Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Christmas in May!

Today has been spectacular—Jon, our receiver, was probably sick of me being underfoot as he opened the boxes of new titles that go on sale today. All told, we now have 128 new titles that we didn’t have in the store on Sunday. To be clear—that’s not 128 books, that’s 128 titles, two to sixty copies of each.

It might take me all week just to sort through them all and find the ones to tell you about, but here are the ones that just cannot be ignored:

First, fiction:
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk
We’re having an event with him on May 11th, and there are these two huge boxes downstairs with “Please DO NOT Open Before the Book Event” plastered all over them. I say go if for no other reason than to tell me what’s in there. Sadly, I will not be attending as I have heard the urban legends of people getting physically sick at his readings from the vividness of his writing and I can’t say I have a strong stomach.

Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
He is one of those writers that our kids’ kids’ kids will be reading. For me, personally, I’m looking forward to starting this as it combines two of my favorite things, those being Jews and Alaska.

Pesthouse by Jim Crace
I am most interested in what will become of this book. Thus far the reviews for it have been middling, appreciative of Crace’s skill and his place in contemporary literature but not rhapsodizing about this particular title. I appreciated it seemingly far more than the critics. I think that might have to wait for another entry, though, to fully explain. Stay tuned…

And now, nonfiction:
Animal, Vegtable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver:
I am reading this right now and can’t wait to finish and tell you all about it. It falls in with the best of great literary nonfiction, books that can infuse a broad topic with personal spirit. It is a story about Kingsolver's family living a year off only the foods they can grow themselves or get locally, and her narrative flows organically (sorry, couldn't help it) from her family’s experiences to exploring our ignorance about what goes into making what we eat (she's not talking about unpronounceable ingredients, but the earth and the weather and the work of growing food). I’ll have to write a more thorough review when I’m done.

I would like to add briefly that I was nearly throttled today by Alie, our senior buyer. I mentioned to her that I was reading this, and loving it, and had never read any Barbara Kingsolver before. If I am to continue working here I believe it is in my best interest not to read Yiddish Policemen’s Union next, as I had planned, but rather Poisonwood Bible.

Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka
I had to add this just so I could talk about my great-aunt Sara’s house. My great uncle and she built it from plans Frank Lloyd Wright designed for them—they were teachers, and couldn’t really afford it, so my Uncle Smithy learned how to become his own contractor (and how to finagle discounted prices on windows and get local students to volunteer to help) in order to build it. I have such great memories of that house that I can’t not be a fan of Ms. Susanka as she used a photo of it in her first book, The Not So Big House (page 180!). But I’m curious to see how she’ll translate her ideas into a lifestyle book—my hope is that it doesn’t turn zeitgeist-changing architectural design into just one more motivational book on how to do more by doing less.

OK, I’m hungry and have to go to Games Night. Up tomorrow: Kids!

No comments: