Friday, April 27, 2012

Only Good Book News This Week

I bring you great tidings of joy, fellow bibliophiles! Herein are articles about Baker Street Books revitalization by a new owner (Hurrah! There will still be a bookstore within shouting distance of Maple Valley!) and Poetry, World Book Night in Iowa and all over the place (who can resist free books?) and literary tourism, something I've long dreamed of getting into. By the way, I cornered the new owner, Todd Hulbert, at the farewell for Mr Charles, and told him that I'd be willing to volunteer to help stock the shelves or whatever he needs doing, just to give the store a good head start.

Baker Street Books: New Owner Solves the Case In a plot twist worthy of Arthur Conan Doyle, patrons of Baker Street Books, Black Diamond, Wash., gathered last Sunday "to mourn its closure, celebrate the joy the business had brought to the community as well as its owner, when it was announced that Kent resident Todd Hulbert was the white knight who had purchased the business from owner Bob Charles," according to the Reporter. "My specialty is in Internet marketing," said Hulbert, who owns an online clothing and apparel business, as well as 150,000 books that will now have a home. "Books fit so beautifully into that. I wanted to get into the online book business, so I started buying very large lots of books all up and down the West Coast." Charles announced in March that the store would close. "I had been thinking about it the past six or seven months, business had been going down because of the economy and people switching to e-books," he recalled. "Then on March 8 I took a tumble and fell on my back. I like to joke that the bookstore was getting even with me." Hulbert plans to close the store for 60 days to make some upgrades, then reopen in July under a new name, Finally Found Books. "Bookstores are integral to any community," he said. "Having a bookstore within any community is important. Books are so important. This particular store is an icon within the community because it's been around so long."

 Here is a lovely quote from a poet to finish out national poetry month, April: Bulgarian poet Nikola Madzirov. Here’s him on translation, in an interview for the California Journal of Poetics: "There are many poems in which we can recognize ourselves without having written them, just as there are cities where we have imagined ourselves much earlier before we travel there. The translator is a silent deconstructor, a night guard of the bridges of difference and understanding."

World Book Night is a big hit in my home state of Iowa, which is no surprise, as Iowa's always been a state of readers: In Iowa, more than 100 people attended a WBN event outside the Clinton Public Library, and library director Amy Birtell told the Herald she "would like to start up book discussions based on the books dispersed." "We had people waiting for the 6 p.m. time," she added. "The Hunger Games was definitely a hot one."
"Tonight, all over this country, thousands of people are distributing books in celebration of World Book Night. We would like to thank everyone who volunteered as a giver here in our area, and we hope that you will share photos or stories to share about your experience. "Each day we take pleasure in suggesting great books to read to our customers. Today, thanks to the generous support of all of the authors and publishers of thirty fantastic books, many, many people will experience the joy of passing on a great book to someone else." --Next Chapter Bookshop , Mequon, Wis. (e-newsletter) 

"Sometime today, if you're lucky, somebody will shove a paperback book in your face and demand you take it home and read it. There are worse fates that could befall a person," the Riverfront Times in St. Louis noted, adding that staffers from the RFT would be participating, but "before that, we stopped by the Arch to check out the ReadMob, organized by the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance. About 150 people, including a couple of busloads of students from Christ Community Lutheran School, gathered on the Arch steps at 12:30. The booksellers had marked off, with chalk, where everyone should plop their butts down to read so their bodies would spell out 'Read Books.' So many people showed up, the crowd had to form the letters twice, so everyone would get a chance." "It was so much better than I expected," said Jarek Steele of Left Bank Books, who, along with Nikki Furrer of Pudd'nhead Books directed the readers into position. "It was beautiful!" "It got really quiet," said Left Bank's Kris Kleindienst, Steele's co-owner. "Everybody was reading. I'd like to stay and read for a while." Check out the very cool ReadMob video here 

I really wish that book lovers would head to the Pacific Northwest for something better than those awful Twilight books, but I suppose as long as they're reading, I should not complain: Fans of Twilight head to the Pacific Northwest. Monroeville, Ala., is marking the 50th anniversary of the movie release of To Kill a Mockingbird with events for literary tourist. And devotees of The Help flock to Greenwood, Miss., a state that--as home to William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, Willie Morris and Shelby Foote--has become a "literary mecca" for tourists, Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, Oxford, told Reuters. "Literary tourism's been going on in this town since before Faulkner won the Nobel Prize in 1950 because he created this mythical kingdom of Yoknapatawpha," Howorth said. "People were curious about it. They came from all over the world to see Faulkner's home."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baker Street Books Pot Luck Fundraiser and Other News

Baker Street Books in Black Diamond is closing this Sunday, April 22, forever. I am heartbroken about this, but even worse is the fact that the owner, bookseller Bob Charles, fell off a ladder early last month and broke several vertebrae in his back, and has had to have surgery. While he's been ill, Deanna, a friend of his, has run the store and has been selling the books at 50 percent off. She has decided to have a potluck fundraiser for Mr Charles from 1-5 pm on Sunday, and I plan to attend, though I don't think I will be able to donate any money to the fundraiser to offset the cost of his health care. But I can bake and bring something and wish him well. Recently I cam across this blurb about the Bodhi Tree bookstore in California that closed recently, and it expresses just how I feel about Baker Street Books closing its doors.
"Bodhi Tree was a place of serendipity. For many of us it was our first choice for gift buying. Not only was the selection marvelous, but the store had a strange way of fitting you with the right gift at the right time. If you were sensitive you didn’t have to ask for help. As you explored you would be drawn to that perfect gift. The book someone most needed to read." Ronnie Pontiac

Wow, a musical based on a Stephen King novel? I'd love to see that!

Stephen King's first theatrical venture, a musical titled Ghost Brothers
of Darkland County,
held its world premiere last week at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta,
the Telegraph reported. The production, which features music and lyrics
from John Mellencamp and musical direction by T Bone Burnett, runs
through May 13.

"I wanted to try something that was a little bit risky and something
that was outside my comfort zone," said King. "We are way out there. We
are risking our necks on this. For this show, we wanted a place that was
cosmopolitan but not out of touch with country roots, and Atlanta looked
to me like the middle of the bullseye."

A Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album, produced by Burnett, will be
released later this year, with tracks by Elvis Costello, Kris
Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal and Rosanne Cash.

I found this bit to be hilarious, from Shelf Awareness:

"You claim to be friends with a friend of mine, but that friend of mine
hates you. (+$100)." In a New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece, Adam
Mansbach tackled the thorny issue of book blurb requests with a "Dear
Novelist" letter and "new, comprehensive pricing system"
Even though his tongue is planted firmly in cheek (more or less), the
list could still send a few shivers up the spines of many a
blurb-hunting author.

I didn't really need another reason to love Portland, Oregon, but this is a great idea for a bookstore:

Among the Huffington Post's "six quirky reasons to fall in love with
is Reading Frenzy
"As much as you gotta love Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, Portland has an even quirkier bookstore just a block away from
the 1.6-acre original. Started in 1994 in the office of an auto body
shop, Reading Frenzy specializes in self-published and independent
books, comics and graphic novels. It also offers workshops for aspiring
artists and publishers, particularly in the anarchist and social
commentary vein, as well as art openings, the first being Dishwasher
Pete's collection of macaroni and cheese boxes, and its own Show & Tell

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April is Voting and Poetry Month

I've always loved poetry, and as a failed teenage poet, I think I developed a deep appreciation of real poets and how difficult it is to find the perfect word to build an insightful, beautiful poem. Since this is National Poetry Month, the first poem I'll share with you is from Stolen Air: The Selected Poems of Osip Mandlestam, translated by Christian Wiman.

The Necklace

Take, from my palms, for joy, for ease,
A little honey, a little sun,
That we may obey Persephone's bees.

You can't untie a boat unmoored.
Fur-shod shadows can't be heard,
Nor terror, in this life, mastered.

Love, what's left for us, and of us, is this
Living remnant, loving revenant, brief kiss
Like a bee flying completed dying hiveless

To find in the forest's heart a home,
Night's never-ending hum,
Thriving on meadowsweet, mint, and time.
Take, for all that's good, for all that is gone,
That it may lie rough and real against your collarbone,
This string of bees, that once turned honey into sun.
(November 1920)

This next poem is refreshing:

The Trees by Philip Larkin
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

If you're a member of Goodreads, please don't forget to vote for my book blog in the Goodreads IBBA:

Voting for finalists for the first Independent Book Blogger Awards, recognizing "the amazing
talent in book blogging today," have begun and will run through April
23. The awards will be given in four categories--adult fiction, adult
nonfiction, children's/YA and industry news--and are sponsored by
Goodreads and the Association of American Publishers. Winners will be
chosen by a committee of industry representatives and announced about
May 8. Winners in each category receive a free trip to BEA in New York

I just finished "13 Rue Therese" by Elena Mauli Shapiro yesterday, and I must say I was surprised by the ending of this thrilling literary fiction title.
The book is mainly the story of Frenchwoman Louise Brunet, told through the fevered imaginings of Trevor Stratton, a professor who discovers a box of artifacts(such as letters, coins, gloves, envelopes, scissors, etc) that belonged to Brunet, and feels compelled to write letters that detail the history surrounding each one. Stratton doesn't know he's been left the box by Josianne, his clerk, but eventually figures that out as his narrative of the artifacts gets steamier with erotic interludes.
I found that the short chapters focusing on one artifact at a time lead me to stay up late, turning pages to find out what would happen to Louise next; would she leave her boring husband, Henri for her sensual and married neighbor? Would she become pregnant from their affair? What happened to her cousin Camille, her first love, during WWI? The answers come swiftly and imaginatively in this robust novel written in saucy prose that winks at the reader and invites them to journey with Louise to find satisfaction for herself, and for Trevor Stratton, who comes alive with love and lust for Louise, though she's long dead. Juicy and clever, this novel deserves an A and a recommendation for all those who find ghosts in the objects of a bygone era.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Great Ideas and Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

This is a brilliant idea, and one that I wish a bookstore like Island Books would start, because I would join in a heartbeat! What is not to love about having a personal bookseller send you a good book every month?!

Bookseller Liberty Hardy is the resident "Veloci-reader" at RiverRun Bookstore , Portsmouth, N.H. She helps customers find the "book you didn't know you had to
have--delivered to your door" as part of RiverRun's Paperback to the
Future program.

For $20 per month (or $100 for six months), Hardy "will interact with
you via e-mail to get a sense of your reading taste. Then, using a
complex, furtive, and unscientific formula, we will send you a paperback
book to read. It will be a surprise! It's 90% likely that you will have
never heard of it, and 100% guaranteed that you will like it. Or your
money back.... The longer this goes on, the more we'll understand what
you like to read: we'll be right inside your brain!"

This is true, and I completely agree, from Shelf Awareness:

Promising not to give "another save-the-bookstore rant," nor to "wax
nostalgic about an almost-extinct breed of shopping destination or beg
you to support it as an act of charity," the Boston Globe's Christie
Matheson offered "10 (and a half) reasons
why you'll get a lot more than books if you buy from local stores":

1. They entertain your kids.
2. They stock literary treasures.
3. They bring celebrities to town.
4. They educate you.
5. They have real people on hand to help you.
6. They offer great book groups.
7. They can help you write.
8. They keep you in the know.
9. They reward loyalty.
10. They support your community.
10.5. They sell online, too

I had to read "Three Cups of Tea" for my book group, and I have to say that I didn't really see the point of what Mortenson was doing in building schools in the "stan" countries like Afghanistan, particularly to educate girls, when women in Middle Eastern Islamic society are not allowed to actually DO anything with their education, and must wear clothing that covers them from head to toe. They can also be murdered for the flimsiest of reasons, from just looking at a man who isn't in their family to reading a book that isn't allowed. I would think it would make more sense to free women from the confines of insane male-dominated religious zealotry first, before trying to educate girls who won't get to do anything with their education but be married off at an early age and then be used as a birthing machine and housekeeper. So I wasn't surprised to see the 60 Minutes piece on Greg Mortenson using the money his foundation made for his own aggrandizement. I had that guy's number as soon as I read the first chapter of his book. My only disagreement with the paragraphs below is that I do not feel his foundations mission is worth saving. Fighting for women/girls equal rights would be much more effective, I believe.

A Montana attorney general's investigation
into Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and head of the Central
Asia Institute, the Bozeman, Mont., charity that he created to build
schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has found that Mortenson "failed to
reimburse his organization for more than $1 million in travel and
book-related expenses going back several years" and that Mortenson "had
significant lapses in judgment resulting in money donated to CAI being
spent on personal items such as charter flights for family vacations,
clothing and internet downloads," CBS News reported.

Under the terms of a settlement with the attorney general, Mortenson is
paying the Institute $1 million, has resigned as executive director and
while he can be employed by the Institute, he may not have any position
involving financial oversight. At the same time, current board
members--allies of Mortenson--are stepping down within a year and will
be replaced. The Institute has cooperated with the attorney general's

Last year 60 Minutes charged that Mortenson had fabricated parts of his
story in Three Cups of Tea, spent many donations to the Institute on
personal expenses and had the Institute buy copies of his book for
distribution to others--while pocketing royalties on those purchases.

All parties, including 60 Minutes, agreed that the Institute's mission
made it worth saving.

And Finally, I finished the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery several days ago, "Elegy for Eddie" which is the 9th book in the series, and as usual, I loved getting into Maisie's world of post WWI Great Britain, and I always love her calm demeanor and compassionate nature.
In this installment, Maisie is set upon by the Coster mongers of London to find the killer of a "simple" fellow with a gift for horses, who was actually born in a horse stable after his mother was raped. Unfortunately, Maisie's partner, Billy Beale, gets set upon by thugs who beat him nearly to death, which sets off Billy's mentally unstable wife, Doreen, who screams and freaks out and blames Maisie for all of Billy's problems. There follows as lot of Maisie apologizing for helping others with her newfound wealth, including the Beale family, by getting them out of their moldy digs in Shoreditch, which were causing their children to become ill, as children will in the slums, and establishing them in a clean newer home in a better neighborhood. This must be some kind of wierd national eccentricity of the British people, because I really believe that Maisie had NOTHING to apologize for! She'd done her best to help others in ways that were appropriate and kind, and hadn't forced them to bow down to her or for anything at all in return, yet she gets lambasted by all the authority figures in the book for being helpful. So she should just let the Beale family waste away and have their children sicken and die of preventable disease, because of the 'pride' of the mentally ill Doreen? Really? That makes NO SENSE at all.
I also do not understand Maisie's problem with marrying James Compton, who is to the manor born, because Maisie is now independently wealthy and on a social par with him, and yet she seems to be afraid that he will force her to give up her investigating business to have children and be the lady of the manor, which I seriously doubt he'd do. Strong as she is, I think Maisie can be married, have children and still have a career, all at once. She's not getting any younger, and if she's going to have a family, she should do it now, especially since war, (WWII) is on the horizon. Great Britain will be in that war for 6 plus years, so if she doesn't get cracking now, she will likely be a spinster and be involved in the war as a spy or a nurse.
Still, with it's hesitations and apologies, Elegy for Eddie is a wonderful read, full of warm and loving characters and scoundrels with dark hearts. It deserves an A, and should be read by all who enjoy a women-centered mystery.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Vote for My Book Blog!

Independent Book Blogger Awards

Vote for this blog for the Independent Book Blogger Awards!