Monday, July 28, 2014

I came in for one thing.

written for last week's Staff Talent Show

The store is stuffed with mounds of merch.

The people come, and oh, they search.

A Scrabble mug. A picture frame.

That book. You know, by what’s-her-name.

They come with varied goals in mind,

exceeded by the things they find.

Who knew how many pins they’d need?

Who knew how much they had to read?

Who knew a ring could tell their mood?

Who knew their mood was “wanting food.

Yes, cookies. Yes, the kind by Tate’s.”

They need a planner, for their dates

are filling fast. They’re busy bees.

They’d best relax. They need some teas

to drink while watching Game of Thrones,

a show that frustrates with unknowns…

unless they cheat and read ahead.

But who has time for weddings red?

They’d better get a magazine.

And just because they’re past eighteen

can’t mean the grownup books are urgent.

Look! John Green! And look! Divergent!

Look! Nostalgia! Goodnight Moon!

Isn’t someone’s kid due soon?

Trees that gave and trains that could.

Those books were their childhood.

Wimpy kids and half-blood gods.

Boston books? What stunning odds!

A spinner sorted, slot by slot.

(I hope and dream. It’s all I’ve got.)

There’s Parenting and Health and Psych

and travel guides by train or bike.

That bargain book may not last long.

To pass it up would just be wrong.

And who could skip the plates and bowls?

Not those with culinary goals

that match the cookbooks perfectly—

the kosher to the gluten-free.

Five months till Christmas! None to waste!

Find books for every reading taste,

though friends can be persnickety.

Who won’t inhale the Picketty?

Knausgaard wrote about his struggle.

Rowling wrote about a muggle.

Stacks of Books We Love, and each

might be useful for the beach.

Almost out, but wait, there’s more!

Stairs reveal another floor.

All the books they’ve meant to read,

used! A worthy deal indeed.

And while they soothe their reader-shame,

they spot a favorite author’s name.

She’s coming on a looming eve!

Yeah, they’ll come back. Or just not leave.

But—sigh—the rest of life awaits.

They must ascend. (And buy more Tate’s.

And mini-books. And chocolate bars.

And bags for schlepping to their cars.)

They think, “I might as well. I’m here.”

Impulsive? Sure. But they are dear

to we who fill the waiting shelves.

They never need explain themselves.

So let your basket overflow.

‘Cause would we ever judge you? NO!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekly Bestsellers July 14th - July 20th


1) The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness - Last Friday, we were one of the stops on Deborah Harkness' summer tour for the third book in The All Souls Trilogy. In a feat of spatial reasoning, we managed to fit about 200 *very* excited fans in our Used Book Cellar, and Ms. Harkness lovingly took her time with each one of them during the signing. The series follows historian Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont and their discoveries into the world of magic. You can read an excerpt from the first book here.

2) The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai - At my previous bookstore job, over at Titcomb's Bookshop on Cape Cod, my eager galley grabbing hands found a copy of Rebecca Makkai's first novel, The Borrower, about a librarian who inadvertently ends up kidnapping a willing boy. I loved Ms. Makkai's style - charming and witty, serious but not without fun - and I recommended it for the Indie Next List. Her second book is a historical novel about a rambling estate that once served as an artists' colony, which she actually began while taking a break from writing The Borrower.

3) Euphoria by Lily King - Lily King has a beautiful writing desk in Yarmouth, Maine where she writes the first draft of her novel by hand in a spiral notebook. Which is kind of incredible when you think about the fact that novel she's writing - set in New Guinea nearly 100 years ago - probably doesn't resemble coastal Maine in the least. She talks about writing and spaces over at The Boston Globe.

4) The Heist by Daniel Silva - Daniel Silva, one of the masters of international spy fiction, just released his latest: The Heist brings art restorer-assassin-spy Gabriel Allon to Venice, and then all over Europe, to track down a missing painting - Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence by Carvaggio.

5) Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast - I had way too much fun looking through Roz Chast's website to find a cartoon of hers to share with you. This one was the first to make me laugh out loud and then go aww.

6) The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - Good news for you Galbraith fans - it looks like the author plans on hanging out with detective Cormoran Strike for a long time.


1) The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri - Last fall, Jhumpa Lahiri read from The Lowland at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. This is from my introduction: Beginning in Calcutta in the 1960s during the Naxalite movement, the story begins with two young brothers. Their paths diverge when the rebellious Udayan decides to join the Naxals and secretly marry the quiet, complicated Gauri while his brother, Subhash, moves to Rhode Island to pursue his studies. I hesitate to describe this novel in full because to do so undermines the experience of meeting these characters and following them through decades of their lives as they stumble to connect with one another, as they find solace in landscapes, as they make profound, questionable decisions. On my second reading of The Lowland I found myself slowing down to appreciate the descriptions of place, the stunning detailed moments of daily life. This is a beautiful, meditative novel, expansive in scope yet truly intimate. It is one of her finest works of fiction yet.

2) The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown - This time last year, Janet Maslin at The New York Times selected The Boys in the Boat as that summer's Unbroken - an absorbing story of endurance set against a volatile historical backdrop. The Boys In the Boat just came out in paperback and by the end of the weekend we had one lonely copy left in the store.

3) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Elizabeth Gilbert exquisitely talks about her novel in less than three and a half minutes.

4) My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - They ask over at would My Struggle still be as popular if it was written by a woman?

5) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Though the mass market edition has been the best seller, we have a couple of bargain book copies of a hardcover reprint with the original 1969 cover.

6) The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout - I don't know if a character like Olive in Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Olive Kitteridge could ever be duplicated, but Ms. Strout is also a master at getting at the underbelly of relationships between neighbors and friends and in-laws. The Burgess Boys is the story of two brothers who return to their Maine hometown after many years away. One of my favorite reviewers, Ron Charles over at The Washington Post, says this novel is even more impressive.

7) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith -  An advance copy of The Cuckoo's Calling is selling at eBay for around $2000. But you can get the book from us for $18. I'd say that's a bargain.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Have...Strange Taste in Picture Books

Three exciting new books!

1. She's Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
The new book by the last year's Printz winner. With all of the amazing hype it's been getting I can't wait to start it!

2. Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan
The newest Brotherband Chronicles book is here!

3. Scarecrow's Wedding by Julia Donaldson
Kind of an odd one for the season but you can never go wrong with Donaldson and Scheffer.

There's a picture book coming out next month from Henry Holt that I have fallen madly in love with. This book is called Little Elliot, Big City and it's by Mike Curato. It's about a little spotted elephant who loves cupcakes and everyone in the store is tired of listening to me wax poetic about it.

I love this book. So. Hard.

After the third or so person rolled their eyes at me I wondered what it was about the book that I loved so much. Generally speaking, I'm not prone to loving things purely on the basis of their being cute. I'm not really the cutesy type. But this book! THIS BOOK!

Is it that he's a spotted elephant like my favorite misfit toy? Is it that he appreciates a good miniature cake much like myself? Is it that he's a little on the short side as well? Is it the soft sweetness of the illustrations?

I'm not really sure but I really love it and I can't wait to sell the dickens out of it when it's finally released on the 26th of next month (I know it's a ways off but don't despair, I will remind you (did that sound too sinister?)).

But, naturally, that got me thinking about what other picture books I love and what it is that I like. Generally, my picture book tastes tend to be a little off the beaten path. So, here are my ten favorite picture books and why I like them (at least as far as I can figure out).

1. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
I am a sucker for anything William Joyce and this is what started it, well sort of. The (Academy Award Winning) short film version was my introduction. It's an amazing story about the power of books and how you can grow with them and how important it is to remember your own. It's beautiful. It was instantly one of my favorite books in general, not just of the picture variety.

2. Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault
I adore this story of two sisters and one's quest to cheer the other. I have sisters there's something so honest and wonderful about the relationship between the two of them.

3. Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid
I appreciate anyone who has a little anxiety about new social situations. But I also appreciate anyone who would be willing to feed people to an alligator. It's more sweet than dark, I promise.

4. The 11th Hour by Graeme Base
Even if we ignore the fact that the art is elaborate and gorgeous this was a picture book that I found when I was older and fell madly and wildly in love with. It's a mystery story that even once I knew the answers I was still going through to find things that Base hid in the illustrations.

5. Masquerade by Kit Williams
This might be cheating because this book is out of print (though we've gotten it in more than once in the UBC). It's another mystery/puzzle book with stunning illustrations but this mystery coincides with something that was hidden in the real world. It's been long since found but it's still a beautiful book (It's also sort of a personal mystery since no one in my family remembers it and I can't figure out from where I know it).

6. Flotsam by David Weisner
This one is wordless but it's so cool! I'm not sure how to describe it. It's just awesome.It has this awesome the world is bigger than you know sort of thing going on.

7. Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall
This is another sibling book. It so perfectly sums up sibling relationships. Also, Matt Phelan's illustrations are wonderful.

8. Here Comes Destructosaurus by Aaron Reynolds
I appreciate, as I think many middle siblings do, having the chance to yell at someone. I don't get to do this enough and this book, while just being fun, gives me the chance to do that. Don't worry, you yell at Destructosaurus and then get put in your place...and then get to yell a little bit more.

9. It's an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall.

I laughed so hard reading this one. It's filled with little holes and it gets progressively more ridiculous. I picked it up expecting it to just be a general color primer. It surprised me and I enjoyed that. I also have a grand appreciation for the ridiculous.

10. Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
We'll have this one again around the holidays but I love this one. It's just so perfectly what it was like waiting for Christmas. A little bit silly, super-unnecessarily high strung. And Mom (Dad could always do it too) makes everything better. I also love the oil-on-canvas look at the illustrations. maybe some of them are cute... But they're all awesome. I have a few other favorites that we don't have in the store (YET). These are ten you should definitely check out!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

This Week in Events - July 22-27

This week in Events

Tuesday, July 22 at 7pm
Lesley and David Solmonson
The husband-and-wife team behind visit with their informative and passionate new book.  They show you how to create a versatile home bar with only twelve bottles: seven hard liquors, one liqueur, two vermouths, and two bitters, which can make over 200 delicious cocktails. This event is co-sponsored by El Dorado Rum, and there will be drinks at the event! 
Wednesday, July 23 at 7pm
Celeste Ng and Jennifer de Leon
    Unquestionably Marilyn and James Lee’s favorite child, Lydia is meant to be the embodiment of her parents’ dreams—popular at school and a future career as a doctor, not a homemaker. When her dead, waterlogged body is found at the local lake, the Lee family falls apart. James, consumed by guilt, Marilyn, bent on revenge, Nathan, certain neighborhood bad boy Jack is involved, and Hannah, the youngest, who realizes things the others do not. As loss and grief intertwine, dragging the family down, Ng writes with a merciless beauty, portraying humanity at its most vulnerable. Here's a review from The Boston Globe. 
    In Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education, Jennifer de Leon has put together an anthology of essays representing the Latina experience in academia. The essays range from dealing with traditional cultural expectations, to navigating the gap between American and Latina cultures, to embracing the change that college inevitably invokes. de Leon provides a platform for Latina writers to share their personal experiences in this rich collection. Here's a great review from Kirkus
Thursday, July 24 at 7pm
Edan Lepucki and Joanna Rakoff
    Dan Chaon calls Edan Lepucki’s California “a wholly original take on the postapocalypse genre,” and he is so, so right. Cal and Frida, living in a shack in the wilderness after the apocalypse has wiped away the only world they have ever known, survive by seeking solace through the other. Their life—hard but their own—is turned upside down when Frida discovers she is pregnant. Unsure of their ability to raise a child in the wilderness, the couple seek out the nearest settlement, finding themselves in a guarded and paranoid community—one that provides ostensible security but has dangers of its own. Does this book sound familiar? Stephen Colbert has taken this book under his wing, and it's the current pick for Reblog Book Club, Tumblr's official book club. 
    In Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year, she recounts the year she spent as an assistant at J.D. Salinger’s literary agency, contemplating her dreams to become a poet. In this love letter to books, youth, and New York, she writes of romance and realism, of learning how to come into her own as well as figuring out who she wants to be and navigating the world on her own terms. Here's a review from the New York Times' Sunday Book Review.
Friday, July 25 at 7pm
Booksmith Staff Talent Show
Join us for our annual Booksmith Staff Talent Show where we show off our talents, literary and otherwise. Booksellers let their hair down and a fun time is had by all. 
Sunday, July 27 at 10:30am
Children's Storytime
Do you love picture books? Join us in our children’s section as our fine children’s team reads stories aloud every third Saturday and last Sunday of the month.

As always, if you would like a signed copy of a book but cannot make an event, call us at 617-566-6660 or order online and put 'signed copy' in the comments field.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weekly Bestsellers July 7th-July 13th

Hardcover Bestsellers

1) The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War by Jacqueline Winspear - The author of the popular Maisie Dobbs mysteries departs from her crime solving to write a historical novel set during the Great War. The elegant Ms. Winspear read to a packed audience of nearly 100 enthusiastic fans, including one who traveled all the way from New York to Brookline for a mid-week event. Bookseller Tom, whose fashion "Tommentary" has been gracing our tumblr page, had this to say about Ms. Winspear in his events round-up to the staff.

2) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - I'm sure you've read plenty of reviews of this Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller. But have you seen this review?

3) The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan, with an introduction by Anne Fadiman - Marina Keegan's life ended tragically early but what she left behind is nothing short of remarkable. The title essay, "The Opposite of Loneliness," is a commencement address of sorts to her fellow students at Yale, and it went viral shortly after publication. But some of the other pieces in here are truly stunning for their depth and precocious wisdom. One of my favorites is the short, ruminative essay "Why We Care About Whales."

4) The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - Curious about what J.K. Rowling thinks of the publishing industry? Rowling a.k.a Robert Galbraith has some not so veiled opinions in this murder mystery set in literary London.

5) Euphoria by Lily King - One of the best things about hosting an event is discovering an author and a book you may not have picked up on your own. Margaret Mead, groundbreaking anthropologist...and the apex of a love triangle? Euphoria is the fictionalized story of Mead and her adventures in New Guinea with her first husband and soon-to-be second husband. Lily King has written the best kind of summer book - an exquisitely written page-turner.

6) Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir by Roz Chast - I love graphic novels and memoirs for their ability to visualize emotionally heavy topics. Roz Chast, most well known for her cartoons in The New Yorker, is a local favorite and her memoir takes on coping with aging parents. Ms. Chast's interview on Fresh Air was spectacular, and sent many new fans to the store to buy her book.

Paperback Bestsellers

1) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Elizabeth Gilbert, memoirist, novelist, and soccer fan, read at the Coolidge on Sunday and charmed us all. One of our favorite local authors, Steve Almond, wrote this profile for The New York Times about her leap from fiction, to Eat, Pray, Love, and then back to fiction.

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - If you're curious about the man behind the young adult novel sensation, check out this profile on John Green in The New Yorker.

3) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I told you how much I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie right? Have I not? Okay, well then watch her TED talk on the danger of the single story and maybe you'll fall in love with her too.

4) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Read this psychological thriller *before* Ben Affleck's adaptation comes out in October.

5) My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard - I love the introduction to this interview with Knausgaard over at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

6) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - In case you didn't know, Roberth Galbraith is J.K Rowling. J.K. Rowling is Roberth Galbraith. And no one will ever forget it. Here are 10 Harry Potter Hallmarks Found in J.K. Rowling's The Cuckoo's Calling.

7) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - Ms. Angelou, in an interview with The Paris Review, on the response to this book: "The greatest compliment I receive is when people walk up to me on the street or in airports and say, Miss Angelou, I wrote your books last year and I really—I mean I read . . . That is it—that the person has come into the books so seriously, so completely, that he or she, black or white, male or female, feels, That’s my story. I told it. I’m making it up on the spot. That’s the great compliment. I didn’t expect, originally, that I was going to continue with the form. I thought I was going to write a little book and it would be fine and I would go on back to poetry, write a little music."

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Week in Events

This Week in Events!

Monday, July 14 at 7:30pm
Brookline Booksmith Book Club
Our book club meets at 7:30 pm on the second Monday of each month in the downstairs Writers’ and Readers’ Room. They will be discussing Teju Cole's Open City

Wednesday, July 16 at 7pm
Rebecca Makkai
A love story and a ghost story all at once, Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower) presents a dazzling novel about fate, family, and the incredible surprises life offers. Zee, a Marxist literary scholar, and her husband Doug move into the coach house of Laurelfield, her family’s 100-year-old estate. Doug is supposedly writing a biography about poet Edwin Parfitt but actually spends most of his time falling in love with Zee’s step-brother’s wife, writing teen novels for a book packaging company, and trying to break into Laurelfield’s attic, which holds records of the arts colony based there in the 1920’s. As the narrative zips back in time, we learn the secrets of Laurelfield, hidden from Doug but laid bare to the reader in an immensely satisfying literary scavenger hunt.
Thursday, July 17 at 7pm
Small Press Book Club
Our new book club selects readings from independent presses. Read something off the beaten path! Free and open to the public, meeting third Thursday of each month at 7pm. This month we are reading The Expedition to the Baobab Tree by Wilma Stockenstrom, published by Archipelago Books
Friday, July 18 at 7pm
Deborah Harkness
Deborah Harkness joins us with the long-awaited third and final book of the All Souls Trilogy. Historian and witch Dana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont are back and reunited with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches, with one important exception. As they search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages, Dana and Matthew draw ever closer to learning what the witches discovered centuries ago. From ancestral homes to university laboratories, with a mix of ancient knowledge and modern science, The Book of Life brings the All Souls Trilogy to a satisfying end.

Saturday, July 19 at 10:30am
Children's Storytime
Do you love picture books? Join us in our children’s section as our fine children’s team reads stories aloud every third Saturday and last Sunday of the month.

As always, if you would like a signed copy of a book but cannot make an event, call us at 617-566-6660 or order online and put 'signed copy' in the comments field.

Which kids' or YA bestseller describes your life???

Social media is a hot topic around the store these days, so I thought I'd blatantly steal a format I've seen succeed all over Facebook. Is there anything you'd like to see on our social media? Let us know! Now, on to important matters....

Which setting sounds most appealing?

A. a snowy mountain
B. the popular kids' table
C. an American city whose neighborhoods have their own personalities
D. a European city full of art and tortured artists

Something is bothering you. What do you do?
A. run and hide until you just have to let your feelings out
B. write about it in your diary
C. confront it. Bravery is your defining quality! Your only one! Really!
D. get as much as you can out of today anyway

 What do you like to do with your friends?
A. build a snowman
B. talk about your crushes
C. jump off moving trains
D. track down your favorite authors

Where are you most likely to be found on a Saturday night?
A. Frost Ice Bar. The cold never bothered you anyway.
B. at a party... and then home telling your diary what a disaster it was
C. showing off your bravery and hiding your other traits
D. rereading your favorite book and agonizing over its ending 

Mostly A's: Your life is like Frozen: The Big Golden Book. Congratulations on being yourself, even if it means dancing in the snow in July! 

Mostly B's: Your life is like the Dork Diaries books. Congratulations on being yourself, even if it means you're a dork!

Mostly C's: Your life is like Divergent: Congratulations on being yourself, even if you have to be dauntless to do so!

Mostly D's: Your life is like The Fault in Our Stars (purely in terms of personality, I hope). Congratulations on being loveable enough to make an entire generation cry. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Weekly Bestsellers June 30th - July 6th

Hardcover Bestsellers

1) The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - J.K. Rowling may have just released a short story about Harry Potter and the crew at age 34, but readers are really digging her alter-ego's crime novels. Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott plunge into literary London as they try to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of novelist Owen Quine.

2) Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty - For two weeks during the spring this tome published by Harvard University Press was completely out of stock, awaiting the next printing. When we received boxes of it later we all had the same fear: was this one of those flash in the pan crazes or the real thing? We've had it in stock for months now and it's the book that just keeps on selling.

3) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - Now with brand a brand new Pulitzer Prize gold seal, The Goldfinch has an engrossing plot and crazy characters and an opening that will have you totally hooked.

4) The Keillor Reader by Garrison Keillor - A not-so-big secret: We love Garrison Keillor. No really, we do.  And apparently so do our customers. This book of poems, stories, essays and anecdotes offer a great collection of Mr. Keillor's work.

5) My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit - In hardcover since November, My Promised Land keeps popping up on our bestseller list. The only thing that keeps a book going this long after initial publication is word of mouth. And this book has received some fantastic endorsements - like this New York Time's Columnist suggesting that both President Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu read it

6) The Arsonist by Sue Miller - A New England summer, houses ablaze, and passionate affairs. This book is hot all around, and debuts on our weekly best hot off the presses.

Paperback Bestsellers

1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Pick your reasons for wanting to read it: a) for a deeply moving story of teenage love. b) to read the book that everyone is talking about. c) because you like to weep on the beach.

2) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Turns out the author of Eat, Pray, Love is a damn good fiction writer too. And if you need convincing, come hear her read from her novel at the Coolidge Corner Theatre this Sunday.

3) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  - If you ask me for a recommendation, I will hand you this book. Smart and relevant and funny and AND a love story. I adore Americanah.

4) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou - This pocket sized paperback is a memoir of the early years of one our most beloved writers. Shockingly, she is also one of the most banned authors in the USA. I think I know what I'm reading next.

5) The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - The mystery by an author who no one had heard of turned out to be a book by an author who most people have heard of. This book will be nothing like Harry Potter but, arguably, just as engrossing.

6) My Struggle: Book One by Karl Ove Knausgaard - Norwegian literary sensation writes about his life in six books. Three have been translated, and as he's recently become the talk of the literary world. The first book has been flying off our shelves. This is Jamie's beach read of choice.

7) The Circle by Dave Eggers  - Dave Eggers does have a new novel out but everyone has been into this dystopian novel set in a faux Silicon Valley.  

How to Select a Beach Read: A Quiz

Last weekend I went to the beach and brought along a giant jug of water, a picnic fun blanket, a ton of sunblock (reapply every two hours!), and Knausgaard's My Struggle: Book 1 in paperback. I was the weirdo on the beach holding a 400+ book with a Norwegian guy's face on it instead of lighter fare, stepping out of my friends' conversation to read about Karl Ove's funeral preparations for his father and jumping back in only to make comments like 'Such visceral descriptions! Can I tell you how they really found his dad?'

I'm pretty good at deciding what constitutes a good beach read. Here is my list of important questions to ask yourself when selecting one:
  1. Will the book fit over my face so I can have a brief respite from the sun?
  2. Will I be mad if any of the following touches it?
    1. liquids, including but not limited to: water, saltwater, beer, slushie
    2. sunblock, especially the spray kind
    3. hot dog remnants
    4. sand
    5. a child or a sweaty friend
  3. Will I regret carrying it however long I need to carry it? 
  4. My brain will be in a delicate, overheated and possibly dehydrated state. Will this book push me over the edge and make me monologue about esoteric topics? 
  5. Can this book be used as self-defense against seagulls?
Important things, all. If you guys need me I'll be at a beach with Book 2, talking about whatever minutiae Karl Ove writes about in this one, completely engrossed.
Knausgaard goes along really well with my beach bag, even though he's published by FSG.

Monday, July 7, 2014

But wait...Is That a Beach Read?

My three exciting books!

1. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Guys. Guys. More on this in a minute.

2. None the Number by Oliver Jeffers
The lovably ridiculous Hueys are back this time tackling the difficult world that is numbers.

3. Conversion by Katherine Howe
There's been a lot of hype around this book. And while I haven't had the chance to pick it up yet, everytime I hear about it it gets bumped higher on my reading list. Inspired by The Crucible and the events of the Salem Witch Trials, it's supposed to be creepy and wonderful.

This is the time of year where you can barely walk past a store without seeing the words BEACH [insert thing they are selling here]! I get it, summer is for the beach. But sometimes I like to stop and actually look at the displays and think about how practical they actually are. This, obviously includes, bookstore displays.

I've seen any number of these displays around the city. Some are better than others but there's been an overwhelming trend in them when it comes to YA books;

The Fault in Our Stars.

I love the book. Please read it. But I don't think that I would include it on a list of books I think should be read in public. I mean, as a younger sister, I have an appreciation for embarrassing people in public but even I'm not going to recommend that to someone to read for a fun day at the beach. It's just not that kind of book. It's a curled-up-at-home-by-yourself book.

So, I figured I would put together my own list of beach/park/train summer books.

These books are fun and less likely to make you sob in a public place.

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
(I told you I'd be getting there)
Okay, so this book is a little better, I think, if you've read the others (which I feel are more winter books), but it's the epitome of 'summer book.' LA set and filled with wicked tongues, sharp longing, and even hotter weather. This is a beach book.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
If you're looking for a book that's going to amuse you, or maybe a younger sibling/child for a little while this is what you're looking for. It's fun and full of heart and wit.

13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Longing to go on a trip? Just follow Ginny as she travels Europe following one little envelope after another. They're sweet and bright.

Oliver and His Egg by Paul Schmid
Most kids don't need encouragement to use their imagination but Oliver and His Egg is a fun story anyway. Who knows what sort of games it'll spawn!

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su
A fun and modern take on Pride and Prejudice, taken from the Emmy winning Youtube series. It's delightful and funny and perfect for a lazy summer day.

CardCaptor Sakura by Clamp
Fouth grader Sakura is going to save the world and she's going to be nice and non-snarky while she does it. Sweet, fun, and a great book for you and your younger sibling share.

Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
Fun. Action packed with bright illustration and fun characters. Perfect for a break from the heat.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Four sisters go on a summer adventure! How could you possibly get anymore beach book than that?

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini
Few authors can capture being a teenager quite like Ned Vizzini.In this one our hero, Perry, is sent to camp to learn how to be "normal" and outdoorsy. Perfect for the person, like myself, who might prefer to spend their summer inside.

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by Kimberly and James Dean
The perfect summer song/story about a pair of sunglasses that make everything thing seem just a little bit better.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
If you're going to hang out outside with all of the bugs it couldn't hurt to read a book where maybe the bugs aren't so bad.

So, maybe these aren't your idea of perfect summer books, but they're definitely mine. And even if you don't mind crying in public they're all certainly worth a read.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Blackout! An Overly Dramatic Retelling

The incessant whirring of rechargeable flashlights will forever sound like the beginning of the apocalypse to me. Anna and Liz were in the Giftsmith when the blackout hit, and Anna immediately went to a display and grabbed rechargeable flashlights in the shape of ducks, tigers, and owls.* They gathered an armful and looked for their compatriots, distributing animals at will, issuing the instruction of 'Keep squeezing!'

Customers fled (and by fled I mean a few of them kind of hung out and kept browsing, using their phones as flashlights). Ric, the ever glorious Ric, kept things calm. He and Liz directed traffic and cleared the store in no time. I was downstairs putting everything away after a really great event with Box Brown, and as the store plunged into darkness I thanked Box, wherever he was (upstairs, actually), for having a shorter presentation. If it were ten or so minutes longer we would have been plunged into darkness together, reaching out to hold onto the closest Andre the Giant fan or comics aficionado until the emergency lights came on.

After the store was cleared, we stood around the registers, rechargeable flashlights whirring. Sandra's rechargeable flashlight was a tiger, the best animal out of the three. Katie was briefly locked out as she was changing the event board outside. I realized I had lost my key, which set me off on a long journey of sadness and whirring, culminating in Katie finding my key because she knows the event space like the back of her hand, and because she was no longer stranded on the sidewalks of Brookline.

We banded together. We used our animal flashlights to illuminate the manager's binder with instructions for what to do during a blackout. Liz called NStar and had the proud title of being 'the first to report an outage.' We made a whirring train of light into the Booksmith back rooms, we checked plugs, turned lights off, and Ric briefly scared everyone by claiming someone was still huddled in a corner of the UBC. 

We survived. The store is open today, shiny, bright, and fully operational, to the point where I could film this handy instructional video starring Anna:

*We actually have easily accessible flashlights, but Anna was shrouded in darkness and could only focus on the rechargeables. I think the blackout was made better for it, and now several booksellers can answer the question, "Do you sell flashlights?"