Friday, February 25, 2011
oh yeah, sure.
So, just now, there was that.
And then earlier this week, my son:
"Dad, do you want me to tell you a story?"
"There was an elephant tiger, with stripes, and then he turned into a chair lamp, and he fell down the table, and thpt hoyba pupu he BONK!"
jackson, that was awesome.
"Dad, do you want me to tell you another story?"
And in between, Kendrick Perkins got traded, Qaddafi showed his true colors, Christchurch shook, and I took the kids out to stomp in giant, shivering puddles.
Get in touch with me if you can find anything that holds this post together.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Recently I haven't been blogging about what I'm reading, but I do read, I swear to you. For my class on postcolonial literature (more interesting than it sounds!) we've been reading "The Famished Road" by Ben Okri. Told through the point of veiw of an "abiku", or spirit child, this story in set in a lower class village in Nigeria. I can't quite tell when its set, but it was published in 1991 and won the Booker prize. It's a really strange mix of incredibly detailed description of the spirit worlds and specters that haunt the main character, and slightly allegorical secondary characters that influence the meandering storyline. Frankly, I probably wouldn't have finished the book if it wasn't for class; several things that happen in the plot seem to have no purpose or consequent, and the detail is wonderful and kept me interested, for about 400 pages. After that, it gets tedious. My interest waned. Next up in this class is "Say You're One Of Them" by Uwem Akpan, also known as ONE OF OPRAH'S TOP 10 BOOKS IN 2009!!! Probably reading this book with cause me to ascend to Oprah status, at which point I will hold the universe in the palm of my hand like a cosmic lotus blossom.
Yup. I just didn't know how to end this post. Cosmic lotus blossom. Kabam.
Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray
Traditionally, spring brings enough drops of rain to fill up those rubber boots. Though, if your anything like this little boy, boots are for playing in, and not to leave lying around after you have exhausted all of your inside activities. Rain is for enjoying, so grab your boots and go!
Great for ages 0-5
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
In the spring, flowers awake from their wintry graves, trees burst with blossoms of color, and chilly gardens are tended to. In this secret garden though, more comes to life then plants. Two children, who have a very sour disposition when they are introduced, learn the beauty that nature holds. The true treasure of this book is watching them grow joyfully and become productive as the world awakens from the cold slumber.
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Whether you already have a well-loved copy or need to buy a new one, take advantage of spring to enjoy the city. Grab your copy of Make Way for Ducklings, T over to the Boston Public Gardens, enjoy the ducks, and read the story that this park is most famous for.
In Boston, this book is ageless
Friday, February 18, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Won Ton tries to have a humble outlook on life, in a shelter, in a cage. He knows the routines quite well and longs for the day when someone will take him. Of course, as soon as he is off to his new home, it is a series of "letmeoutletme / outletmeoutletmeout. / Wait -- let me back in!" In his new surroundings, he certainly has quite the opinion on his name and food. He's even started to claim his territory: "Sorry about the / squishy in your shoe. Must've / been something I ate." (I just want to quote every line for you, dear reader!) This author, Lee Wardlaw, knows cats and uses words to illustrate their nature beautifully.
"I explained it loud
and clear. What part of 'meow'
don't you understand?"
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I went to their store on Saturday in part to buy pens (I have a major obsession) and office supplies and the fun little things that one stumbles across in a store like that. I wanted to feel, one last time, that fun Bob Slate feeling I've gotten for years when stepping into any one of their stores. The pens, my god the pens! They've always been a perfect source of retail therapy for me. And where else can you get a single small binder clip or tag sale price tags by the dozen?
I also went last week to be there with other people who were no doubt feeling the same way I did. It was like going to a wake. The place was packed and I had a couple of conversations with people about how sad we were to see them go. One woman, who had just found out the news that very minute, was on her cell phone telling a friend how shocked and upset she was.
As I browsed around I wondered about what it is that makes us feel so tied to certain stores. When you get right down to it, a store is where you buy things you need or want and then you go home. But there are certain ones that are institutions, pillars of the community. I consider Booksmith to be one of those stores, which is why the closing of Bob Slate is really hitting home. (Besides the fact that my number one source of pens will be no more.) We don't necessarily feel this way about Shaws grocery store or Walgreens. But is that because they are chains or not apparently family owned? Is it the stuff (things you love, things you love to give as gifts) that they sell or the staff? The mood the store gives you when you walk in? Colors? Music? I guess I'm heading into sociological territory a bit, and I don't have any answers to these questions. (There are books for that!) But the closing of my favorite stores feels like a personal loss. It seems weird but it's true. I still feel lingering feelings of loss over Woolworth's and that was maybe 10 years ago! Alternatively, if CVS were to close, I'd be greatly inconvenienced but not sad.
As we at Brookline Booksmith celebrate FIFTY years of business this year, I think of Bob Slate and their 78 years. I'm very sad they are going, I am very glad we are still going strong. I wonder who is opening a store right now, this month, that will turn out to be another community gem for decades. There's got to be one somewhere, right?
And good luck to all the staff at Bob Slate. You'll be missed!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Whatever, she listened to Rush Limbaugh every night. I'm not ungrateful, in hindsight, that she took the reins and yanked me out of a relationship that, on my side, was mainly about: 1) certain secondary sexual characteristics to which I was granted access for the first time in my life, and 2) the fact that she was female, much like the girl I had been hopelessly in love with for five years. It was not a good match. She wanted a right wing valedictorian, I wanted the friend who had sat across from me at lunch every day since seventh grade, who was funnier than me but still laughed at all my jokes.
But, clearly, this post is not about that. No, this isn't even about Valentines Day. In fact, it's not even a memory. I mean, I don't remember anything after the first scene.
It's about chocolate.
When I was probably 6 or 7 years old, and my brother 9 or 10, we were left alone for an afternoon. We wanted candy, but all we had around were Cheerios and Bisquick. Ooooooh, what's this up in the cupboard? Baker's chocolate? Let's just try it, whoa! bitter. Yeah, but if we put a bunch of these in a pan, pour a lot of sugar in, and melt them down, we could pour them into these little cupcake papers and once they cool...sweet!
We each had, I don't know, maybe four or five.
My mom came home from work and, according to her report, we had an alarming green pallor. She said that Dave was only seeing things in black & white. Neither of us could stand, or really even lie prone all that effectively. We were in separate rooms, each of us in our own hallucinatory state, according to the way our individual chemistry was reconciling the ill-advised infusion of the equivalent of four layer cakes into our body.
Happy Valentines Day!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
And there are countless others whose names I haven't caught yet. The girl who sits on the floor and reads Rainbow Magic books, apparently too excited to take the time to walk to a stool. The quiet preteen who browses the Young Adult shelves and occasionally rolls her eyes at her noisier peers. The young gentleman who comes on Sundays in his church clothes, who has offered to write shelftalkers and once rushed to my aid when I (don't tell anyone) dropped a couple of books.
Don't try to tell me the bookstore habit is for retirement. I know a few unretiring Wimpy Kid enthusiasts who would beg to differ.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
One Valentine's Day book I find to be interesting is Saint Valentine, by Robert Sabuda. That's right, Valentine's Day does have a history beyond corporate sales. Even though there is more to this story than told here by Sabuda, one important reason for Valentine's Day was to send messages to ones we love, as St. Valentine did for one girl. The jailer's daughter had been blind since birth. Valentine, who was a preacher and a physician, was able to heal her sight. The next day, before his execution (as a Christian martyr), he sent the girl a compassionate letter signed "from your Valentine."
It is also said that Valentine's Day is rooted from the "Roman feast of Lupercalia, which took place on February 15th, [the day after Valentine's execution]. One of the customs on this occasion involved the writing of love messages by maidens..." Though unmentioned in this book, I have also heard it said that near this time the Roman emperor outlawed marriage to increase his army in numbers. However, the army size decreased because men went to war to fight for their families, not to solely fight bloody battles or to please the emperor. Therefore, it could also be said that Valentine's Day is a celebration of marriage.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
I arrived to work around 7 am this morning for our annual inventory. Dana and Evelyn had been there for an hour or so I think. We hire a company to count everything in the store...because it makes sense for the professionals to count....(we are very good with the alphabet but we don't want to push our luck.) For a few hours before we are open a crowd of inventory specialists come in with their oversized belt calculators with matching finger scanners and begin the chorus of beep-beep scan Brrrrrrrrblip "price check!!!!"
The sound is so different than what I'm used to hearing, (either ambient post-alternative crooners, or 80's power jams.) I find it energizing. I also like the idea of a bunch of strangers pawing over all of the books. I wonder how many of them are triggered into checking out some new books when they leave...how could they not after putting their hands on literally thousands of them in a few early morning hours, when the brain is most nubile.**
**I made that up
Inventory is also a time to take, well...stock of things. Hardy-har. You will notice some wild changes to the organization of the store in the coming weeks. I'm especially excited about our newly arranged Used book cellar/ events basement. I saw it this morning and thought, wow, this is how it should have been all along! We hope you agree, and really think you will...
The point I'm gettin' at is....change doesn't have to happen during pre-ordained calender bally-hoos. Sometimes a fresh start happens on a Sunday in February, or a Wednesday in October. Any morning, (or mid afternoon for that matter) we can take account of our lives, purge a moral, physical and spiritual inventory, and reinvent ourselves.
So keep an eye on us this month...cause this here butterfly is pumping some new blood into our 50 year old wings...
Saturday, February 5, 2011
(pic c/o Natalie Dee)
Welp, I finished moving last blizzardy Tuesday morning. And there was an NStar truck blocking the top of my one-way street. But we forged on. Things are well, if a little tricky; I am staying calm in spite of a giant life change and computer science homework. Really, one of the hardest parts of this has been what to do with the books. See, I've moved from a sunny, spacious apartment and had to fit my belongings into a much, much, much tinier room. But the apartment's perks do include the happiest three-legged pit bull of all time (!) and a roofdeck and parks nearby. And in the midst of the crappy packing process and ensuing dust allergy flareup, I found the very first love letter someone ever wrote me.
But I had to downsize. A lot. It's been so hard over the last 3 1/2 years of working here to resist the temptation of new books and advance reader copies - and the lifetime of book hoarding before Booksmith. But now they will just not physically fit.
So I decided I would keep my 50 most essential books. Okay. Maybe 100. I don't know. It was hard.
How does one even decide? I guess it all came down to this: what would I never read again? What would I just never get around to anytime soon? What comforts me? What is wise and helpful? What do I find creatively inspiring? And I don't really need two copies of Crime and Punishment, do I?
(I was also hugely inspired by Hoarders which Kate made me watch and it made me fear for my future.)
So I made a list a bit after I left my last place, when I was away from most of them, and just wrote the titles I just couldn't part with kind of instinctually based on that criteria. My Flannery O'Connor collection. My Mishimas. My Melvilles. Mary Gaitskill. The Children's Hospital. Wuthering Heights, obviously. Absurdistan and The Will to Whatevs, which I flip open when I need to laugh. The awesome works from awesome new guys, like Rachel Glaser and Mike Young and the neat things from Greying Ghost Press. And the advance reader for Sarah Silverman's The Bedwetter where she inscribed it and called me "unprofessional."
So last week, I sold back a bunch to our used book cellar. I made $81. That made it less painful, especially as I just parted with I don't know how much on textbooks. And Carl said someone had just been looking for The Picture of Dorian Gray, so I felt good about that at least, that someone will get the Oscar Wilde they need.
Aaand I still have more to sell. Sigh. And the ones I knew the UBC couldn't take - brought them to the lovely people of Boomerangs. There you will now find like half of my clothing and a lousy painting I made of Donald Rumsfeld's disembodied head floating over snack food. Also a Sega Genesis. Sigh.
Here's about half of what I have left, with some DIY floating bookshelves c/o Instructables and the Booksmith dollar cart:
Friday, February 4, 2011
(sorry guys, I forgot to post this yesterday so I am going to impinge on somebodies posting day, my extreme apologies)
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I Must Have Bobo by Eileen Rosenthal, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid
Spork by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
First, Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, one of my favorite books of ALL RECORDED TIME, will be coming to our very own store to launch the paperback version of her book. This will be happening on May 11th. The weather will be mild and sunny (I personally guarantee it,) and from what I've seen on YouTube (readings she did at other bookstores,) she is engaging and full of interesting stories. I can't wait for this. Perhaps I can take the opportunity to convince her to write a sequel.
The second exciting thing to look forward to, also in May, is a new book by Erik Larson. He is the author of my other favorite book of all recorded time, The Devil in the White City, as well as Isaac's Storm and Thunderstruck. His new one is called In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin. (Click on the link for a synopsis.) I haven't read it yet so I can't vouch for its awesomeness, but it's bound to be at least pretty darn good, right? He is one hell of a story teller. I also promise mild weather and sunny skies while you are reading this book.
In between now and then, take care out there in that icky snow!