As we head into Labor Day weekend, many people will be spending time at the beach or a lake with friends and family. For me, Labor Day is the last weekend to curl up in the sun and read. I will be spending time with friends on Lake Champlain, and the only thing I’ve packed so far are books. The summer is the only time that it’s okay to sit outside and not do anything but read, so I’m going to park myself in a deck chair and do just that. Continue reading
Another article came out last week extolling the benefits of reading books, actual books with real pages. This comes as no surprise to me. MIC.COM ran the article summing up the studies that have been conducted. The benefits of reading not on a device can be easily summed up: readers remember more, can concentrate better and are more empathetic than readers who use an e-reader. That people are still studying this surprises me. These gains seem obvious to me. Continue reading
Every once in a while, stupidity borne of impatience gets the best of me. Like many bookstores, we have a small fridge in the back room. And like many shared fridges, ours got a little funky. There was a horrible smell coming from it and we were all afraid to use it. Afraid, in fact, to open the door, the smell was so bad. I did my best to clean it up one day recently, but the smell grew stronger. We were all puzzled and were convincing ourselves that something had died in the back room. Continue reading
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an article called “Bedtime Stories for Young Brains” and it confirmed what those of us in the book world know: reading aloud to children is a potent and very important thing to do. The article focused on studies that measured a child’s brain activity when hearing stories, and kids who had been regularly read to showed greater activity when listening to stories than kids who hadn’t been read to. Early literacy matters, as Perri Klass, the author of the article, states: “We know that it is important that young children hear language, and that they need to hear it from people, not from screens.” To this is I can’t help but think, duh. Continue reading
I’ve been doing a lot of frontlist buying the last month, and have noticed a lot of publishers are offering specials where buying five copies of a particular title will earn you an extra 3% discount. So, if a book would normally be purchased at 46% discount, you can get 49% on the ones the publisher is promoting. I’ve often wondered just how much of a deal this really is. Continue reading
I was in D.C. last week visiting a friend and I stumbled on Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. There is nothing I enjoy more than traveling and finding a great independent bookstore. I happened to come to the store around 10 in the morning, usually a quiet time for most bookstores. Instead, I found a bustling store with a nearly full cafe serving breakfast to what looked like regulars who were reading, eating and enjoying a bookish start to their day. Continue reading
Every day I get galleys in the mail. And every day I make the decision of what to read and what not to read. The way I make that decision is decidedly haphazard. Some books I’ve been desperate to get and dive into because there’s already a buzz about them, others grab me as I read the back cover, and then there are the books that languish partly because I don’t know the author or it’s the wrong genre for my mood, etc. Occasionally, someone from the publishing house will follow up with an email. This generally is not that effective because I get so many of these emails a day. But yesterday I got the best follow-up email, ever, that has me ready to find this galley and read it.
The first thing that struck me about this email was the subject line: “A book for Allie”. Allie happens to be my dog, who I blogged about in May. I was fairly stunned that a publisher would be sending a book to the dog, needless to say I opened that email immediately. It was funny, thoughtful and even included a link to the book’s information via Edelweiss. This was a brilliant email. The book is The Dog Walker: An Anarchist’s Encounters with the Good, the Bad, and the Canine. I’ll be honest: while I have a dog, I’m not normally a fan of reading dog books, but the first thing I will do when I get to the store today is look for this galley and take a look at it.
The sense of playfulness about the book is what grabbed me. Liam from Melville House, who said he sent the book to Allie, ended his email with this charming sentence. “Of course, Allie’s encouraged to share with the rest of the staff, but I wanted to make sure it got into the right paws first.” Perhaps I’m easily charmed, but this was fabulous. That someone read the blog in May and thought that I might actually want to read this book, then sent a clever email to follow up, is a surefire way to get me to pick up the book. I realize this kind of personal touch can’t be had for all galleys (no one would get anything done, ever, if this were the case) but wow, it sure worked for this one.
Today is a sad day for the Flying Pig family. Michel Mahe, chef/owner of the Bearded Frog restaurant next door to the bookstore, passed away quite suddenly last week. His memorial is today. Michel was only 51 and it seems he died in his sleep after a night of working at one of his five restaurants. Working in a small town provides ample opportunities to get to know people and with this comes the risk of loss. We lose people and it hurts. This is the first time we’ve lost another business owner who we counted as a friend. Continue reading
During the summer we don’t often see organized large groups of kids. Most of the local camps do not organize field trips to the bookstore. But this past Tuesday we were lucky enough to have 22 kids, ranging in age from 5 to 15, come to the store with their teachers. These kids are all New Americans who are in the English Language Learning program, and will be starting the local public school in the fall. Continue reading
I have been thoroughly enjoying reading a heap of young adult galleys this summer. Purely by luck, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with the very random stack of galleys I took home a few weeks ago. I’ve found two more great ones to add to my list books to order more of for the fall season. One is a realistic teen novel and the other is a dystopian thriller. Both are set in high schools and have a cast of very compelling characters that will appeal to a broad range of readers.
Carolyn Mackler’s Infinite in Between, due out in September, is a fast read that captures all four years of high school from the perspective of five very different teens who meet at freshman orientation. Each chapter is told in alternating voices and the book while seemingly just dips into a kid’s life- with a snapshot of what’s happening at any given time, it really does give the reader a well-rounded view of each person’s life. There is believable drama and romance and the book is peppered with humor and moments of sadness that had me reaching for the tissues on more than one occasion.
Mackler handles diversity well in this book. There is an out gay character (and how refreshing to have a gay kid in a book who is already out and comfortable with it) and a bi-racial student who grapples with issues of race as we get to know her through high school. This is not an “issue” book, so the characters exist in their school world first as themselves with their difference fully blended into their characters. This book is well written and really just keeps you reading until you’re done and the five students have graduated.
Willful Machines by Tim Floreen is a riveting read. Set in an exclusive, very elite boarding school, we meet Lee, the closeted son of the President of the United States, who is championing The Human Values Party, which most decidedly doesn’t welcome gay people. Lee meets the very engaging new student, Nico, who is also gay. As Lee and Nico try to navigate their feelings they must grapple with attacks from Charlotte, a man-made artificial human who has a conscience of her own and who begins terrorizing the American public. And what better way to make a point than to start attacking the President’s son. As the attacks move to the school, Lee and Nico must find a way to stop Charlotte.
There are complex layers to this book. Lee is still mourning for his mother, killed by Charlotte when he was a boy. The reader is left wondering just who Nico really is, and of course, there is a rollicking mystery to solved lest all be lost. This book will appeal equally to boys and girls and fans of dystopian novels; issues of sexuality are deftly handled.
Readers, what are some of the fall books you’re most excited about?