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Monday, August 29, 2016

When Nobody Loves the Book You Love

Have you ever watched your child perform really poorly? Like you're at the soccer field and your kid can't even drink his Gatorade without spilling it all down his front, let alone run fast or kick the ball with any sort of accuracy? How about a television show you love being cancelled after one season? Or when they stop making your favorite brand of novelty breakfast cereal (you broke my heart Rice Krispies Treats Cereal)? All of those feelings of sadness, disappointment, abandonment, and unfairness...those are the feelings I feel every day when I walk by the book I love and you haven't bought it yet. 

Only I feel all those feelings times one million.

I bet you didn't think bookselling involved such angst and anguish. Well, it does, and it's mostly your fault. You see, I read this book, this book I really loved. I told people about it. I staff picked it. I put it on Instagram. It featured on one of our monthly theme tables. But you didn't care. You ignored it. It's like I'm shouting to an empty room. Or a room filled with angry people trying to read the books they bought instead of the book I'm suggesting.

So here's my last ditch effort, and if a hastily crafted, marginally edited blog post won't convince you to buy it, I guess I'm not very good at my job. Fair warning, I'm not above some pretty dubious tactics. Like pilfering words from this New York Times Book Review by Leonard Pitts Jr.:
 The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter... a narrative that sweeps forward (and then back) between World War II and the first decade of the new millennium, touching on the civil rights movement, AIDS, deaf culture, lynching, love and sexuality, that emotional terrain remains the book’s bedrock.
...what Corthron does best in this book. She blindsides you. She sneaks up from behind. Sometimes, it is with moments of humor, but more often with moments of raw emotional power — moments whose pathos feels hard-earned and true.
The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter is a big book that has a lot — arguably too much — on its mind. But it succeeds admirably in a novel’s first and most difficult task: It makes you give a damn. It also does well by a novel’s second task: It sends you away pondering what it has to say.
What he said. 

And what's a little plagarism compared to the exploitation of a good friend's emotional health and job stability? Because, I haven't been entirely unable to sell this book, in fact I convinced a friend to read it and she loved it. She loved it so much she had to call in sick while she was reading it. She couldn't wait to finish and refused to read at work because she didn't want to cry in front of coworkers. Those are real emotions people.

I will even do the thing I hate most about bookselling: the comparison. Here goes:
If you loved Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life, then you will love The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter even more. They are both super long, super big books. 10 pounds each. Serious. Both have these characters your heart will break for. And both will make you weep. Castle Cross just does it WAY better.
And last but not least... I understand the importance of cover design, so I have updated the original cover with everyone's favorite things in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience.

All joking aside. The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter is a beautiful book. A sprawling, messy, sweeping epic. It gives you the chance to burrow in and really connect with the characters. Weirdly, Kia Corthron does a lot of things I usually hate: child narrators, dialects, switching perspectives, jumping through time. But in her hands they become this perfect conduit for a heartbreaking tale of race, sexuality, disability, familial strife, and the power of brotherhood. These pages deal with a lot of hate, sadness, and confusion but there's also a lot of courage and love here too. I wish this book were 800 more pages, and then 800 more after that.

Please read it. Don't let it be the book on the sidelines with Gatorade all down its front.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

I was recently at the local cinema seeing a great art house piece, Ghostbusters. Perhaps you've heard of it? The movie was fantastic. Obviously. But the previews were pretty great too. And three of them are books!

For a book lover, I'm unusually unfazed by movie adaptations. I'm not the type to say, "the book is always better," because they really are two separate entities. But that doesn't mean an upcoming movie release won't compel me to read the book. Sometimes movie release schedules fairly dictate my to-read pile. Like right now.

Three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare with Iraqi insurgents has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. Now they're on a media-intensive nationwide tour to reinvigorate support for the war. On this rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside Destiny's Child.

Among the Bravos is Specialist Billy Lynn. Surrounded by patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers, he is thrust into the company of the Cowboys' owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Over the course of this day, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow impossible though it seems they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Going for Gold

I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes and I'm not saying that booksellers can't be athletes, or that we aren't interested in sports or the Olympics, what I am saying is that literary prizes are usually more important to us than say who wins bronze in road biking.** So instead of honoring the greatest athletes in the world and all their feats of strength and agility, we are honoring the greatest writers in the world.

This month at Lake Forest Park we are featuring Literature Nobel Prize winners from all different countries. Because the great thing about the Nobel Prize is that it is awarded across all nations. They even get a medal. Just like the Olympics! Imagine an Author Olympics. Speed Editing! Synchronized Plot Development! Water Outlining! 

Check out our beautiful display all month long. We'll be playing various national anthems over the PA system. Actually, we won't.

**Except pentathlon. That's something I care deeply about

And if you are a bigger sports fan that we are, check out this new history of the Olympics:

The Games : A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt

For millions of people around the world, the Summer and Winter Games are a joy and a treasure, but how did they develop into a global colossus? How have they been buffeted by and, in turn, affected by world events? Why do we care about them so much?

From the reinvention of the Games in Athens in 1896 to Rio in 2016, best-selling sportswriter David Goldblatt brilliantly traces their history through national triumphs and tragedies, individual victories and failures. Here is the story of grand Olympic traditions such as winners medals, the torch relay, and the eternal flame. Here is the story of popular Olympic events such as gymnastics, the marathon, and alpine skiing (as well as discontinued ones like tug-of-war). And here in all their glory are Olympic icons from Jesse Owens to Nadia Comaneci, Abebe Bikila to Bob Beamon, the Dream Team to Usain Bolt.

Hailed in the Wall Street Journal for writing about sports with the expansive eye of a social and cultural critic, Goldblatt goes beyond the medal counts to tell how women fought to be included in the Olympics on equal terms, how the wounded of World War II led to the Paralympics, and how the Olympics reflect changing attitudes to race and ethnicity. He explores the tensions between the Games amateur ideals and professionalization and commercialism in sports, the pitched battles between cities for the right to host the Games, and their often disappointing economic legacy. And in covering such seminal moments as Jesse Owens and Hitler at Berlin in 1936, the Black Power salute at Mexico City in 1968, the massacre of Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972, and the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid in 1980, Goldblatt shows how prominently the modern Olympics have highlighted profound domestic and international conflicts.

Illuminated with dazzling vignettes from over a century of the Olympics, this stunningly researched and engagingly written history captures the excitement, drama, and kaleidoscopic experience of the Games.

And last but not least, by far my favorite thing to come out of the Rio Olympics:

- Erin