Welcome to the official blog of Third Place Books

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Arrivals : It's A Book!

Today on New Arrival: It’s a Book—twins! Because we have two books we’re excited about. Only they are very different books, so we’ll consider them fraternal twins.

Sometimes at Third Place Books, we have a hard time articulating why we love a book. There are times where we just shake our heads and shove it at you saying, “Trust me.” Then there are books we can wax poetic on, practically writing you a dissertation on why it made our hearts grow three sizes. Different books require different kinds of recommendations—it’s not one size fits all. But then, there are many kinds of books and many kinds of readers in this world, and we try to cater to all of them.

First, we have The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry. When I asked my fellow bookseller Chelsea, why she loved The Fifth Petal so much her review was focused less on the actual book and more about how it made her feel to read it. To paraphrase Chelsea:
When you read it, there’s a spooky feel. Like it’s October and you’re listening to Fleetwood Mac while draped in flowy blankets. It’s light and full of magic and mystery and set in Salem. I think it will appeal to a lot of genre readers. It gave me the Stevie Nicks feels. -Chelsea
Honestly, based on that alone, I know several people who will love it. It’s set in the same world as Barry’s last book, The Lace Reader, but you don’t have to read that before you dive into The Fifth Petal.

The second book we’re featuring is This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. Emily, also at the Lake Forest Park location, will be recommending this title to book clubs. The subject is timely, the writing light, and the author local. That’s a solid trifecta right there. 
Laurie Frankel's new book is fantastic and very current. I read the whole thing in one sitting - a 336 page manuscript devoured on my phone in a clunky format, and I hate reading electronically and knew a paper copy would be on my desk within a few days. I dipped in and just couldn't stop!  It's a big-hearted novel of family, full of loveable characters that feel like friends. Frankel deals with serious social issues while keeping the tone light. Highly recommended for book clubs. -Emily
This is How It Always Is has received many starred reviews and is getting a lot of love from readers already. And honestly, I also hate reading books on my phone, so that’s really a testament to how much Emily loved it!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Arrivals : It’s a Book!

Sometimes the stars align, the planets fall into place, the heavens open, and you fall in love with a book. Nothing is better than that feeling. And then you find out that the author has another book coming out and suddenly you’re swamped by two very different and conflicting emotions. On one hand, you are excited and happy that you get more from a talented writer that speaks to you on a bone-deep level. On the other hand, what if that last book was a fluke? What if the next one doesn’t live up to everything the last book promised?

In 2015, Ottessa Moshfegh released the book Eileen to much fanfare. It was an Indie Next pick, it was short listed for the Man Booker prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and David Sedaris picked it as his recommended book for his Fall 2016 tour. Basically, Moshfegh knocked it out of the park. We had two separate staff recommendations for it:

“Oh Eileen. You are antisocial, you are untrustworthy, you are selfish and self-hating at the same time. You are obsessive, you are put-upon. The way you live your life makes my skin crawl. So why do I love you so much?” –Anje
 “A pretty wild departure from her debut (but equally excellent) novella McGlue, Eileen is a gut-wrenching journey with one of the most intriguing antiheroes I've ever encountered. Darker, complex interior lives of seedy characters are Moshfegh's stock-in-trade but that murkiness shouldn't dissuade potential readers. It is a fearless, compulsively readable novel that reads as if it's on fire.” –Wes

This week, Moshfegh’s new short story collection, Homesick for Another World, is out. And if you think Eileen got a lot of attention, people have been chomping at the bit for this collection. Why? Because Moshfegh is particularly known for her short stories. She’s been published in The Paris Review, The New Yorker and Granta. Her short stories have earned her a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Plimpton Discovery Prize, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Moshfegh has been described as our Flannery O’Conner, which is saying something. (Basically that the stories will be weird and awesome.) So if you love a great short story, this collection is for you. If you’re new to short stories, Homesick for Another World is a good place to start. Wes described it as, “The weirdness and darkness of ‘Eileen’ ratcheted up to a ten, to all of our benefits.” 

He also sent me this gif, which I assume means, “this book is number one.” You’ll just have to judge for yourself.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why, Eh? : Adventures of an Adult Reader

It's Perfectly Normal

A couple months ago I was thrown headfirst into the vast ocean that is YA reading. Instead of choking and drowning in the dark abyss ala Jack Dawson, I found myself happily treading water. Soon after,  I was wandering around the YA aisles when I saw the book A Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth. A wonderfully magnificent book that features a young gay girl as the protagonist.

WHAT? This exists?! My entire belief system was rocked. In all my time stumbling around on this earth I never once considered that there would be young adult books with queer protagonists. WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL THIS TIME?!  I suddenly felt like Scrooge McDuck, but nicer. I just wanted to fill a room with these books and swim in them all day long whilst happily cackling to myself.

Growing up, finding any positive queer representation in any sort of media was hard enough, let alone in books. In fact, the first queer YA book was published in 1969, a year when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder by the American Psychatric Association. LGBTQIA+ Americans were barred from government positions, and it was considered criminal in every state but Illinois. Since then the amount of YA queer books has grown from one a year in the 70s, to seven per year in the 90s, and now roughly 50 a year.

Before finding this paradise of inclusivity, much of the media I encountered featured queer characters and themes focusing on the pain and heartbreak that comes with being a gay kid. The general story was always that not everyone is accepting and there are garbage people out there, and sometimes they are the ones closest to you, and yeah it sucks. Its terrible and damaging and frightening and sad.

But these new YA books paint a different picture. They often include the character's "coming out" and their first same sex relationship and it's so cute and nostalgic it makes my teeth rot. The great thing about  reading these now, is seeing that it is seriously okay. You'll find your own family, and you'll find people who love and support you. With all the garbage happening lately, it's critical to show that not every queer story is a tragedy. When the real world is cruel to queer people, especially queer and trans people of color, then it seems even more important to imagine worlds where it is not. It is essential to carve out spaces where being queer and happy are not seen as mutually exclusive. Of course we need stories that represent our struggles, but we also need stories to nourish us, and to comfort us in times of grief and pain.

Living in a world, even an imaginary one, centered around heterosexual love perpetuates the false and frankly dangerous belief that heterosexulaity is the norm, and anything else is alien, strange, other. Instead of reinforcing this, we should be eradicating it. There is something immensely powerful in recognizing yourself in all types of media. Diversity in YA provides role models for marginalized teens, but also creates empathy for people different than ourselves. Empathy is such a powerful tool in the fight against intolerance and bigotry. These books help with learning what it means to be a social creature, to understand how and where we fit in society.

YA books are a  microcosm for our society, because they are geared toward the next generation. The changes in YA literature reflect changes in our world. And sexuality isn’t something that springs up on people in their mid twenties. Its something we are born with. When hormones kick in and we all start frantically trying to figure out how our bodies work, queer people are trying to figure out if their longings are important in addition to all the everyday angst. This shouldn't be something queer kids finally stumble upon in their 20s while researching for a blog post. This should be something they get to read about as they're experiencing it. Instead of leaving them out in the cold these books can show them that their longings are universal. They're not lonely or isolated, they're just like everyone else, and they belong.


Courtney's Ultimate List of the Queerest Books 

Everything Leads To You by Nina Lacour
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Bi-Normal by M.G Higgins
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

I Am J by Cris Beam
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Boy Robot Simon Curtis

Brooklyn Burning by Steve Brezenoff
Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall
None of The Above by I. W. Gregorio

Guardian of The Dead by Karen Healey
How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Arrivals : It's a Book!

There is a bit of a curse in being a book lover—there are many, many books in this world and try though you might, you can't read all of them. I’m occasionally struck by an overwhelming dread about this fact, and I know I’m not alone. The thing is, even if you’re not on an epic quest to read every book ever written, there are still so many books and more come out every Tuesday. How do you choose?

It is a wonderful and horrible problem to have—this indecision, but we here at Third Place Books would like to help you out a little bit by highlighting our favorite new releases, on New Release Tuesday.

So here we go!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale begins with Vasya and her sibling huddled around a fireplace as their nurse spins tales about Frost, the winter demon. Arden’s voice and world building is strong—she envelops you with sensory details of Vasilisa’s world. Reading the opening pages you can almost feel the sharp bite of cold as you come in from outside. The fire is warm, the smell of honey cakes redolent in the air, and the creaky, worn voice of the storyteller beckons you to sit closer. The story is rich with fairy tale elements, but also steadied by the reality of 14th century Russia.
My coworker, Vlad, states it more eloquently:
What struck me from the very first paragraph in The Bear and the Nightingale was the confidence of the writing; I was immediately pulled into a liminal space, between historical and fable. The lives of Vasya and her family, and their medieval Russian culture are painted in evocative detail, and yet Arden effortlessly slips the reader into this fantastical layer of ancient spirits large and small that permeates the Russian countryside.
The book draws from a wealth of folklore and fable without losing a certain modern appeal: Vasya's struggle as a young woman against a strict patriarchal tradition; the clash between faiths—the old beliefs versus Christianity; the ageless human urges and failings, vanity, deceit, lust, fear.

Arden's prose itself is lively and engaging, and bolsters the intricate balance of her story.

There is, in fact, a heady richness to the novel, and it’s especially remarkable when you consider that the book is Arden’s debut. The Bear and the Nightingale immediately puts her into good company—the book is being likened to the works of Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, and Naomi Novik. I would recommend her for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s books as well.
And luckily, this book is just the first course. The Bear and the Nightingale is the first book in a three book series, so you have more to look forward to. The book hits the shelves today, so come on down and take a peek. (Or you can even take a sneak peek on Katherine Arden’s website as she has some excerpts posted!)