Tuesday, June 29, 2010
"She walked up to the front door and looked up at the huge knocker on it. It was shaped like a pine tree with the trunk for a handle. She fidgeted for a moment, twisting her necklace around her finger. Her mother had given it to her, right before she had disappeared. It was a small piece of crystal, which seemed always to have light in it, even now in the rain. It had wire wrapped around the middle, connecting it to the string. Melissa loved it. It made her feel like she always had a bit of her mother with her."
Congratulations to Rachel for publishing her first novel way ahead of the curve, and stay tuned for more publishing projects from Homer, our Espresso Book Machine.
One of our latest publishing jobs on the Espresso Book Machine is a school project commemorating a special year at the Alki Co-op Preschool, continuing our trend of debuting young writers and illustrators (just wait till you hear about 11 year old Rachel!). But if you flip open to the dedication page of "To School, To School To Have Lots of Fun" by the Alki 4s, you'll find something cutting edge:
A color interior! How did that happen? Well it took some extra work from the woman who put it all together, Jennifer S. When she came in I duly informed her that none of the 25 Espresso Book Machines across the world (China, Egypt, North Dakota) could print anything but black and white interiors. However...
We can bind preprinted pages. We were able to put together a full color book dedicated to "Teacher Sara" when Jennifer brought in color pages ready to be glued and bound with a Homer-generated cover. We'd like to get the process streamlined in the future--but for now if you want a splashy illustrated work, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do for you.
Monday, June 28, 2010
To start things off, please meet Anna Minard.
What are 3 books that will always be on your bookshelf and why?
The Joy of Cooking, Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, and my dictionary. My parents gave them to me around high school graduation (one of them may have been a birthday present). Other things are replaceable, but I think I would feel book-naked without those.
What book blogs or websites do you frequently check in on?
I check Bookshelves of Doom and the Slog every day, and I also browse around other book blogs (once I'm finished shelving, of course!), usually ones that are specific to children's and young adult books, like Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Some I go to for specific things: I use Common Sense Media a lot to see about the age appropriateness of a book I haven't read, I check American Indians in Children's Literature to get her perspective on things, and Guys Lit Wire is all about books that are good picks for teen boys (who can be hard to choose for!). I like reading author blogs too- John Green, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson.
Every reader has their favorite spot, where do you read and what do you need to have around you when you read?
When I really get into a book, there is nowhere I wouldn't read. I read while I walk, at the dinner table, at the book desk (busted) and I have to stop myself from picking the book up at stoplights when I'm driving. When I get the chance I'm a reclining reader- curled up on a couch or in bed is best. But I love reading on the bus, particularly. I love getting lost in it and then looking up and being in a completely different place. And I have to read while I eat, if I'm alone. I'll grab anything, cereal box or Dostoevsky, but I cannot just sit there and chew.
Who are your favorite YA characters? Kids book characters?
Francie Nolan, from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Hassan Harbish, from John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. Scout Finch is a given, right? And Pippi trumps them all. Pippi Longstocking is the best character in the world.
You can see all her posts here.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I got out of classes for the summer a few weeks ago, and while I do read while school is in session, I don't read with the same hedonistic abandon. I read an article in the NYT sometime this year (I can't find it by searching- anyone remember it and can send me a link?) by a mom ruefully admiring how her daughters could read books in one sitting, lying upside down on their bed, or draped over the couch for hours at a time, whereas she never had time to really dive in. She seemed to think this was an affliction of all adults, which scares me a little. While I may not have full grown-up status yet (I'm waiting for the ceremony- it comes with an instruction manual, right?) I call myself an adult, and I haven't lost the ability to, when my schedule allows, drape myself over a sofa and read most of a book in one sitting. I just read a whole stack of novels since summer began, only coming up for air to show up here at work, and I'm relishing the sensation. I hope I never completely lose the time or ability to, as Ramona Quimby's teacher said, Drop Everything And Read. It's just so gosh darn delicious.
-Anna, Kids Books
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
But the character that made a big impression on me, especially due to Jansson's illustration of it (which I can't find a free image of, but you can see here), was the Antlion. I hope you can forgive me for assuming that he was an entirely made up character, since the rest of it was so fanciful. But much to my surprise, I have just discovered that antlions are totally real (my spellcheck doesn't know that, either). They are real things that dig sand pits and wait for prey to fall into their open jaws. Creeeeepy! I found this information out doing a completely different search, when I stumbled upon a website devoted entirely to antlions- antlion science, antlion stories in legend and popular culture, etc. It's called the Antlion Pit. Apparently, antlions show up with some frequency in literature. Tom Sawyer, Steinbeck's The Pearl, and The Silence of the Lambs all have antlion references.
So, I know this is weird, I just had to share. There's a connection to books, right? I'm not just blogging about weird insects, right? But wow. It's like finding out that the Grinch is real, and he actually does occasionally steal Christmas. Watch out for sand pits!
--Anna, kids books
Right now I'm reading Chimamanda Mgozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck, which is a strong collection of short stories about men and women from Nigeria and America. Adichie is part of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40 Summer Fiction series and answers some questions here. Also, last year Adichie gave a TED talk called The Danger of a Single Story. A lot of the themes in the speech come up in her stories. Intersting to think about the stories around us...
Monday, June 14, 2010
Now, you might be a wedding fanatic that can't wait to boogie on the dance floor. Or, maybe you're someone that's beginning to feel a bit of dread for the 5 weddings that you have to attend this year. Either way, one of the most challenging aspects of this season can be picking out a gift. Bridal showers, bachelorette parties, the wedding itself. Each event calls for the appropriate present. Even with the help of gift registries, sometimes you just want to give something a little more personal than a blender they've already picked out.
Here are a few of my favorite wedding-related books I'm considering this year:
See you on the dance floor!
Friday, June 11, 2010
Each year, I add something new to my edible gardening repertoire and so, each year I pull out handy gardening books to keep my green thumb active. Here's the books I'll be referencing this year:
Edible Heirlooms by Bill Thorness is the must-have book for gardeners looking for tips on how to grow and find unique edible plants. Bill is a great writer and his book is a call for variety and diversity.
Mcgee & Stuckey's The Bountiful Container A Container Garden Of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, And Edible Flowers
is my go-to book for all container related information I may need. Whether you have a small apartment or a big deck, this book will tell you how to make it work. It's an encyclopedia.
Growing Your Own Vegetables by Carla Emery & Lorene Forkner is a great introductory book to grab when you have a nagging questions about a certain plant. It is easy to flip through and has basic information on how to grow most vegetables.
For us in the Northwest, Steve Solomon's Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades is a beautiful and resourceful guidebook to organic gardening at home. This 6th edition is up to date on the latest gardening trends and best practices.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or new to the dirt, there is always a multitude of gardening books that can help you help your plants grow. Any favorites you have?
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
I know, however, that we don't spend our whole paycheck on books. As Jason reminded me, “Yeah, for the first few weeks, when you realize you've got an employee discount, you just buy stacks and stacks. And then you realize: oh, right. Bills.” But more than that, I think booksellers are particularly picky about what books we buy. We're around books all the time, and browse a lot, and are usually pretty devoted library patrons. It seems like only the cream of the crop make the cut to come all the way home and sit on the shelf, permanently. There's only so much shelf space in a book lover's home, although I actually know of some great workarounds fellow booksellers use– storing books in a never-used oven, for example, or making piles of books into bedside or coffee tables.
So I asked people what books they absolutely have to buy. What kinds of books can you not help yourself around? What takes a book from a library list to the employee hold shelf? Is it genre, emotional attachment, physical beauty? There were a lot of answers, some that popped up repeatedly, some very unique ones. When I tried to pull them all together in one cohesive post, it was impossible. So instead, I'm going to spread 'em out over a few posts.
#1 – Self interview (Anna, in Kids)
I love to buy autographed books. Some people couldn't care less, but I love to see that mark–or inscription, even better–and know that the author held the book, touched it. In the time I've worked here I've gotten signed copies from (among many others) John Green, Lois Lowry, Jon Scieszka, and Judy Blume. (I got Forever, okay? Life-changer.) The other place where I have no self-control is with beautiful old used children's books. If it's from the 1950s or earlier, if it has line drawing illustrations, or color plates, or deckle edges, or a leather cover, or some funny outdated language in the title, it's only a matter of time before it comes home with me.
More to come...
I just had the honor and the pleasure to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art , and I have to say, if you're ever in Amherst, Massachusetts you should stop by. It is, as it says, dedicated to Eric Carle's work (author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, if you're not immediately familiar) and there is also a rotating exhibit on other artists or publishers. We just missed the Golden Books exhibit (dang!), but stumbled into a gallery full of Antonio Frasconi's beautiful woodcuts. I now have to hunt down all of his out-of-print picture books, because his work was amazing. Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to a lovely museum dedicated to a medium I find really spectacular. I only wish they had an even larger collection. I'd like to see the original Curious George pages (he was first called Fifi, since the Reys were living in France when they created it), and some unpublished Seuss sketches, and whatever else the world of picture books has to show off. Thanks, Carle Museum. You're adorable.
Oh, and I also stopped by Louisa May Alcott's house in Concord. We got to ogle the Alcott sisters' dress up box, complete with the boots Louisa wore to play Rodrigo, the desk where she wrote Little Women (so tiny! so ambidextrous!), and a house full of bookshelves and art. I might have to go reread Little Women.