Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bondi: My New Favorite Helper

Whenever I use my cell phone in my car -- infrequently, because I think it's better to stay focused as I'm swearing at the other drivers -- I always use my bluetooth, because I want to be sure I'm within the rules of the law. My bluetooth (I call her Phyllis) tends to be a bit controlling and bossy, but other than that we get along well.

The problem I was having, however, was what to do with my phone. If I held it on my lap it would invariably slide off on to the floor, which isn't safe. And if I put it on the seat next to me it also slid around, often falling between the passenger seat and the far door, clearly out of reach. I often have a coffee mug and bottle of water in my cup holders, so that rules them out as cell phone holders. But then, Bondi came into my life.

Bondi -- mine is blue, but Bondi comes in many colors -- hangs from my rear-view mirror and holds my phone for me. It's out of the way, so I can stay focused on the road, but I can also easily see the screen for incoming calls (because Phyllis sometimes declines to announce the name of the caller, for whatever reason), while keeping my eyes facing up and forward. And now my phone doesn't slide down into that space between the driver's seat and the console, which always used to bug me.

I love my Bondi so much that I wanted to be able to share the experience with our customers, so we now have it for sale at the store. Bondi is $15 and comes in a variety of colors, including green, orange, purple, yellow, white, and black. And it's not just about using your cell phone in your car. Bondi's arms move, and the "head" twists and turns however you need it to be.You can use it to hold your iPod, or a memo pad. You can hang it on the charger plug in the wall as your phone is charging, or on the side of your computer screen. I have an extra one that I hang on an AC cord in my back room so I can easily find my phone while it's charging. You can even use it to pull back a curtain or hold a book open. Believe me, Bondi will become your new best friend -- friends, I should say, because you'll want more than one!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strayed, Stafford, and Love - What a Lineup!

After coming off the high of our exciting 20th anniversary celebration, it's back to business at Broadway Books, and boy oh boy do we have an exciting line-up of events for everyone this week!

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 7, Cheryl Strayed joins us to read from and talk about her bestselling memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is sitting pretty on The New York Times bestseller list, and it's receiving rave reviews everywhere. Seriously. You have to have been living in a cave not to have heard about Cheryl Strayed and her wonderful new memoir. But beyond the rave and the hype, I'm happy to tell you that it's the real deal. It's moving and powerful, an engrossing story well told and beautifully written.

Her mother, with whom Cheryl was very close, died of cancer when Cheryl was twenty-two. To say it shattered her world would be an understatement. Cheryl's life went into a downward spiral. She trashed her marriage and tried to obliterate her grief with drinking, drugs, and sex. But then she decided that she needed to find a way to become the girl that she had once been. The one her mother raised. So she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Oregon/Washington border. Eleven hundred miles. Alone. This decision from a woman who hadn't backpacked a day in her life.

She went into the trip thinking it would be sort of a rejuvenating trek through the outdoors, giving her an opportunity to commune with nature and think transcendent thoughts. Of course, it was anything but. Carrying -- or attempting to -- an overloaded backpack she nicknamed Monster, Cheryl faced bears, snakes, hunger, loneliness, intense heat and record snowfalls, and a physical pounding that included feet that had essentially turned to pulp by the end of her journey.

But despite the pain and obstacles and her fears, she persevered. Because her only other option was to quit. And she refused to take that option. On the trail or in life.

The book is heartbreaking but never maudlin, told with gut-wrenching candor.  One of my favorite of the many reviews of this book is the one by Dwight Garner of The New York Times, who said the book "pretty much obliterated me." He went on to describe Wild as a book "as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound."

On Thursday we have another spectacular evening for you as we welcome back our monthly Comma Reading Series, curated by Kirsten Rian. This month Comma offers you Kim Stafford and Matt Love.

Kim Stafford is a writer and teacher living in Portland. He is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College and is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose. He teaches frequently at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology and the Fishtrap Gathering. His book 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: A Memoir, is forthcoming from Trinity University Press. At our reading on Thursday he'll be reading from his poetry book Prairie Prescription, published by Limberlost Press.

Matt Love grew up in Oregon City and is the publisher of Nestucca Spit Press and the author/editor of eight books about Oregon. He is the winner of the Oregon Literary Arts' Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon history and literature. He teaches English, photography, creative writing, and journalism at Newport High School. On Thursday Matt will be presenting his newly published book, Sometimes a Great Movie: Paul Newman, Ken Kesey and the Filming of the Great Oregon Novel, about the filming of Kesey's book Sometimes a Great Notion in the central Oregon coast region in 1970. Besides telling the story of the filming and the interactions with the local community, the book presents more than a hundred photographs.

We hope you can join us on Tuesday for Cheryl and on Thursday for Kim and Matt -- two marvelous evenings.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Treasure Trove of New Books!

Unpacking boxes of books is a daily ritual when you work in a bookstore. Sometimes it's a chore; other times it's a joy -- a little like Christmas morning. Yesterday was one of the latter types, a ginormously wonderful collection of hot-off-the-press just-released eagerly awaited books. Here's just a taste of the new books that went on sale yesterday:
  • Are You My Mother: A Comic Drama, the new graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel of Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For fame. Her newest explores her complicated relationship with her mother.
  • The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, the fourth volume in the fascinating and meticulous series of Johnson biographies by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Robert Caro.
  • Just out in paperback is Then Again, by Diane Keaton, her unforgettable memoir about her mother and herself. [Hmmm, isn't Mother's Day just around the corner???]
  • Also just out in paperback is In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson's take on an American family living in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. The book is both harrowing and gripping, "like slipping slowly into a nightmare."
  • I was thrilled to unpack the new novel from Simon Mawer, author of the Booker-shortlisted (and one of my favorites) novel The Glass Room. His newest is Trapeze, a blend of fact and fiction that tells the story of a young woman trained as a spy during WWII.
  • Not to leave out the younger readers, it was a big day as the newest from Rick Riordan hit the shelves: Serpents Shadow, Book Three in The Kane Chronicles, with Carter and Sade Kane exploring the world of Egyptian gods and mythology.
  • Another favorite for the younger readers (say, 8 to 12) are the Big Nate books. Big Nate: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? published in paperback yesterday.
Many more terrific books hit our shelves yesterday. Come in and see for yourself! We've also got a table with ideas for Mother's Day (May 13th) and for graduates, as well as cards for both.