Monday, October 26, 2009

George Wright to Read at Broadway Books

On Tuesday night, George Wright will be at Broadway Books at 7 pm to read from his newest novel, Driving to Vernonia. The story is told by Edmund Kirby-Smith, who is approaching his fiftieth birthday. Just when his life should be at its peak, he loses everything. With compassion and daring, the author explores one man’s loss of self and chronicles his journey to reconnect with his past and reclaim what is there. Driving to Vernonia is a penetrating story of deprivation, laced with love and anger, violence and self-discovery. George is also the author of the Oregon Trio: Baker City 1948, Tillamook 1952, and Roseburg 1959 – three novels set in small-town Oregon in the forties and fifties. After the reading and Q&A, George will be available to sign copies of his newest book as well as books from the Oregon Trio.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I am for some inane reason having trouble picking out and sticking with a book right now. Which, for those of you who know me (this is Jennie, not Sally) is very unlike me. I am seldom without something to read; however, I've always considered myself, if you will, a "moody" reader. I'm not a big fan of reading what other people want me to read, which is why I've never joined a bookclub. And while I love, love, love to recommend my favorites new and old to customers and friends, I immediately feel oppositional-defiant when someone makes a recommendation to me. (I know, I know, it's not one of my best qualities...) I much prefer to stalk the shelves, relying on my inner divining rod to lead me to the book that will feed my specific mood. Sometimes I'm more interested in the setting of a book; sometimes the plot type; sometimes the narration; sometimes the characters; sometimes it really is about the cover. You get the point, though--my mood is not always the same, which makes it a rather in-depth, time-consuming process to gauge my emotional state, troll the bookshelves, and dip my little toe into several options before deciding (committment, eeek!) on one.
My rambling, circuitous point is that my fail-safe method is, at the moment, failing me. I cannot seem to find the "right book." So I've decided to set aside my innate repulsion of recommendations and put this to you, oh loyal Broadway Books customers and blog readers: Do you think you know the book that will break my reader's block? I am (I think) open to being convinced.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 National Book Award Finalists

In 1950, the very first National Book Award -- an award given to writers by writers -- was presented to Nelson Algren at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City for his novel The Man with the Golden Arm. Today the finalists for the 2009 awards in the now four categories were announced, and there's much to be excited about -- including an author (Laini Taylor) from Portland!

The judges for the fiction category this year are Alan Cheuse, Junot Diaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, and Lydia Millet. Here are the five finalists for fiction, chosen from 236 nominees:

  • Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
  • Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
  • Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite
  • Marcel Theroux, Far North.
In the nonfiction category, the judges are David Blight, Amanda Foreman, Steve Olson, Camille Paglia, and John Phillips Santos. Selected from 481 nominees, the five finalists are
  • David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook
  • Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species
  • Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
  • Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy
  • T.J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
In poetry the judges, who selected from 161 nominations, are Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, A. Van Jordan, Cole Swenson, Kevin Young. Here are the finalists they selected:
  • Rae Armantrout, Versed
  • Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again
  • Carl Phillips, Speak Low
  • Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval
  • Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
The judges for the Young People's Literature category are Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, Carolyn Coman, Nancy Werlin, and Gene Luen Yang. From 251 nominations, they selected the following finalists:
  • Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
  • Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
  • David Small, Stitches
  • Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times
  • Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped
The winners will be announced at the 60th National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Wednesday, November 18th. Also being recognized at that ceremony will be two previously announced winners: Gore Vidal, Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and Dave Eggers, Literarian Award. In 2008, the winners in each of the four categories, in the same order as presented, above were
  • Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
  • Mark Doty, Fire to Fire
  • Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
Have you read any of these? Which ones would you pick as the winners? You've got just over a month to fill in your reading gaps before the award ceremony -- sort of like trying to watch all of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees before the Oscars!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Come Learn About Timberline Lodge

On Tuesday night at 7 pm, Sarah Baker Munro will join us to talk about Timberline Lodge and discuss her book Timberline Lodge: The History, Art, and Craft of an American Icon, recently published by Timber Press.

Timberline Lodge, on the south slope of Mt. Hood in Oregon, is unique in America. It is the only twentieth-century public building of its size constructed and furnished entirely by hand with original craft work in wood (both carved and inlaid marquetry), wrought iron, weaving, applique, painting, mosaic, carved linoleum, and stained glass.

The lodge is an inn, but it is also a museum in the sense that it houses a permanent, catalogued exhibition of American design, painting, and craft work of the 1930s, created under extraordinary circumstances for a special purpose: to furnish and decorate a mountain lodge for skiers, hikers, and nature lovers.

Materials from the region were used: wood from forests for construction and for furniture, carvings, and marquetry; stone (andesite) from nearby slopes and quarries for the exterior and the fireplaces; locally grown flax and wool for upholstery, bedspreads, and draperies (recycled materials, including cotton and wool blankets, were used for the hooked rugs).

Timberline Lodge was built by hundreds of hands eager to work after months or years of unemployment in the 1930s. Ninety percent of the men and women who built and furnished the lodge were hired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the federal agency created in 1933 to provide work for the hundreds of thousands of Americans idled by the Great Depression. The remaining ten percent were foremen employed by Lorenz Brothers, the supervising contractor for the WPA, or U.S. Forest Service personnel. Some of the WPA workers were skilled, such as some of the stonemasons, but others were taught skills to prepare them for jobs in the private sector.

According to WPA records, construction costs totaled $695,730. Of this amount, $20,000 had been donated by the Mt. Hood Development Association, headed by Jack Meier, who had proposed the project to the WPA in 1935, and $9,623 for truck and machine rentals was given by the U.S. Forest Service, which was the sponsoring agency. There were other expenses besides the actual construction, and it is generally agreed that when the necessary road building and the development of the grounds were added in, the total cost was probably about $1,000,000.

Sarah Baker Munro is past president of the board of Friends of Timberline Lodge (where she learned to ski as a child), and has been voted the historian of Timberline Lodge by Friends of Timberline. She received her bachelor's degree in art history and anthropology at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and her master's degree in folklore at the University of California, Berkeley. Her interest in Timberline was renewed in 1975, after the nonprofit Friends of Timberline was formed to support restoration and preservation efforts.

As a member of a committee of volunteers from the Junior League, she learned about and met with original builders, artists, and craftspeople, most of whom are now deceased. The result of that research was a catalog published in 1978 that she coauthored with retired Portland Art Museum curator Rachael Griffin. Sarah has revised and updated the guidebook to the lodge through several editions.

She has appeared on several public broadcasting television segments related to lodges in the Pacific Northwest and Timberline specifically. In her free time Sarah enjoys art history, reading, tennis, and walking.

Sarah's book is both gorgeous and fascinating -- and what a treasure we have in Timberline Lodge. We hope you can join us for this event Tuesday night (10/13). Thank you to Friends of Timberline and Timber Press for the information in this blog post.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Periodic Table in all its Glory

One of the books I've been most excited to see this fall recently arrived in the store, and it's a beaut! The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, by Theodore Gray and published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, is a gorgeous coffee-table-type book that presents all 118 elements from the periodic table.

"The periodic table," says author Theodore Gray, "is the universal catalog of everything you can drop on your foot." Everything in the world that is tangible is made up of elements. The book showcases each element with a big, beautiful photograph of the pure element (wherever possible), and then offers photographs that show examples of the way that element lives in the world. For instance, Palladium, the 46th element, is sometimes used in jewelry, but its main application is in automobile catalytic converters.

The text that accompanies each two-page spread tells the story of the element -- ranging from the commonplace to the quirky -- and provides the essential scientific data, including automic weight, atomic radius, and a crystal structure diagram.This book is absolutely spectacular and, as author Oliver Sacks says of it, "it will fundamentally deepen your appreciation of the subtances that make up our world."

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Four!

Monday is the big day! Book Four in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dog Days, by Jeff Kinney, finally goes on sale. The wait is over! We'll be open at 10 am tomorrow, so give us a holler if you want us to hold a copy for you. I've been stealing peeks at the book today, and I think it might be the funniest one yet! Greg has lots of "interesting" summer adventures in Book four.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wolf Hall Wins 2009 Booker Prize

On Tuesday, author Hilary Mantel was named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for 2009 for her novel, Wolf Hall, published by Fourth Estate. Wolf Hall had been the bookies' favorite since the longlist was announced in July 2009. Mantel's book was picked from a shortlist of six titles. The other authors on the shortlist were A.S. Byatt, J.M. Coetzee, Adam Foulds, Simon Mawer, and Sarah Waters.

Wolf Hall is set in the 1520s and tells the story of Thomas Cromwell's rise to prominence in the Tudor court. Mantel has been praised by critics for writing "a rich, absorbingly readable historical novel; she has made a significant shift in the way any of her readers interested in English history will henceforward think about Thomas Cromwell."

James Naughtie, chair of the Booker Judges Panel, comments, "Hilary Mantel has given us a thoroughly modern novel set in the 16th century. Wolf Hall has a vast narrative sweep that gleams on every page with luminous and mesmerising detail. It probes the mysteries of power by examining and describing the meticulous dealings in Henry VIII's court, revealing in thrilling prose how politics and history is made by men and women. In the words of Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, whose story this is, 'the fate of peoples is made like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes.'"

Mantel spent five years writing Wolf Hall and is currently working on a sequel. The book has not yet been released in the United States but is due to hit US shelves (from Henry Holt) next Tuesday. Mantel has written short stories, a memoir and both contemporary and historical novels. Prior to being selected as the Booker winner, Mantel had this to say: "The whole business of prizes puts authors under huge pressure, and I think it's important to keep working, concentrating on the next book. You're really only as good as the last sentence you wrote. The idea of authors competing with each other is strange, not strange on a worldly level, but on a psychic level - I have always seen myself as locked in competition with myself, my own doubts and hesitations, my own limitations, and like any working writer I live with a daily process of selecting and judging and discarding which is fiercer than anything that can happen in the outside world."

We anticipate having copies of Wolf Hall at Broadway Books early next week, so please let us know if you want us to hold a copy for you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Signed First Editions of New Chabon

Michael Chabon, author of many acclaimed novels, including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union, has just published a collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs, and we have a limited number of signed first editions in the store!

In this collection of entertaining and opinionated essays, Chabon comments on his personal experiences of being a son, a husband, and a father -- the handy thing about the latter role, he notes, "is that the historic standard is so pitifully low." He adds, "Fathers are popularly supposed to serve as protectors of their children, but in fact men lack the capacity for identifying dangers except in the most narrow spectrum of the band. It is women -- mothers -- whose organs of anxiety can detect the vast invisible flow of peril through which their children are obliged daily to make their way."

Chabon also defends his willingness -- especially as he grows older and no longer gives a hoot -- to defy the adage that purses are for women only: "One of the fundamental axioms of masculine self-regard is that the tools and appurtenances of a man's life must be containable within the pockets of his jacket and pants....The necessary corollary to this inviolate principle is that no man, ever, ought to carry a purse. Purses are for women; a purse is basically a vagina with a strap."

At once dazzling, hilarious, and moving, Manhood for Amateurs shares with you Chabon's memories of his childhood as well as his experiences as a parent. Chabon lives in Berkeley with his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman -- who recently published her own collection of essays about parenting, Bad Mother.

Returning to Pooh

In the eighty years that have passed since A.A. Milne last visited the Hundred Acre Wood, millions of readers have gone there to visit with Pooh, the world's best-loved bear who perennially longs for a little smackerel of honey, and all of his friends. Reading -- and rereading -- the Pooh books has brought great delight to readers young and old through the years. And now we have new Pooh stories to embrace.

Dutton Children's Books, which published Milne's first stories about Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, has just published Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess, with the support and approval of the Milne estate. Offering up ten new stories and a new character, Lottie the Otter, Return endeavors to capture the spirit of the original work by Milne and Ernest H. Shepard, the original Pooh illustrator.

Do Benedictus and Burgess succeed at their goal? You be the judge. Come see for yourself!

Start Sharing and Start Saving!

Last night a full house was on hand to hear Emily Doskow share ideas about sharing from her book The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, written with Janelle Orsi and published by Nolo. Emily walked through the premise and organization of the book, and gave some ideas about how to get started sharing on a variety of levels. And audience members shared things they're already doing or hope to be doing soon that build on sharing in the community. We've got a few signed copies of the book left. Check it out for yourself; I think you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish working together that will save you time & money and help out the environment. Watch our blog and website for a video clip sampling of what Emily had to say. It was a great night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sharing Solution at Broadway Books

Tonight's Reading is All About Sharing

We're so excited about tonight's reading at the store at 7: Emily Doskow, co-author of The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community. Sure hope you can join us! This morning we had a delightful breakfast at Bridges (we being me, Emily, and Emily's partner Luan). As we were walking home we stopped at another of my favorite neighborhood places, Foster & Dobb's, so I could introduce Luan to one of the owners, who is also named Luan (pronounced "Lou Ann"), because she meets so few Luans who spell their name the same way.

Anyhoots, Luan (Schooler, of Foster & Dobbs) told us that she and the owner of another cheese shop in town shared a cheese wheel, because a whole one was too big for either of them alone -- sharing in action! As a small bookstore, we sometimes would like to buy items for the store but the minimum purchase quantity is too large for us, so we could find another small store that might want to carry the same item, and we could buy the minimum together! These are just a couple of small examples of how sharing can work in the business environment. Emily has lots of ideas about other ways to share that can lead to a more sustainable and economically viable way of living in the world. And, if you really want to make Emily feel welcome, wear any clothing you might have from the San Francisco Giants. See you at 7!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Wild and Crazy Things...

As I'm sure you're all aware, literary superstar, Dave Eggers (author of What Is the What and Zeitoun among other gems) has penned both a screenplay and a novelization of the classic childrens' book, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. When I first heard that Where the Wild Things Are was going to be a motion picture, I have to admit I felt torn--my purist tendencies often cloud my judgment when it comes to adaptations of my favorite books (I had a pretty violent reaction to the idea of Harry Potter movies but have since given up fighting that behemoth...). Truth is, though, I had a pretty quick change of heart when I heard that Eggers was in charge of the project and that Maurice Sendak had given his stamp of approval. After all, if the author of one of the most spectacularly amazing childrens' books ever written in the history of the world thought Eggers could handle the challenge, who was I to question it? Then I saw a preview of the movie in the theater and now I'm chomping at the bit for it's imminent release (it comes out Oct. 16th).

Needless to say, when the novel The Wild Things, published by McSweeney's, arrived at the store yesterday I experienced some pretty severe heart palpitations. It's a beautiful little hardcover book on the cover of which Max's silhouette is set against a jungle-patterned background. I've only had a chance to read a few pages so far, but already I can tell it's going to be a grand adventure. I'm looking forward to experiencing Eggers' interpretation of Max as a fleshed out, slightly troubled little boy who goes in search of someone or something that will understand and accept the wildness within him. What will the wild rumpus look like? Will the wild things speak with human voices? What will they say? I can't wait to find out...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Importance of Buying Local

"Thinking Outside the Box: A Report on Independent Merchants and the Local Economy," conducted by Civic Economics and commissioned by The Urban Conservancy, a nonprofit group in New Orleans that looks to inform the public on land-use decisions and promote sustainability, was just recently released. The report found that local retailers generate twice the annual sales, recirculate revenues within the local economy at twice the rate, and on a per-square-foot basis have four times the economic impact. The report also noted that if New Orleans consumers -- including residents, institutions, and visitors -- were to shift just 10 percent of all retail activity from chains to local businesses, the result would be the equivalent of injecting an additional $60 million annually into the local economy in the form of recirculated dollars, which would otherwise have left the area.

Those are some eye-popping numbers! And I'm willing to bet they would be pretty similar in Portland. We greatly appreciate all of the loyal shoppers who have helped us to stay in business these past 17+ years; we wouldn't be here if not for you. And we do our best to do our own shopping at local businesses -- and even staying in the NE Portland neighborhood whenever possible; there are so many great local businesses within walking distance. That came in particularly handy last December when the snow storms kept us all pretty close to home.

There's another organization I've learned of recently: The 3/50 Project, founded by Cinda Baxter. The idea behind the 3/50 Project is to think about what three independent stores you would miss if one day you discovered they were gone. Then, "Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around."

The idea is to get as many people as possible to commit $50 each month to locally owned businesses, total. "Maybe that means rethinking where you currently invest your money, opting to pick up that birthday card or pair of jeans in a locally owned business instead of the big box you’ve been going to. Or maybe it means eating out once a month because you realize slamming the brakes on all spending stalls economic recovery. It’s just that simple."

"The 3/50 Project isn’t an 'all or nothing' campaign that insists consumers stop shopping in chains or franchises. Instead, our message is about balance—of the money you currently spend each month, we simply ask you to redirect an affordable $50 back to the locally owned independent businesses that may have been forgotten of late."

You'll notice the 3/50 Project badge on the home page of our website, because we think it's a terrific idea. Keeping diverse local independent businesses alive and healthy contributes to a vibrant and healthy community, and gives neighborhoods and cities their own personalities, which we think is important. How do you feel?

The Financial Lives of the Poets

Spokane-based author Jess Walter has just produced a corker of a book, The Financial Lives of the Poets. In his funniest novel yet, Walter tells the story of small-time finance journalist Matthew Prior, who quits his day job to gamble everything on a quixotic notion: a Web site devoted to financial journalism in the form of blank verse. One day Matt wakes up to find himself jobless, hobbled with debt, and on the verge of losing both his wife and his home. Is this really how things were supposed to end up for me, he wonders. The book follows Matt on his week-long quest to save his marriage, his sanity, and his dreams, starting the night he hits the 7-Eleven in the middle of the night to get milk for his boys and ends up falling in with two pot-smoking low-lives.

Writers as diverse as Richard Russo and Sarah Vowell have both raved about this new book, and the New York Times calls Walter "a ridiculously talented writer." The "Brief Political Manifesto" about mom's underwear presented in Chapter 4 (in fact, it is Chapter 4) will leave you wiping tears of laughter from your eyes. Reviewers have called it "cringe-inducing hilarity," "whip-smart satire with heart," and a "snarky sendup of modern life...[that] provides a surprisingly heartwarming portrait of a good man trying to find his way back home." Walter's book The Zero was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his novel Citizen Vince won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Check out the trailer, then check out the book!