Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last day of National Poetry Month !!!!! FLASH CONTEST!!!!!!!

The only reasonable thing to do is to come over here.

Seriously, look into her eyes.

Do the right thing, and send me a poem

under 25 lines about the store, and the

winner will get a $20 gift certificate

(to be used only on poetry) and some poetry

galleys, and a chocolate bar...from taza.

I will also blog the winning poem.

Deadline is THIS MONDAY 5.2.11 at HIGH NOON!

Send your poem in the body of the email to

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I haven't had my usual 46 ounces of caffiene today, so this entry might be more subdued than normal. I know, I know that's not fun for you, but listen, I am no ones dancing monkey. Ok the truth is actually I forgot my debit card at home and had minimal cash. This is horrible. Is this how you people live? Its like everything is in slow motion. My brain is taking, like, FOREVER to process its next thought, its awful. Its something akin to: usually, the train of my mind goes express to Kenmore, but right now we're going the full above-ground route and I'm forced to stand uncomfortably close to some undergrad wearing too much body spritz. TORTURE. COME UP TO THE FRONT TO PAY YOUR FARE.

For those of you that do not have the joy of riding the MBTA, know now, that I hate you.

I just finished reading "The God Of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy for one of my classes. It's an excellent book, although I did feel like the prose was a bit forced at times, but that could just be because Roy uses a lot of metaphor, and overuse of metaphor/simile is a crime I have been accused of committing. Its possible, therefore, that these critical eyes were watching out for that too closely. What? Do you guys not remember that Bob Dylan song "These Critical Eyes (Are Dissecting and Analyzing Social Change)" ? Weird. Pretty sure it was on "Blonde on Blonde", but okay.

The title of the book comes from, essentially, (and I'm paraphrasing here) a woman who falls in love (or lust, hard to tell) with an Untouchable, and, unable to face the larger reality involved with being with an Untouchable, the couple focus on the small things when they're together. The small details about being with each other, and about nature and being human are what categorize the moments they spend in each other's company, and not so much the huge details of who they are and what their liaisons could result in.

That's always one of those slightly cliche things that people tell you is the secret of life: to notice the details and take pleasure in them. I don't think the sentiment is cliche, but I do think thats kind of an open ended statement. How do you even begin to "notice the details"? And isn't everything "the details"? That is not to say that I don't agree; I think we, and when I say 'we' I mean people in the same economic bracket as myself, see the forest for the trees. Proper introspection (what! That is really a word?! Seriously, can you guys believe I'm an english major? I embarrass my co-workers on, like, a day-to-day basis. I don't know why they let me have a blog day, probably so that, in comparison, the other entires look approximately a million times better. Despite the fact that they are already choice entries to begin with) is important in life, and I think that's one of the many messages of this novel.

I recommend this novel. I recommended stopping. I recommended introspection.

Okay. Now that that's done with, lets get on to what REALLY matters:

THE ROYAL WEDDING: THOUGHTS? PLANS? HOPES? DREAMS? Email all your thoughts to zoe'ofthemountain'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Will Drive for Alligators

It was definitely a pick and choose month for which new releases to display on our picturebook wall.  There were just so many!  Yet, one measurement of "book goodness" is, did it make me forget where I am and laugh out loud?

Michell's License is one for every boy (and girl) who dreams of getting their license once they get the hang of their own two feet.  Mitchell tells his parents that he cannot go to sleep without a license.  So, when his dad gives him one, guess what the car is!  The tires look quite similar to his dad's slippers.  When inspecting the engine, Mitchell seriously looks over his dad's stomach.  Oh, have to make sure those glasses, I mean, windshield is clean.  And boy oh boy, does his car move!  Until it runs out of gas, and "gas is a cookie!"  Well, let's just say sometimes cars have a mind of their own.

Did you notice that Mitchell looks like he could be Bink's brother?

Okay, the book is kind'a like this:

~~  ~~  ~~  ~ ~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~ ~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~

Mo Willems' books seem to stretch out across many shelves here.  And, here's a new one to fit next to Knuffle Bunny, Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator!  Having a little alligator for a best friend can be quite funny, hysterically amusing, and very un-lonely.  The way Amanda and Alligator surprise each other in each of the six and half stories -- yes, six and a half -- is just as exciting as finding the pigeon and a similar Knuffle looking creature in the illustrations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Brought to you by....

I just finished watching Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, the new documentary on advertising by Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock that’s playing over at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. I definitely recommend it, because it’s fascinating and light-hearted. Through the whole thing, Spurlock is winking at the audience, and there are some brilliant comic moments (the in-movie commercial for Mane N’ Tail brand shampoo is pretty priceless). But it also had a few sections that triggered real brainwaves for me.

One is just the ubiquity of advertising. In the film, Spurlock travels to Sao Paolo, a city that has outlawed outdoor advertising. And the whole place looks naked, somehow unnatural. And when you see the video of Sao Paolo intercut with video from Times Square, the cognitive dissonance is astounding.

Of course advertising is everywhere. We all know it. We all accept it as the price we pay for modern convenience, to a certain degree. If the big companies are willing to pay the expenses of the shows, concerts, even some book tours, in exchange for getting a little bit of our attention, then doesn’t that make everyone happy?

But what occurred to me while watching The Greatest Movie is that, no, it doesn’t make everyone happy.

Part of advertising, of course, is making a customer aware of a certain brand and its benefits. If, for example, flame-retardant vest A is 50% more flame-retardant than vest B, you might tell your customers that in an ad. But what if vest B is still plenty flame-retardant for your purposes? What if you don’t need anything more flame-retardant than good old vest B? Then advertisers have to do something else: they have to convince you that you need something you don’t (incidentally, this is where SPF 50 comes from…every study has shown that 15 does just as well for practical purposes, but still, there is 50 and 75).

If you, like most of the country, are part of the lower to upper-middle class, then the gap between what you need and what you have is probably pretty minimal (food, clothing, shelter, water, books, internet), so advertisers have their work cut out for them. They have to convince you first that you need coffee, then that you need an iced double-espresso machiatto (I don’t know if those words make sense together—I drink iced tea). They have to convince you that it’s not enough to be clothed, but that you must have hip-hugger, bun-lifter, crotch-tweaker jeans (idea copyright Evan Perriello 2011). And the only way they can do this is to convince you that your life, as it is, is deficient. Where there is no gap, they create the semblance of a gap (incidentally, this is also the advertising slogan of the aforementioned jeans).

The net effect of this is that, not only are you seeing 10,000 advertisements a day. You’re seeing 10,000 signals all telling you the same message: You are deficient. You are not good enough without brand X. And unless you have millions of dollars, you won’t ever have all the brand X’s that are out there, so you will always be deficient. We wonder why, according to the WHO, the US has the highest rate of depression, but in no other country is one subject to the same amount of metaphorical mud-slinging (the notable exception being Japan, which is in a similar situation, mental-health-wise).

In many forms of entertainment, advertising has been around forever. I love watching the old Twilight Zones with their original ads for doctor-recommended cigarettes. And while the ads have become more prominent and have blurred the lines between the show and the ad, (anyone watch Biggest Loser and notice that the entire 2 episodes spent in New Zealand were one big travel ad interspersed with “trainer tips” that always recommend a distinct brand-name product you can buy?) it has always been part of the accepted territory of television, of radio, of magazines, of newspapers.

But what about books? Books, it seems to me, are the last unconquered terrain for advertisements. Or at least they were…until now. As good independent book-buyers, I’m betting you don’t follow Amazon that closely, so what I’m about to say is going to be shocking and horrifying. They’ve released a new Kindle, their proprietary e-reader, that gives you “special offers.” That’s right. As you prepare to flip open your copy of Moby Dick, you can get a few advertisements for a new Buick or special credit card.

I’m not against e-book readers, per se. I don’t have much use for them myself, because I prefer real, physical books. But I can see their purpose. Still, there’s something sickening to me about the thought of setting down my book, coming back to it, and finding the page has switched to an advertisement while I was away. I don’t want a character to grab a Pepsi from a fridge and have the word link to when I click it. If I ever publish a novel, I don’t want to have to change a single word, from “car” to “Honda” or “hot sauce” to “Tabasco” just so that I can afford to publish. And more than anything, if I ever have a daughter, I don’t want her to have to click off an advertisement for makeup when she’s trying to read Wuthering Heights for the first time.

And it makes me wonder what the world would be like if instead of walking through a jungle of signs telling us what we’re missing from our lives, we walked through the same number of signs telling us things like, “Love your family,” “Be good to your friends,” “You’re beautiful,” “You’re smart.” If an e-book reader would say something like that every once in a while, maybe then it would be worth interrupting the narrative. But in the meantime, I think I’ll pass on the “special offers,” and just get back to my book.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Just Answer the Question: Jessica Hagedorn

Jessica Hagedorn read at the store Wednesday night, and I cornered her while she was signing stock of her kick-ass new novel TOXIC-OLOGY. Smiley and affable, Jessica Hagedorn is warm and approachable. I chose this picture of her because it's kinda edgy; but asymptomatic of her aura. Yet, there is something of the Duende in this image, an idea that runs throughout this magnetic novel.

as follows are her answers to our wickid' haahd-hitting questions.

me: What are you reading that you feel guilty putting down?

JH: Your Face Tomorrow, by Javier Marias...part I in a trilogy. It is brilliant.

me: You have your finger on the zeitgeist as it were, and have a seamless command of teen vernacular. It reads totally authentic. You clearly are no tourist in the land of contemporary electro-slang...which leaves me to the question of research...What is your favorite reality TV show--(we know you watch them so don't lie.)

JH: RuPaul's Drag Race. Hands down. I love how he plays with language. "Con-drag-ulations!, and Sashay, Away" There is something so positive in the message that 'hey, you lost... but rock it anyway'. I also have kids, and I listen to them. I love kids, their honesty and their cruelty.

me: What's on the horizon for you?

JH: Just waitin' for a phone call.

me: What are you listening to right now?

JH: Martires de Compas which translates loosely to "slaves to the rhythm."

me: Favorite cheese?

JH: (smiles and shakes head in amiable disbelief) Manchego ...or Gorgonzola.

(To order a signed copy just call 617.566.6660, or buy the ebook here.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In which We Watch Our Heroine Revisit Childhood Drama in a Public Forum...again...

So the front of the book store, you may have noticed, especially if you work there, has undergone a make over of epic proportions (which I just spelled three different ways, all wrong. Gosh words is hard.) in the past few weeks. We have created an area of journals, special paper, art supplies, cards, and various other items and supplies that you creative types might require to pen down your copious emotions and flights of whimsy. Dude, I get it. I got whimsy coming out of my pores, as evidenced by every post I ever make here. I'm often in several different places at once. Because of that, I have a specific relationship with journals that goes back to when I was a kid. I come from a fairly large family, most of which I don't really remember ever meeting before I was around 12 and we started doing an annual family reunion. I also have some extended family that I often tend to see around Christmas, but not too much outside of that.

The thing about big families is that, unless you all live really close to each other, its hard to know each specific kid really well. Kids can cycle through phases pretty fast, I remember at one point my baby sister having strong, serious convictions about becoming a Lepidoterist. To the unwashed masses, let me inform you, this is somebody that sudies butterflies and moths. For a while, I myself thought I wanted to be a gaudy, wealthy divorcee who could tuck her linen suit into her many golden bangles and retreat to her yacht to brood and drink expensive booze from squat, handblown glasses.

Oh no, wait, that phase is still going on. Right. Ok nevermind.

My point is, in my family I kind of got the label of "creative, talented, misunderstood and angsty" which, while totally accurate, led to a landslide of gifted journals that inevitably got re-gifted. People figured that I had a lot of feelings, and that I must want to record them somehow, because presumably all young girls love journals. My mother was the type to have a gift closet, and there was always fresh store of unused journals on hand for her to dole out, almost all of them gifts themselves from a distant aunt.

I'm not saying I was ungrateful for these journals, but its just kind of a shame, since I'm not the journaling type. I'm kind of a talker, don't know if you've noticed. I can noodle around on any subject for a fair amount of time, regardless if I actually know anything about this subject. This talent has served me well in school when called upon to give presentations, or numerous times in the book store when Book Seller X who I want to think I'm cool asks me about such-and-such-cool-thing-I've-never-heard-of. At this point I've been there for long enough that I can just look them straight in the eyes and start to drool a bit, and they usually get the memo. But it used to be like, "Oh, yeah, totally, Wolfmother, yes. Uh huh Infinite Jest, so deep, I was touched. Yes. Stone Ground Mustard, love that band, they really rock. Oh its an actual...ok nevermind."

Thats why I recommended the "VS" journals we have at the store for my staff rec this month. What an amazing idea. These journals are basically a game of "would you rather..." in journal form. You can open the book to any page and you'll get a prompt: unicorn vs. pegasus, megaman vs. rocketboy, The Tick vs. Spiderman. the possibilities are endless. Not everybody was like me; don't let my preferences effect your gift-buying decisions. I myself have gotten a fair number of young relatives journals of their own; it's a right of passage, and some of them do get used and are beloved. A few years ago, my mom, knowing all about my background relationship with dairies, etc, bought me a beautiful leather-bound journal with a little brass clasp, and I still have it and use it all the time. My best friend faithfully kept a diary all throughout grade school and well into high school, I know because she used to read me excerpts while we read 17 magazine on her bed after school everyday. If you're wondering, Steven really didn't have a crush on me, he was just using me to get to Sarah F. because she got boobs when we were like, 10.

Not to end this post on a bummer, but harsh, Steven. Way to crush my brittle 11-year-old heart. Its probably your fault that I'm like this.

As ever, peace to the homies, no love for the scrubs. Steven.
xoxox, Zoe.

oh, also, I just saw Emily's post underneath this one, and "Yikerz!" is awesome. Emily and I were playing it just the other night, it would actually be a great game to play on your luxury yacht. In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From the GameKeeper: Yikerz!

There are games that are classics, there are games that stay hidden in the box, and then there are games that are just that awesome.   Yes, awesomeness is Yikerz! 

Place the magnets down one by one, but don't let them zap together.  Even though they make a really cool sound, the object of the game is to get rid of all of your funky shaped magnets.  I played a couple of rounds with the staff, and they had a great time with it.  The beauty of this game is that there is a solitaire version -- beat your time to try to fit all of the magnets on the board without any zaps -- for when there is no one esle around.  Or, you can also play with about 5 other players.  The game manufacturer claims that this game is for 14 and up; however, I say age 8, as long as the child knows about magnet safety.

Think of the fun that magnet geeks would have with this game!

$14.99 and great for travel

To watch a really fun demo, please visit here:


It's been at least twelve years that I've been walking down one part of Harvard Ave. or another, between Allston and the Riverway, twice a day, four or five days a week.
I lived in Allston for about six of those years, and worked here at the Booksmith. I would pass the Beals St. intersection on the course of many of those trips, and I would look in appreciation over the hedge at the quiet (as possible) lawn under tall trees, designed to be a small leafy canopy of stillness, with a pair of picnic tables and a few sitting stones in the ground gathered respectfully around one standing stone. Perhaps six feet of this boulder is exposed above the earth.
Today on my way in for the night shift I was walking with my sketchbook out, revising my course of action on the painting that is waiting for me at home, and I come to an idea that requires me to sit still and keep the lines straight. So, holding that thought I come upon the hedge, and the lawn under the trees, and, in the back corner, the boulder. It amazes me that I have never sat against that boulder in all these years of passing by. And wouldn't that be the place to sit and pull this idea down to the paper.

The boulder, after I found the right stone to be my seat, and just when I leaned back in order to find out if this was, indeed, as it appeared, the perfect seat for my butt and, yes, the smoothest surface for my back, just sort of scootched back like it was a big jug empty of milk.

Sometimes when you find out that things are not what they seem you just laugh and laugh and laugh. On most days you won't find me heartily approving of plastic ferns, but this particular practical joke has been patiently waiting for my participation for more than a decade. I have to admit, that was a good one! You really got me! I bet you never thought, when you bought this giant plastic boulder, that you'd be stuck with it for twelve years. Now you can finally get rid of it. Right? I'm so sorry it took me this long to walk onto the set of your big production.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bird is the Word

This morning there was a ton of traffic at my bird feeder. Within a span of two minutes we had a downy woodpecker, mockingbird, robin, two kinds of sparrows and a cardinal. Not to mention the chickadees yesterday. Oh, and the ever-present starlings. Can't forget them. There is a lot of action going on in the bird world these days. Nesting, loving, flirting, eating. And, if you've never noticed all of this action before, or thought you might want to know a little more, now is the perfect time to get started. Even though we live in a city, the world of birding can be exciting and often filled with unexpected surprises. That little thing called migration brings a lot of cool visitors to our parts. You just have to look UP.

As a person who LOVES birds, I own several different bird guides but my favorite one is the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. It's my go-to guide every time. David Sibley's drawings are amazing and it's a really user-friendly guide for beginners. When I first started bird watching I'd just flip through the book until I landed on what looked like the bird I saw. Then I'd read the descriptions and puzzle through the identification. After awhile I started to just know birds from a lot of page flipping. And once you get going there is a GIANT world of birds out there. It is SO exciting the first time you see a new bird and are able to identify it yourself.

We have a large selection of field guides here at the store. Some people prefer drawings, some prefer photographs. There are pros and cons to both. We have both! (There's also a new guide by Richard Crossley called Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, that looks mighty interesting, but I haven't had time to examine it thoroughly yet. It's unlike most bird guides I've seen.) I'd be happy to show you around this section if you are just getting into birding or if you know someone who is.

I'll leave you with an interesting bird tidbit. It's not a surprise to see red-tailed hawks living in the city and they are a common sight perched on weather vanes, billboards or balconies. (Squirrels and pigeons make for good eats!) However, lately I've been noticing turkey vultures in great numbers soaring high up in the air. They are huge and sometimes travel in groups. I've only ever seen them in the country-side or suburbs so I can't help but wonder what is bringing them to the city. Obviously food, but why all of a sudden? I am fascinated by this. If you have any insight, drop me a comment!

Happy birding!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elizabeth Berkley; still making smart cool.

The event for her new book Ask Elizabeth was quite moving. Berkley was eloquent and composed, chatty and accessible. She even took a moment to make fun of some of her more famous choreography.

I wanted to write about this event because it was special in a few ways. Elizabeth Berkley is on the NYT best seller list, and she chose to start her talk by thanking our store. She launched into a riff about the importance of independent bookstores, and keeping communities individual, and being out among other people interacting with the world, in a manner that can't be achieved through a square interface. (my weird wording not hers.)

I grew up loving her character Jessie Spano, the leggy nerd who made being smart and commanding look cool. She got behind our podium in her 5" Louis Vuittons and was pushing 6'5". The advice she gave about self image was "If you are uncomfortable being the tall girl, then buy heels and be taller." I left the event surprised and energized. The audience asked so many great questions and she handled them all with an articulate passion.

Ask Elizabeth is now officially a nonprofit (501)c3 ...learn more about it :here:

Perhaps the best part of her talk was the moment she crossed her hands fast in a nod to her (now) cult classic, Showgirls. Berkley is super engaging because she is honest, humble and appears to be deeply committed to her work. (Bonus points for shouting out the indies!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"When in doubt, relax" the inagural 7-minute Brookline Booksmith Interview : Christopher McDougall -Born to Run-

I stood outside in what was potentially sunburn weather in my Vibram 5 fingers, next to Christopher McDougall. He was wearing carpenters pants, and his trademark black leather 5-fingers, (his black tie choice). In between fans, I was able to ask him a few questions, and luckily he's a super nice guy, and humored me.

below was our conversation

me: So what are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books?

CMD: Definitely City of Thieves, WWII resistance history, Until Proven Innocent, Unbroken, and the new release Supercooperators. Also Mating.

me: What are you working on now? Are you allowed to tell me?

CMD: Technically, NO...but because you guys pushed this book before it was even a book I'll tell you. Promise not to tell everyone please. I'm working on **************** **** ******* ********. (I can tell you this. It's going to be amazing. I'm so happy he's writing another book.)

me: So, when this new book comes out you ARE COMING HERE FIRST, right?

CDM: I'll be there with donuts and coffee. Before the books even get there.

me:When do you plan on running your next Ultra?

CDM: I just ran a 50K two weeks ago in Darlington Maryland. I am running a midnight marathon in Gaza, for the children of Gaza through UNRWA.

Guy getting his book signed: Do you have any inspirational quotes for runners? What minimalist shoes do you recommend?

CDM: "When in doubt, relax." Check out Barefoot Ted's site. It's the Tarajumara sandals. After that, New Balance, Evo, and Neo, Vibram 5 fingers, specifically the BIKILA

me: Do you still have a relationship with Caballo and Barefoot Ted?

CDM: Yea, I still get emails from them, and they really haven't changed, as people, at all. If you are making links, definitely link to punk-rock Ultra marathoner Catra Corbett. She has a great blog called Dirt Diva. (me: it's a killer running site)

me: My Uncle Mike has run upwards of 68 marathons. He has concerns about larger runners running barefoot. I want him to be wrong, will you tell him he's wrong?

CDM: He's wrong.Weight makes no difference, it's actually more important for larger runners to run barefoot, it keeps the foot from heel-striking and encourages more of a midsole strike. Look at me!

me: You're tiny

CDM: No, I'm not. Tell your Uncle he's dead wrong. Then tell him Dr. Daniel Lieberman said so. me: (in my head) I love you Uncle Mike, but the frog-feet are staying.

me: One last essential question, what is your favorite cheese?

CDM: Cheez-whiz, and a Philly cheesesteak from Geno's.

And with that, I forced the poor man to sign just about all of our copies. We're talking boxes here. So, if you couldn't make it today and still want to buy yourself or a loved one a signed copy, just call as 617.566.6660 or come by the store.

If you have an IPAD or any other such device, buy the Born to Run ebook from us. It's the same price with us as it is at Amazon. (And Amazon can't bring the man to Brookline)

Friday, April 15, 2011

don't be sorry.

Twelve years here behind the register and I've seen personal checks fade away; they are now as much a novelty as the two dollar bill. The occasional public cell phone user has metastasized into a pulsing bluetooth cloud; the store is never without a few people wandering about, eyes drifting vacantly over book covers as they talk into the air. Many people don't realize they have to sign their credit card receipts. Everyone apologizes for everything. All the time. When they are at the register. (puts the books on the counter) "Sorry." (looks at some of the merchandise that has been masterfully situated so as to cause them to look at it right then. he/she is doing exactly what we want him/her to do. i finish ringing her up and tell her the total.) "Oh, sorry!" (looks through wallet for two seconds, no more. eyes dart to the left, sees that nobody is waiting behind him/her.) "Sorry! It's one of those days. Sorry!" (i can't help myself. i turn on the charm and ask playfully: what in the world are you sorry for?) "Oh, god, I'm just so slow." (no you're not, at all. it's literally been 15 seconds that we've been doing all of this.) "Oh, I guess you're right" (laughs) "Sorry." One thing that hasn't changed, and I sincerely hope it never will, is that people under the age of fifteen always pay in crumpled or excessively folded bills that they never flatten out before handing them over to me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just Ask

You've been asking for more children's and young adult literature events.  Well, middle and high school ladies, here is your opportunity!

Elizabeth Berkley will be coming to our store this Sunday (April 17th) at 2:00 p.m. to discuss her new book, Ask Elizabeth.  There is no charge, just come on downstairs to our events corner.  After the talk she will be signing books (she will also be glad to sign one memorbilia item per fan -- such as a Saved by the Bell poster -- as long as you have also purchased a copy of the book).

Most of you may know Berkley from numerous television shows, particularly Saved By The Bell and CSI: Miami. But, she is more than just an actress.  Did you know that she founded a "not-for-profit organization that facilitates self-esteem workshops to empower girls ages 11-18"?  Ask Elizabeth is a compilation of letters from teens nation wide grasping all concepts of life -- first love, sex, family issues, loneliness, self-esteem, body image, and much more.

I found Berkley's advice and responses to be well thought out and down to earth.  Additionally, this book is more than advice from Berkley as well as other teens.  It helps to reassure you that you are not the only one.  Most of us, at some time or another, all have similar embarrassing hard-to-ask questions.  Questions that you think no one will ever want to hear or answer.

  What do you do when your friends turn on you?               How do you know who you can really trust?               What can I do to gain confidence?                  What do I do if someone likes me?                Why are girls so judgemental of each other??!!                How can I be more outgoing?                    What do you do if someone is jealous of you?                 What are some ways to make new friends?             I hate my nose...              I hate how big I am.  I get really tired of being the fat girl with the pretty face...                    My mom and I don't get along anymore and all we do is fight. Is it going to be like this forever?                   My grandmother was my best friend, then she died...    

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Here comes the sun, and with it an overwhelming sense of obligation

Um, in case you haven't heard...Christopher McDougall is coming to the store this Friday to sign. Not only is this the best book for locomotion-motivation, it is also the perfect warm up read for the Boston Marathon. I cannot overstate how enthralling and fascinating this book is. My good-lord if you run (or walk) or shuffle even, this book is for you. So come in and meet the super cool Mr. Mc-D and his crazy amphiby-feet that have taken the running world by storm.

Running and reading share a similar place in my life. I feel sick when I don't practice them regularly, but I feel resentful sometimes they they are the world's best medicine. Have you ever regretted time you spent running or reading? Probably not (unless it was from the cops or the romance section.)

On a particularly pretty day like today, I always feel like an ass when I fail to jog, or pull out whatever I'm reading and sit outside. Nothing makes me feel more like I belong to the world like resonating with a killer collection of poems, good story, or an easy run. *Yet* how quickly we forget how simple little things like reading and running can entertain, fulfill, and even heal any ills you may be tending.

So- let's get out from behind our respective screens, strap on our sports bras and/or happy pants, and go for a run...and if we aren't up for that, let's read about the Ultra marathoners that do. For roughly 150 miles.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Props to the guy that makes my mochas for this resulting rush of mildly entertaining observational humor and poor grammar.

Sir, what you do for your country is truly heroic.

I have real content to present, but first, a mini rant about hyperbole. My generation has been accused of abusing hyperbole, probably because of our close and personal relationship with the internet which has caused our collective imagination to turn ever so slightly...visual hallucination-y. The internet is a place where Paula Deen is photoshopped into photos riding various celebrities, public works installations, produce, etcetera ( It is a place where people take .jpegs of Disney princesses, draw glasses on them, give them hipster dialogue (Hipster Disney Princesses) and we all thinks its hysterical. Somewhere in that primal soup of ridiculousness, the word "literally" started getting pushed around. "But guys I literally just waited like a hundred hours for this mocha. Like somebody please use me to irrigate your fields, because I am Old Man River now. There are endangered Grizzly bears lining up at my banks to grab red salmon out of my rolling waters, thats how long the wait was."

(this is clearly a lie, we all know how I feel about the mocha guy: <3 <3 <3 moving on.)

So I will admit the fact that this "literally" has been abused. HOWEVER, if I may, I would also say that, you older generations, you guys are just as guilty. My stepmother Derby likes to keep the saying "More ____ than you can shake a stick at" in rotation. Oh really? Really. More of one thing than you can shake a stick at. That is a staggering amount of something; I have pretty poor upper body strength and my right shoulder keeps mysteriously clicking because I keep putting my backpack on one shoulder (Because that makes you cool, right? Scholiosis is pretty 'in' I think) but I am pretty sure I can shake a stick at a lot of stuff. Its really more of a general, boundary-less area/direction in which the stick is shaken, so technically...

Ok. Presumably you get my point. Just saying. This generational discrimination shall not stand! Except for all the other stuff thats true. Okay. Moving on.

Having said that, I am NOT, repeat NOT dipping into said generation's still, serene pool of hyperbole to say that Tina Fey changed my life with her career and her personality. I am a silly lady and so I look to other silly ladies, like Tina Fey, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, among many others, for advice on how to best pilot my anxious-heavy and caffeine-supported 20's. Fey was the first female writer on SNL. Right there, you can drop the mic right there, because that is so badass that all arguments are rendered invalid. Isn't Saturday Night Live on its like 38th season? In TV world that's like a "Gold Statue From The Arc Of The Covenant" anniversary, because you start out with stuff like sticks and paste and work your way up to gold and silver, but 38 years of a TV show isn't even a thing. Of course, Fey didn't even come along till '97, and didn't become head writer in '99 (Thanks, wikipedia) and there were several other talented female writers on staff that came before her, but to be head writer on an establishment like SNL is a pretty major accomplishment. I look up to Tina, she is one of my role models.

Her autobiography came out on tuesday. Last night I bought my copy and carried it around like a security blanket all night. I have only read the first 20 pages, but Fey is just as funny in print as she is on film. I am trying to blackmail our events director, Evan, into booking Fey to do an event, but he won't even tell me if she's going on tour because I want it too bad and he delights in my pain. He said it "is like candy" to him. From the mouths of jerks, I tell you. D'awwwww.

Well internet, that's all friends. I'd like to thank my parents, the Mocha Guy, Tina Fey, the Nerdist podcast that I listened to while crafting this deep, meaningful and well-thought out response to the fast paced world of popular media and the consumption thereof.

Haha jk Lolololol <3 Zoe loves ridin' the sugar wave

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Eating Adventure

The theme of board books: baby animals, a story, soft animals, baby faces, nosiy animals, and some more animals. 

Of course, there are more interests out there, aren't there, toddlers? 

Touch and feel books?  Well, those too... 

But I'm also talking about board books revolving around food.  No way around it.  Don't convince me otherwise.  Food is a necessary part of life.  Every single day.  And, at least, three times a day if not a little more.  So, what I like to read myself sometimes are Lorena Siminovich's I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables.  Smooth green apples, one rough orange or two, and a yellow bumpy pear.  Smooth peas outside the pod, tall yelllow corn, or a soft pumpkin to taste touch.  It's a touch and feel adventure with food right here.  No morals.  No limits.  No, "carrots will make you grow taller," or "if you don't eat that strawberry you can't have dessert."  It's a good old, basic introduction to food -- for those times in between meals.

 Yes, food is an adventure!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poetic license lets you lisp thelectively.

We’ve told you twice if we’ve told you onthe:
April is National Poetry Month.
Do you know someone whose heart is young,
who’d like some verse to be read or sung,
anthologized or in quick haiku?
Then boy, do we have a shelf for you.
Prelutsky’s on it, and Silverstein
with Sidman sticking out in between.
The Tree That Time Built and In the Wild
are great for that scientific child.
There’s Stevenson for the classics buff,
and Milne, if Stevenson’s not enough.
If kids are tiny, it’s not too soon.
There’s Boynton’s Chickens, there’s Yolen’s Moon.
There’s more! There’s poetry on parade—
the one-word poems of Lemonade,
the ones selected by Kennedys,
and some with titles less brief than these.
So, be ye expert, or be ye dunthe,
come get your verse, this or any month!

Find it Here

From my desk/perch above the Kids' section just now, I overheard a conversation among some folks - clearly a family with several generations in tow out for a Sunday visit to Booksmith. One person was expressing his enthusiasm for the store and all that it does/has/is. A couple of others concurred. Standing in front of a bookcase, another fellow said, "Hey, let me see if this title is on my Kindle! It's so cool to stand in a bookstore and order a title online!". Since this has become a topic of some concern for us physical bookstores of late, I waved from my window and said, "Hi there. Just to put forward another perspective, how would that work if the bookstore weren't here? And would you all be okay with the bookstore not being here anymore?" It was all very friendly and civilized - smiles all around and agreement on that being a subject to ponder and discuss.

We have no illusions about the migration of some book sales to electronic devices. Nor are we judgmental or unenthusiastic about technology. And we are constantly reinventing what we are/have/do in order to stay viable. But if you value your favorite bookstore - its curated selection of titles, its knowledgeable booksellers, it author events, its contributions to your community, meeting friends and family there - it would be a good idea to buy books there, too. It would be a sad day if ALL book browsing and buying became a solitary experience between you and something with batteries or chips or whatever.

Here's how our wonderful colleagues at Harvard Bookstore have put it on signs in their store.

Find it here.
Buy it here.
Keep US here.
Thank you for your continued support.
Harvard Bookstore

Well said.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

National Poetry Month, or as I like to call it (cut the crap, stop denying yourself)

Do you dislike poetry? Does the word itself induce high school flashbacks to a time when a bulky clip-art speckled text book told you to find the meaning beneath the meaning? Well then your aversion is understandable. *****************But

I dare you to pick up a book of contemporary poetry. The pageant has evolved. Poetry is sick, twisted, weird, violent, moving, readable....magnetic. Flash fiction? please...

Short attention span? strange tastes? What are you doing not reading poetry? It's like porn and painting and applesauce all in one! If you want something chiller that exists too...*********but

Poetry is there for people who hate grammar, and conventions, or people who love them and want to play with them. If what your brain spits out is to disjointed, or too vitriolic for becomes consumable as poetry.

Mark has done an amazing job bringing in some of the newest most exciting poets out there. We have the standards too. So.....if you want to expand your reading, challenge your narrative, improve your composing, painting, writing, thinking and living....find a cover or title that speaks to you, read a poem....if you hate it put it down (life's too short-juts pick up another) If you love it you will find a never ending supply of that wealth.

Poetry is not what you read in High School, or for that matter college. It is inappropriate, vivid, uncomfortable ENTERTAINING and alive...and the good stuff is very impolite.

You'll be making your significant other/cat listen as you slur your new favorite poem over 3 glasses of wine and tears...I promise.

Here's what I'm reading now:

April Mowing the Lawn

Drunk and barefoot is surprisingly

Meticulous, especially in the corners,

Shoving the old vrooming machine deep

In the knee-high thrushes of weeds and mint

And flush with the giant slate stone steps

Some glacier dumped a millions years ago.

Up and down, back and forth. Why bother?

I yell to her. Why not simply ask all the horses

Over to take the blades down with their teeth?

Hell, let it grow- Like the golden shadow cast

By our growing pile of beer bottles, like

Who cares? She yells back over the motor that

In South Acworth, a lawn's merely all you

Choose to take away from all that's there

To take away.

from collection Drunk by Noon

(by the kickass Jennifer Knox)

Friday, April 1, 2011


"What did you do at school today, Jack?"

"Nothing." Grins.

"...yeah? Nothing, really?"

"I just stared at the wall."

Which of course isn't true, it's a joke that his mom playfully uttered one day when he was stonewalling her, and he's a born comedian so he picked up on it immediately.

I watch him through the open door of the preschool, and he's calling out letters and numbers, stretching to touch his toes with the best of them, shuffling along in line with his eyes on his feet on their way back from the playground. He does stuff. He can't fool me. But, as his teacher assures us is natural for kids this age, he doesn't enjoy volunteering information about stuff that happened when we weren't there.

Maybe that's the key: we weren't there. He shares stories with me about something that happened when he was with Jess. And vice versa. But when neither of us are that perhaps sacred ground? Or is it too real, too personal, to be offered up without a fight? Or is it maybe unreal? A parent is always part of the context, is always there blocking or reflecting light, up to a certain moment. Then suddenly they are not there. For the first time. What does something that happens mean to a child when their parent isn't there? It must take a while to understand events when that context is removed; when all you have is yourself. And then it must take a while before you can really know how to open those experiences up again for mom and dad to share.

I think about writers, about painters, about actors. All of them, all of us, must have had that moment, must have undergone that change, when understanding that our experiences are entirely different when nobody that knows us is around to share them. Other people being in our presence changes the way we experience things. It's why we read by ourselves, and it's why we perhaps join a club to discuss what we've read. We're getting a dim flicker of the warmth that we felt when we read books together with mom and dad.

And then I think about books in the future, if, as many say, the paper book is not long for this world. And how it may be that someday soon we will all be able to download any book in the world onto the screen in our palm, from the solitude of our own home. And I wonder how that will change our understanding of each other. And of what we experience. And will we curl up and get in dad's lap and download Dr. Seuss and he'll leap off the screen and start talking to us and the walls of the room will sprout floppy trees and I say, no Dad, not this one, we did this one last night, and when I look up at his face to tell him I don't want this one tonight, I want the ocean one, he looks like Sam I Am but that doesn't scare me, in the books he never looks like dad unless I want him to.

How will I know what it is to be alone, then?

What do you think reading will be like in a hundred years?