Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Not-So-Conventional New Year's Resolutions

New Year's resolutions.  Some people love them, some people hate them...actually a lot of people I know hate them.  So in an attempt to step outside the usual (boring), "lose weight" and "de-clutter," here is a list of books to get you thinking a little deeper about your goals for this most-promising, new year.


The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peak, by Ed Viesturs

As a high school student, Ed Viesturs read and was captivated by the French climber Maurice Herzog's famous and grisly account of the first ascent of Annapurna in 1950. When he began his own campaign to climb the world's 14 highest peaks in the late 1980s, Viesturs looked forward with trepidation to undertaking Annapurna himself. Two failures to summit in 2000 and 2002 made Annapurna his nemesis.

In The Will to Climb Viesturs and co-author David Roberts bring the extraordinary challenges of Annapurna to vivid life through edge-of-your-seat accounts of the greatest climbs in the mountain’s history, and of his own failed attempts and eventual success.


Wine to Water: How One Man Saved Himself While Trying to Save the World, by Doc Hendley

The captivating story of an ordinary bartender turned humanitarian who’s changing the world through clean water. Doc Hendley never set out to be a hero. A small-town bartender, Doc loved his Harley, music, and booze. Then he learned about the world’s water crisis, and decided to help by hosting fundraisers. But he wanted to do more and soon found himself traveling to one of the world’s most dangerous hot spots: Darfur, Sudan.


All There Is : Love Stories from Storycorps, by Dave Isay

In All There Is, StoryCorps founder David Isay shares stories from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many remarkable journeys that relationships can take. In these pages we discover that love is found in unexpected places: a New York tollbooth, a military base in Iraq, an airport lounge. We encounter love that survives discrimination, illness, poverty, distance—even death. Carrying us from the excitement and anticipation of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, All There Is enriches our understanding of love and of the resilience of the human spirit.


Far From the Tree: Parent, Children, and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

 Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.


The Great A & P: And the Struggle For Small Business in America, by Marc Levinson

From modest beginnings as a tea shop, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company became the largest retailer in the world. It was a juggernaut, with nearly sixteen thousand stores. But its explosive growth made it a mortal threat to mom-and-pop grocery stores across the nation. Main Street fought back tooth and nail, leading the Hoover, Roosevelt, and Truman administrations to investigate the Great A&P. In a remarkable court case, the government pressed criminal charges against the company for selling food too cheaply—and won.
In The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, the acclaimed historian Marc Levinson tells the story of a struggle between small business and big business that tore America apart. George and John Hartford took over their father’s business and reshaped it again and again, turning it into a vertically integrated behemoth that paved the way for every big-box retailer to come. George demanded a rock-solid balance sheet; John was the marketer-entrepreneur who led A&P through seven decades of rapid changes. Together, they set the stage for the modern consumer economy by turning an archaic retail industry into a highly efficient system for distributing food at low cost.


Pow!, by Mo Yan

Pow! is a comic masterpiece. In this bizarre romp through the Chinese countryside, the author treats us to a cornucopia of cooked animal flesh—ostrich, camel, donkey, dog, as well as the more common varieties. As his dual narratives merge and feather into one another, each informing and illuminating the other, Mo probes the character and lifestyle of modern China. Displaying his many talents, as fabulist, storyteller, scatologist, master of allusion and cliché, and more, Pow! carries the reader along quickly, hungrily, and giddily, up until its surprising dénouement.

Mo Yan has been called one of the great novelists of modern Chinese literature and the New York Times Book Review has hailed his work as harsh and gritty, raunchy and funny. He writes big, sometimes mystifying, sometimes infuriating, but always entertaining novels—and Pow! is no exception. “If China has a Kafka, it may be Mo Yan. Like Kafka, Mo Yan has the ability to examine his society through a variety of lenses, creating fanciful, Metamorphosis-like transformations or evoking the numbing bureaucracy and casual cruelty of modern governments.


You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're DeludingYourself, David McRaney

Whether you’re deciding which smartphone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic. But here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us—but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human.

Growing out of David McRaney’s popular blog, You Are Not So Smart reveals that every decision we make, every thought we contemplate, and every emotion we feel comes with a story we tell ourselves to explain them. But often these stories aren’t true. Each short chapter—covering topics such as Learned Helplessness, Selling Out, and the Illusion of Transparency—is like a psychology course with all the boring parts taken out.

Bringing together popular science and psychology with humor and wit, You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of our irrational, thoroughly human behavior.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shopping Local is Presidential

Call it whatever you want, Plaid Friday, or Small Business Saturday...did you celebrate your favorite, local, independent businesses this weekend?  Well, guess who else did too!

This past Saturday, the President and his daughters celebrated Small Business Saturday at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia.  They purchased a bunch of children's books that will be given as gifts from the First Family.

There's still time to support your local business this holiday season.  In fact, we're even here all year!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gifts for Everyone!

Yeah, we sell books, we are book experts. But you should also know that we have other great gift ideas. So if you're looking for something to stuff a stocking or give along with that perfect book, check out our new sidelines. We are stocked up and stuffed to the gills with unique gifts for everyone on your list.

Holiday themed paper sculpture kits for the crafter.
Art supplies to keep the kiddies busy.

Clever kitchen tools for that special cook in your life.

Beautiful advent calendars to build the anticipation.

Loads and loads of holiday cards and Christmas ornaments.

Personalized socks to keep your loved one's toes toasty all winter long.

Adorable plush toys that would look great under any Christmas tree.

A Holiday Invitation

Are you braving the crowds tomorrow for a head start on your holiday shopping?  Well the masterminds at Plaid Friday suggest shopping indie this season.

The name Plaid Friday celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the fun and enjoyable alternative to the big box store "Black Friday", and is designed to promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays. 

Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, CA, a city known for strong shop local campaigns. Plaid Friday brings back the nostalgic times when shopping for friends and family was a pleasurable leisurely activity.

So as you settle in for some football, maybe a snooze after all that great food, we here at Third Place Books ask you to consider turning your black Friday PLAID!  Come celebrate the start of the holidays with us! We have great book recommendations and fun sidelines. Show your family and friends what they mean to you this season with a unique and thoughtful gift from Third Place Books. We love selling books, and your support keeps us going. So spread your cheer to indies this year. Happy Holidays, we look forward to sharing them with you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cookbooks! Baking Edition

Emily is back, with more great cookbook suggestions.  This week she tells us about a few special somethings just for your sweet tooth.  And just in time for the holiday baking season.  Can't wait til she brings us a few things to taste!

Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel

oh. my. god. I received this big beautiful book on Tuesday, and I spent at least 2 hours reading it that night, salivating over the luscious photos and trying to decide which recipe I'd try first. The introductions and stories made what could be an intimidating book feel friendly and approachable, and I particularly liked the playful use of stencils and sifted flour (or powdered sugar?) to number steps in the photos. 

Keller's meticulous attention to detail and the beautiful, fun design elevate this book above the rest of the field. 

After a few days of browsing, I finally settled on making the Tropeziene, so I made brioche dough (which has to rest overnight) on Friday night and pastry cream on Saturday. The finished pastry was just as lovely and delicious as I imagined and elicited moans of appreciation from my fellow booksellers on Sunday morning. I've already picked up a few new techniques that will carry over to other recipes, and I can hardly wait to take a crack at another recipe.

Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth, by Julie Richardson

A wonderful follow-up to one of my favorite baking books, Rustic Fruit Desserts, this book explores cake recipes that the author collected from friends and family and explains their origins, from regional favorites like Wacky Cake (the recipe only differs in one small way from the one I grew up with) to classics like a yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting. I've made most of the "hasty cakes" and can vouch for their deliciousness! Plus, she's a Portland, OR author.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle, by Tom Douglas, Shelley Lance, and Ed Anderson

So far I've made the Serious Biscuits (seriously buttery, with a flaky and crisp exterior and pillowy soft interior - the perfect companion for that homemade jam the neighbors gave you) and the Whole Wheat Hazelnut Scones with Maple Glaze (perfect in every possible way - I've made them twice in less than a week!) My next baking project: the famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie!
Emily's Serious Biscuits
Some other sweet stuff:

The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook: 
How to Make Truly Scrumptious Candy in Your Own Kitchen!
by Liz Gutman and Jen King

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: 
Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker,
by Mark Klebeck, Scott Pitts, Michael Klebeck

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home,
by Jeni Britton Bauer

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Bookstore Lit Crawl

To celebrate the November 13th publication of My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, we are teaming up with other great, local, indie bookstores to host a lit crawl!  Support your favorite bookstore with like-minded authors.

Third Place will be welcoming Stephanie Kallos, who wrote a lovely and sweet essay about our store along with members of the Seattle 7 writers group.  Join us for a rousing conversation about why indie's matter!  This Friday, we are pleased to welcome Jennie Shortridge, Erica Bauermeister, Laurie Frankel, Dave Boling, Kevin O'Brien and Karl Marlantes...and of course Stephanie Kallos.

Here are the rest of the Lit Crawl Details :

At your first event, you will receive a special My Bookstore passport, and then at each event thereafter you will receive a stamp. With three or more stamps, you are entered for a chance to win great prizes sponsored by the lit crawl consortium, which includes gift cards to Third Place and University Book Store, copies of My Bookstore, and a prize pack of all attending authors’ most recent work.

All events are listed below :

11/12 – 7pm: Ivan Doig at University Book Store in Seattle
11/13 – 7pm: Tom Robbins at Village Books  in Bellingham
11/14 – 7pm Jonathan Evison at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island
11/16 - 7pm Stephanie Kallos and members of the Seattle 7 at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park
11/20 – 7pm: Timothy Egan at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of My Bookstore will be donated by the publisher to the American Book Association’s (ABA) bookseller education program/Winter Institute Scholarship Fund and to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Books about Books and Books about Bookstores

Ever wonder what your favorite authors (and other notables) love to read?  What about where they read?  Well, wonder no more.  Two new books are here to tell all!

My Ideal Bookshelf, by Jane Mount and Thessaly La Force

The books that we choose to keep --let alone read-- can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.

My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, by Ronald Rice

In this enthusiastic, heartfelt, and sometimes humorous ode to bookshops and booksellers, 84 known authors pay tribute to the brick-and-mortar stores they love and often call their second homes. In My Bookstore our greatest authors write about the pleasure, guidance, and support that their favorite bookstores and booksellers have given them over the years. The relationship between a writer and his or her local store and staff can last for years or even decades. Often it's the author's local store that supported him during the early days of his career, that continues to introduce and hand-sell her work to new readers, and that serves as the anchor for the community in which he lives and works. My Bookstore collects the essays, stories, odes and words of gratitude and praise for stores across the country in 81 pieces written by our most beloved authors. It's a joyful, industry-wide celebration of our bricks-and-mortar stores and a clarion call to readers everywhere at a time when the value and importance of these stores should be shouted from the rooftops.

And check out the details of our awesome My Bookstore Lit Crawl Event featuring local authors and local indies!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cookbooks! International Edition

The Chef at work
Something about the fall really has the publishers churning out the cookbooks.  Must be the Holiday cooking season on their minds.  Here at Third Place Books, we are lucky enough to have Emily, a bookseller devoted to all things food!  She's always trying new recipes and often sharing the delicious results. She has kindly offered some of her insights on this season's hot new cookbooks, including some of the recipes she's tried.  Because there are so many cookbooks out right now, this will be the first in a 3 part series.

Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolengh and Sami Tamimi

From the author of Plenty (which has sold steadily here since it arrived in March 2011) comes another beautiful book, this time written with his friend and fellow chef Sami Tamimi. Together, they explore the cuisine of their home city and the wide variety of cultures and cuisines that have come together there. Each recipe is preceded by a vibrant description of its origins and variations. I made the basmati and wild rice with currants and herbs - wow! Delicious and satisfying - a bit nutty, a little sweet, a little spicy. A few fried onions add an enormous amount of flavor to the dish, and I was content to eat a big bowl of it, unaccompanied, for dinner.
Emily's Basmati & Wild Rice with Currants & Herbs

Burma : Rivers of Flavor, by Naomi Duguid

The clearly written, approachable recipes aren't too intimidating but are interesting enough for the experienced cook looking to expand his or her horizons. Having a few specific pantry items from the first chapter on hand makes many of the recipes quick weeknight dinner options. I plan to try many more of the recipes - this cookbook is a keeper!  

Here is an expanded review from Emily's Blog...it all looks so delicious!
Emily's Green Mango Salad
So if you have any questions on what to cook, or what to buy that foodie on your Holiday list, come down and find Emily, she's got all the food answers!
Stay tuned for our next edition...Baking!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jello Phone

One of the great things about used books, besides the price, is the history.  With any luck, you've picked out a used book that's been read and loved by it's previous owner; maybe you're sharing a favorite book with a complete stranger, and you don't even know it!

Well, we love buying your used books because of all of the great things we find tucked inside and forgotten about in those books.  You can't even imagine how many bookmarks we've collected.  We have countless photos, loads and loads of postcards.  Sometimes we'll stumble upon a heartfelt note, or drawing.  You can see a lot of these treasures hanging on the walls around the used book counters in both of our stores.  Here is one of my favorites from the Ravenna store; a poem, handwritten in pencil on a scrap of paper.  We're not sure if it was copied from somewhere, but the scratch-outs seem to indicate the artistic process of the unknown poet.

J-e-l-l-o Phone
I do not want a telephone,
I'd rather have a Jello-phone.
Instead of button pushing behaviors,
We'd dial by licking yummy flavors.
So, if my number were 9-8-9...
My flavor would then be lime-grape-lime.
And you know how a hot phone on your ear leaves a welt,
Well, the jello-phone you see, it would just melt.
Or if you drop it on the floor,
It'll bounce right back where it was before.
And instead of a ring when you get a call,
It jiggles and wiggles right off of the wall.
And if you find telemarketers pernicious
just hang up and eat it...it's delicious.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Novel Costume Ideas!

Not sure what to be for Halloween?  Here are some spooky literary options for you.

How about James Joyce.  A dapper bow tie, an eye patch, some well-groomed facial hair, and a copy of Ulysses.
Companion Costume:  June 16th aka, Bloomsday.

Or perhaps Daisy Buchanan?  Recycle that flapper costume from 3 years ago. Pair it with a constantly lit cigarette and a copy of The Great Gatsby.
Companion Costume:  A yellow Rolls-Royce.

Captain Ahab?  Take a general pirate/maritime look, add a whale-bone leg, maniacal expression, harpoon, and a copy of Moby Dick.
Companion Costume: Bespectacled DJ, Moby.

Maybe Dickens is more your style...try Miss Havisham.  All you need is a decaying wedding, dress-maybe covered in spider webs, lifelong disappointment, and a copy of Great Expectations.
Companion Costume: Moldy wedding cake.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Read This Book! (Epic Edition)

The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin

Now, normally Read This Book features a recent favorite from one of our lovely staff.  But this time around, we've got- not one, not two, but THREE booksellers (plus one former used-book-buyer in New Zealand) telling you to READ THIS BOOK!

Set in the untamed American Pacific Northwest, a highly original and haunting debut novel about a makeshift family whose dramatic lives are shaped by violence, love, and an indelible connection to the land.

Writing with breathtaking precision and empathy, Amanda Coplin has crafted an astonishing debut novel about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of an ordered life when he opens his heart and lets the world in. Transcribing America as it once was before railways and roads connected its corners, she weaves a tapestry of solitary souls who come together in the wake of unspeakable cruelty and misfortune, bound by their search to discover the place they belong. At once intimate and epic, evocative and atmospheric, filled with haunting characters both vivid and true to life, and told in a distinctive narrative voice, The Orchardist marks the beginning of a stellar literary career.

Emily says:
Coplin has captured a time when solitude was more common and more accepted as a way of life, and the rhythms of the seasons played a greater role. Subtle characters communicate through gesture more than dialogue, delivering a quiet intensity in this remarkable debut novel. I was completely transported.

Jane, Judy, and Kestrel agree wholeheartedly!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finding Nature

You still have a week left to check out our October theme table.  This month, the tree table is (fittingly) dedicated to nature.  It's got hiking, exploring, foraging, gardening, everything nature-y.  Rory has picked out some great titles to get you out.

Part of the great thing about so many of the titles on this table is their connection to our very own Pacific Northwest.  Garden guides, and foraging guides tailored to our region, but also fantastic local authors.  We are blessed with so many great authors, that sometimes we forget just how many live among us.  Come down and check them out!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall New Releases

It's officially fall.  I don't need the shorter days, crisp evening air, or falling leaves to tell me.  I need only look to the overloaded new arrivals tables in the store.  Seriously, we are bursting at the seams with new stuff.  Come and check out all the awesomeness.  I am beside myself this fall.  It's like the publishers were choosing their new books just for me!  Here is my fantasy fall reading list:

Telegraph Avenue, by Micheal Chabon

I have read a lot of Chabon, not all, but most.  It all started with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  It has my all-time, favorite, literary moment, and I say that with conviction.  I don't have a favorite book (there are just too many), but I do have a favorite moment in a book, and Micheal Chabon wrote it.  That's why I was so excited about Telegraph Avenue.  Early reviews claim it's his greatest since Kavalier and Clay.  Maybe I will stumble upon my second-favorite, literary moment.  Joy!

America Again:  Re-becoming the America We Never Weren't, by the Reverend Dr. Stephen T. Colbert DFA

Given the amount of Stephen Colbert references I have shamelessly posted on this blog, you must have known this was coming.  AND IT"S IN 3D!!!

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne M. Valente

Valente's first Fairyland adventure, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, was spectaular.  You really need to read it first, but don't worry, it will be worth it.  Here's my review of the first one...

I've read comparisons of this book to Alice in Wonderland, but I can't help thinking that such comparisons diminish the originality, charm, and delight of this book. September lives in Nebraska, her father is off fighting in the war and her mother works in the factory. But her lonely life is turned upside down when the Green Wind appears at her window and sweeps her away to fairyland.  
Collecting loyal friends including a protective green jacket, a wyvern, and a determined key, September sets out for fun, adventure, and even peril. This book is a joy to read with plenty of grown up stuff to keep adults up long after bedtime. Valente's writing is enchanting, sometimes poignant, as she weaves sweet stories and universal truths that I think are entirely absent in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
 Louis D. Brandeis:  A Life , by Melvin I Urofsky

No, I didn't add this one to make myself seem smarter...it would appear that my time in school is beginning to skew my reading appetites.  I can't wait to sink my teeth into this (rather HUGE) biography.  Here's the blurb from the back...
Brandeis witnessed and suffered from the anti-Semitism rampant in the United States in the early twentieth century, and with the outbreak of World War I, became at age fifty-eight the head of the American Zionist movement. During the brutal six-month congressional confirmation battle that ensued when Woodrow Wilson nominated him to the Supreme Court in 1916, Brandeis was described as “a disturbing element in any gentlemen’s club.” But once on the Court, he became one of its most influential members, developing the modern jurisprudence of free speech and the doctrine of a constitutionally protected right to privacy and suggesting what became known as the doctrine of incorporation, by which the Bill of Rights came to apply to the states. In this award-winning biography, Melvin Urofsky gives us a panoramic view of Brandeis’s unprecedented impact on American society and law.
-Erin B. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Whale-Sized Obsession

I love Moby Dick.  I LOVE IT.  It took me 30 years to decide that I wanted to read it, and when I did...it changed my life.  There's a long story about why I finally decided to read it, and it may or may not involve W.R.A.T.H. (Whales Rising Against the Humans (which also requires a disclosure that W.R.A.T.H. is a completely fictitious organization that I created consisting of 3 members...we have a logo)), but I did read it.  And I wear that as a badge of honor.

There are a lot of books out there, "classics," if you will, which enter into a sort of grand checklist- any self-respecting book lover/bookseller is assumed to have read them.  But no one can get around to ALL of them, especially the ginormous ones.  Out of the many bookstores I have worked in and even more booksellers I count among my dear friends, I find Moby Dick to be the one "classic" that is missed most...and it, the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL!  Maybe it's the hefty size, or being forced to read it in high school, or the ever-feared chapters on knot-tying.  So yes, I take a certain pride in having read it.  Especially when all of my coworkers are so well read; slogging through David Foster Wallace, while I tuck into a romance novel (no judgment!).  Moby Dick is the heart of my bookseller street cred.

Another truly awesome adaptation
My love for Moby Dick could fill its own blog.  It has led me to non-fiction reading tangents, whale watching trips, collecting paint-by-number nautical art, boycotting aquariums, possible tattoo designs, and a belief that I can summon whales (another long story)...it doesn't seem to end.  Finally, I am so happy to report, that you too can share in this life-altering piece of classic American art.  And it's fun too...I promise.  Though I'm reasonably sure you can enjoy it without the obsessiveness that has affected me.

The Moby Dick Big Read, a new website/art installation, has undertaken the grand task of offering this magnificent tome to you, free of charge, downloadable, and read by some of today's most awesome people.  I'm talking Tilda Swinton, and Stephen Fry, and so many more.  Ah-mah-zing!  As of September 16th, this awesome art collaboration has been posting a chapter a day; downloadable, completely free, and accompanied by the most amazing original art.  Here is a little bit from their website:

Queequeg By Timothy Woodman
Featured with Chapter Six: The Street
‘I have written a blasphemous book’, said Melville when his novel was first published in 1851, ‘and I feel as spotless as the lamb’. Deeply subversive, in almost every way imaginable, Moby-Dick is a virtual, alternative bible – and as such, ripe for reinterpretation in this new world of new media. Out of Dominion was born its bastard child – or perhaps its immaculate conception – the Moby-Dick Big Read: an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.

So this is it.  If you've ever wanted to be a part of that select group of people who have tackled, and adored Moby Dick, now is your chance.  I myself can't wait to submerge once again into the depths of this truly remarkable, life-altering masterpiece.  Join me, won't you?

-Erin B.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Where Star Wars and Books Collide

Why is there such a pervasive Star Wars/Book Culture?  Is it just that Star Wars creeps into simply everything, or is there more to it?  Are books and Star Wars just the ideal nerd cross over?  It must be.  Because the rash of Star Wars/Book collisions is far too frequent to be coincidental.  Here are a few of my recent sightings.
Artist, Jason Peltz has combined Seuss and Star Wars in these clever and adorable mash ups.  More Here.

Man, don't you wish these were real books!  Hint, hint, Mr. Peltz.
TPB bookseller Annie has an awesome blog that she co-writes with her friend.  The idea behind the blog is to re-read all those Star Wars Universe sequels and prequels and all kinds of quels, and then record their adventures.  Her is more in Annie's own words...

The authors, a long time ago...you get the idea
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...." These words still give me tingles for so many reasons, both personal and nerdy. I saw the Star Wars movies for the first time as a young girl and fell instantly in love with the characters, the universe, and the story. So much so, that when I met my dear friend Tess in elementary school and discovered she also adored Star Wars, we found a unique common ground.
Little did we know that bonding over the Force, Banthas, lightsabers, secret twin siblings, the Millennium Falcon, and nerdy books would lead us into a friendship spanning more than half our lifetimes. The Star Wars game we played in the woods at Tess's house and in my backyard ensured game nights at college, care packages when Tess moved to South Korea to teach English and when I went through chemotherapy, and many, many movie marathons when we saw each other in person. 

Star Wars didn't really create our friendship, of course; we did that ourselves. It just greased the s-foils a bit, if you will - helped us learn to embrace our differences because when the trenches of life came our way, it was "trusting our feelings," as Obi-wan would say, that helped sustain us and that continues on today. So this reading project and blog - which I'm sure to many non-Nerf Herders sounds completely silly - is just another way we celebrate friendship. After all, the Force is what bids us together and all that...
And of course, all the awesome books being released recently.  Here is a very small list...

Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown

Star Wars Origami, by Chris Alexander

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee, by Tom Angleberger

And maybe, just maybe, I myself will pick up my first Star Wars Novel in many moons when this one comes out in December..come on, it's Han Solo-he was my first love, and you never forget your first love.

Scoundrels, by Timothy Zahn