The King Holiday
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we will not publish on Monday. We'll see you all again on Tuesday morning, January 22. (And we hope to see many of you in person next week during the Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex.)
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we will not publish on Monday. We'll see you all again on Tuesday morning, January 22. (And we hope to see many of you in person next week during the Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex.)
Veteran staff member Gretchen Horn has become the majority owner of Renaissance Bookfarm Inc., which runs Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe and Downtown Books & News in Asheville, N.C. Founder Emoke B'Racz will remain as minority owner. In an announcement posted on the store's website, the company said the "transition ensures that both bookstores will stay in Asheville, and it renews the business' commitment to a vibrant local economy."
B'Racz expressed "total faith" in Horn--who began working at Malaprop's as a barista in 2001 and has held several positions, most recently as director of operations and financial manager--to carry the business forward: "She has managed to learn all operations of the whole store and assisted me for many years."
"Emoke and I have worked together for the last 17 years," Horn said. "I am excited to continue and further my love of books at the helm of two of the finest community bookstores. My hope is to change little, retaining the magic they have held since opening their doors."
B'Racz, who opened Malaprop's with partner Pickett Huffines in 1982 at 61 Haywood St., said she "wanted a bookstore that was diverse and global. Every town in this world deserves a good bookstore because it is a center of education and freedom."
|Gretchen Horn (l.) and Emöke B'Racz|
The shop was later moved to its current location at 55 Haywood St. She opened Downtown Books & News in 1988 at 67 N. Lexington Ave. A pop-up bookstore within the Center for Art & Inspiration in downtown Hendersonville is scheduled to open February 23.
Despite the transition, B'Racz said she does not consider herself retired: "I don't know how to retire. That's my new job, to learn how to retire. But I'm up for it. I'm up for that challenge."
Growing up in California's Silicon Valley, Horn said she didn't come to appreciate independent bookstores or their role in a community until she started working for Malaprop's while attending the University of North Carolina-Asheville.
"At the time, I just really wanted to work in a coffee shop," Horn recalled, though she quickly learned that Malaprop's wasn't quite like other coffee shops she'd known. "So I've gotten a lot of free coffee, free books, and free events for the last 17 years," she said. "I love it here. I work for Emöke. And I essentially still will be because I want to retain her vision. I will always work for Malaprop's, which is a place that Emöke created."
Horn has no plans to change the business. "I want people to have books, I want people to be happy when they come into the store, and I want to serve the community. As long as those needs are met, then I can be proud," she said, adding: "Asheville is a special place that calls out to artists, writers, and creative people. I know Malaprop's can be part of revitalizing that creativity, just as it helped downtown Asheville get off its feet 37 years ago."
Reads and Company Bookshop, "a community-minded independent bookstore and more," will open this spring at 234 Bridge Street in Phoenixville, Pa. Founder and local author Robb Cadigan told the Patch that the bookshop "will feature an extensive, carefully curated selection of new and noteworthy books, a vibrant children's section, fabulous gift ideas, engaging literary events and programs, and so much more."
The store will feature wooden bookcases from Greetings and Readings in Baltimore, which recently shut down after nearly 50 years in business.
"We wanted to create a space where the creative community felt like they had a home base," said Dan Stone, co-owner with Lee Smith. "People who want to go somewhere and read or write, or argue about whatever--kind of like what Caffe Trieste was like way back in the day, but the modern version of that."
Stone and Smith are showcasing books and vinyl works "recommended by their favorite writers, musicians and artists. They're opening the store with books curated by 16 people, each of whom has picked roughly 20 titles," the Chronicle wrote. Stone, who had previously made radio documentaries about books for the National Endowment for the Arts, received recommendations from numerous fiction writers, including Michael Ondaatje, Patti Smith, Michael Chabon, Greil Marcus, Samin Nosrat, Rebecca Solnit and George Saunders, the latter of whom titled his blurbs "Books to Turn a Dark Time Bright Again."
"I think the most exciting things in life happen when people get together, have a drink, and talk things over, preferably in sharp and elegant surroundings," Daniel Handler, another participating author and a friend of Stone's who co-founded the Silent Reading Party with him in 2016. "I look forward to North Light becoming that kind of necessary hub."
Stone said serendipity "was exactly what we had in mind when we were creating this. This is not a store you walk into saying, 'I have to find The Great Gatsby; I have a paper due.' You walk in and say, 'Oh, my god, Patti Smith picked her 20 favorite books--what are they? And you're going to find things in there you've never even heard of. So that idea of discovery is really what we were aiming for."
One wall of the bar's narrow, 700-square-foot front room is devoted to 18 bookshelves that reach the ceiling, the Chronicle wrote. Stone said he will add a rolling library ladder that will make books more accessible.
"I want my kids growing up in here," he added. "I'd love for them to get home from school, take the bus home, get off on Telegraph and just walk into North Light."
|Journals from Peter Pauper|
At Bookery Manchester in Manchester, N.H., "journals of all kinds" are doing well, reported general manager Liz Cipriano. She noted a surge in popularity of guided journals, and in particular pointed to blank journals made by Peter Pauper Press. Cards are also popular, with some strong-performing lines including TinyBee, Blackbird Letterpress, Screech Owl Design, Underwood Letterpress and Idlewild Co. Over the holidays, Bookery Manchester brought in a variety of scented pens, pencils and backpack accessories from ScentCo, which Cipriano said made great stocking-stuffers. She added that she's been surprised by how popular postcard packs have been, with Clarkson Potter, Chronicle Books and Galison being customer favorites.
|Book pins from Ideal Bookshelf|
Cipriano said that the popularity of puzzle and board games has also been a big surprise, with some customers even asking when the store will get a particular game back in stock. In terms of local and regional sidelines, Cipriano said she hopes to expand those offerings throughout 2019, but at the moment the store does carry prints and calendars from local artists and photographers. The store also has an art gallery wall that showcases the work of a different local artist each month. When asked about perennial favorites, Cipriano mentioned tote bags from Gibbs-Smith and Seltzer Goods, along with store-branded bags, and enamel pins from Seltzer Goods, Peter Pauper Press, Out of Print and Ideal Bookshelf.
Beth Black, co-owner of The Bookworm in Omaha, Neb., reported that both lately and on a continual basis, greeting cards, boxed cards and puzzles have been selling very well. For greeting cards, the bulk of what the store sells comes from Papyrus, along with cards from Caspari and several other smaller, local lines. And for puzzles, Black most frequently orders from Springbok and Ravensburger. In terms of children's sidelines, the Bookworm carries plenty of plush, with MerryMakers, Gund and Steiff being store favorites. Over the past year, Black has done a lot with board games, particularly more retro games such as Scrabble, Monopoly and Hi Ho Cherry-O.
Over the holidays, Black brought in more winter-specific items like candles, hot chocolate mixes and infinity scarves, and through one of her sales reps was able to get a great deal on cashmere scarves--Black estimated that she must have reordered at least five times. In terms of local and regionally made sidelines, Black said that she carries matte prints and cards from a variety of local artists. She also carries Nebraska-themed items from Catstudio, as well as University of Nebraska- and Nebraska-branded water bottles and other merchandise, but she noted that those aren't produced locally.
In Culver City, Calif., romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice has been selling a lot of wintery items, even though California "doesn't really have a winter," said co-owner Leah Koch. Nevertheless, tea, hot chocolate mixes and mugs are moving well, with Pinky Up tea and Mayana Hot Chocolate being particularly popular. Over the holiday season, Ripped Bodice brought in beauty products by Spinsters Sisters Co. for the first time, and Koch reported that they received a "fantastic response." The store also debuted a store-branded bathrobe for the holidays, which their customers "loved."
When asked about locally made sidelines, Koch answered that she and her co-owner try to work with as many local artists as possible, and attended an annual holiday craft fair at the beginning of December to scout for new products. And on the subject of perennial favorites, Koch pointed to Emily Mcdowell cards, which are "always incredibly popular," and candles. While the store carries a wide variety of candles, Koch said that North Ave Candles from Pittsburgh, Pa., are a major hit, and the store collaborated with North Ave Candles to make a special holiday candle this year. --Alex Mutter
If you are interested in having your store appear in a future Sidelines Snapshot article, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
|photo: Mariana Cook|
Mary Oliver, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet "whose work, with its plain language and minute attention to the natural world, drew a wide following while dividing critics," died on January 17, the New York Times reported. She was 83. Oliver, a "phenomenon: a poet whose work sold strongly," published more than 20 books, including the Pulitzer-winning American Primitive National Book Award winner New and Selected Poems.
"For her abiding communion with nature," Oliver was often compared to Walt Whitman and Robert Frost, the Times noted, adding: "For her quiet, measured observations, and for her fiercely private personal mien (she gave many readings but few interviews, saying she wanted her work to speak for itself), she was likened to Emily Dickinson." She "often described her vocation as the observation of life."
Oliver's poetry collections include The River Styx, Ohio; House of Light; The Leaf and the Cloud; Evidence; Blue Horses and Felicity. Among her prose titles are Rules for the Dance, A Poetry Handbook and Long Life: Essays and Other Writings.
Devoted readers paid tribute on social media, including Hillary Clinton ("Thank you, Mary Oliver, for giving so many of us words to live by. 'Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?' "); Sarah Crossan ("When someone says that a piece of art changed their life it's easy to see it as hyperbole. But Mary Oliver really changed mine, not least when I discovered 'The Journey.' Just shed a tear at hearing of her death. RIP, Mary, and thank you."); and Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif. (" 'Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.' We raise our glasses to you, Mary Oliver. Here’s to a life well lived, may you Rest In Peace.").
From Oliver's poem "When Death Comes":
When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
Every time you say the bad word, put money in a jar...
Books with a Past, Glenwood, Md., shared a photo on Twitter of its bookstore cat posing with the shop's new Amazon Swear Jar, noting: "Atticus would like to remind you that when you buy from a small, independent business, you're keeping more dollars in your community. In addition to creating jobs and bolstering the tax base, small businesses often contribute more to community partners like schools, food banks, and animal shelters than certain online retailers ever do. #indiesfightback #shopsmall #shoplocal"
The post inspired the Neverending Bookshop, Edmonds, Wash., to put out its own "A**zon swear jar on the counter. Idea blatantly borrowed from @bookswithapast with relish. Thanks for the idea, fellow rebel booksellers! #neverendingbookshop #indiesfightback #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #bookdragons #heretherebebookdragons"
Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah, is stepping up to offer a measure of relief to furloughed federal workers affected by the ongoing partial government shutdown. The bookshop posted on Facebook: "One of our country's lovely federal employees, a Moab local with her complimentary government shutdown Back of Beyond Books reading material! We are offering $20 towards a free book per employee. Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America One Story at a Time by Andrew Forsthoefel comes highly recommended by our staff, book review on our website!"
Wooden Toy Spacecraft: Explore the Galaxy and Beyond with 13 Easy-to-Make Woodworking Projects by Gonzalo Ferreyra (Spring House Press). The author's day job is director of acquisitions at Ingram Publisher Services in Berkeley, Calif.
Fresh Air: Tara Westover, author of Educated: A Memoir (Random House, $28, 9780399590504).
Timothy Hutton has joined the cast of Julie Taymor's The Glorias: A Life on the Road, based on Gloria Steinem's memoir, My Life on the Road, Deadline reported. He will play Leo Steinem, Gloria's father, alongside Julianne Moore as Steinem and Alicia Vikander as the feminist icon at ages 20-40. The cast also includes Bette Midler as Bella Abzug and Janelle Monae stars as Dorothy Pitman Hughes.
The movie "follows her journey to becoming a crusader for equal rights and her groundbreaking work as a journalist and campaigner," Deadline wrote. Taymor wrote the script with playwright Sarah Ruhl. Principal photography is underway in Savannah, Ga.
Anand Giridharadas won the 800-CEO-READ Business Book of the Year Award for Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (Knopf). The winner was announced at the company's annual industry gathering in New York City, where author Seth Godin was also given the fifth annual Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry.
"Winners Take All provides the impetus many of us seek when we read: it challenges our biases, it prompts us to ask questions of ourselves and others, it spurs us to consider a subject in a wholly different way," said CEO Rebecca Schwartz. "Such a book can make us uncomfortable but that, at least in part, is its purpose."
Marketing director and juror Blyth Meier added: "During this time of unprecedented inequality, Giridharadas challenges the viewpoint that one can address societal ills while preserving the system that brought them about. If philanthropists really want to address poverty, why do the businesses that made their foundations' fortunes fight against workers rights? If CEOs advocate for stable democracies overseas, why do they avoid the taxes that would strengthen our government at home? If entrepreneurs bill themselves as the ultimate 'changemakers' in our society, why do they claim that fundamental change in our public institutions is impossible? Laying bare the myths and failings of elites across the political spectrum, Winners Take All provides a clarion call to challenge the current power structures and re-engage in the habit of democracy."
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley (First Second/Macmillan, $19.99 paperback, 256p., 9781626728080, February 26, 2019)
Life--and the love and absurdities therein--has proved fertile ground for author-illustrator Lucy Knisley (Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride). Over five published graphic novels, she's shared her extensive travel experiences; dished up a delicious story of being raised by her parents, a chef and a gourmet; and documented the comic mishaps en route to tying the knot with her beau, John. Knisley has turned her "pen inward to map the shifting tectonic plates" of her life and find meaning, purpose and silver linings--even amid the curve balls thrown her way.
She continues in this vein with great aplomb in Kid Gloves, which intimately documents the thoughts and discoveries she made in conceiving and carrying a child, while also outlining the many challenges that plagued her on the rocky road to motherhood.
Knisley shares her teenage experiences volunteering for Planned Parenthood, when she became something of a guru for her high school classmates and friends, informing them about healthy sex and reproduction. In college, she began an odyssey to find the right method of birth control. She developed a latex allergy and had bad reactions to the pill and IUDs. A hormone-dispensing rod implanted under the skin ultimately fit the bill. Years later, the device is removed when she and John set out to conceive a child.
Their first attempt brings joyful news that takes a sad turn when Knisley suffers a miscarriage and, before long, a second pregnancy also spontaneously terminates. These complications ultimately drive Knisley into a severe depression, illustrated by an image of herself trapped inside a pit: "It's hard to see how deep the hole is when you're in it." What saves her is work, along with the support of her husband and family, reading comics by other graphic artist mothers, seeing a therapist, undergoing acupuncture, swimming and meditating. Her OBGYN, seeking the reason for Knisley's inability to carry a child to term, discovers and surgically removes a structural anomaly in her uterus. These measures lead Knisley to conceive again, and the narrative deepens, as she takes readers on a detailed journey through each trimester of her pregnancy, up to and through the birthing process.
The graphics that accompany the travails of her hellacious morning sickness--"exorcist levels of puke" and even frightening, "insane" dreams of Donald Trump--along with her difficult labor and the harrowing complications after the baby's delivery are vivid, profound and visually imaginative. Throughout the story, Knisley adds levity by presenting illustrated factoids, myths and research about women's reproductive health. These include how Emily Brontë died from pregnancy sickness, how sexism has affected women's lives for centuries, the rise of the women's movement, and pregnancy, miscarriage and "conception misconceptions."
Knisley is a lively storyteller, and the encapsulated charm of her graphics holds equal appeal. In both arenas, her inimitable style builds suspense and ultimately oozes with hopeful optimism. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.
Shelf Talker: An accomplished graphic novelist takes readers on an intimate journey through her pregnancy experiences, while exploring fun facts about women's reproductive health.
|The Bookworm by Carl Spitzweg|
I'd really like to know.
For those of us in the book trade, the choice is a daily one. How do you juggle reading older books from your shelves and trying to "keep up" with newly published titles, ever-growing ARC stacks, and the ongoing flood of e-mail requests for your readerly attention? I'm sure you could add to that list.
John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, a Bookstore in Brentwood, Calif., brought up the topic recently during an e-mail conversation we had about last Friday's Marie Kondo-inspired column. He suggested "another article (maybe you've done this?): how to choose what to read from all the books in your library + all the ones coming into your house."
It was a great suggestion, so I asked him: How do you choose what to read next?
"There are the books that have happened onto the shelves and are perpetually whispering for me to 'read me,' " Evans replied. "It's a susurrating write-noise sound in the background--hard to tell if it is in the actual physical space, in my head or in my imagination (okay, it's the last one). There are the books by authors I'll be meeting soon, which I like to read before meeting them and often read out loud to Alison when we are driving, as we often go to author dinners together (we only have one car). Then 'the pursuits', subjects, interests, curiosities that are perennial for the most part, but that tug at my reading habits--poetry, spirituality of various stripes, philosophy, silk road, mythology, music, art, nature, science, geography. I am always reading down these paths, sometimes bibliographically--the torch passed from one book to the next either literally from the bibliography, by association, or by author or subject.
"There is no order to it, otherwise, and there's a fair degree of neurosis--books that I've meant to read for decades (Love's Body by Norman O. Brown) or that I think I should have read (so many classics, especially fiction) and core books I feel I should take a deep dive into (the Pre-Socratics). Beyond that, I usually read science fiction or mysteries on planes (His Dark Materials for example), especially to Europe. I usually have three to five books going at once, and then will all of a sudden feel I should just finish them each off and start down a new path."
I recognize something familiar in his response. Any attempt I've made to answer this question results in a similar wide-ranging, yet tip-of-the-iceberg list. Because I--because most of us in the industry--"read for a living," sometimes I have to remind myself that there was a long period of my life when I read strictly for pleasure, for enlightenment, for amusement, for solace, for the hell of it.
This doesn't mean I don't love many of the books I read for work, but I'm also opening them with specific goals and expectations. It's part of my job, after all. So I do have to consciously make time for the kind of personal reading I took for granted when I was younger. And I still worry that I don't read or choose well enough.
"Why there is anxiety about it, I have no idea, but there is," Evans observed. "There are so many, pressing for attention. I've got better at enduring the tension and it certainly doesn't take on the self-critical cast that it did when I was young. I always feel a bit out of touch with what people are currently reading, especially in fiction. So many booksellers seem to be fiction-only readers, while I am only fiction-occasionally.
"Curiosity seems to be the refined essence of being a bookseller for me--curiosity toward people, ideas, and things. And I'm curious about how people decide what they will read as well as what they get from what they read. It all seems to come with the territory."
I like that--curiosity as the "refined essence of being a bookseller."
Before I became a bookseller in the early 1990s, I was practically monogamous when I read. I could spend a month with a book, six months with a particular author. The pages of my books were covered with marginalia. I lived in them for long periods, then moved on, as if walking a long, narrow path rather than driving an interstate highway.
Then I had to learn how to read "at speed." My customers thought I was a reading machine. They'd ask how many books I read a week, as if I was hoovering up pages as fast as they come off the printing press.
The truth was, and is, more mundane. Over almost three decades as a bookseller and then editor, I became a more promiscuous reader. I often just graze, reading 50 pages and bailing if I'm not fully engaged. Nevertheless, the stack on my desk continues to grow at a pace that outstrips my ability to keep up. You know the feeling. I seem to look for reasons not to continue reading a book, reasons to give myself a break and move on to the next title.
For better or worse, I expect myself to know a little something about a lot of books, more about several key titles, and everything about a chosen few. I do my best to oblige. I read voraciously because, well, I have to, in every sense. I read for a living because it's the best job description I can imagine. And I never read enough.
How do you choose what to read next?