Thursday, November 5, 2009

Back on my Soapbox

Mr. Bubble Box vintage Bath

Hi all,

Now that Halloween is out of the way, I want to alert you to the next Major Holiday: NATIONAL BOOKSTORE DAY on November 7th!

I know, you probably thought I was going to say Thanksgiving, right? Well, this is a way of giving thanks to your local independent bookseller who works hard to ensure you have good books to read and reference, who builds your community, who, in my opinion, makes the world go 'round. Sure, you can go to Wal-Mart or Target or Amazon, but they are literally (no pun intended) killing the book business, turning books into product instead of enrichment. And killing off these jewels of independent bookstores, and a world without them will be bleak. I'm sorry, but can you imagine going into Wal-Mart and asking, "My friend is in the hospital and I want to get her a good, lighthearted book to read that will take her mind off things. What can you recommend?" or "What was that book... [snap snap snap]It was in the Sunday Times about two weeks ago..." or "Do you have that book, um, it's blue..." (And yes. These were all questions people asked me when I worked in a bookstore. My favorite: "Do you have a book on glands?" Yeah. We did.) And Amazon? People get blinded by discounts, and trust me. They recommend books for you, but they don't know you -- but they sure have your credit card number on file.

If you've been reading this blog for a while (or shall I say, bearing with the inconsistent posts), you know it's something I am so passionate about. See here. I am deeply worried that these booksellers are going under, and that print itself is going to be extinct. (But I'm not even going to get into the e-book discussion. That's a whole 'nother can o' worms.)

So come and do your part -- visit your local bookseller on Saturday and show them some love! Many stores are having events and specials, so it promises to be fun and rewarding. For more information, here's an excellent article with the chilling last line: Books make great gifts. Go to your favorite bookstore this Saturday and buy someone a gift in commemoration of National Bookstore Day. While you still can.

So... allow me to step into my old bookseller role and recommend some gems:

Olive Kitteride by Elizabeth Strout. I just finished this last night. Beautiful, astute, and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. But don't let that stop you.

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos. Another Pulitzer winner -- and one of my all time favorites. The movie was an abomination, as they usually are, but the book is wonderful.

Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson. I LOVED this book. I cried when I was finished, and STILL miss the characters.

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. You know how there are those books that you wish you could recapture the magic of reading for the very first time because it was so special? This one is mine.

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore. I just finished her latest one a few days ago, and it was beautifully crafted, but this collection is a masterpiece. She leaves me breathless at what an amazing writer and wordsmith she is.

The Yokota Officer's Club by Sarah Bird. This is a book I bought for the cover, and judged correctly. It's fabulous.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. You don't have to be a teenager to appreciate and be moved by this Young Adult novel -- it blew me away.

wolf boy
Wolf Boy by Evan Kuhlman. Jon was reading this part graphic novel, part coming of age story, and I picked it up to see what it was all about. He didn't get it back until I was finished reading it -- it only took a few days because I loved it so much.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. You don't have to be a comic book nerd to succumb to the utter joy of this book. Chabon is an excellent writer and his recent interview on NPR about his comic book club made me teary. I also saw him at a local restaurant a few weeks ago. Whatever, just read it.

idiot girls
The Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro. OMG, I LOVE these books. They made me laugh out loud and write her a fan email and we totally became friends on myspace. LOVE HER.

Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules, edited by David Sedaris. I hope to God you have read David Sedaris by now. (If not, don't wait til Nat'l Bookstore Day, GO NOW.) But you may or may not know about this collection of his favorite stories he edited and introduced, proving that Mr. Sedaris is not only an excellent writer, but he has excellent taste as well.

ANYTHING BY DOROTHY PARKER. I totally stole this beautiful image from somewhere on the internet. But it represents my favorite writer (next to Judy Blume). She may be my biggest influence in life. Which may or may not be a good thing. Pick up some of her books and judge for yourself. (And her biography, "What Fresh Hell is This" by Marion Meade is the best biography I've ever read.)

College Girls by Lynn Peril. This book needs to be given to every woman to show that yes, we have come a long way, babies. And never, ever take your education for granted. But it's not a lecture, it's an excellent and entertaining read by one of my favorite authors, whom you may recognize from her monthly column in BUST Magazine.

Pink Think by Lynn Peril. Another Peril, another favorite. Women and men alike should read this book. Peril writes about women's history in a way that doesn't make you feel uncomfortable or bored or that you signed up for a class -- she makes it accessible and makes you think. (But not Pink Think.) An utterly fantastic -- and Important -- book.

Alligators, Old Mink and New Money by Alison and Melissa Houtte. For all you vintage girls out there -- I adored this book. It was the closest account of working in a vintage store that was like the shop I worked in for many years, and it made me sweetly nostalgic and inspired. I think any fans of vintage would enjoy it.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart. Another recommendation for the vintage ladies out there, this sweet book is the story of Mrs. hart's summer working at "The Mothership" (as I call it) during the 40's. especially poignant is the chapter in which WWII ends and New York becomes a victory party.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. I'd be remiss not to mention this one, one of my all time favorite books. If you've only seen the movie, go out and get this book. I guarantee, it will change your mind. the movie, even with Audrey Hepburn's gorgeous splendor, is NOTHING compared to this book. (And Mickey Rooney is an abomination.) This may be one of the most well-crafted books I've ever read. And my God. LOOK at this new cover!

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Truman Capote's best friend. And this is the most perfect book ever written. Don't argue. Even if you haven't read it since you were forced to in Freshman English, revisit it. You're welcome.

Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress. Going along with the Southern theme, this book is so wonderful, and like "Mambo Kings," the movie was a despicable piece of garbage. Erase the memory. Read the book. Fall in love with Pee-Joe.

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. You didn't think you could say "South" and "literature" and NOT mention Miss Flannery? She is the High Priestess of Southern Gothic and odd humor, and I love her so much it makes my toes curl. The title story is the best short story I have ever read, possibly ever written. You will never forget it.

Carolinas, Georgia and The South Trips, Lonely Planet. And what a dream it would be to take a Southern road trip and go to all the places in these books. And not just in the South -- Lonely Planet has 6 of these guides for all over the US. And about a jillion guides for all over the world. Lonely Planet is the best travel guidebook and source. Seriously.

Okay, that's enough --sorry I got so carried away! There are so many more I could tell you about, but these were all off the top of my head.

So please go on Saturday to your local independent bookstore. And if you can't make it, there are online options (not Amazon, it defeats the purpose) -- I heard that is running a National Bookstore Day special, and you can also check with indie bound.

I know, it's kind of sad that we even have to declare National Bookstore Day, because every day should be National Bookstore Day and we shouldn't need to worry. But we gotta do what we gotta do... and I'm happy to do this. Pass it along and hope you make it out to your local bookseller -- it's a win win!

Thanks, all. Off the Soapbox now!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Na-No-No-No... for me anyway.

Ohhh, November 1st. How did you get here so quickly?

When I was little, I loved November 1st because it was the official start of CHRISTMAS. My best friend Monica and I would dump out our Halloween candy onto the living room floor and sort it into A, B, and "Give it to Dad Because He Likes The Gross Candy" piles, all while listening to Bert Kaempfert's "Christmas Wonderland" on 8-track and maniacally plotting our Christmas lists. (And making up dance routines to "Sleigh Ride." We were eating A LOT of sugar.)

goodbye halloween, helllllooo christmas!
the gateway album

Apparently, Target et al thinks it's the start of Christmas, too, because I've gotten quite a few emails today about it. (Free Shipping!) But t'is the season for something way more important and interesting. (And Free Everything!)

Today is the kickoff for NaBloPoMo -- National Blog Posting Month. Each day, for 30 days, participants must blog. (For more info, go here: NaNoBloMo) I really hope you all sign up and do it! While I love the whole idea, I will be doing y'all a favor and NOT doing it -- can you imagine if you had to read this junk 30 days in a row? Ohhh, I could write at you for 30 days in a row, sure, but it would all be mundane stuff you don't want to read about, like what I ate for dinner or what I wore to work or what I'm listening to. Oh. Whoops.

And it's also the kickoff for National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo) -- and this I highly recommend. For the month of November, you WRITE WRITE WRITE, every day... and the goal is a 50,000 word novel. (For more info, please go here: NaNoWriMo Official Website) Sounds crazy I know, right? But I'm telling you, it's the most wonderful thing in the world. Because yeah, I'm totally lame and Unaccomplished in Many Areas (I kill houseplants, remember), but I actually Accomplished this. And it's one of the best things I ever did.


I did it when I had just graduated and was still unemployed, so I had the time and no excuse. And every morning I woke up and started writing. I actually couldn't wait to get up and start, which is a far cry from my usual mornings. I logged in my word count on the website every day. (And as you can tell from this blog, I have no problem being long-winded and wordy.) And on November 30th, I had 50,000 plus words, and a week after that I had an entire novel written. I remember driving to my friends' house that night and blasting "Rosemary" by The Dickies (my inspiration song), and I could not stop smiling and squealing. If they could bottle that feeling I had, we'd all be hooked and no one would ever be sad again. And my friend Leslie and I went to the wrap up party at The Rickshaw Stop and I got a NaNoWriMo tee shirt and a sash and we drank cocktails and danced to Hey Ya by Outkast with people I had absolutely nothing in common with, except that we had all written novels. And it was AWESOME.

I'm not going participate this year, but instead I am going to pull out that Long-Neglected and Very Bad Novel and re-read it and start to edit it. (Writing's the fun part. Editing makes me think that being skinned alive sounds more fun.) So for the next thirty days, I am going to get back into the spirit, and see what I can do with it, if anything. I am going to listen to "Rosemary" by The Dickies to bring back that moment of triumph and inspiration, and instead of cringing and collapsing Word when I run into a particularly spectacular gaffe, I am going to soldier on. (And cringe anyway.)

But hey, no matter what, I still can say that I Wrote A Novel, and that is fantastic. And I encourage all of you to do the same. Because seriously? If I can, so can you.

So for all you NaNoBloMoWriMos out there -- best of luck! I know you can do it!

(And here is Rosemary by The Dickies, a perfect, happy pop song for your listening and inspirational pleasure. Be sure to have a song of your own -- it's IMPORTANT.)

Now get going! Yay!!!!