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Jan
15th

Meet Marie.

 
We're welcoming local baker Marie Taylor to our downtown shop! Marie -- owner of Marie's Kakes -- will be delivering freshly baked goodies to the store every week; her cookies, macarons, and gourmet rice krispie treats are already some of our favorite things, and we're thrilled to bring them to you.
 
Marie has been creating gorgeous, delicious cakes for showers and parties for years. What began as a hobby for this stay-at-home mom turned into a viable business, and now Marie is breaking into the wholesale-biz, offering her treats in our store.
 
So why books and sweet treats? Why do we keep filling our store with sugar and flour and baked goods your grandma would make? 
 
Here's the thing: We believe bookstores should be more than just bookstores. We believe they should be community gathering places, places you bring your kids after school lets out, the meeting place for friends on their lunch break. We love watching customers come and stick around a while. We think that's what makes independent bookstores special -- they become a home away from home, a place where staff members know your name (we're trying!), where you can meet and mingle and hide away for a bit. And although books are the main draw, we believe food always encourages people to stay awhile. It's like inviting you to our table; we may not be able to have you over for dinner, but we can offer you a cookie or two while you flip through the pages of your favorite book. 
 
So come pay us a visit, won't you? Check out Marie's delicious confections, and turn our pages. We'd like you to stay a while. 
Dec
30th

Annie's best book pics for 2013.

 

I read 50 books this year. Fifty! And because it's the end of the year, and everyone is reflecting on 2013, on the highs and lows, the ups and downs, I thought I'd give you the highlights -- my books of the year. These aren't necessarily books that were published this year -- though some were. Instead, this is a look at the books I read and which ones I loved. (The ones I loathed aren't really worth talking about, am I right?)

Behold, the 50 books I read in 2013:

Bound South

A Soft Place to Land

The 19th Wife

Shine Shine Shine

Prep

The Glass Castle

The Beginning of Everything

Coming Clean 

The Mermaid of Brooklyn

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

A Place at the Table

Fangirl

The Mountain Between Us

Eleanor & Park

The Best of Us

What I Did

Paper Towns

Summer Sisters

The Age of Miracles 

Z: A Novel

Bread & Wine

Reconstructing Amelia

The Dinner

Carry On, Warrior

The Journal of Best Practices

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Looking for Alaska

Friendkeeping

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs

The Light Between Oceans

Home By Another Way

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Wild

An Abundance of Katherines

Bringing Up Bebe

Girls in White Dresses

A Circle of Quiet

The Death of Bees

Birds of a Lesser Paradise

The Language of Flowers

Frances and Bernard

Labor Day

Someone Else's Love Story

The Golden Day

The Meaning Is in the Waiting 

Calling Mrs. Christmas

Longbourn

Attachments

And Then There Were None

How to Be a Good Wife

And now, for my top 10. 

Eleanor & Park. This YA adult novel stole a lot of readers' hearts in 2013, and with good reason. It's a realistic look at love in high school, and its two protagonists are flawed and quirky and genuine. Rainbow Rowell navigates the teen landscape -- and 1980s culture -- with expertise, so much so that I actually think adults will like this book even more than the teenagers its geared toward. I really loved this book, and I think you will too. 

Shine Shine Shine. I read this book after seeing author Joshilyn Jackson's rave reviews, and because I love Joshilyn, I gave it a chance, despite the seemingly wacky premise. Shine Shine Shine is really unlikely anything else I read this year. Sure, it was reminiscent of The Age of Miracles (another favorite), but the prose was lyrical and artistic, and the story was utterly unique. What other books combines space travel, autism, female baldness, and Stepford wives all into one fantastic love story?

The Glass Castle. So many of you have probably already read Jeannette Walls' bestselling memoir, but it was new to me this year. Walls' story is heartbreaking, bittersweet, and beautiful, and her no-holds-barred approach was a reminder that our own stories are powerful if we approach them with honesty. 

Frances and Bernard I adored this book. I would have loved it even if I didn't realize author Carlene Bauer based her two title characters on real-life writers I love: Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell. (In fact, just to be clear, this is very much a work of fiction; the characters of Frances and Bernard are simply inspired by the history and friendship of Flannery and Robert; the moment you become involved in Frances' beautiful letters -- the entire book is written in letter format -- you'll see Flannery all over her.) I know a lot of readers will gush over the beautiful romance found in this book's pages, but it's really a book about the most Aristotelian of friendships, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Jordan bought me this book for my birthday back in February, with strict instructions not to finish it in 24 hours. Done, but just barely. The book drew me in pretty quickly, and once it had my attention, it just wouldn't let go. Maria Semple was a writer for Arrested Development, and you can tell. Where'd You Go moves along at a quick-witted pace, told in letters and emails and invoices and snippets of conversations. I think ordinarily, all of the voices could go terribly wrong, but instead, Semple beautifully -- and funnily -- weaves together the story of a mother and daughter.

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Heather Lende reminds me, a little, of Anne Lamott -- Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs is filled with stories and anecdotes about faith, and I wound up underlining several of the truths sprinkled throughout the book. I love reading others' thoughts on faith, but I found Lende's stories intriguing, too, because of her obvious love for the land, specifically, her home in small-town Alaska. Alaska has never been on my list of places to visit, but Lende's book convinced me I needed to add it. This is one of those books I think may have gone unnoticed, but I think that's a shame. It's really lovely.

The DinnerI thought The Dinner was original and intriguing, a true page-turner. The entire novel (translated from the author's native Dutch) takes place over dinner; each part, then, takes place during a different course, and the tension subtly builds into the book's final scenes. The Dinner is suspenseful and intense, filled with twists and turns and uneasy relationships.

Bread & WineI thought Bread & Wine would be a book about food, but really, it is a book about community, about friendship and family and why stopping and sitting and gathering and eating is so, so important for our faith and our well-being. As with Shauna Niequist's other books, I began Bread & Wine while sitting in front of the ocean, and I nearly had a conniption when I realized I had planted my feet in the sand without a pen in my hand. So I began ripping little tabs in the pages, and now my copy is dogeared and loved, just how I like it, and there are notches covering the margins where Shauna's words struck a chord. This is a beautiful, life-changing book. 

Z: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldOf all the books I read while on my summer beach vacation, Z was my absolute favorite. I should confess that I have a longstanding obsession with the Fitzgeralds, before an obsession with the Fitzgeralds was cool. I went to school in Montgomery, Alabama, where Zelda spent much of her growing-up years (and where she and Scott lived briefly later in their marriage). Even without that obsession, though, I think Z would make an interesting, thought-provoking read, filled with historical fact and an author's imagination for the missing details.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for GirlsI've been waiting for this book to come out since sweet Hannah mentioned it in one of our Twitter conversations back in April. Little did I know first-time author Anton Disclafani was paid a million dollars for her debut work, which has received some rave reviews and some disappointed ones. I, for one, couldn't put the book down. It was a little more scandalous than I expected (and, frankly, a little more explicit), but it's well-written and fascinating, and, I think, deserved of the raves it's gotten. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls follows strong-willed Southern teenager Thea Atwell to her exile at a North Carolina boarding school in the 1930s. You can tell Anton Disclafani is well-versed in equestrian sport, and I actually really enjoyed those parts of the book (admittedly: long-time Saddle Club fan here). As a Floridian who's explored her share of the South, I thought Disclafani's descriptions were spot-on and more accurate than perhaps I've ever read, and I think those parts of the book were my absolute favorites. Her depictions of Florida and of the South sucked me right in. I'm not sure I loved this book, but I certainly enjoyed it and felt like I was reading something special and rare. For fans of Ian McEwan's Atonement.

Book List

Eleanor & Park (Hardcover)

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9781250012579
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 2/2013

Shine Shine Shine (Paperback)

$14.99
ISBN-13: 9781250020413
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin, 5/2013

$16.00
ISBN-13: 9780743247542
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner, 1/2006

Frances and Bernard (Hardcover)

$23.00
ISBN-13: 9780547858241
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2/2013

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9780316204279
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 7/2012

$14.95
ISBN-13: 9781616200510
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 4/2011

The Dinner (Paperback)

$14.00
ISBN-13: 9780385346856
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Hogarth, 11/2013

$18.99
ISBN-13: 9780310328179
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Zondervan, 4/2013

$25.99
ISBN-13: 9781250028655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: St. Martin's Press, 3/2013

$27.95
ISBN-13: 9781594486401
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 6/2013

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