Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013

Booksellers at Warwick’s have the privilege of reading many books long before they are released to the public, this is a great perk and an opportunity for our booksellers to get ahead of the game so that when you, the customer come in asking about the latest and greatest books out we can answer quickly and thoroughly, providing you with the best titles available whether they are from well-known established authors or debuts. 2013 brings with it many fantastic new books, some of which you won’t hear about in the national news, but you will want to read. So, in preparation for the New Year our booksellers have each picked a book that they can’t wait to share with you in 2013.


Samantha S., Bookseller:
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler (February 12 Release): Being compared to To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help, this debut novel is sure to deliver.

Heather, Marketing Coordinator:
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman (May 28 Release): Hoffman’s (author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt) sophomore novel is an absolute delight. So well-written, with fully realized characters, and just the right amount of heartbreak and charm, Looking for Me is most definitely the book I am most looking forward to putting in people’s hands.

Alexa, Bookseller:
The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell (January 2 Release): Dark, cynical humor is right up my alley! Looking forward to her being in Warwick’s also (1-30-13 appearance)

Janet, Bookseller:
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (March 26 Release): The Burgess Boys is first and foremost a book about family. Two brothers and one sister are forever bound by the tragic circumstances of their father's death and their hardscrabble upbringing in Maine. Each suffers through trials and tribulations both public and private that will eventually bind them together stronger than ever. In true Elizabeth Strout style, this is not a sugar-coated fantasy family, but flesh and blood people whose characters are so finely drawn you'll feel like you know them. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author has surpassed herself in this timely and eloquent novel.

Julie, Director of Events and Community Relations:
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (May 7 Release): This will probably be my favorite book for 2013. So well written!

Mary Lee, Bookseller:
The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (April 4 Release): Gone with the Wind meets Out of Africa. Amy Einhorn Books—love her imprint.

Camilla, Bookseller:
Searching for Zion by Emily Raboteau (January 1 Release): Good thing this book will be released the first day of the New Year! I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Searching for Zion, the second novel by Raboteau. As a biracial woman, Raboteau says she never really felt at ease in the still racially divided United States, but had heard of “Zion” in several contexts: used by Bob Marley as well as by Jewish friends. To a young Raboteau, Zion simply meant a place of peace, or to be at home. While visiting a friend in Israel, Raboteau sees black Jews for the first time and is surprised at their existence and is inspired to seek out other black communities who had traveled during the Diaspora to find their own “Zion” or home. The author states that her goal was to ask all these groups, “have you found the home you are looking for?”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Special Guest Blogger Reviews "Falling Kingdoms"

Let me say that Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Roads is one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read. Falling Kingdoms has so many perspectives; there is Jonas, who is enraged at any injustice such as his brother’s murder and or Princess Cleo, who lives in royalty and likes peace. In this book, there is rich and food living Auranos, poor Palesia, and mean and bloody Lumeros. The plot of this book is that Lumeros and Palesia are jealous of Auranos, so they engage in war and overtake Auranos. I think the author was trying to tell people who read this book that jealousy can lead to bad things. I bet that if you read this book, you will not want to put it down.

I think overall this book was really good and I give it 4 ¾ stars out of 5!

Matthew is 11 years old

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Warwick's Staff's Favorite Handsells

It’s the Holiday Season and the question most heard around the store start with “I’m looking for a gift for…”. We all buy gifts for people during this time; whether it’s for a child, spouse, significant other, father, friend, or co-worker we tend to spend the majority of December rushing about trying to find that perfect gift. The Warwick’s Staff is no stranger to this gift giving frenzy, on top of purchasing our own gifts; we spend most of our days recommending gift purchases for others. So, in an effort to assist our blog readers, and to just get a generally great list of books out, we have configured a list of our top books to handsell l this holiday season.

Jan, Children’s Book Buyer:
If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder (a fun, laugh out loud picture book for the 2-4 year old group.)
The Lost Treasure of Tuckernuck by Emily Fairlie (two kids team up to use their wits to discover a treasure hidden in their school. Ages 9+)
Secret Letters by Leah Sheier (a young girl believes she’s the daughter of Sherlock Holmes and finds she is suddenly a detective herself. Ages 12+)

MaryLee, Bookseller:
The Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten (I wasn’t a fan before, but made 10 dishes from this book for a dinner party and they were all a huge success.)
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter (appeals to all ages—charming, with a bit of edge, feel good ending sire to please!)

Janet, Bookseller:
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (a beautifully written and heart-warming story of a girl searching for more than what life has dealt her.)
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (read Sweet Tooth and savor the sweet twist! Brilliant)
Hello Goodbye Hello by Craig Brown (clever, entertaining, and very interesting tidbits about the famous and infamous of past and present. The perfect gift idea!)
Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George (this edge of your seat mystery will keep you reading late into the night. Not just for teens.)
Artists in Love by Veronica Kavass (this is tops on my personal Christmas list. A fabulous collection of artists and their muses.)

Samantha S., Bookseller:
The John Lennon Letters (a collection of almost 300 letters and postcards, this book is perfect for the Beatles fan in your life.)
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (set in suburban San Diego, this debut novel follows the life of a young girl and her family as the rotation of the earth slows down. Very well-written, this is a great cross-over novel.)
A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois (this historical fiction novel, set both in New York in 2006 and Russia during the 1980’s, is unique and artfully written.)

Barbara, Bookseller:
Defending Jacob by William Landry (the best mystery I've read this year.)
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (winner of the National Book Award for Fiction)
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (this author is amazing, any of her books would serve well as a gift for fiction lovers)
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Alexa, Bookseller:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman (a sweet read)

Julie, Director of Events and Community Relations:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (hands down my favorite book of 2012)
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (story of friendship & redemption)

Heather, Marketing Coordinator:
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (great cross-generation fiction)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (for kids or adults)
Movie Box by Paolo Mereghetti (a great pictorial look at film, perfect for the movie fan in your life)
Sister by Rosamund Lupton (perfect fit for fans of Gillian Flynn and Tana French)

Margie, Office Supplies:
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith (fascinating and well-written biography)
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive: 101 Inspirational Stories about Changing Your Life Through Positive Thinking by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hanse, Amy Newmark (inspiring and heartfelt)


Samantha G, Bookseller:
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling ( great for book clubs and Rowling fans)
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (great for someone who wants a funny story with an element of mystery)
Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (a feel-good book perfect for Anglophiles or anyone looking for an adventure)
Broken Harbor by Tana French (great for mystery lovers looking for something more than the typical mass market spy thriller)
The Innocents by Lili Peloquin (perfect for the teen who loves Pretty Little Liars, probably going to be a very popular series)
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (great for middle readers who like adventure stories and a great way to introduce children to classic fairy tales)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Perfect Gift (According to Jim)

It’s tough finding the right book for the right person. But here are some suggestions for that person who has everything, or you are in a quandary about what to buy. There are dozens of new books being released in as many particular topics, so this is by no means a complete list. These are some of my “the-gift for someone who has everything” shopping list. They’re all now at the store or can be ordered. Staff may be able to match a book with an interest.


For families and art lovers: Life in Color, a beautiful tour of the world of color, by the National Geographic Society.

History: The American Bible by renowned author Stephen Prothero, brings together many of the documents, books, speeches and music that to have defined us as a nation. Commentary from different time periods enhances this rich collection.

Design: Design of the 20th Century by Charlotte and Peter Fiell, is a robust collection of this diverse and fascinating subject, complete with short bios of the designers.

Wine: The New York Times Book of Wine: More Than 30 Years of Vintage Writing.

Medicine: The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicine by Clifford Pickover is a fascinating survey of medical practices around the world and during different times.

Photography: A History of Photography-From 1839 to the Present, by Therese Mulligan and David Wooters is a Taschen Publishing masterpiece.

Humor: You can’t miss with The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information, a hilarious spoof of just about everything, set in an encyclopedic format emphasizing fictitious and occasionally ribald entries.

Film: Movie Box by Paolo Mereghetti is a treasure trove of photos and descriptions about making of many famous and popular movies. Candid pics of actors and back-lot shots from famous movies provides an entirely new way to experience film.

Autos: The Car: The Evolution of the Beautiful Machine is packed with pictures, descriptions, and bios of every stage in the auto’s history. Folders throughout are packed with dozens of facsimiles, from the first patent to Ferrari posters.

Food: The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes that Made the Modern Cookbook would be an excellent addition to chefs amateur and professional.

Kids of all ages: Guinness Book of Records 2013 is a hardcover photo compendium of the incredible and creative world records.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Warwick's Staff Presents: The Most Memorable Books We've Ever Been Gifted With

Books are fantastic gifts and at one point or another we have all either given or been the recipient of a book as a gift. Sometimes those books are perfect: that fantastic coffee table book you’ve been coveting, but just can’t justify to buying for yourself, or the next book in that series you love, or maybe it’s just a thoughtful little book with just the right message, any way you put it those books mean something. Yet, occasionally those gifts can be the opposite; perhaps a bit silly, or one you have already read, or maybe a book that is just not your cup of tea (to put it politely). With these thoughts in mind, the Warwick’s staff was put to the task or delving through their own book giving/receiving memories to answer the question

“What is the best, oddest, funniest, or most memorable book you have ever received (or given) as a gift?”

Here’s what they had to say:


Adriana, Bookseller: I don't tend to receive books as presents as everyone knows I work in a book store and rightly assumes if I see a book I want, I usually just get it for myself. I do however keep a wishlist of books I want but either can't afford or aren't practical. My husband knows this and for our 10th wedding anniversary snuck a look at my list and bought me Richard Avedon's Woman in the Mirror. Not only are Avedon's photographs beautiful, but he hand-selected each one shortly before his death, which when you look at them now, give them a somewhat otherworldly quality. This book is memorable not just because my husband took the time to pick something I probably wouldn't treat myself to, but the fact that he knew how much I love fashion and photography. The best presents are the ones that are a truly a surprise to get (especially when the present happens to be a book).



Lynn, Office Supplies: My favorite gift book was a copy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett I received as a child. I read that book so many times, I wore it out.

Janet, Bookseller: Once, I gave a friend the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook, two years later she completely obliviously gave it back to me as a Christmas gift.

Jim, Bookseller: My most memorable book for me AA Milne's Now We Are Six, a birthday present for my sixth birthday. I don't recall getting a book as a present before that time. I'm sure I did, but I vividly recall opening the brown paper, addressed to me, and then the tightly wrapped gift. I received this from my Aunt Phoebe, for whom my sister is named. I have been a fan of Milne ever since and remember reading everything about Christopher and Pooh. My aunt's gift was, literally, a life changer. I became an avid reader, soon having read all of the Travers' Mary Poppins books and Garis' Uncle Wiggily series, classics still available.

Margie, Office Supplies: My most treasured book is my grandmother’s Bible. It had been passed down to my mom, and then to me, after my mom was taken away from us a bit too soon. My grandma made little notations on the sides of its’ pages and when I open it and see her writing emotions overwhelm me followed by a sense of calm, an feeling of closeness to both her and my mother. This book surrounds me with love and kind thoughts towards loved ones who no longer are around—a true treasure.

Barbara, Bookseller: On our first wedding anniversary, I gave my husband a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, and over a glass of wine I read to him: "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real."

Sam, Bookseller: When I was in 7th grade, my mom bought me Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. I had no idea at the time what a huge role the books and subsequent television series would play in my life. Gossip Girl helped turn a mild interest in pop culture into a major passion, leading me to study media in college and becoming one of the inspirations behind, and subjects of, my senior thesis. While I have definitely read books that are better written and have lasted with me long after I've finished them, Gossip Girl is possibly the only one I can credit for pushing me down my current path in life.

Kim, Office Supplies: Weirdest book ever received as a gift, Postsecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God. I received this book as a Christmas gift from my ex-husband the year my daughter was just learning to read. Not only were the confessions and secrets of strangers eerily disturbing to me, but the graphic images would have been shocking to a toddler. This was definitely one of those “hello??” moments in gift receiving!

Phoebe, Office Supplies: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. My daughter Rachel gave me this book. I enjoyed most of the “roadtrip”, but I think Mr. Kerouac started getting burned out.

Alexa, Bookseller: I remember getting Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald from my mom, which she read when she was little. I read it with my mom pretty much every night. Our 1954 first edition is pretty old and tattered now :) kind of cool to get old hand me down books!

Heather, Marketing and Co-op Coordinator: Being the granddaughter of Warwick’s former Book Buyer, meant that I received more books as gifts than I could possibly recount, from beloved copies of Grimm’s Fairy Tales to the complete Anne of Green Gables series, I could always count on my grandma to pick the perfect book for me. Yet it was a book given to me in 1996 that I remember most (it must have stuck in my impressionable teenage mind) was the book Life for Real Dummies: Life for the Totally Clueless. She “claimed” it was for monologue ideas (I was heading toward a degree in theater), but I have my own suspicions about that one.

Now readers, we put the question to you…tell us about books you have received as gifts over the years. We can’t wait to hear your stories.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jim Talks about a Book’s True Value

I am overwhelmed with all the books I want to read, but that’s a bookseller’s dream, I suppose. I have enough books at home to last me, say, three years. But during that time I would miss the beauty of new releases and the pleasure of a new paperback.

Looking at what is on our store shelves, every book needs to be treated as a work of art. If you consider the time and effort it took an author to come up with the idea, do the research, and write the pages. They have put their lives into every tome. Then there’s the editor, printer, cover jacket artist, the shipping, publisher reps, the staff store displays, the booksellers.

We see it’s not just the writer, but an amazing confluence of lives and talents.

I look for the book that transports me into a different world, living vicariously with those characters. However, I look at every book as a work of an artisan, whether or not I liked it. My appreciation is for all the effort of having it published.

Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kate Morton Fandom

People are creatures of habit and to some extent, at least in terms of entertainment, fandom. This is seen in how movies, television shows, actors, music, bands, etc… are inhaled and spit out by a clamoring public. How else could there be four Pirates of the Caribbean movies (please don’t tell me you actually thought they were good)? The same concept holds for books and their authors. Even if they are not “great” or “avid” readers, everyone seems to have their favorite authors. These are the writers whose books we immediately purchase no matter the subject or genre. Some people are hooked on George R.R. Martin, some on Michael Chabon, others veer towards James Patterson, Danielle Steel (don’t worry, I’m not judging you…at least in this blog), while other still are hooked on writers from our past, like Steinbeck, Austen, Nabokov, Hemingway, or one of the Bronte’s—who may not be writing anymore, but as soon as a new annotated version of Lolita, or illustrated Wuthering Heights is released, watch out, those fans are there. I have both witnessed and participated in this phenomenon. My grandmother was a big Jane Austen fan, and upon her death I found multiple copies of each Austen book (we are talking 4 or 5 copies of just Pride and Prejudice alone), as well as just about any book about Austen, her style, her home life—even a d├ęcor book—that could be imagined. That’s dedication! Now, I have my authors too, working in the book world, how can I not. My book shelves pay homage to writers like Mary Stewart, Max Barry (all but Machine Man, which I read, but couldn’t bring myself to keep), Tana French, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Carol O’Connell. Another author whose titles grace my shelves—and is really the topic of this blog—is Australian novelist Kate Morton.

Kate Morton is one of those novelists who create stories that sweep across time, weaving in and out of eras, switching between narrative voices and views with profound skill. Her four books The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, and the newly released The Secret Keeper, all use the devise of flitting between a modern story and one from the past, by creating an intriguing mystery that leads its modern day heroine to delve into the past in order to unearth the truth. Morton’s pasts are tragic. The characters suffer—for love, for war, for sisterhood, motherhood—for life itself, creating an interesting bond between not only the “mystery-solver”, but also the reader, as both protagonist and reader have the past slowly unfurled for them. It is easy within this type of storytelling to run to the melodramatic, but Morton is adept at running on that knife edge, providing an emotional core to her plot without falling into the stereotype. Kate Morton is a magician with a pen (or, more accurately in this day and age, Word Processor). Her characters are flawed, three-dimensional beings and her settings are richly defined without dragging the reader into a dull description of the landscape that more often leads to skimming, than appreciation. While her mystery plotlines, or rather twists are a touch on the predictable side, it is easy to overlook when confronted with such a rich tapestry of character and place.

In her newest novel, The Secret Keeper, Morton excels at connecting the story of Laurel, a well-respected older actress, with that of a trio of young people living in London during the Blitz. The novel interlaces the lives of Vivian, Dolly and Jimmy, switching between their narratives with that of Laurel as she struggles to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother and the long ago death of a visiting stranger at her home. In a time where I have been struggling to find a book I really love, The Secret Keeper has been a welcome breath of fresh air. Along with another of Morton’s books, The Forgotten Garden, The Secret Keeper has created characters and storylines that have enthralled me. I really can’t do them justice in explaining how Morton’s characters ignite a spark of compassion, an emotional link really, that is difficult to find in other novels. Her books are much more than good stories, they are in a sense, epics; not so much in the sense of something like the Ken Follett books or Gone with the Wind, but in the sense that her creations, these beings developed in her imagination, are really brought to life in a way that leaves vestiges of them in your mind long after you’ve put the book back on the shelf.

So, you readers with supreme author allegiance and a yen for good fiction, here’s my challenge—pick-up a Kate Morton book, read it, enjoy it and then move on to the next. Before you know it you will have a Kate Morton section of your book shelf too.

*Want to meet Kate Morton? Stop in at Warwick’s on Thursday, October 25th at 7:30pm. She will be discussing The Secret Keeper, followed by a book signing. Click here to learn more.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Week of Book Giveaways: Day 5

In promotion of Hachette Book Group's latest and greatest books, we will be giving away a book a day this week. All you have to do is come to the Warwick's Blog, look for our giveaway announcement, comment on it (you don't have to write a ton, an x or a :) will do), and you will be entered to win the book of the day. *Please note that we cannot ship prizes, they must be picked up in-store. 

Announcement of the winner will be made the following morning.

Today's book is Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? by Rhoda Janzen. So comment on this post and you could win a copy! The Winner will be announced on Monday 10/8/12.

The Winner of Thursday's prize, Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe, is Ashleigh.

Please don't forget to include your name, we cannot contact you without it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Week of Book Giveaways: Day 4

In promotion of Hachette Book Group's latest and greatest books, we will be giving away a book a day this week. All you have to do is come to the Warwick's Blog, look for our giveaway announcement, comment on it (you don't have to write a ton, an x or a :) will do), and you will be entered to win the book of the day. *Please note that we cannot ship prizes, they must be picked up in-store.

Announcement of the winner will be made the following morning.

Today's book is Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe. So comment on this post and you could win a copy!

The Winner of Wednesday's prize, The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, is Wendy B.

Please don't forget to include your name, we cannot contact you without it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Week of Book Giveaways: Day 3

In promotion of Hachette Book Group's latest and greatest books, we will be giving away a book a day this week. All you have to do is come to the Warwick's Blog, look for our giveaway announcement, comment on it (you don't have to write a ton, an x or a :) will do), and you will be entered to win the book of the day. *Please note that we cannot ship prizes, they must be picked up in-store.

Announcement of the winner will be made the following morning.

Today's book is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. So comment on this post and you could win a copy!

The Winner of Tuesday's prize, Schroder by Amity Gaige, is Susan Oertel.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jim Looks at Known Authors Writing Children’s Books


Many readers would be surprised at the wealth of fantastic authors writing juvenile fiction. In fact, I hadn’t read the renowned author Isabel Allende until I found a new kid’s trilogy starting with City of Beasts. The trilogy features twins who go on adventures with their archaeologist grandmother. After those I then read many of her books for adult audiences such as House of Spirits, Zorro, and my favorite, Ines of My Soul. To be able to successfully transfer her talents to a younger audience was so impressive that I have made a point of reading any young adult books written by similarly popular authors. The best part of this is that young readers will have an early introduction to some of today’s most prominent authors.
Here are a few other prominent authors delving into the children's book world:

Salman Rushdie at the Mandeville Auditorium on September 22 reminded my colleague Acacia of his two young adult titles, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and its sequel, Luka and the Fire of Life. These are in regular fiction but are also exciting novels for younger readers.

Elizabeth George’s The Edge of Nowhere, released in early September, features clairvoyant Becca King in the first of this cycle. George is best known for her crime novels featuring Inspector Linley.

Kathy Reichs is author of Deadly Decisions and a dozen other titles feature forensics expert Temperance Brennan. Reichs’ books are the basis for the TV show, “Bones.” Her new young adult series (starting with Virals) introduces Brennan’s niece, Tori, a teen detective. A virus gives Tori and companions several canine senses, including sight and hearing, which they are learning to control.

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have co-written a creative and humorous series of books. Peter & the Starcatchers (describing Peter Pan’s first encounters with magic) The story has been produced as a musical (which debuted a few years ago at La Jolla Playhouse.) There is also Science Fair, a hilarious look at sixth graders’ efforts to close down the eastern seaboard, and the foreigners who get hooked on the Shopping Network while checking in on the students’ progress.

Prolific James Patterson has the Maximum Ride series (six books and growing) about Max and her flock of siblings who have been cloned with birds, a spin-off of the more horrific adult novel, When the Wind Blows describing the creation of these unusual teens. He also has a Witch & Wizard series, among others.

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (also made into a movie) introduced young readers to his imaginative fantasy, with The Graveyard Book being selected for top honors as a Newbery Award.

Harlan Coben’s character Myron Bolitar is the uncle of the protagonist in this riveting first teen mystery, Shelter. Philippa Gregory’s The Changeling series is popular among young readers.

 There are certainly many others, but the authors listed are some of my favorites. If you are fans of adult titles, the ones for younger audience may appeal to you as well.
 
Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's

 

 

 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Obsession with Ballet: Adriana's List of Must Read Ballet-Themed Books



Ever since I was a child, I’ve gone through very specific reading phases. When I was ten, all I wanted to read about was gymnastics, although this might have had more to do with the ’84 Olympics and the success of one Mary Lou Retton. Two years later I went through every book I could get my hands on about the holocaust and World War II. In my teen years, I had a Vietnam phase, and Michael Herr’s Dispatches still has a special place on my shelf. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to steer myself away from reading in such a themed way, preferring a slightly more regimented selecting of titles so as to have a little more variety. I’d say I’ve been pretty successful at pulling it off, at least until very recently. The reading phase I’m in now has come as a complete surprise, especially to myself. All I want to read right now are books about Ballet. You heard that right: Ballet. Now what could have sparked an obsession so specific, especially to a non-dancer like myself? A book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time and read sporadically here and there. The name of the book: The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose. Towards the end is a chapter about George Balanchine and his last muse Suzanne Farrell. The way she describes the ephemeral nature of ballet and its otherworldliness, I began to think of it in a way I never had before. I needed to absorb as much as I could and fast. So began my new love affair. Below are a few of my recent favorites.

1. Ballerina Swan by Allegra Kent. One of Balanchine’s ballerinas, Kent had many important ballets created for her. She is also the author of her own exceptionally written memoir from a few years back entitled Once a Dancer. Now she has written an enchanting book for children ages 5-8, wonderfully illustrated by Caldecott-winning artist Emily McCully. Lovely and sweet, Ballerina Swan is about a swan named Sophie who lives in a pond in Central Park and loves to watch the ballerinas in Madam Myrtle’s Dance Studio. She wants to dance though, not just watch. She tries to join the ballerinas in their class but keeps getting shooed out by Madam Myrtle. One day, Madam Myrtle is replaced by a nicer teacher named Miss Willow, who lets Sophie join her class. Sophie does so well that she is asked to perform in the class’ end-of-year performance of Swan Lake, as the swan no less. Give this to the budding ballerina in your life.

2. Bunheads by Sophie Flack. No relation to the television show on the ABC Family, but definitely in the same age bracket. Slightly superficially, I was immediately drawn to the striking cover, ballerinas in giant tutus dancing in a circle on a stark black background. Now I’m not normally drawn to books in the teen section, but this book gave me pause to take a look, & Flack definitely knows of what she speaks. At seventeen she was accepted into the New York City Ballet and danced with the company for nine years. Her protagonist Hannah is nineteen and dancing with the Manhattan Ballet Company. She thinks she wants to dedicate her life to ballet until she meets a musician named Jacob who makes her question whether she really has what it takes to make it. Beautifully written, it’s definitely a great crossover book for teens as well as adults looking for a good love story, with all the hope & angst that goes along with that age, and definitely appreciated by those of us a lot older.

3. The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey. I was not expecting such a tour de force from this one, especially from an author I’ve never heard of. The story centers around two talented sisters, Kate & Gwen Crane, both belonging to a prestigious New York City Ballet company. When Gwen suffers a breakdown and returns home to their parents’ house to recuperate, Kate, alone for the first time, must deal with the guilt and pain of what has happened to her sister. Similar in theme as the movie Black Swan, The Cranes Dance is unflinching in its portrayal of the harsh and painful life dancers lead. It’s written in such a way as to make you feel a part of the company, a witness to backstage happenings you wouldn’t normally see. Long, detailed exposition on certain ballets almost proves too much, and yet doesn’t when all is said and done. Surprisingly dark, Howrey leads us by the hand into a dark tunnel only to see the light at the very, very end. I could not stop thinking about this one, long after I’d finished.

4. The Master’s Muse by Varley O’Connor. This is very much in the vain of The Paris Wife, and one of the best books I’ve read this year, ballet not withstanding. Its center is Tanaquil LeClercq, Balanchine’s fifth and final wife, who tragically contracted polio at the young age of 27 on a European tour in 1956. Smartly told in the first person, you feel every ounce in your body ache for her as she lies in the iron lung that enables her to breathe, only days after dancing on stage for the very last time. O’Connor has definitely done her research. Her novel feels more like a lost journal than something crafted at someone’s desk. LeClercq’s essence is there, even down to LeClercq’s own words, thanks to the few interviews she gave for various newspapers and dance magazines. Despite such a tragedy at such a young age, and in spite of Balanchine’s betrayal of her years later, Le Clercq was able to lead a fulfilling life, later on even teaching ballet. Don’t be discouraged by the apparent darkness of this book. It is supremely inspiring.

Further reading:

Apollo’s Angels by Jennifer Homans

Holding onto the Air by Suzanne Farrell (currently out-of-print)


Chasing Degas by Eva Montanari

I Was a Dancer by Jacques D’Amboise
 
Adriana is a bookseller at Warwick's

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Classic Hollywood Revisited

Iconic Hollywood stars have frequently been the subjects of books. There is always a new bio or photo book featuring the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, or a new biographical look at Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, or Joan Crawford; even Hedy Lamarr got her intellectual due in Richard Roades’ Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World. In Fiction, there too have been glimpses into the possible lives of these larger than life figures; from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ look at Errol Flynn in Glitter Baby, Marilyn Monroe in multiple books, including Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde and the current The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker, Louise Brooks in Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone, to Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason in Don DeLillo’s Underworld. The point is, celebrities, particularly those from the halcyon days of yesteryear are frequent subjects of the written word. Many of these works are interesting and informative, some preposterous and maddening, but mainly they are a type of book that draws readers looking for sensationalism or a glimpse at an era that never ceases to fascinate. So, I was not too surprised to come across several books this summer that dealt with the classic Hollywood scene, but I was surprised by their quality, particularly that of two novels, Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins. The books are incredibly different in context and presentation, deal with two different eras of Hollywood, but both are well-written snap shots of a time and people that continue to fascinate us.

While Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures does not feature a real-life celebrity, it does perfectly recreate the feeling of the studio-machine driven age of cinema. From the height of the studio system in the 30’s and 40’s to the revamped look of the late 70’s, this is a novel that brilliantly evokes the life and times of a studio-made star. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures follows young Elsa Emerson, a girl raised within her parent’s Wisconsin theater company who plots her way to Hollywood and is remade for eventual stardom as the glamorous Laura Lamont. This is more than a novel, it plays out like a 1950’s film, or even one of those epic studio stories (some true, some fabricated) of how someone became a star. In fact, I had a hard time not picturing someone like Lana Turner in my mind while reading this novel. It unfolds like a brilliant melodrama—a suicide, teen marriage, divorce, marriage to a studio head, stardom, age—and yet, this novel is wonderfully written, not a dramatic soap opera, but a sort of love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood and its products, the movie stars. A deceptively simple story, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is surprisingly gripping in its honest humanity, and cleverly written characters. Straub’s obvious love of this time period within the movie-making world helps to round it out presenting a well-thought out, interesting novel with remarkable understanding of the era, Hollywood studio system, and what it meant to be an aging female film star during this time period. In all it’s a fresh and charming new novel, perfect for classic movie fans.

Beautiful Ruins is an entirely different beast. Unlike the linear third-person limited narrative of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Beautiful Ruins is told via a multiple third-person narrative that bounces not only between characters, but also through time, place, and at points leaves the primary story to show excerpts from fictionalized books and screenplays. From 1962 Italy and the filming of Cleopatra (the most expensive US movie), to current Hollywood, with sections in Scotland, London, Seattle, and Idaho thrown in; Walter’s unique style creates not only a touching story of a love that could have been, but also a deftly drawn portrait of the demise of the movie star as an untouchable god (pre extreme-paparazzi), and the transition from epic films to reality garbage, lacking any sense of prestige and glamour. It adroitly shows the inner workings of film publicists and producers looking to exploit everything and anything to sell their products, the turmoil created by the desire to be famous, post-traumatic stress, and the general narcissism and technological dependence of the current generation. On the Hollywood front, actor Richard Burton is takes a co-starring role—his actions literally spur the plot of the entire story—his drunken escapades, remarkable talent, and on-set affair with co-star Elizabeth Taylor (prior to their 2 marriages) are imaginatively recreated, using much of the lore and fact that fans have come to associate with the couple’s tumultuous relationship. The addition of an ill actress (a fictional character who is part of the Cleopatra cast), an alcoholic former solider/writer, a canny and amoral publicity grunt, and a young Italian trying to save his dying hotel, help to create a setting that is almost film-like itself in its capture of drama and occasional bouts of comedic flair. The sections taking place in current times are less thrilling, far more irritating in view of the younger characters’ self-absorption—one is looking to sell a ridiculous screenplay based on the Donner Party, the other is a production mogul’s development assistant/lackey with a dependence on data fixes and a porn addicted boyfriend—but Walters uses them effectively in bringing together the threads of the story as it bounces between decades and characters. In all, Beautiful Ruins is intriguing, very stylized in its presentation, and a wonderful look at Hollywood’s transition from its Golden Age.

There are so many books published dealing with this theme that it can be daunting to take on the task, particularly for a fan of classic films, not looking to see their favorite star/era/movie diminished in stature, but taking up either of these novels, whether it be the stylized Beautiful Ruins, or the homage to the studio system of yesteryear within Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, readers are sure to find pleasure within their pages. Great reads for readers of varying styles and a love of interesting characters.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers: 2012 Edition

On Tuesday, August 28th, we hosted our annual Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers - a fantastic event featuring four of our booksellers talking about some of the new books they are passionate about. Here's the full list of the books discussed - bookseller comments are in quotes & you can click on any of the titles to see the synopses on warwicks.com:

Heather Christman, Marketing and Co-op Coordinator:
Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce: "Twenty years ago 15-year-old Tara Martin disappeared with little trace, until one Christmas morning when she appears out of the blue looking as though she were still a teenager, and claiming she was lured away by “the fairies”. Narrated by a mysterious and unknown figure with deep insight and untold answers, Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a spellbinding story that weaves itself between Tara’s unbelievable account, her family and friend’s attempts to cope and understand, and her therapist’s blunt analysis of her supposed delusion. Readers are kept on edge as they try to answer the question “Where has Tara been?” while navigating through a selection of eerie circumstances and secondary characters that enthrall with their blurred edges of reality and unusual perception. A mind-bending psychological narrative filled with mystery and beautifully written prose." 

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer: "The Mann’s are an amazing couple-Maxon a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, is on his way to the moon, and Sunny is a heavily pregnant, seemingly perfect housewife who spends her days caring for her autistic son and maintaining her role of flawlessness within her social circle. When a freak accident exposes Sunny for what she really is--a bald, social mimic, with a penchant for exaggeration--she must decide whether to continue her efforts of conformity or embrace the differences that make her Sunny. Interspersed with the couple’s odd upbringings and courtship, Shine Shine Shine is a wonderfully funny, touching, and unique love story that charms readers with its quirks and intelligence."

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: "Beautiful Ruins is told via a multiple third-person narrative that bounces not only between characters, but also through time, place, and narrative style. From 1962 Italy and the filming of Cleopatra, to current Hollywood, Walter’s unique style creates not only a touching story of a love that could have been, but also a deftly drawn portrait of the demise of the movie star as an untouchable god (pre extreme-paparazzi), and the transition from epic films to glamorless reality television. The novel adroitly shows the inner workings of film publicists and producers looking to exploit everything and anything to sell their products, the turmoil created by the desire to be famous, post-traumatic stress, and the general narcissism and technological dependence of the current generation. On the Hollywood front, actor Richard Burton takes a co-starring role—his actions literally spur the plot of the entire story—his drunken escapades, remarkable talent, and on-set affair with co-star Elizabeth Taylor are imaginatively recreated. The addition of an ill actress, an alcoholic former solider/writer, a canny and amoral publicity grunt, and a young Italian trying to save his dying hotel, help to create a setting that is almost film-like itself in its capture of drama. Walters also effectively uses secondary modern characters to bring together the threads of the story as it bounces between decades and characters. In all, Beautiful Ruins is intriguing, very stylized in its presentation, and a wonderful look at Hollywood’s transition from its Golden Age."

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin: "While I have typically tried to stay away from this genre of books--chick-lit, something about the premise of Where We Belong caught my interest. It wasn’t that the concept of an adopted daughter searching for her birth parents was new, it’s obviously not, but more how the story is told. Alternating between the voices of 18-year-old Kirby, and 36-year-old Marian, Where We Belong offers readers a glimpse into the minds of two very different people searching for their places in this world. This is a well-told narrative, interesting in its play out, with two characters who come across as quite real, and little more complex than your average “fluffy” book. This is instead a good novel that leaves you with the yearning to revisit these characters in a few years to see how they are doing. In all this was surprising pleasure, with no guilt attached."

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Revisited--and the Flynn trifecta): With the success of Gone Girl it is apropos to revisit Gillian Flynn’s previous book, Dark Places and most importantly, her debut novel Sharp Objects. This novel is brilliant, shocking, and unforgettable. If you have read or have any interest in Gone Girl, you must delve into Sharp Objects. To give readers a better idea of my initial impression here is my original 2006 recommendation:

Flynn’s debut novel is chilling and often disturbing, but it contains the best use of words that I have seen in quite some time. Despite the moments I found myself cringing with discomfort, I found I was so amazed by the beauty of Gillian Flynn’s words that I could not stop reading. Sharp Objects is a book that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Fantastic!"

Jim Stewart, bookseller:
The American Bible by Stephen Prothero: "Stephen Prothero has brought together over 40 major documents and writings that have impacted US history. Choice commentary provides background and historical context about everything from the Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance to speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy."

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty:  "This historic fiction places the reader in the midst of 1920’s New York . Famous silent film star Louise Brooks makes her first foray into New York, accompanied by a woman with her own agenda."

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty:  "Hypnotherapist Ellen O’Farrell falls in love with Patrick, who has a former girlfriend, that has been following him everywhere since they broke up several years before."

Gold by Chris Cleave: "Timely for the recent Olympics, Cleave tells the story of Zoe and Kate, who first met during the 2004 games. They are track racers with a rocky friendship and readers will wonder why they are still friends, which is explained later with a surprise twist."

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen:  "Danish police detective Carl Morck is so disliked that they give him an office in the basement where he and his Syrian assistant, Assad, are tasked with trying to solve all the cold cases in Copenhagen".

Camilla Johnston, bookseller:
Sutton by J.R. Moehringer:   "We are so excited to be hosting J.R. Moehringer on October 17th, for his new novel Sutton. Departing from his usual memoir or biography, Moehringer writes about a fictional interview of infamous bank robber Willie Sutton upon his release from prison. Moehringer manages to make Sutton entirely likeable, despite topping the FBI’s most wanted list. Truly an interesting read." (To be released on 9/25/12)

Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith: "Neuroses are plaguing everyday life for author Daniel Smith as he writes this biography. Smith explains the way that neuroses can be both developed as well as inherited. Portions of the book are painful to read, as life seems so unmanageable for Smith. It is a quick read, but an unforgettable one."

The Black Count by Tom Reiss: "The same author as The Orientalist, this book follows the life of Alexander Dumas. Half-Haitin slave, Dumas managed to make his way to France and rise in the ranks of the military, despite his skin color. Similar to his previous book, Reiss illustrates the change that one person can make in themselves and their lives if given the opportunity and choice." (To be released on 9/18/12)

Death in the City of Light by David King: "If you enjoyed Devil in the White City, you will surely enjoy Death in the City of Light. This book is truly a stranger than fiction period of history, as a French doctor became a serial killer during the Nazi Occupation. Using the police dossiers and local newspapers, King shows the terror that was being created by one man, in a truly terrifying time. King also wrote Vienna 1814 and Finding Atlantis."

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale: "A true life Madame Bovary, this private diary from the Victorian Era is an eye opening account of women’s rights during the time. At this point divorce was new concept, and only two had been granted by Parliament previous to Mrs. Robinson. Since divorce is so common today, one forgets that it was not long ago, that it could only be act of Parliament."

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway: "While Hemingway is likely rolling in his grave due to this release, this is a great book! 47 alternate endings, and early drafts are included, as well as the final version of A Farewell to Arms. This is perfect gift book for any fan of American literature! Purists may shun the idea, but it is very interesting to see the stream of consciousness in Hemingway’s mind that led to the final product."

John Hughes, Book Buyer/bookseller:
The Candidate: What It Takes to Win — And Hold — The White House by Samuel L. Popkin

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre

The Lost Prince and The Little Book by Selden Edwards

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison

Thursday, August 16, 2012

To Read or Not Read "The Iliad"

I love going to the theater. It’s my first love. I mean I love books and reading and everything that goes with that, but when push comes to shove theater will get my immediate attention. This might sound odd coming from someone who makes their living from books, someone who on a weekly basis writes on this blog about books and authors, but what many people don’t know is that my background is in theater, and having had the privilege to work, perform in, and study theater for many years I find myself feeling a little lonesome without it in my life on a daily basis. One might ask what a book blogger is doing speaking about theater when she should be discussing The Dog Stars by Peter Heller or some other newer title, but bear with me—I’ll get to the correlation.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see La Jolla Playhouse’s An Iliad, a re-imagining of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad (the Robert Fagles translation) at the Mandell Weiss Forum. The performance is done in one act (approx. 110 minutes) as a single, yet captivating monologue. The only addition to its storyteller, known simply as “the Poet”, is a musician who interacts musically using a double bass, the metal staircase, and a variety of other small instruments and tools. The musician never speaks, but the power of his music, particularly the double bass, interweaves perfectly with the storytelling, at times overwhelming the audience with its low, occasionally violent sounds that perfectly emulate the hardships of war as described by the Poet. For his turn, the Poet, as played by actor Henry Woronicz, is an intriguing figure, alternating from a hobo-like man pacing about a sparse utilitarian set speaking to the audience as though they were sitting beside him in a way station (there is no fourth wall in this production), to this eloquent poet with a visible and visceral connection to the men within this story that he is compelled to keep repeating to the world. Woronicz and musician Brian Ellingsen perform their material beautifully, bringing the right touches of humor, drama, and horror to this epic retelling. The only fault of the play is the text itself—not that great epic poem The Iliad, or even some of the modern comparisons used to create a better picture for the audience, but in the addition of dialogue that instead of adding to the underlying “horrors of war” theme, rather took audience members out of the tale and into a bit of clock watching. It seemed as though this dialogue, lists really, would just go on and on, destined to bore the audience, despite the excellent delivery by Woronicz. For example, at one point the Poet lists off every war since the Trojan War-every war. At first I was impressed at the research that was done to give the audience a chronological listing of so many wars, many I had no recollection of hearing about in my history classes, but after what felt like several minutes I found myself just waiting to hear the end so the play could go on already. I looked at my watch a couple of times here. Now maybe I’m missing the point, perhaps the director/writer wanted to desensitize the audience in much the same way our culture has become desensitized to war and violence—in which case they succeeded with me—but overall that and a few more stanzas like it, took me and those people around me right out of tale and into time tables and thoughts that perhaps 80 minutes would have been a more ideal time. Whatever my thoughts, this small criticism certainly does not detract from the fantastic performances of the actor and musician, and the brilliance of their natural and captivating storytelling skills.

So, how do I possible connect a mini-theater review to make it relevant to a book blog? Let me try.

I don’t really remember much about reading The Iliad. I know it was in 7th grade and we followed it up with Beowulf. I remember more about the mythology; Paris, the apple, Helen, Achilles and his heel, but the nuts and bolts have left me. I’m far more familiar with its follow-up The Odyssey, both because I read it at an older age, and because a fellow student and I took key scenes and rewrote them in modern tongue for a performance back in college (see I can be a dramaturge too). But The Iliad, that was one I never did revisit. Having seen this production—hearing the parts of the epic poem as it was meant to be presented—orally, I couldn’t help, but be curious about the text itself. Enter the Fagles translation. This is a translation I have sold, ordered, and found for countless high school students. I haven’t read it, I haven’t really had an interest, but I know that it’s the preferred edition of teachers in La Jolla and after witnessing it in performance, I just might go back and peruse its depths, and then again, I might not. In some ways I’m hesitant to reread this work—I’m not shying away from the text itself, I’m not a 16 year old student any longer and certainly don’t balk at ancient texts, but after hearing and seeing Henry Woronicz’s performance I am reminded that much like Shakespeare, these works were not meant to be read to one’s self, like one would read Dickens, but they are meant to be performed, the words given life by an actor, poet, or musician; no longer merely a book, but a reenacting, a personal experience; which is far more cathartic that any words on print.

Now I’ve gone and hurt myself by basically telling readers to watch, not read. Please don’t take this to mean that in the future you should see the movie (or in this case, the play), and just forgo the book! Instead what I recommend is to see this wonderful performance, and take all of the actor’s despair, anger, humor, humanity; tuck it into a small corner of your soul and then pick-up this epic poem, allowing yourself to resurrect those feelings when reading of the friendship of Achilles and Patroclus, the death of Hector, and the fall of Troy. I think you will find it will move you beyond a reading experience, into a whole new understanding of an ancient text that still bears so much weight in the affairs of today.

It is my hope that those of you reading this will do two things—see the play and read the book. Not to sound too much like an advertisement, but I think it will change the way you see the text and to top it off (advertisement here) the La Jolla Playhouse has graciously offered to host discussions for book clubs after the performance, even going so far as to offer discounts to reading groups over 10 people, just contact Alex Goodman at agoodman@ljp.org. For groups looking to gain more insight into Homer’s tale I highly suggest this method—it’s entertaining and enlightening.

So, moral of the blog—do the opposite of what your teacher told you to do. See the play, read the poem, get a whole new outlook on Homer. And maybe I’ll pick-up that Fagles edition and give it another whorl.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Funny you should ask…

Several customers have recently been asking for humorous or lighthearted books for themselves or friends. Well written, engaging books with humor can be hard to find. Meanwhile these are some of the titles and authors that I have found. Please feel free to add to the list.

Skinny Dip is a perfect way to begin reading Carl Hiaasen’s crazy stories that take place in southern Florida. This title has a husband pushing his wife over the ship’s railing, hoping to collect the life insurance, but forgetting that she was the captain of her college swim team.

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz features a wacky detective agency where parents run background checks on the adult daughter’s boyfriends.

Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander is a hilarious true story of an orthodox, but rather unruly, Jewish kid.

Me Talk Pretty One Day is my favorite book by David Sedaris. He is a satirist who milks his life for unbelievable (but true) tales.

Jennifer Government describes an America where everything has been privatized, including the government. Max Barry’s books are well written and devilishly funny.

Thank you for Smoking was written by Christopher Buckley, son of the late conservative impresario William F. Buckley. This title became a hit Hollywood adaptation about truth in advertising.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich starts the Stephanie Plum series featuring a female New Jersey bounty hunter with an erratic love life. You’ll find all the sequels to be equally entertaining.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, tells the story of a young woman visiting her eccentric aunt living in the South. (i.e. While the mayor lustily chases a neighbor in the backyard next door, a brassiere is tossed over the hedge in front of CeeCee)

A Visit from the Goon Squad, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has Bennie as the music producer (with a talented assistant who is also a kleptomaniac.)

In the far reaches of satire are, of course, Jon Stewart’s Earth, which teaches aliens all they need to know about humans. Anything by The Onion is funny. Our Dumb Century is a great place to start, with its fictional descriptions and pictures from every country.

There are dozens more that can be added to the list, and I would enjoy seeing your additions. Meanwhile these can get you started on a humor junket.

Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Note from Samantha: Enjoy Your Last Summer!

Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, The Age of Miracles, has been passed around the Warwick’s staff. To date, upwards of eight staff members have finished the book – very unique for a single novel and our diverse staff. If you have yet to hear about The Age of Miracles, let me fill you in. The story takes place in suburban San Diego (Del Mar if you want to be precise), and follows the life of an eleven-year-old girl named Julia. One day, Julia and her family, along with the rest of the world, wake up to learn that the rotation of the earth has slowed down. “The slowing” affects everything – gravity, the magnetic field, plants and animals. As much about “the slowing” as it is about it affects Julia, her family, and her friendships, The Age of Miracles is my favorite book of this summer.

Back to the point. I hate to call The Age of Miracles an ‘apocalyptic’ novel, but there is no denying that “the slowing” changes everything about life as we know it (assuming we were living in Karen Thompson Walker’s fictional world). I hesitate to call it apocalyptic because to many people that kind of story is a turn-off; when they hear “apocalypse” they imagine an asteroid on an inevitable track towards earth, or a widespread outbreak of some contagious, incurable disease. They might even imagine something more recent like last summer’s fictitious Rapture or this year’s coming end to the Mayan calendar. As more and more of my coworkers finished The Age of Miracles, the more we began talking about our favorite end-of-the-world novel. Since the end of the Mayan calendar is the latest and greatest world-ending phenomenon people are buying into, here is a selection of books we recommend so you can “enjoy your last summer!” From a “Maya 2012” travel guide that will take you through Mayan Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras to Tom Perrotta’s rapture-like novel The Leftovers, you have until December 21, 2012 to get through this list. Or maybe not… I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Pure by Julianne Baggott
Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Blindness by Jose Saragamo
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
World War Z by Max Brooks
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck
Maya 2012 published by Moon
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Now Panic & Freak Out published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Children of Men by PD James
City of Bohane by Kevin Barry
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank

Samantha is a bookseller at Warwick's