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Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 Philip K. Dick Awards

Annie, our new Sci Fi and Fantasy Section Head at Lake Forest Park has got the scoop on this year's Philip K. Dick Awards...

The 2014 Philip K. Dick Award winner was announced on Friday right here in SeaTac at Norwescon.  It's no surprise that Countdown City by Ben Winters won. It's his second book about a world-ending asteroid and a detective who refuses to stop solving murders. Genre-bending and full of chaos and mystery, Winters fully deserves this accolade and any others that come his way. Self-Reference Engine by Toh EnJoe also won a special citation during the ceremony.

Many of Dick's novels and short stories were fueled by his own addictions and paranormal experiences. His twin sister died at only six weeks old, but continued to influence his life and writing until Dick himself passed away from a stroke at the age of 53. Despite his struggles Dick is considered one of the greatest science fiction writers and left behind 44 novels and roughly 121 short stories that other authors, directors, and musicians still draw on today for inspiration. The PKD Award was first awarded in 1983, the year after Dick passed away. The first author to win was Rudy Rucker with his novel Software

The 2014 other hopefuls were:

A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock
The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Self-Reference Engine by Toh EnJoe, translated by Terry Gallagher
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead
Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction edited by Ian Whates

These nominees proved to be stiff competition, the best the science fiction world has to offer. They explore everything from dystopia to madness to an asteroid on its way to smash into Earth. Full of rich language and fascinating characters, each of these wonderful books is absolutely worth reading.

Countdown City: The second book in the Detective Hank Palace series follows this intriguing character as he continues his work of tracking down criminals - while wading through chaos caused by an apocalyptic asteroid headed straight for Earth. With three months left before the world is torn to pieces, Palace is hired by a powerful business man to track down his errant son. The case gets murkier the deeper Palace digs. 

Self-Reference Engine: This is perhaps the most surreal book of the bunch. Written in vignettes, EnJoe instructs his readers to read each chapter in order - because it's not a novel, novella, or a collection of short stories. This is Self-Reference ENGINE. Cracking the cover is the only way to find out exactly what EnJoe means.

Ancillary Justice: Leckie takes the artificial intelligence trope and turns it upside
down and inside out with this lovely space opera. Breq, formerly a massive AI warship controlling thousands of corpse soldiers, is stuck on an ice planet trapped inside one remaining delicate human body. Determined to avenge the treachery that landed her in such a position, she single-handedly searches for the warship AI that betrayed her


Thursday, April 17, 2014

I DID IT!: A Personal Account of How it Feels to Win the Pulitzer Prize...Sort Of

I love the Pulitzer Prizes.  I mean really, really love them; especially the prize for fiction. It's my favorite literary prize.  Ami thinks it's weird to have a favorite literary prize.  But I don't care, I do have a favorite, and it's this one.

One of the only book-related things I love more than the fiction Pulitzer (at least currently) is Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch.  It's possible I've mentioned this a time or two (still waiting on that commission check).  Actually, Goldfinch is in my top four all-time favorite books. These are the books I know I will always love, no matter what happens in my life or how my reading tastes change; these books will always be special.  It might seem weird to have a top four; why four, why not five?  Because it's my list and that's just how elite and magical the list is.

I love The Goldfinch so much that when I finished it, I couldn't find anything else to read, so I just read it again. It's the kind of book that destroys any aspirations I've ever had of being a writer because I could not possibly write anything that spectacular.  Love isn't a strong enough word for how I feel.  I'm a little insane for The Goldfinch.

Given these feelings, of course I wanted it to win the Pulitzer.  But I didn't really think it would.  As much as I love the award, I have never predicted the winner.  I've never even read the winner before it's been announced...

UNTIL THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I could not be more pleased!  Just look at how happy I am! On the day the prizes were announced I marched around the store all afternoon chanting, "GOLDFINCH, GOLDFINCH!"  It's as if my favorite sports team finally won a championship.  You Seahawks fans get me, right?  And I feel weirdly vindicated over some of the more nasty reviews (I'm looking at you Francine Prose).  It's like I won the prize, even though I did nothing but read it, and love it, and recommend it to customers, and then buy many, many copies to give to friends and family (seriously, Donna, did that check get lost in the mail?).

So why does it matter to me?  

It's funny, but there is a unique vulnerability in being a bookseller.  Books aren't just our job, books are a fundamental part of our lives.  I challenge you to find a bookseller anywhere who doesn't consider reading to be their passion, or at least their favorite hobby.  Sometimes the book we're recommending means a lot to us; sometimes it's on our Super-Awesome, Mega-Elite, Best Books Ever List; sometimes the book we're recommending has changed our life.  And that's a pretty personal thing.  We're not just trying to sell you any old book, we're handing you something important to us, hoping it will be important to you too.  

So when I recommend a book I love to someone, and they don't love it back...heartbreak! One of my favorite customers did not love The Goldfinch, and I was honestly a little devastated.  But if I recommend a book I love and they love it too, well that feels a little magical. And when something like this happens, when a book I love so fiercely is honored with a big award, it feels great.  But it's not unlike the feeling I get when you buy a book I think you'll like, and when you come back and tell me how much it meant to you. I guess, in some strange way, that's why I feel this Pulitzer win so deeply.

Of course, now I face a dilemma.  Usually my mid-April reading is decided by the prize announcement (except in 2012 when there was no fiction winner, and I spiraled into a Pulitzer-induced depression).  What do I read now?  I suppose I could dip into the older winners I haven't read yet.  I was thinking maybe the 1919 winner The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington or maybe I should finally read The Age of Innocence... 

Oh, who am I kidding, I'm just going to read The Goldfinch again.

Posted by Erin B.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Announced today... here are the Pulitzer winners for 2014!
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt



3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri

General Nonfiction

Friday, April 11, 2014

April Theme Tables

If you haven't been to the Lake Forest Park store this month, you haven't seen our beautiful new displays.  On the Tree Table, we're featuring books set in Seattle. You might be surprised at just how many books take place here.  Very fun.  Here are just a few of the books you'll find on the table.  Pick one up today and read about your city!

Black Hole by Charles Burns

The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.

And then the murders start.

As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying, Black Hole transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it- back when it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie anymore, but Bowie was still just a little too weird. To say nothing of sprouting horns and molting your skin…

Gemini by Carol Cassella

Dr. Charlotte Reese works in the intensive care unit of
Seattle's Beacon Hospital, tending to patients with the most life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Her job is to battle death--to monitor erratic heartbeats, worry over low oxygen levels, defend against infection and demise. 

One night a Jane Doe is transferred to her care from a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula. This unidentified patient remains unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. As Charlotte and her team struggle to stabilize her, the police search for the driver who fled the scene.

As Charlotte finds herself making increasingly complicated medical decisions that will tie her forever to Jane's fate, her usual professional distance evaporates. She's plagued by questions: Who is Jane Doe? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she doesn't regain consciousness--and when? Perhaps most troubling, Charlotte wonders if a life locked in a coma is a life worth living.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Eric, a science journalist, Charlotte impulsively sets out to uncover Jane Doe's past. But the closer they get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. It is only when they open their hearts to their own feelings toward each other--and toward life itself--that Charlotte and Eric will unlock Jane Doe's shocking secret, and prepare themselves for a miracle. Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a riveting and heartbreaking novel of moral complexity and emotional depth.

Larry Get Lost in Seattle by John Skewes

Larry Gets Lost in Seattle is an interactive, highly visual children’s story about a young boy (Pete) who goes to Seattle with his family and is temporarily separated from his cute little dog, Larry, while sightseeing. In his search for Pete, Larry encounters many Seattle landmarks and cultural attractions before the two are reunited.

This month, the Small Table is dedicated to authors from Africa.  It's a big continent, and there are a lot of great authors, too many to fit on this little table.  Take a look at this gorgeous poster for many more.

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

From acclaimed author Dinaw Mengestu, comes an unforgettable love story about a searing affair between an American woman and an African man in 1970s America and an unflinching novel about the fragmentation of lives that straddle countries and histories. 

All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom. 

Elegiac, blazing with insights about the physical and emotional geographies that circumscribe our lives, All Our Names is a marvel of vision and tonal command. Writing within the grand tradition of Naipul, Greene, and Achebe, Mengestu gives us a political novel that is also a transfixing portrait of love and grace, of self-determination and the names we are given and the names we earn. 

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year and an NBCC Award Finalist An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable Book, a Seattle Times Best Book, an Entertainment Weekly Top Fiction Book, a Newsday Top 10 Book, and a Goodreads Best of the Year pick. 

A powerful, tender story of race and identity by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

National Poetry Month

Among other things, like Financial Literacy Month, School Library Month, and my favorite, National Multiple Birth Awareness Month, April is also National Poetry Month.  National Poetry Month was founded by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 as a way to celebrate the impact poetry has had on our society and culture.

In honor of Poetry Month, and this being a bookstore blog and all, check out this great piece on some of the best "book spine poetry" on the internet.  Maybe you should try your own!

At Third Place Books, we celebrate National Poetry Month with 20 percent off all poetry titles for the entire month (both locations).  It's a great time to pick up a few verses from your favorite poet, or maybe try someone new.  Here are a some suggestions:

Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin

I just read and fell in love with Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, so when this new volume of his poetry came into the store, I snatched it up for my Poetry Month reading.  It's wonderful.

During his lifetime (1924–1987), James Baldwin authored seven novels, as well as several plays and essay collections, which were published to wide-spread praise. These books, among them Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time, Giovanni’s Room, and Go Tell It on the Mountain, brought him well-deserved acclaim as a public intellectual and admiration as a writer. However, Baldwin’s earliest writing was in poetic form, and Baldwin considered himself a poet throughout his lifetime. Nonetheless, his single book of poetry, Jimmy’s Blues, never achieved the popularity of his novels and nonfiction, and is the one and only book to fall out of print. 

This new collection presents James Baldwin the poet, including all nineteen poems from Jimmy’s Blues, as well as all the poems from a limited-edition volume called Gypsy, of which only 325 copies were ever printed and which was in production at the time of his death. Known for his relentless honesty and startlingly prophetic insights on issues of race, gender, class, and poverty, Baldwin is just as enlightening and bold in his poetry as in his famous novels and essays. The poems range from the extended dramatic narratives of “Staggerlee wonders” and “Gypsy” to the lyrical beauty of “Some days,” which has been set to music and interpreted by such acclaimed artists as Audra McDonald. Nikky Finney’s introductory essay reveals the importance, relevance, and rich rewards of these little-known works. Baldwin’s many devotees will find much to celebrate in these pages.

Incarnadine : Poems by Mary Syzbist

Or maybe you might be interested in this year's National Book Award winner for poetry.

The troubadours knew 
how to burn themselves through,
how to make themselves shrines to their own longing.
The spectacular was never behind them. 

 -from “The Troubadours etc.” 

In Incarnadine, Mary Szybist restlessly seeks out places where meaning might take on new color. One poem is presented as a diagrammed sentence. Another is an abecedarium made of lines of dialogue spoken by girls overheard while assembling a puzzle. Several poems arrive as a series of Annunciations, while others purport to give an update on Mary, who must finish the dishes before she will open herself to God. One poem appears on the page as spokes radiating from a wheel, or as a sunburst, or as the cycle around which all times and all tenses are alive in this moment. Szybist’s formal innovations are matched by her musical lines, by her poetry’s insistence on singing as a lure toward the unknowable. Inside these poems is a deep yearning—for love, motherhood, the will to see things as they are and to speak. Beautiful and inventive, Incarnadine is the new collection by one of America’s most ambitious poets.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Walter Kirn Luncheon

We are getting excited to welcome author Walter Kirn next week for the latest in our Ravenna Luncheon Series.  The author of Up in the Air and Lost in the Meritocracy, Kirn will be here to talk about his new book Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery and a Masquerade.  The book is Kirn's account of his 15-year relationship with a man who turned out to be an impostor, a con-man, a sociopath, and ultimately a murderer.  Join us Wednesday, April 9th at 1PM.  Tickets required!

The memoir is getting rave reviews, including this one from The New York Times.  Also from The New York Times, is this piece featuring Mr. Kirn interviewing himself.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Check it out, it's pretty great.

Robert read Blood Will Out a few months ago and really enjoyed it.  Here's what he has to say:

What a ride! Besides being an 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. Highly recommended!

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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books About Pets

Do you have a young reader who's also a pet owner...or maybe a young reader who wants  to be a pet owner?  If so, here are two new children's illustrated books that they will love.  You will too.

Sparky! by Jenny Offill and Chris Appelhans

The ingenious author of 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore and a brilliant illustrator and production designer of the Coraline movie have created a hilarious, touching picture book perfect for young animal lovers. Like the Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible.

Matilda's Cat by Emily Gravett

This delightful picture book with Emily Gravett's signature twist ending sweetly depicts the relationship between a child and her beloved pet. Matilda is desperate to figure out what her cat will enjoy. She tries everything she can think of: climbing trees, playing with wool, even tea parties and dress-up games, but as Matilda gets more and more creative in her entertainment attempts, her cat moves from unimpressed to terrified. Will Matilda ever figure out what her cat likes? This young picture book is an insightful, fond, and funny look at the relationship between a little girl and her cat that's sure to strike a chord with anyone who's ever loved a pet.

I just love Matilda's Cat.  It's the perfect kind of picture book.  Beautiful drawings, humor, sweetness, and not too many words.  I like my picture books short and sweet, the less words the better.  It's the only way to finish an entire book with my nephew. I'm sure some of you can relate.


And speaking of pets, I just finished a lovely little (grown up) novel about a dog named Evie and what happens to her when her owner is sent to prison. It starts out light and humorous but eventually becomes a weighty family drama exploring the darker sides of jealousy and judgment. Really excellent.

We Think the World of You by J.R. Ackerley

We Think the World of You combines acute social realism and dark fantasy, and was described by J.R. Ackerley as “a fairy tale for adults.” Frank, the narrator, is a middle-aged civil servant, intelligent, acerbic, self-righteous, angry. He is in love with Johnny, a young, married, working-class man with a sweetly easygoing nature. When Johnny is sent to prison for committing a petty theft, Frank gets caught up in a struggle with Johnny’s wife and parents for access to him. Their struggle finds a strange focus in Johnny’s dog—a beautiful but neglected German shepherd named Evie. And it is she, in the end, who becomes the improbable and undeniable guardian of Frank’s inner world.