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Showing posts from November, 2008

All the books I read in 2008

Ah, the Friday after Thanksgiving... lucky for me I have the day off, and no shopping to do (all my Christmas gifts come from the bookstore), and can bask in the indolence of it all. It's a good day to catch up a little and think ahead a little, and some of the best-of lists have made me want to take a look at my own reading for the year. The New York Times has done a clever thing : in addition to their usual "official" lists of the Top 100 and the Top 10 Books of 2008, they 've had their regular book reviewers pick their favorite books of the year. Michiko Kakutani and Janet Maslin both list their own personal top 10 here -- the only thing I wish is that they'd talk about why they loved these, rather than just including clips from their Times review. I recently took a look at various lists of my own reading (our store staff picks, my little notebook, my Goodreads page, etc.) and compiled them, and somehow I seem to have read over 75 books so far this year

Link-Mad Monday: News & Reviews

Review of an imaginary book As I was delaying getting out of bed this morning, I had one of those weird morning dreams. I was reading a YA comic book about a boy and a girl who were left in the woods for dead. They somehow returned to civilization with a mutant superpower: if you got too near them you sickened and died. But it worked very slowly, so for most people it just manifested as a faint nausea. Then the boy and the girl became rockstars (apparently inducing nausea added to their mystique), and played a kick-ass show in which one of them played a Smashing Pumpkins song and the other simultaneously played some hip hop anthem, producing a harmonious chaos. As the kids were both either black or Latino, it was in a weird way a positive depiction of teens of color, influenced perhaps by Ivan Velez' Dead High Yearbook , and maybe by the animated comic (the ALP says "We used to just call it 'cheap animation'") in the extras of the Hellboy 2 DVD I watched las

Friday Link Bonanza: Shopping Local, Buying Books for the Holidays

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Okay, I'm back from zombie sick land, and not a moment too soon. There's so much going on around shopping at indie stores, AND the brilliance of buying books for the holidays, that I'm going to have to do link madness on a Friday. Shopping Local First, do not fail to remember that tomorrow, Saturday November 22, is America Unchained ! Communities across the country will be encouraged to shop only at independent locally-owned stores -- just for one day. If you care about the economic health of your community, the statistics are persuasive: Studies in Maine and Austin , Texas demonstrate that locally-owned businesses generate 3.5 times the local economic activity as chains. A study of 10 independent businesses and 10 chains in retail, restaurant and service in Andersonville , Illinois demonstrates independent businesses generate about 70 percent greater local economic activity per square foot and slightly more sales per square foot as chains. A study in San Francisco

Zombie monster bacteria.

So I'm sick. And it makes me slow. Like zombie-slow. So slow it took me like ten minutes to find the name of a story in Kelly Link's new book Pretty Monsters (it's "The Surfer") in which a worldwide flu pandemic leaves a slightly jerky kid in a quarantined warehouse in Costa Rica. It's really good science fiction, the kind where the science part is secondary to the fiction, and the characters are more interesting than the world-building exercises (though those are interesting too). And I also have stuck in my head -- and had all of a very long night long -- a line from an Ani DiFranco song (I think it's "Garden of Simple", though I could most certainly be wrong) that goes "the bacteria are coming to take us down, that's my prediction / it's the answer to this culture of the quick fix prescription..." So apart from the mildly interesting sense that I'm at the juncture of a zombie film and a sci fi future and a dystopi

What Are You Talking About?: Optimism as Social Proof

Okay, I'm foregoing my usual link madness to get a little wonky this morning. Sarah Rettger at the ABA's Omnibus blog had a great link yesterday (what are you doing working Sunday, Sarah??) ( Update: while Sarah noticed the link, it's Dan Cullen who deserves credit for posting on Sunday) that I think deserves some analysis and some action. The link is to a site called Copyblogger , which has columns and advice about how to be a better blogger or online marketer. This particular column, " How to Change the World Using Social Media ," seems especially timely after an exciting presidential election that used online media and social networking to make great things happen. It also has a lot to do with my optimism schtick around here, and I think it has the potential to be an inspiration to independent booksellers. The key term here is social proof , which Wikipedia defines as "a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people

Afterglow, and poetry

I'm reading Francine Prose's wonderful novel Goldengrove , in which the main character's sister has died. She describes the recurrent sensation of remembering the terrible news over and over, after somehow forgetting. The last couple of days feel like the opposite of that. I keep remembering something wonderful has happened. Zan at A Cup of Tea and a Wheat Penny describes the almost silly sensation of joy: " Oranges look oranger. Sweaters feel warmer. Rain? Who cares!" I respect Barack Obama all the more for emphasizing from the very first moment that this only the very beginning of a very long, hard road. But it's good to bask in the glow of something good for a moment. There has been dancing in the streets! I feel like my Pollyanna-ish optimism is suddenly in fashion again. There is much good writing and reflection about all this, and one of the best (and briefest) is the New York Times' poetry op-eds . My favorite is Joshua Mehigan's ,

Oh yes.

Things are kind of teary and giddy around here today. I crashed early, hopeful but not sure, but this outside our window assured the ALP and I that hopes have been answered. Now we all get to go to work, glowing.

Link-Mad Monday, Political Edition: The Book and the Candidate

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I usually try to avoid overt politicizing around here, but it's the moment where everyone can be forgiven for announcing their endorsement, just once. It probably comes as no surprise that I, like many of my fellow progressive-minded indie booksellers, support Barack Obama for president in the election tomorrow. There are lots of reasons why -- I agree with the man's policies and actions (for the most part), and he's an optimist and an idealist, as well as practical about what needs to be done -- obviously I admire that. I want to propose another reason for voting for Obama, though, appropriate to this venue: he's a man of the book. Hence today's link madness... First, of course, he wrote a book , then another , that have been on the bestseller lists for many months, making him a friend to bookstores everywhere. I'll admit I've only read bits and pieces, but I've heard his speeches, and the man can write . As the New Yorker recently pointed out