Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spread the Word... Free Books!!

I have five books sitting on my desk, and they could be yours, for free. Three are hardcovers, one is a novel, two are nonfiction, one is Seattle-related, two are for animal lovers, and one just won a major award. Those are some clues to get you excited. There's just a little bit of work you'll have to do to get your hands on our books.

Let's start with the National Book Award winner: The Swerve, by Stephen Greenblatt. It's about the profound impact of the rediscovery of Lucretius' On The Nature of Things in 1417. Here's a quote from the dust jacket:

"It was a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functions without the aid of gods, that religious fear is damaging to human life, that pleasure and virtue are not opposites but intertwined, and that matter is made up of very small material particles in external motion, randomly colliding and swerving in new directions."

Maybe you would like to win this book? Ok, just one little thing you have to do first. In the comments, post a short anecdote about a book you've rediscovered in your life. Something you hated as a teenager, maybe, but then grew to love in adulthood. Or something people had been recommending to you for years, and you avoided for one reason or another. We will choose a comment at random and get in touch with you. And remember, the other four books are going to be given away in the next few days, so keep checking back!

Comments are closed! We will contact the winner soon. Stay tuned for a chance to win another great book in the next few days.


  1. I recently re-read "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card becuase I went with one of my reluctant students to the library so he would have a book during silent reading time. He got "Hunger Games" and I picked this old favorite up to fill MY time. Reading in 20-30 minute chunks throughout the week since September slowly reinvigorated my love for this book and his love (ok, ok... LIKE) for reading. It was a fun journey and I had forgotten details from the book so it was almost like reading a new story. Love it!

  2. Dana Twight10:34 PM

    I recently reread Jane Eyre and it was a totally different book. After 30 more years of reading and living, the position of women in England at that time and lack of choices for women in marriage and family life were far more memorable than to my pre-teen brain.

    Also, a family member knows a fellow student who doesn't care for Lucretius and I would like to know more about him.

  3. After years away, I recently came back to Winesburg, Ohio, which I read every summer in my 20s. Then, it spoke to me because I'd come of age in a small Ohio town. Now, because I'm more familiar with sadness and finitude.

  4. I first read "Heart of Darkness" in an English class at SCCC and hated almost every page of it. I thought it was extremely dense, boring, and totally pointless.

    About 3 years later I was in my final quarter at UW as an English major and I saw "Heart of Darkness" on the reading list. Groaning, I made sure to buy the worst looking copy I could find at the UW Bookstore. It was a used Dover Thrift edition that barely had a cover. As I began to read it, expecting to hate every minute, I realized this book had been owned by a young woman. Almost every page was marked up in colorful pens pointing out features on the book's landscape (metaphones, foreshadows, etc) and little explanatory notes. It was cute; my guard dropped immediately; and I read the entire book in one sitting and loved it.

    Many years later it is probably my favorite book and I read it every year or two. To be honest, I can't stop myself from impulsively buying nice editions of it, so I have like 6 copies now. My favorite is the Norton Critical Edition, because it includes the response essay by Chinua Achebe.

  5. I'm 24 and I just read the phantom tollbooth for the first time. Phenomenal. I don't know why I never got to read it as a kid but I'm convinced it's a book that I'll never cease to cherish.

  6. Pride and Prejudice was on my senior reading list, so I decided to get a head start during the summer and take my time with it. I'd heard for years how wonderful Jane Austin's books were and I was really looking forward to it.
    Try as I might, though, I just couldn't find anything interesting about these whiny rich people. I did finish it with the class that fall, with the utmost reluctance, and got a decent grade on my paper.
    Then our teacher decided to show us the BBC version as a treat for the end of the semester. Watching Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth have sex with their eyes for 4 hours made me wonder what I missed in the months spent on this book.
    I made a point of rereading it the next summer and finished it in about a week. Reread it, and thoroughly enjoy it, 5 or 6 times since that second read through.

  7. my seventh-grade science teacher gave me a golden books field guide to insects, with "225 insects in full color"! he was the kind of science teacher with half his wrinkled shirt untucked, unruly hair and questionable sanity that made him the favorite butt of every middle school joke. i thought he knew EVERYTHING.

    he carefully labeled every insect family with contact paper and highlighted bookmarks so i could identify my insects in a instant. oh, and i did. no insect was safe from taxonomy with me around. i have read that book from cover to cover so many times that i still think i can recite most of the hymenoptera chapter by heart.

    i was washington state's fourth best middle-school-aged insect identifier that year. i got a medal with a blue ribbon. my little heart is still a little swollen with joy from earning that medal twenty years later. now i'm ecologist. insects are still my favorite.

  8. Anonymous10:58 AM

    When I was seven or eight my more well-read cousins provided me with a copy of Arthur Ransome's 'Swallows and Amazons,' which they had loved and wanted me to enjoy, too. I had some difficulty at that age getting past some of the nautical terminology, and reading level. But eventually I got through it when I picked it up a year or two later.
    Now (3 decades later) I am re-reading the Swallows and Amazons series by Ransome and reveling in the high adventures of those creative children given license by their parents to sail around an English countryside lake and camp on Wildcat Island. The stories are so tantalizing, that now I want to share them with MY seven-year-old niece (who is a whiz-bang of a young reader), so I have passed along the first book in the series to her. On my last visit, she literally quoted a passage from the book to me, and we discussed it at length! It's wonderful to share beloved literature with your next generation...

  9. My dad read the whole LOTR trilogy to me when I was seven (he was a hippie...). So I figured I knew the story & never needed to read it again. Turns out, he glossed over many of the scary scenes (battles, Orks, deaths, etc.) and I never had a clue.

    I recently re-read the book(s) while unemployed. What can I say? Nothing, really. The book changed the way I look at everything and makes me miss my dad even more. I'm glad I put it off for so long so I could fully appreciate it anew as an adult.

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  11. As a teen I somehow graduated highschool in a small, (think 2800 people), conservative island-bound community without ever having read Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Sure, I saw others reading it in college, but didn't really know what it was about. Two months ago I read this novel with an open mind and was oh so pleasantly surprised by what I found in this time-salad of a novel. The discombobulating swerves and switchbacks and spirals in time, and the overarching anti-war message told in scintillant brushstrokes of absurdity were to be savored, especially as a young adult who knows a little more of history after sleeping through my hometown high school's dull (at best) history classes as they touched upon war stories of now-dead white men who killed other now-dead white men.

    Slaughterhouse five was so enjoyable that I am currently 70 pages into another novel of Vonnegut's, Sirens of Titan, which so far has proven to be a) touched by Vonnegut's seeming fascination with people having sex on other planets, b) just as full of absurd characters and situations and c) interwoven with social commentary as in Slaughterhouse Five.

    Overall, the novel would not have means as much to me as a history-hating teenager as it did more recently.

  12. I had to read Strange Pilgrims in high school. I knew that Marquez must be important because he showed up in the musty collection of 1970s paperbacks on my parents' shelves. As with a very few other English class novels, the writing compelled me to finish the whole thing, but the quiet desperation and sadness of traveling, interstitial figures filled me with a certain depression and dread. These were not palatable emotions for a kid with delusions of intellectual grandeur and a steady diet of triumphant sci-fi.

    Ten years later, I'd like to think I've grown up a bit. I finally bowed to pressure from a Marquez-obsessed friend and took One Hundred Years of Solitude on a training trip. Lying under a tarp after an eighteen hour day, and I was trapped by his prose. I had to force myself to look away and sleep. Macondo was something I'd been looking for for years.

  13. Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' couldn't captivate me despite repeated attempts over the years.
    And then, last year, a long-lost love shared how much it meant to her.
    And viola!
    Magic fills the pages.

  14. "Captain from Castile" by Shellabarger. A used bookstore find at age 13, I fell in love with it and read it annually through high school. But then ignored it for the last decade. Was so pleasantly surprised to find that it not only held up, it was better than I remembered. Historical epic story-telling at its best; sweeping scope, plenty of swashbuckling adventure, and a cast of thousands (from the Spanish Inquisition to sailing with Cortez). Interesting seeing the author, as an "enlightened" 1930's male, trying to justify/explain the 16th c. Spaniards' sentiments toward the Native Americans. Also, hooray for some female characters that are capable and smart, but the idea of beating a woman into submission is presented as reasonable. *rant & grumble* Still, the story overall is gorgeous and great fun.

  15. The first time I tried to read the Corrections by Jonathan Franzen I hated it. The first section focuses on Chip, and I found him so unlikable I eventually gave up on reading it. A few months later, a friend of mine couldn't stop going on about how much he loved it. I gave it another chance, and, by the end loved both the book and Chip, despite his flaws.


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