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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fresh Gift Ideas for Your Graduate

Have a graduate in your life?  Not sure what to get them?  Worried that they'll get seven copies of Oh the Places You'll Go?  Or is your grad just little bit different, a little bit special, a little more deserving of a really interesting book.  Here are a few unusual and engaging suggestions for grads going in all different directions...and there's no Dr. Seuss...

For the College-Bound:

The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

Make sure your graduate knows who they should and shouldn't get to know their first year on campus.

Truly deserving of the accolade a modern classic, Donna Tartt’s novel is a remarkable achievement—both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.

101 Things I Learned...series

Save your grad a ton on tuition!  The books in this series are pretty much as good as going to school.  Okay, maybe not, but they do pack an informative punch in a very petite package.

For the Out-on-Their-Own:

The Chairs Are Where the People Go by Misha Glouberman with Sheila Heti

Should neighborhoods change? Is wearing a suit a good way to quit smoking? Why do people think that if you do one thing, you’re against something else? Is monogamy a trick? Why isn’t making the city more fun for you and your friends a super-noble political goal? Why does a computer last only three years? How often should you see your parents? How should we behave at parties? Is marriage getting easier? What can spam tell us about the world?

Misha Glouberman’s friend and collaborator, Sheila Heti, wanted her next book to be a compilation of everything Misha knew. Together, they made a list of subjects. As Misha talked, Sheila typed. He talked about games, relationships, cities, negotiation, improvisation, Casablanca, conferences, and making friends. His subjects ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. But sometimes what had seemed trivial began to seem important—and what had seemed important began to seem less so.

The Chairs Are Where the People Go is refreshing, appealing, and kind of profound. It’s a self-help book for people who don’t feel they need help, and a how-to book that urges you to do things you don’t really need to do.

Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals by Caroline Wright

Quick and easy with a creative twist, here are more than 90 recipes (serving 4) that use simple techniques, fresh produce, and ready ingredients that don't sacrifice flavor or healthfulness for budget or time.  It's a whole new way to think about dinner: some nights meat and veggies; some nights a pureed soup, colorful salad, or cheesy tart.  Some nights the comfort of a perfect plate of pasta.  And every night. delicious.

For the Socially-Conscious-Activist:

Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know “the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one.” Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.

Living Room Revolution: A Handbook for Conversation. Community, and the Common Good  by Cecile Andrews

Living Room Revolution refutes the notion that selfishness is at the root of human nature. Research shows that people--given the right circumstances--can be caring, nurturing and collaborative. Presented with the opportunity, they gravitate toward actions and policies embodying empathy, fairness, and trust instead of competition, fear, and greed. The regeneration of social ties and the sense of caring and purpose that comes from creating community drive this essential transformation. At the heart of this movement is the ancient art of conversation. This book provides a practical toolkit of concrete strategies to facilitate personal and social change by bringing people together in community and conversation.  At the heart of happiness is joining with others in good talk and laughter. Each person can make a difference, and it can all start in your own living room!

For the World-Traveler:

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

Adam Gordon is a brilliant, if highly unreliable, young American poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid, struggling to establish his sense of self and his relationship to art. What is actual when our experiences are mediated by language, technology, medication, and the arts? Is poetry an essential art form, or merely a screen for the reader's projections? Instead of following the dictates of his fellowship, Adam’s “research” becomes a meditation on the possibility of the genuine in the arts and beyond: are his relationships with the people he meets in Spain as fraudulent as he fears his poems are? A witness to the 2004 Madrid train bombings and their aftermath, does he participate in historic events or merely watch them pass him by?

In prose that veers between the comic and tragic, the self-contemptuous and the inspired, Leaving the Atocha Station is a portrait of the artist as a young man in an age of Google searches, pharmaceuticals, and spectacle.

Off Track Planet's Travel Guide of the Young, Sexy, and Broke by Freddie Pikovsky and Anna

This all-encompassing travel guide features approximately 100 exciting destinations like Buenos Aires, Brazil, Columbia, Greece, and Thailand, and everything college students, grads, and those in their twenties and thirties want to know about them, including: the cities with the craziest sex shops; the best places to get a tattoo; where to check out some amazing street art; why you should try fried bugs; the best clubs to party until dawn; and much more. Broken into three parts, the first section focuses on what to do and where: food, fashion, music, sports, sex and partying, and more. The second half of the book dives into practical tips and advice on budgeting, hostels, and transportation, and the third section offers great ideas about extending your stay. Entertaining and informative, this lively guide also includes fun charts and graphs and 100 to 150 full-color photos throughout.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Read This Book

Adam says, "Read this book"...

See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid

In this brilliant and evocative new novel from Jamaica Kincaid—her first in ten years—a marriage is revealed in all its joys and agonies. This piercing examination of the manifold ways in which the passing of time operates on the human consciousness unfolds gracefully, and Kincaid inhabits each of her characters—a mother, a father, and their two children, living in a small village in New England—as they move, in their own minds, between the present, the past, and the future.

Here's what Adam has to say:

This is less a novel than an exercise in poetic monologue, in Voice and Character--a darkly playful dirge-for-marriage shot through with surprising laugh-aloud gallows humor; an engine burning the dense and dangerous fuel of bitterness; a book only for the very brave and the unhurried, for those willing to take a careful Orphic expedition through an unsettling landscape where, perhaps, nothing at all may be rescued.

In short, a middle-aged Jewish couple and their daughter and son find the family dissolving, the marriage ending, and we see it all through the eyes of the Caribbean, immigrant, writer-wife, in her abandonment.  In one sense, the novel's theme is marriage as culture shock. In another sense, as the title suggests, Kincaid's story centers around the way in which perception may become an exhausting contest between memory, the past, and the-moment-now (and woe to those who lose the battle, those who are punished with ego-incarceration, with the hell of self-torment).

With its fetish for voice, its complete rejection of plot in favor of rarefied stream-of-consciousness or phenomenological narrative, this is the sort of post-modern novel that makes you a little worried serious literature really is going the way of much contemporary poetry, very elite-minded and marginally accessible--yes, and yet it's also such a damned good read, if you have the patience, if you will not (as I was tempted to) overreact and shout: pretension! Be warned, this isn't a book you can read through with good speed, at your normal clip; the book demands that you allow it alone to call all the shots.

Kincaid has produced, here, exactly the kind of novel other writers fear to read, one with so strong a voice that it threatens to influence one's own style in an un-asked-for manner.

In the end, what is it that “See Now Then” leaves us with? Maybe just this. There are many literary references to Greek mythology, and the narrator's abandonment--as it hits home in the final section, left physically by her husband, left emotionally by her children--conveys just how awful a thing it is to be a god in whom no one any longer has faith, a deity who has lost all her worshipers. On a final, practical note: I recommend springing the extra six bucks and buying the audio book on CD, which gives you the unforgettable experience of hearing Kincaid read this work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Join Third Place Books on Bike to Work Day

Third Place Books, along with some Lake Forest Park residents and business owners, will be hosting a Bike to Work Commute Station on the Burke Gilman Trail on Friday May 17 from 6am -9pm.

Here's what's happening at our station :

Third Place Books will be giving away free Third Place Books reflectors (good for bikes, backpacks or jacket zippers).

Third Place Books will be doing drawings for over 30 cycling books and posters.

Honey Bear Bakery will be providing free coffee and snacks. 

Muscle Milk will be giving out free samples.

Bring the kids on the way to school and enter to win a copy of Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle

Drop by for some swag or just to get a high five 
(everyone can use a high five).

Our crew from last year

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What to Read after you Reread The Great Gatsby

With Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby coming to theaters this Friday, we've noticed  many customers rereading F Scott Fitzgerald or perhaps even discovering him for the first time. Jessica H recommends Delmore Schwartz's In Dreams Begin Responsibilities as a chaser to your Jazz Age indulgences. With gentle self mockery and delectable prose, Schwartz describes what it was to arrive at adulthood in the Great Depression having been raised on the decadent artistry of the 1920s. Though very much of the age in which it was written, the potent story of a generation's disillusionment and difficulties transitioning into adulthood is universal and timely. Just reissued with a gorgeous new cover from New Directions Press with a preface by Schwartz's pupil, Lou Reed, it's the perfect complement and logical next step to witnessing Gatsby's fall. Read it while floating in the pool this summer.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A "Better" Beach Read

Looking for a beach read for the sunny days ahead?  As I was shelving today, I came across this book.  Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat.  It's new in paperback, and really interesting, with a Seattle connection, and compelling story that keeps you reading.  And while I thought it was a great book, The New York Times thinks it should be your next beach read.  Here's the beginning of their blurb on the front cover...Your perfect beach book has arrived.  I guess I never thought of e. coli as beach book material.  To be honest, I've never thought of non-fiction as beach book material.

But why not?  Why can't non-fiction be a beach read?  So, here are a few more ideas for beach reads with a little more substance.

Pharmacy on a Bicycle: Innovative Solutions for Global Health and Poverty by Eric G. Bing and Marc J. Epstein

Every four minutes, over 50 children under the age of five die. In the same four minutes, 2 mothers lose their lives in childbirth. Every year, malaria kills nearly 1.2 million people, despite the fact that it can be prevented with a mosquito net and treated for less than $1.50.

In this profoundly important book, Eric G. Bing and Marc J. Epstein lay out a solution: a new kind of bottom-up health care that is delivered at the source. We need microclinics, micropharmacies, and microentrepreneurs located in the remote, hard-to-reach communities they serve. By building a new model that “scales down” to train and incentivize all kinds of health-care providers in their own villages and towns, we can create an army of on-site professionals who can prevent tragedy at a fraction of the cost of top-down bureaucratic programs.

Bing and Epstein have seen the model work, and they provide example after example of the extraordinary results it has achieved in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This is a book about taking health care the last mile—sometimes literally—to prevent widespread, unnecessary, and easily avoided death and suffering. Pharmacy on a Bicycle shows how the same forces of innovation and entrepreneurship that work in first-world business cultures can be unleashed to save the lives of millions.

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord. In June, however, with the city cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the Revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists.

Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a thirty-three year old physician named Joseph Warren who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill. Others in the cast include Paul Revere, Warren’s fiancĂ© the poet Mercy Scollay, a newly recruited George Washington, the reluctant British combatant General Thomas Gage and his more bellicose successor William Howe, who leads the three charges at Bunker Hill and presides over the claustrophobic cauldron of a city under siege as both sides play a nervy game of brinkmanship for control.

Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can't Look Away by Eric G. Wilson

Whether we admit it or not, we’re fascinated by evil. Dark fantasies, morbid curiosities, Schadenfreude: as conventional wisdom has it, these are the symptoms of our wicked side, and we succumb to them at our own peril. But we’re still compelled to look whenever we pass a grisly accident on the highway, and there’s no slaking our thirst for gory entertainments like horror movies and police procedurals. What makes these spectacles so irresistible?

In Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, the scholar Eric G. Wilson sets out to discover the source of our attraction to the gruesome, drawing on the findings of biologists, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, philosophers, theologians, and artists. A professor of English literature and a lifelong student of the macabre, Wilson believes there’s something nourishing in darkness. “To repress death is to lose the feeling of life,” he writes. “A closeness to death discloses our most fertile energies.”

His examples are legion and startling in their diversity. Citing everything from elephant graveyards and Susan Sontag’s On Photography to the Tiger Woods sex scandal and Steel Magnolias, Wilson finds heartening truths wherever he confronts death. In Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, the perverse is never far from the sublime. The result is a powerful and delightfully provocative defense of what it means to be human—for better and for worse.