Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Read These Books: Super Deluxe Edition

Awhile back I told you about All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. Well since then, it's caught on like wildfire around here. What can I say, I have excellent taste (full disclosure, I was told to read this by a friend who read it, so really she should get all the credit). Robert, Katherine, and Mark B. have all read it and LOVED it.

Here's what I had to say about it:
If you're looking for a tidy little book, a book that ties up all its loose ends, fits all the puzzle pieces together, resolves every mysterious plot line...this is not the book for you. But who wants that anyway? Life isn't tidy, so this just feels more real. 

All the Birds, Singing is crammed full of hidden pasts, unraveling lives, and mysterious strangers. A bleak and wind-whipped British island is home to Jake Whyte, a solitary woman who raises sheep and keeps the locals as far away as she can. She's hiding something, and now her sheep are being hunted and mutilated, and Jake might be next. 

What makes this book impossible to put down is the unique structure Evie Wyld employs. In alternating chapters, between the the eerie present day mystery, she tells the story of Jake's secret past in the burning isolation of rural Australia. But these flashbacks run backwards in time, bringing the reader ever closer to the tragic secret that sets Jake's life spiraling out of her control. 

This is a dark but beautiful book that I just could not put down. Even a week after reading it, it's lingering on my mind. Plus, I really like a book title with punctuation in it.

And Mark seconds:
One of my favorite books in recent years. This is a page-turner to the nth degree with scenes that will burn a permanent place in you memories.

Most of us here have really different reading tastes, so it's not often that so many of us will like the same books. Imagine our surprise when it happened again, just a few weeks later. Now, this next book isn't actually out yet, so I'll be sure to remind you about it as its release date approaches. But, you really must read Station Eleven.

I never actually clarified this, but I heard that Robert had read and enjoyed Station Eleven, and since I have liked several of Robert's suggestions, I grabbed the first advance copy that turned up in the store.

I loved it. Then Mark read it and he stayed up til 4:30 one morning to finish it. And then Alex read it, and he can't stop talking about it.

And it is so good. It's post apocalypse, but really different than other dystopian novels I've read. I have a hard time describing it so I'll let the jacket copy tell you all that. Just know that it's smart and  beautifully written and you'll be tearing through it when it comes out September 9th.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. 

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back To School...Yay?

I think I can hear exuberant cheers, and sighs of dread in equal measure. It's back-to-school time, and some people seem to be really excited about it, while others are decidedly not. Actually, funny story, today I was ringing up a young fellow who was buying a book I know is on one of the school reading lists, and as he walked out the doors, he audibly groaned. Hopefully merely in response to being told what to read, and not reading in general.

At any rate, we've got a whole bunch of suggestions for getting everyone ready for the new school year.

This one is Patti's favorite, she says it's great for getting kids used to the hustle and bustle of a busy, noisy school.:

Pete the Cat is back—and this time he’s rocking in his school shoes. Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song . . . because it’s all good.

Emily and I totally agree that Ramona Quimby, Age 8 it the go-to back-to-school book.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
Ramona's job is to be nice to fussy Mrs. Kemp, who watches her while her mother works. If Mrs. Quimby didn't work, Mr. Quimby couldn't return to college. On top of all that, third grade isn't turning out as Ramona expected. Danny the Yard Ape teases her and, on one horrible day, she throws up—at school. Being eight isn't easy, but it's never dull!

But back-to-school isn't just for the kids. Want to relive those heady first days of college, away from home, coming of age?...well, maybe not.  But too bad! There's a whole genre out there all about growing up, moving on, learning lessons; the Campus Novel.

We've got a display at Ravenna featuring some of the best campus novels out there.  And here's a list (MORE LISTS!) of The 50 Greatest Campus Novels. Note: Ami and I would like to make an addendum to this list and include Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, because it is the essential campus novel.

My Education by Susan Choi
Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.

My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.

Zuleika Dobson: Or, and Oxford Love Story by Max Beerbohm
Sir Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm was, like his friend Oscar Wilde, such an acclaimed wit (and essayist, caricaturist, and parodist) that George Bernard Shaw dubbed him “the incomparable Max.” But Beerbohm’s comic masterpiece Zuleika Dobson—one of the Modern Library’s top 100 English-language novels of the twentieth century—is the only novel he ever wrote. 

Strangely out of print in the United States for years, this crackling farce is nonetheless as piercing and fresh as when it first appeared in 1911: a hilarious dismantling of academia and privilege, and a swashbuckling lampooning of class systems and notions of masculine virtue.

The all-male campus of Oxford—Beerbohm’s alma mater—is a place where aesthetics holds sway above all else, and where witty intellectuals reign. Things haven’t changed for its privileged student body for years . . . until the beguiling music-hall prestidigitator Zuleika Dobson shows up.

The book’s marvelous prose dances along the line between reality and the absurd as students and dons alike fall at Zuleika’s feet, and she cuts a wide swath across the campus—until she encounters one young aristocrat for whom she is astonished to find she has feelings.

As Zuleika, and her creator, zero in on their targets, the book takes some surprising and dark twists on its way to a truly startling ending—an ending so striking that readers will understand why Virginia Woolf said that “Mr. Beerbohm in his way is perfect.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Listing Lists

The last thing you probably need is a list of books to read. If you're at all like me, you already have a precariously teetering stack of to-read books on your nightstand (a precariously teetering stack that seems to grow on its own at a rather alarming rate). And you've probably got plenty of friends telling you to read this or that book next. Or maybe it's a list of things to be read for school. Well, I joyfully disregard your overabundance of books to read, and add to it with this list of lists.

From the New York Times Bestseller List to the Indie Bound Next List, there's no shortage of lists offering reading suggestions. But I argue that there is a shortage of truly original and interesting lists. I don't want a list of books I already know I should be reading. I want a list of books I've never even considered reading, or better yet, never even heard of. So here are a few of the lists I've come across that offer up a different kind of book. Pay no attention to the numbering, these aren't in any particular order.

1. New York Review of Books: NYRB Classics
Ok, so I'm starting this list about lists with not so much a list but more of an endorsement for an entire line of books. The NYRB Classics imprint has published hundreds of titles since it first released A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes in 1999. NYRB Classics rescues books from oblivion, returning works to print that have been wrongly forgotten, or offering translations previously unavailable in English. Some of my very favorite books come from this series... *cough, cough* Stoner *cough, cough* Added bonus, NRYBs are beautiful, both their signature covers and all lined up chromatically on a shelf.

2. Flavorwire Books
So, the second entry on my list of lists isn't a list either, but a source for great lists. If you are looking for an interesting and original list of books to read, this is the place. As evidence, I offer this perfect list of 25 Books that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About New York. This list contains a couple of NYRB Classics, naturally, but it also has my new favorite book, Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran (fair warning, if you read this blog with any regularity, be prepared to hear much, much more about Dancer from the Dance). More evidence of Flavorwire's list superiority...50 Excellent Novels by Female Writers Under 50 That Everyone Should Read. While their listmaking may be top notch, I will concede that perhaps shorter list titles may be in order.

3. Powell's Books, 25 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Hey, look! An actual list! I'm a bookseller, I trust other booksellers. Especially these booksellers.

...and speaking of booksellers...

4. Third Place Books, Bookseller Top Tens
Don't forget our year-end lists. Shameless plug. With such a large staff of people with wildly differing reading tastes, you're bound to come across something interesting

5. The Daphne Awards Shortlist
This one is pretty amazing, and maybe my favorite of the lists. Bookslut has created an award in order to determine the best book of the year...from 50 years ago. The argument being that maybe it takes a little longer than 365 days to determine what book will actually stand the test of time. And it's a good argument if you consider this: 1963 saw the release of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, but it was John Updike's The Centaur (WHAT!??!?) that won the National Book Award, and there wasn't even a Pulitzer Prize for fiction awarded that year. Not to mention the complete disregard of James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time by all of the awards. Here is what Bookslut founder Jessa Crispin has to say:
Book awards, for the most part, celebrate mediocrity. It takes decades for the reader to catch up to a genius book, it takes years away from hype, publicity teams, and favoritism to see that some books just aren't that good.
Here's more of that interview from Melville House.  AND  here is the shortlist for the Daphne Awards set to be announced later this month.

6. Book Riot, Ten Best Top 100 Books Lists
Clearly, this strange need to list and rank other ranked lists isn't limited to just me. Here is a great list of other great lists. Of note, one of the few lists of best nonfiction. And I particularly love the 100 Favorite Novels of Librarians which features over 40 works written by women, as compared to the Modern Library Best 100 Novels of the 20th Century, which only has nine works written by women.

So there you have it. Some interesting lists for your perusal. Now get reading.

Monday, August 4, 2014

New Release Tuesday!

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
SQUEEEEEEE! I'm so excited for this one!
The stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy.

Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Meanwhile, the magical barriers that keep Fillory safe are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. Eliot and Janet, the rulers of Fillory, embark on a final quest to save their beloved world, only to discover a situation far more complex—and far more dire—than anyone had envisioned.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young magician with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. His new life takes him back to old haunts, like Antarctica and the Neitherlands, and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers buried secrets and hidden evils and ultimately the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create a magical utopia. But all roads lead back to Fillory, where Quentin must face his fears and put things right or die trying.

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein

In January of 1973 Richard Nixon announced the end of the Vietnam War and prepared for a triumphant second term--until televised Watergate hearings revealed his White House as little better than a mafia den. The next president declared upon Nixon's resignation "our long national nightmare is over"--but then congressional investigators exposed the CIA for assassinating foreign leaders. The collapse of the South Vietnamese government rendered moot the sacrifice of some 58,000 American lives. The economy was in tatters. And as Americans began thinking about their nation in a new way--as one more nation among nations, no more providential than any other--the pundits declared that from now on successful politicians would be the ones who honored this chastened new national mood.

Ronald Reagan never got the message. Which was why, when he announced his intention to challenge President Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination, those same pundits dismissed him--until, amazingly, it started to look like he just might "win." He was inventing the new conservative political culture we know now, in which a vision of patriotism rooted in a sense of American limits was derailed in America's Bicentennial year by the rise of the smiling politician from Hollywood. Against a backdrop of melodramas from the Arab oil embargo to Patty Hearst to the near-bankruptcy of America's greatest city, "The Invisible Bridge "asks the question: what does it mean to" "believe in America? To wave a flag--or to reject the glibness of the flag wavers?


White Girls by Hilton Als

White Girls, Hilton Als’s first book since The Women fourteen years ago, finds one of The New Yorker's boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O’Connor. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.

Just One Evil Act  by Elizabeth George

Barbara is at a loss: Hadiyyah, the daughter of her friend Taymullah Azhar, has been taken by her mother, and Barbara can’t really help. Azhar has no legal claim.

Just when Azhar is beginning to accept his soul-crushing loss, he gets more shocking news: Hadiyyah has been kidnapped from an Italian marketplace. As both Barbara and her partner, Inspector Thomas Lynley, soon discover, the case is far more complex than a typical kidnapping, revealing secrets that could have far-reaching effects outside of the investigation. With both her job and the life of a little girl on the line, Barbara must decide what matters most and how far she’s willing to go to protect it.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bookseller Spotlight

Annie has been a bookseller for 11 years and with Third Place for about four of those. You'll usually find her shelving the Pets Section, or being the Intergalactic Overlord of the Science Fiction/Fantasy sections. Seriously, she knows her spaceships and elves. And she really should get a medal for all the times she's cleaned our DISGUSTING staff fridge (seriously, we are animals).

When not reading, Annie enjoys knitting, watching movies, and learning dressage from a 36 year-old horse named Drifter who she describes as the "epitome of elderly gentlemanliness."

Favorite book in your section, or most underrated book in your section? Pets: Most underrated- Tales from a Dog Catcher by Lisa Duffy-Korpics. It's full of funny, sad stories about her career in animal control. The essay about watering cats definitely had me giggling in public. SciFi:  I love the entirety of Science Fiction. Except, maybe not Game of Thrones so much... GASP, I know, the only person on the planet who isn't into the series.

What's your favorite section in the store? Science Fiction/Fantasy. And Young Adult. And Pets. And Fiction. And Mystery. Oh, and the knitting section!

What book do you recommend most? Depends on the customer, but probably Sabriel by Garth Nix. It's THE book that really cemented my love of fantasy, and it's completely different from anything else. I cannot even contain my excitement for Clariel, his latest book in the series. It comes out in October!

Favorite bookstore, besides Third Place? Tie between Mr. B's Bookery and Powells. I love the intimacy of a small bookstore, but also the gigantic-ness that is Powells. Plus, traveling to Portland by train is part of the fun.

Can you read more than one book at a time? Nope. Even if the books are completely different I start mixing up characters and scenes.

Do you have to finish a book once you've started? I have a 50 page rule. That sometimes turns into a 5 page rule. I'm a big believer of the "right book, right time, right reader" theory. A book that I wasn't interested in 5 years ago I might love now. But some books I do put down and never go back to.

Guilty reading pleasure? I don't believe in guilty reading. I fully enjoyed the Twilight series and plan on rereading it again soon; Timothy Zahn has written some of the best Star Wars Extended Universe material ever; and Nora Roberts is my favorite romance author. I read mostly for myself and also to support my favorite authors and bookstores. It's hard to feel guilty about that.

Do you keep books? Borrow them? Lend them? I definitely keep books. This weekend my husband and I are heading to Ikea to buy more bookcases. I think we'll round out at an even 20 after that trip. I do on occasion borrow from friends. I've been know to lend books out to a small, select group of people.

How are your bookshelves arranged at home? Pretty helter skelter. I have bookcases scattered throughout my house, and I try to keep authors together. Other than that, if there's a spot that a book will fit, that's where it lives until I find it again. It's kind of fun actually. I'll be browsing for something to read in the living room or guest room and come across a book I've completely forgotten about.

A book you loved that you wouldn't have read if someone hadn't recommend it to you? most recently I read a book called Dove Arising by Karen Bao that's coming out in February. My friend Rene reviewed it on her blog. Anything she recommends, I will read. She has impeccable taste!

Favorite movie version of a book, or a movie that most ruined a book? My favorite movie based on a book is hands down the Lord of the Rings trilogy. and maybe Hayao Miyazaki's interpretation of Howl's Moving Castle. On the flip side, I've seen so many horrifically bad movies based on books. One that really sticks out though is Eragon. That movie had so much potential and a great cast. But I couldn't even get through the first hour, it was so bad.

Favorite book as a kid? The Neverending Story. And Matilda. And The Animorphs series. Oh, and Young Jedi Knights series.

Have you read Ulysses? Nope. My dad kept on and on about it, but I bet you can guess by now that it was not my particular brand of good fun in the reading department. I think I may have read the first page, but swapped it out for whatever Animorphs book I was on almost immediately.

Currently reading and raving about? 
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (out in September)

Afterworlds follows the story of Darcy Patel, who at 18 has landed a publishing deal and a substantial advance for her first YA novel. She decides to put off college and move to New York to see if she can hack it as a writer. Every alternate chapter follows Lizzie, the protagonist of Darcy's novel. It's an awesome premise as the reader gets to both read the author's own story and the one she's put down on paper. Brilliant and very well written, it's worth picking up this fall!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book News and Other Miscellany

Here are a few random book related articles, blogs, pictures, and what not from all the corners of the internet.  Okay, maybe not all the corners, but a fair few.

Are you in love with Cormoran Strike and J.K. Row...I mean Robert Galbraith? Well, you are in luck. Rowling says she loves writing under her pseudonym and is already half done with the third novel.  She  even claims that this series could be longer than that other series she wrote. She'll keep giving her private eye cases (and novels) as long as she keeps him alive. Ha! Keeps him alive! Easier said than done, Rowling...have you actually read Harry Potter? Read more here.

Here is a lovely little piece from Esquire.
How to Quit Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore by Stephen Marche
A good seller in a bookstore is infinitely superior in every way to a personalization algorithm. Even by entering a bookstore, you're faced with literally a thousand choices that you've never been faced with before. Somewhere in there is something that's entirely fresh to you, and will reward your soul by exposure. That's what good books do, and good bookstores, too. They let you step out of your algorithm.

Our new favorite website: Today in Literature ... never miss an important day again.

On July 23rd, 1846, Henry David Thoreau is jailed for not paying his poll tax. I guess he should have stayed in the woods.

It's probably time for you to take this book quiz.

Awesome trailer for the movie version of Unbroken out later this year. Go ahead, try not rushing out and buying this book after you watch the trailer. You won't be able to stop yourself.

Cool Blog Alert! You may already know about this great book blog, but I just stumbled upon it this week. Musing is the official blog for Ann Patchett's bookstore, Parnassus Books in Nashville. It's got great articles, lists, and staff picks. Particularly awesome are the Authors In Real Life segments, and of course the Shop Dog Diaries.

And this super important picture of a cat and some books from The Literary Cat. Because, you know...cats.

You are welcome.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Read This Book

Men Explain Things to Me is a must. You can actually read the the original essay here. But don't stop there. The hilarious and troubling titular essay is just the beginning of the genius and relevance crammed into this slim little volume. Really, you must read this.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

In her comic, scathing essay "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. 

She ends on a serious note-- because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, "He's trying to kill me " 

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf 's embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.
Where opponents would argue that feminism is humorless and superfluous, Men Explain Things to Me is a compelling argument for the movement's necessary presence in contemporary society. It approaches the subject with candor and openness, furthering the conversation and opening a new Pandora's box that's apt to change the way we talk about women's rights.
-Shelf Awareness
And just for laughs...check out this website,  Academic Men Explain Things to Me.