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Archive for the ‘book love’ Category

My Bookstore

with 22 comments

Do you like to read books about bookish things? Well then, have I got a book for you:

my bookstore

(I am absolutely in love with the cover of this baby.)

While I’ve only been to a handful of the stores featured, it was still fascinating to read about them all. Because I’m a dork like that.

And while many of the authors interjected quite a bit of me, me, me into the essays (you know, the whole “When I was writing my first award-winning, best selling, it went platinum novel, the first of thousands of award winners, blah, blah, blah”) there are a few that just shine.

I am particularly fond of Pico Iyer’s (Pico Iyer!) piece on Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara, which is the closest-to-me store that appears in the book. Although I have yet to experience the friendliness of the booksellers (they’ve always been borderline rude when I’ve been in there), I still love what Iyer has to say.

Another favorite is the Powell’s essay by Chuck Pahlniuk. Possibly because Powell’s is my favorite bookstore EVER.

If you’re interested, here is the complete list. Do you recognize your bookstore in the list?

  • Rick Bragg—Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, AL
  • Fannie Flagg—Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
  • John Grisham—That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, AR
  • Ron Carlson—Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
  • Ann Packer—Capitola Book Café, Capitola, CA
  • Isabel Allende—Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
  • Brian Selznick—Warwick’s, LaJolla, CA
  • Mahbod Seraji—Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, CA
  • Lisa See—Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
  • Meg Waite Clayton—Books Inc., San Francisco, CA
  • Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown—The Booksmith, San Francisco, CA
  • Dave Eggers—Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA
  • Pico Iyer—Chaucer’s Books, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Laurie R. King—Bookshop, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Scott Lasser—Explore Booksellers, Aspen, CO
  • Stephen White—Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
  • Kate Niles—Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, CO
  • Ann Haywood Leal—Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
  • Florence and Wendell Minor—The Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
  • Rick Atkinson—Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC
  • Les Standiford—Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
  • Robert Macomber—The Muse Book Shop, Deland, FL
  • David Fulmer—Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, GA
  • Abraham Verghese—Prairie Lights, Iowa City, IA
  • Charlie Brandt—Chapter One Bookstore, Ketchum, ID
  • Luis Alberto Urrea—Anderson’s Bookshops, Naperville, IL
  • Mike Leonard—The Book Stall Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL
  • Albert Goldbarth—Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
  • Wendell Berry—Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY
  • Michael Tisserand—Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA
  • Edith Pearlman—Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
  • Mameve Medwed—Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
  • Simon Winchester—The Bookloft, Great Barrington, MA
  • Nancy Thayer—Mitchell’s Book Corner, Nantucket, MA
  • Elin Hilderbrand—Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, MA
  • Jeanne Birdsall—Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, MA
  • Martha Ackmann—Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA
  • Ward Just—Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, MA
  • Ron Currie, Jr.—Longfellow Books, Portland, ME
  • Nancy Shaw—Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Katrina Kittle—Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
  • Ann Patchett—Mclean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI
  • Louise Erdrich—Magers and Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, MN
  • Peter Geye—Micawber’s Books, St. Paul, MN
  • Kathleen Finneran—Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO
  • Barry Moser—Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS
  • Jack Pendarvis—Square Books, Oxford, MS
  • Jill McCorkle—Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Carrie Ryan—Park Road Books, Charlotte NC
  • Laurent Dubois—The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, NC
  • Lee Smith—Purple Crow Books, Hillsborough, NC
  • Angela Davis-Gardner—Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC
  • Ron Rash—City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, NC
  • Ian Frazier—Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ
  • Audrey Vernick—Booktowne, Manasquan, NJ
  • Joan Wickersham—The Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH
  • Carmela Ciuraru—Community Bookstore, Brooklyn NY
  • Matt Weiland—Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY
  • Kate Christensen—Word, Brooklyn, NY
  • Mick Cochrane—Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY
  • Caroline Leavitt—McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY
  • Arthur Nersesian—St. Mark’s Bookshop, New York, NY
  • Francine Prose—Strand Bookstore, New York, NY
  • Pete Hamill—Strand Bookstore, New York, NY
  • Jeff Smith—Book Loft German Village, Columbus, OH
  • Chuck Palahniuk—Powell’s Books, Portland, OR
  • Larry Kane—Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA
  • Ann Hood—Island Books, Middletown, RI
  • Mindy Friddle—Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC
  • Adam Ross—Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
  • Douglas Brinkley—Book People, Austin, TX
  • Terry Tempest Williams—The King’s English Book Shop, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Howard Frank Mosher—Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
  • Jon Clinch—Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT
  • Jonathan Evison—Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, WA
  • Tom Robbins—Village Books, Bellingham, WA
  • Stephanie Kallos—Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
  • Timothy Egan—Elliot Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
  • Ivan Doig—University Book Store, Seattle, WA
  • Lesley Kagen—Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, WI
  • Liam Callanan—Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Written by softdrink

March 19, 2013 at 6:00 am

My Cousin Rachel

with 12 comments

my cousin rachel

My Cousin Rachel
Daphne du Maurier
narrated by Jonathan Pryce
first published 1951
11 hours, 55 minutes

Oh Philip. Philip, Philip, Philip. WHAT are we going to do with you, boy? You are, by turns, sweet, annoying, naive, and a total pain in the ass. Wait, that’s not quite true. You just need to get you head OUT of your ass.

While I couldn’t resist picking on poor Philip, I refuse to talk about the actual plot of this novel because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it (unlike Little Women, which I will spoil the HELL out of later this month) because if you haven’t read this (or better yet, listened to it), you must. Right now. I insist.

And when you do read or listen to it, pay particular attention to both the beginning and end of the book. I am convinced that du Maurier had a particular genius for beginnings and endings. Of course, I’ve only read two of her books (this one and Rebecca) but I’m a total fan girl and have plans for Jamaica Inn sometime soonish.

Written by softdrink

March 15, 2013 at 6:00 am

How To Be a Woman

with 8 comments

how to be a woman

How To Be a Woman
Caitlin Moran
audio narrated by Caitlin Moran

Picture me standing on a chair yelling “This book is fucking amazing!”

1. The chair standing is Ms. Moran’s fault. She actually wanted me to yell “I am a strident feminist” but since this post is more about her book than my thoughts on feminism (although I would totally yell “I am a strident feminist” if I weren’t too embarrassed to do so in a public setting) I made a word substitution.
2. The cursing is her fault, too. Okay, not really. But if you think I have a potty mouth, boy howdy are you in for a surprise if you read her book.

I wish I had a modicum of Moran’s talent. She is funny as hell (and ruder than all fuck) but good lord can she also make damn good sense. She writes about everything. And I do mean EVERYTHING. Boobs, pubic hair, shoes, abortion…nothing is taboo in this book. And while the language can be totally in your face, she really does make you go “umm, yeah…that. Totally that.” I’d quote, but I listened to the audio and we all know I have a memory like Swiss cheese. (Which is why I went for the print version of Moranthology...well, and because Audible didn’t have it on audio.)

I know many of you have already read this, but if you haven’t AND you think a lot of what we do as women (Brazilian wax job anyone?) is ridiculous then by golly (thought I’d through in a golly to counteract all of the fucks) this is a book you need to read.

Oh! And I found quotes (thank you GoodReads):

“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, ‘Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don’t know! I still don’t know what it is! I’m too knackered and confused to work it out. That curtain pole really still isn’t up! I don’t have time to work out if I am a women’s libber! There seems to be a lot to it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?’
I understand.
So here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”

“When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42 percent of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?”

“But as the years went on, I realised that what I really want to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human.”

Written by softdrink

January 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

The Death of Bees

with 27 comments

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Neither of them were beloved.

the death of bees

This book will alternately break your heart, raise your eyebrows, and make you want to slap some sense into all of the characters. Yes, ALL of them.

It did not make me sob, but that could be because I was all sobbed out from Jellicoe Road.

Marnie and Nelly are sisters. And yes, the book really does open with them burying their parents in the back yard. No great loss, since the ‘rents were alcoholic drug addicts who were only concerned about themselves. But their absence does create a bit of a problem for the girls, who are only 15 and 11 (and a deliberately naive 11, at that). Luckily (?), there’s Lennie, the convicted child molester who lives next door. And I know that sounds wrong in so many ways, but it turns out to be a good thing, for everyone. But do you see what I mean about the raised eyebrows?

And that’s not even the most shocking thing about this book. Marnie, especially, will say and do things that might possibly offend you. Or not. But then everyone eventually ends up doing things that shock and/or offend. But the thing is, most of the characters are lovable, in their own fucked up ways. Most though…definitely not all. There are a few characters that you will loathe.

The book is told alternately from the viewpoints of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie. Nelly’s observations tend to be the shortest, but then Nelly could possibly have Asperger’s. Or she could just be marching to her own beat as a coping mechanism. It’s hard to tell. Marnie provides most of the meat of the story, with observations about her parents, and her friends, and tales of the things she’s done and will do just to keep her and Nelly together, and to find a bit of happiness for herself. Lennie is slow to figure out, but you gotta stick with him, because he ends up being awesome in a totally Lennie way.

And okay, so you have to be able to suspend belief for some of the story, because I honestly don’t think the burying your parents in the backyard and avoiding the child welfare authorities shtick could actually work…at least not for a whole year. But then, it’s fiction, and a damn good story, and if you’re not afraid of a few (okay, more than a few) raised eyebrows, you should totally give this one a try.

And bonus, the book is set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I feel all worldly with my reading.

Written by softdrink

January 8, 2013 at 6:00 am

Jellicoe Road

with 33 comments

“It’s funny how you can forget everything except people loving you. Maybe that’s why humans find it so hard getting over love affairs. It’s not the pain they’re getting over, it’s the love.” -Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road

I really didn’t plan on sobbing my way toward 2013, but that’s what happened, since Jellicoe Road ended up being my last book of 2012.

jellicoe road

Many people have mentioned that this book is difficult to follow at first. And it’s true. It took me ’til about page 200 before I figured out what was going on (until then I was continuously afraid that the book was going to end up being like that book where there are kids at a boarding school, and you know something weird is going on, but you can’t quite figure out what…you know the book, right?). Anyhoosie, I’m happy to report that nothing weird was going on and that everything finally falls into place before it starts to fall apart and resolve all at the same time.

How’s that for cryptic? Okay, let’s just use the B&N summary then:

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

A few random things:

*It’s set in Australia. That took me awhile to figure out, too.

*I like how Taylor and Jonah and Chaz and Ben and Raffy and all the others finally end up coming together as friends, and the relationship between the Cadets and Townies and the Underground Community  is restored to what it was in the days of Narnie and Tate and Webb and Fitz and Jude.

*Love the relevance of the red poppy on the cover.

*The Mullet Brothers! They cracked me up. And even HB, my resident bass player, loved the line about bass guitarists staring vacuously off into space as they play (when I laugh out loud he usually let’s me read him the funny line).

*Read with kleenex. At least if you’re a sap like me.

Written by softdrink

January 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

The Lighthouse Road

with 11 comments

Do you remember when Peter Geye won the Indie Lit award for Literary Fiction last year? Well, it was a well-deserved win because his first novel, Safe from the Sea, won me over despite the fact that I DO NOT LIKE books about sinking boats (no, I do not like them, Sam I Am). I’ve got this thing when it comes to sinking ships…my mind prefers not to go there. So when Geye’s second book, The Lighthouse Road, came out, I knew I’d read it no matter the topic (lucky for me, no ships were sunk in the writing of this book).

And once again, Geye’s book is totally worth reading. Even if it is set in the freakin’ frigid north (aka Minnesota) and all I wanted to do was shiver throughout the whole book.

And even though poor Geye seems to get stuck with dull covers (my deepest apologies if he’s the one who chose them and/or actually likes them…but dude…they need more oomph).

Okay, it's not that bad. But still...BRRRRR!

Okay, it’s not that bad. But still…BRRRRR!

Okey, dokey. So this one is about immigrants. And orphans. And small towns where things might not seem to be what they appear to be. Also, love and overcoming one’s past, or not overcoming one’s past.

But mostly it’s about Odd. Odd Einar Eide (I love that name!), son of a Norwegian immigrant, and also orphan, and favorite child of the townsfolk of Gunflint, Minnesota. Geye moves around in time to tell the story of Odd’s mama, as well as key events in his childhood (BEARS!). And while it sounds like there’s a heck of a lot going on, it’s actually a quick read. Or maybe I think it’s quick because I gobbled it up. I actually read it on my iPad, and my sense of length gets all skewed when I read that way. I haven’t seen an actual physical copy of this one to figure how it compares in heft to other books.

I was just rereading my post on Safe from the Sea (because that’s the only way I can remember anything), and I wrote “The strength in this book is the characters. Well, and the writing. Okay, and the story, too.” The same is true for The Lighthouse Road. Geye has a knack for characters that you think you won’t like, but you do.

And then there’s the end. If you’ve read this book, we need to talk, because boy do I have a question for you. Not that there’s a cliffhanger or anything, I’m just wondering if anyone else is putting the same spin on a certain line that may or may not have just been a passing observation about nature.

Written by softdrink

December 30, 2012 at 6:00 am


with 25 comments

Stephen King
narrated by Craig Wasson
849 pages, or 30 hours and 44 minutes in audio form


This is my favorite King novel!

And okay, so I’ve only read three, but this one pretty much blew The Stand and IT out of the water (and I liked those books).

Quick synopsis: High school teacher Jake Epping is sent back to the past through a rabbit hole. His mission, should he choose to accept it? Stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing President Kennedy. The rationale behind this is that if Kennedy had lived, there would be no Vietnam War and the future would be an even better place. The potential of Camelot, and all that shit (not that I’m bashing Camelot, ’cause I so would’ve voted for Kennedy had I been there, I just have issues with the idea of altering the past to get a magically better present).

11/22/63 is basically a time travel novel. But it’s also so much more. It’s a story about the repercussions of messing with the past, and love and friendship and community, and the repercussions of messing with the past (and hey, I’m repeating myself just like King!).

I have to admit, I spent a good portion of the story wondering if there were even going to be repercussions. In typical King fashion, this puppy is long. Jake spends YEARS in the past, waiting for the one big moment that he is there for (because the rabbit hole only takes you back to a certain day in 1958). So there are YEARS to kill. Also, he goes back a few times and relives the first few months. God, that was almost agonizing.

Anyhoosie. It’s not until the very end of the book (again, in typical King fashion) that we see what happens when you play god and mess with the past (both big and small events). While I was a bit surprised as to what actually happened, I was exceptionally pleased (if not a little heart-broken) that Jake came to his senses.

Some random thoughts:

Once again King has pet phrases that he overuses. If I ever hear the phrase “the past is obdurate” again, I might just scream.

As I mentioned in my final IT post, the town of Derry makes an appearance, and it is awesome. This was one of my favorite parts of the book, even if most of the Derry characters were total asshats.

I loved the entire Sadie storyline, and the town of Jodie.

Al. Oh, Al. You are so, so misguided to think that changing the past always works out for the best. Just because someone is in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that her life will automatically be better if you make it so that the life-changing event never happened. I would’ve liked this to have been explored more fully (although yes, I know, the book is already too long). It seemed that after they changed the course of the woman’s life she faded into the woodwork, whereas in the timeline where she is in the wheelchair she lived a very full and successful life.

The yellow/orange/green/black card man was driving me batty. I’m really, really glad that there was finally an explanation!

Raise your hand if you read the book and then had google Marina Oswald to find out what happened to her. (raises hand)

I loved the characters in this book. I happen to think King is genius at characterization, and his genius shines in this one. Yes, there are a lot of people, but unlike IT and The Stand, I wasn’t ready to edit any of them out.

I listened to this, and the audio was fucking brilliant. Seriously. Fucking. Brilliant. King must have awesome karma, because it seems like he gets all the good narrators. I actually wanted to go to the gym, just to get more listening time in. If you’re ever looking for a 30 hour audio book, this is the one.

Other than the horror of changing the past, I wouldn’t classify this as horror. If you’re afraid of reading King because you think he’s scary, start here. Just be warned, this sucker is LONG. Although not as long as The Stand!

Written by softdrink

October 19, 2012 at 6:00 am