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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take me out to the Ball Game!

Did you know that Booksellers are real people? That once they leave the stacks, they take their information filled brains and unwind? That's right just like you! One such bookseller is Steve. And also just like you, they unwind by doing the things they like the most, for Steve and a few other booksellers the answer is Baseball! To celebrate the beginning of the season they all ventured out to watch our Mariners! And for your reading pleasure, perhaps for those no-hit, long innings, Steve has assembled some baseball book highlights!

Spring is here again: cherry blossoms, rain showers and of course, baseball! Hope springs eternal and one begins the season with a fresh start and high expectations for the hometown team. Besides the debut of young prospects and the return of experienced veterans, it is also that time of year to check out the new baseball books published this spring and maybe re-visit some timeless classics about America’s pastime. Here are some highlights of what can be found on our shelves now:

Leading off is Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers by Dan Raley (Nebraska). A former sportswriter for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Raley has written an entertaining and well-researched history of the Pacific Coast League team that captured (and occasionally broke a few) hearts of Seattle baseball fans long before the Seattle Mariners came to town in 1977. Emil Sick of Rainier Brewing bought the minor league Indians in 1937 and renamed them the Rainiers in a bit of shrewd, yet obvious product placement. For the next thirty years, the Rainiers broke PCL attendance records, captured several pennants and became a central fixture of mid-century life in Seattle. Before Felix Hernandez, there was young local pitching phenom, Fred Hutchinson. Before Edgar Martinez, there was Edo Vanni, the face of the team for many years. Before Dave Niehaus, there was Leo Lassen, the radio broadcaster who was the voice of summer and nearly as beloved as the sadly departed Niehaus. Throughout the years, the team had its share of sluggers and aces (and maybe even a goat or two), but the roster was always full of characters. Besides Hutchinson, several other legendary figures from Major League Baseball played a role in the story of the Rainiers at one time or another: Ron Santo, Rogers Hornsby and even Babe Ruth, the Bambino himself. If you are a lifelong Mariners fan, this is a story you need to read—a now overlooked and sometimes forgotten chapter in the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest and a nostalgic look at a time when minor league baseball was the only game in town. Perhaps you can even raise a glass of the team’s namesake beer in their honor.

Here are another nine baseball books, both old and new, that are definitely worth a spot in your reading line-up for 2011:

Ball Four by Jim Bouton
The once controversial, now classic diary of the ill-fated 1969 season Bouton spent with the expansion Seattle Pilots.

The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
The classic and nostalgic memoir of Brooklyn, baseball and those lovable bums--the Dodgers.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis
Economic theory as applied by baseball management to roster construction. Billy Beane and his Athletics of the 1990’s are the focus of this modern classics

Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker
He captures the experience of growing up obsessed with baseball cards and explores what it means to be a fan of the game.

Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend
by James S. Hirsch  
Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player in baseball history, still revered for the passion he brought to the game. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball’s bold expansion to California. He was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player.

The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow
In The Baseball Codes, old-timers and all-time greats share their insights into the game’s most hallowed—and least known—traditions. For the learned and the casual baseball fan alike, the result is illuminating and thoroughly entertaining.

The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri
In The Extra 2%, financial journalist and sportswriter Jonah Keri chronicles the remarkable story of one team’s Cinderella journey from divisional doormat to World Series contender.

Take Time for Paradise by A. Bartlett Giamatti
A philosophical musing on sports and play, this wholly inspiring and utterly charming reissue of Bart Giamatti's long-out-of-print final book, Take Time for Paradise, puts baseball in the context of American life and leisure.

Baseball in the Garden of Eden by John Thorn
Think you know how the game of baseball began? Think again. More than a history of the game, Baseball in the Garden of Eden tells the story of nineteenth-century America, a land of opportunity and limitation, of glory and greed—all present in the wondrous alloy that is our nation and its pastime.

These featured titles (and the many more on our shelves now) should be enough reading material to keep any baseball fan entertained throughout the days of summer and through the long dark winter of the offseason as well. Play ball!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bookseller with a Mission!

What can Booksellers and Booksales do to fight cancer?

Turns out they can do quite a bit, building awareness, raising money, and promoting healthy lifestyles and communities. One of our booksellers is making such efforts! Emily brought to our attention a great book:

"It's a fascinating book, even for a non-scientist like me, and I'm learning a great deal about the history of cancer research. The author weaves scientific history together with stories from his own coming-of-age as an oncologist, adding a personal touch to the story of humanity's relationship with this disease."

She got us on board, for each copy of The Emperor of All Maladies we sold this winter, Third Place Books gave $6 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In late March Emily sent in a check for $396. This was part of her fundraising campaign through Team in Training, and after training for 6 months, the team of 65 athletes from Seattle competed in the Lavaman Olympic distance triathlon in Waikoloa, HI.  Together they raised $315,000, and nationally TNT participants raised $2.8 million as they trained for this race! Way to go!!

Check out Emily's Blog! See her Hawaiian-humanitarian-adventure!

"Completing my first Olympic distance triathlon would have been amazing on its own, but doing it for a good cause with an amazing Emily's Race Re-Cap!
group of people was incredibly uplifting.  Our WA/AK Team raised over $315,000, and Team in Training Lavaman participants nationwide raised over $1,000,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society leading up to this race."

For more check out the photos of participants, team fun, and see more of the beautiful course! Triathlon Photos!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heartwarming Thoughts on a Cold Afternoon

Typically I find comfort in the bookstore, the atmosphere, the other book-minded patrons, the shelves upon shelves of conversation and information authors and publishers want to share with you. Each book is a unique little gift from those collective powers, talent, effort and time. But some days there is even more comfort than others. Days where I run into books like these:

Loneliness is compelling, interesting, and not the least bit depressing! In fact, I was becoming emotional toward the end, which isn't an average response to science writing, but it's because the true aspect of our tendencies lean toward cooperation and affection. This is a fascinating read, study after study in various venues, methods, and even looking at animals, all with a focus on loneliness:

John T. Cacioppo's groundbreaking research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure, and analyzing immune function, he demonstrates the overpowering influence of social context-a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrecognized syndrome-chronic loneliness-brings it out of the shadow of its cousin depression, and shows how this subjective sense of social isolation uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior, and physiology, becoming a trap that not only reinforces isolation but can also lead to early death. He gives the lie to the Hobbesian view of human nature as a "war of all against all," and he shows how social cooperation is, in fact, humanity's defining characteristic. Most important, he shows how we can break the trap of isolation for our benefit both as individuals and as a society.

I was surprised to see this title on our Bargain table, Hardcover for less than $8!  Considering the number of times my paperback copy has been handed out amongst my friends I really thought about buying two of these Bargain Hardcover editions but looked at the ever-growing stack of books in my hand and thought the better of it. Just seeing the cover again, though so clean and simple, brought back the flood of feelings and real affinity I have for humanity as a whole. And then as I continued to peruse I came across two other books that carried this redemptive theme:

Brooks illustrates a fundamental new understanding of human nature. A scientific revolution has occurred—we have learned more about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind—not a dark, vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one, where most of the brain’s work gets done. This is the realm of emotions, intuitions, biases, longings, genetic predispositions, personality traits, and social norms: the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made. The natural habitat of The Social Animal. He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism, individualism, and IQ. Along the way, he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility. The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure, a story of achievement and a defense of progress. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time, one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world.

And perhaps this last title won't seem as pertinent to some but I am as much disposed to my relationships and considerations of animals and plants as I am of those I have with and for people. And as far as displays of compassion and examples of love go, I'll take 'em anywhere I find 'em:

Wild elephants walking along a trail stop and spontaneously try to protect and assist a weak and dying fellow elephant. Laboratory rats, finding other rats caged nearby in distressing circumstances, proceed to rescue them. A chimpanzee in a zoo loses his own life trying to save an unrelated infant who has fallen into a watery moat.

The examples above and many others, argues Dale Peterson, show that our fellow creatures have powerful impulses toward cooperation, generosity, and fairness.

This rigorous and stimulating book challenges that notion, and it shows the profound connections-the moral continuum-that link humans to many other species. Peterson shows how much animal behavior follows principles embodied in humanity's ancient moral codes, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament. Understanding the moral lives of animals offers new insight into our own.

The last two titles are on our New in Hardcover Table. It is always nice to find little reminders that tenderness and love are the default action, and that people are illuminating these truths to uplift those who happen upon them. I will end this celebration of human understanding with some quotes I also recently found that speak to all these hopes and insights:

"Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." -Henry James

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Teresa

"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." -Kurt Vonnegut

"I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." -Malcolm X

"it's love that enables him to feel another's pain as if it were his own...we are one another's lesson, one another's duty...replace[] metaphysics with human relationships"- Zadie Smith

Be well!

Calling all Pocket Poets


I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
an elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.

-Sylvia Plath, from Poem in Your Pocket For Young Kids (Amulet)

Hey Kids! It's National Poetry month! Submit your original poetry and we'll post it on our blog and in our store. Entry forms are located in our children's department. For more information, click here.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poem In Your Pocket Contest: April 1

The Panther

The Panther is like a leopard,

Except it hasn't been Peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch, 
prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don't anther.

-Ogden Nash, from Poem in Your Pocket For Young Kids (Amulet)

Hey Kids! It's National Poetry month! Submit your original poetry and we'll post it on our blog and in our store. For more information, click here.