Wednesday, December 17, 2014

3rd Third Place Books, Bookshop Pledge, RIP Normal Bridwell, Books as Gifts and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I love it that there is good news on the horizon for one Seattle area book store, in the wake of so many others closing (RIP Old Renton Bookstore)

Third Third Place Store to Open Next Year in Seattle

Third Place Books, which has stores in Lake Forest Park, Wash., and in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, is
opening a third store, in the Seward Park neighborhood of Seattle, in
late 2015. The new store will be in a 7,200-square-foot building that
currently houses PCC Natural Markets, the natural foods retail
cooperative that is moving next year to much larger space in the nearby
Columbia City neighborhood.

Third Place owner Ron Sher is purchasing the building, which will be
used for the store, a restaurant and possibly a pub. Managing partner
Robert Sindelar said about 3,500 square feet of the building would be
devoted to the bookstore but the layout plans are still tentative
because Third Place is looking for a restaurant partner. Third Place
doesn't intend to make additions to the building, but will raise the
basement ceiling, i.e., the main floor, to make public access to the
basement legal--enabling the restaurant to operate on two levels.

The project will be similar to the Ravenna store, which is about 10
miles north. (The Lake Forest Park store is 17 miles away.) "We hope to
have the restaurant elements and bookstore coexist on some level, but
our experience with our Ravenna store has shown us that each business
needs to be really good at what it does without sacrificing its service
or identity to the other businesses," Sindelar said. "They are there to
enhance and complement one another."

Eric McDaniel, an assistant manager in the Lake Forest Park store who
has worked for Third Place more than eight years and who lives in Seward
Park, will manage the new store.

Many in the community have welcomed the news. Shelf Awareness publisher
Jenn Risko, who lives in the neighborhood, said she's "thrilled,"
adding, "This vital, growing area has been immeasurably underserved in
books and a 'third place,' and I know it will embrace the store with
open arms."
I don't know if I will go to see this yet, but I might since I read the whole series.

The first full trailer has been released for Insurgent
the second movie in the Divergent Series, based on Veronica Roth's YA
novels. reported that "Shailene Woodley returns as Tris,
and this time she and Four (Theo James) are fugitives hunted by Erudite
leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet)." The cast also includes Ansel Elgort,
Miles Teller, Naomi Watts, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoƫ
Kravitz, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Daniel Dae Kim and Octavia Spencer. The
film, directed by Robert Schwentke, opens March 20.

This is a great idea, but I don't know if I can do it financially. I have a lot (meaning a ton) of medical bills and we live on one income, so I will still probably have to buy books second-hand from garage sales, used bookstores and thrift shops.

"I claim to love books; and, more than that, to love bookshops. Yet for
eight years I have poured money into a company that many booksellers
regard as the greatest threat to their survival.... It is the time of
year to make resolutions. You could resolve to eat less, or jog more. Or
you could join me in making a simple pledge: to buy every book you read
next year from a bookshop. I don't know about you, but Amazon has had
quite enough of my money already."

--Laura Freeman in a piece for the Daily Mail headlined "Why I'm

Yes, indeed! There are, in my opinion, a million reasons to give and receive books this holiday season!
"Gluten, nut, dairy, calorie and fat free." That's just one of the "top
15 reasons why books make the best gifts"offered by the helpful crew at BookBar,
Denver, Colo.

RIP to Clifford the Big Red Dog creator, Norman Bridwell. I used to read my son Clifford books and he watched the TV show all the time, too, though Emily Elizabeth kind of set my teeth on edge.

Illustrator and children's author Norman Bridwell
Clifford the Big Red Dog series of children's books delighted children
for decades, died last Friday. He was 86. Bridwell created Clifford in
1963 and went on to write and illustrate more than 150 titles. His first
Clifford manuscript was turned down by nine publishers before landing at
Scholastic, which has published Bridwell's work for more than 50 years.
There are now 129 million books in print in 13 languages. In 2000,
Clifford made his TV debut on PBS Kids, and the animated series quickly
became a hit.

Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said Bridwell's books about Clifford,
"childhood's most loveable dog, could only have been written by a gentle
man with a great sense of humor. Norman personified the values that we
as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children--kindness,
compassion, helpfulness, gratitude--through the Clifford stories which
have been loved for more than fifty years.

"The magic of the character and stories Norman created with Clifford is
that children can see themselves in this big dog who tries very hard to
be good, but is somewhat clumsy and always bumping into things and
making mistakes. What comforts the reader is that Clifford is always
forgiven by Emily Elizabeth, who loves him unconditionally. At
Scholastic, we are deeply saddened by the loss of our loyal and talented
friend whose drawings and stories have inspired all of us and
generations of children and their parents."

Before his death, Bridwell had completed two more Clifford books, which
will be released in 2015: Clifford Goes to Kindergarten, in May, and
Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah, in October.

This is a great little bookstore right next to the famed 74th St Alehouse (bring back the roasted filberts!) I enjoyed shopping there, though their prices were high. 

Phinney Books Has 'Captured the Mission Statement'
 Facing his first holiday season
as co-owner of a bookstore, author and Jeopardy! champion Tom Nissley
told the Stranger that when he opened Phinney Books, Seattle, Wash., "earlier this year, he knew he would be operating on a steep learning curve."

"The most overwhelming thing is the receiving," he said. "Every day,
we're selling tons of books and that means every day I have to bring
books back in.... We have eight square feet that's not on the showroom
floor, [so the unboxing of books] all happens behind the counter in a
noticeable and not quite tidy way."

Another challenge with owning a small bookshop is finding a variety of
people to make recommendations. At Phinney, many of the shelf talkers
are contributed by customers. "We're just a small place compared to
Elliott Bay, where there's this great staff of readers who can fill up
all the shelves with shelf talkers," he said. "I'm very happy to give
the store over to other voices than mine, and to not just make it an
echo chamber for the books that I love."

During the Christmas season, Nissley asked local authors to contribute
lists of a book they want to receive for Christmas and a book they are
giving. He has also launched a new subscription program, Phinney by Post
make it as eclectic as possible," Nissley said. "The biggest coup as a
bookseller is when you have a customer who you know has read a ton of
stuff and has interesting taste and you can find something they love."
He noted that many people are buying subscriptions as gifts. When
choosing titles, he looks for "that sweet spot of both awesomeness and
obscurity so we can both please and surprise our subscribers."

Nissley "may be new at the bookselling business, but he's captured the
mission statement in a nutshell," the Stranger observed.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak is a YA book that my son said he wanted me to read, as a swap for him reading "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli.
The book is set in Australia, and while I gather that Australia/New Zealand can be a bit backward in terms of societal  progress for women and minorities, I was startled that the author of the Book Thief, which was a very sensitive book with a young female protagonist, would have his main character in Messenger, Ed Kennedy, feel that he is "owed" sex with his best friend Audrey, though she has made it plain that she doesn't return his feelings of love/lust. Not that Ed is anything but a kind of screw up from the get-go, but even his mother doesn't like him (apparently because he looks/acts like his father, who is lionized as some kind of hero, while his mother, who is admittedly mean, still managed to raise him, if not praise him). I find it abhorent that women/girls are viewed by many young men as prizes to be won with qualifying behavior, as in doing good deeds or being good at sports or the stock market or whatever. Never mind what the female wants, she's just a possession, a thing to be bought, sold, bartered or won. This attitude is so wrong, so very misogynistic at its core that it makes me physically ill. It leads to a rape culture that sees women/girls as worthless, or only as toys for men/boys, to be used and disposed of once they are no longer sexually viable. Here's the blurb:
Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail. That's when Ed becomes the messenger. Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?

This book is a 2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and recipient of five starred reviews.
After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.
So yes, Ed does a number of great things and helps people along the way. He also gets the crap kicked out of him more than once. He seems like not the brightest guy, and his friends are worse, as is his stinking dog. But 2/3 of the way through his journey, just as I believed he was becoming somewhat enlightened as a person, he begins to whine about "What's in it for me?" and laments that his friend Audrey isn't in love with him and won't have sex with him, as he's fantasized about having sex with her hundreds of time. So he lunges in and kisses her while his lip is still bloody from a fight, and then is all bummed out when she seems surprised and leaves. Personally, I think the more realistic reaction would have been for Audrey to haul off and slap his face. She's not a prize to be given for good behavior, Ed! But of course, since a young man wrote this book, he does get Audrey as a prize at the end. Why, we are never sure(her change of heart seems sudden and based on a few moments of dancing, which is again unrealistic) But I believe this idea of women as things to be given is something that young men in particular need to learn is actually wrong, abusive and contributes to rape culture and violence against women and girls. Though the general theme of the book, finding yourself by helping others, is a good one, I'd still give this book a C, and feel generous in so doing. I don't know that I'd recommend it to any teenagers, again because I don't believe that the misogyny is something to recommend. The prose is decent and the plot not too full of holes, though. My son loved this book, and felt that the good of it far outweighed the bad. So he would give it a B.

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