Friday, July 27, 2012

“If You Like This…” Vol. 3: The Musical Edition

Music is much like literature; it entertains, it’s cathartic, the right song can send you into the heights of glee—the wrong, into a melancholy stupor. All these things can also be said about a book, and much like its literary counter-part, music is subjective. Just because I like Florence + the Machine doesn’t mean you will, neither would my preference for Gaston LeRoux’s book The Phantom of the Opera over its musical twin by Andrew Lloyd Weber have any effect on your own personal preference. Much like a good wine and food pairing musical preferences and reading material can blend together quite nicely, creating a smorgasbord of stimulation for your brain. Many books use music within their pages to create a fuller image for their readers. Authors like Nick Hornby, Gayle Forman, Stephenie Meyer, Rob Sheffield, and many others, have all used song lyrics or titles to further the emotional experience for their readers and create a new sensory reading of the book. All booksellers can answer the “If You Like This Book” question, but could we do it with music and apply it to a book? With that thought in mind, the Warwick’s staff was put to the test to try and match-up a few specific songs or albums to books that perfectly complement them. So this month’s edition of “If You Like This…” is devoted to music and the books that match.

If you like Blue October’s Hate Me or Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl

Just pick-up something by Gillian Flynn. Her edgy mysteries with chronically self-flagellating, borderline psychopathic characters blend with either of these songs. I recommend listening to Blue October with (what I think is her best book) Sharp Objects, while the lyrics don’t necessarily go with the plot, the overall feeling generated by the song really goes well with the book. The Zombie really goes well with any of Flynn’s three books, but probably best with Dark Places.

On a side note, I saw a modernized production of Swan Lake that used the Zombie song and it worked tremendously well—so if you are in the mood to blend the classic with something a bit harsher this is a great way to do it.

If you like Tori Amos…

Read Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce. Amos’s ethereal tones complement the book’s blurring lines of reality, fantasy, and possible delusion. This is one artist you can softly listen to while reading the book, if you are one of those people who likes to have a little audio to accompany your reading time. I would recommend her Scarlet’s Walk album (it helps that one of the more recognizable songs from the album is called A Sorta Fairytale).

If you like Willie Nelson’s new album Heroes

Try Charles Frazier’s latest book Nightwoods. The bluegrass sound Heroes perfectly emulates the rural setting of this rich suspense novel. Nightwoods tight narrative and eerie surroundings evoke hints of the song Hero and others on this eclectic collaborative album.

If You like Phoenix’s Lisztomania or Feist’s 1 2 3 4

You should be reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer. Bear with us on this one while we explain our reasoning. While the book in no way suggests the meaning of Lisztomania (which roughly calls up the mania of Franz Liszt fans in the 19th century) something about the upbeat sound of it seems to mix brilliantly with this quirky love story. As one reviewer said about the song “…Lisztomania is nevertheless carefully and lovingly composed, breaking out the ebbs, flows, breakdowns, build-ups, and a frantic two-note intro that will exert a Pavlovian effect on fans”(Stephen Deusner, This mash-up of sound is quite similar to the occasionally frenetic interweaving of time and space as Shine Shine Shine follows its one-of-a-kind couple of Maxon and Sunny.

1 2 3 4 has a sweet quality to it that evokes a reminiscent quality of young love, both past and present. As Shine Shine Shine is a sort of “autistics in love” (there really is no better way to describe it) story, that uses numbers, formulas, science, occasional manic acts, and revolves around two completely unique, naive, yet incredibly moving characters—it just fits with the overall effect of Feist’s song.

If you like…a quick guide…

The Rolling Stones: You’ll like Keith Richards’ Life. Yes we know this is obvious, one of our booksellers is a smart aleck, but we love her anyway and had to include this.

Florence + the Machine’s Ceremonials: Try Anita Shreve’s Strange Fits of Passion.

Johnny Cash’s Hurt: Anything by Cormac McCarthy—seriously, try it—they work together.

The Chemical Brothers: Read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson the electronic sound of this music duo is a great match with the brilliant techno geek sci-fi novel that is Snow Crash.

Don’t think a musician/song go with one of these books? Give us your ideas; we would love to hear other match-ups. The staff loves music and obviously books and is always eager to learn about new artists in both arenas.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jim Takes a Look at a Selection of WWII Mysteries

There are probably as many novels as there are people who experienced the devastation and ultimate freedom of World War II. But there is no novel - featuring either the Korean, Vietnam, or Middle East conflicts, that continue to be considered popular literature. An exception is Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, about the struggle from the perspective of all the Nam participants, in what was then a divided nation. Another is Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli about a woman photojournalist’s role, in relationships and conflict, weeks before the Saigon airlift. While there are surely more, these two are the most recent that that come to mind.

As of today there are three new extraordinarily engaging titles, again with the backdrop of WWII. In Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison, an American, Chris Lowndes, buys an English country home, sight unseen. Only after he’s moved-in does he hear the story of former owner, Grace Fox, murdering her husband. She was then being executed for the crime, now fifty years before Lowndes moved in. After learning about Grace, Lowndes sets out to prove Grace’s innocence. She was living a seemingly idyllic marriage and the few who remember her, knew her for her kindness and generosity. How could this fine woman murder anyone? That’s what Chris Lowndes wants to find out.

Philip Kerr’s Prague Fatale continues the tale of the cynical detective Bernie Gunther who reluctantly serves as a bodyguard to the Nazi’s Reinhard Heydrich, who fears for his life. He is so good at his job that the country’s leaders overlook his anti-Nazi sympathies. (Gunther is introduced in Kerr’s trilogy Berlin Noir). Gathered in a country home are many of the Gestapo’s key leaders where Heydrich hopes Gunther can reveal the conspirators. Gunther’s new girlfriend is his only break during a difficult assignment, and she tells Gunther she spends her days with friends.

Alan Furst’s Mission to Paris has movie star Frederic Stahl in Paris to shoot a movie, just as the German army makes its presence and demands known to the French. Stahl’s international fame is a Nazi propaganda prize and they prod and then force the star to host a Berlin film festival. He finds a way to help the Allied cause, even if he is reluctantly going to Berlin. This spy thriller is a classic example of Furst’s unquenchable talent.

Each of these mysteries provides a fascinating reading experience. I trust there are other stories from conflicts that can be as successful transferred into fiction.

Jim is a bookseller at Warwick's

Friday, July 6, 2012

Warwick’s Staff Presents: Summertime Reading

It is summer, time to head out to the beach, grab a spot on the sand and pick up a new book. Need a little inspiration? Here’s a brief glance into the summer reading lives of the Warwick’s staff.

Adriana, bookseller: The Master’s Muse by Varley O’Connor. Fans of The Paris Wife will not want to miss out on O'Connor's brilliant portrayal of Tanaquil Le Clercq. the prima ballerina, muse, and last wife to the brilliant ballet master, George Balanchine. Struck with polio in the middle of a European tour at the young age of 26, Le Clercq would never walk, let alone dance, again. Extensively researched, O'Connor gives voice to a very private one and gives us a theoretical peak into one of the most fascinating marriages of the twentieth-century. Intense, heartbreaking, and life affirming, The Master's Muse will have you reading long into the night.

John, book buyer/bookseller: Having recently attended an event with and been bowled over by Carlin Romano, I feel even more enthusiastic as I read his wonderful America the Philosophical. Against cultural commentators and historians dating at least back to Alexis de Tocqueville, Romano argues that America is the most philosophical culture in the history of the world. He defends his claim with an eye-opening, vigorous, and entertaining narrative history of American thought and thinkers. I am finding this book — and I have never said this of a book before — unputdownable.

This summer will see the release of The Lost Prince, the second novel of Selden Edwards. Edwards happens to be the author of one of the most entertaining novels I have ever read, The Little Book. Pat Conroy and Garth Stein have already gone on record in support of The Lost Prince, both of these authors finding it to be even better than The Little Book. Enough said! I am crazy excited to read The Lost Prince and delighted that Edwards will be returning to La Jolla to discuss and sign his new book at Warwick's. My summer suggestion to everyone: devour The Little Book as soon as possible and join me in eagerly awaiting the release of The Lost Prince.

Julie, Director of Events: Summer Reading for me is not any different from the rest of the year...give me a good piece of fiction please! So, on my stack for this summer...Zafon's The Prisoner of Heaven, Karen Thompson Walker's The Age of Miracles, Selden Edward's The Lost Prince...and a little guilty pleasure...Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night!

Jolene, Gifts: Before the Poison by Peter Robinson. Intriguing story—going from present day to half a century ago—where the protagonist goes on a hunt to discover if a murderess actually killed her husband in the house he has just purchased.

Barbara, bookseller: I’m looking forward to reading Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick because I loved his first novel A Reliable Wife!

Samantha, bookseller: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird, I was in 7th grade. Eight years have since passed and I’ve now read Harper Lee’s only novel as many times. To Kill a Mockingbird is the first book I read every summer, and I love it a little more every time.

Heather, Marketing Coordinator: I think the question is more what am I not reading this summer! From Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer and David R. Gillham’s City of Women, to Simon Mawer’s Trapeze, I’m hitting the fiction pretty hard, although I will be taking a break from the new stuff to read Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables, a book I’m afraid to say I’ve never actually read before. Here’s to a new reading experience.

Emily, Local Author Coordinator/bookseller: More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby. I am a huge fan of everything and everyone British, especially Nick Hornby. I cannot wait to read this book before it comes out in August.

Janet, bookseller: This summer I plan on scratching 2 items off my “bucket list”, well…at least vicariously. One is ballet, The Masters Muse by Varley O’Connor and The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey—both highly recommended by Adriana should cross that off my list. Hiking is another activity that sounds good, but so far I haven’t taken it up, so instead I plan on reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a summer of attempting to be adventurous, but in my own way…by reading about it.

Margie, Office Supplies: This is my summer of “kind” and “compassionate” books. The ultimate of these being Wonder by R.J. Palacio, which I absolutely love, love, love! If you get a chance, please read Wonder, you will love it just as much as the Warwick’s staff did.

Acacia, bookseller: The Cove by Ron Rash. Every year I like to kick-off summer by reading something that’s guaranteed to give me chills and beat the summer heat. This year, Ron Rash’s unusual love story set in WWII Appalachia with its dark backdrop of early American superstition and folklore, transported me to a way of life that is long gone.

Jim, bookseller: Before the Poison by Peter Robinson. An American purchases a home in the English countryside, site unseen, and soon finds out why it was so underpriced: A woman killed her husband and was executed 50 years ago. But is she truly guilty?

I’m also reading The Invisible Ones by Stef Penny. Gypsies in England hire a detective to solve a puzzling murder. This is full of fascinating information about the Roma culture and their relationship to the non-Roma culture.

Lynn, Office Supplies: I just finished Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. I wanted to read it before the movie came out. I loved the book…not sure if the movie can compare.

Kim, Office Supply: I’m reading Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, Ph.D. This book about parenting choices focuses on core values and authentic success. Life her first book The Price of Privilege, Levine reminds me of all the options in raising my child.