Submitted by bookshelf on Wed, 02/26/2014 - 1:16pm
All February long I'd been reading two newly-released books: Still Life with Bread Crumbs and Notes from a Blue Bike. They were both excellent books -- I'll dive into details in a moment -- but there were times when I felt like I just needed something quick to power me through the day. Do you know what I mean? I love reading books slowly, taking each sentence in, underlining and discovering truths meant for me.
But I also really love devouring books, grasping at words until I can't breathe, diving in and turning page after page until there are no more pages to turn.
How fortunate for me, then, that last week I met with a rep from a publishing company and received lots of advanced reader copies. As I lay on my couch recovering from a particularly tough week, I didn't reach for Still Lifeor Notes from a Blue Bike. Instead, I grabbed Rainbow Rowell's yet-to-be-published novel, Landline, and I didn't stop reading until I'd finished it all. Sometimes it takes a book like that to remind us why we love reading in the first place. Reading helps us lose ourselves, and then, in a sort of magic, find ourselves again.
The books that brought me magic this month:
Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. I love Anna Quindlen. I want to be her when I grow up. I've read everything she's written -- including her columns that used to close out Newsweek every week -- and I've been amazed and impressed by them all. When I heard she was releasing a new novel, I was thrilled. So here's the thing: I enjoyed Still Life with Bread Crumbs, which follows rather defunct photographer Rebecca Winter as she comes to terms with her life and finds herself in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. I think you will too. The only problem was that the last novel she released, Every Last One, was one of those books you devour, staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish. Still Life wasn't like that. The plot floated along slowly, and it was beautiful... just different from the last Quindlen book I read. If you're looking to get lost in a good book for days, or for a book you can take on your vacation and finish beside the sea, Still Life deserves a place on your nightstand and in your getaway bag. It's so well-written and well-told. The payoff just takes a while to earn, and that's okay.
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider. I want a simple life. Maybe I'm alone in my quest (although I don't think so, given the amount of literature I've seen devoted to the subject), but I wanted a quiet life devoted to hospitality and community, to good books and good food and meaningful relationships. As it turns out, author and blogger Tsh Oxenreider wants those things too, and she's worked hard to steer her family toward a simple, meaningful life. This memoir serves as a how-to manual for guiding your family to simplicity, and I enjoyed so many of the practical tips and real-life stories Tsh gave to show how simplicity works for her family. Some parts of the book were also tough for me -- Tsh's passage on food, in particular, seemed challenging and difficult to implement, and there were times when I was overwhelmed by how Tsh and her husband -- who both are self-employed and work from home -- implement simplicity at home. My life doesn't look like hers, so can simplicity happen in a home where two people work outside their living rooms? The answer, of course, is yes, and Tsh does a beautiful job of explaining how. Read this one with a pen in hand, and prepare to talk with some one about it afterwards. (This would make a great book club book.)
Landline by Rainbow Rowell. One perk of running a bookstore? Advanced reader copies. Here's the thing, though: A lot of advanced reader copies are complete duds, and many times I find myself with an overflowing stack of ARCs I simply don't have time to read. This month, for perhaps the first time, I found myself with three ARCs I desperately wanted to read. The downside for you, of course, is these aren't available yet. But put them on your radar screen, okay? Especially Landline, the latest by Rainbow Rowell. I've read all of Rowell's novels -- two young adult, one adult -- and I've completely, thoroughly enjoyed them all. Landline is the book I finished in three hours; all of Rowell's books revolve around love (though in a perfectly realistic, wonderful way), but this is Rowell's first book about a marriage, and I found myself laughing and crying in equal measure. It's just a really, really good book. Landline doesn't release until July, so go ahead and familiarize yourself with her style -- you'll be glad you did. Start with Eleanor & Park, then Fangirl, and finally, Attachments (which I really hope someone will turn into a movie one of these days).
My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer.I'm not really sure why I even picked this one up -- the sales rep only briefly mentioned it in our meeting last week, but author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat Pray Love fame, who I love despite what anyone says) gave it her stamp of approval, so I took a chance. Author Krista Bremer tells the story of her marriage in beautiful, sometimes poetic prose. She first met her Libyan-born husband on a running trail in North Carolina. The two hit it off, despite vast cultural differences: Krista, a California beach bum, and her husband, a hard-working Muslim raised in an impoverished country. There's so much more going on here than an insider's look at Islamic culture, although that's certainly at play and makes the book that much more eye-opening. The book is really a story about marriage, about the compromises we all make when two become one. My Accidental Jihad releases in April, so you don't have too long to wait. Like Notes from a Blue Bike, I think this book would be a really interesting book club book and would garner quite a bit of discussion.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.I've come down with literal spring fever; the weather here won't make up its mind, and now my porch is covered in pollen while its 30 degrees outside. My throat is achy, and my nose is clogged, and last night, I just needed a reprieve. I flipped on my lamp and grabbed The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry from my ever-growing stack of books. Unlike her ambivalence toward My Accidental Jihad, the sales rep last week could not stop talking about this book, which of course, made me hesitant. (Reverse psychology, or something like that.) Anyway, I'm only 45-pages in, and I cannot stop thinking about this book. The sales rep claimed fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society would like this one. I can't speak to that, but if you like books, independent bookstores, and an insider's view of reading, you're going to enjoy this book. I feel almost naive offering my review before I've finished it, but I know I'll have it read before March 1 hits, and it felt most appropriate on my February list. So far, the book is magical and quirky and like nothing I've read before. It feels familiar, but I'm not sure why, except I'm envisioning all the bookstores I've visited and loved -- I think this could be a really good one. Be on the lookout for it this April. I bet I'll be raving about it by then.
Submitted by bookshelf on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:56am
An historian, author and foreign correspondent famed for his eye-witness accounts of historic events, T.D. Allman was born in Tampa, educated at Harvard and Oxford, and is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. He has reported from places as various as El Salvador, Beirut, Haiti, the Plain of Jars, Ethiopia during the famine, and Tiananmen Square.
We are thrilled to bring this prestigious author to Thomasville this weekend.
Allman's latest book, Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State, has been praised in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. It was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for non-fiction and Kirkus named it one of the best books of the year in both non-fiction and history.
Finding Florida is a staff favorite, and the paperback version is being released next week, which means our customers get a chance at these before anyone else. Allman will be joining us this Saturday, February 22 from 2:00 to 5:00. His book makes a great gift, and it's perfect for tourists looking for a keepsake to take home from their vacation on the Florida-Georgia line.
We hope you'll join us so we can keep bringing quality writers to our area!