Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Read This Book


You MUST read this book. Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins.


It's pretty much impossible to walk by this book and not pick it up. Just look at that cake! Adorable! In fact, so adorable, that we've made it Picture Book of the Week. The inaugural winner. Also, it's by someone named Rowboat Watkins. How is that not a selling point?

It's the story of an angry cake, and the lessons a case of mistaken identity can provide. All kidding aside, this is a delightful little book. Funny and sweet, but none of that cloying kind of sweetness that can plague other, more earnest picture books. Charming illustrations, and a great message. Plus, it's about cake.

Check out Rude Cakes, and then eat some cake. Both of our stores boast delicious bakeries. The Honey Bear in Lake Forest Park, and Vios Cafe at Ravenna.

Yum.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Hating Books Part II

You are reading Part II of this post. The body of the post is hidden to prevent spoilers.

On Hating Books

I've been giving some thought to why we read. What is it we're looking to find in those pages? The answer is different for each of us. I read to learn, and to feel. I love a book because its characters charm me, or the story stirs me. But what does it mean when we don't like what we find between the covers? Recently, I had the opportunity to really ruminate on what happens when I hate a book.

For days, I'd been wrapped up in a certain novel--loving it. I was enmeshed in the world and emotionally invested in the story. In short, captivated. A friend of mine was reading it at the same time and we would text back and forth about the characters as if gossiping about friends.

And then the author did something so unthinkably cruel and awful, I felt like I'd actually been punched in the stomach. This book had me crying a few times, but at that moment all I felt was white-hot, visceral rage and I threw the book across the room. I'm serious. I've never done that before. It was automatic, an unconscious impulse. One moment I was reading, and the next, the book was hurling through the air. I went from loving it to hating it in one sentence.

I left the book lying where it landed for at least a day. But I did eventually finish it, fuming the entire time. I felt so manipulated, and so stupid for believing all the things the author had me believing.

And I could not let it go. It was all I thought about, all I talked about.

Around this time I came across a blog called I Hate Cheryl Strayed. Fans of Cheryl Strayed may want to steer clear, this woman's anger is for real. I read a few posts of her 39-part review of Wild. 39 parts!!!!! After that, she goes on to review the movie version, and then Cheryl's other book Tiny Beautiful Things. The blog is entertaining but I didn't really understand; if she hated the book so much, why waste so much time on it?

And I thought about the book I threw across the room. I wasn't writing a blog about it (though now I am), but I certainly spent a lot of time thinking and talking about it. And, after all, I did finish it. The writing is beautiful and the characters really did feel like friends. I wanted to feel something, and I certainly did. So, did I really hate it that much? Or perhaps the better question; did I really care that I hated it that much?

Whatever else this book was to me, it was an experience, and I'm glad I read it. And with a little time and perspective of what real book-hatred looks like, I can even say I liked it. I'm not saying there aren't books out there that I legitimately hate, I am not one to find value in a book simply because it's a book. And I'm not saying that the blogger above doesn't legitimately hate Wild. I'm only saying that I liked this particular book so much that it didn't matter that I hated it.

So the book I swore I would never recommend--I'm recommending it. I hesitate to reveal what book I'm talking about, worried that there may be inadvertent spoilers in this post. So, I'll leave it up to you. Click on through if you want to know.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book News and Other Miscellany

Volume 2, Issue 1
Bringing this back. Various links to cool videos, websites, articles, and blogs about books. Enjoy!
***
You may recall the "squee heard round the world". Here's the trailer that accompanies said squee.



Do. Not. Tell. Me. Anything. The first episode was last night and I haven't seen it yet.  
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I was trying to find a literary holiday for you to celebrate this week, but I found something better instead. Melville House's commentary on literary holidays, Major Literary Holidays Other than Read an e Book Day. International Lie About Having Read Proust Day is my new favorite holiday. It's "actually everyday, though it's officially recognized on August 13." I'll be exchanging gifts if anyone wants to join me. It was a serious toss-up between that and January 13th, Give Up Trying to Read 2666 Day.


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The Man Booker International Prize was announced last week. If you think that's the ordinary Man Booker Prize, you're wrong. Don't worry, we didn't know what it was either. Everyday's a school day! The Man Booker International Prize is awarded to ...
one writer for his or her achievement in fiction. Worth £60,000, the prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language. The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel and there are no submissions from publishers.
Where the regular old Booker Prize is given to one book, yearly, the Man Booker International Prize is awarded for a body of work every two years. Kind of like the Olympics. Actually, not at all like the Olympics.

Your new Man Booker International Prize winner...

László Krasznahorkai!!!!

Some of his more recently translated work includes Santantango and Seiobo There Below.


***
And now, a brand new section of Book News:
Cool books I really want to read, but haven't had a chance to yet.
Admittedly, not really news, just my sneaky way of pointing out cool and worthwhile books you might be interestded in.

The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas
A new edition of what is commonly seen as the legendary Norwegian writer's masterpiece, this story tells the tale of Siss and Unn, two friends who have only spent one evening in each other's company. But so profound is this evening between them that when Unn inexplicably disappears, Siss's world is shattered. Siss's struggle with her fidelity to the memory of her friend and Unn's fatal exploration of the strange, terrifyingly beautiful frozen waterfall that is the Ice Palace are described in prose of a lyrical economy that ranks among the most memorable achievements of modern literature.

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And a book and a cat.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Last Words

A few months ago, Oliver Sacks announced that he has terminal cancer. He wrote a beautiful piece in the New York Times, and if you haven't read it, I urge you to do so now. It's here. His keen observations fill dozens of books, and even now, as he comes face to face with the end, he offers the same effortless wisdom. While I am cheered by his thoughts on a life fully lived, it's impossible not to be saddened by the thought of a world without his particular mind.

And that got me thinking about letting go of and saying goodbye to other great and creative minds.  It seems Melville House has been thinking about it too with their lovely series called Last Interviews. Each book in the collection features interviews spanning the career of various brilliant artists and writers, including the very last interview. The series currently includes Lou Reed, Hannah Arendt, David Foster Wallace, James Baldwin, and many others. These beautiful books offer insight and wisdom and the heady feeling of knowing you're reading some of the very last provocative thoughts of some of our greatest thinkers.


Speaking of great thinkers and Oliver Sacks, the man himself just published his autobiography last month. Check it out for more brilliant thoughts. And yes, that IS him on the cover. Super Hot Author Alert!

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far. It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction, and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life. 

With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions weight lifting and swimming also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Read This Book

Wow, this space has been a little silent lately.  *crickets*  I will blame the fact that I've been spending all of my time reading. And not just ordinary reading. I'm talking serious, off the charts, far afield, way out of my comfort zone reading. And all that experimental reading gives me the confidence to recommend this truly fascinating book! So here we go...

Erin says, "Read this book."

Thrown by Kerry Howley

Never.

I never, ever thought I would care about Mixed Martial Arts, (cage fighting if you need a visual) let alone read an entire book about it. It's violent, and dangerous, and just so stupid. But then I found this book; a world-expanding and wonderfully weird read about philosophy and obsession, failure and hope, and yes--cage fighting.

While bored out of her mind at a writing conference Kerry Howley decides to follow a group of men who lead her to a makeshift fighting octagon at the very same conference hotel. It is here she witnesses her first MMA fight and undergoes a transcendent experience that she doesn't fully understand, but longs to replicate. That night she meets one to the two fighters she will follow over the course of the next three years. Inserting herself into their lives as a "space taker," Howley chases that unexplained, otherworldly feeling while her fighters chase dreams of glory, fame, and brotherhood.

This book is wild. I learned more about MMA and phenomenology than I ever thought I wanted to (not that I actually ever thought about those things or knew what they were until now). It's absurd, and smart, and sad. In a word--captivating. Read it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

POETRY MONTH!

April is poetry month! At the Ravenna location, we are lucky enough to have a few really dedicated poetry aficionados who make it a habit to keep informed about all things going on the poetry world. This year, one of those aficionados, Sinead, has put together a few recommendations. Consider it your very own guide to poetry month. AND a reminder, all poetry is 20% off through the month of April, at both locations!

The Beauty by Jane Hirshfield 
Hirshfield's latest collection (her first since being elected Chancellor of the Acadmey of American Poets in 2012), The Beauty ruminates on the place the body holds in the natural world. Beginning with poems like "My Skeleton," "My Proteins," "My Eyes," the collection goes on to explore mortality, memory, and time, intermingling observations about aging with the poet's own theories on beauty and our moral and societal imperative to remain wholly and entirely ourselves. Hirshfield's work is always a revelation, and this new book only adds to its collective beauty. Buy a copy if you haven't. Buy several.

Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
Perhaps the most important book of poetry to appear in translation this year. Map brings together almost every poem ever published by Nobel Prize Winner Wislawa Szymborska. Her characteristic wit and candor reminds me of a more elevated Billy Collins, while her interest in rhythm and musicality will makes me wish I could read her in the original Polish. A translator in her own right, Szymborska spent much of her life writing and editing for prominent literary magazines in Poland, and was politically active from the first days of her career. Her death in 2012 was a deep loss for her nation-- and for literature in general. I like to think of her new book as a collection as well as a celebration, and I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

I realize now, having come to the end of the post, that I've only written about books by women, and that if you were to just read this, you would walk away with the impression that there isn't any new or exciting work out there by male poets. Not so! There are some great books coming out by some big names, including The Lunatic by Charles Simic, How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes, and Deep Lane by Mark Doty, not to mention the new John Ashbery, Breezeway, coming May 12th from Ecco Press. A long wait, I know, but you should have plenty of things to read until then. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


OK. Just calmly sit down and brace yourself. Are you sitting down? It's your fault if you're not...

BBC America is making Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell into a mini series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Are you okay? Do you need a paper bag? Here, you can use mine. I've finally got my breathing under control.

This. Is. Huge.

I'm talking as-big-as-the-book-huge. JS&MN (I just abbreviated it for you...trademark) is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS. I will admit to having a huge crush on Jonathan Strange and I'm not even a little embarrassed by that.

I know a lot of people dread when their favorite books are made into movies. But ever since the Harry Potter era, I have reached a certain inner calmness with movies based on favorite books. It's easy for me to separate each version as it's own piece of art/entertainment. I never compare them and so one does not diminish the other. And anyway, it's BBC. They make Sherlock. Enough said.

Here's more info on the miniseries.

Now, does anyone get BBC America and want to invite me over to watch it?