Friday, March 29, 2013

This little pup had quite a day at the Book Store. After escaping from his car, he ran around the store greeting customers before being promoted, naturally, to the position of Doggy Concierge. 

Bo Recommends I Am a Bunny!

Bo loves I Am a Bunny and he is kind enough to share it with us! Absolutely adorable, and wonderfully read.

I Am a Bunny is a classic children's storybook, written by Ole Risom and illustrated by Richard Scarry. Great choice, Bo!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Like Justin Bieber? Try this book!

Like Justin Bieber?

Try The Love Song of Johnny Valentine, a new novel by Teddy Wayne. Seija recommends it: "I loved this novel! If, like me, you find celebrity culture more fascinating than horrifying (if only by a slim margin), this sensitive, yet darkly satirical tale of a Justin Bieber-esque child star will make you feel ALL THE FEELINGS!!"

Not a Belieber? Well, did you like Cloud Atlas

Ann G. recommends another novel by the same author, David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. She writes, "I buy only the books that I will re-read. This is the tale of a young merchant clerk in the east Indian Trading Company who encounters and embraces Japanese culture."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

We Love Strong Women!

March is National Women's History Month and we've been featuring books that reflect on important and inspirational female figures. Our booksellers chose books that range from feminist theory to humor essays, novels to historical biographies. Included below are just a few of those selections:

Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney
"Though much has been written about Chanel as a fashion icon, few books have been able to crack the veil of ambiguity surrounding Coco's personal life. In this detailed biography, Chaney reveals a woman made tough by her circumstances and driven to succeed irregardless of consequence." Recommended by Mechio.

Meaning of Freedom by Angela Y. Davis
"Angela Davis has been a hero of mine since the early 80's. I was lucky enough to be a student at San Francisco State University while she was a professor in the Ethnic Studies Dept. After taking two classes from her and attending several of her public lectures, I feel she is the most articulate and compassionate speaker, scholar and author and author regarding issues of race, class and prisoner rights." Recommended by Terri.

The Woman Behind the New Deal by Kirstin Downey
Kathy Z. writes, "This book may look and sound like a quintessential bore, but it's anything but. Much forgotten today, Frances Perkins was ahead of her time by decades. She was a true progressive hero throughout the first half of the 20th century, advocating health care, labor rights and social security. Her complex and troubled personal life never interfered with her tireless work for the public. A terrific book!"

Communion by bell hooks
Anna's recommendation of this book is simply an excerpt from it: "Everything is bearable when there is love. My wish is that you try to give more people more love. The only thing that lives forever is love." 

Miss Fuller by April Bernard 
Recommended by Sarina: "To read a compelling story that gives you a sense of female radical Margaret Fuller's personality, pick up this book. Miss Fuller is historical fiction with an emphasis on fiction. Bernard takes many liberties with the narrative --- inventing a primary character, positioning us within Fuller's fictionalized correspondence --- but these sort of transgressions seem to me the sort that the heroine would not only forgive, but welcome."

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
"Along with many of you, I suspect, I was utterly charmed by her in her NPR interviews. That same voice rings out in her book. Her childhood stories are fascinating and her attitude, inspiring." Recommended by Mary. 

Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami by Gretel Ehrlich
Judith suggests this book: "Gretel Ehrlich --- adventurer, essayist, poet --- creates a compelling glimpse of life and survival of the spirit in Northeastern Japan following the devastation of the Great Wave."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Staff Reviews!


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

"Everyone loves this book. No one can say why. Too easy to give away the secrets!," says Debbie. 

World War Z by Max Brooks

"A chilling, utterly believable account of what might happen if a truly massive catastrophe overtakes the world." Recommended by Jason & Damon. 

Aleph by Paulo Coehlo

Michael W. recommends it: "A fascinating travelogue, a beautiful, human, story --- honest, lively, and peaceful. How strange and normal, how quiet and loud, our love is for one another. Not at all saccharine --- just heartfelt."

 Citizens of London by Lynne Olson

"As Britain stood alone against Germany in the early days of World War II, three powerful men worked valiantly to create an Anglo-American alliance. Edward R. Murrow and Averill Harriman are well known, but Ambassador John Gilbert Winant has been almost forgotten. If Olson did nothing but return this gentleman, scholar and diplomat to prominence, her book would be welcome. But she does MUCH more, re-creating the dramas, intrigues, romances and tragedies of Britain during some of the darkest days the world has ever known. I loved this book!" ---reviewed by Kathy Z.

More staff reviews to come! Look for our bookseller recommendations every week.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Phases of the Moon

Okay, so I finally bought myself a copy of Madness, Rack and Honey, the collected lectures of Mary Ruefle out from Wave Books. Full disclosure: I haven't finished it yet. I'm not adding my voice to the wide praise and acclaim it has received from all over, including the NYT Book Review, and the Kenyon Review. Ruefle is a gift. For now, I just want to talk about the second essay in the collection, a lecture she gave on poetry and the moon.

Let's start with my own story about poems and stones--- "The moon is a stone that floats," writes Mark Strand in a chapbook titled Chicken, shadow, moon & more. I want to say that I once stumbled upon the book, that it's readily available, but, in fact, it's a tough find. I requested it through interlibrary loan for my undergrad senior thesis. If you ever chance upon it, or have time to bug your favorite librarian, I strongly urge you to get it. (And gift it to me!) So this book, like a philosophical Dr. Seuss, says, "The moon is a stone that floats." 

I'm floored by this. In Charles Simic's notebooks---all the bizarre bits of childhood and dirty bits of politics that you'd imagine in the poet's head---he wrote nearly same thing, but he wrote, "The poem I want to write is impossible. A stone that floats." (Seriously, you should read his notebooks)(and his poems! this great collected works released this month!). It's not a secret that Simic and Strand are friends, and probably shared this image over a beer; or, the romantic in me hopes it was pen and ink letter, but I got hooked. I keep reading all these essays on poets and the moon and the surrealists and the moon, and Sappho and the moon and I'm just not satisfied. From Luna, lunatics: literally, touched by the moon. 

To circle back: Madness, Rack and Honey is a brilliant champion of the relevance, necessity and place of poetry. Ruefle's chapter on poets and the moon just smacks me over the head (in the best way) with fresh insights about modernity and poetry. After so many reductive critics, claiming that the moon is a simple archetype, a preloaded image, evocative of everything and nothing, Ruefle gives a gracious handling of the subject, ranging from personal anecdote (the foreign cab she was in when astronauts walked on the moon, the unintelligible reports on the radio) to the obvious and necessary research (the front page features after the Lunar Landing, astronaut testimonies).

And now maybe I can shut the book on poetics of the moon.

_Sarina, Bookseller

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ladies of Literature

This month saw the publication of the 2012 VIDA Count, a study of gender representation in literary journals. VIDA's results are, sadly, not that surprising. Male reviewers and male authors hold the staggering majority of feature articles. The VIDA Count surveyed a broad selection of journals, including the New York Times Book Review, the Boston Review, Granta, Harper's, POETRY, The New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, New Republic, The Nation, etc...

The study is revealed in conjunction with National Women's History Month, which began the first day of March. Even more buzz has been generated by the events of the AWP Conference in Boston, including a discussion moderated by VIDA Board Member Cheryl Strayed. (Yes, the Cheryl Strayed of Wild!) And there are some awesome conversations emerging from the most recent numbers, including this conversation with Tin House editor Rob Spillman. While the voices of women have come a long way, we certainly have a lot of room to grow, as a culture, towards equality in publishing. But these surveys and talks allow us to reassess our growth, and adjust accordingly.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Getting Lost

I just finished reading Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost. The book is one-half personal essays that range in topic from relationships to desert walks, from dream narratives about tortoises and the childhood home to the memory of seeing San Francisco from a distance and a height. Solnit parses tales about her ancestors at Ellis Island with observations about light treatments in old photographs. 
It is a beautiful answer to the pressures upon a memoirist: remaining true to experience, relaying something of more than personal import, treating landscape and individuals as precious cargo. The other half is completely fractured, in the best way. Solnit wears a patchwork hat of the cultural historian, art critic, spiritually-bent philosopher, historian of maps and cartography, travel writer and vagabond.
It's a book about getting lost. It's a book about landscapes---physical, cultural and emotional. Solnit shows so many ways to get positively lost in these landscapes. In our art, in our minds. This book is layered like blankets upon a bed that you just don't want to step out of.
"Airplane flights are usually from city to city, but in between are the untrodden realms to which you can only give approximate labels----somewhere in Newfoundland, somewhere in Nebraska or the Dakotas. From miles up in the sky, the land looks like a map of itself, but without any of the points of reference that make maps make sense. The oxbows and mesas out the window are anonymous, unfathomable, a map without words. I've found out that the wish the plane would do an emergency landing in one of them is widespread among those who go from city to city on their work. Those nameless places awaken a desire to be lost, to be far away, a desire for the melancholy wonder that is the blue of distance." --- excerpted from A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

tell all your friends!