Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Join the Revolution Tonight!

Tonight at 7 pm at Broadway Books, Oregonian senior political reporter Jeff Mapes will be here to read from his new book, Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities, published by Oregon State University Press. This book has stormed out of the gate. The publisher reports that the first printing has already sold out! (But not to worry; you can still get copies from us.) And one of our regulars called to say that reading this book had changed the way she views the world around her. In a world of increasing traffic congestion, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on city streets. And that means increased interaction and communication between drivers and riders. What will that interaction be like? Pedaling Revolution explores the growing bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities, suburbs, and small towns across North America. In chapters that focus on big cities, college towns, and America's most successful bike city -- Portland -- Mapes shows how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are claiming a share of the valuable streetscape. Please come join us!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Living the Healthy Life

How great was it seeing our new First Lady putting shovel to ground to help break ground for the White House's first full-fledged vegetable garden since the victory garden Eleanor Roosevelt planted during WWII?!? "Let's hear it for vegetables," she said. Let's hear it for fruits." On March 20th, Michelle Obama, along with about two dozen fifth graders from a near-by elementary school, prepared the soil for planting. Obama has spoken often about the importance of nutritious eating, so taking this step was important for her -- both as a symbol for the nation and to encourage her own young daughters to eat more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

The 1100-square-foot plot will produce a variety of fruits and vegetables that will help feed the Obamas, as well as guests at official functions. The entire first family -- including the president -- will be expected to pull weeds and harvest crops. And, in case you were wondering, President John Adams planted the first garden in 1800.

If you want to show your solidarity -- and commitment to health and sustainability -- by planting your own fruits and vegetables but need a little guidance, we've got lots of books to help you along your way. Come check out our gardening section -- and if you don't see what you're looking for, just ask; we can probably order it for you lickety-split.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Your Chance to Be Heard

Last month I wrote about the proposed name change to Broadway. (Click here to read it.) Tomorrow night, Monday, is the public hearing in front of the Historian Panel to discuss the historic significance of Broadway. The meeting will take place at the Metro Building (600 NE Grand, upstairs in the council chambers) at 6 pm. If you would like to come and speak your mind, you're welcome to do so. Or if you're just interested in attending to hear what is said or express your support one way or another, you're welcome to do that as well. Click here to go to the official City of Portland site about the proposed street name change.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

National Book Award winner, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, out in paperback (finally!)

The title may be a bit of a mouthful, but Sherman Alexie's latest young adult novel (finally, finally out in paperback), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, will make you want to devour it whole in mere seconds--it's just that tasty. I'm always hesitant to assign the term "young adult" to any book for fear that it will stigmatize it for potential "adult" readers; so please take heed that this book is for any one of any age who has gone through or is currently suffering through the whirlwind of emotions, hormones and drama that we call "growing up."

The story's narrator, Junior, was born on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and let's just say that poor Junior was born plagued by such a multitude of medical anomalies that it's a wonder he can perform even the most basic physical acts, let alone form coherent sentences. But, form coherent sentences he does (and laugh-out-loud funny ones at that), and through his diary entries, which are complemented by Junior's own comic drawings, we follow a small chunk of his teen life on the rez. Determined to get a good education, our Junior decides to leave the reservation school and attend an all-white school in a neighboring town. He is so determined, in fact, that even though his parents are rarely sober enough to drive him to school, he still shows up every day, at times having walked the 20 or so miles from the rez to the town of Reardan.

The Absolutely True Diary is sharp, witty, sometimes painful, sometimes uplifting, and what makes it such a gem of a book is its honesty and its poignancy. Junior may be cracking jokes left and right, but the desperation of his situation is always evident--he does not mince words and he does not sugarcoat. He merely has a candid outlook on his situation--one that shifts between defeat and hope and all the inbetweens. It's one of those books I wish I could read again for the first time, if only to experience the suprise and delight at discovering such an endearing and memorable character as Junior.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Precious Ramotswe Hits the Little Screen

It will be interesting to see how HBO does with its adaptation of the wildly popular series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. The series premieres Sunday night with a two-hour episode directed by Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley"), who died last March. On the small screen, private investigator Precious Ramotswe -- Botswana's first female detective -- will be played by Jill Scott, Grammy-winning singer and songwriter.

If the series -- filmed on location in Botswana -- remains true to the feel of the books, it will have a more languorous pacing than the nonstop action and edginess we often see in TV mysteries. The series excels at exploring the tension between tradition and modernity and at portraying the everyday lives of black Africans. Mr. Smith has said this about the country where he used to live: "...when you visit Botswana that you are likely to be impressed by the spirituality of the place. Not in a religious sense, but just a sense of human spirituality, and spiritual possibilities. And, you can't help but be bowled over by the magnificence of the country, by the sense of being in this great natural theater of light and wonderful expanses of countryside and intense natural beauty. It's very moving. It's overwhelming. I fell in love with it."

Alexander McCall Smith was born in 1948 in what is now known as Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He was working as a distinguished bioethicist -- serving on British and international bioethics committees -- and as a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, when the idea for the Precious Ramotswe character came to him. He chose to set the series in Botswana, where he used to teach law. He has now written more than 60 books, including academic texts and books for both children and adults, including two series featuring women who solve problems (Precious and Isabel Dalhousie, the main character in The Sunday Philosophy Club series set in Edinburgh.) He plays the bassoon in The Really Terrible Orchestra, an Edinburgh band he founded in which his wife, a physician, plays the horn. (The tag line for the orchestra is "The cream of Edinburgh's musically disadvantaged.")

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency has been translated into more than xx languages and has sold more than xx million copies in English. [There's really no point in quoting actual numbers here, because his books are so wildly popular the numbers change pretty much daily!] The tenth book in the series, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (what a fabulous title) will publish next month in hardcover. The Miracle at Speedy Motors, the ninth book, just came out in paperback.

Since I don't have HBO, I'll have to stick to reading the books for now to keep up with Precious. But maybe someone who catches the premiere can let me know what they think.

Waterproofing Your Child

This year's winner of the The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, sponsored by The Bookseller magazine, has just been announced. And the winner is....(requisite drum roll)...The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. Other finalists for this year's award were Curbside Consultation of the Colon, The Large Sieve and Its Applications, Strip and Knit with Style, Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring, and Baboon Metaphysics.

Not happy about this year's outcome? Be sure to go on line next spring (The Bookseller) and vote! Anyone can nominate a title (except publishers are not allowed to nominate their own books to prevent them from giving books willfully odd names -- I guess The Diagram Prize is a big deal if they have a rule to prevent people from playing the system!), and the public is invited to vote.

Past winners include The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Reusing Old Graves, How to Avoid Huge Ships, People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About it, and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories. Titles shortlisted in the past but not winning the Big Prize include Waterproofing Your Child, How to Write a How to Write Book, and I was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen.

The Diagram Prize began in 1978. The Diagram Group is an information and graphics company. The Bookseller magazine has been UK's leading business magazine for the book industry since 1858. Judges are discouraged from actually reading any of the nominated titles, because doing so might cloud their judgment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nature Writing at its Finest

Much like Mary Oliver, Craig Childs is a keen observer of nature. Instead of writing poetry, however, Childs is a storyteller in essays. Naturalist, adventurer, desert ecologist, and frequent contributor to National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Childs gives us some of his best observations in The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. I ate this book up when it was first published, and I'm happy to report that it's now available in paperback. Bear, Bald Eagle, Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, Bighorn Sheep, and Blue Shark are just some of the chapter titles. I was particularly taken with the vignette on a misplaced raccoon.

The essays need not be read in any particular order; the book is meant to be dipped in and out of. Here's what Childs has to say in his Author's Note: "This is how each story came to me: unexpectedly, halting my breath before I could draw it in. If you are one of those people who insist on reading books from left to right, I recommend a sip of clear water before starting each new chapter. Even better, I suggest that before you read the next story, you open your door and walk into the woods where only birds and spying raccoons might see you, or into a desert of lizards and jackrabbits, if that is what is at hand. Paw up the dirt and taste it on your lips. Drink out of a stream or from the lucid depths of a bedrock water hole. Return to your house, where this book waits on a table. Pull up a chair and see what other wild creature comes to speak with you."

One reviewer said of this book: "He reminds us why we fell in love with the wild in the first place." I couldn't agree more. Come check it out. You're in for some first-class nature writing, sort of Mary Oliver meets Jon Krakauer.

Making Plans for Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month -- hurrah! And it's just around the corner. So it's time to make your poetry plans. Here's some things you should know.

First off, at Broadway Books, we get absolutely potty for poetry year-round, but especially in April. And a big part of that craziness is our annual poetry sale, in which our entire poetry section is on sale for the entire month. Yes, you heard me right. Here's how it works: buy one book of poetry at regular price, and you'll get a second volume of poetry (of equal or lesser value) for HALF PRICE! Repeat as desired, all month long (no pink card punches, however). This is a great opportunity to replenish your own poetry shelves and choose some wonderful gifts for cherished friends.

We also have a couple of poetry events taking place in April. On Tuesday, April 7th, at 7 pm, Judith Arcana and Judith Barrington, two Portland poets and friends of the late, great Grace Paley, will read from Paley's posthumously published collection of poetry, Fidelity, as well as read some of their own pieces. They will also play a recording of Grace reading one of her best-loved poems. On Thursday, April 16th, also at 7 pm, Beverly Butterworth, former reporter and columnist for The Oregonian, will read from her second collection of poems, Where the Blackberries Grew. Check out our Web site for more details on these and other April readings.

Finally, the publisher Random House is offering you the gift of a poem a day in April. Just click here to register, and each day, through the miracle of technology, you will be sent a poem to savor from such poets as Mary Jo Salter, W.S. Merwin, Rudyard Kipling, Sharon Olds, Langston Hughes, and Katha Pollitt. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finalists for the 2009 Orion Book Award

Next month the winner of The Orion Book Award will be announced in New York City. The Orion Book Award is given annually to a book that has achieved excellence in addressing a growing ecological awareness and the need for a healthier relationship between humans and the natural world. Nominations for the award are made by advisors, writers, editors, and contributing editors of Orion. Selection of the winning book and four finalists are made by a five-person selection committee, which changes annually.

Here are the finalists for the 2009 award:
  • Trespass, by Amy Irvine (North Point Press) 

  • The Wild Places, by Robert Macfarlane (Penguin Books)

  • The Bridge at the Edge of the World, by James Gustave Speth (Yale)

  • Inventing Niagara, by Ginger Strand (Simon & Schuster)

  • Finding Beauty in a Broken World, by Terry Tempest Williams (Pantheon Books)
[Fortunately for us, Terry Tempest Williams will be speaking this week in a special event by Literary Arts. The event takes place at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, March 25th, at the Newmark Theater.]

Previous winners of The Orion Book Award include The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, by Diane Ackerman (WW Norton) and Wild: An Elemental Journey, by Jay Griffiths (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin)

The first issue of Orion Nature Quarterly was published in June, 1982, and in its first-page editorial, George Russell, the publication’s first Editor-in-Chief, boldly stated Orion’s values:

“It is Orion‘s fundamental conviction that humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”

In the intervening twenty-five years, Orion has been a focal point in an extraordinarily rich period of nature writing, and it has remained true to that core conviction, though the magazine has evolved into a bimonthly, in larger format, and the range of its interests has broadened to include not only environmental but cultural concerns.

New Poetry Collection from Mary Oliver

One of this nation's best-loved poets -- and a long-time favorite of Broadway Bookers -- is Mary Oliver, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and author of more than two dozen books, including eighteen collections of poetry. We are so happy that her newest collection of poetry -- Evidence -- has just been published.

Evidence is a collection of forty-seven new poems on all of Mary Oliver's classic themes. She writes perceptively about grief and mortality, love and nature, and the spiritual sustenance she draws from their gifts. Ever grateful for the bounty that is offered to us daily by the natural world, Oliver is attentive to the mysteries it imparts. The arresting beauty she finds in rivers and stones, willows and field corn, the mockingbirds' embellishments or the last hours of darkness permeates her poems. Her newest volume is imbued through and through with the power of nature to, in Oliver's words, excite the viewers toward sublime thought. And she reminds us that, in spite of anguish and loss, to have loved is everything.

Comments our very own Brian Doyle: "The work of Mary Oliver is one of those rare and lovely convergences. She is a lyric artist with a riveted eye and an enormous heart, one of the nation's great spiritual sentinels." And Katherine Hollander has this to say: "I should be clear that Mary Oliver is, to my mind, one of the most gifted American poets working in English today....the accuracy of her vision and the precision of her voice are unique in their refreshing simplicity."

I will offer you one little tidbit, "Prayer," but there are oh-so-many-more to enjoy:

May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risque.

May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,

leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,

still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.

Also newly available is the paperback version of her previous book, Red Bird, offering sixty-one poems -- the most ever in a single volume of her work. Overflowing with her keen observation of the natural world and her gratitude for its gifts, for the many people she has loved in her seventy years, as well as for her disobedient dog Percy, Red Bird is a quintessential collection of Oliver's finest lyrics.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tuesday Reading and Birthday Celebration!

We hope you'll join us tomorrow night as we celebrate Oregon's sesquicentennial -- our 150th birthday! Matt Love, editor of Citadel of the Spirit, will be joined by two local authors represented in the anthology: Monica Drake and Cheryl Strayed. Matt has promised us a rockin' time, and there are rumors of cake. No better way to spend a rainy Tuesday night than celebrating Oregon with friends.

New Enger Novel Now in Paperback

In 2001, Leif Enger published his first novel, Peace Like a River, which has subsequently sold more than a million copies. Almost a decade later he published his second novel, So Brave, Young, and Handsome. The book was published last year and has just been issued in paperback (Grove Press). The novel tells the story of Glendon Hale, an aging train robber on a quest to settle the claims of love and judgment on his life, and Monte Becket, the humble writer in search of inspiration who goes with him on his quest. This voyage of redemption and renewal into the great heart of the American West mixes romanticism with gritty reality and dash of adventure.

Cheesy Yes, But Heartwarming As Well

Over the past several months, more than 44 million people have seen the YouTube video clip of the reunion between Christian the Lion and his friends, Ace Bourke and John Rendall. The story of the men who adopted the lion cub from Harrods, lived with him in London, then released him into a free life in Kenya with the help of George Adamson, the "Father of Lions," has captured the hearts of people around the world. A Lion Called Christian, by Bourke and Rendall, is the definitive account of Christian's life, written by the men who raised him. From their early days in London, riding around town with a lion cub in the back of their car, to their time spent with George Adamson working to reintegrate Christian into the wild, to their heartwarming reunion with their beloved friend and the bittersweet story of the last time they saw him, this fully revised and updated edition of their 1971 memoir will bring new light to Christian's unusual and unexpected story. The book is illustrated with more 40 photographs, many of them never before published.

Also available is a version of the story for younger readers, in the 7 to 10 age range, also written by Bourke and Rendall. This version includes a 16-page insert of color and black&white photographs, as well as an insert of fun facts about Christian and lions in general

Friday, March 20, 2009

Biography Bonanza

Tis the season for literary biographies. Three of the four cover reviews in March in the Sunday Book Review of the New York Times (including the one coming this Sunday, the 22nd) feature new biographies of famous American authors.

Brad Gooch's new book, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (Little, Brown & Co), reviewed by Joy Williams, started the literary parade on March 1st. O'Connor, who died in 1964, was a novelist and short story writer, perhaps best known for her collection A Good Man is Hard to Find.

On March 15th, Geoffrey Wolf reviewed Cheever: A Life (Knopf), by Blake Blailey, author of the fascinating biography of Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road). Cheever, who died in 1982, was also best known for his short fiction but also published several novels, including The Wapshot Chronicle, Bullet Park, and Falconer.

And this Sunday we get Colm Toibin's review of Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthelme (St. Martin's Press), written by Tracy Daugherty, professor of English at Oregon State University. Barthelme, who died in 1989, published 126 short stories in The New Yorker in his career and published sixteen books in his lifetime, including four novels. Toibin calls this book an "admiring, comprehensive, and painstaking" biography of Barthelme.

We have all these books, so come read up on these great and interesting American authors.

If Elected, We Promise More Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Local web site Reading Local is running a contest: vote for your favorite bookstore. As the Temptations said it oh-so-very-well, I ain't too proud to beg, so give us a shout out! Gabe has all sorts of interesting and useful information for readers on his site, so it's definitely worth checking out.

Sequel to The Hunger Games

One of the most compelling YA novels I've read recently is The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Imagine "Survivor," except with teenagers and instead of competing to stay on the island they're competing to stay alive! The book is well written and offers interesting characters and is definitely a page-turner.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

I'm happy to report that the follow-up to this book, Catching Fire, will be published on September 1st. And, naturally, there will be a movie. Lionsgate has recently aquired worldwide film rights to The Hunger Games, and the author has been asked to develop a screenplay.

Stephenie Meyer, of humongous Twilight fame, is a big fan of this book. Here's what she had to say about her experience reading it: "I was so obsessed with this book I had to take it with me out to dinner and hide it under the edge of the table so I wouldn't have to stop reading. The story kept me up for several nights in a row, because even after I was finished, I just lay in bed wide awake thinking about it." And she's right; the book really does grip you.

Before writing The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins was best known for her Underland Chronicles series, starting withg Gregor the Overlander, written for younger readers. She says she was strongly influenced by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in the writing of The Hunger Games. It's essentially an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, in which a ruthless government forces people to fight to the death as popular entertainment.

Any young reader interested in a private lunch with Suzanne Collins -- including the travel and accommmodations to go to New York City, where Scholastic, the book's publisher is headquartered -- can enter a writing contest where the Grand Prize is the trip and lunch. Just tell in 500 words or less how you would survive the Hunger Games. For details go to The Hunger Games web site. The contest runs until mid-may.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Niffenegger Novel Coming

Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger -- and judging by our sales of the book there are an awful lot of them in Portland -- finally have a new novel to look forward to. Scribner (a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster) recently signed Niffenegger's newest novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, and publication is scheduled for the end of September 2009. (A movie based on The Time Traveler's Wife is scheduled for release in February 2010.)

Here is the author describing her forthcoming novel: "The novel concerns a pair of mirror-image twins, Julia and Valentina Poole. The twins are young, sheltered American girls who inherit a flat on the edge of Highgate Cemetery in London, bequeathed to them by their recently deceased aunt. Julia and Valentina are inseparable, and function almost as one being, although in temperament they are opposites. As the story begins, they arrive in London to live in their aunt's apartment. Their presence disrupts the lives of their upstairs and downstairs neighbors. Martin Wells is a translator who never leaves his apartment and struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Robert Fanshaw works as a guide in Highgate Cemetery and is devoted to all things associated with death. Julia takes it upon herself to "cure" Martin; Robert falls in love with Valentina and begins to pry her away from her twin. Valentina starts to crave autonomy. Julia becomes more demanding and possessive. Things get out of control, as you might imagine."

The author, a visual artist who is also a faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, Center for Book and Paper Arts, has also written two graphic novels, or "novels in pictures," as she refers to them: Three Incestuous Sisters and The Adventuress. According to Niffenegger, "The thing that unites all my work is narrative. I'm interested in telling stories, and I'm interested in creating a world that's recognizable to us as ours, but is filled with strangeness and slight changes in the rules of the universe."

We Got 'Em, So Come on In!!

Albina Book & Citadel of the Spirit

Recent newspaper reports indicated that Citadel of the Spirit is completely sold out -- not true! We still have a handful of copies left, but I'm sure they won't last long. For sure they will be gone by the end of the evening next Tuesday, the 24th, when the editor of the Oregon sesquicentennial anthology, Matt Love, will be speaking at the store along with two local authors represented in the anthology, Monica Drake (author of Clown Girl) and Cheryl Strayed (author of Torch). The festivities will begin at 7 pm. We hope you will join us! Come early for a good seat.

Another book that has been hard to get recently is The History of Albina, by Roy Roos, which tells a detailed history of historic architecture in neighborhoods in North and Northeast Portland. Not to worry! We have recently received more copies of this book. Roy's first book, The History and Development of Portland's Irvington Neighborhood, published in 1997, has long been out of print, with used copies rare and highly coveted, so don't miss your chance to nab a copy of this book before it's in the same position.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Hope His Life Was a Bowl of Cherries

A popular and somewhat quirky novel we sell a good amount of is Bowl of Cherries, written by Millard Kaufman, a screenwriter who published his debut novel at age ninety-one. Sadly, Mr. Kaufman died Saturday at age 92, two days after his birthday.

Kaufman earned Oscar nominations for his screenwriting on "Bad Day at Black Rock" and "Take the High Ground!" A former newspaperman who launched his screenwriting career after serving in the Marines during World War II, Kaufman quickly made a mark on pop culture by writing the screenplay for "Ragtime Bear," the 1949 cartoon short that introduced the near-sighted Mr. Magoo, which became the basis for the popular, long-running cartoon. The character, which was voiced by actor Jim Backus, was modeled in part on Kaufman's uncle. Kaufman spent more than a decade as a writer at MGM, where he was known as a top script doctor. Early in his Hollywood career, Kaufman fronted for blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo on the 1950 film-noir crime classic "Gun Crazy." In 1992, Kaufman officially requested that the Writers Guild of America West take his name off the credits and replace it with Trumbo's name.

Kaufman had a major screenwriting assignment at age 86, but then the project fell through. "I decided, knowing that nobody my age gets work in movies, and that I had to do something, otherwise I'd get into terrible trouble, that I would try writing a novel." Bowl of Cherries has been described as "equal parts Catcher in the Rye and 'Die Hard,'" and as a blend of "Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller." The book is the hilarious coming-of-age story of Judd Breslau, who was kicked out of Yale at age 14 and who falls in with a bathrobe-wearing Egyptologist working out of his dilapidated home laboratory. Kaufman's debut is a book of astounding breadth and sharp consequences, containing all the joy, madness, terror, and doubt of adolescence and everything after.

Kaufman's second novel, Misadventure, is due out this fall.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Got a Wee Bit of Time for the Irish?

Next week is St. Patrick's Day! While the usual response is to don something green and perhaps knock back a pint or two, this year consider adding a little literary Irishness to your St. Paddy's celebration. We've got a table full of ideas to help you accomplish that goal. How about tackling James Joyce's Ulysses (again?) -- better start early, as we've got The Complete and Unabridged Text, as Corrected and Reset in 1961. Or how about the Booker-Prize-winning novel The Sea, by John Banville?

Perhaps you'd prefer to toast the green with some nonfiction instead. Holt has recently reissued the memoir by Nuala O'Faolain, Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman, with a new foreward by Frank McCourt. Ms. O'Faolain died of cancer in May 2008, not long after conducting a radio interview that shocked listeners with her acceptance of her fate. This is a beautiful exploration of a remarkable life.

Or maybe you'd rather dip into At the Edge of Ireland: Seasons on the Beara Peninsula, by David Yeadon -- an intrepid wanderer's celebration of a magical, unspoiled, and unforgettable Eire, described by one reviewer as "as lively as a limerick!" Perhaps it's just the facts you're after, in which case we can offer you guides -- from Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, or Rick Steves -- to the land of leprechauns and limericks. And of course we have St Patrick's Day cards for you.

We're Going Bananas!

Hey all you word fanatics -- we've got a new game in the store: Bananagrams! Designed for ages 7 to 97, the game Bananagrams grew from a passionate love of word games. Obsessed by all the word games that could be found, the creators of this game hankered after something a bit more fluid than the classics they all love and wanted a game that the family could play together – ALL ages at the same time. They wanted something portable, that they could take on their travels and something simple enough (with no superfluous pieces or packaging) that they could play in restaurants while waiting for the food to arrive.

The game involves yelling words such as "split," "peel," "dump," and, of course, "bananas!" One hand can be played in as little as five minutes, but it’s so addictive it’s often hard to put away. The name came from the saying “The anagram game that will drive you bananas!” – hence BANANAGRAMS.

Bananagrams even has its own Facebook page! (yikes, what a world we live in). There are variations to the primary game, such as Banana Smoothies and Banana Cafe, and of course someone has already developed a drinking game based on it. Only $15 for hours of pleasure in an adorable little bag.

If games are your gig, don't forget we also have Word Teasers, jigsaw puzzles (cleverly designed to look like books), and magnetic travel games.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks...

...Hold on. Better skip the peanuts, given what's going on in peanut-land these days. But baseball days are definitely back! Spring training is in full swing (pun surely intended), and - best of all - Junior is back! (and if you don't know what I mean by that, you are truly not a Mariner's fan)

So it must be time for some baseball books, no? A couple of baseball books are getting heavy press these days, because controversy usually generates great press -- for better or worse. The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci, tells about the most storied (and likely most hated) franchise in baseball -- maybe in all of sports! When Torre took over the team in 1996, not many considered his success likely. Twelve tumultuous and triumphant years later, Torre left having led the team to six American League pennants and four World Series titles. He doesn't mince words when it comes to spilling the beans on his big-name players (can you really mince words and spill beans in the same sentence? hmmmm. I'm no chef).

Matt McCarthy writes about the less heralded side of baseball: the minor leagues. In Odd Man Out: A Year on the Mound with a Minor League Misfit, McCarthy tells of his year as a left-handed pitcher for the Provo Angels, Anaheim's minor league affiliate in Utah, violating sport's most sacred rule: what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room -- and his former teammates are not happy. The book unquestionably opens the door wide to the not-always-commendable behavior behind the scenes. Some have accused him of embellishment or even fabrication. But it's yet to be seen whether he will be seen as the Jim Bouton (Ball Four) of his generation or as the James Frey (A Million Little Pieces) of baseball.

On a less controversial note, popular sportswriter and bestselling author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, Liar's Poker, The Blind Side) reveals the inside story of fatherhood in his new book Home Game (coming in May). When he became a father, Michael Lewis found himself expected to feel things that he didn’t feel, and to do things that he couldn’t see the point of doing. At first this made him feel guilty, until he realized that all around him fathers were pretending to do one thing, to feel one way, when in fact they felt and did all sorts of things, then engaged in what amounted to an extended cover-up. Lewis decided to keep a written record of what actually happened immediately after the birth of each of his three children. This book is that record. But it is also something else: maybe the funniest, most unsparing account of ordinary daily household life ever recorded from the point of view of the man inside. The remarkable thing about this story isn’t that Lewis is so unusual. It’s that he is so typical. The only wonder is that his wife has allowed him to publish it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring is Springing, Yes??

All this sunshine makes me think of spring, despite the brrrrr temperatures. And that makes me think of flowers and gardening (appreciating other's efforts, of course, because I'm essentially useless in the garden myself). If you're starting to think about your own garden, here's a new book for you from local Timber Press: Perennial Companions: 100 Dazzling Plant Combinations for Every Season, written by Tom Fischer with photographs by Richard Bloom and Adrian Bloom (really, I'm not making that up!). The book is designed to provide visual inspiration for creating pleasing juxtapositions of color, form, and texture in your garden using perennials, taking you from spring, through summer and autumn, and into winter. Before moving to Portland in 2004 to become editor-in-chief of Timber Press, Fischer was the editor of Horticulture magazine in Boston. If that's not the book you're looking for, come check out the rest of our gardening section for inspiration, information, and advice (except from me, as I've been known to kill even the most easily tended plants -- not on purpose).

Civil War Book Wins Prize from NY Historical Society

Accomplished historian and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust has been awarded a $50,000 prize from the New York Historical Society for her book This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (published by Knopf in hardback and Vintage in paperback, both divisions of Random House). This is the fourth such prize awarded by the NYHS. Previous winners include Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The book describes the impact of the war through an examination of the unprecedented carnage. Between 1861 and 1865, two percent of the US population died in uniform -- and that doesn't include the thousands of civilians killed in war-related activities. The equivalent death toll today would be six mllion. When the war began, the union army had no systems for identifying or counting the dead or for notifying the next of kin, nor any provisions for decent burials. Relatives wandered battlefields in search of missing kin, and spiritualists made a good living conveying vague but consoling messages to The Other Side. Death on such a massive scale changed not only individual lives but also the life of the nation. Faust writes: "The war's staggering human cost demanded a new sense of national identity, one designed to ensure that lives had been sacrificed for appropriately lofty ends."

This Republic of Suffering was also a finalist for the National Book Award and was named a Top Ten Book of the Year for 2008 by The New York Times.

Faust was born in New York City in 1947 but grew up the only daughter of four children in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. She received her bachelor's degree in history from Bryn Mawr in 1968 and while there marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. "I think I was born a pain in the neck," she says. She earned her master's and docterate from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2007 she became Harvard University's 28th president and its first female president. "I'm not the woman president of Harvard. I'm the president of Harvard." Of her devotion to academia, Faust says, "At the heart of it, universities are about renewal every minute. You're always learning something new." She is the author of five previous books, including Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War and A Sacred Circle: The Dilemma of the Intellectual in the Old South, 1840-1860.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mark Twain Returns

Although Mark Twain has been dead for almost 100 years, a never-before-published short story by the author will make an appearance next week in the quarterly mystery magazine The Strand. "The Undertaker's Tale" is a short tale-within-a-tale about a wretched homeless boy who is taken in by a kindly undertaker's family. The tongue-in-cheek tale about the funeral industry could easily have been written today.

The author, born Samuel Clemens in 1835, was widely published during his lifetime. His novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called the greatest American novel by some critics. But when he died in 1910 there was a tremendous amount of material that had never been shared. Who Is Mark Twain? (Harper), the first collection of his unpublished short works, will include 24 essays and stories (including "The Undertaker's Tale") and will be published in April. In one essay, he wonders if Jane Austen's intent is to "make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters?" While that comment might annoy some Austen fans, it will be nothing new for Twain, who was known for making prickly jabbing comments in his day. But the story that appears in The Strand offers more wit than jabbing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Turns 40!

Forty years ago, in 1969, Eric Carle's best known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, made its debut. To celebrate that 40th anniversary (and also Eric's 80th birthday), Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, has just published The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book, which goes on sale tomorrow.

Born in Syracuse, New York, Eric Carle moved with his parents to Germany when he was six years old and he was educated there. His dream was always to return to America, which he did in 1952, soon finding a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times. Later, for many years, he was the art director of an advertising agency.

One day, Bill Martin Jr asked Carle to illustrate a story he'd written. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was the result of that collaboration. Since then, Carle has illustrated more than seventy books, most of which he also wrote and many of them bestsellers. Since The Very Hungry Caterpillar was published, it has been translated into more than 47 languages and sold more than 29 million copies.

In 2002, he and his wife Bobbie founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., with the goal of creating a place where original picture book art could be enjoyed and appreciated. The museum's 40,000 square foot building houses three galleries dedicated to rotating exhibitions of picture book art from around the world; a hands-on art studio for creating masterpieces of one's own; an auditorium for performances, films, and lectures; a library for reading and storytelling; and a cafe and museum shop. Since its opening in November 2002, the museum has welcomed more than 325,000 vistors, including 16,502 school children.

Carle's books often portray small creatures because "when I was a small boy, my father would take me on walks across meadows and through woods. He would lift a stone or peel back the bark of a tree and show me the living things that scurried about. He'd tell me about the life cycles of this or that small creature and then he would carefully put the little creature back into its home. I think in my books I honor my father by writing about small living things And in a way I recapture those happy times."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Book Three in the 39 Clues Series

Book Three in The 39 Clues Series, The Sword Thief, written by Peter Lerangis, is now available!

The series centers around the Cahills -- the most powerful family the world has ever known. But the source of the family's power has been lost. Grace Cahill, the last matriarch of the Cahills, changed her will minutes before she died, leaving her descendants an impossible decision: receive a million dollars or a clue. The first Cahill to assemble all 39 clues hidden around the world will discover what makes the family so powerful -- a reward beyond measure. It's Cahill versus Cahill in a race to the finish, with readers hot on the heels of the main characters, fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her eleven-year-old brother, Dan. The series kicked off in the first book with Benjamin Franklin taking center stage in The Maze of Bones (Rick Riordan) and continued in Book Two, One False Note (Gordon Korman), with the focus shifting to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In this newest book, Amy and Dan track the life of one of the world's most fearsome warriors in Tokyo, in a bid to uncover whether he is a Cahill and if he possessed one of the 39 Clues.

Peter Lerangis has written more than 150 books for young readers in many different genres, including mystery (the Spy X series), historical fiction (Smiler's Bones) and science fiction (the Watchers series). Lerangis graduated from Harvard University with a degree in biochemistry. He's also a Broadway musical theater actor/singer, a marathon runner, and the father of two sons. He currently lives in New York City.

The 39 Clues series is published by Scholastic. The author of the first book, Rick Riordan -- also the author of the very popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series -- wrote the story arc for the series, which will have ten books in all. Book 4, Beyond the Grave, will be written by Jude Watson and will be available June 2nd. Walla Walla author Patrick Carman will write Book 5.