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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bookseller Top Tens Part III : Return of... (something clever and book related)

This is it. I'm pretty proud of how I managed to finish these before February. Part 1, here; Part 2, here. Enjoy our favorite books.

Sinead at Ravenna
Sinead is one of our newest booksellers (and my new favorite person). She's got crazy good, wildly interesting taste.

Kalani at Lake Forest Park
Kalani wins for my favorite list. I love all the favorites..."favorite beginning," "favorite ending;" makes me want to redo my list. I'm also super impressed by the variety.
  • The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mashima
    • (Favorite Ending) One of the most hauntingly beautiful endings I've ever read. The reader understands what going to happen very early on in this short novel yet somehow the last page takes you by complete surprise.
  • The Collective by Don Lee
    • (Favorite Beginning) Asian-American characters have never been more multi-faceted than they are in this novel that defies racial stereotypes while giving us a glimpse of the struggles of being a starving artist. Our central character gets hit by a car and dies on the second page. It’s impossible to stop reading from there as we rewind several years back. 
  • Open City by Teju Cole - 
    • (Favorite Fiction) I find myself thinking about this introspective novel quite frequently. Like The Collective, this novel crushes cultural stereotypes and brings the reader deep into the psyche of a young Nigerian resident psychiatrist in New York City. 
  • We Live in Water by Jess Walter - 
    • (Favorite Short Story) Walter’s collection of stories brings the small-town Northwest region to life with an array of down on their luck characters (hobos, gamblers, thieves, etc.). The opening story, my favorite, “Anything Helps,” is about a homeless panhandler who wants to buy the new Harry Potter book. It’s funny but sad yet frighteningly realistic. 
  • Gruesome Playground Injuries/Animals Out of Paper/Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo  3 Plays by Rajiv Joseph 
    • (Favorite Play) All three of these plays are wildly different but absolutely fantastic. Do not make me pick a favorite. I would pay top dollar to see any one of these performed live (Yes, this is a local challenge). “Rajiv Joseph” will be a name to watch for a long time. 
  • Big Little Man by Alex Tizon 
    • (Favorite Bio) This is more a biography of an entire group of people rather than an individual. Alex Tizon writes about his life growing up as a Filipino-American, yet, it is a highly recognizable tale many Asian-Americans of today (like myself) can fully relate to. This bio becomes more of an investigative study on the concept of masculinity and a criticism about American culture. 
  • Pieces for the Left Hand  by J. Robert Lennon 
    • (Favorite collection) I recommend slow reading this book because each short short (100 in total) is packed with entertaining and bizarre fictional anecdotes from a small college town in upstate New York. 
  • A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood 
    • (Favorite Audiobook) This gets my personal “audiobook” of the year award. The Audie-Award winning narrator Simon Prebble actually makes Colin Firth’s film performance of the same role sound second-rate. 
  • Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich 
    • (Favorite Humor Book) This former SNL-writer is proving you can get big laughs without a TV screen. While the stories are frequently over-the-top silly, there is a nice blend of social commentary that make this collection uniquely funny and smart. 
  • War of the Encyclopaedists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite 
    • (Favorite Not Yet Released Book) I would not be surprised to see this book on similar top-10 lists by the end of next year. A fantastic coming-of-age/war story written by a pair of first-time writers. Captures the Generation-Y apathy in the early days on the Iraq War when “MySpace.com” ruled the internet.

Michael at Ravenna
Here's another vote for Blood Will Out. Surprising dark horse of the TPB bookseller top tens. Also, The Farmer and the Clown is probably the greatest picture book of all time.

Emily A. at Lake Forest Park
More fabulous exposition. I really need to up my Top Ten game next year.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 
    • I'm totally cheating because I read this book as an advance in July 2013. But it wasn't published until May 2014, so I had to bottle up my enthusiasm for way too long. It was shortlisted for the National Book Award, and it should have won by a mile. (full disclosure: I didn't read any of the other shortlist books, but how could anything be better than this?) Beautifully written 
  • Descent by Tim Johnston (due January 2015) 
    • A perfect blend of literary fiction and heart-pounding suspense. 
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
    • In Ove's ideal world, everyone would follow the rules, act with integrity at all times, and drive a Saab. Unfortunately, the rest of the world has other ideas. Hilarious, heart-wrenching, and a little absurd, this novel won me over on the first page. The short chapters make this an ideal book to keep in your bag for spare moments here and there in waiting rooms or on your transit commute. I didn't want it to end. 
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
    • Beautiful, frank, honest, and funny - this is Toews at her best. 
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    • According to my notebook I finished this book on December 28, 2013, but I'm including it here anyway because it has stuck with me all year and was too late to include on last year's best-of list. I have gone back and started re-reading it twice while between books, and I've been pleasantly surprised at how compelled I was to continue. The 
  • Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
    • Even in the modern world, nature can still exert its will. In this thoughtful story, two people are brought together, surprising each other and themselves as they become acquainted. Gnashing, clashing, and surviving together, the protagonists fight memory and fantasy in an attempt to overcome the past and move into the future (preferably one with heat and plumbing). 
  • Boy on Ice by John Branch
    • While telling Derek Boogaard's story, Branch also ties in the history of the NHL enforcer, the league's expansion into the American South, and a look inside the unsteady life of a minor league athlete. He exposes the systemic failure of team doctors and coaches to acknowledge a fatal combination of concussion symptoms and substance abuse, even as Boogaard was ostensibly being monitored by the league. I hope this book will get the attention of parents and coaches in all contact sports so that they will be better equipped to recognize symptoms in athletes and prevent further tragic losses. 
  • Glow by Ned Beauman (due 1/20/15)
    • Compelling characters, a shifting plot, and a gritty, vivid London setting kept me engrossed, but brilliant sentences are also lurking in this literary page-turner. 
  • The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell
    • Barely holding on to his job as a deli sandwich slinger, drinking too much, and worrying about making the rent, Billy Ridgeway is a loveable loser. One morning, he peers through the haze of a hangover to find a well-dressed stranger in his apartment, launching him into some serious Weirdness. In spite of himself, Billy even grows a little on his wild ride. 
  • The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman 
    • If I were someone who highlighted books, I would have marked several wonderful passages about books and libraries in the early chapters. This mosaic tale of an unorthodox childhood follows a cast of eccentric characters in a delightful coming-of-age quest for identity.

Adam at Lake Forest Park
Here's another one of my favorites Adam is never short of something unusual and interesting to recommend. Though it is a little bit of a tease when he recommends something to me, and I can't get my hands on it because it's out of print.
  1. God Transcendent by J. Gresham Machen
  2. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  3. Spiritual Warfare in a Believer's Life by Charles H. Spurgeon
  4. The Wicked Enchanment by Margot Benary-Isbert (out of print)
  5. Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith
  6. Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer
  7. The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman
  8. Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston
  9. Shane by Jack Schaefer
  10. The Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy

Henry at Lake Forest Park
One of our Used Book Buyers. My theory is that they have the best taste because they see ALL the books coming into the store.

Annie at Lake Forest Park
I will always remember Annie's 2014 list for including The Animorphs Series. And now I will always remember her 2015 year because she's already read one of her favorites three times...this year!
  • Clariel by Garth Nix
    • I have actually read this book three times since receiving an early copy over the summer. I'm a giant fan of Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen, and this prequel is an amazing addition to the series. Plus, Nix says he is writing more books in the Old Kingdom series! Huzzah! 
  • Silverblind by Tina Connelly
    • The final book in Connelly's Ironskin trilogy is, I think, the best of them all! The first two, Ironskin and Copperhead, are worth the read just to get to Silverblind. 
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
    • Another final book in a Young Adult romantic trilogy that I really, really enjoyed. Perkins' writing is wonderful! 
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
    • Told through a series of emails, this book is seriously funny. But also very human in it's telling. Definitely worth picking up! 
  • Dove Arising by Karen Bao
    • This book doesn't come out until February 2015, but when it does come out, be sure to grab a copy! Set in a futuristic colony on the moon, Bao's debut is incredibly wonderful! 
  • Cuckoo's Calling/Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
    • I don't usually read mysteries, but I'll read anything by JK Rowling... I mean Robert Galbraith. The attention to detail in these books is awesome, and I am thoroughly looking forward to the third book in the series. 
  • My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
    • A wonderful, seasonal, romantic compilation of short stories by some of the YA genre's greats. Readers should find a warm fire and a mug of hot chocolate to devour while enjoying this anthology. 
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
    • Afterworlds is the story of both an author and her first book, and the book itself, told in alternating chapters. I loved this book because we got both the author's and protagonist's stories! 
  • Because of Mr. Terupt/Mr. Terupt Falls Again by Bo Buyea
    • This charming duo will take each and every reader back to their elementary school days. Mr. Terupt is that teacher we all wish we had for every grade: inspiring, authentic, and fun. 
  • War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
    • One of my absolutely favorite books, I decided 2014 would be a good year to revisit it. I'm so glad I did, my reread completely reaffirmed my love for this book!

Greg at Lake Forest Park
Such a cool list! And TWO authors named Michel!

Lish at Lake Forest Park
Drum roll! Here it is, our last list of Top Tens for 2014. And it's a doozy. Her commentary on The Story of Owen is probably the greatest thing from any of these Top Tens.
  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo - A solid end to an excellent series. 
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer - While Scarlet continues to be my fave, this is another solid entry into the series. 
  • Saga Volume 3 by Brian Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples - Clearly I'm into series this year. I think Saga made it onto my list last year, too. 
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford - I'm still reading this one, but it's a cool book (Smuggler's inn, role playing games, stories in stories and MYSTERY!) and I can tell I'm going to love it all the way through. 
  • Iron Night and Tainted Blood by M.L. Brennan (books 2 and 3 of the Generation V novels.) - Funny paranormal fantasy. The main character, Fortitude Scott, is a nerdy, awkward film major who recently became vegetarian to stave off becoming a vampire. 
  • Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop - Third book in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. 
  • The Story of Owen : Dragonslayer of Trondheim by EK Johnston - This book is excellent. You should read it. Dragons! Corporate dragon slayers! Set in Canada! 
  • The Shrike : Pretty Deadly Volume 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick and illustrated by Emma Rios- Lush, creepy and savage. 
  • Visions by Kelley Armstrong - Apparently I only read series books and graphic novels. 
  • Mortal Heart by Robin Lafevers. Who doesn't love assassin nuns?

That's all she wrote. Thanks for humoring our need to classify and order what we read last year!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Bookseller Top Tens (part 2)

More great lists! Part one is here if you missed it.

Eric at Lake Forest Park
The first three titles on Eric's list sound like a really awesome, post apocalyptic, epic poem. Someone should write it.

Jane at Lake Forest Park
Excited to see The Goldfinch again!
  1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  2. Under the Egg by Laura Fitzgerald
  3. Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins 
  4. Silkworm by Robert Galbraith 
  5. Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie 
  6. On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman 
  7. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell 
  8. What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada 
  9. Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook 
  10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Alex at Ravenna
Alex says his list is in no particular order, but then he numbered them, which seems like a very particular order. Here it is...in order.
  1. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J Wiebe 
  2. A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin 
  3. The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum 
  4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up by Marie Kondo 
  5. Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer 
  6. Butterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir 
  7. Mathematicians Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer 
  8. The Lions of Al Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay 
  9. The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Cathrynne Valente 
  10. An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Chelsea at Lake Forest Park
Another newbie  to the Bookseller Top Tens...looks like a natural to me.

Abraham at Lake Forest Park
I spy some classics! Woolf! Nabokov! Stevenson! How can you go wrong?

Patti H. at Ravenna
Looks like Patti might have a new favorite author. I don't blame her, Rainbow Rowell is pretty amazing.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

BOOKSELLER TOP TENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (part 1)

It's time! You know the drill. These are our ten favorite books of the year. No rules other than it must have been read in 2014. Some booksellers have applied a number ranking, and others have not. Here we go!

Robert at Lake Forest Park
Robert gets top billing this year. Because his list is the most informative. Also, he's in charge, so it only seemed right.
  • Neverhome by Laird Hunt - An exquisitely spare and powerful novel with an unforgettable main character.
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs - My heart still aches thinking about Robert Peace. The author takes you deep into this young man’s world in a way that reminded me of the journalistic power of Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers.
  • 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl - Here reknowned playwright dives right into the heart of the creative process. I've reread many of these short pieces a few times already.
  • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld - This novel probably lived with me the longest after I finished it. Such a smart and masterfully executed structure. Maybe my favorite novel of the year.
  • American Innovations by Rivka Galchen - How this didn’t end up on the National Book Award Longlist for Fiction, I’ll never understand. Galchen is the American heir to Borges.
  • Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle - I can’t think of a better recommendation for this book than Austin Grossman’s “like Darnielle set out to adapt an old Iron Maiden t-shirt as a literary novel and succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.” 
  • Tennessee Williams by John Lahr - The sections of this book that center around the creation and production of Williams’ plays are amazing. The access Lahr had to the voices of the people who were there at the time make this book a true landmark of American Theater history.
  • Marshlands by Matthew Olshan - I love when novels refuse to tell the story you think they are going to. This novel set in the Iraq marshlands does that beautifully.
  • Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn - What a ride! Besides being and incredibly gripping story about a bizarre con-man, this book is a fascinating look inside the mind of a writer. Kirn's own culpability about being duped and what that says about writers and the human psyche is the real engine that drives this book.
  • We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas - This is an immersive very moving book about family and love that will probably make you tear up more than once. In the end, however, it is a story of hope.

Deborah at Lake Forest Park
Behold. The Queen of Mystery. What I mean is that she's the Queen of Mystery Books...not that she's necessarily mysterious. Though, come to think of it, she is.
  1.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2.  The Wolf by Mo Hayder
  3.  Blackhouse by Peter May
  4.  The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen
  5.  Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
  6.  To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie
  7.  The Accident by Chris Pavone
  8.  Blue Labyrinth by Preston and Child
  9.  I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
  10.  Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

Mark B. at Ravenna
I love this list! Fiction! Non-fiction! Male and female authors! Plus a couple of books that I also loved this year. Mark's got good taste.

Patti J. at Lake Forest Park
Patti's list is a great list for all of you out there seeking fantastic kid's books. From itty, bitty babies to angsty teens, Patti's got you covered!

Wes at Lake Forest Park
Wes is a first timer on our Top Ten Lists. He says about making his list, "I feel like a preteen filling out a Tiger Beat questionnaire." He's not wrong.

Erin B. at Ravenna
This person obviously has the best taste. Just kidding, it's me.

Erin K. at Lake Forest Park
Another Erin with fabulous taste. Obviously it comes with the name. Love this list.

Ray at Lake Forest Park
His name isn't Erin, but it's still a pretty great collection of books. I personally can't wait to read Shirley.

Andrew at Ravenna
YAY! Andrew's back! And he's brought his fabulous reading taste with him!

Emily M. at Ravenna
It's one of our Ravenna Children's  Wizards. Emily always has the perfect recommendations for the middle reader crowd.

This is just the beginning! Stay tuned for more top ten lists!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Letters and Journals (but mostly letters)

My current obsession: the letters and journals of famous authors.

I've spent the better part of this past year plunging in and out of the most intimate and personal moments of some of my favorite writers. It's been an unexpected joy. And as someone who keeps her own journal, it is both inspiring and hopelessly demoralizing. Reading the private musings of an 18-year-old Sylvia Plath is a sure-fire way to really deflate one's literary ambitions.

And while it's certainly exciting to read about the monumental moments in these authors' lives relayed to their loved ones, it is the ease and grace with which they recount the ordinary details of their daily lives that is the true beauty of these collections.

Here is what David Sedaris has to say about the importance of keeping a journal:
I’ve been keeping a diary for thirty-three years and write in it every morning. Most of it’s just whining, but every so often there’ll be something I can use later: a joke, a description, a quote. It’s an invaluable aid when it comes to winning arguments. "That’s not what you said on February 3, 1996," I’ll say to someone.
For more on what other famous authors say about keeping a journal, click here.

Plus, check out this picture of Herman Melville's journal. There are a bunch of other great images of author and artist journals here.

And here are the four collections that I am currently enraptured with:

Letters of Note : An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience by Shaun Usher

This spectacular collection of more than 125 letters offers a never-before-seen glimpse of the events and people of history—the brightest and best, the most notorious, and the endearingly everyday. Entries include a transcript of the letter; a short contextual introduction; and, in 100 cases, a captivating facsimile of the letter itself. The artfulness of Shaun Usher's eclectic arrangement creates a reading experience rich in discovery. Mordant, hilarious, poignant, enlightening—surprise rewards each turn of the page. Colorfully illustrated with photographs, portraits, and relevant artworks, this handsome hardcover is a visual treat too, making Letters of Note an utterly distinctive gift, and an instant classic.

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

A major literary event--the complete, uncensored journals of Sylvia Plath, published in their entirety for the first time. Sylvia Plath's journals were originally published in 1982 in a heavily abridged version authorized by Plath's husband, Ted Hughes.

This new edition is an exact and complete transcription of the diaries Plath kept during the last twelve years of her life. Sixty percent of the book is material that has never before been made public, more fully revealing the intensity of the poet's personal and literary struggles, and providing fresh insight into both her frequent desperation and the bravery with which she faced down her demons. The complete Journals of Sylvia Plath is essential reading for all who have been moved and fascinated by Plath's life and work.

Letters of James Agee to Father Flye 

“I’ll croak before I write ads or sell bonds—or do anything except write.”

James Agee’s father died when he was just six years old, a loss immortalized in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, A Death in the Family. Three years later, Agee’s mother moved the mourning family from Knoxville, Tennessee, to the campus of St. Andrew’s, an Episcopal boarding school near Sewanee.

There, Agee met Father James Harold Flye, who would become his history teacher. Though Agee was just ten, the two struck up an unlikely and enduring friendship, traveling Europe by bicycle and exchanging letters for thirty years, from Agee’s admission to Exeter Academy to his death at forty-five. The intimate letters, collected by Father Flye after Agee’s death, form the most intimate portrait of Agee available, a starkly revealing account of the internal and external life of a tortured twentieth-century genius. Agee candidly shares his struggles with depression, professional failure, and a tumultuous personal life that included three wives and four children.

First published in 1962, Letters of James Agee to Father Flye followed the rediscovery of Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and the posthumous publication of A Death in the Family, which won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize and became a hit Broadway play and film. The collection sold prolifically throughout the 1960s and ’70s in mass-market editions as a new generation of readers discovered the deep talents of the writer Dwight Macdonald called “the most broadly gifted writer of our American generation.”

The Selected Letters of Willa Cather

Willa Cather’s letters—withheld from publication for more than six decades—are finally available to the public in this fascinating selection. The hundreds collected here range from witty reports of life as a teenager in Red Cloud in the 1880s through her college years at the University of Nebraska, her time as a journalist in Pittsburgh and New York, and her growing eminence as a novelist. They describe her many travels and record her last years, when the loss of loved ones and the disasters of World War II brought her near to despair. Above all, they reveal her passionate interest in people, literature, and the arts. The voice is one we recognize from her fiction: confident, elegant, detailed, openhearted, concerned with profound ideas, but also at times sentimental, sarcastic, and funny. A deep pleasure to read, this volume reveals the intimate joys and sorrows of one of America’s most admired writers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paleo Power!

We have a few paleo-ers here at the bookstore. But I don't know anyone who has quite the handle on all the cookbooks that Emily M. has. Here are her picks and a few reviews to help you wade through them all:

Paleo, Paleo, Everywhere There is Paleo! For some the paleo diet is an annoying or a passing fad. For others, it is crucial for everyday living. If you are one who utilizes paleo -- or need a gift for someone who is -- our shelves are overflowing with paleo!

While I am not strictly paleo, I often use the books since they are close to the diet that is essential for me. Here are my recommends:

Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

This is the cookbook I use nearly every week. She has a great balance of breakfasts, drinks, chilis and soups, to snacks, and breads. The most used recipes for me are Banana Bread (always very moist), Maple Sausage with Cinnamon Apples (the kitchen smells so amazing with this), and Slow-Cooker Beef Chili (throw it in the crock pot and come home to an amazing warm dinner). Her recipes are approachable and easy to follow.

 Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple by Danielle Walker

Quite different from her first, the meals are made simple because there is some prep ahead of time -- like the pancake mix used in a lot of breads or make ahead sauces and such. If you are the creative cook though, beware, as some have considered Meals Made Simple as a book of ideas and very simple meals. However, for some simple food prep and meal plans are what they need!

Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong

Nom Nom is definitely for the busy cook. I am always impressed how so few ingredients can make amazing things in so little time -- particularly the Strawberry Banana Ice Cream, 4 ingredients plus 2 minutes of your time. The comic style approach and multiple photographs will help guide uncertain ones. I really liked how this cookbook explained the ups and downs of bringing paleo into a family lifestyle.

Dairy Free Ice Cream by Kelly Brozyna

I have never seen so many varieties of ice cream -- without refined sugar and dairy -- in one place! Also, I haven't had much trouble with it staying soft (as opposed to rock hard -- which is the hardest trial with homemade ice cream). I've successfully tried a lot of basic flavors, matcha, cider ice cream...next up is the gingerbread ice cream! Another perk is the variety of popsicles and side compliments: cookie bowls, spreads, sauces, brownies...)

Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer and George Bryant

When these author-chefs came into the store for an event a while back, the place was packed! And now I can see why. Paleo Kitchen is another frequented cookbook for me. Like Danielle Walker's books, the recipes are approachable and easy to follow. The stunning photography of eats, like Pan-Seared Rosemary Sage Pork Chops with Apples and Pears, made the book look enticing -- the taste and smell was even more enticing in real life!

Make Ahead Paleo by Tammy Credicott

Definitely great for people who like to spend a day prepping and then cooking the actual meal later in the week. Whether you freeze the recipes ahead of time, have to travel a lot and be on the go, or cook them up right away, Make Ahead has a large palette of foods. From Fajita Burgers to Kitchen Sink Cookies to White Chicken Chili, it's all good.

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake

While this is NOT a paleo book, it may help some people (esp. those who loosely follow paleo) as the food is basic, simple, wholesome, and tasty! And, if you follow her blog, it's so great to have her beautiful pictures and recipes all together. I fell in love with the Grilled Cheese with Apples and Bacon and went from there.

BLOG LINK: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com

We have so many fabulous paleo cookbooks (and other awesome cookbooks of all kinds) in stock. Come on by!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Reads...sort of

I was getting ready for our latest LoLS (League of Literary Snobbery: Storytime for Grownups at Ravenna) and I wanted to make it Thanksgiving themed. I figured it's November, maybe people want to hear about Thanksgiving. But it proved pretty near impossible to come up with something appropriate. Thanksgiving must be the quintessential back-drop for family angst. Worries about success, trouble with relatives, introducing new significant others to parents and children. How has this holiday not been mined for all its literary worth?

I asked Ami for help, and she found me a great short story by Lorrie Moore...which turned out to be about Christmas. We made this mistake more than once. Another co-worker suggested, "Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man." And I said, "Isn't he Irish?" And then she said, "Oh yeah, they were just eating a turkey." And everything I could come up with turned out to be from a movie. So, this must be why The Everyman Pocket Classics series has collected stories about EVERYTHING, except Thanksgiving.

But we were undaunted, here's a little taste of what we eventually came up with:

Sadly, this one is not easy to get your hands on. Which really bums me out because I love Lousia May (obviously, we are on a fist name basis):

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

A heartwarming story set in rural New Hampshire in the 1800s. As the Thanksgiving Day festivities are beginning, the Bassetts must leave on an emergency. The two eldest children are in charge of the household--they prepare a holiday meal like they've never had before!

And here are a couple of SUPER angsty, family-ish novels that take place over the Thanksgiving weekend:

Ice Storm by Rick Moody The year is 1973.

As a freak winter storm bears down on an exclusive, affluent suburb in Connecticut, during Thanksgiving 1973, cars skid out of control, men and women swap partners, and their children experiment with sex, drugs, and even suicide. Here two families, the Hoods and the Williamses, come face-to-face with the seething emotions behind the well-clipped lawns of their lives-in a novel widely hailed as a funny, acerbic, and moving hymn to a dazed and confused era of American life.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

A modern classic, now in a welcome new edition, Wonder Boys firmly established Michael Chabon as a force to be reckoned with in American fiction. At once a deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, this novel introduces two unforgettable characters: Grady Tripp, a former publishing prodigy now lost in a fog of pot and passion and stalled in the midst of his endless second book, and Grady’s student, James Leer, a budding writer obsessed with Hollywood self-destruction and struggling with his own searching heart.

And more recently, this hilarious and heartbreaking novel:

Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk by Ben Fountain

This is what Robert had to say:
Ben Fountain has created a sort of inverted "Odyssey" here where our here, Billy Lynn, comes home from the Iraq War to find yet a whole new catalog of trials and challenges awaiting him and the rest of Bravo Company before they are shipped back to the Gulf. It is a novel that gives us a fresh take on how we view capitalism, materialism, our country, and our military while providing a wonderfully empathetic tragic hero in Billy Lynn, at once a brave , fearless fighting machine while still a very innocent young man.
These next two have very short Thanksgiving scenes, but they are so phenomenal I had to include them. Here, the repercussions from one disastrous Thanksgiving night set this dark, and funny novel on its path towards redemption and hard-won happiness:

May We Be Forgiven  by A.M. Homes

Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.

Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.

And last but not least, my very favorite Thanksgiving scene of all the Thanksgiving scenes. It's a flawless mix of humor and melancholy, and it perfectly captures that horrifying feeling of a long put-off visit to a family that lives light years away from one's "real" life:

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran

One of the most important works of gay literature, this haunting, brilliant novel is a seriocomic remembrance of things past -- and still poignantly present. It depicts the adventures of Malone, a beautiful young man searching for love amid New York's emerging gay scene.

From Manhattan's Everard Baths and after-hours discos to Fire Island's deserted parks and lavish orgies, Malone looks high and low for meaningful companionship. The person he finds is Sutherland, a campy quintessential queen -- and one of the most memorable literary creations of contemporary fiction. Hilarious, witty, and ultimately heartbreaking, Dancer from the Dance is truthful, provocative, outrageous fiction told in a voice as close to laughter as to tears.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Read This Book

This book has been all over the place lately. NPR, the morning talk shows, magazines. Little did I know that this has already been a bestselling juggernaut all over the world, and we are just now catching on.

Ami was the first person on staff to point this book out. She had read an advance copy and could not stop talking about it. Knowing Ami, I was a little surprised that she would be so interested in this kind of thing. Not that Ami is particularly untidy, it just doesn't seem to be something she would be interested in reading about. But she did. And she passed it on. And pretty soon we were all getting excited about it. And trying to determine whether something actually "sparks joy" or not.

The other day I was reading aloud to my co-workers excerpts from the portion of the book that discusses how to handle your book collection. Her first advice: remove every single book you own, from its shelf, the nightstand, your desk...wherever, and stack them all up in big piles on your floor.

Seriously, it's fascinating.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.