Thursday, November 5, 2009
Back on my Soapbox
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 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.
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 Powells.com 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!