Saturday, July 28, 2012

"So this nerd fest starts at 7?"

OMG I hope we got enough copies of my chapbook in!
The title of this blog post is a direct quote from my friend Ashley in reference to when the staff reading started last night. Felt apropos. Yes, the nerd fest started at 7 pm, promptly. Last night was effin' magical, bros. I sincerely hope you made it to see the varied array of beautiful, unnerving, gross (you're welcome) and inspiring work that was read last night. The thing about working with creative people is that you don't know them primarily through their creative means. To me, Natasha is not Natasha the writer, even though I know she writes. Because I'm so deeply in love with her, I assume she's good at it, but before last night, in my brain, Natasha is foremost just Natasha, goofy and darkly beautiful High Priestess of the Used Book Cellar. She still is that, that and a silver moonwolf that ripples through midnight like a dragonfly alighting on water, but now I have to add that she can also write characters really well. That's how I felt about everyone last night. I got a couple glasses of wine in me and kept going up to my co-workers and saying things like, "I didn't know you could REALLY write!" and "You didn't tell me you were actually TALENTED, you jerk!" and they would get that look on their faces that says, am I offended? Am I complimented? Am I both? I'm so sorry. I have a BA in English, so to me, writing is one of those things that everybody THINKS they can do, but most people can't really do. Last night, however, at the staff reading, I got to hear all these people that have seen me at probably my best and worst, (mostly my worst, I'm kind of a terrible co-worker) prove that they actually have the skills to pay the bills. Blown away.

After the reading was over, some of us went to the bar, and then I went home and got like 5 hours of sleep and now I'm back at the store eating leftover chips and dip from last night and acting like coffee has an exponentially increasing awakening power by volume, which, I don't know if you know this, it does not. I'm doing that tired thing where not a lot makes sense and I can't really taste food. We're also having our sidewalk half-off sale today and tomorrow, so there's a new added level of out-of-body experience where we have books on tables outside and one of my duties this morning was going to Magic Bean and "Getting the Balloons", which is not a euphemism for anything, I literally got balloons. We have half priced books of all varieties, art books, novels, self help, you name it, we got it. Games and card and gift also has items on sale, everything from scarves to journals to...decorative bird shaped wine bottle stoppers/tea light holder. Come check it out!

That's all for now. I'm gonna go eat a bunch of chips for breakfast like an adult. I'd like to thank everybody that participated in last nights event, especially Kate Robinson for being so amazing and writing such a beautiful and moving chapbook that was the catalyst for this amazing event. I would also like to thank Dana Brigham and the Brookline Booksmith in general; there are many ways to show appreciation for your employees, but I'm pretty sure letting them buy a bunch of wine and get behind a mic and read their poem about flu-related bodily functions is both the best and least common way of doing it. Booksmith for King. Long live Booksmith.

Also! Keep an eye out in Bmail and here and on the website. We recorded this event and others that we expect to be making available in podcast form as soon as possible. Thanks pals. Keep it real.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Firsts

Oh man you guys my stomach is in KNOTS. Why, you ask? Because tonight is our big staff reading! And I'm going to get in front of a big crowd (scary!) or nobody at all (scarier!) and read my tenderly wrought and private stories for all of YOU. Oh man I'm so nervous/excited. Why isn't there a word for that? Anxious? But in an elated sense? Bah. Did I mention I'm a writer? I'm real good with words.

On a related note, in the UBC this week we acquired an anthology of the first short stories published by  famous authors. Flannery O'Connor, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Parker, Lessing, Isaac Bashevis Singer. The list goes on. See the breakthrough stories that made them famous! Just $8.

Akin to these first forays into the literary world, stop by and support your local independent and the crazy staff that keeps this dream running. Celebrate our fearless leader Kate Robinson's first published work, a book of poems entitled Darling Angel Meat. See our first published and unpublished books by the rest of us before we get famous (or die in obscurity. Either way it will be historic). Hear us read poetry, short stories, excerpts from novels! Eat snacks! Have a good time! The action starts at 7 PM. TONIGHT!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Writers On Writers

If you're a writer, there is usually one work that has triggered your desire to write. One book or poem that has stopped you in your tracks and made you reconsider everything you have done so far. The more I read, the more this happens. The first time this happened though was when I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I read this novel in 2007, shortly after it came out, and at the time, I was knee-deep in graduate school plugging away at a novel I just didn't love. I felt like I was doing the basic things right, had established a plot and was moving forward, but I was bored with it.

There is simply nothing boring about Junot Diaz's work. His stories pulse with energy, and his sentences are rhythmic and vibrant and real. And in this novel, he experiments with form. Different narrators. Footnotes that have their own narrative while adding depth to Oscar Wao's world. And through all of this, I still came out caring deeply about the character Oscar. I consumed this book whole and then promptly stopped my novel and started over. The core of the plot remained the same, but I realized that there were so many different ways I could tackle it. And best of all it had me excited about writing again.

In honor of our assistant manager Kate Robinson's reading on Friday night, which will include short readings by some of the writers on our staff, here are the books that made us view our own work differently.  And a brief side note - because the events host in me can't resist telling you this - we'll be hosting Junot Diaz at the Coolidge Corner Theater on Wednesday, September 19th. (!!!)

Kate (author of Darling Angel Meat)
A hand grenade of a short poetry collection. One of the most vulnerble, exposed, angry collections that I've read, and it was one of her first collections - and I still think to this day, her best.

I read this book in my junior year of high school, and it was so different from anything else I'd ever encountered. I was very interested at the time in history and philosophy, and Faulkner was the first author I ever encountered able to use language to render those ideas into bloody, imperfect, hobbling reality. He creates a world so textured and complete that it becomes like the worst and best dreams.

Ghazals, dirty ghazals.  Manipulating the ghazal form with strict rules and then bending it into something unrecognizeable yet familiar was too tantalizing a prospect to pass up.  Ron Koertge's Indigo has the breathless playfulness of an author who messes with the classics and runs before anyone notices. 

Mary Gaitskill. She explores terrains of the mind and body without reserve, with bite, with these brilliant small details that color everything. That's what I hope I come close to in my fiction and comedy.

A lot of books influenced me as a writer early on: Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Albert Camus, Jeffrey Eugenides, but I don't think it was until college that I read D. H. Lawrence for the first time and had my brain blown open. I don't know what it was exactly: some of his writing is awkward, repetitive, weird or just plain gross. But when I read Lady Chatterley's Lover for the first time, there was something about the descriptions, the interiority, the perspective, the unreserved sexuality and the complicated philosophical underpinnings to be teased out that made it one of the few books I still re-read frequently and find that for better or worse he really informs a lot of the writing that falls out of me. But then I try to go all Hemingway when I edit.

Ric (author of the poetry collection Digging In)
I came across a copy of Rilke's Duino Elegies in a used bookstore in Seattle in the 70's, and first it piqued my spiritual interests, then my dormant, poetic ones, and shortly thereafter I began conducting my own verbal investigations...

Clementine is a perfect example of a character who's more than just a label. Yes, her ADHD is one important thing about her, but there's so much more to who she is. I try to take a similar approach to my characters; for example, Leo, the character in the story I'm going to read, is more than just a boy who likes to paint.

Since I'm reading poetry, we're talking poetry, and Mary Karr's book Sinner's Welcome had a deep, meaningful effect on what I aspire towards, as a poet. I can see a distinct change in my work before and after I read it. The poem "Disgraceland" particularly, I suspect, is a perfect poem, specifically the end.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paperback Writer

a SERIOUS haul of cool vintage paperbacks in this week, including the old school Dells with maps on the back cover. And an edition of Nog with a sweet blurb from Pynchon that includes a CUSS. Come in and snatch 'em up before those meddlin' kids do!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Not Always a Tourist

In the summer of 2008, I moved to Manhattan to be an editorial intern at Fortune Magazine. The internship was two months long, and I moved into the spare room of my boyfriend's brother's apartment in the lower East Side. The apartment fulfilled all the stereotypes I had about New York City living. My designated living space was also part of the kitchen, and I slept on a lofted bed which overlooked the top of the fridge and beyond that, the stove. Up on that bed I had a stack of books and an alarm clocked wedged in one corner, a small box television perched on the edge of the window sill, and two huge body pillows resting against the guard rails, for added cushioning. It was claustrophobic but had character, and was perfect for my brief stay in the big city.

Among that stack of books on my bed was my Not For Tourists Guide to New York City, which became an extension of me during my two months in Manhattan. I had lived in Boston for two years by then, but was immediately a bit wary of New York City life. I was most intimidated by the many subway lines, a mix of colors and letters and numbers all tangled into a large knots on the poster sized subway maps. That was what drew me to the NFT guide in the first place.  The NFT Guide divides a city into sections, with their own rectangular maps. They give you the same map a few times, each map highlighting something different - the area's transportation, entertainment, essentials and sundries. I could go the neighborhood I was in and orient myself, and then go to transportation page, find the closest subway stop, and flip to the back and see how far that line stretched. The book was handsome, black and pocket-sized, perfectly suited for what I was: not exactly a tourist.

You can see a picture of my ridiculously tiny Manhattan apartment and read the rest of this post at our blog on the

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Burning House

I just noticed this new book on the New Hardcovers table. My mom and I always used to play this game, talking about what we would rescue on a moments notice if we had to. It's a tough prompt, but at the same time, liberating. The question forces you to mentally pair down your most important, treasured belongings into what is really essential to your existence. The key seems to be to balance what you would need to rescue yourself from the instant destitution you find yourself in - imagine yourself, in pajamas, standing barefoot on a lawn, a building behind you engulfed in flames. I picture myself at dusk, a pink-grey salmon belly of a sky disappearing behind the smoke, but really, you can go with your gut on the time of day.

So there you are, watching your former castle disappear into rubble, artifacts, trash. What did you grab?

There seems to be no limit in the book to how many items you can take, but I'm going to say its whatever you can manage to carry. In my opinion, roommates and spouses, etc, are not required to be mentioned in your list, but children and babies are. I don't have a spouse or a baby, but I do have a roommate with insomnia, so I probably would be shaken awake by her to begin with. I think my list would have to be:

- phone
- wallet
- one of the many, many photo albums of my childhood
- my favourite pink dress

...and if I'm honest, that's probably it. I have been thinking about it all day, in order to write this blog post, and I think everything else is replaceable. Sure there is irreplaceable art, original art, old love notes, amazing jewelery I found at antique shows, volume upon volume UPON VOLUME OF reeeeeeally important books, and countless thrift store finds that I would rather not part with but if I had to, I could. The dress excluded, because it is my very favourite dress and there is no other like it. It is like my whole personality wrapped up in a single dress. Perfect. The sweet deity themselves could not have crafted better, and so it must be saved.

This book relates to my life right now, because for the past week, every night after work I go home, make myself a gin and tonic, and pack my life into boxes. It is agonizingly slow going, and I find myself getting lost in these unending cycles of sentimentality. I start making bargains with myself, mostly about items I want to keep for future projects, and pretty soon I find I'm not getting rid of anything, that all of my ephemera is coming with me, and I inevitably freak out and have to re-open boxes just to cleanse them of their gluttony. When my mother moved out of the country circa 2009-ish, I got all the family photo albums, and a few of my teeny tiny preemie onesies, because yes, while now I am amazonian in stature, you should know, gentle reader, that this "human ladder" (nickname care of Lisa G.) started life out at a mere 5 pounds, 12 ounces. The clothes are unreal; sleeves that look like they were made for adult fingers, not baby arms. I swam in them. To hold them is to be sucked backwards through time to a place I don't remember ever going. (Reader: don't worry. I bounced back, with a vengeance, and I have the stretch marks to prove it.)

And while that is a weird transcendent experience, to hold one's own Borrower-sized baby clothes in one's now larger-than-average lady hands, it's really time for me to give these memorials of myself away. Or throw them out, in some cases. I don't know why we accrue these items, but we do. Is it because we are desperate to tell our own stories? Scrambling for proof that we were on this earth, something besides photographs and here say. Somehow, our own two feed on the ground, the feel of the air, the light refracting inside the rods and cones of our eyeballs is not enough. 

So set it on fire, go ahead. Not literally, of course, because I live in an apartment building and am not homicidal, but figuratively. Get this junk out of here.

But about the book. Once you start flipping through pages, it soon becomes clear that, for most of the entrants in this fantasy scenario, the objects they choose to save are clearly more related to how these individuals wish to be perceived, rather than what they would actually miss in the event of a fire. One 24 year old from the Bronx displays, "two small photo graphs in beautiful frames". The photographs are tiny, only about two inches long, house in equally small, ornate brass frames. They look old, probably rescued from a thrift store or antique warehouse. It would appear this woman does not know who the people are in the photographs. Sure, these could have sentimental value for her, maybe they were given to her by somebody important and that's how they've transferred value into her life, but I find it far more likely that she just wants to be perceived as someone who would rescue two tiny, anonymous and arcane photographs in the event of a fire, because she is quirky and mysterious.

I'm not judging that instinct, but if that's the direction we're moving in, my list would have to be different. If what I rescue correlates to how I want to be represented, then I'd probably want my television, my high school diploma, (I worked damn hard for that thing, what up Brookline Public Schools) some choice photographs of my friends, my copy of Handling Sin by Michael Malone, my Ralph Steadman art book, Firefly on blu-ray, mother's wristwatch, picture of my parents dancing when they were young and in love (and also the only picture I have of both of them at the same time), and I reserve the right to fall to my knees and weep for all the beautiful scarves that are about to light up the night sky with their sacrifice. I'm sorry, my darlings. I'm so sorry Mommy couldn't save you all.

Which way of thinking about the "what would you save" list appeals to you more? And, more importantly, what would you save? If you want to come in and look at this book, it's on the new paperbacks table. Start thinking, friends.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Format

So if you're headed down into the basement straight for the coolest section (science fiction, duh) you might notice that it's not where it used to be. It didn't go to space or nothin', we just moved it down the aisle and it now faces mystery. It looks pretty cool. Also, we just had our big lighting overhaul completed in the UBC. The whole store has had its lighting re-rigged to be brighter, more efficient and eco-friendly. The UBC got some majorly bright lights that helped out the browsing in our subterranean cavern, and now there's an extra row of lighting down fiction to help you see all the books you may have missed before. Come check it out!

Additional "new formatting" came through the UBC last week in the shape of a graphic novel adaptation of the Book of Mormon. I hadn't seen anything quite like it before so it seemed noteworthy. It reads like a pretty exciting historical adventure comic, but you get the whole story of the Mormon scriptures. So if the South Park episode didn't go through enough detail for you, maybe these are a starting point. Or if you're already LDS, these might make a cool "I'm-a-Law-of-Consecrationist" gift to the 8-year-old in your life.

In other UBC news, it's been pretty busy lately. People are movin', people are cleanin', people have time off and the weather is nice so they're totin' in books by the bag-, box-, and dresser drawer-ful. So we're being pretty selective and recommend that you call ahead or e-mail what sort of books you have to save some effort. And remember, our buying hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM - 4 PM. We can't take books outside those times. It's against Book Ordinance #279.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Reader's Guide to Literary Journals

Next to our Poetry section and across the aisle from Fiction is one of my favorite sections: Literary Journals. For those who don't know about literary journals, they are somewhere in between book and magazine, containing a mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, in an attractive, bound package.  Generally published a few times a year, they are less timely than weeklies and monthlies, like The New Yorker and Harper's, but they are still relevant. Many writers get their start publishing in literary journals before going on to publish thier own books, and often a journal will have issues centered around a country or topic that has been in the news. One of my favorites is Granta's issue devoted to Pakistan, with a cover designed by a Pakistani truck artist. I love literary journals. The right one can consistently offer me something great to read, whether I'm in the mood for something short or long or newsy or just want to look at some nice artwork.

Each literary journal has it's own flavor. The Paris Review, one the most well known and widely read literary journals, has fantastic in-depth author interviews. Here's a brief overview of some of the others that we have on our shelf. If you're a writer, check out The Review Review which is geared towards submitting work to magazines.

We're lucky here in Massachusetts. We have some of the best universities in the country and some pretty good MFA programs, many with an interest in the literary world. Some of the best journals are printed right in our backyard. Ploughshares, published out of Emerson College, has a guest editor select the content for each issue; the current issue's guest editor is Nick Flynn. Agni, out of Boston University, contains ambitious work that aspires to contribute to a larger cultural conversation. Redivider is put together by the MFA graduate students at Emerson College and is edgy and fun. The Common, out of Amherst College and newer to the scene, has a pretty great section devoted to images.

From the south, we have Oxford American which embraces all things southern flavored and publishes articles on food and film and fashion in addition to the traditional fiction, poetry, and art. They also have some truly stunning covers. Virginia Quarterly Review is one of the classics, and stories published in it have gone on to won a number of big awards, including a National Magazine Award. Ecotone's mission is to create a discussion place, which makes it one of the few literary journals who consistently publish work about science and nature.

From the west coast we have Tin House - one of my personal favorites. They publish some seriously good writers while maintaining a free-spirit, unpretentious vibe. Zoetrope: All-Story, with a nod to its founder, Francis Ford Coppola, has a Classic Reprint section for stories that have inspired films. McSweeney's and The Believer, both published by Dave Eggers' publishing house, are hip, thought-provoking and fun.

Out of the UK we have Granta. Granta has been around for a very long time and has published an impressive list of internationally acclaimed writers, though they publish lesser known authors too. They were the first to publish Bill Bryson, Zadie Smith, and Arundhati Roy, among others.

This is just a small, small sampling. There are so many newer magazines experimenting with form and style and content. So come check out the shelves!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tune in to Travel

I have always been an avid reader of Jose Saramago's fiction, so when I recently picked up his travel narrative, Journey to Portugal, I was pleased to discover that the book contains Saramago's distinguished voice and unique writing style, and that his non-fiction account of his travels through Portugal actually reads very much like a novel. This is probably due to the fact that throughout his journey Saramago refers to himself as "the traveller," which has the affect of transforming the non-fiction narrator into something of a character.

When referring to himself, Saramago is careful to make the important distinction between traveler and tourist: "The traveller has seen much of the world and of life," he writes, "and has never felt comfortable in the role of a tourist who goes somewhere, takes a look at it, thinks he understands it, takes photos of it and returns to his own country boasting that he knows [it]."

A recent article published in the New York Times by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison,"Reclaiming Travel," takes Saramago's definition of a traveler even further, exploring essential questions about the art of travel such as, "what distinguishes meaningful, fruitful travel from mere tourism?" and "What turns travel into a quest rather than self-serving escapism?"

I am reminded of this distinction between traveler and tourist whenever I flip through one of our DK Eyewitness travel guides, books that are undoubtedly oriented toward the traveler interested not only in what to eat and where to sleep, but in picking up important literary, cultural, and architectural details about their surroundings along the way...

Read the rest of this post at our blog on the Then tune in to WBUR this week to learn more about the travel resources we have available at our Globe Corner Travel Annex at Brookline Booksmith.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our Night Circus

Photo courtesy of Justin Moore
We were fortunate enough to host the paperback launch release for The Night Circus this past Tuesday. This is one of those books that a good number of us had read. Six! With all our ranging tests, and with so many new, used, and yet-to-be-published books at our fingertips, six of us having read the same new book is impressive. I don't want to give too much away about The Night Circus because part of the fun of this novel is how the plot unfolds, but briefly it is about Celia and Marco, two illusionists, who at a very young age are sealed to compete against each other in a competition. This book is my kind of summer read. The world is magical, the writing is very sensory, and the story is absorbing enough to keep me firmly in my beach chair.

Events crew with author Erin Morgenstern
We went all out for the launch party. We converted events director Evan's office into a fortune teller's lair; a magician dazzled all ages in our childrens section; and our special guests, the band Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, kept things lively in the Used Book Cellar. The staff dressed in black and white and red, we served caramel popcorn and many different kinds of fizzy drinks, and we gave prizes to those who joined in the fun by dressing up. One of our costume contest winners received a journal in which Katrina sketched a lovely intricate tree to mimic Marco's in the book, and our other contest winner won a gift certificate to the store. The Huffington Post's Books Editor Andrew Losowsky interviewed Erin after her reading, and the rest of the Huffington Post books crew covered the event.

Katrina's sketch in a leather Toscana journal

Here are some more pictures of our reading-launch-party-circus, courtesy of Justin Moore. And definitely pick up The Night Circus, now out in paperback!

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys performing in the UBC

Author Erin Morgenstern signing copies of The Night Circus
Events Director Evan judging the costume contest


Night Circus party favors
Check out more photos from the event over at Justin's flickr page.

Darling Angel Meat (and friends!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"I'm a happy girl and I like pizza." - Jes.

Jes just rounded the corner.

"You'll appreciate this." She said to me. "My mantra while I'm on the floor if something (or someone) is challenging me is 'I'm a happy girl and I like people. I'm a happy girl and I like people', but today, somehow, I realized I was walking around the store saying 'I'm a happy girl, and I like pizza' over and over again. I changed it in my head without even realizing it. I'm a happy girl, and I like pizza."

So, I failed my road test. Failed so hard, it will go on record as a warning to other drivers of the future, like the severed heads placed upon pikes of old; beware, this is how hard one can fail this particular test in this particular way. What followed after the immediate failing was me, driving the car back to allston and crying silent tears, because that's the kind of mature, safety-first attitude that potentially licensed drivers have. Oh wait, nnnnnot. I got out of the car and my Dad said a few more words of encouragment to try and make me feel better, but I was already comfortably wrapped in my cape of despair, so the only thing to do was the climb the four floors to my apartment and cry openly in my overheated, tepid room about the grave injustices of the world.

Which is exactly what I did. Then, later, I cracked open a bottle of white wine (and pointedly did not turn on my air conditioning, because air conditioning is for winners and winners only) and read Mary Karr poetry for four hours while continuing to feel a profound and moving pity for myself.

Of course I rescheduled the test, and of course, since the DMV books road tests a month in advance, it's not till August, but looking back on the whole situation now, I guess I have to take a certain pride in myself for even having tried. I mean, I'm not trying to get trite on you all, but my situation is such that I don't have to learn how to drive for my survival. I work a 20 minute walk away from my apartment, and until recently, I went to a university accessible by public transportation, so my whole life here is set up on a strict no-vehicle philosophy. Besides the tragic fact that I can't get to Ikea whenever I want to, (the eternal sadness of which, believe me, drags the corners of my soul downwards into itself like a dark, feeding mouth) and a few awkward emergency room visits over the years, I don't have wheels, I don't need wheels. It's only a desire to change my life and my priorities that inspired me to even try to get my license. Making changes is good, even if you don't know where they'll lead. So I should probably be proud of that, if nothing else, if not the fact that I cried all the way home from the DMV and my Dad tried to offer to take me out to lunch but I couldn't because I was so overwhelmed with emotion because I failed my drivers test.

But anyway. Books, right? Am I right, guys? Books.

This whole idea of the road not taken (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE WITH THAT PUN DO YOU GET IT) is a massive concept, and one not undertaken by the flimsy of aorta. I was thinking about it as I closed the book store last night, and, while straightening the photography section, stumbled across this:

A collection of essays by photographers, presumably on the images they missed capturing, edited by Will Steacy. For a photographer, life is about documenting the present, an exact moment. It's not about painting a moment, or impressionism; photography is about pristine detail. There is some artistic wiggle room, but for the most part, what photographers hope for are perfect conditions and the right equipment. However, you can't always have a camera or be available to snap a photo. These essays are about those missed opportunities. Some of them are quite moving, especially if you're into photography at all. I particularly liked this entry, by Kelli Connell.

Kelli Connell:

- West Texas storm rolling in, July, on way to Colorado.

- Christine smiling, face up, eyes closed, soaking up the sun.

- Thomas in red chair. Light from apartment window enveloping him. His blue eyes intense.

- Thomas, wild-gray sky behing him, standing outside of car. CLose up, his eyes after crying. Gaze like last scene in Orlando.

- White sheet hovering, falling on bed.

- Sunnye with her dogs, in bed, watching TV at night.

- Jacinda in new house in new town.

- Plaza Donuts on Belmont Avenue at sunset, the tennis courts (what's left of them) on Todd Lane, the drawing room on the fourth floor.

- Peter, close-up, office window light, with glasses and without.

- Brad floating/standing next to pool after working out.

- Joe, in basement, piles of laundry, pounds of coins.

- Marni knitting in winter, Barkley, her dog, nearby.

- Darby in the snow.


-Denton twins.

- Softball girls.

- That hot girl drummer.

- Ligt moving along the bottom of the pool.

Pretty cool stuff, right? The collection is $14. 95 in our photography section. Quit contemplating your own hazardous position in the universe for one hot second and come check it out, you introspective ninnies. Just kidding. You know me. I'm a happy girl, and I like pizza.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spirit Animal

It's always a great icebreaker if you're socially awkward like me and you're just trying to get people to talk: ask them what their spirit animal is. And if they don't know, because they're grown-ups and they've never considered it, just throw a few crazy ones out there until one takes. Also there's that funny scene in Palahniuk's Fight Club where the character confronts his penguin spirit animal during a meditation.

My spirit animal is a bunny rabbit. I'm not necessarily very tiny, timid or scared all the time. Nor do I procreate rapidly or have a particular fondness for parsley. But I think they're fluffy and cute and I like it when they scream. It's kinda badass. There's a really great bunny spirit animal in Paasilinna's Year of the Hare, where the main character Vatanen rejects his material comforts (job, girlfriend, city apartment) to take up with a bunny in the Finnish wilderness. Here's artist Fabrice Backes' interpretation of the book:

Wouldn't you want to cuddle with that bunny?!

Just this last week in the UBC we got a ton of great books with awesome animal-themed covers, and it sort of blows the whole spirit animal business open. Like, why just be exemplified by a piglet, classic symbol of virility and strength, but instead choose to be a pig with a pierced nose and big bow tie, like this fancy dancer on the cover of a Wodehouse novel that is now on the top of my to-read list:

Maybe you're this wacky bird with long legs and a confident gait:

But really, if given the choice, the only animal from all of literature to truly emulate is Behemoth from Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. He's my favorite cat in literature. He's one of Satan's henchmen. He has a proclivity for chess, vodka and firearms, and he wears fancy pince-nez glasses. And he's super sarcastic and hardcore.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Traveling with Kids

My co-worker Paul has just returned from his family’s first overnight camping trip, quite the ambitious feat considering Paul’s family includes two children, five and three. The trip, as first tent camping ventures go, was something of a success, not counting the mosquitoes. Before he left I saw Paul in our travel aisle at Booksmith, stocking up on guides and maps. Traveling with kids can be intimidating enough for some parents to opt to stay home. That’s why we’re stocking our aisles with new travel guides specifically aimed not only for parents, but also for kids. Read all about these guides at our blog at