Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scary Stories (for grownups)

Halloween is coming, and with it, all the usual cliches in bookstore displays; same ol' pumpkins, same ol' black cats, same ol' witches' hats... same ol' titles.

This year, along with the pumpkins, etc., we're offering a selection of books to scare the complacency right out of you! That's right -- books that genuinely scare us jaded adults.

Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobsen will make you horde your honey.

A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern Iraq by Fernando Baez, director of Venezuela's National Library, and an expert in this sad history.

The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash by Charles R. Morris.

Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning author Barton Gellman.

The End of Food by Paul Roberts, the bestselling author of The End of Oil.

The Radioactive Boyscout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein.

The Fifth Child by Nobel Prize winning novelist Doris Lessing -- a terrifying tale of unhappy parenting.

The Void by Frank Close is the story of... nothingness.

Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science by Richard Preston, author of the book The Hot Zone, which our own Jason described as "the most terrifying book I ever read."

And many, many more. So stop by the display in New & Used Books. Look for the poster with the dead bee on it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Homework: write a story in book spines.

Here's your homework. Follow this link. Take a look. Get inspired.

Make one of your own. Put it up on Flickr. Link to it in the comments to this post. Do it by next Friday (October 3), 6pm. We'll pick our favorite, and the winner will get a $25 University Book Store gift card*.

A couple of rules:

1) Don't just copy one of these. Write your own story in book spines.

2) Use your own books.

Hop to, people!

Thanks to Boing Boing for the link.

*A gift card can be used in store or online, by the way. If you are not a Seattle resident but want to submit, feel free. We'll work it out with you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Watching Them as They Come in...

It's already started. Officially, "Rush" doesn't begin until tomorrow, but already the new and returning students are rushing into the lobby of the bookstore, on their way to the Textbooks Department, downstairs -- if they know the way. The buzz of young voices, the constant shuffle of the crowd, the sound of anticipation and nervousness, of newness and youth and the future, fills the bookstore. It's shockingly loud here, unlike a bookstore, or at least unlike the bookstore or any bookstore most days. I'm surprised, every year by the sound. So are our customers not associated with the University. I look up from the Used Books Desk to see the startled faces of the bookish, amidst all these bright new ones. It's nothing really to do with me, but it's exciting none the less.

I wonder, if and when they pause, if any of these bright young things will spot the nice used hardcover of Camus' Notebooks we just priced and put out, if any of them will recognize the title of Saramago's Blindness from the movie adaptation set soon to be released. Will one of them want the paperback Cannery Row (do they still read Steinbeck?) Will The Tale of Genji catch a young eye? Vargas Llosa? Pascal?

Putting out nice, used copies today, I felt as if we were setting traps...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Foster Wallace

The loss of David Foster Wallace is, from the point of view of a lover of contemporary literature and a bookseller, too enormous for me to put into words. I can only say that I read The Broom of the System when I was 17, and after that decided that reading more books would be a very good thing.

I will instead direct you to the front page at McSweeney's, where friends and admirers are doing their best to make sense not of his death, but his life and influence.

And I will also direct you to Harper's where his essays and stories—including a howlingly funny excerpt from whatever it was he was working on called "The Compliance Branch"—are available to download and read.

Condolences to his family, his friends, and his readers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Links

Here are a couple of links from Bookslut. If you don't read Bookslut, you should read Bookslut.

First, we have Robert Heinlein's form letter sent in response to fan letters. Fans should develop a form fan letter.

Second, there is an image at the top of this page that is captioned: "Andrew O'Hagan, Drenka Willen and friend at the 2007 Dinner."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that "friend" Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of the National Book Award nominated Madeleine Is Sleeping? And recent visitor to the city of Seattle's Bumbershoot festival, where she spoke to Paul Constant about her book The Ms. Hempel Chronicles? Can a National Book Award nominee get a little respect from a book award website?

Friday, September 05, 2008

"I'm a bookseller, sir."

Here's a fine graphic short story about bookselling.

When I was little, my favorite book to check out of the Carnegie Library was a collection of Danish nursery rhymes called It's Raining Said John Twaining by N.M. Bodecker.

The poems stuck with me—"Me, and I, and You/sailed in a wooden shoe"—even though the title of the book didn't, and in college, I mentioned it offhand to the person I was dating. I wondered about the book, what it was called, if I'd ever see it again, etc. (This was pre-Google. Pre-internet searches of any kind, in fact.)

A couple of months after this brief conversation, we were in a St. Vincent DePaul thrift store, probably looking for coats or ugly paintings for our apartment. She walked off for a few minutes, and when she returned, she had a copy of that book. "Is this what you were talking about?"

It was. I nearly wept. I read them all aloud to her that night.

Ever been reunited with a book? Tell us about it.

tell all your friends!