Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oregon Writer's Colony Calendar Night!

Come join us tonight to celebrate The Oregon Writer's Colony and the 2010 Colonyhouse Calendar, in which Northwest writers bare their souls -- and perhaps a little more.... Proceeds from the calendar will benefit the Colonyhouse Accessibility and Development Campaign, a project to make the Colonyhouse, a log house in Rockaway Beach, Oregon, accessible to any member wishing to attend writing events or make use of the writing space.

Authors "showing their stuff" in this imaginative yet tastefully photographed calendar include Marc Acito, Sage Cohen, Peter Carlin, and Jennie Shortridge, and several more.

Tonight's event at Broadway Books will be co-hosted by Rae Richen and Bob Zimmer. Please join us between 5 and 7 pm to enjoy some refreshments, get included in a raffle for special signed collector's copies of the Calendar, and browse for books -- in case you didn't get the ones you were hoping for over holidays.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 23: Up in the Air

Day 23 in The 24 Days of Books! Walter Kirn's novel Up in the Air tells the story of Ryan Bingham, a Career Transition Counselor (he fires people for a living) who spends most of his time in airports and on planes. He has come to hate his job but love the culture of what he calls "Airworld", finding contentment within pressurized cabins and anonymous hotel rooms. His one all-consuming quest: to earn one million frequent flyer miles. Will he make it? And what will happen along the way? This "whip-smart" novel, recently made into a smashingly entertaining film starring George Clooney, is just $14.95 in paperback. Reading it will show you that the right director and star can make movie magic when the source material is this good. Why don't you cross media streams on this one and give the book along with two tickets to the cinema?

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Two Great Gift Books

Have you finished all of your Christmas shopping yet? If not, I have two fantastic gift books to tell you about, and we only have one copy left of each, so hurry on down! The first one I've told you about before, The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, by Theodore Gray. As I mentioned the other day, we got a carton of the last eight of these available until after the holidays, and we're down to only one book.

The other book is Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame: A Celebration of the Greatest Toys of All Time, by Scott Eberle and Strong National Museum of Play. This book is about the toys that have been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum of Play. Did you even know there was a Toy Hall of Fame? Or a Museum of Play? How cool is that???

This beautifully illustrated coffee-table book tells the story of the toys Americans have played with the most -- how they came to be, who invented them, how they were made, where they were sold, why we played with them, and what made them so popular. In this sweet book you'll find the story behind Candyland and Monopoly, Tinker Toys and Hula Hoops, Slinkys and Silly Putty, the Easy Bake Oven and the View-master, and, of course, Mr. Potato Head -- and more!
Each of these books is both gorgeous and fascinating, and either would make a wonderful gift. We're open until 9 pm tonight and until 5 pm on Christmas Eve, so some see us! If I get up early enough tomorrow, I might even bring in fresh-based chocolate chip cookies!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day Twenty-Two: Footnotes in Gaza

Welcome to Day Twenty-Two in The 24 Days of Books. Today's book is hot off the press. Footnotes in Gaza, by Portland cartoonist-reporter Joe Sacco, is a sweeping, original investigation of a forgotten crime in the most tormented of places: Rafah, a town at the bottom-most tip of the Gaza Strip -- a town where raw concrete buildings front trash-strewn alleys. The narrow streets are crowded with young children and unemployed men. On the border with Egypt, swaths of Rafah have been bulldozed to rubble. Rafah is today and has always been a notorious flashpoint in this bitterest of conflicts.

Buried deep in the archives is one bloody incident, in 1956, that left 111 Palestinian refugees dead, shot by Israeli soldiers. Seemingly a footnote to a long history of killing, that day in Rafa -- cold-blooded massacre or dreadful mistake -- reveals the competing truths that have come to define an intractable war. In a quest to get to the heart of what happened, Joe Sacco came to Gaza and immersed himself in daily life, uncovering Rafah past and present. Spanning fifty years and moving fluidly between one war and the next, alive with the voices of fugitives and schoolchildren, widows and sheiks, Footnotes in Gaza captures the essence of a tragedy. As in his previous work, Sacco's unique visual journalism has rendered a contested landscape in brilliant, meticulous detail. Footnotes in Gaza, his most ambitious work to date, transforms a critical conflict of our age into an intimate and immediate experience. According to Publisher's Weekly, "Having already established his reputation as the world's leading comics journalist, Sacco... is now making a serious case to be considered one of the world's top journalists, period....It's his exacing and harrowing interviews that make this book an invaluable piece of journalism."

This book just hit stores today, and it's destined to be another big seller. Last Sunday The Oregonian named Footnotes in Gaza one of the Top Ten Northwest Books for 2009, so come and get it before the shelves are bare. For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 21: Sing-Along Songs

Welcome to Day 21 in The 24 Days of Books. We're almost to the end of our parade of books -- only four more books to talk about. Today it's all about the kids in your life, with Sing-Along Songs -- with accompanying music CD. This adorable board book from Priddy Books, one of my favorite publishers for kids' treasures, contains thirteen classic favorites, all included on the sing-along CD for parents and children to enjoy together. Who can live without such classics as "The Wheels on the Bus," "This Old Man," "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" and that irresistibly infectious song, "If You're Happy and You Know It"???? What a terrific gift for the whole singing family!

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

"The Elements" is Back!

Recently I wrote a post about my favorite gift book of the year, The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, by Theodore Gray. It was a somewhat sad posting, as the book was out of stock everywhere in the known universe. But the book gods smiled upon us, and the publisher got a carton of the books returned to them from a reading -- and they turned around and sent them to us!!

Before we could even get the eight books out of the box, two of them sold, so now we have six copies left. And then they're all gone until after the first of the year. So hurry in now and get this fantastic gift.

The book offers an eye-opening, original collection of gorgeous, never-before-seen photographic representations of the 118 elements in the periodic table that seem to pop off of the black backgrounds. Organized in order of appearance on the periodic table, each element is represented by a spread that includes a stunning, full-page, full-color photograph that most closely represents it in its purest form. Several additional photographs show each element in slightly altered forms or as used in various practical ways. The book is a stunning combination of art and science that would make a fabulous gift for someone special.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day Twenty: The Children's Book

It's the Saturday before Christmas. And it's Day Twenty in The 24 Days of Books. Yes, it is, because it's only 11:30 pm, so there's still another 30 minutes left in Day Twenty! We haven't talked about fiction for a while, so today we're going to talk about fiction, and darned good fiction. The Children's Book, by A.S. Byatt, was a finalist for this year's Booker Prize.

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centers around Olive Wellwood, a famous children's book author, and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves. When Olive's oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum - a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive's magical tales - she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends. But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house - and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children - conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives - of adults and children alike - unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

Taking us from the cliff-lined shores of England to Paris, Munich, and the trenches of the Somme,The Children's Book is a deeply affecting story of a singular family, played out against the great, rippling tides of the day. A.S. Byatt traces their lives in intimate detail and moves between generations, following the children who must choose whether to follow the roles expected of them or stand up to their parents’ “porcelain socialism.” It is a masterly literary achievement by one of our most essential writers.

One reviewer wrote this about The Children's Book: “This book made me thirsty: Whenever I put it down, it nagged me to pick it up again…. Monumental, pure, beautiful…. After more than 40 years of writing, Byatt can still breathe magical life into historical fiction, giving her abiding interests new relevance with each work.”

A.S. Byatt was born Antonia Susan Drabble in August 1936 in Sheffield, England. Her younger sister is the novelist Margaret Drabble. In 1990 she was awarded the Booker Prize for fiction for her novel Possession: A Romance.

For many more gift-giving ideas -- including lots more fiction suggestions, such as this year's Booker Prize winner -- check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day Nineteen: Lit

It's Day Nineteen in The 24 Days of Books. Today we're talking about Lit, the third memoir from author Mary Karr. Lit follows The Liar's Club, which told the story of her messed up childhood, and Cherry, which told the story of her messed up adolescence. And guess what? Her initial attempts at adulthood were pretty messed up too, as she turns to alcohol just about the time her alcoholic mother quits drinking. The good news is that despite all of this messing up, an area where Karr definitely doesn't mess up is in her writing. The book does not fall into the self-indulgent trap and is instead howlingly funny in places and is full of acute self-awareness and acceptance of responsibility for bad choices.

Lit tells the story of her growing alcoholism, the collapse of her marriage to an Ivy League WASP husband, the birth of her son (now grown), and her descent into depression and thoughts of suicide. As she endeavors to move away from drinking, she finally -- and rather reluctantly -- embraces Catholicism. And she writes about it even more reluctantly, saying "Talking about spiritual activity to a secular audience is like doing card tricks on the radio."

This memoir offers a great read for someone on your "gift list." For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day Eighteen: Basketball for All!

Welcome to Day Eighteen of The 24 Days of Books! In honor of the Portland Trail Blazers oh-so-impressive comeback victory last night over the Phoenix Suns, today we're going to talk BASKETBALL!! Specifically, two books. The first is The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons. This monster of a book (more than 700 pages) is equal parts history and analysis. Simmons, a regular columnist on ESPN.com, summarizes the history of the league, discusses his personal fandom, analyzes Most Valuable Player choices through the years, and dissects the careers of the league's all-time best players.

He also includes a fascinating "What If" chapter that counts down the top thirty-three "what ifs" in NBA history, in reverse order, building up to #1: "What if the 1984 draft turned out differently?" The 1984 draft, you might recall, is the one in which the Trailblazers passed up on Michael Jordan and instead drafted Sam Bowie. (He also presents the "three great what-ifs in my life that don't involve women," the first being "What if I had gone west or south for college? This haunts me and will continue to haunt me until the day I die. I could have chosen a warm-weather school with hundreds of gorgeous sorority girls, and instead I went to an Irish Catholic school on a Worcester hill with bone-chilling 20-degree winds....")

This book would make a wonderful gift for the basketball fan on your list. And, while you're at it, take a look at When the Game was Ours, by Larry Bird and Earvin Magic Johnson, with Jackie MacMullan. This remarkable collaboration by two NBA legends recounts the decades long journey of their relationship, from bitter rivals to lifelong friends.

So, there you have it, two great gifts for the sports lover in your life. For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day Seventeen: Anonyponymous

Yikes! It's already Day Seventeen in The 24 Days of Books! Where does the time go?? Today I'm going to tell you about a cute little book that would make a wonderful stocking stuffer or just a terrific gift for the language lover in your life. Anonyponymous: The Forgotten People Behind Everyday Words, by John Bemelmans Marciano, does exactly that: it tells you the fascinating but little known stories about people who have (typically inadvertently) bequeathed their names to language but the original person has been long forgotten.

The word eponymous means "giving one's name to a person, place or thing," and we all know what anonymous means. Hence the title. Anonyponymous tells you about the real life person whose name was taken by algorithm, blurb, crapper, dunce, nicotine, pilates, galvanize, maverick (I can assure you it has nothing to do with either John McCain or Sarah Palin), and nicotine. You'll learn about The Earl of Sandwich, Harry Shrapnel, Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, Charles Boycott, and Jules Leotard. The book offers a compendium of intriguing trivia and a window into the fascinating world of etymology.

The author, who also did the sketches in the book, is the grandson of award-winning writer Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the beloved children's books about Madeline, who lived in "an old house in Paris that was covered with vines.....[with] twelve little girls in two straight lines....The smallest one was Madeline." I have always loved Madeline -- yes, even as a grown-up. Marciano lives in Brooklyn with his wife Andromache and daughter Galatea and cats Maud and Liddy. According to his website, "In Brooklyn we name our pets like people and our people like obscure cultural references."

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's a Mystery to Me!

How do you like your mysteries? Hard-boiled? Cold-hearted? Warm and fuzzy? Historical or contemporary? Around the world or close to home? However you like 'em, we got 'em! Lots of favorite mystery writers have new books out recently: Chelsea Cain, Jacqueline Winspear, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Maggie Barbieri, Patricia Cornwell, Andrew Vachss, Patrick McManus, Robert Parker, David Baldacci, Jonathan Kellerman, James Ellroy, Vince Flynn, James, Patterson, and J.A. Jance. And more. Come see us! We also have the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan books by Val McDermid, which are the books that set Chelsea Cain down the path of writing her Portland-based serial-killer series. Need a good page-turner to take your mind off the stress of the holidays? Oh wait, who said holidays are stressful?? Not me!

Day Sixteen: The Sharing Solution

It's Day Sixteen in The 24 Days of Books. And I don't know if anyone has noticed, but we're thick in the midst of holiday doings. Did you notice that? Anyway, in my mind, the holidays are all about sharing. Or at least they should be. So for today's book I'm going to tell you about a book that is all about sharing: The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow.

You may be motivated and committed to creating a more sustainable lifestyle in your community, but where do you start? And how can you do it without the hassle and legal entanglement that so many greener initiatives seem to require? The Sharing Solution (published by Nolo) guides you, in plain English, through the steps you’ll need to take to create and maintain successful sharing arrangements.

From housing to childcare, cars to lawnmowers, gardens to bike repair, The Sharing Solution gives you the tips and tools to share your resources, while addressing commonly held questions about liability and individual security with compassion. How can you benefit from sharing?

  • get help with meals and pet care
  • share needed resources in retirement to save money
  • tackle major house and yard projects with neighborhood work parties
  • buy property with others that you couldn't afford alone
  • make big purchases with others to keep costs low
  • work fewer hours while reducing living expenses (who doesn't love that?)
  • grow your local economy with community intiatives
And, if you’re concerned about the environment and want to start living greener, The Sharing Solution is filled with environmentally sound ways to build a more sustainable – and affordable – lifestyle. This book provides the practical tools you can use to create sharing agreements. What says "Happy Holidays" better than a book that can help your giftee to spend less money, save the environment, and build and foster strong networks within the community? How great is that?! Best of all, our copies are signed by Emily Doskow, one of the authors. (You can watch a video of Emily talking about the book on our Facebook page.)

If you check out the book's website you can also learn how to share cows and chickens, office parties, and vegetable and flower gardens, along with loads of other great tips.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day Fifteen: The Book of Genesis

It's Day 15 in The 24 Days of Books, and today we're going graphic on you. The Book of Genesis: Illustrated by R. Crumb. From the creation to the death of Joseph, all fifty chapters of The Book of Genesis, revealingly illustrated by the one and only Robert Crumb. Crumb, one of the original masters of alternative comics, has rendered the first book of the bible, word-for-word, using his signature style, and even, dare I say it, a little bit of grace. You really have to see it to believe it. Crumb originally thought that he would do a takeoff of Adam and Eve, but he became so fascinated by the Bible's language, "a text so great and so strange that it lends itself readily to graphic depictions," that he decided instead to do a literal interpretation assembled primarily from the translations of Robert Alter and the King James Version. This is an astonishing work from one of our greatest artistic geniuses.
For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Biographical Bonanza!

I've been marveling about what a spectacular year this has been for fiction -- just about every major novelist has a new book out this fall. But this fall also offers a biography bonanza! There are new biographies and memoirs from just about every time period. Here's just a sampling of the wide variety of subjects covered in new books, some biographies and some memoirs: George Carlin (he was working with Tony Hendra on his memoir for several years before he died), Ted Kennedy, Abigal Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Donald Barthelme (this book won the Oregon Book Award this year), Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Cheever, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabth, Graham Greene, Louis Brandeis, Patricia Highsmith, Dorthea Lange, Flannery O'Connor, Ayn Rand, Cornelius Vanderbil (the book won the National Book Award), Woodrow Wilson, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt (multiple books), Pat Tillman, Rayond Carver, Leslie Caron, Margaret Drabble, Mary Karr, Rita Mae Brown, Janis Ian, Harold Evans, Mary Piper....Whew! I'm getting exhausted just listing them all -- and there's many more I haven't even mentioned!

Today I'm going to highlight just a couple. Open: An Autobiography, by Andre Agassi, is an amazingly honest memoir from one of the greatest tennis players in history and one of the most intriguing personalities in the game. Agassi was aided in writing his book by J.R. Moehringer, Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist and author of one of Broadway Book's bestselling memoirs, The Tender Bar. Good writing is not something you can always count on in a "celebrity memoir," but given Moehringer's assistance on the project, I think you will be quite satisfied with this one.

The other book I wanted to point out is Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong, by Terry Teachout. This biography tells the story of the twentieth century's most influential jazz musician, a great artist who was also a great man, an entertainer so irresistibly magnetic that he knocked the Beatles off of the top of the charts four decades after he cut his first record. In his new book, Teachout has drawn on a cache of important new sources unavailable to previous biographers, including hundreds of candid after-hours recordings made by Armstrong himself.

If you -- or someone in your life -- enjoys delving into the lives of others -- contemporary or historical, famous or infamous, widely known or little known -- you are sure to find something to please just about every taste.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day Fourteen: Hot, Flat & Crowded

It's Day Fourteen in The 24 Days of Books, and today we're talking about a book just released in paperback and that seems particularly appropriate to talk about right now, given the Copenhagen Climate Conference: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America, by Thomas L. Friedman

A little over a year ago, Hot, Flat and Crowded was published in hardback. The book was an argument for why America's taking the lead in the green revolution was the ideal way to reinvigorate our economy and innovation engines, restore America's global leadership, and help the planet at the same time. In the new paperback edition, Friedman has rewritten much of the front of the book to underscore the parallels between the financial crisis and the environmental crisis, arguing that both were based on the same faulty accounting and suggesting that an ethic of sustainability is, at least in part, the answer for healing both.

Thomas L. Friedman, a world-renowned author and journalist, joined The New York Times in 1981 as a financial reporter specializing in OPEC- and oil-related news and later served as chief diplomatic, chief White House, and international economics correspondent. A three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles reporting on the Middle East conflict, the end of the cold war, U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy, international economics, and the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat. One of his earlier books, From Beirut to Jerusalem, won both the National Book Award and the Overseas Press Club Award in 1989 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly twelve months.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day Thirteen: Oaks Park Pentimento

For Day thirteen of The 24 Days of Books, we're going to stay local again. Oregon State University Press has just published an important art book called Oaks Park Pentimento: Portland’s Lost and Found Carousel Art with photos by Jim Lommasson. This book contains photographs (taken in 1982) of the strange and beautiful paintings that decorated the center column of the historic carousel at Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. First painted by German and Italian immigrants around 1912, these paintings were an exotic assortment of pastoral scenes featuring western explorers, Native Americans, an Arab riding a camel, and idealized women.

In the 1940s, two itinerant artists were hired to paint over the faded images and they filled the eighteen panels with depictions of local landmarks. Over the years, these new paintings also began to fade and flake, revealing parts of the original images in unexpected ways. (“Pentimento” means the reappearance in a painting of an underlying image that had been painted over.) These haunting new images, combining both the first and the second pictures, were captured by the photographer just three years before they were lost (forever? or perhaps not?) to another layer of paint. A good gift for anyone interested in historical Portland.
For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From Bird Songs to Elements

This post is a bit of a good news/bad news discussion. Last year my gift pick for the holiday season was Birdscapes: A Pop-Up Celebration of Bird Songs in Stereo Sound, by Miyoko Chu with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Such a very cool book! Wonderful pop-up scenes of seven different bird habitats with extended REAL recordings of bird calls and songs in stereo from the world-renowned Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Wow, just writing about it gives me tingles again! It really is spectacular. And it would still make an awesome gift for the bird lover in your life.

This year my favorite gift pick of the holiday season is The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, by Theodore Gray. This book presents each of the elements -- such as calcium, krypton, and lanthanum -- in their pure form, and then showcases examples of how each element lives in the world when combined with other elements: calcium in seashells, krypton in certain light bulbs, and lanthanumin camping-lantern mantels. Illustrated with gorgeous photographs that leap off the black background, this book is an ideal combination of science and art and would make an endlessly fascinating gift. That's the good news. The bad news is that the publisher didn't print enough of them, and it is out of stock everywhere.

Fear not, however, we have a solution to offer. We have one copy of The Elements in the store that we are reserving for people to look at, and we have a carton of books due in the store in mid to late January. We will make customized gift certificates for you so that you can present a tangible something to the lucky giftee in your life, entitling them to come pick up the book at Broadway Books at their convenience after the book arrives. The holidays that just keep giving! Hurry in to get one of our elegant(ish) customized gift certificates before the incoming books are all claimed!

Day Twelve: Front Page Compilations

It's Day Twelve in The 24 Days of Books, and we've decided to cheat, but only just a wee bit. Today we're going to talk about two fabulous books, instead of one, because they share a theme of sorts. The New York Times Complete Front Pages, 1851-2009 is an oversize volume that includes more than 300 facsimile front pages, plus three DVDs with all 54,693 (!) front pages and links to full articles. Also included are essays by twenty writers, including William Safire, Frank Rich, and Gail Collins. This terrific gift will provide hours upon hours of intellectual entertainment for someone with a fondness for history.

As Monty Python would say, “Now for something completely different.” The irrepressible Onion newspaper has just published their version of front pages: The Onion Presents Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America’s Finest News Source, 1988-2008. From their “Super Special Gum Disease Issue” to “Staten Island Historians Piece Together Geneaology of Wu-Tang Clan”, we love ‘em all. This wonderful gift will provide hours upon hours of entertainment of an entirely different ilk.

From the serious to the somewhat-less-than-serious, we've got front page compilations for all! For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Best Books from Salon

It's time for another approaching-the-end-of-year-best-books list, and this one I'm particularly excited about. It's from Salon, the online arts and culture magazine, and the articles are written by Laura Miller. The lists stand out for me for two reasons. First because each has a few "newbies" on it that I haven't seen on other lists this season, and, second, because they acknowledge a couple of books that I'm excited about and would like to see get a broader reading, one a novel and one a memoir.

The novel is Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon. Chaon is the author of an excellent collection of stories called Among the Missing, which I really enjoyed and which was a finalist for the National Book Award. I haven't yet read Await Your Reply, but I kick myself just about daily for not doing so. I'm hoping to get to it after the mad dash of the holidays moves along.

Await Your Reply tells the story of three strangers whose lives interconnect in unforeseen ways with unexpected consequences -- a "mind-bending meditation on identity in the modern world." Chaon is the author of another short story collection, Fitting Ends, and another novel, You Remind Me of Me. He received the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon currently teaches creative writing at Oberlin College in Ohio.

The memoir I'm particularly excited about is Somewhere Towards the End, by Diana Athill, a 90-something Brit who worked as an editor for years, editing the likes of Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Jean Rhys, V.S. Naipaul, and John Updike. At age 83 she published her first memoir, Stet, which described her life in the book world. Stet is a an editing term that means "leave it in," when you've initially marked something in a manuscript for change or deletion.

Now in her early 90s, she continues to write as a free-thinker and with startling frankness, writing about sex (and the lack of it) and relationships and the physical indignities of growing old. Somewhere Towards the End won the Costa Award for Biography and has recently been released in paperback. She writes that she has moved almost exclusively to reading nonfiction because she is no longer interested in analyzing the intricacies of human relationships but "I do still want to be fed facts."

Her memoir ends with this observation: “There are no lessons to be learnt, no discoveries to be made, no solutions to offer. I find myself left with nothing but a few random thoughts. One of them is that from up here I can look back and see that although a human life is less than the blink of an eyelid in terms of the universe, within its own framework it is amazingly capacious so that it can contain many opposites. One life can contain serenity and tumult, heartbreak and happiness, coldness and warmth, grabbing and giving — and also more particular opposites such as a neurotic conviction that one is a flop and a consciousness of success amounting to smugness.”

These are definitely two books I recommend checking out. Here is the full list from Salon:

  • The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt
  • Await Your Reply, Dan Chaon
  • Chronic City, Jonathan Lethem
  • Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories, Lydia Millet
  • The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters
  • A New Literary History of America, edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, with 200 wide-ranging short essays
  • Somewhere Towards the End, Diana Athill
  • Columbine, Dave Cullen, about the 1999 Columbine High School killings
  • The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes, about the visionary scientists of the late 18th/early 19th centuries
  • Tall Man: The Death of Doomadgee, Chloe Hooper -- true crime, courtroom drama, and social expose about the death in 2004 of an aboriginal man while in custody of the Australian police.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Eleven: The Life & Times of I.F. Stone

Welcome to Day Eleven in The 24 Days of Books. Today we're going to talk about a biography -- and we are bursting to the seams with incredible biographies and memoirs this winter. American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone by D.D. Guttenplan is a serious look at one of America’s most influential newsmen. A Popular Front columnist and New Deal propagandist, a fearless opponent of McCarthyism and feared scourge of official liars, a political activist whose accomplishments proved the enduring power of American radicalism, the legendary I.F. Stone left a permanent mark on our politics and culture. From the Depression through the Viet Nam war, this indefatigable journalist produced impeccably sourced articles and columns and was always in the thick of the opposition. This book is a stirring reminder of how much difference one person can make.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Herta Muller Accepts Nobel Prize

Today in Switzerland, Herta Muller was presented the Nobel Prize for Literature. Muller was born to a German family in Romania in 1953. After refusing to cooperate with Ceausescu's Securitate, she suffered repeated threats before she was able to emigrate to Germany in 1987.

Also the recipient of the Kleist Prize, Germany's most prestigious literary award, Muller is the author of several books, including the novel The Land of Green Plums, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann, which just arrived in our store in paperback this week. The novel tells the story of a group of young people in Ceausescu's Romania who leave their impoverished villages for the possibilities of the university. Their hopes are quickly dashed, however, as the city equally bears the mark of the dictator's corrosive touch. Eventually, they betray each other and themselves, and we see how everyone, even the strongest, must either bend to the oppressors or resist them and thereby perish. It is a book that describes in detail what it was like to live in Romania under communism

Here is a bit of today's presentation speech to Muller by Professor Anders Olsson: "Her prose has a linguistic energy that we bond with from the first sentence. Something concerning life or death is at stake. We sense this quickly through the temperature, the hurried breathing, the sharp detail, and everything implied but left unsaid.....Herta Müller has said that her German-speaking upbringing in Romania has been a great inspiration to her writing. For a writer it can be invaluable to have two different languages, and from this situation she early learned to compare, to turn and twist words to extract new meanings."

"Dear Herta Muller. You have shown great courage in uncompromisingly repudiating provincial repression and political terror. It is for the artistic value in that opposition that you merit this prize. Your work is a labour that continues and must continue, a form of irreversible counter-exile. And even though you have said that silence and suppression taught you to write, you have given us words that grip us deeply and directly – in silence and beyond silence. I would like to express the warmest congratulations of the Swedish Academy as I now request you to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature from the hands of His Majesty the King."

You can read Herta Muller's acceptance speech here.

Day Ten: Paintings and Reflections

Welcome to Day Ten in The 24 Days of Books! Today we're going to celebrate local and talk about a new book from a local artist: Paintings and Reflections, by Shirley Gittelsohn. Shirley was born in Portland in 1925 and, aside from a few years living in the Bay Area, her home has always been in Portland or in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast -- one of my most favoritest places in the world. Her time at Reed College nurtured her artistic and humanistic interests. She also made many lifelong friends there and met her first husband, Bill Gittelsohn, who died in 2000.

Shirley has been painting for more than five decades, and the book presents more than fifty of her works. But, more than that, it presents her story, told in her own words. She is the daughter of Thomas Georges, an immigrant Greek entrepreneur, and Daisy Ostrow, her Oregon-born Jewish mother. Her paintings reflect her passions -- specifically, family, gardening, the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and particularly Cannon Beach, where she has a second home and studio, and Mexico, where she travels frequently with her second husband, Ernie Bonyhadi.

The foreword is by Arlene Schnitzer, former owner and director of The Fountain Gallery of Art in Portland, and the introduction is by Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director of the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College (I'm guessing her business cards must be huge!).

In Shirley's own words: "I have lived a long and fortunate life. My art reflects that good fortune: joy from family and friends, from blooming flowers, from Oregon's blue mountains, from the ever-changing atmosphere of Cannon Beach, and from Mexico's dazzling light." What a wonderful gift this book would make! Best of all, Shirley will be reading here in March, so the recipient of this gift could come to the reading and get the book personalized.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

A Celebration and a Good Cause

We like to do something every year on or around Grace Paley’s birthday, to celebrate her life and work. This year, our event coincides (appropriately) with the first night of Hannukah, tomorrow night.

One of the great American writers and activists of the 20th century, Grace died in August 2007. She wrote fiction, poems and essays that tell us things we need to know. She has long been important to readers, writers and activists who are struggling to be conscious as they make real art out of real life.

Two of Oregon’s finest and most thoughtful writers will read from Grace’s work and their own on this evening: novelist and short story writer Gina Ochsner and poet and journalist BT Shaw. There will be audience participation as well, with Portland writer Judith Arcana, poet and author of Grace Paley’s Life Stores: A Literary Biography, as emcee. This annual event is always a special evening.

This year the celebration is also a fundraiser for a beacon of light in our own neighborhood. The North by Northeast Community Health Center is dedicated to providing free health screening and basic medical services to low-income individuals without medical insurance who live in inner North and Northeast Portland. From 7 pm to 9 pm, Broadway Books pledges 10% of our sales as a cash donation to help Dr. Jill Ginsberg and Pastor Mary Overstreet (and their dedicated paid and volunteer staff) with this important work.

Please join us to celebrate the life and work of Grace Paley and to raise needed funds for a very worthy cause. The event begins at 7 pm, but you can come early to browse!

Gwen Ifill and Jon Stewart

Tonight on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" (on Comedy Central), the scheduled guest is journalist and broadcaster Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of the PBS show "Washington Week" -- I love watching that show and I love Gwen!!! Her new book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, has recently been released in paperback. The Breakthrough sheds light on the impact of Obama's presidential victory and introduces several emerging young African American politicians, drawing on Ifill's interviews with prominent leaders, including Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, Jesse Jackson, and President Obama. Publisher's Weekly called the book "a stellar analysis of the black political structure and its future in American politics."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day Nine: The Museum of Innocence

It's Day Nine in The 24 Days of Books, and today we showcase the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. Orhan Pamuk, author of the highly acclaimed novels Snow and My Name is Red, has a new novel, The Museum of Innocence, that has already hit several "Best of 2009" book lists. The book tells the story of Kemal, scion of one of Istanbul's wealthiest families and engaged to Sibel, daughter of another prominent family.

The book begins with Kemal reminiscing, "It was the happiest day of my life, though I didn't know it. Had I known, had I cherished this gift, would everything have turned out differently? Yes, if I had recognized this instant of perfect happiness, I would have held it fast and never let it slip away." Unfortunately, this moment of perfect happiness comes not in the company of his fiancee Sibel but with a long-lost cousin, Fuson, a young and beautiful shopgirl.

In his feckless pursuit of Fusun, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of objects that chronicle his lovelorn progress and his afflicted heart's reactions: anger and impatience, remorse and humiliation, deluded hopes of recovery, and daydreams that transform Instanbul into a cityscape of signs and specters of his beloved -- creating his museum of innocence.

Pamuk's stirring exploration of the nature of romantic attachment and of the mysterious allure of collecting plumbs the depths of an Instanbul that is half Western and half traditional, contrasting its emergent modernity with its vast cultural history. This story -- wonderfully told and masterfully translated -- would be a welcome gift for any of the serious readers in your life.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Signed Copies of Ad Hoc at Home!

One of our favorite publisher's sales reps has just done us a huge favor, and we will shortly be receiving ten copies of Thomas Keller's extremely hard to find new cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. This big, gorgeous book is $50 but is so worth every penny! It is inspired by the menu at Keller's casual restaurant Ad Hoc in Yountville, California. It showcases more than 200 recipes for family-style meals. And guess what. Our copies are SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. So give us a shout right away if you want us to hold a copy for you. These ten copies will be gone in a flash. Won't the foodie on your list be thrilled?

LA Times Picks its Best Books of 2009

The LA Times weighs in with its opinion on the best books of the 2009, with 25 books acknowledged in its fiction and poetry list, and another 25 in its nonfiction list. Here are some of the newspaper's selections:

  • The Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The long-awaited follow-up novel by the author of The Shadow of the Wind, actually a "prequel" of sorts, tells the story of a struggling young writer in 1920s Barcelona.
  • The Book of Genesis Illustrated, R Crumb. An honest and powerful rendering of the Book of Genesis by famed illustrator.
  • Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli. This graphic novel has hit several "Best of" lists recently, and it was just discussed on our blog yesterday in Day Eight of The 24 Days of Books.
  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. This is another book that has hit several lists, and Ms. Davis read in Portland recently as part of the Literary Arts program. Thought-provoking "short shorts."
  • The Financial Lives of Poets, Jess Walter. This darkly funny novel by a Spokane writer is another book we blogged about recently.
  • Sunnyside, Glen David Gold. Charlie Chaplin stars in this epic-sized novel about early Hollywood and LA by the author of Carter Beats the Devil.
  • Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro. Not much left to be said about the latest short story collection from the master of short stories except why haven't you read it yet???
  • The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America, Timothy Egan. Another book we've blogged about recently by one of my all-time-favorite nonfiction writers. If you can't bring yourself to buy a hardbound book, pick up The Good Rain (a wonderful book about the history of the Pacific NW) or The Worst Hard Time (National Book Award winner about the Great American Dust Bowl), both in paperback now.
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, Zadie Smith. "Lively unselfconscious rigorous erudite collection" of essays on wide-ranging topics from the author of two novels I loved, White Teeth and On Beauty.
  • Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, Lyanda Lynn Haupt. A lovely book by Seattle-based writer and naturalist. A link and another link here.
  • Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer. Why eating animals is killing us and our planet. Day Two in The 24 Days of Books.
  • Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start Your Day, Diane Ackerman. Reflections on human interconnectedness with the planet by prolific author.
  • Stitches: A Memoir, David Small. Memoir in graphic novel format that has hit several "best of" lists. Illustrator of children's books recounts his upbringing and the literal and figurative scars inflicted by his parents.
  • Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness, Tracy Kidder. Another story about the heroism inherent in ordinary people.
  • A Paradise built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit. I love titles of nonfiction books that so clearly spell out what the book is about.
Okay. There you have it. See you in the store soon to pick up this latest collection of must-reads! And judging from the weekend weather forecasts, this will be a perfect weekend for hunkering down with a great stack of books and a hot cup of tea, preferably with a kitty or two on your lap.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Julia Child DVD is here!

Along with everyone else, we are in love with all things Julia Child. And guess what just arrived? The sweetest little present for the Julia-lover on your list! Ms. Child's publisher, Knopf, has just issued her six-part series, originally produced in 1985, in which Julia teaches all the basics and offers a wealth of her favorite recipes. This package includes 2 DVDs (360 minutes) of our favorite chef in her prime, and costs only $24.95. Bon appetit!

Day Eight: Asterios Polyp

It's Day Eight of The 24 Days of Books, and today we're talking graphic novels, specifically, Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli. Publishers Weekly calls Mazzucchelli’s new book “the comics equivalent of a Pynchon or Gaddis novel.” It is the story of Asterios Polyp, an award-winning architect none of whose designs have ever actually been built. His life at the age of 50 has fallen into shambles. After his New York apartment burns down, he sets out to create a new life in small-town America. All the while, Mazzucchelli reveals scenes from Polyp’s life that illuminate how he came to be in his current state of decline. Asterios Polyp is an excellent gateway graphic novel for those who are new to the genre.

Here are a few other great graphic "novels" to check out: Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small (finalist for National Book Award); A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge, by Josh Neufeld; The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders, by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier; and, finally, one of my all-time favorites, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel. Good stuff! We got lots more too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Last Week's Top Twenty

Still looking for inspiration for gifts this month? Here are the 20 bestselling books (or book-like objects) at Broadway Books last week. Surely you can find some great ideas in this list. Wonder how it will differ from this week's list???

  • Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (very important book!)
  • The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver (her first novel in years!)
  • Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson (continuing the fine work documented in Three Cups of Tea)
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery (life in a French apartment)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson (the first in red-hot trilogy)
  • Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro (the latest from the master of the short story)
  • Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann (National Book Award winner - just out in PB!)
  • My Life in France, Julia Child (saw the movie, finally, this weekend. Loved it!)
  • The 2010 Sierra Club Engagement Calendar (neck-and-neck with Audubon engagement)
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett (This book just keeps selling and selling and selling)
  • Live for Your Listening Pleasure, David Sedaris (ok, not exactly a book - it's a CD - but woohee fun!)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (an epistolary novel with a heart-warming back story -- just ask!)
  • Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder (The author of Mountains Beyond Mountains)
  • Fearless Critic Portland Restaurant Guide (hot off the press!)
  • Where Men Win Glory, Jon Krakauer (Krakauer - one of our favs - writes about Pat Tillman)
  • Half-Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle author writes about grandma)
  • Open, Andre Agassi (memoir co-written with JR Moehringer of The Tender Bar fame)
  • Convictions, John Kroger (Oregon's Attorney General just won Oregon Book Award for nonfiction for this book)
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (2009 Booker Prize winner about Thomas Cromwell)
  • Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout (Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel told in stories)

Day Seven: Waddle!

Welcome to Day Seven in The 24 Days of Books! Today we're going to highlight a book for younger readers. Two years ago one of the hottest books for kids was a book called Gallop!, by Rufus Butler Seder, which incorporated a new technology called "scanimation" to show animals in movement. It was HOT! The following year he followed up with a book called Swing!, which showed athletes in motion. For 2009 he brings back animals with Waddle! In this adorable blue book, the penguin waddles, the frog hops, the pig prances, the elephant stomps, the snake slithers (ok, I couldn't really look at this page -- I have a thing about snakes), the hummingbird flaps, the bear scampers, and the dolphin leaps. But I'm not going to tell you what the alligator does; you'll have to check that out for yourself! Kids love these books, and frankly lots of adults do too! They're way fun.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Best Books of 2009 from The Economist

Yippeeee!!! It's time for another "Best Books" list!!! This one comes from the magazine The Economist. Their list of best books of 2009 covers politics & current affairs, biography & memoir, history, economics & business, science & technology, culture & society, and fiction. You can read the whole list here, but here are the fiction selections:
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (The 2009 Booker Prize winner)
  • American Rust, Philipp Meyer
  • Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro (my all-time-favorite short story writer)
  • Ultimatum, Matthew Glass
  • Love and Summer, William Trevor
  • The Glass Room, Simon Mawer (finalist for the 2009 Booker -- I just started reading this and am loving it!)
  • Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, Geoff Dyer
  • Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow & Farewell, Javier Marias
  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin (finalist for National Book Award)
  • The Winter Vault, Anne Michaels (Her previous novel, Fugitive Pieces, won The Orange Prize in 1997)

Day Six: The Humbling

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, albeit a bit on the nippy side. And it's Day six in The 24 Days of Books! The prolific Philip Roth has another new novel this season, called The Humbling. This small volume deals with many of the themes familiar to Roth’s readers. The story of an aging actor who has lost his juice, the narrative takes a shockingly erotic turn. In this, his thirtieth (!) book, Roth follows up on the dark meditations on mortality and endings that were present in Everyman and Exit Ghost, and the bitterly ironic retrospect on youth and chance in Indignation. This would make a lovely holiday gift for all the legions of Roth fans out there.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day Five: Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish

Oh happy day! It's Saturday, and it's Day Five in The 24 Days of Books, which means it's time for a book for the craziest person on your Hanukkah list: Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish, edited by Shana Liebman, is an anthology of pieces from Heeb magazine, a humor magazine with a decidedly funny take on all things Jewish. This is what Mayim Bialik has to say: “From the irreverent to the desperate; from the sacred to the profane; from the tender to the torturous: this is the voice of the next wave of the Jewish experience. You will laugh, you will cry, you will blush, you will call your Aunt Pearl.” How can you go wrong with that???

Friday, December 4, 2009

Some Novel Gift Ideas

Still stumped on gift ideas for Hanukkah or Christmas? Here are the top five bestselling novels in paperback at Broadway Books. Any one of them -- or even all of them -- would make a terrific gift. And if your giftee has already read a book you give them that you bought from us, he or she can exchange it for something different. The top five are
  • Olive Kitteridge (winner of the Pulitzer), by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • The Highest Tide, by Jim Lynch
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

We've got ample copies of all of these instock and would be happy to gift wrap them for you!

Day Four: The Hemingses of Monticello

Day 4 of The 24 Days of Books celebrates the book that took just about every prize for history writing last year -- including the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed -- the paperback version of which was recently published. Blending biography, genealogy, and history, this multigenerational saga traces mixed-race bloodlines that American history has long refused fully to acknowledge. In her book, which is based on prodigious research in the voluminous Jefferson papers and other ­sources, Gordon-Reed traces the experiences of this slave family over three generations. The account begins with Elizabeth Hemings, born in 1735 as the daughter of an African woman and a white sea captain. The Hemings family went to Monticello as part of Martha Wayles Jefferson's inheritance. Individual members eventually found their way to Paris, New York, Philadelphia and Richmond, allowing Gordon-Reed to pre­sent a revealing portrait of the varieties of black life in Jefferson’s era.

At the center of the book is the relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, although Gordon-Reed acknowledges that it is almost impossible to portray accurately the nature of their relationship, given that neither left any historical evidence about their relationship. Jefferson eventually freed Sally's children, and Jefferson's daughter allowed Sally to live with her sons as a free woman. For the other slaves at Monticello, however, Jefferson’s death in 1826 was a catastrophe. To settle his enormous debts, his estate, including well over 100 slaves, was auctioned, destroying the families he had long tried to keep intact.

Gordon-Reed, a Guggenheim Fellow, is a professor of law at New York Law School and a professor of history at Rutgers University.

For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

Sales Galore and More!!!

Lights on Broadway starts....NOW!!! Sales, fun activities, and fundraisers throughout the NE Broadway neighborhood through Sunday. Check it out here. At Broadway Books we're offering 25% off ALL hardbound fiction in the store!! What a deal! You don't have to wait for your favorite novelists' books to come out in paperback. Yeehaw!! Does it get any better than that? Well, yes it does, because I'm coming to the store at 11:30 this morning with hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. Get while the gettings good!

While you're in the store, help us build a better library for Sitton Elementary School -- ask us and we'll tell you all about it. And don't forget to take full advantage of your dedicated "Personal Shoppers" at Broadway Books. See you soon!

The Library Journal's Top Books of 2009

Yippeee!!! Another best books list! This one actually came out a couple of weeks ago. It's from The Library Journal, which, you might enjoy knowing, was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey, he of Dewey decimal system fame. My grandfather's middle name was Dewey -- no fooling -- so I've always been fond of the name on a variety of levels.

Anyway, back to the list. The journal named 31 top books of 2009 (you can read the full list and descriptions here), as well as many more genre-specific books. Here are some of the year's top reads, according to The Library Journal:

  • The Children's Book, A.S. Byatt
  • Spooner, Pete Dexter
  • Wanting, Richard Flanagan
  • Lark and Termite, Jayne Anne Phillips
  • This Is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
  • A Short History of Women, Kate Walbert
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding
  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (winner of this year's Booker Prize)
  • Ayn Rand and the World She Made, Anne C. Heller
  • The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, Graham Farmelo
  • The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, Allison Hoover Bartlett
  • NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman
  • The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes
The genre-specific notables included The Scarecrow, by Michael Connolly; A Flickering Light, by Jane Kirkpatrick; and The Gourmet Today Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl.

The journal also offered a list of the Best Young Adult Books for Adults. That list included local author and National-Book-Award nominee Laini Taylor for Lips Touch: Three Times; Stitches: A Memoir, by David Small (also a National Book nominee and a gripping graphic memoir by a well-known children's book illustrator); Going Bovine, by Libba Bray (a hoot!); When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead; and Catching Fire ("There are books, and then there are books you cannot put down."), by Suzanne Collins -- this book is the sequel to The Hunger Games, which I ate up.

Come and get 'em!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

NPR's Best Books to Share with Friends

This is one of my favorite times of year. And not because the store is full to the gills with wonderful new books and other gifts, although that would be true. And not because the store is full of wonderful customers, many looking for help in choosing just the right gifts for special someones in their lives, although that would be true as well. And not because it gets dark so early at night, because that would definitely not be true. But because -- and yes, you can call me weird for this -- this is the time of year when everyone under the sun puts out their "Best X Books of the Year."

I get such a kick out of reading all of these lists, both for general amusement and for inspiration for more to-be-read books to add to the already teetering stacks around my house of books I intend to read someday.....

You've got your generic "Best books of the year" lists, from copious periodicals. And then the more nichy "best books to read in the bathtub," or "best books to give to children," or "best cookbooks," or "best books for changing your life," or "best books about animals whose names start with the letter M." Lists of best books for just about anything.

Today I will share with you one of the new lists from National Public Radio: NPR's Best Books to Share with Friends. Why didn't I think of that? And isn't it easy to share a bound book with a friend? Just hand it to them. Not like trying to share a book on your Kindle. The list was compiled by Glen Weldon. Here we go:
  • Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli. This envelope-pushing graphic novel is about a pompous middle-aged architect. You'll hear more about this one from us later.

  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. This is an adorably packaged (my guess is she would hate that description) collection of stories that is spare but not slight. She was in town recently to read as part of the Literary Arts series. NPR calls the book a "quiet, witty, thoroughly absorbing read."

  • Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. NPR says this book is "so good you forgive the exclamation point." I love that! (and I forgive my own exclamation point.) This is a haunting, imaginative novel about how to live in a world without meaning but that is grounded in the messy, mysterious business of human interaction.

  • The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines, by Mike Madrid. Pretty much what the titles says: a complete history and anlysis of women in comics.

  • Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo, by Werner Herzog. Film director Herzog spent three years in the Amazon making the movie Fitzcarraldo, which included pulling an actual steamship over a real mountain. Ugh. I don't think I'd want to do that anywhere, but especially not in the Amazon! (Oops -- there's that darned exclamation mark again.) The book provides an intimate portrait of an artist whose life work explores the place where determination shades into madness.

Ok, there you have it. Would YOU share these books with friends? If not, what books would you share with friends? Send us your nominees. Hey, we could build our own list! Wouldn't that be fun???

Day Three: Louis Brandeis

Welcome to Day Three of The 24 Days of Books! Today’s book is a humdinger of a biography. Louis D. Brandeis: A Life by Melvin I. Urofsky is the first full-scale biography of the distinguished Supreme Court justice to appear in twenty-five years. Named by Woodrow Wilson to the court in 1916, Brandeis had at least three full legal careers before that. Along with others, he developed the concept of the modern law firm, in which specialists manage different areas of the law. He was the author of the right to privacy, and pioneered the idea of pro bono publico work by attorneys. He still ranks today as one of the nation’s leading progressive reformers.

The child of intellectuals who fled Europe and settled in Kentucky, Brandeis attended Harvard Law School, and he soon became known as a reformer. In 1908, he defended an Oregon law that established maximum hours for women workers! Brandeis witnessed and suffered from anti-Semitism all of his life, and his experiences led him to become a powerful force in American Jewish affairs. This is a huge and galvanizing biography, a revelation of one man’s effect on American society and jurisprudence, and the electrifying story of his time.
For many more gift-giving ideas, check out our gargantuan December newsletter, which you can read by clicking here.

NY Times Top Ten of 2009

The New York Times has just announced its annual Top Ten Books of the Year, an announcement that is never without controversy. The list will be published in the December 13th issue of the New York Times, but in the interim you can find it online. So, a little drum roll please....Here are the selections:

  • Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, Maile Meloy
  • Chronic City, Jonathan Lethem
  • A Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore
  • Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel, Jeannette Walls
  • A Short History of Women, Kate Walbert
  • The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes
  • The Good Soldiers, David Finkel
  • Lit: A Memoir, Mary Karr
  • Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, Liaquat Ahamed
  • Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, Carol Sklenicka
Well, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? I'm a HUGE Lorrie Moore fan, so I'm happy to see her on the list. Definitely are some that I'm surprised not to see. No way could I ever pick a top ten list for myself. Just too many good books out there. Especially this year. I just finished reading Kim Barne's new novel, A Country Called Home, and enjoyed it greatly. It recently came out in paperback, so give it a whirl. The list has definitely inspired me to get to reading some of these that have been calling to me.

Don't forget that if you want to try some of these novels that are still in hardback, Broadway Books is offering 25% off ALL HARDCOVER FICTION IN THE STORE this weekend (Dec 4-6) as part of our Lights on Broadway celebration. That pretty much brings the price down to the paperback price, without having to wait. The discount doesn't apply to books we order for you, so come early to get the best selection; I'm sure we'll sell out of some of our hardcover novels before the weekend is out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

National Book Award Winner in PB

Hot off the press! Colum McCann's latest novel, Let the Great World Spin, won the National Book Award for fiction last week. And today the paperback version arrived in our store! This bestselling, award-winning book opens on August 7, 1974, as Philippe Petit attempts to cross between the twin towers of the World Trade Center on a high wire. This illegal act leads him to the courtroom of Judge Solomon Soderberg, and the book cascades from there. This is a novel of origins and consequences and unexpectedly connected characters.

The late author Frank McCourt called the book a "blockbuster groundbreaking heartbreaking symphony of a novel," and Dave Eggers said of it "There's so much passion and humor and pure life force on every page that you'll find yourself giddy, dizzy, and overwhelmed."

In recognizing McCann's book, the judges had this to say: "Like the funambulist at the heart of this extraordinary novel, Colum McCann accomplishes a gravity-defying feat: from ten ordinary lives he crafts an indelibly hallucinatory portrait of a decaying New York City, and offers through his generosity of spirit and lyrical gifts an ecstatic vision of the human courage required to stay aloft above the ever-yawning abyss."

And just how cool is that word: funambulist? I have to say I don't think I've ever had reason to use it before, but I sure hope I do again! It means, of course, "one who performs on a tightrope or a slack rope" and comes from the Latin roots funis (rope) and ambulare (to walk).

McCann's other books include Zoli, Dancer, and This Side of Brightness. He was born in Dublin in 1965 and began his career as a journalist in The Irish Press. In the early 1980s he took a bicycle across North America and then worked as a wilderness guide in a program for juvenile delinquents in Texas. After a year and a half in Japan, he and his wife Allison moved to New York where they currently live with their three children, Isabella, John Michael and Christian. McCann teaches in the creative writing program at Hunter College, with fellow novelists Peter Carey and Nathan Englander.

Ideas for Stockings

At some point after becoming adults ("grown-ups" would be too much of a stretch), my sister and I started doing Christmas stockings for my folks, after years of them doing stockings for us (and by "them" I of course mean my Mom). We quickly discovered that finding useful and/or entertaining gifts that are small enough to fit in a stocking but not break the bank can be quite a challenge. Suffice it to say my folks both have an ample supply of travel-size toiletries and decks of cards! So, to make life easier for you, here are some gift ideas that will easily fit (well, mostly) in the average stocking:

  • 2010 bookmark calendars ($7.95) -- artists, countryside, Hokusai
  • adorable magnetic bookmarks ($2)
  • "Novel Teas" ($3) -- English breakfast tea with literary quotes
  • "Quotesters" ($9) - a tin of one dozen quotable coasters
  • reading glasses ($18) -- impossible to have too many of these!
  • microfiber cleaning cloths ($6) -- perfect for the aforementioned glasses
  • magnetic poetry in various themes ($12/box; $5/tin) -- book lovers, nature, more!
  • Theo organic fair trade chocolate ($4) -- yummy flavors
  • lovely pocket memo pads with pen ($6)
  • book lights ($15) -- we're running low on these
  • card games of all types (various prices)
  • Bananagrams ($15) -- need I say more? FUN!
  • Already got Bananagrams? Try Appletters or Pairs in Pears ($15)
  • collage light-switch plates ($10) -- so cute!
  • blank books in various sizes and prices
  • 60-piece jigsaw puzzles ($12/pack of 4) -- wonderful pictures
  • memory game ($14.50) -- kittens, puppies, or travel themes
  • guidebooks to Oregon wine country or Portland happy hours (new ed) ($15)
  • Walk There: 50 Treks in and Around Portland &Vancouver ($9.95)
  • Portland Walls: In Celebration of Local Murals postcard book ($14.95)
  • The new edition of The Blue Pages ($12.95) -- informed shopping!
  • National Audubon Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest ($19.95) -- a perfect stocking fit
  • The new Fearless Critic guide to Portland restaurants ($14.95) - bit chubby but should fit
  • Ok, this last one might stretch the average stocking, but it's too good to pass up: A NEW David Sedaris CD with four LIVE performances! What a hoot! ($17.98)
  • Hottest ticket in town: Broadway Books magnets!!! ($5)

How's that for a list? I think I know what MY folks will be getting this year.....Quantities of many of these items are limited, so don't delay.