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!


Kori said...

These are great recommendations! I am going to purchase quite a few. Great post! Thanks for informing people about the danger of non-printed books. As an English teacher, my life would be completely empty without books. I cannot imagine a society with only e print books. Keep up the good work girl...stay on that soapbox lol. Kori xoxo

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

I concur with Blondie. Thank you for the GREAT recommendations. Can't wait to get started! Thought you should know I have already read Breakfast at Tiffany's, Summer at Tiffany, the Flanery and a bit o' Dot Parker. Also have read lots of D. Sedaris, but not the one you listed - yay! Will def check at NaNo ... whatever it was. Ta!

Roxanne said...

Thanks for the list! I'd already read several (LOVED the Houtte one), but I'm off to check into some of the others.

The book(s) by Notaro are at the top of my list. They look hilarious.

Delinquent said...

Yay, Wolf Boy!!

Lynn Peril said...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Karen!!! I loved the whole post, in fact, though it makes me so sad that we've come to the point where it had to be written. I will visit my local independent bookstore tomorrow--and light a candle in memory of Stacey's, Schwartz's, Cody's, and all the rest. Where, I wonder, will I have my next reading now that all these wonderful stores who supported me are gone?

Sparkleneely said...

Hi Blondie! I'm so happy to hear that... tell me what you get! And oh boy. I bet we could talk A LOT about the whole Kindle/ e-book thing going on... Sigh. But I'll keep up the good fight, and read the good books, and follow the good blogs like yours! ;)

Tessa Darling -- of course you have!!! I knew you were a woman of good taste. And I'd love to hear your recommendations sometime, soon. And Happy Your Brother's Birthday!

Hi Roxanne! Oh, Laurie Notaro will keep you laughing and warm in that "bunker" of yours -- enjoy! And so glad you loved the Houtte one, too!

Sparkleneely said...

Delinquent -- Yay for you for bringing it home!

Lynn -- my pleasure! It's a scary, scary thing. Authors won't have places to read, much less anywhere to sell their books. Borders is closing 200 Walden stores. Think of all those jobs... and publishing is so sad right now. Support your favorite authors and brick and mortars! xoxo

Sparkleneely said...

OH! And --, way better than Amazon, is having a special this weekend -- type in the code LONELYPLANET2009 and get 10% off your whole order! Yay!!!!

Feel free to pass it along!


Unknown said...

Thank you for this fantastic post! I love the recommendations and think I'm going to take a little break tomorrow from my packing to buy Cavalier and Clay at an Indie Bookstore. I've been wanting to read it for so long! Also, I think it's high time I read one of Lynn's, don't you?

Michael said...

Good for you. We need passion like that. I am at such a store right now in fact adn totally agree with you.

Sparkleneely said...

Amy -- I hope you made it out! And no worries, EVERY DAY is National Bookstore Day, right? And there's always POWELLS! :)

mmm -- that's great! And great minds think alike. ;)

So yesterday, I went to 3 bookstores. At the first one, when I mentioned the discount/ nat'l bookstore day (they sent an email), the girl was happy and said, "You're the first one!" It was 2pm, which was sad. they didn't have the book I wanted, so I went to the sister store, owned by the same people. I found a book I wanted and when I brought it to the counter and mentioned the email, the TOTAL "I'm so punk rock" attitude jerk behind the counter said in his affected way, "What is that. I've never heard of it" and made me feel stupid. Total IDIOT, and made me not want to go back there -- I swear, some of these stores suffer because of their pretentious staff. Ugh. Just thinking about it and him makes me pissed. But then I went to another store down the street, and they had a letter from the mayor, cookies, a giveaway... it did my heart glad. I special ordered the book I was looking for, and will go to that store instead of the other one from here on out, as long as that guy is working there, anyway!

But ANYWAY, I got some good stuff! Yay!

Anonymous said...

So after departing from you guys, we hit our Piedmont bookshop because I had to get something. I ended up picking up a copy of that Michael Chabon book (although used). Then, today I read your blog for the first time in a long time and see it on your book list! Random!

But I am inspired to buy more NEW books at the local bookshops around here.


martine said...

Hi, I stopped and read further because I am just reading Olive Kitteridge and really enjoying it. Thanks so much for the recommendations, there is definitely a book mark going on this page.
much love Martine

Anonymous said...


JO PETERS said...

Hi Megan !
Absolutely LOVE your book reviews. I have read one of Laurie Notaro's books but not any of the others you listed.. guess I have to get busy, because they all look great. I have been too long with law reviews and outlines.. and seriously need just plain good reading. And thanks for being a follower of mine.. maybe you will check out my black and white cookies posted today..
JO Peters,

Sparkleneely said...

Carlos -- I'm so glad! Every day is National Bookstore Day!

Martine -- that is wonderful! Have you finished it yet? I hope you enjoy these treasures as much as I have... and if YOU have any recommendations, let me know!

Jo -- whoops! I'm not Megan (but I love Megan)... and any fan of Laurie Notaro is a friend of mine. Looking forward to checking out your blog!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! xoxo

Anonymous said...

God helps those who help themselves........................................

sanjeet said...

I cannot imagine a society with only e print books. Keep up the good work girl...stay on that soapbox

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Empress Jade Vintage said...

I totally agree that we need to support our independent bookstores.... Hell it's important for our communities to support local business!!!

We've been seduced by the slick marketing, and cheap prices of the big box retailers and need to realize what we give up when we shop at those stores.... Knowledgeable staff, meaningful customer service, and selection of books that goes beyond the latest pulp paperback.


Anonymous said...


prashant said...

I cannot imagine a society with only e print books. Keep up the good work girl...stay on that soapbox

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Sparkleneely said...

Thanks for all the comments, you guys! And thanks for all your support of our national treausres, the brick and mortar bookshops.

And did anyone read any of these recommendations? What did you think?



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