Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Indulgence, Thrift, and Generosity

Working at a bookstore for as long as I have, there are certain rules I enforce upon myself. Without these rules I might not have enough money for food or shelter, but would have a truly spectacular library. So, for the most part I only allow myself to buy used books. And even then, those purchases are typically made using store credit. It's one of the serious benefits of working at a new and used bookstore.

Occasionally, a favorite author will have a new book out, or there's some awesome NYRB title that I HAVE to have, and I just cannot track down a used copy. That's when I really have to up my trade-in game. But there's something beautiful and satisfying about that too. My inner simple-living-master revels in trading in five old books for one, beautiful, new, truly desired book.

But then there are other times. Times when a new book by a first-time author or someone I've never read before arrives in the store. And I am inexplicably, magnetically drawn to it. Sometimes, it's the cover that grabs me, a review in the paper, or perhaps an errant remark made by someone who has read it. Oddly, it's usually only big, fat, brand new hardcovers. Whatever it is, I need to have that book. Immediately. So I buy it. With money.

This happens to me about once a year, maybe twice. The first time was in 2001, I was working at a bookstore in Tucson, Arizona, and A.L Kennedy's book Everything You Need appeared. And I NEEDED it. So, I splurged, and now she's one of my favorite authors. It just happened again yesterday with Hanya Yanagihara's new novel, A Little Life. And yes, I bought it.

I never feel guilty when I splurge like this and I always enjoy these books, even if they don't turn out to be favorites. It's something about the small kindness I have paid myself that gives me a feeling of warmth every time I pick it up.

Perhaps the success of that very first lapse in will power is what let's me continue with this small indulgence. Or maybe it's something a little deeper. When this very phenomenon happened with Lev Grossman's first book in the Magicians series, I was trying to explain it to a friend. And she remarked that sometimes, constantly being thrifty can make a person feel shriveled, and that maybe it is these occasional moments of generosity toward ourselves that allow us to be generous toward others. As much as that sounds like convenient justification, I think I believe it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Goodnight Moon: A Critique

Believe it or not, I just read Goodnight Moon for the first time the other day. I was babysitting, and it was the book that the kid picked out. Why I had never read it, I can't say. I know it's a classic, but it has never appealed to me, same with Runaway Bunny. I'm pretty sure it's the art. It just does not do it for me. Which is too bad really, because the words are lovely. The sentiment, the cadence- that I can really get behind. But the art...it just looks weirdly diabolical.

Well, I am pleased to report that I clearly am not the only person who feels this way. There is a hilarious, genius of a blogger over at The Ugly Volvo who has really taken Goodnight Moon to task. Give it a read. I promise it will brighten your day.

All of My Issues With the Goodnight Moon Bedroom by The Ugly Volvo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Read This Book

One of the greatest perks of bookselling has to be the advance reader copies (ARC); bound galleys of books that come from the publishers, meant to be read by reviewers, booksellers, and so on. But one of the of the worst things about ARCs is that they haven't been reviewed yet, and there are just so many coming into the store everyday. Most of the time it's not even possible to keep track of every ARC that comes in, let alone read them all. 

And sadly, I am the absolute worst at just picking up an unknown book/author. I have so many other books that I know I want to read, I just can't justify picking up a book by an author I've never heard of. I can't handle that kind of risk. I need someone to tell me to read it. I need to know that it's good. Well, luckily for me, and new authors, and ultimately you (to whom I recommend all the great new books I read), I have a boss with excellent taste in books. And he shares that good taste with his less adventurous booksellers.

So the other day, when our boss told me that he thought I would really love Barefoot Dogs, a new book of short stories by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, I put everything else down and read it. Keep in mind, this is the same boss who recommended Stoner to me, which is now on my Super-Awesome, Mega-Elite, Best Books Ever List. The funny thing is, I had the ARC of Barefoot Dogs just sitting at home-- like for months. But because I had never heard of the author, and no one had told me to read it, I never picked it up.

I really, really need to resist this urge in the future, because this book is AMAZING. And I could have been gushing about it months ago. I would have looked so cool for being the first one to like it. And I really love looking cool. Oh well. Read this book anyways, even if I'm not cool.

Barefoot Dogs : Stories by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
This is my new favorite book. I very nearly read it entirely in one sitting-- I was just propelled forward by these amazing characters, and beautiful language. It's a collection of stories, but they are all linked so it reads much more like a novel. The head of a wealthy Mexican family is kidnapped; and in fear for their safety, his adult children and their families flee to places all over the world. It's funny, edgy, sexy, terrifying, and bold. Really, it's just all the good adjectives. READ IT!  -Erin B
An unforgettable debut of linked stories that follow the members and retinue of a wealthy Mexican family forced into exile after the patriarch is kidnapped.

On an unremarkable night, Jose Victoriano Arteaga--the head of a thriving Mexico City family--vanishes on his way home from work. The Arteagas find few answers; the full truth of what happened to Arteaga is lost to the shadows of Mexico's vast and desperate underworld, a place of rampant violence and kidnappings, and government corruption. But soon packages arrive to the family house, offering horrifying clues.

Fear, guilt, and the prospect of financial ruination fracture the once-proud family and scatter them across the globe, yet delicate threads still hold them together: in a swimming pool in Palo Alto, Arteaga's young grandson struggles to make sense of the grief that has hobbled his family; in Mexico City, Arteaga's mistress alternates between rage and heartbreak as she waits, in growing panic, for her lover's return; in Austin, the Arteagas' housekeeper tries to piece together a second life in an alienating and demeaning new land; in Madrid, Arteaga's son takes his ailing dog through the hot and unforgiving streets, in search of his father's ghost.

Multiple award-winning author Antonio Ruiz-Camacho offers an exquisite and intimate evocation of the loneliness, love, hope, and fear that can bind a family even as unspeakable violence tears it apart. Barefoot Dogs is a heartfelt elegy to the stolen innocence of every family struck by tragedy. This is urgent and vital fiction.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

This One's for the Ladies

So, a few months ago I stumbled on a 50 Coolest Books of All Time list. The list comes from Shortlist which I admit, is something I've never heard of, so their expertise is maybe a little questionable. But, of the list of 50 books, there are only four books by women. And two of those books are by Ayn Rand (blech). Am I really supposed to believe that of the 50 coolest books of all time, 92% were written by men? Hmmmm. I may not be very good at math, (you know, because I'm a woman) but that seems a little off. I will say, that Shortlist also has a list of the 50 Coolest Authors of All Time. This one isn't quite as bad, they were able to list ten women. But that still means 80% of the list is men. I guess it was a nice try.

Flavorwire is another source of these top 50 lists, and they have several women centered lists:
And that's nice, but I wonder when did books by or about women become a genre. Chick lit, women's fiction, 50 Shades of Grey...it all makes me a little hysterical. Especially considering that readers are more likely to be women, and women read more than men. So, I made my own list. It's a mashup of cool authors, and cool books. Enjoy. It's longer than 50, and it's not at all comprehensive. Think of it more as proof that it is possible to name more than four cool books by women. Happy International Women's Day!
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Octavia Butler
  • Kate Chopin
  • Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler
  • Bluets by Maggie Nelson
  • I Love Dick by Chris Kraus
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Virgina Woolf
  • Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
  • Kyung-sook Shin
  • Catherine Mansfeild
  • Virginia Lee Burton
  • Cunt by Inga Muscio
  • A.M. Holmes
  • Angela Davis
  • Rebecca Solnit
  • Joan Didion
  • Lydia Davis
  • Amor and Psycho by Carolyn Cooke
  • Lorrie Moore
  • Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston 
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Alison Bechdel
  • Susan Sontag
  • J.K. Rowling
  • The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton
  • Sylvia Plath
  • The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  • Tove Jansson
  • Annie Dillard
  • bell hooks
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  • Ursula Leguin
  • An Unquiet Mind by Kaye Redfield Jamison
  • A.L. Kennedy
  • The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford
  • Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  • Mama Day by Gloria Naylor
  • How Should a Person Be by Shelia Heti
  • Unmastered by Katherine Angel
  • Shirley Jackson
  • Daphne Dumaurie
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
  • Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • Dorothy Parker
  • The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
  • Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
  • Audre Lorde
  • I Rigoberto Menchu by Rigoberto Menchu
  • Roxane Gay
  • Xialu Guo
  • Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein
  • Willa Cather
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson
  • Speedboat by Renata Adler
  • Donna Tartt
  • Alice Walker
  • Mary Renault
I really could go on and on and on.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Super Hot Authors!

I was looking at a copy of How to Cook a Wolf, and I couldn't get over how attractive M.F.K. Fisher was. I'm talking super hot. It's not as if I expect all authors to be bookish and odd looking, but hotness isn't something I really think of when I think of literary genius. Not that literary genius isn't hot all by itself... well, you know what I mean. Anyways, I think I burnt out my Google image search looking at author photos. So here's a partial list of what I found. These authors make reading look really good.

MFK Fisher: Do you see what I'm talking about? Gorgeous!

Ishmael Beah: I suggest sunglasses if you ever meet
Ishmael. That smile will knock you out.

Jhumpa Lahiri: Stunning.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: You must be a hottie if 
Tom Hiddleston plays you in a movie.

Gillian Flynn: Super hot book, made into a super hot 
movie, written by a super hot author.

Colson Whitehead: He must have given up a career as a 
model in order to write books. I'm glad he did... for the most part.

Jessica Mitford: Look at that! She's practically a pinup!

Tao Lin: It might just be the leather jacket talking but, WOW!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I just finished Americanah
and it's just as beautiful as its author.

Karl Ove Knausgard: Here's the bad boy of the bunch!

So, this objectifying of authors is totally subjective. Who did I miss? Who's your author crush? Let me know and I'll post them!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reading What Other People Want You To Read

How many times have you been told to read a certain book? By your best friend, your boyfriend, your mom. They all have something they want you to read. Most likely it's their favorite book, maybe something awesome they just read. And most likely, you haven't read it because, if you're anything like me you have completely different tastes in reading than your best friend, boyfriend, and mom.

And I don't mean to imply that I somehow think I have better taste in books than the people I share my life with... it's just different. Anyhow, people are forever suggesting things for me to read and I am forever putting them off. What really makes it tough--more so than the divergent reading tastes, is the massive pile of to-read books already in line. So, most of the time I tend to smile politely and make vague promises of picking the book up after I finish the next three on my list.

But then there are other times, times when one day I finally find myself reading someone's recommendation and loving it. I mean, at the expense of all other things in my life- television, eating, showering- loving it. And suddenly, I completely ignore my patiently waiting to-read pile and read every last thing this person has ever recommended to me in a fit of sheepish acknowledgement of their obviuously superior taste in reading.

It's been one of those moments for me lately. I finally got around to reading The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. A good friend read it last year, and bugged me, and bugged me, and bugged me about it. She loved it, and she was sure I would love it too. Well, she was right. It's phenomenal. Just so interesting and different (it's my March Staff Pick, 20% off all month, if you're interested, at the Ravenna store only). Each thoughtful essay in this collection is an examination on empathy-- how we feel for others; how our pain, and the pain of those around us fosters understanding and connectedness. Jamison explores such fascinating and expansive topics that the subject matter alone is enough to reel you in. But it's her experimental form and innovative command of language that are the real stars here. It's a new favorite. It's hard to read this and not be altered, moved, awed ...maybe even a better person. Super smart. Super good.

So after The Empathy Exams, I moved on to the next book my friend read and would not stop recommending. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I barreled through it, until about 45 pages from the end. At that point, I put it down for two days. I was so in love with the characters, I couldn't face leaving them. It's been a long time since I felt that way about a book. Loved it so much I couldn't bear to finish it. Seriously, Americannah restores my faith in the humanity of human beings.

And I know, I know, it isn't as if either of these books is a sleeper hit. Americannah was Ravenna's second best seller of 2014. And The Empathy Exams is a New York Times Bestseller. I just never would have read them if I hadn't finally given in the recommendation. So, now, I'm moving on to her next recommendation, The Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. Hey, if my friend says it's good. It's good.

Maybe I won't discard all of my to-read pile, but I'm certainly going to be a little less dismissive of all those recommendations I get. Never know when someone's going to suggest my new favorite book.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Books Into Movies

Now that the Oscars are behind us, what in the movie world do we have to look forward to? Well, fear not, there are a ton of  books that are being turned in to movies this year. Here's a sampling:

Serena by Ron Rash
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law. But when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer-and a country where "crime" doesn't exist.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert
Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs in an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, she takes drastic action, with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. In this landmark new translation of Gustave Flaubert's masterwork, award-winning writer and translator Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of Flaubert's legendary prose style, giving new life in English to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.

For more books into movies, here's a nice list.
And make sure you read before you watch!