Sunday, September 30, 2012

Graphica grows!

Just when you thought you had the kids' section figured out, we've changed it on you again. Slightly.

The graphic novel fans among you may recall the little bookcase that until recently held our Kids' Graphica section. Well, Kids' Graphica isn't so little anymore. Just in the past two months, we've had a number of new graphic novel releases that made it clear we need space to show off these books' covers. Our young customers have snapped up two new Big Nate books, a new Amulet book, Raina Telgemeier's Drama, and others. Now, thanks(!) to the help of several intrepid shelf-shifters, Kids' Graphica inhabits a much larger bookcase directly across from the Picture Book section. Besides letting us bring huge quantities of books out of overstock and onto the shelves, the change means that the oft-requested Tintin series is back in the kids' section.

In many ways, graphica works as a great equalizer. Lots of readers, many of them also avid readers of prose novels, love them for the adventure or the humor they offer, or in some cases, for their new ways of looking at familiar stories (did you know there's a graphic version of A Wrinkle in Time coming out this week?). But graphic novels don't really have reading levels, since so much of the "reading" comes from understanding the pictures. Got a reader who's learning English, or whose comprehension skills are ahead of his or her decoding skills? Graphic novels are a great way to practice and enjoy reading, and because the pictures are there no matter how old the intended readers are (most of these books have a really wide range), a sixth grader won't get stuck reading a book intended for, say, second graders.

The Odyssey in gorgeous watercolor. A troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl in Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword. The entire Bone series. Get in here.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

SCARVES: a blog post.

Sorry to consistently pad my blog posts with nostalgia from my childhood (just clawing at my eyeballs for that emmy nod, dudes) but I kind of don't know how else to write a blog post. My life is kind of like a psychadelic drudgery, if you can imagine that. I work a lot, it's wet and grey out, and nothing makes sense. Emotions and urges kind of float around in the ether and I pluck at them at random. I bought a pair of earrings today because they matched my outfit. Like that's a thing I can afford? Nope. Wrong. I ate popcorn for dinner last night. I basically just arrange greeting cards and watch the clock run out on the grace period on my student loans, cultivating unrequited longings and pointedly not going to the gym.

Oh my god I'm so sorry, am I OVERWHELMING YOU WITH A NAMELESS DREAD?! Sorry sorry sorry. That happens sometimes. Moving on.

WHEN I WAS A KID I didn't really adhere to a collecting mentality. The idea of collecting things just for the hell or it wasn't something that interested me, possibly due to a complete aversion to anything remotely competitive that I honed early on in life. Beany babies, trading cards, GI Joes, countless childhood fads passed me by and while I participated, I didn't really feel the same wild fervor that a few choice other kids did. Unknowingly, I just let the tide of all these one hit wonders collect and abate on my tiny, undeveloped brain.

Despite all that, a collection snuck up on me when I wasn't paying attention, and it's one I can't really quantify or explain. I think it probably has something to do with my maternal grandmother. I have two grandmothers, as one must, at least on paper anyway, and while they are not entirely unalike they don't share many similarities, in appearance especially. My father's mother enjoys a style that has a purpose; a lot of sweaters, slacks, a lot of black and khaki. Fancy shoes abandoned long ago for an all-purpose, all-black men's sneaker (genius, in my opinion, and I can't wait till they call my number on that matter) which cushions and supports just right.

My Mom's Mom, however, is a much fancier lady. If anybody can be described as "swanning" about, it's my maternal grandmother. She tends to swan about wearing billowing, sheer floral blouses, tens of gold bangles on her thin wrists that glitter and clack as she gesticulates or opens a tin of cat food. She has forever wound her grey hair into a foot-high bouffant on top of her head, and we spot her that way, in supermarkets and malls, a soft grey thumb bobbing away from us in the distance.

It's those blouses that caught my attention; like paper, water; I'm finding it hard to explain them without using the word "silky", which is odd, using a word to describe itself, since some of them where at least part silk or meant to look like it, at any rate. Fabric that floated, made itself seem precious or important in some way, probably just in its utter uselessness. Scarves have a very small section of use, and even then, purpose is relegated to warmth, which completely negates the existence of the sheer. Light summer scarves, sheer scarves; there's no place for them in reason, they hover just outside of utility but are firmly grounded in the decorative.

The lovely and fragrant Helena
I took to collecting scarves without realizing I was doing it, I just started wanting them. I kept them in a hinged basket and then later, an additional faux suitcase and then later, an additional plastic bin. I never wore them, I would play with some of them but for the most part they where just there to be had, and touched and appreciated, but never used for anything. Occasionally, on Halloween especially, they would come in spectacularly handy, and I would think yes, why doesn't everyone have a scarf collection, it makes total sense. When I grew up, the scarves went away for a little while, but once I began to create a style for myself I brought them out again. I wear scarves I've had for decades, holding on to them for a reason I was never quite sure of. I am somewhat known around the store for buying scarves before they even hit the floor and have a chance to be sold organically.

Cheeseball's Anonymous

Sometimes we all have to step into the decorative circle, or else we go banana pants and start stockpiling for the apocalypse. So I will see you there, Brookline. Come check out our newest scarf shipment in the card and gift room. I've already bought three. I'm not even joking. You have to get here before I buy all the good ones. As this autumn creeps into our beds and our lungs and our hearts, so much becomes about necessity. Boots for the rain and snow, heavy coats, thick scarves, hats, gloves. No more bicycles or straw summer hats, just fleece and four wheel drive and Halls mentholated. If you need to stop in and get yourself something a little precious, a little floaty, and a little sheer? I promise not to tell. Oh my god just kidding, you know I'll tell everyone, but who cares?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pretty Things

Just some basic snaps of real pretty things that came in the UBC this week:

Love this cover of Muriel Spark's Memento Mori:

A beautiful book of poetry and Tibetan calligraphy that my picture can't do justice. Come in a take a look:

I don't know why but I want to live inside the cottage on this cover of Wordsworth poems:

And finally, the woman who once owned and collected these fine Modern Library editions we acquired sure had immaculate handwriting, it almost looks like its own brand of calligraphy:

Come get lost in your own aesthetic reverie in the basement with me. Carl's on vacation so there's no classic rock playing. 

But seriously, Carl, come back.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Electoral College. Before High School.

So I don't know if you've missed this minor news item, but there's an election coming up pretty soon here in the U.S. Caucuses, conventions, debates, debacles, balloon launches, accusations of buffoonery... it's a lot to keep straight. But if there's someone in your life who's not old enough to vote yet, but who is old enough to wonder what on earth everyone's talking about, we've got a few books to help you explain things.

See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House takes a cartoonish approach, but the light tone doesn't mean it's light on information. Starting with the Ancient Greek origins of democracy, it takes readers right up to the present and delivers plenty of vocabulary and honest, age-appropriate information about the contention that occasionally accompanies elections. Similarly, Where Do Presidents Come From?: And Other Presidential Stuff of Super-Great Importance uses the graphic format to explore lots of aspects of choosing--and being-- a president. The Election Book: The People Pick a President does the same, but in a more traditional prose form.

If you like a little fiction with your facts, there's The Kid Who Ran for President and (spoiler alert) The Kid Who Became President. There's also Bad Kitty for President, because who can resist "the purrrfect candidate?" (It says that on the cover. You can't blame me for this one.)
That's just a few of the election-related books for kids that we have on display. Come in to find more!

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

For Those Who Devour Books

As Zoe mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm new to the Booksmith. Hi there Brookline! You're a lovely bunch!

Pros of this new job: There are books. Everywhere. And people who love books. And some people who don't ordinarily love people but who, through that particular alchemy of tacit bibliophilia and a slow Sunday afternoon, agree to share the planet and maybe even a coffee + scone.

But! Cons: I'm gaining weight. Why the heck am I gaining weight?

Fancy-pants logicians might draw conclusions. They might point to the industrious yet generous bakers and gardeners among my new colleagues. They might mention the
creperie across the street, the pizza joint on the corner or any one of the numerous little cafes which prove so irresistible on lunch-breaks. They might question the wisdom of a staff candy-jar. But you know? I blame the books. 
(Image courtesy of We Know Books )
(Image courtesy of Design Mom: Book of the Week)

Consider: who among us doesn't hunger for literature? Whether you voraciously consume your latest Booksmith purchases or savor them, page by delicious page, you're in good company here. Take, for example, Oliver Jeffers' The Incredible Book-Eating Boy (above) which I recently found in our Children's section. It's the story of Henry, a young boy who develops a literal taste for books (red ones are his favorite).

(Images courtesy of Creative Review)
 Elsewhere in the genre of Books With Symbolically Significant Bite Marks is the aptly titled Eat Me: Appetite for Design. I'm crazy for this book, you guys - not just because its wafer-textured cover and creamy two-toned pages remind me of a layer-cake. It's a compilation of projects by modern artists and design firms who draw inspiration from food. When both form and content make you salivate, you clearly have a winner.

(Image courtesy of Playing with Flour)
 All this is to say nothing of the cookbooks, about which I could go on for pages. But to continue in the vein of really lovely design, I'll leave you with a gem that recently caught my eye. Any pastry aficionado will be familiar with Ladurée, the ultra-luxurious Parisian pâtisserie and purveyor of the quintessential macaron. This cookbook, daintily packaged to resemble a box of the bakery's infamous confections, holds in its gilt pages what I can only assume are the best-kept secrets of the cut-throat meringue and creme industry. Buy it for the Francophile in your life and save it from my clutches - my bookshelf and I are going on a diet.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumn Reads

©artist Robert The;
It's that time, dear Reader. I shook my head and ignored it when I saw pumpkin beers infiltrating the market, and on my birthday a week ago when I had to bring a sweater, but the death knell came this week when two important things happened:

1) My craving for a pumpkin smoothie won out at the end of a long shift, and
2) When I got a hankering to read Virginia Woolf.

Typically, Orlando is my favorite, and reading Woolf in autumn started with Mrs. Dalloway, but this year I was thinking of that scene with the deer head and the veil when I saw about the 800th horned-animal accessory (so hot right now) in a row. Sometimes, kids, you just have to surrender to what the universe is telling you to read. I just finally got caught up on Mad Men, and some lines that stuck with me might be subconsciously pushing me to pay attention to Lily Briscoe this time around. Who knows?!

Other Booksmithereens have similar seasonal traditions. Bonnie in the C&G reads Raymond Carver as the trees die. And other friends, my bestie Katia for one, reads Oscar Wilde.

How about you? Any big autumnal reading plans? If not, stop by and get inspired! Or if you're soured on reading, get inspired by Robert The's super-cool book sculptures, then come in and buy cheap $1 to hack up. Autumn is the perfect, contemplative weather for crafting beside a cup of tea.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tattoos, (or) The Death Knell in my Modeling Career (and it was going so well, too)

Last wednesday, between going to the dentist and trying my hand at making gimlets (wooooooo gimlets!  Glass of gin and some syrup, wooo!) a coworker (whom we will now refer to as Princess Bubbblegum) and I stopped by Regeneration Tattoo in Allston, MA. Up until recently I have lived within a 10 mile radius of Regeneration for 4 years, but never went in. I have two tattoos: a small bird on my arm that I got the minute I turned 18, and a bicycle wheel on my lower left leg that I forget about every winter. The bike wheel had been done in Maine, and many moons ago I got the little bird inked onto me in a small room at Chameleon, in Harvard Square.

When you get a tattoo, the first thing everyone wants to know is 1. Did it hurt, and 2. what is its significance? And while answering these questions again and again might get annoying, its easy to see why people want to know. I, too, ask the questions of other tattoo-havers, because choosing to alter your body permanently usually has a good story attached to it. The little bird I got mostly because I was 18 and I wanted to get something I drew myself; it's a silhouette really, its very simple and kind of abstract, a lot of people don't know what it is. Looking back on it, while I don't dislike the tattoo, I might have advised a younger me to get something else. Now, the tattoo just reminds me of being 18, and now, almost 6 years later, the little bird is very much just part of my body. If I dislike it, it's the same level of dislike I might have about a freckle, or my body proportions. It just is there, it's been there for a while now, it's not going away.

The bicycle wheel has a more subtle sentiment to it. Bicycle building used to be a hobby of my Dad's, and I felt it was the first thing we really bonded over. For a while at the end of high school and the first two years of college, I was really into riding bikes, especially since I lived in the city and I didn't have a license. I got the wheel as sort of a tribute to that connection with my Dad. Also, the picture I got the wheel from is a picture of one of the Duchamp "Readymades", and while I'm not a huge Duchamp fan, I felt that getting this picture of the readymades would be a good testament to my art school background, a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to my art school dropout status, which is also permanent, unless I went back to art school (shudder).

A month prior to Wednesday, Princess Bubblegum and I had taken a rough draft of an idea we both wanted tattoos of to Cathy at Regeneration. Cathy worked her magic, took a rough idea and made it into something amazing, and a month later, here I am, wearing  it permanently etched into my skin.

I hadn't been tattooed in a while; it's been at least 2 years since I had the bicycle wheel done. I found the experience to be far more enlightening than I remember. I lay down under Cathy's needle and breathed my way through the initial pain until my adrenaline kicked in and the process was merely uncomfortable. Suddenly, I felt all the trouble of my life begin to fade away. I knew, with distinct certainty, what to do about all the little twitchy matters that have been haunting me these past few months. I came off of that table with a clear mind; it felt like I had been doing yoga for hours, but instead I just got jabbed repeatedly with a needle - and now I have this nifty souvenir.

Tattoo culture has changed from when I was a kid, and drastically from when my parents were kids. Lena Dunham, creator of controversial HBO series "GIRLS" and well-documented haver of tattoos, has written some of her real tattoo experiences into her character on the show. Hannah, Dunham's character, mentions that she got her tattoos in high school after gaining a lot of weight really fast and wanting to feel in control of her own body. I cannot claim what level of truth this quote reflects in regard to Dunham's personal experience, but I think for a lot of women, its sentiment rings true.

For me, tattoos are a way of reclaiming and reconnecting with my body. As an average female adult, my body and the rights it has access to are often up for debate, but having a personal connection to one's husk means more than just fighting the system from a political stance. Women from all over the world live in a media culture that urges us to manipulate our bodies, that places arbitrary values on the shape and size of our physicality. Women are taught to take up less space, to be diminutive, silent, and passive. Tattoos don't have to be a symbol of the rejection of this lessening, but mine are.

And what does this newest tattoo mean? Well it's got some history to it that I won't divulge here, but I feel its core message is appropriate to the whole act of tattooing, and so I will leave you with it: "tempus fugit" is latin, and it is often misinterpreted as "time flies", but its real meaning is slightly more nuanced, it closer translates to "time flees". Time is fast, it slips by unnoticed, and leaves us chasing after it, always looking for more. You have to pay close attention to the small amount of time you see as it flits away from you. Be sure to do and enjoy all the things you can while you can; you have to eat the strawberry while it's ripe. It won't be ripe forever.

you can see my other little bird tattoo in this photo, I didn't notice until now. Hey buddy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Colors Outta Space

Two neat-o books in the UBC of note this week:

S. Petersen's Field Guide to Creatures of the Dreamlands is a natural field guide to the supernatural creatures of H. P. Lovecraft's stories. Finally, you'll know what to do when you see a Basilisk wandering around a river bank (hint: RUN). $8.50.

Cut and Fold Paper Spaceships That Fly is a compendium of 16 full-color models of spaceships FROM THE FUTURE that you can cut out, fold up (as directed) and send into orbit! Just $2.50!

Also, a regular of ours unloaded piles of Modern Libraries, many with stunning dust jackets. Come in and fill the holes in your collection before staffer and Modern Library collector Erik does!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Writing and Publishing Panel

This past Saturday, assistant manager extraordinnaire Kate Robinson and I hosted a panel on writing and publishing. Kate covered poetry, I covered fiction and nonfiction. We weren't sure if anyone would come and we were thrilled when we walked out and saw a full audience. Turns out, after hours and hours of workshops, writers conferences, of getting rejection slips in envelopes that we addressed to ourselves, Kate and I came out with a little bit of hard earned wisdom.  If you missed the panel, here's a quick run-down on some writing tools and guides that will help you have a productive fall. And if you're interested in similar writing-related events in the future, let us know in the comments section and we'll put you on our writing events mailing list.

Publishing Guides
Poets & Writers Magazine - The magazine that covers all things publishing. Find out about MFA programs, read agent and author interviews, keep a list of upcoming contests and deadlines. Check out the Connect With Others section of their website- you can ask questions and vent your writing-related frustrations on their Speakesy message forum.

Writers' Market Series - Writers Digest publishes these huge compendiums that include lists of agents, how to query, places to submit. You can get books specifically on poetry, novels and short stories, agents, and children's literature. If you're fed up with clicking around from website to website and keeping your own lists of where to submit, these books are for you.

Writing Guides
Nonfiction writers, check out The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick, which focuses on the art of the personal essay. Tell It Slant by Brenda Miller is a great craft-oriented book for the creative nonfiction writer. Fiction writers looking to generate new material check out, Now Write! which offers prompts from writing teachers.  And those interested in poetry, have you read Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook? In this book Mary Oliver not only teaches you about rhyme and meter but she also teaches you how to read poetry. Even for fiction and nonfiction writers, this is a great book that helps you understand the power of rhythmic language.

And the one thing we said over and over again - read! Actually, William Faulkner says it best.

“Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Safari Travels

If you plan on traveling to Africa -- no matter what your purpose or goal is there -- I highly recomend going on safari where wild animals are unfenced and free to do as they please...

Read more on our Globe blog at

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Humanitarian Life: A New Way to Travel

Many people view travel as time with family and friends, exploring unfamiliar areas, or an opportunity to relax from a persistant routine.  I recently returned from Africa, however it wasn't under your typical label of "travel."

Read more at our blog at

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Whatever Happened to Bobby Dunbar?

While I was driving to work today, I heard over This American Life of the story of Bobby Dunbar, the 4 year old boy whose disappearance in 1912 was widely reported and very much talked and wondered about.

Lessie and Percy Dunbar of Opelousas, Louisana's first son was named Bobby Dunbar. On August 23, 1912, while on a camping trip with his family in Louisiana, Bobby disappeared. After an 8 month long search, a young boy was discovered in Mississippi in the company of William Cantwell Walters, a traveling handyman who went front town to town on a wagon, tuning organs and pianos. He claimed the boy was actually Bruce Anderson, the son of a woman who worked for his family, and that he had been willingly given by his mother to Walters to accompany him on his travels. Despite Walters' story, he was arrested, and the little boy detained. Authorities believed they had, at last, found Bobby Dunbar, and word was sent to the Dunbar's to come identify this boy, if they could.

This is where the story gets difficult. Different papers claim both child and alleged parents had different responses upon being reunited, ranging from the blisteringly positive (little boy cries "mommy!" and is enveloped in a hug from his biological mother) to the benign, wherein the boy shows no recognition of the Dunbar's, and the Dunbars claim the little boy does not have the same phyiscal attributes as the boy they lost. A night passes, however, and Lessie is allowed to bathe the boy. By the morning, she claims the child is indeed her son, that he was the right moles and scars to be Bobby Dunbar.

At about this point in the story, Julia Anderson arrives from North Carolina to claim the child as her missing boy. She claims that, while Walters was at the house she worked at in NC, Bruce took a strong liking to him and followed him around everywhere. According to Anderson, she did give Waters permission to take on her boy, but not for the amount of time he had been missing, and that William Cantwell Walters kidnapped Bobby Dunbar. When Julia is allowed to see the child, there is once again no recognition between child and alleged mother. Julia, as an unwed domestic who was three times a mother but had already given up one child for adoption and had to suffer the death of another, was not looked upon kindly by the court, and the ruling was in favor of the Dunbars. Julia Anderson left town, and the recovered boy lived out his life as Bobby Dunbar.

There are a lot of details I've left out here, and I will be including several links to some information in case you want to investigate this case further, but in 2004 Bobby Dunbar's granddaughter, Margaret Dunbar Cutright, began to look deeper into this family legend and what she found was quite astonishing. She wrote a book called "A Case for Solomon", about the trials and the families that were involved. The end of this story is both mysterious and heartbreaking, perhaps making one question how much one knows about their own identity, despite what we learn along the way. What makes us ourselves, and part of our family? What constitutes a family? Definitely take a listen to the radio broadcast or read the transcript and stop in the store to check out Margaret's book. This is a case of true American mystery from the past, and well worth reading up on.

This American Life: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

Wikipedia: Bobby Dunbar

The Oddment Emporium: Bobby Dunbar

Friday, September 7, 2012

It's All Politics

I mostly try not to meddle in the affairs of politics, but there are a ton of great books that ought be read by anyone, at anytime, but in particular to get you through the insanity of an upcoming presidential election during our brave new world of 24-hour cable news pundits and nearly 4-year-long campaign seasons. So here are some timeless, analog options for escaping the two bickering dudes and nonstop streaming ticker tape of useless drivel flashing across screens and phones everywhere. I offer a bit of a mental exercise. To try and read a cogent, reasoned argument for the other side, and remember that in essence we all have stuff in common, we just sometimes see the world a little differently, and ultimately, if we all just try and abide by the golden rule, we can get through this election together.

A#1: For the left-leaning, give Barry Goldwater's Conscience of a Conservative a try. The blurb on the back from the LA Times offers a glimpse of what Goldwater's got: "The book lays out, clearly and succinctly,  his uncompromising views. Goldwater held freedom as the highest value in American society: freedom from law, freedom from government, freedom from anybody else's vision but your own. You can argue with him on the particulars, but there's something compelling about his quintessentially American notion of self-reliance." Not quite on the same line as Emerson, but as Americans, even if we're all about social safety nets and making sure everyone is taken care of, Goldwater's hearkening back to our roots of anti-monarchy, small-government-rugged-individualism can resonate among us all. It's a good one to read and try and see things from the other side, just to remind you that they're people too.

B#2: And for the conservative folks (which despite possible stereotypes completely exist in our neighborhood and shop at our fair indepented book store), Paul Krugman's response, The Conscience of a Liberal. Krugman's is more of a historical story about where income gaps have come from (Krugman's background as an economist shines through here) and he follows the line to make a clear, cogent argument for the importance of balancing out what he feels are entrenched systems of inequality in contemporary American society. A book to remind you that sometimes people have it hard and need help and it may not always be because they're lazy or unskilled. But I digress.

If I could recommend just one book for everyone to read to get them through the election, though, it would be Karen Armstrong's 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life. It is one of the best books I've read on religion, politics, and humanity, in all my years as a voracious reader and undergrad studies in philosophy and literature. It's broken up into chapters that move from being more aware of yourself to being more compassionate of your neighbors, then your countrymen, then other humans from anywhere, then your enemies, even. It's a process, she insists that you will have to continue to be mindful of and practice. But the book reads a lot like a comparative history that makes this really fascinating argument that all world religions at base have a thread of compassion for all living beings as an integral component to practice. Remembering this thing that connects us all, and trying to be mindful of others in a truly compassionate way on a regular basis is perhaps the best prescription to get through the vitriolic election season with health and sanity in check.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Read Local, Drink Local

Maybe it's in bad taste to talk up another independent book stores' events, but this is so cool! Porter Square Books is launching a "Drink Local, Read Local" events series, pairing local beer tastings with book events So awesome! Look for more info at their blog,, and here is the event post in question.

When it comes to book sellin', its one for all and all for one.

The Voices of Travel

In Peter Whitfield's recent Travel: A Literary History, some of the earliest travel writing he chronicles are stories like Homer's Odyssey and Virgil's Aeneid, travelers' tales we tend to think of as more myth than history, more fiction than fact. And yet the adventures of heroes like Odysseus move us like all quixotic quests, and Whitfield includes them in his survey, arguing in one interview with the New York Times, that "travel literature existed for centuries, but not in its own right. It was...always involved with other things—war and conquest, religion, history writing, commerce, science, poetry." To do justice to the genre, Whitfield does not confine himself to categorical "true" stories, plumbing history and legend alike for stories of adventure, intrigue, and discovery.

Many of these early travel tales, like Homer's Odyssey, were passed on orally before they were written down, a form of storytelling that in our culture may now manifest itself in pod casts. Storytelling, however, seems to me to be travel writing at its primitive, and perhaps best, form: the traveler returns and naturally has tales to relate to family and friends--on the ride home from the airport, or as she settles in around the dinner table. Maybe this is why it felt so natural for me, who rarely listens to audio books, to take in some travel writing through the ear.

The BBC recently released a compilation of travel writers reading their adventures or commenting on the nature of travel and travel writing in general. The Spoken Word: Travel Writers contains tracks from renowned writers such as Freya Stark, Peter Fleming, Wilfred Thesiger, and Jan Morris.

I listened in awe as Leonard D.A. Hussey described the makeshift shelter in which he and Shackleton's crew took refuge when stranded on Elephant Island, Jan Morris transported me back to the shores of Trieste where time stands still and the sun hovers golden over the Adriatic, Rosita Forbes described her encounters with Arab woman in the 1930s, and Freya Stark explored what it means to be a true explorer. "In spite of all hardships, discomforts and sicknesses, the lure of exploration still continues to be one of the strongest lodestars of the human spirit," Stark reflects, "and will be so while there is the rim of an unknown horizon, in this world or the next."

To hear these wise and well weathered voices gathered together like some travel writers' reunion around a universal campfire felt like a form of travel itself, transporting me across time and into distant lands, to the back of a camel, to the summit of a mountain, to the expanse of a sparkling sea, to a seat around a welcoming fire.

Come see our wide array of travel books and maps at the Globe Corner Travel Annex, located in aisle two of Booksmith, or visit us online at

Monday, September 3, 2012

Poses & Proses: It's National Yoga Month!!!

September is National Yoga Month!!!!

And our yoga section is looking mighty fine. This time of year is perfect for preparing and cementing into habit your indoor workout routine. There are tons of studios around Coolidge Corner for you to get your zen on, and plenty of books and tools for you to set up your own home practice with here at the store. Can I recommend Barbara Benagh? She is just down the road, and my good-Krishna is she an amazing yoga guide. Check her out here.

I just finished week one of yoga teacher training at Back Bay Yoga. I'm still digesting the experience, and all the reading we did. The first book we are charged in committing to memory is :

This book is a hoot. Seriously; the introduction alone is worth the price. The book is chock-full of amazing photos capturing each pose in all it's jaw dropping glory. There is so much to this book, it has something for the historian, the sociologist, the health-nut and of course the Yogi. Concepts from the Yamas and Niyamas creep their way into every other thought I have, and I can't help but reluctantly make little changes that make me a more tolerable person to be around. If you are an angry driver, a clothing hoarder, or a netflix bum: this is the only self-help book you need. If you want to read more about my chubby awkward journey into the yoga teaching world, *you can read more here.*

Did I mention this is available in paperback? Did I also mention Mz. Ana will be joining us Saturday December 8th at 5pm for a reading? This is way cool and way rare, so put it in your calendar, and get limber. In honor of labor day, I will get back to work. Enjoy your day and come visit me soon!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Giggles: The World's Only Geriatric 12 Year Old

Dear Diary.

Nothing to report. No seriously, nothing. I'm sitting here, drinking luke-warm coffee (what probably figures out to be my third cup of the day) and eating peanuts while simultaneously making it impossible for Lydia, our new hire (and your new blogess???) to enjoy her break by yelling at her that I don't know what to write this blog post about. Lydia tells me that she hurt her neck this morning as she wrenched herself out of bed too quickly. The clock radio was blaring a news story about cockroaches crawling into peoples ears, and she had a physical, visceral reaction that spurned her from lying prone, thus injuring precious neck muscles. This is odd, she says, given her age.

"Oh yeah," I demure, "you're like, what, 12 or something?"

"Yes," she responds, "12 or something. I am the world's only geriatric 12 year old."

This reminds me of a song I used to love by a group called "Betty" that did a version of spoken word song stylings circa the early '00s. I try to recount the song for Lydia. I fail. I remember one line, which was "WOMAN COPULATES WITH BULLDOG: SEE THE RESULTS IN A JAR".

I'm just trying to let you in on the creative process here at the Booksmith.

Jamie returns from break. She had a rough afternoon; she was the events host today for the illustrator and writers of new children's picture book, "The Insomniacs", and while the event was well-populated, a necessary cable needed to make powerpoint dreams a reality proved difficult to find. This led to Jamie running around like a maniac for the first 15 minutes of the event, and, more than a few times, her looking at me with her panic eyes and swearing a blue cloud of Adult Words between us. Panic eyes! Abate thy power!

But the cable was found, the event went great, and now Jamie is full of pizza and therefore comfortably placated.

Today is 9/1, the day when all the college students from all over the country move back into Boston. I was 15 minutes late for work because a moving truck was blocking somebody who was blocking somebody else who was blocking me, and it's like that all over the city. For the next 9 months we are going to have to share our fine city with the youths of America as they siphon into our streets to receive their over-priced, over-hyped, under-whelming education (not that I'm bitter, or anything). Deep breaths, everybody. Stay off the roads when you can, travel by day, and remember: where caffeine leaves off, booze (and/or cake) picks up.

Tickets went on sale today! These dudes are coming to Booksmith:

Tickets are 5 dollars! Stop by or give us a call at 617.566.6660 and order over the phone. 

Jamie came back on her way to count out the drawer to register 5 to find Lydia cracking up hysterically about something. Jamie promptly asked if Lydia would prefer to be called "Giggles McGoo". 

And thus a star is born.