Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Well, this is the end of picture books.

It finally happened. The perfect picture book. And now, we don't need any other picture books. Ever. So, if you want to continue to read and enjoy picture books, I actually advise you to avoid this one at all costs. Because once you see it, nothing else will ever be good enough.

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Whimsical and touching images tell the story of an unexpected friendship and the revelations it inspires in this moving, wordless picture book from two-time Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee. 

A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer's vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves--and about life. 

Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of The Boss Baby speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.

This book is so good, that it doesn't even have any words. Because it doesn't need them. And author B.J. Novak is already with the program. He didn't even try to put pictures in his picture book. Welcome to the new world.

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

This innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian. 

You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . . 



Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. 

Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Please Read This Amazing Book: an Ode to the Staff Pick

The "Staff Pick" takes on many forms at Third Place. You may see a staff pick as a blog post, or a facebook mention, or a hand-written, "staff pick" card on the shelf in the store. At the Ravenna location, we offer specially chosen staff picks at 20% off every month. And those staff picks are probably a bigger deal to us than the average customer might think.

Every month we watch our staff picks like they're our children. We worry that people won't like them. We obsess over whether or not they will sell enough copies to make the bestseller list (like Patti's September pick, Peanut Butter and Cupcake). Some of us may even get slightly competitive and gloat or mope as the occasion demands. 

Our monthly staff picks showcase a book we love, and offer it at a discount so you will buy it and love it too. But there's a little bit more to it, and Ami explains it best, "Of course it's about personal taste and favorites, but it's more about highlighting something relatively unknown, a book that might get missed, a book deserving of a lot more attention than it's getting."

For example, Mark staff-picked My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulos when it was released in paperback in July of 2012. We've since sold 168 copies. But before Mark staff-picked it, we had only sold one copy. And at Lake Forest Park, where it isn't staff-picked at all, we've only sold two. If you're keeping score, that's 168 to 3. So our staff picks do have a bit of heft.

But then there are other times when a staff pick turns out to be a dud, and we get skunked.

It happened to Ami last December with I Love Dick, a book that three of us read and loved. But we just couldn't convince people that the book was so much more than its title suggested. 

And last month, it happened to me. 

I chose Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. Then nobody bought it and I was devastated. And no, not all of my staff picks are rip-roaring successes, but I took this failure more personally than normal. Perhaps my disappointment was multiplied exponentially by my high regard. I really believed in this book.

But there's a slight hitch. Dancer from the Dance centers around the gay, social, scene of 1970's New York and Fire Island. So a lot of people automatically assume -- "this book isn't meant for me."

And here's what I'm talking about; this is the importance of the staff pick. I've already read it and trust me, this book is for you. Are you a human being, alive? Then it's just not possible that you won't be moved by it in some way.

In hopes that you can't ignore my desperate appeal, I've staff-picked Dancer from the Dance for October too. Please read this remarkable book. It's the best thing I've read all year. I guess I'm asking you to trust me, and go out on a limb. Believe in the power the the Staff Pick. Read Dancer from the Dance.

Erin's September (& October) Staff Pick:
Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
This book is brilliant. And I had never heard of it until accidentally stumbling upon it one day. 

I can see why it gets skipped. It says it right there on the front cover, "The classic coming of age gay novel." And I'm sure some people think, "well, I'm not a young gay man, why would it interest me?" But you were young once, right? You've been lost and searching for love. And you've been wild, and reckless, and eager. Isn't that why we read any coming of age story? 

So yes, it's "the best gay novel written by anyone of our generation," but it's also one of the best novels, period. This remarkable book is about New York, youth, growing up, and figuring out what we want from this life. But at its heart, it's a novel about one surprisingly tender friendship and the lengths we'll go to to find a place to belong. 

Outrageously funny, heartbreaking, lovely, and so, so smart. Read this. You have no idea what you're missing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Release Tuesday

OK, I know I always say that there are tons of amazing new books coming out. But this time I am serious. Lena Dunham! Meg Wolitzer?!!?! Garth Stein!??!?! AND Pete the Cat?!!? It's a pretty big day.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham

For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the brightest and most original writers working today.

“If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile. I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when the person you are dating suddenly backs away, intimidated by the clarity of your personal mission here on earth. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietician. I am not a mother of three or the owner of a successful hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, and what follows are hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.”

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

There’s a place where the lost go to be found. 

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks. She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, signed up for an exclusive, supposedly life-changing class called Special Topics in English that focuses—only and entirely—on the works of Sylvia Plath. But life isn’t fair.

Reeve has been gone for almost a year and Jam is still mourning. When a journal-writing assignment leads Jam into a mysterious other world she and her classmates call Belzhar, she discovers a realm where the untainted past is restored, and she can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again.

But, as the pages of her journal begin to fill up, Jam must to confront hidden truths and ultimately decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to reclaim her loss. From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus: Menus and Stories by Renee Erickson, Jess Thomson, and Jim Henkens

One of the country's most acclaimed chefs, Renee Erickson is a James-Beard nominated chef and the owner of several Seattle restaurants: The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle. This luscious cookbook is perfect for anyone who loves the fresh seasonal food of the Pacific Northwest. Defined by the bounty of the Puget Sound region, as well as by French cuisine, this cookbook is filled with seasonal, personal menus like Renee’s Fourth of July Crab Feast, Wild Foods Dinner, and a fall pickling party. Home cooks will cherish Erickson’s simple yet elegant recipes such as Roasted Chicken with Fried Capers and Preserved Lemons, Harissa-Rubbed Roasted Lamb, and Molasses Spice Cake. Renee Erickson's food, casual style, and appreciation of simple beauty is an inspiration to readers and eaters in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

When a boy tries to save his parents' marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor's bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel--who is flickering in and out of dementia--to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into "tract housing for millionaires," divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there's someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah's wish is fulfilled, and Trevor's willingness to face the past holds the key to his family's future.

Bolano: A Biography in Conversations by Monica Maristain

How to know the man behind works of fiction so prone to extravagance? In the first biography of Chilean novelist and poet Roberto Bolaño, journalist Mónica Maristain tracks Bolaño from his childhood in Chile to his youth in Mexico and his early infatuation with literature, to his beginnings as a poet, and to the stardom that came with the publication of the novels The Savage Detectives and 2666.

Throughout the book, Maristain present an image far removed from the stereotypes that have been created over the years to introduce a writer whose works grabbed readers worldwide. Maristain writes as a journalist and admirer, impressed with the power of Bolaño’s prose and the cool irony with which he faced the literary world.

Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana by James Dean

Join Pete the Cat in New York Times bestselling author James Dean's I Can Read beginning reader Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana. In this hilarious new title, Pete the Cat bites into a bad banana and decides that he never, ever wants to eat bananas again. But Pete really likes bananas Will a rotten bite ruin Pete's love for this tasty fruit? Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana is a My First I Can Read book, which means it's perfect for shared reading with a child. Fans of Pete the Cat will delight in this I Can Read tale featuring the grooviest cat, Pete.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Joseph O'Neill Luncheon

After an exciting luncheon with Diane Ackerman, we are pleased to welcome Netherland author Joseph O'Neill and his highly anticipated new novel, The Dog.

The author of the best-selling and award-winning Netherland now gives us his eagerly awaited, stunningly different new novel: a tale of alienation and heartbreak in Dubai.

Distraught by a breakup with his long-term girlfriend, our unnamed hero leaves New York to take an unusual job in a strange desert metropolis. In Dubai at the height of its self-invention as a futuristic Shangri-la, he struggles with his new position as the “family officer” of the capricious and very rich Batros family. And he struggles, even more helplessly, with the “doghouse,” a seemingly inescapable condition of culpability in which he feels himself constantly trapped—even if he’s just going to the bathroom, or reading e-mail, or scuba diving. A comic and philosophically profound exploration of what has become of humankind’s moral progress, The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark eloquence, empathy, and storytelling mastery. It is a brilliantly original, achingly funny fable for our globalized times.

Lawrence Osborne for the New York Times says:
With a consummate elegance, “The Dog” turns in on itself in imitation of the dreadful circling and futility of consciousness itself. Its subplots go nowhere, as in life. But, unlike life, its wit and brio keep us temporarily more alive than we usually allow ourselves to be.
Joseph O'Neill  will be at our Ravenna location on Wednesday, October 1st, at 1:00 PM. The luncheon series takes place in the warm and inviting Third Place Pub. The Pub provides a private, intimate setting for authors to read, speak, and answer questions from a small audience limited to about 40 people. It's a wonderful alternative to the larger format readings that many authors and readers are traditionally used to.

A ticket is required in order to attend. Tickets are $40 and include a copy of the book, as well as a delicious lunch provided by Vios. Seating is limited for this exciting event. Call the Ravenna location for more information and ticket purchases. 206-525-2347.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Read This Book: Current Events Edition

This one might cause a bit of an uproar among the Twelfth Man. But it's a hot topic and given the controversies hounding the National Football League lately, many people have begun to rethink their support and interest. For those interested, Mark at the Ravenna store suggests Against Football by Steve Almond

Steve Almond covers all the reasons that fans should question their devotion to the game of football. First and foremost is the debilitating effects that the repeated crushing blows have on these athletes, especially head injuries. It's not just the frequent concussions that football players suffer, but the accumulated effects of hundreds of small hits every game and practice session. Fans are watching players seriously injure themselves for their entertainment. 

Almond wrote this book before the most recent football scandals, including the spousal abuse charge against Ray Rice. Football has a long history of sexism, and hyper-masculinity. Almond even covers the bullying scandal of a few years back (Miami Dolphins' Jonathan Martin,) and the expected media hoopla over the first openly gay NFL player (Michael Sam.) 

One of the issues covered that particularly interests me is the way public taxes are used to build these extravagant arenas, only to have the team owners benefit, often moving the team to another city when it suits their financial fancy. I guess they figure it works like the trickle down theory of economics. In other words, it's just another way for the rich to stay rich and get richer. 

This is a well-thought out diatribe, with humor, insight and empathy. I recommend this piece of social criticism for fans and non-fans alike.

Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto by Steve Almond

“Powerful...an important read." —Publishers Weekly

Steve Almond details why, after forty years as a fan, he can no longer watch the game he still loves. Using a synthesis of memoir, reportage, and cultural critique, Almond asks a series of provocative questions:

     • Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia?
     • What does it mean that our society has transmuted the intuitive physical joys of childhood—run,
        leap, throw, tackle—into a billion-dollar industry?
     • How did a sport that causes brain damage become such an important emblem for our institutions
       of higher learning?

There has never been a book that exposes the dark underside of America’s favorite game with such searing candor.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Get ready to take your shoes off and free those Hobbit feet, it's Tolkien week! And September 22nd is Hobbit Day!

Hobbit Day was first celebrated in 1978 to commemorate the birthdays of everyone's favorite hobbits, Biblo and Frodo. Annie at Lake Forest Park is super excited and advises that any festivities "should include many, many fireworks (possibly dragony in nature), eating cake, and lots of dancing." And in all your revelry, she begs you not to forget, "elevensies, the most important meal of the day! Except for, of course, breakfast, second breakfast, dinner, and supper." Head over to the American Tolkien Society's site for more history and lore on Hobbit Day.

To celebrate Hobbit Day, The EMP will be displaying some awesome Hobbit and Lord of the Rings artifacts.  They'll be unveiling Sting, the dagger used by Bilbo and Frodo, as well as Aragorn's sword and Gimli's axe. Click here for more info.

In my "research" for this post, I was checking out Wikipedia's page on the Middle Earth Calendar. It is mind blowing. Bet you've never thought much about Shire-reckoning. Maybe you should start. I also stumbled on to The One Ring, and its Today in Middle Earth calendar. It's really astounding how much time and effort fans have put in to the upkeep of this website. Just for kicks, I checked out what happened in Middle Earth on my birthday:

When :March 4, 3019
Where: Helm's Deep
Description: Gandalf returns. (not from the appendices)
 "There suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun. Over the low hills the horns were sounding."
Very cool.

Here are a few of Annie's hand-picked, favorite, hobbity books:

The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull

This beautiful book was released a few years ago to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit's publication. I'm so glad it was! Tolkien was not only a talented author, but also a brilliant artist. This book is stuffed full of sketches, paintings, doodles, maps, and plans, as well as the complete Hobbit illustrations. Hammond and Scull lead the reader through Tolkien's work, some of which had never been published before this book was released. It's an easy and wonderful way for Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans to get to know another side of the beloved author who created Middle Earth.

The Hobbit illustrated by Alan Lee

Though I love The Hobbit with Tolkien's original illustrations, this breathtaking edition with Alan Lee's beautiful drawings really is my favorite edition. He captures Middle Earth with such clarity and accuracy, I find myself falling into the Shire with every turn of the page. Smaug is devastating in all his dragon glory, Beorn's bear is glorious and terrifying, and I wish I could burrow myself into Bag End. A must have for even the smallest Hobbit fan.

And here's a trailer for that movie that's coming out soon...

So there you go. Raise up a buttered scone or perhaps some mushrooms, and enjoy a most festive Hobbit Day, and a merry Tolkien Week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I've Got That John Franklin Fever

I'm in the grips of a certain mania; dealing with a severe bout of Sir John Franklin Fever. Don't ask, I just really dig polar explorations, and mysterious disappearances, and quests for lost ships. So you can imagine my excitement, glee really at this week's news.

Some Canadians think they've found one of Franklin's lost ships on the bottom of the sea. It's been missing for over 160 years, and they found it! Scientists are saying it's the greatest archaeological discovery since finding King Tut's tomb. Franklin's ships, Terror and Erebus vanished on the ice along with all 129 crew members in 1845. They were searching for the fabled Northwest Passage, which incidentally is no longer fabled, thanks to melting polar ice.
So, in honor of my weird Franklin obsession, here are some books you must check out:

The Terror by Dan Simmons
Obviously, you have to read this. It's awesome. This book was recommended to me by a customer. And I LOVED it!

This fantastical re-imagining of Sir John Franklin's ill-fated final search for the Northwest Passage reads pretty accurately based on the little I know. It uses the same dates, locations, names, even down to the wording of real-life messages recovered by rescue efforts. Yeah, it's pretty dead on...


That's right, a vicious monster haunts the ice where Franklin and his men are trapped. Killing and maiming with abandon. But as the novel and the expedition spiral into disarray, the sailors have a lot more to worry about than one itty-bitty monster. Disease and starvation, crushing ice, brutal blizzards, endless night, and ultimately their own shipmates. But surprisingly, there is a lot more to this epic. Mysticism, hope, adventure, loyalty.

I know you're thinking, "how ridiculous, a monster." But in the end it makes so much sense. Trust me, just suspend your disbelief and push on. It's worth it. It also sports one of the most perfectly developed characters I've encountered in a long time.

I had one awful nightmare while reading this book. I also almost vomited on the bus while reading about the effects of scurvy (I actually had to skip a few paragraphs...I've never done that). But I also had one peaceful dream about solitude and the Northern Lights (I actually had that dream the night after I finished the book). I was more than a little preoccupied with this one.

This next one isn't actually about Franklin, or even the Arctic, but it is the book that started my interest in polar exploration.

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander

In August 1914, days before the outbreak of the First World War, the renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of twenty-seven set sail for the South Atlantic in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. Weaving a treacherous path through the freezing Weddell Sea, they had come within eighty-five miles of their destination when their ship, Endurance, was trapped fast in the ice pack. Soon the ship was crushed like matchwood, leaving the crew stranded on the floes. Their ordeal would last for twenty months, and they would make two near-fatal attempts to escape by open boat before their final rescue. 

Drawing upon previously unavailable sources, Caroline Alexander gives us a riveting account of Shackleton's expedition--one of history's greatest epics of survival. And she presents the astonishing work of Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer whose visual record of the adventure has never before been published comprehensively. Together, text and image re-create the terrible beauty of Antarctica, the awful destruction of the ship, and the crew's heroic daily struggle to stay alive, a miracle achieved largely through Shackleton's inspiring leadership.
And speaking of Shackleton, there is a new, beautiful graphic novel based on the expedition that you really can't miss.

And last but not least, this fascinating and gripping nonfiction account of Britain's obsession with the Northwest Passage.

The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage by Anthony Brandt

After the triumphant end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British took it upon themselves to complete something they had been trying to do since the sixteenth century: find the fabled Northwest Passage. For the next thirty-five years the British Admiralty sent out expedition after expedition to probe the ice-bound waters of the Canadian Arctic in search of a route, and then, after 1845, to find Sir John Franklin, the Royal Navy hero who led the last of these Admiralty expeditions. Enthralling and often harrowing, The Man Who Ate His Boots captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

That should be enough reading for you to really nerd out on polar exploration and Franklin. Here's more on the finding of the ship if you are interested.