The long awaited and much lauded return from Donna Tartt. Seriously, people are raving about this.
A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld. Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art.
This one is my personal favorite for the week. It's hilarious, insightful, and infuriating. Just like the website. There's a reason these ladies rule the internet. Check out this excellent write up from The Huffington Post. And don't miss Anna Holmes and Lindy West at Town Hall on November 7th!
We love your used books! Especially when you forget to take your bookmarks out before you sell them to us. The number of bookmarks we have rescued is astounding. And probably much, much less than the number of bookmarks we have passed on to the new purchaser of your old used book. We've seen it all. Here's a quick list of some of the more popular bookmarks.
money (usually foreign currency)
actually fancy bookmarks
old photos (photo booth photos are my favorite!)
bookmarks from other bookstores (those are especially fun...just to see how far the book has traveled)
At Ravenna, we've started a collection of these old and forgotten page-keepers. You'll find them in a basket on the used book counter. And you're more than welcome to take one home. Help these bookmarks fulfill their bookmark destiny.
And don't forget our used book sale coming up. 40% off all used books. November 9th and 10th. Both locations
Short stories have been my preferred reading material lately. There is something poetic and impressive about the short story. I really do believe that it takes much more talent to write a great short story than it takes to write a novel... even a great novel. That being said, short stories are a hard sell among our customers. People seem to prefer a big, old novel they can sink their teeth into, but they're ignoring the beauty and genius to be found in a well-written collection of stories.
I'm hoping that Alice Munro's Nobel win will generate some much needed hype for the oft forgotten short story. While every bookstore in the country waits to get Alice Munro's books back in stock, try this amazing collection that I just read and fell in love with.
Amor and Psycho by Carolyn Cooke
From the author of Daughters of the Revolution and The Bostons (winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for fiction) come eleven stories about sex and death, violence and desire, love and madness, set in a vast American landscape that ranges from the largest private residence in Manhattan to the lush rain forests and marijuana farms of Northern California.
In “Francis Bacon,” an aspiring writer learns essential lessons from an aging pornographer. In “The Snake,” a restless Jungian analyst sheds one existence after another. In “The Boundary,” a muralist falls in love with a troubled boy from the rez. In the surreal “She Bites,” a man builds an architecturally distinguished doghouse as his wife slowly transforms. And in the transcendent, three-part title story, two best friends face their strange fates, linked by a determination to wrest meaning and coherence from lives spiraling out of control.
At once philosophical and compulsively readable, Amor and Psycho dives into our darkest spaces, confronting the absurdity, poetry and brutality of human existence.
Here's my review:
Once in awhile you come across an author who shifts your belief about what is possible; about what the written word can do and what a short ten page story can make you feel. Carolyn Cooke is one of those authors. And Amor and Psycho will blow your mind.
It's dark and sexy. A little violent, and surprisingly funny at some of the most inappropriate moments. Like life, I guess.
She isn't timid in her exploration of the terrifying things we face everyday. Illness, poverty, misogyny, isolation; it's all in here. But minus the bleakness you would expect. Cooke's genius is her ability to connect you to characters and situations far afield from your own life and infuse your experience with compassion, solidarity, and humor. Add her acrobatic, razor sharp writing and BLAMO! mind blown.
Fall is my favorite season; October, my favorite month; and Halloween, my favorite excuse to eat candy. It's also my favorite time of year to read. It's blustery and gloomy, and the days are growing shorter. There's nothing like curling up under a blanket on a chilly autumn night to read a book. Here is a short list of some of my favorite fall reads
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate. This edition features a new introduction by Jonathan Lethem.
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape. A haunting, gripping story based on actual historical events, The Terror is a novel that will chill you to your core.
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.
The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.
The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.
Daphne du Maurier wrote some of the most compelling and creepy novels of the twentieth century. In books like Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and Jamaica Inn she transformed the small dramas of everyday life—love, grief, jealousy—into the stuff of nightmares. Less known, though no less powerful, are her short stories, in which she gave free rein to her imagination in narratives of unflagging suspense.
Patrick McGrath’s revelatory new selection of du Maurier’s stories shows her at her most chilling and most psychologically astute: a dead child reappears in the alleyways of Venice; routine eye surgery reveals the beast within to a meek housewife; nature revolts against man’s abuse by turning a benign species into an annihilating force; a dalliance with a beautiful stranger offers something more dangerous than a broken heart. McGrath draws on the whole of du Maurier’s long career and includes surprising discoveries together with famous stories like “The Birds.” Don’t Look Now is a perfect introduction to a peerless storyteller.
When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.
But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.
The chilling classic stories gathered here offer a remarkable variety of approaches to the theme of haunting. Revenge comes from beyond the grave in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Body-Snatcher,” while visions of the dead come between the living in Henry James’s “The Friends of the Friends.” P. G. Wodehouse gives us a farcical take on the haunted house in “Honeysuckle Cottage,” and in L. P. Hartley’s “W.S.,” a writer is fatally stalked by his own aggrieved creation.
Here are ghosts of every stripe and intent in stories from writers as varied as Elizabeth Bowen and Jorge Luis Borges, Eudora Welty and Vladimir Nabokov, Ray Bradbury and Edith Wharton, among others. In the hands of these masters, the ghost story ranges far beyond mere horror to encompass comedy and tragedy, pathos and drama, and even a touch of poetry.
We all know that underdogs can win-that's what the David versus Goliath legend tells us, and we've seen it with our own eyes. Or have we? In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, with his unparalleled ability to grasp connections others miss, uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty, the powerful and the dispossessed. Gladwell examines the battlefields of Northern Ireland and Vietnam, takes us into the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, and digs into the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms-all in an attempt to demonstrate how fundamentally we misunderstand the true meaning of advantages and disadvantages. When is a traumatic childhood a good thing? When does a disability leave someone better off? Do you really want your child to go to the best school he or she can get into? Why are the childhoods of people at the top of one profession after another marked by deprivation and struggle?
Drawing upon psychology, history, science, business, and politics, David and Goliath is a beautifully written book about the mighty leverage of the unconventional. Millions of readers have been waiting for the next Malcolm Gladwell book. That wait is over.
The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run record, which would culminate on September 30 with his sixtieth blast, one of the most resonant and durable records in sports history. In between those dates a Queens housewife named Ruth Snyder and her corset-salesman lover garroted her husband, leading to a murder trial that became a huge tabloid sensation. Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole in Newark, New Jersey, for twelve days—a new record. The American South was clobbered by unprecedented rain and by flooding of the Mississippi basin, a great human disaster, the relief efforts for which were guided by the uncannily able and insufferably pompous Herbert Hoover. Calvin Coolidge interrupted an already leisurely presidency for an even more relaxing three-month vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The gangster Al Capone tightened his grip on the illegal booze business through a gaudy and murderous reign of terror and municipal corruption. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed and forever changed the motion picture industry. The four most powerful central bankers on earth met in secret session on a Long Island estate and made a fateful decision that virtually guaranteed a future crash and depression.
All this and much, much more transpired in that epochal summer of 1927, and Bill Bryson captures its outsized personalities, exciting events, and occasional just plain weirdness with his trademark vividness, eye for telling detail, and delicious humor. In that year America stepped out onto the world stage as the main event, and One Summer transforms it all into narrative nonfiction of the highest order.
A great American writer’s confrontation with a great European critic—a personal and intellectual awakening.
A hundred years ago, the Viennese satirist Karl Kraus was among the most penetrating and farsighted writers in Europe. In his self-published magazine, Die Fackel, Kraus brilliantly attacked the popular media’s manipulation of reality, the dehumanizing machinery of technology and consumer capitalism, and the jingoistic rhetoric of a fading empire. But even though he had a fervent following, which included Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin, he remained something of a lonely prophet, and few people today are familiar with his work. Luckily, Jonathan Franzen is one of them.
In The Kraus Project, Franzen, whose “calm, passionate critical authority” has been praised in The New York Times Book Review, not only presents his definitive new translations of Kraus but annotates them spectacularly, with supplementary notes from the Kraus scholar Paul Reitter and the Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann. Kraus was a notoriously cantankerous and difficult writer, and in Franzen he has found his match: a novelist unafraid to voice unpopular opinions strongly, a critic capable of untangling Kraus’s often dense arguments to reveal their relevance to contemporary America.
While Kraus is lampooning the iconic German poet and essayist Heinrich Heine and celebrating his own literary hero, the Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy, Franzen is annotating Kraus the way Kraus annotated others, surveying today’s cultural and technological landscape with fearsome clarity, and giving us a deeply personal recollection of his first year out of college, when he fell in love with Kraus’s work. Painstakingly wrought, strikingly original in form, The Kraus Project is a feast of thought, passion, and literature.