Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Breath of Fresh Air

Open this book, and you are in the middle of a glittery dark sky. Turn two more pages and you will find yourself in the midst of a garden filled with beautiful blooming trees. Soon, you will be captured into the world of Flory. Smaller than a clump of cherry blossoms, this little demanding night fairy doesn't want anyone to enter her lonely world, unless they can give her rides on her back to wherever she demands.

Friendship can take a lot more courage than you think you have. Through a hummingbird's promise, a ferocious and defiant spider, one very hungry squirrel, and a few other creature-obstacles, Flora soon learns that friendship is sacrificing your needs and giving back.

Laura Amy Schlitz's The Night Fairy is a fabulous read (even more so as a read aloud) for ages 6 and up. Without extraneous plot lines and scenes to clutter your mind around, reading The Night Fairy is like a breath of fresh air. Angela Barrett's beautiful, soft illustrations complete the world of a wondrous backyard garden hidden with danger.

If you are a nature lover, are somewhat adventurous, or love fairies, then look no further than this beautifully packaged book put out by Candlewick Press (2010). You can find an excerpt of the opening chapter at

Laura Amy Schlitz is also the author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, winner of the 2008 Newbery Award.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

best assignment ever

My sophomore year in college, (what i can piece together of it)...involved a lot of East African dance, and a lot of reading. My professor Lorna Dee Cervantes (colossal poet activist all around swell lady) assigned a very simple task for her creative writing go to a bookstore once a week, preferably an independently owned walk up to the poetry section, and buy one book of poetry a week, based on intuition....don't think- grab one - throw the money down- and go.

I can't tell you how many of my favorite writers I found this way...writing roulette...I think it is important to buy poetry, to read poetry, and to write poetry. Poetry is the easiest thing to read and the easiest thing to write if you can take the time to find kindred writers, and take the time to trust your right to write it down...any of it.

Art should be affordable, accessible...I am drawn to poets who are largely un- experimental with their language and prosody...I am drawn to writers who aren't afraid to speak simply...and meet the reader face to face, and say what it is they are saying...

The reason a lot of people don't bother with poetry is that their formidable experience was one of a fear...a close reading of poems written by affluent white men, birds on fences, metered trochee, iamb, snore...If we could get more working class thinkers into our canon...we would have 7 full cases of poetry spanning our walls...

So my challenge to anyone who has bothered to read this far...Take a chance, and bring home a book (used if you're strapped) of poetry based on anything and everything...including its cover.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

the new in the old

twinned body language reveals a long pairing,

circling the tables without looking, holding out
a book the other receives without looking

circling and returning
to peer over,
or around

"which one is that now?"
"this, i heard good things about it"
"yes, i've read that, i remember he's mute, i think"
"you've read it?"
"that's right. you don't know what i'm reading anymore,

because it's all electronic."


adj. qui·et·er, qui·et·est
1.Making little or no noise. 2. Free of loud noise; hushed. 3. Calm and unmoving; still. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Ferdinand the bull, a classic children's book character created by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, had it right the whole time. Moments of quiet and solitude are to be enjoyed over and over again. But, how often do we go through a day without stopping to hear the quiet of being the “first one awake”? What about the “jelly side down quiet”? The “pretending you’re invisible quiet.” “Too many bubbles quiet.” Join Deborah Underwood in The Quiet Book, illustrated with Renata Liwska’s charming illustrations, as she explores the variety of quiets that can be found in one day.

Listen to the quiets in your day. You will be glad you did! Maybe even stop and smell the flowers beneath a cork tree in Spain.

The heart of fiction.

Hello all,

This is my first post for the blog, so I should probably introduce myself. My name is Evan, and I am one of the more recent hires at the Booksmith. When I'm not watching over the business, biography, and cultural studies sections, I may be seen haunting the dollar racks in an attempt to further my plans of living in a house made entirely out of wonderful books.

But for the past little while, ever since I started looking into David Shields' new book, Reality Hunger (we've got him coming on Monday the 29th at 7pm for a reading), I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the theory behind fiction. I love that sort of analysis and critical debate, and it can gnaw at my mind for weeks.

Like many lifelong readers, I engaged with books before I could spell. My mother read to my sister and I every night before bed, and usually the book selection was dictated by what she enjoyed. There was Seuss. There was Silverstein. But sometimes there was Tolkien or Orwell, even some Kafka when she was bored (which I only knew of for the longest time as "The Cockroach Story"). The one thing that was general among them: they had to sound good out loud. As soon as a story started to bore my sister or I, we would veto it mercilessly (Lewis Carroll got the ax, embarrassingly enough).

I think it must have been around Halloween that my mother first read us some Edgar Allen Poe. Probably she chose it to give us a bit of a scare, to play with his beautiful language and his horrifying tales. But whatever the reason, I became hooked. As soon as I could read chapter books, I got his collected works, and I struggled to understand them. If there's one writer to whom I can attribute my lasting love of fiction, it's Poe, plain and simple.

Last week, when I was busy worrying over critical theory, wondering if my writing was part of the literary movement for which Reality Hunger is the manifesto, I learned that my girlfriend hadn't read much Poe.

So I picked up a volume I had just bought, and we tucked up in bed, and I read to her, in the most psychotic voice I could muster, "The Telltale Heart." And it doesn't matter how far I feel I've come as a reader, how many books I've devoured or how many stories written. There's something perfect about a book read aloud before bedtime, one that catches your breath and just sounds right.

I'll probably still be turning over the mechanics of fiction the next time you see me, and I'm looking forward to the reading by David Shields so that all these questions and theories can turn over and over again. But I think maybe I'll take some time between the thoughts of advanced meta-fiction to read more out loud before bed. After all, "The Cask of Amontillado" is just a little further on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Surfers of the Internet might have met OMG Cat yesterday.

Just in time for tonight's writer, Clea Simon, who writes mysteries about a woman aided by the ghost of her dead cat. She's coming to talk about her latest, Grey Matters.

Not to judge a book by its cover, but how freaking cute can you get? Ms. Simon adds to the tradition of cat-based mysteries (see: The Cat Who... series by Lillian Jackson Braun). And there are other wildly popular cat books as well (see: The Warriors; Dewey).

I've been meaning to read Natsume Soseki's I Am a Cat trilogy for years now which, according to the publisher's blurb, "follows the whimsical adventures of a world-weary stray kitten who comments on the follies and foibles of the people around him" so that he might satirize the mores of late 19th century Japan.

My favorite writing about cats has to be Kelly Link's. In her ridiculously charming fantasies, cats aid and abet witches and save families from hordes of tiny homunculi riding bunny rabbits (in two standout stories in Stranger Things Happen).

And sorry, OMG Cat, my favorite cat video is and, despite overexposure, always will be, Keyboard Cat.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't Wake Me, I'm Reading

So says a fancy little pillow we used to sell in our divine and , oh so surprising, Card and Gift Room.  To find such an eclectic collection of sublime to ridiculous items smack in the middle of our bookstore is truly a surprise for  first timers.    Veteran customers know it to be THE place for a perfect gift plus card and wrap.  At the moment, it's bustin' out all over with spring treasures.

Back to the pillow, it reminded me of that dreamlike state one achieves when immersed in a good book.  There's really nothing quite like it.  You don't want to be interrupted.  You don't want it to end.  You want everyone you know and love to read it.  When you put it down, you have been a long way off and are distracted.   Sometimes you're laughing out loud, other times weeping copiously, sometimes even both.  Plus you always learn something - could be a  delicious tidbit or a whole swath of history or a culture entirely new to you.   

It occurs to me that good movies do the same thing.  I know I'm always plugging books in my blogging, but guess what?  Movies come from scripts written by writers.   So, they qualify.  For that matter, songs do, too.  Lyrics are...written.   The written word RULES.

Okay, perhaps overly simplistic.  But true, nonetheless.  As I ended last Sunday, I am happy with my "news".  And the sunshine.  
Good stuff.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm sorry, Stieg Larsson

I'm sorry, Stieg Larsson.
I didn't know you were gone.
I don't know how that never reached my ears. Copy after copy of your books have been passing from my hands for months now, a year, how long? I have heard, from how many mouths?, how addictive and entertaining your books are, and I have never cracked page one to find out for myself. I still probably won't, they don't seem to be my cup of tea. For this I don't feel bad, since there are simply too many books in the world, and only one of me.
But I do apologize, because of my basic distrust of the book that everybody loves, the book that sells and sells and sells for what seems like forever. It's not my job to read those books, it's my job to know about the other ones, the books that nobody is reading, the books that wouldn't see light of day unless the bookseller brings them down from the shelf, and hands them to their reader.
I apologize for judging your books, and, by extension, you. For imagining you out there on reading tours, on talk shows, doing all the grinding things required of the author whose books rocket to the top of the lists.
As an artist with no name recognition, no affiliation, no prospects other than the joyous one of continuing to work, success is a danger, a ghost, and a stone around the neck that my instincts warn me will alter the work...your massive and seemingly instantaneous success is what I judged you for, and you never even lived to see it.
"...they make billions" she said, as we shook our head over the greed of a certain monolithic octopus online corporation that is threatening to stop selling goods to my homestate's businesses, should the state pass a law that requires that corporation to collect sales tax on goods sold to businesses there.

you know who doesn't make billions?
99.9% of actors
graffiti artists
99.9% of filmmakers

And not one of them, not one of them, who over the course of my life have provided the spark for my laughter, or brought tears to my eyes, or lit a fire of inspiration inside of me, have ever threatened to withhold their services, for any reason.

Buy poetry, as a friend wrote here recently.
And look at paintings, and taste the food you eat,
and listen to the words of the songs you hear.

And don't let anyone tell you that a corporation is a person.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Raindrops and Other Tales

I'm completely in the minority around here, but I love the rain. If you know my writing, you might even say I'm obsessed with it. Oh, I love the sun too, but rain cannot sing the same way sun rays or birds can.

During this past week's storm I wanted nothing more than to listen to the music of the rain snapping against the window and read through my to-be-read piles. Why? Because the symphony of rhyme and rhythm falling in the rain is the perfect background for long reads -- and quick ones, too.

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night --

And I love the rain.

--Langston Hughes

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Music for reading

Here are book-themed songs in honor of my terrific new iPod nano! There are bound to be more diligent list-compilers than I who can come up with more/better songs. If you are one of them, email me at events [at] brooklinebooksmith [dot] com for inclusion in a later post. In no particular order:

Three writers coming to the Booksmith who also happen to be rock stars: James Greer (with Guided by Voices), Damon Krukowski (with Galaxie 500) and Willy Vlautin (with Richmond Fontaine).

Here's Margaret Atwood playin' the theremin.

Rick Moody singin' backup.

"Life and How to Live It" by R.E.M.

"Let's Write a Book" by Field Music

"The Book of Right On" by Joanna Newsom (whom I'm so stoked to see at the Wilbur tomorrow!)

"Couches in Alleys" by Jack Kerouac (as performed by Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard

"The Book of Love" by the Magnetic Fields

Rainer Maria

The Shipping News

Monday, March 15, 2010

On The Road Again

Uh oh, another old-ish song reference that at least some folks will recognize, hopefully.  I hardly ever go away anywhere these days but the weekend just finished found me in  Easton, Md. attending a bridal shower for one of my dear nieces.  Shower is a good word as it poured rain most of the time which seems to've followed me home.  The weather did not matter, though, as a great time was had by all.  Down there this spring forward thing is much more spring-like with pansies and daffodils in my sister's yard. 

Because we arrived early, there was time to poke around the lovely eastern shore town that is Easton.  It's always wonderful to find an independent bookstore alive and well.  Easton has a nifty one in an antique house with books displayed in all the rooms, even an unused bathoom.  The old tub is used for home decor and gardening books while the toilet sports a giant asparagus fern. At the entrance was a big Eat, Sleep,Read banner which comes from the American Booksellers Association, our national trade organization.  You can see one of those at Booksmith, too.  So, bookstore "fix" accomplished.  Someday, I'd like to visit every indie store in the country.  And then abroad.

At the party I'm pleased to report the bride- to- be received at least 5 cookbooks.  In a quiz about how well the assembled guests know my niece, the question was posed as to what she'd most like to have if stranded on an island.  The choices were TV, radio, Ipod or books.  The answer was books.  During lunch there was talk of books and writing.  There were many shelves of books in the hostess's beautiful home.  Later, at the airport, I was glad to see lots of people reading books.  

I'm just saying,  real books are not going anywhere.  There will be no "death of the book".  It was a wonderful weekend.  I am happy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

turn your clocks ahead

Twice a year I am forced to wrestle with the non-sequitorial nature of the time-space continuum. I get all-thoughtsie around the time we decide-- collectively to change our clocks. It's usually this time of year you can find me skimming several books in the self help section of the I have what I can only describe as a reverse seasonal affect disorder.To console myself....I start thinking about outdoorsie stuff I know I will eventually want to do, once I have enough vitamin D metabolized to lift my spirits...some of these things are-

-the produce is on its way back to affordability, and the farmers market is marching towards us...and I usually start thinking about changing my diet to something kinder...

-trips to New Hampshire (we have lots of great local travel/hiking books) This year I think I'd like to hike Lafayette.

-grabbing a few used books and going to the park (Lars Anderson )

-cleaning out my bookshelves and selling back all my good intentions to the UBC (Wed-Sat 10-4) to make room and resources available for new good intentions

-reading an inspirational yet non-taxing adventure/ sports book ("Born to Run" comes to mind)

Mostly I think this is the real time for resolutions, as it at least lines up with nature...isn't there a literary term coined by John Ruskin for that? There is...I almost forgot it's called "pathetic fallacy"(It's not what it sounds like) ...It's just the idea of anthropomorphizing animals, weather events...yada yada

Mostly for me, this is the time to really take inventory, clean up....and get outside.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Walking and reading is not a winter activity. In the 3+ years since Jackson was born, reading has hardly been an activity at all, unless I am walking. Mornings are for early-risers, days are for the kids or for the store, and evenings, well, evenings are for doing all the other work that you will regret not having done, when awoken too early the next morning. Laundry, dishes, sweep, scrub.
Night is for painting.
Reading is for the in-between time, walking from the corner of South Huntington and Huntington, under the bridge, through the traffic, across the D line, through Brookline Village, winding kind of parallel to Harvard on smaller roads and through backyards, playgrounds and driveways until I'm in Coolidge Corner, slowing my pace so that the chapter ends as I reach for the door handle.
You keep your book high, your eyes flick from the page pretty easy once you get the knack, and you train yourself to walk toe first. Your toes do the navigating, and the rhythm of walking matches itself to the rhythm of reading.
As my son would say:
try it, you might like it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pull-Tabs and Rubber Ducks

So, what’s popular in the kid’s non-fiction section these days? Interactive books.

Not the kind with CDs and Internet codes. I mean the real hands-on books with pull tabs, pop-ups, rotating dials, and flaps. For a lot of kids (and parents) interactive means more engaged learning and active hands. It also means more information can fit on one page. I mean, if it’s non-fiction, you want to get your moneys worth, right?

Let’s dive in to Booksmith’s new and awesome arrival: How the World Works: A Hands-On Guide to Our Amazing Planet, put out by Templar Books (a new imprint of Candlewick).

This Earth Science book covers everything from how the earth orbits, to why earthquakes happen, to how weather works, and more! The layout of this book is approachable and easy to follow. For example, the "Ocean Currents" section uses energetic text, on several green continents, to talk about how water moves. In the blue ocean, energetic arrows and rubber ducks illustrate how water currents flow from one ocean to another. A pull-tab talks about the moon’s influence on the tides. Pretty cool, eh?

Through the use of pull-tabs and flaps and all of those other wonderful interactive tools, this book also makes it easier for readers to follow the subjects one point at a time. The last thing you want in an interactive text is to feel overwhelmed.

How the World Works also provides some logical green tips. Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw out your car and everything plastic. Even simple things help, like turning off the lights and computers when they are not in use. This book emphasizes that humans do have an impact, and a small carbon footprint is okay; just don’t become a Bigfoot when it comes to producing carbon. The best part of this book is the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger. Just how much carbon is emitted through a cheeseburger with lettuce and onions?

Well, you’ll have to read the book to find that one out.

Now, you may be thinking, this is all great information but when it comes to non-fiction books, I have my own theories and opinions. Okay, I do too. But don’t throw the book out because you disagree with a theory or two. Use that incorrect point to talk to your kids about why.
Books are great tools for discussion starters!

Other popular interactive books:
The Ultimate Interactive Atlas of Space (Scholastic Publishing)
Ultimate Interactive Atlas of the World (Scholastic Publishing)
Human Body: An Interactive Guide to the Inner Workings of the Body (Discoverology Series)
The –Ology series: Dragonology, Mythology, Oceanology, and more (Candlewick Press)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Wednesday of My Dreams

Seven or eight years ago, I was sitting at Danny's Pub in Bucktown on the Northwest Side of Chicago (which is where I'm from). Some pals and I had made it a habit to attend the monthly reading series held there, appropriately called "The Danny's Reading Series." (If you want to see how a real reading series is done, check them out. It's so consistently great it's scary.)

We had come to see Jonathan Goldstein, then a producer on This American Life, though in retrospect, maybe we were there to rub shoulders with Ira Glass (we were just that dorky and grasping, but forgive us, we were very young). In any event, I don't recall anything about Jonathan Goldstein. What I do remember is getting a little snookered on Tutz lager (which I loved for the bottle) and talking about the bourgeois sham that is marriage. (I would be remiss not to mention that both of my friends with whom I was overindulging in cheap French beer vowed sooner to die than to marry and that they are now both married.)

I also remember Sam Lipsyte. Holy spit, do I remember Sam Lipsyte. To a drunk 22-year-old with literary pretensions, it seemed as though Jesus had come back as a fat man with a couple books out on small presses. He was so impressive he made me dizzy. Do you remember the first time you heard your favorite song? It was just like that. I got nauseous. I felt like I was in love. This is no exaggeration: I had discernible love-feelings and excitement-based nausea that night, and it wasn't just because of the horrible Tutz.

So he's coming to the Booksmith tomorrow. I requested him as soon as I heard he had a new book coming out. Can I say he's a national treasure? A genius? A star rising to assume his proper place in the firmament? He'd hate being described like that (or at least his characters would).

In case anybody was wondering what I really like to read, it's Sam Lipsyte. I'm really loving my job right about now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

This Stack of Books on My Desk

We all do it. Some use shelves. Some have empty shelves but lots of books. Some have full shelves and a tidy abode. A few have stacks on the floor in front of the shelves. Some have a full shelf, stacks on the floor (sort of) and a big ol' fresh stack on their desk. I am the latter. The photo above my stack in its most recent form - though a little bit positioned to give it a sexy aura. In reality, my desk is cluttered with books. Mostly chapbooks and pamphlets. Ephemera. I prefer it that way. What's the point in trying to get work done if you can't have a little fun?

my biggest book-genre distractions are poetry, books about civil war-era generals who (debatably) went haywire, books about the building of books, and, the sweet-tooth of them all, books about carnival barkers. So here it is, This Stack of Books on My Desk:

    O City by Wayne Miller
    Boris By The Sea by Matvei Yankelevich
    Bookbinding by Edith Diehl
    The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick (ARC)
    Nightmare Alley by William L Gresham (ARC)
    To Hell On A Fast Horse by Mark Lee Gardner (ARC)
    A Plate of Chicken by Matthew Rohrer
    G-Point Almanac: Passyunk Lost by Kevin Verbone
    Transcendental Studies by Keith Waldrop

All (except O City) I either got at or through Booksmith, which speaks to the diversity of our selection. Especially in the area of small presses. But that will be next week's topic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why We're Here

Someone recently asked me if the store has a mission statement. I remember numerous workshops over the years on how to craft one, the importance of having one and so on. Nonetheless, we've never really settled on one. One of the store's original taglines (maybe THE original) was "Dedicated to the Fine Art of Browsing". Creative booksellers along the way have come up with other suggestions, like "An Independent Bookstore for Independent Minds". There's a new bookmark design touting that we are "More Than Just a Great Bookstore". Thinking about what to write today, I noticed a printed piece from a few years back on the wall above my desk.


Our mission, plain and simple, is to:

Be a community resource, and the best bookstore around

Provide a carefully tailored, hand-picked selection of the finest books available. We represent every point of view we can, and tolerate all views. In this store, First Amendment rights are never abridged.

Provide every single customer with an experience that is better than they could ever anticipate.

Serve our customers with care, respect, and minute attention to detail.

Read as much as possible.

Deliver all of this with a sense of humor and a ready smile.

Still relevant? I do believe so!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do a little dance, read a little Jelinek

A couple of weeks ago over some beers, a few other Booksmithies and I were discussing what we do when we get very excited about a book. Me, I pace around with the book and do extensive Google searches about the author and the title. Mouth agape, very likely almost drooling. (Not over the prose, exactly; my orthodontist complained of my excessive saliva production. It just happens. Right now, even.) My friend fist pumps at good sentences. Another will shout "YES" preceded by a swear that I cannot type in this work blog. Again, this was a few weeks ago and we were drinking beer, so I fail to remember the rest.

So tell me what you do. Also, what's the last book that gave you an involuntary reaction?

Me? Well, firstly, I find this admission pretty (ok, extremely) irritating usually, but yeah, I have a giant stack of half-read books next to my bed. Working retail during the holidays after a BUSY busy busy fall events season, trying to have some semblance of a creative life - I hadn't had the ability to recuperate, to concentrate on anything for a stretch. A couple of short stories here and there, a few chapters then abandonment, so I'd been looking for something that could grab me.

Eventually I found it and with such joy. The Piano Teacher, Elfriede Jelinek. Writing so provocative that after she was awarded the Nobel, someone left the Swedish academy. So brutal, intense, has left me unwilling to read anything that is not sort of light since, but what smooth prose. Once I've recuperated from the idea of Erika, I will read the rest of Jelinek's work. I can't say anything smart about her, but just the most compelling illustrations of the darkest urges.

Also how cool does she look?

And negative involuntary reactions? Nothing too crazy. I have thrown two books after finishing them. I won't name those. And when I was ten, I was the editor of the short-lived satirical journal, The We Hate The Baby-Sitters' Club Club Newsletter (circulation: 3).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

There were a lot of things to look forward to every summer I went to visit my grandparents. But one thing that I absolutely had to do before I went to sleep (even though we would arrive very, very late) was to thumb through all of the Dr. Seuss books on the bookshelf and pick out a few to read under the covers.

Dr. Seuss's books have remained classics these past fifty-plus years, not just because we pass them down from generation to generation, but because Seuss has contributed something few people have to the world of children's literature. Seuss's children's books, "encouraged readers to maintain a sense of wonder and adventure, to use their imaginations and be willing to participate in the strange experiences life has to offer" (taken from page 360 of Charles D. Cohen's The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, copyright 2004). Seuss wrote with no bounds, rhyming and alliterating words you never thought possible. Characters so quirky and true (at heart), you just might have to check and see if fox wearing socks is sitting next to you.

One of our children's booksellers, Shoshana, is our live-in Seuss expert. It was the great doctor himself that "made [her] realize how much [she] loved a good, bouncing, preferably funny rhyme and helped turn [her] toward creating the same kind of writing [her]self." I've seen her writing and I swear she thinks in anapestic tetrameter (she openly blames Seuss for that one).

Beneath that Seussian non-sensical fabulous inspiration and fun, there are actually important lessons to be learned:

stars or no stars, there’s no need to discriminate. [The Sneetches]
people and creatures need trees. Don’t eliminate! [The Lorax]
everyone’s scared, even empty green pants, [What Was I Scared Of?]
and the world’s full of places, so go! Take a chance! [Oh! The Places You'll Go]
an elephant’s faithful, and you can be, too. [Horton Hatches an Egg]
though life can be wacky, you’ll make your way through. [Wacky Wednesday]
“the more that you read, the more things you will know.
the more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” [One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish]

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Happy 106th birthday Dr. Seuss! And Theodor Geisel. And Theo LeSeig. (He went by many names.)

Sarah Silverman Owns Us

Our Princess
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I cannot get over quite how many people have called for Sarah Silverman tickets in the last two days. Yeah, yeah, I understand that a Genuine Comic Genius with her own television show performing at a small, gorgeous movie house for $5 is, quite possibly, the coolest thing ever. I get that. But what I don't get is how fast social media works.

Katie, my events cohort, is the Twitter-er in this relationship, and Paul, of course, does B-mail. When these two joined forces and announced Ms. Thang's appearance, it was as though lightning had struck. The message was forwarded and re-forwarded and tweeted and re-tweeted (is Grandma using the terminology correctly?) and all four of our phone lines lit up all at once and everyone on the phone was breathlessly asking "do-you-still-have-Sarah-Silverman-tickets" and all of us Booksmithies looked at each other in amazement but not as much as we could have because we were busy looking downwards at the Sarah Silverman tickets we were selling faster than the fastest-multiplying rabbits or some other appropriate metaphor for things that accrue incredibly rapidly.

I am so happy that people pay attention to our efforts to get the word out. Thanks for that. And lo, your attentions will be rewarded by seeing a Genuine Comic Genius in a tiny art-deco space and then sitting at a table in the art book aisle waiting to sign your very own copy of The Bedwetter. Such a happy ending!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

booksmith airwaves

Standing at the front desk on a morning like this, when the sun outside the big windows invites your mind to wander, the voices in the air start to sound like a radio program with award-winning script writers.

Bruno and Daniel are helping an elderly woman with a carpentry-related question, and as the conversation lengthens into several moments, perhaps they are starting to think that they might have, somewhere along the line, given her the impression that they might come along and do it for her, right now. "Well, I guess what you'd need is a jigsaw...oh, what? yes, yes I have one...but it's at home, of course."

The dress on the model on the cover of this month's Town & Country is surprisingly beautiful, soft pink cloud with an elegant, simply built corset of what looks like unbleached linen. The customer buying the magazine agrees, "you know, they're usually pretty staid, so it's nice. I'm getting it for the hair."

Any bookseller veteran can identify with this; we all talk to ourselves as we work. We're not really talking to ourselves, of course, we're talking to books. They talk to us, don't they?

Bruno, under his breath, beside me you gotta be kidding me, that thing's still here stooping down to look at a giant Taschen Da Vinci book, now long held for a customer, let's see...'customer really wants, is on crutches, hold indef.'

You spend enough time finding, carrying, and dusting them, you'll find yourself talking to them. why did I bring three of these up?...I know it's here, waitwaitwait stupid it's Hessler, not Horowitz...and you go with...with...after, L M O R Sisson, there you are,, two more of that, two of that "Can I help you find something? how thick is the piece of wood?"