Monday, September 22, 2014

For the First Day of Actual Fall

I cheated on one of the releases.... shhhh!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Bestsellers: September 8-September 14

Weekly Bestsellers

Second week of September and our events series is kicking into gear. Topping the hardcover list we have two events books. We hosted Joyce Carol Oates, a woman who is prolific in both book form and on Twitter, and she joined us at the Coolidge Corner Theatre to read from her new collection of short stories. And on Saturday, Chris Guillabeau visited every country in the world and shared the lessons he learned with us at his event for The Happiness of Pursuit

In paperbacks, once-local author Dennis Lehane's novel The Drop, is adapted from the film which was originally adapted from Lehane's short story "Animal Rescue." Got that? And for those of us who can't get enough of the brilliant Roxane Gay (and there are a lot of us, customers and staff alike) we are thrilled her essay collection, Bad Feminist, is out as a paperback original. 

Here's the rest of the list. See you next Tuesday! - Shuchi

1) Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
2) The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
3) The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
4) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
5) What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
6) The Secret Place by Tana French

1) The Drop by Dennis Lehane
2) Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
3) The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz
4) The Boys In the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
5) The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein
6) Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon - A staff favorite, Yoon's slim, breathtaking novel is about a young man starting life anew after the Korean War. Our Book Club will meet to discuss Snow Hunters on Monday, October 13th at 7:30PM.
7) Acceptance: Book Three of The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer - I'm about halfway through book two, Authority, and I can't get enough of the mysterious, terrifying world VanderMeer has created in this trilogy. The final book just received a rave review in The New York Times.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fall of Summer Reading

We got so many exciting books in this week but my top three are:

1. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
This book is awesome. It's Harry Potter meets Loki's Wolves with a dash of extra sinister forces. I was completely blindsided by the twist. The series is in great hands.

2. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire writes a book based in Russian Folklore. Yes.

3. Animalium by Jenny Broom
The animal version of last year's Maps. This book is filled with stunning illustrations in a book that's equally as beautiful in its large format.

Do you see that? Do you realize what those are? Those are picture books on display. That is a beautiful sight. That many picture books on display means one thing. 

Summer reading is gone. 

Summer reading being gone is indicative of a number of things. One of these is that it's almost Fall and that delights me. Another is that we get to choose some of our favorite picture books and put them up on display for ease of browsing.

Perhaps most importantly, is that this means that some things in the kids section have moved. Why? Because if we're dismantling Summer Reading we might as well shift some things around. 

First, we had the privilege and pleasure of giving Fairy Tales, Mythology, and  Poetry actual space.

See that? It gets a whole case. We have so many beautiful books in these sections this is legitimately exciting. It was tough choosing which books deserved the honor of being displayed.

Our addition to this section is the selection of miniature books that has suddenly exploded. They're beautiful but so tiny that they got lost in the picture book shelves. Now they have their own, snuggled nicely between mythology and poetry.

Then we had the exciting, albeit a bit daunting, task of putting out a selection of our Halloween books.

Halloween is my favorite holiday so, I'm pretty psyched to see things for it and feel a little bit more legitimate in the fact that I'm already plotting our details for my costume. We have so many books we still haven't managed to fit everything out.

And, of course, the initial excitement of putting some of my favorite picture books on display. We have a Natasha favorite, Ungerer's Three Robbers. A few Amy favorites (Virginia Wolf, Little Elliot Big City, Numberlys). Some Clarissa favorites (Julia's Home for Lost Creatures, Any Questions). Some great new ones like Otoshi's beautiful new companion to One and Zero: Two. The surprisingly new Dr. Seuss Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. The beautiful biography Hello, I'm Johnny Cash by G Neri. Even a picture book that Peter likes, Dubuc's The Lion and the Bird.

Basically, all of the picture books you could ever want and that we love.

Another change that I couldn't manage to dive around people to get a picture of (you see what lengths I go to for this blog?) is an awesome shelf beside the Halloween display of some of the boxed sets we carry, it's a great place to check out some gifts.

Things are beginning to change in the Kids section. I mean, it is almost Fall. But this is when things start getting really crazy. When the new exciting new releases come out faster than we can display them or show the proper amount of enthusiasm. When the holidays start coming so quickly that the displays start changing almost weekly.

This is my favorite time of year. Sure, school has started. But that means Summer Reading has come down and that is a sign of all good things.

Well, almost all good things.
That used to be alphabetized.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Latest & Greatest Hardcovers, also Finland

It's autumn time, and that means all the big major massive magical fall books, the heavy hitters, the long-awaiteds, the thrills the chills the anyway here are the ones that are the best:

Murakami and McEwan, shoulder to shoulder, ready to rock your mind meats:

In the new Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, (which I just finished finally please come and talk to me about it),  the main character goes to Finland. While you should always care about Finland, this factoid will become relevant later. Here's my favorite quote from it:

The new Tana French, Secret Place, just in time to housesit on a deserted New England coastal island and curl up with this in the dark, alone, on Halloween.

The new David Mitchell, Bone Clocks! Peter approves! I'm told a character from Cloud Atlas makes an appearance!

And finally, last but not least, the new volume by xkcd creator Randall Munroe What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions complete with a helpful diagram OF FINLAND on the back cover.

Stay tuned next week when I talk about some new travel guides and maps we carry that I road tested for you in FINLAND. And also I will tell you about salmiakki ice cream.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Booksmith Visits: Montague Bookmill (montage book milk)

As fate would have it I have been called upon to attend very few weddings at this particular time in my life. It should be mentioned that I am nearing (arguably, have arrived at) a wedding-appropriate age and my lack of weddings could change, very shortly, as my peers begin pairing up. It was pairhood itself that compelled me to attend a wedding in Western Massachusetts last Saturday; my girlfriend's cousin and his partner got hitched in a sweltering town hall while morose, bulbous clouds leaked overhead. I regrettably report, I did not perform admirably. The humidity and crowds coalesced into a sharp din inside my skull and I was abruptly excused from family obligation when I refused to re-enter community space and instead hid, perched on an outside stairwell, doing breathing exercises and suckling at a can of soda as if it contained some miraculous antidote. We left, shortly afterwards, for Amherst, to relay a back up cell phone to my sister who recently had need for one.

"we're on our way to you now", I texted to her, "we are just gonna drop the phone off and leave though, I want to go to montage book milk".

iPhone's autocorrect function had traded the name "Montague Bookmill" for the abstract "montage book milk". From here on, it shall be referred to as the same.

After winding our way through some stringent student acropolis, my sister stood, barefoot, by the running car as we retold the details of our brief wedding experience. She then told us, enthusiastically, that she loved the book milk, and that I would love it too. She told me they had beer there, too, a detail that should always accompany a description told to me about any venue, if it happens to be the truth. The things I will endure while drinking a beer are many, nevermind things I actually like, such as browsing a book store. The store's catchphrase happens to be, "Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find", something so tongue-in-cheek as to delight anyone, but as someone who relies on the supply and demand of the book industry to keep a business afloat and provide them their livelihood, I am downright tickled by this. Fused with the term "montage bookmilk" and a the prospect of a totally free afternoon, I'm one giddy idiot.  

As we pulled up to the Bookmilk, those turgid clouds were looking fully ominous. We moved through a heavy, wet air, into the book store. Inside, a labrynth of stairwells and sofa alcoves, antiques peppering unused corners, and books. Plenty of used books. Such a store could possibly only exist in the wilds of Western MA, where students keep a contemporary culture alive but industry is somewhat less than overbearing. There is still a certain earnest curiosity left out there, what with all that accumulated soul searching energy generated by mass quantities of 20-somethings all living, compact, in roughly the same town. In Brookline, Booksmith is known by its unique wooden floors - the creaking beauty mark of our otherwise actively current store - but we are in the Bookmilk now, and a wooden floor would be a paltry offering indeed to a behemoth of arcadia such as this. A musty smell of wood and paper lies down every narrow hallway, a leathered smell, what people believe academia will smell like when they are on the precipice of entering it. Everything creeks as you move around the store, and there are nooks and old seats to ferret out, not to mention errant curiosities closed in cabinets or left out as if arranged by some absent person, suddenly and swiftly called away. 

A flutter of typewriters 

VIP seating


Outside the windows lining the back of the store runs the Sawmill River, a thin stream that once powered a grain mill in the same building in the early 20th century. As I was promised, there is a cafe connected, and if you are so inclined you can sit and have a beer and look out of the windows at the river hastening past. In this cafe they had a few things on tap, the most interesting of which was Oskar Blues G'night Amber Ale, which I had never tasted in draft form before. Brimming with a somewhat dewey contentment after purchasing our books, we sat outside and ate sandwiches with brie and apple, kielbasa and mustard. The beer was crisp and hoppy, the blade of its malt slicing through the thick fingertip of the air. Before long, employees came and brought the book carts and the outside displays indoors. They stood in the doorway of the book mill, side by side, wondering at the sky. Any minute now, any minute now.

The bathroom - wallpapered in worn, yellow missives.
Tell me about it.

The rain drove us out of the courtyard and, slowly, out of Montague. Through a veil of water we drove back, creeping back through route 2 towards the city, only headlights in the onslaught of rain. I would go back, willingly, eagerly. In case you, too, need an afternoon removed from reality, you should take a trip over to little Montague and take a long draft of the bookmilk. Here is where you can find it:

Montague Bookmill

440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351

(413) 367-9206

Books you don't need in a place you can't find. Get not-found for a bit and visit. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

School Stories

There are so many books that I'm excited about I'm just going to launch into them:

1. Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan (paperback)
If you've been waiting for the second in this amazing trilogy to come out in paperback your wait is over! And if you haven't read them yet what are you waiting for? Read them now! Especially since she's been added to the lineup of our awesome October 22nd event with Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, and M.T. Anderson.

2. Jackaby by William Ritter
Guys. Think Sherlock meets Doctor Who. Seriously.

3. Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (paperback)
The vampire book that's edgy and wonderful and like no other vampire book. If you thought you were done with vampires give them one last go.

4. Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato
I raved about this one a few posts back. So cute! So wonderful! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! He just wants a cupcake and a friend!

Look how cute he is!

5. Quest by Aaron Becker
The sequel to the wonderful, wordless Journey. It's still beautiful. And who doesn't want a bandolier of chalk?

6. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Could there really a companion book better suited for this series than Percy retelling some of the myths? No. It's brilliant and Rocco's illustrations are beautiful.

School is starting back up this week. We have lots of books about it. Going back and starting for the first time. They're all made to soothe the anxieties or heighten the excitement of returning. I love that there's a market for that. That kids want books about going to school, where they will then read more books. Yes.

Though I'm not returning to school I was thinking about my favorite school books. Some are about going back and some are about starting and some are just great school stories. There's a little bit of everything.

Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
Because one book about a cute, goggle-wearing panda wasn't enough. Now he's worried about his first day of school.

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
A wonderful graphic novel about Maggie, whose starting high school after being home-schooled. Through it's ensemble of secondary characters this book faces all of the major high school fears and conquers all of them.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet gets herself into all sorts of shenanigans but the base of this wonderful sleuth story is a school story.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Would any school story list be complete without this modern classic about being accepted at school for who you are? The wide-appeal of this book is really remarkable. If you haven't gotten to it yet you need to.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
I have always loved these books. They're just so ridiculous. So completely and utterly ridiculous but they still manage to show that weird sort of kinship kids in the same class have.

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid
I think I'm trying to set a record with how many lists I can put this book on... But really, THIS BOOK!

Looking For Alaska by John Green
This book really doesn't need any more endorsement, it's doing just fine on it's own. But behind the wonderful and tragic event on which it centers this is a great book about finding that group in which you belong and the sort of shenanigans you can get into when you do.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier
School. Theatre. The drama around being into drama. This one should be a little bit niche-y but Telgemeier makes theatre seem appealing to almost everyone.

The Humphrey series by Betty Birney
I can't really pick one in this series. They're all just so quintessentially school.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
(See the John Green entry about not needing the handselling push). Cath is starting her first year of college and she feels completely unprepared. It's a relatable feeling for starting any new kind of school and Rowell does a brilliant job showing her readers that it's not not-scary but it's totally manageable.

Honorable Mentions:
Harry Potter -J.K. Rowling
Anything by Andrew Clements
The Weird School series by Dan Gutman

School stories come in all forms and usually have so much more going on in them than just school.
And to anyone going back this week (or next week, or last week), don't worry about it. If you love it you're excited anyway. If you don't, it doesn't last forever and it could always be so much worse. Grab one of these books. Some of them are just great stories anyway.