Do you like to read books about bookish things? Well then, have I got a book for you:
(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
Louis May Alcott
first published 1868
***WARNING: I will be discussing why some people consider this a freezer book.***
So going into my re-read of this classic, I only remembered two things from my first experience (and I can’t even remember when that first experience was): Beth dies, and Jo marries the wrong man. At least that was my childish recollection of things.
Boy, things sure can change when you re-read things as an adult.
My thoughts after the re-read have been revised to something like this:
- Why did it take so long for Beth to die?? Pardon the expression, but I felt she needed to either shit, or get off of the pot. In other words, choose to live, or die already, you wishy-washy spineless little miss. Perhaps it was because I knew it was coming, or perhaps it was because I didn’t like her this go-around, but I was relieved to finally hit the Valley of the Shadows chapter. No need for the freezer for me! In fact, I might have uttered a little yippee.
- Marmee. Holy hell lady, you need to shove a sock in it. I soon got tired of all of her Marmee-isms. I have a fairly clean house, but I’m sure that paragon of cleanliness would just die of apoplexy should she see it. Along with me sitting around reading instead of cleaning. Or that Hamburger is often left to find his own dinner (something that he is most capable of) should I not feel like cooking dinner. Sorry Marmee, but I am all about the downtime.
- Also, you gave away your daughters’ breakfast to the poor? That’s nice, but they were hungry, too! I could so call CWS on you, bitch
- I was actually glad that Jo didn’t marry Laurie (aka the mopey little shit). I actually like Amy and Laurie as a couple, even if I was a little worried for Amy as the rebound girl. And then I was a little worried for their little girl. You know, with a name like Beth. Do you want the poor child to be a sickly little girl that only wants to die?!?
- It’s a good thing this was written before Teddy Bears hit the market, because Jo and Professor Bhaer named their child Teddy. That’s right. Teddy Bhaer. Swear to god, that was the funniest thing in the whole book, and it wasn’t even menat to be.
- Mr. March is so forgettable I was actually surprised to see that he was even in the book!
And okay, I know I’m being particularly harsh and judging this book on by my modern standards, but the focus on being all motherly and housewifey made me cringe. Often and frequently. And as I’m sure you guessed, I found it overly preachy. With the emphasis on being a home-maker and wanting to die, I’m not really sure why this book is still around. I’m tempted to say it was the Twilight of the time, only you know…better written.
Go ahead…string me up for bashing such a beloved book.
Today would’ve been my dad’s 71st birthday (wow, that sounds weird, since he is forever frozen at 53 in my memory). So since he was born on the greenest of holidays, AND because his nickname was Sam, AND because my mom and I once made him this for breakfast on his birthday (with a side of green grits):
I like green eggs and ham!
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them #inaboat!
And I would eat them with a goat… (this makes Billy happy)
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good so good you see!
So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!
I do so like
green eggs and ham!
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.
So I opened up my Google Reader last night only to read the message that it’s going away in July.
Not to mention:
Doesn’t Google realize that I don’t like to deal with pesky changes like that? I’m already crap about keeping up with comments…now I’m going to have to find another option so I can continue to be crap at commenting.
Thanks, Google. Thanks a lot.
Overview filched from B&N:
Born on Bland Street in a working-class neighborhood of Sydney, Australia, Geraldine Brooks longs to discover the vivid places where history happens and culture comes from. She enlists pen pals who offer her a window on the hazards of adolescence in the Middle East, Europe, and America. With the aid of their letters, Brooks turns her bedroom into the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, the barricades of Parisian student protests, the swampy fields of an embattled kibbutz. Twenty years later – and worlds away from her sheltered girlhood – Brooks is an award-winning foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, reporting on wars and famines in the Middle East, Bosnia, and Africa. But she never forgets her earlier foreign correspondence. Traveling full circle to attend her dying father, Brooks stumbles on the old letters in her parents’ basement. She embarks on a human treasure hunt to find her pen friends, and to retrieve her own lost memories of the shy Sydney girl who wrote to them. One by one, she finds men and women whose lives have been shaped by war and hatred, by fame and notoriety, and by the ravages of a mysterious and tragic mental illness. It is only from the distance of foreign lands and against the background of alien lives that Brooks finally sees her homeplace clearly. This intimate, moving, and often humorous memoir of growing up Down Under speaks to the unquiet heart of every girl who has ever yearned to become a woman of the world.
Did you know that Geraldine Brooks was Australian? Me, either! Also…did you know she was married to Tony Horwitz? Again…me, either!
And obviously, there is way more to the book than that (in fact, Tony only appears briefly at the end…I only mention it because having read both authors I just didn’t put them together). This is both a memoir of an Australian childhood with a mysterious father, and an investigation of “whatever happened to those childhood pen pals?”
I remain a fan.
Not as good as the first one. Although this first one got my hopes up:
I found the bulk of the stories to be all emo drama (is that redundant?).
The Principles of Uncertainty
336 illustrated pages
I wish I could draw. I also wish I could just drop everything and gallivant off to Paris on a whim. You know, call up my (non-existent) sister and say, “Hey, let’s go to Paris!”
And okay, I also wish I wasn’t so envious, because maybe if I wasn’t (so envious) then I would’ve liked this book a bit more.
Jealousy can be an ugly thing.
To be honest, though, this is usually the kind of book that I love. Pictures, travel, journally thoughts. And filled with off-the-wall facts that I never knew. But it just didn’t resonate with me…I found the author to be a bit weird (and hey, I LIKE weird) and pack-ratty, and disjointed (pot, meet kettle), and kind of name droppy in a way that really isn’t dropping names.
Maybe I should’ve gone with the George Washington book* instead?
Also…I read this in January, which was filled with some pretty kick-ass books. It might be suffering from a bad case of comparison to those other books that I adored with all of my heart.
*And The Pursuit of Happiness…thank you google.
The End of the Affair
Narrated by Colin Firth
6 hours and 28 of the longest minutes of my life
first published in 1951
For such a short book (audio, actually), this one was agonizingly long. So long, in fact, that it took me about 5 months to listen to the whole thing.
Major spoilerly bits ahead…
Maurice is a writer. And he embarks on an affair with Sarah. Who is married. And then a bomb drops (literally…it’s WWII and they’re in London) and suddenly Sarah calls it quits. So Maurice mopes and whines and then gets jealous and hires a PI (or whatever) who steals Sarah’s journal and he finds out that she made a deal with God (who she maybe doesn’t even believe in?) that if they survived the bomb she’d be good and end the affair which she did. So then Maurice (which is Morris, not More-eese, like in the song (you know the one? some people call me a space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love?)) hunts Sarah down and tries to convince her to (finally) ditch her hubbie and run off and he has almost maybe succeeded when whammo…she dies. So then he mopes some more and whines some more about love and possession and how he doesn’t feel sorry for her husband because Sarah really loved him (Maurice-Morris him, that is) so nanny nanny boo boo and then they move in together (Maurice and the hubbie who is now a widower…for reals, they really do move in together) and they have philosophical discussions over whether Sarah was a Catholic or not.
I kid you not, this is what the book is about. And it is horribly long and whiney (just like this post!) and depressing as hell and I was ready to shoot Maurice by the end because not even the voice of Colin Firth made him worth the agony of listening to a jealous, possessive, self-absorbed nincompoop bemoan the end of an affair and a woman that wasn’t even likable.
WHY DID I EVER THINK I WANTED TO READ GRAHAM GREENE?!?!? WHYYYYYYYY??????
Today’s post comes to you live from Knott’s Berry Farm!
Okay, not really. But I am across the street.
Okay fine…across the street and up (or is it down?) the block. But I swear to you I can see roller coasters from the front of the hotel! And I could go say hi to Snoopy if I wanted to. So there.
Why am I hanging out
at across the street and down (or is it up?) the block from Knott’s Berry Farm, you ask? Because I am attending a Data Analysis Training! I know, I know…you’re all so jealous of the good times I get to have.
But. I did console myself with a whirlwind visit to Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara on the drive down yesterday. Chaucer’s Books is conveniently located at the halfway point AND they have a public restroom (these things are important when you’re on a four hour drive), so really…how could I not stop?
And how could I not buy books?? I wasn’t even there for 30 minutes, and I bought 6 books. Unfortunately, I haven’t started any of them, since I was a good grandchild and visited my (95-year old) Granny when I got down here last night.
There’s nothing like multi-tasking while on a business trip.
And in case you were wondering:
Whoops…forgot to rotate the picture. Oh well. Consider it your challenge for today.