomination for him, this year, but you might want to follow Little Children with Kirn's Mission to America or the newly published book The Unbinding.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

Sometimes you'll get a book suggestion and the person will say, "Full disclosure, I know yadda yadda yadda."

Right now, I'd rather be reading Adria Bernardi's Openwork and, full disclosure, she is a teacher who I worked with at Warren Wilson. She's also a fine, fine writer with whom I was very lucky to work.

(And she can no longer send my homework back to me and ask me to redo it. So, really, I have no ulterior motive here. I just really like her books.)

Am I not good enough for you, recommendation-wise? Well, then:

"In prose as radiant and emotionally precise as Virginia Woolf's, Bernardi illuminates the working lives and longings of coal miners and wet-nurses, seamstresses, stonemasons, and housewives, brilliantly rendering a century in the life of an Italian American family. Like Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, this is a novel in which the sentences themselves capture the feel of human beings at work."

Andrea Barrett

And one more for good measure:

"Openwork is glorious! The fine poetic intelligence that guides it, the humor, the sadness, and Bernardi's overarching knowledge of of so many times and places and peoples. A remarkable book. A beautiful book."

Jane Hamilton

The Rooster

The good people at The Morning News have announced nominees for their annual Tournament of Books. Even though this contest is co-sponsored by a...ahem...different bookseller, I quite enjoyed how 2006 turned out, particularly the involvement of the notorious Dale Peck (who refused to vote for either of the books he was asked to read), and the response it provoked. Sadly, I've been unable to track down the response. It was biting. And hilarious.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Ubie is announced!

An e-missive from Children's Books:

So as not to steal the thunder from those other book awards (the Cal...something and the one that looks like it is missing an r), we’ve waited a few weeks to announce our own 2007 UBIE award winners! Here in the Children’s Department at University Book Store, we put our heads together to give you our favorite picture book and children’s/young adult novel of 2006.

Our Favorite Picture Book of the Year:

17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore
Jenny Offill & Nancy Carpenter

From stapling her brother’s hair to his pillow, to washing her hands in the dog’s bowl, this hilarious story of one incorrigible girl’s misadventures in creativity had us laughing out loud. The wonderful mixed-media illustrations perfectly capture her sassy spirit, as she gleefully follows her ideas to their (usually) unfortunate conclusions.

Our Favorite Novel of the Year:

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Set during the Holocaust and narrated by a rueful Death, this stunning novel will break your heart, then put it back together again too many times to count. We can only describe it by stealing words from the book itself: “How [can] the same thing…be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so d---ing and brilliant…” Thank you Markus Zusak for this glorious, brilliant book.

Congratulations, UBIE winners!

Stop by Children’s Books and ask about our many other favorites, too!

I've often wondered about Dennis the Menace, myself

Guilty Pleasures of Literary Greats.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Though my folks didn't forbid television, they discouraged most of it. (Sadly I didn't listen, and am sometimes overwhelmed by the theme from Facts of Life looping in my brain, causing nausea and headaches.) But they did encourage me to watch Carl Sagan's 13 episode series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. And now Vangelis plays a sort of counterpoint loop as well, often drowning out the Facts song, restoring order and sanity to my life.

Additionally, I have always had a soft spot for Sagan.

Last month, a book of lectures compiled by Sagan's widow was published. Read more about it here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'd rather be reading...

And if I was reading, I'd be reading the newest book by former Spy magazine journalist and satirist Louis Theroux: The Call of the Weird.

Louis, who has been documenting the odd in America for a number of years, revisits some of his most interesting subjects in this book. Included are such eccentric luminaries as Thor Templar, Lord Commander of the Earth Protectorate, and Prussian Blue, twin teen white supremacists who sing charming little white power folk songs, like a hate-group version of the Cowsills or the Partridge Family.

And after that, I'd go back to the man who inspired Louis (son of Paul, by the bye), the wonderful Jon Ronson. (His book The Men Who Stare at Goats is pictured just behind Louis's.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Plenty of time to reread the first six books

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment in J.K. Rowling's immensely popular series, now has a release date. Mark your calendars:

July 21, 2007.

Not sure how University Book Store will be celebrating this release, but you can bet there'll be a shindig of some sort beginning on Friday, July 20 culminating in midnight sales of the book.

The guy who said the thing

It was James Garfield.

The audio version of Sarah Vowell's wonderful Assassination Vacation features Jon Stewart as the voice of Garfield. He's quite good.

tell all your friends!