Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're gonna party like it's 2009!!!

Happy Poem In Your Pocket Day!!!

Today is the day when you have a perfectly legitimate excuse to carry around a poem and read it to dozens of people. In fact, if you come read it to us, we'll give you chocolate! Not that I'm saying you shouldn't do it every day of the year, but some people might think you're strange. I, on the other hand, would probably decide that we should have coffee.

Our shop has only been open for a little more than an hour this morning and I have already been graced by one of our customers reading "Forecast" by Carl Phillips. I really enjoyed it, and am really excited about discovering a contemporary poet I hadn't known before. That's what today is all about, sharing a love of poetry! I think it is perhaps both the most worthless and most necessary art form we have, and I do love it!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Saved by a book

In February I read this fabulous book by Chris Cleave called Little Bee about a young girl who escapes with her sister as the only survivors of the hostile raid on their village in Nigeria. Little Bee eventually makes it to England and goes to live with a native Londoner that she met on a beach in Nigeria. The story was beautiful, and heartbreaking, and perfect the way it unfolded.

There was only one problem with Little Bee: it wrecked literature for me.

I have not read any book that even remotely compares to Chris Cleave's masterpiece, and until a week ago I feared that I would be doomed to read books that didn't impact me in any way until I sat down after my shift and Bruce handed me something amazing.

With the responsibility of having to do press releases and outlet calendars, I am one of the first people in the bookshop to see what is coming, as far as author events. So when Bruce put Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell's book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels into my hands I thought that I would read the introduction to become acqauinted with the book enough to appease the authors when they came. But, low and behold, Beyond Heaving Bosoms was the knight in shining armor to rescue me from my slump of so-so books!

Reading the introduction alone made me laugh so hard that I couldn't breathe or see straight for a couple of minutes. Everything that these ladies allude to is not only hilarious, but true. These smart bitches truely know the romance genre, and everything that is wrapped up in its deliciously steamy and verbally bold package.

Needless to say, Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan have quenched my thirst for obscure knowledge, and have touched me in a way that only they would be daring enough to write about.

To shed some light on the awesomeness that is Beyond Heaving Bosoms I will leave an excerpt of the Ten Commandments of Heroine Conduct; enjoy!

"4. Thou shalt not be aware of your beauty. Every villain, sleazy uncle, and otherwise able-bodied male who has ever clapped eyes on thee may make sexual overatures on thee, but thou shalt remain in blissful oblivion.

7. Thy amnesia shalt be sexy and not be complicated by distinctly unsexy side effects such as loss of motor control, speech impediments, loss of cognitive skills, and inability to control bodily functions."


Monday, April 20, 2009

Stickin' it to the man while shopping at The Record Exchange

On Saturday morning I hopped into my car, equipped with pancakes and the required accoutrements, and headed downtown to meet Wally for coffee. The two of us had made plans to meet at Dawson Taylor on 8th street so that we could have breakfast, and then head to the Record Exchange for Record Store Day, before we had to be at work for the Kids' Lit Fest. Being oblivious to a fair number of events outside of the bookshop, I didn't realize until I walked through the alleyway that connects Capitol to 8th that it was the first Saturday Market of the year. In addition to the normal chaos of Saturday Market it was Earth Day, Robie Creek, and Record Store Day. So, needless to say, navigating through downtown was a bit of a task. After learning that Wally and I weren't going to be having breakfast after all, I skipped out on a very packed Dawson Taylor, and headed straight for the Record Exchange.

I'd been hearing about Record Store Day for quite some time, and was excited to do my part to support one of Boise's best local independents. I had made a decision the night before: I was going to spend the money alotted for my phone bill, which is through a major phone corporation, to support something that will put money back into Boise's economy. In short, I decided to stick it to the man, and participate in the local first movement- all at the same time!

After about 40 minutes of browsing at the RX, I checked out with a couple of amazingly priced used albums, and a copy of Weird Science, all for less than $20.00! While the lovely young lady was ringing me up, we discussed how comfortably snug the aisles were with people in to pay homage to a rarity in today's culture: a record store where the employees know just what you'll love, and genuinely want to keep this option open for generations to come.

So here's to the Record Exchange, and all other bad-ass local independent stores who help me to stick it to the man!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Club Mixer!

We are planning a really exciting event for book club members. Below you'll find a video with more details, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Movies that are made into books

Books are often the inspiration for big Hollywood movies, and while some film adaptations just don't do justice to the novels they are based on, I feel that there are a handfull of good reads floating around that should be put on screen.

For instance, I would love to see someone put Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job to film. Christopher Moore is my favorite author, and if the translation was butchered, I would probably be furious; but if it took the real essence of the characters, and used the excellent wit and dialogue found within its glorious pages, I think it could be my favorite movie, as well as my favorite book by Christopher Moore!

I recently read a book by an Australian author named Toni Jordan about a young woman who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Addition follows Grace Vandenburg's struggle to overcome her counting, adding, measuring, and timing that puts her life in constant limbo of ridicule and being ostracized. This wasn't necessarily my favorite book, but I think with the obvious character flaw in conjunction with the writing style, it could make an entertaining film. Think As Good As It Gets meets Bridget Jones's Diary.

Lastly, one of the best books I read last year was called The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. The cover of the book would suggest that it is, what I would call a "chick book," but it wasn't, at all. The beginning of this amazing novel, was a bit graphic for my taste (by way of violence, not pornography) but after the initial character introduction, it turns into everything from historical fiction, to bizarre love story, and even a re-imagining of Dante's nine circles of hell from The Inferno. Andrew Davidson's writing style is so vivid and engrossing that it could follow in the footsteps of What Dreams May Come as the one of the most surreal stories about love conquering all else.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Books to beat spring fever!

I'm not sure about everyone else, but with the new-found sunshine I know that I am feeling the effects of spring fever: wanting to get the months of unused things either used or out of my house, and the constant nagging that I should be outside soaking in the rays before it gets unbearably hot. So here are a few books that will put you in the mood for springtime activities!

As the cover of "ReadyMade: How to Make (Almost) Everything" by Kate Francis so boldly states, "you need this book." Within the glorious covers of this green-made-easy manual are such gems as the "hardcover frame"- for transforming your less-than-cool books into picture frames, and a "cd wall mural"- for utilizing left-over jewel cases to make art. This book is a DIY masterpiece!

A perfect way to use any left-over and unwanted materials laying about the house!

Barbara Kingsolver's newest work, a non-fiction treasure, follows her family's trials and tribulations after they vow to give up industrial-style living for the simplicities of a rural life. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is part memoir, part earth-conscious narrative of going back to "old-fashioned," tried and true ways of living: supporting your community and family by only using what is grown and can be shared within your neighborhood.
This book has just the right amount of spirit to inspire you to start a garden, and try to live off of the fruits of local lands!
Thom, Tree, and Eric are three out-of-place guys going through quarter-life crises, as well as experiencing a strange cosmic connection between each other- and their couch. After a flood ruins their apartment they decide to create a new quest called "Couch Across America."
Benjamin Parzybok's "Couch" serves as the perfect novel to get you up off of your couch and take a needed roadtrip with some friends.
For all you knitters out there, this is a fabulous book!
So many cool patterns are waiting for you in "Stitch 'N Bitch Nation" by Debbie Stoller. One of my favorites from this installment of the Stitch 'N Bitch series is the Itsy-Bitsy-Teeny-Weeny Purple Polka-dot Tankini. It's a simple lounging-by-the-lakeside (or if you're lucky enough, the beach) kind of afternoon get-up. Make sure to start knitting now, so that the spring fever doesn't cause you to procrastinate!
The perfect pattern for the cutest little purple polka-dot tankini you've ever seen!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Where great words and great works meet

I think it's pretty obvious that everyone on our staff has a life-long, borderline-dysfunctional love of books. But what I love even more are books by great authors. When I say great, I don't just mean great at writing. I mean genuinely great individuals, the kind of people we can admire as authors and as human beings. Let me give you some examples:

1. Dave Boling, author of Guernica. When I read Dave's book I laughed and cried so much that I actually had to stop reading it in public because I was disturbing people. When he came t
o Boise to do a signing with us down on the Basque block I told him how much I loved his book, and he hugged me! In fact he hugged almost anyone who said something nice about his book. He was sincere and passionate about every aspect of this lovingly rendered story. I could not have been more pleased when he won the Pacific Northwest Book Award, he absolutely deserves the recognition.

2. Joe Gores, author of Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammet's The Maltese Falcon. Gores was scheduled to make a book tour for this brand new book including a stop here with us. However, upon finding out that his wife was very ill, he made the decision to stay home with her instead. That's a man with his priorities straight, if you ask me! I'm not much a mystery reader, but I wanted to buy his book just to support someone with that kind of integrity.

3. Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and others. Eggers is an amazing author, he has a few books and is a frequent contributor to McSweeney's and many other publications. I recently stumbled on this video where Eggers is explaining a tutoring program that he spearheaded. Inner-city kids can come to the McSweeney's office after school to get help on writing assignments from professional authors. Did I mention this happens behind a pirate supply store front? How cool is that? To hear him talk about it follow this link:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who is Sasha and how did he get into the room?

Have you ever tried to read Russian Literature? If you have, I applaud your courage, if you have not, I understand your fear. Russian authors can be quite daunting with their casts of thousands and the depression they radiate, but dismay is not the only answer.

If you really want to tackle the challenge that Dostoevsky or Tolstoy represent, there are a few basic tools that might come in handy:

1. A list of names, nicknames (with a brief description of the character's relationships to other characters). You will find a list like this on page xx of the introduction to version of Anna Karenina by Pevear and Volokhonsky (which is also the best literary translation on the market), so put the bookmark flap there and use a regular bookmark to keep your spot. If the book you want to read does not include a list like this, go to Wikipedia and compile something.

2. An idea of the purpose of the work or a perspective you find attractive. I can enjoy Tolstoy or Dostoevsky because I believe them to be a type of collective spiritual autobiography. They explore the depths to which the world has fallen and reveal it to us: if a person is good, we corrupt them, if we cannot corupt them, we kill them or drive them to suicide etc. In general, one can view Russian literature as a whole through this lens, but it is certainly not the only perspective, you may want to read for the development of Marxist thought, or the content of the social enviornment, or you may want to trace the tendancy of the authors to create paradoxical characters, or you may want to read in the psychologial insights of their times (or ours). The secret here is that you must have something other than escapism or easy entertainment in mind if you are to enjoy (or finish) a classic Russian work of literature.