Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Happy Solstice, everyone! Here's a Sonnet for you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Re-enacting books as performance

Clare Thornton is running this performance re-enactment project based on various books.
Interesting idea, no?


Friday, November 28, 2008

What we are thankful for

To those of you in the USA - Happy Thanksgiving!

What we are thankful for this year - not necessarily in this order -
sales (our customers have made this year better than last and we are VERY thankful in this economic climate)

What are you thankful for?

PS Remember books, CDs and DVDs are less expensive than most everything else - and they are durable and recyclable (by passing them onto your kids).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wag the Dog Beinhart

I chose Wag the Dog as a light read to balance Bob Woodward's latest 'The War Within'. I didn't finish Woodward's book - so much detail I couldn't unravel but I did enjoy the conclusions. I did finish Wag the Dog.

What a scandalous mix of fact, fiction and conjecture. Beinhart even includes himself in the narrative, as the scribe. Footnotes and a last chapter on the first Gulf War complete the reality warp.

If you've seen the movie then the book is different. It is the same premise told from different characters' perspectives. There's a Hollywood PI/former Nam vet hardness here. As the author writes Barry Levinson had to make movie choices, he made book choices in the plot.

Bush Senior's ratings are going down and what could bring them up? A war. Like Maggie Thatcher's. This is Lee Atwater's last idea. And who could produce this war? Why, Hollywood - they've been so successful staging other wars. Now which mover and shaker, which director. It just gets better.

But this is Top Secret, we need a security firm. Here's Joe, our hero, a loyal maverick. He is willing to ferret out this secret for his lady love, a luscious Hollywood star. This coupling of Hollywood and Washington took me to a new level of cynicism. This book would be a great book club read especially if you threw in the movie as well.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wine Tasting tonight + Girl Scout Cookies Sunday!

Friday, November 7, 2008, 6-9pm Wine and Music @ the Bookstore
Wine from Vino 100, Munchies from Virgil's, Music from local guitarist Steve Colon. What else do you need?

Sunday, November 9, 2008, 12-3pm Girls Scout Cookies
We'll have a local Girl Scout troop selling cookies today 12-3 to benefit a program that sends cookies to the soldiers in Iraq. Bring your appetite!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Edgar Allen Poe's 200th Birthday Celebrations

Baltimore is throwing lots of events for Edgar Allen Poe's 200th birthday and the details may be found here. The father of American Horror was not born in Baltimore, but he certainly died here and his body rests in the wonderfully creepy Westminster Burying Ground. There will be readings by John Astin, posters by school kids, music with the BSO and Paula McCabe, plays and puppets, amontillado wine tastings, and all sorts of fun. The actual birth date is January 19.

Just as an it's-a-small-world-aside: Paula was my voice teacher before I became a bookseller and she has an AMAZING voice.

Nevermore 2009! Forevah!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vampires v. Zombies for the Fiction Heavyweight Title

One of my book distributor colleagues reckons that Zombies are the Next Vampires. For those of you looking through every section of the modern bookstore, you know Vampire stories have infiltrated just about every single fiction section and a couple of the non-fiction sections. While Zombie stories are definitely on the rise, can I really see them staggering into a) Romance - no(?), b) Westerns - well, maybe, c) Mysteries - OK, maybe, d) Poetry - yeah, Poetry is pretty inclusive, e) Young Adults - hmn, f) Middle-School - yes, they dig the Yuck Factor, g) Elementary Kids - maybe, h) Kindergarten/Pre-School - depends on whether the illustrators can make Zombies cute?

OK, maybe the distributor has a point.

The first Zombie book I ever read was The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton. Man, that made me scared to go to sleep. Then there's all the Walking Dead graphic novels and World War Z. Most recently, we received an anthology called The Living Dead, by John Joseph Adams...all zombies, all the time. Methinks George Romero was onto something. Something messy and drippy and gross and menacingly unstoppable.

I'm going to go wash my hands now.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tea with the Author - Harry Olson

Join Reisterstown author Harry Olson for a discussion of his book, "Power Strategies of Jesus Christ." Tea and cookies will be served.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Never Suck A Dead Man's Hand By Dana Kollmann

Let me just say that this has got to be one of the best books I have ever read.. Yes i said it..The best.

It's the stories of what Dana got into after she made the decision to go into the Crime Lab. There are so many short stories, and things that both you and i can relate to. She draws you in the moment you pick up the book. With her great sence of humor and her great out look on every situation that she is placed, you will want to keep reading.

She writes about things that you and i don't commonly think about, but when she does you know exactly what she is talking about.

If you like Humor, ready to learn about things, and have an open mind..This book is for you. And Lets just say..You will never be able to watch CSI on Tv the same again.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nobel Prize for Literature

From Sweden:

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2008 is awarded to the French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”.

Le Clezio is known most recently for Wandering Star and The Round and Other Cold, Hard Facts.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hardly Knew Her Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman has written some wicked, wicked stories, full of verve and sly, twisted humor. The women characters always seem to prevail - in any situation.

Take Mona of the five husbands who is asked to star in porn films for a 'niche' audience. She wins out by maneuvering into a bigger and more powerful role and husband number six.

She has also written three Tess stories. One is an interview of Tess conducted by Laura Lippman of the Beacon Light. You see how clever she is? Her writing seems more varied and colorful than her novels. Different genre maybe? There enough 'heroines' here to inspire us for a long time.

Take Heloise,a madam who accidentally meets a client at her son's soccer game. He turns out to be a bully intent on blackmailing her. How Heloise 'disposes' of him is a revelation.
Laura Lippman , lady of the main chance, please write some more short stories.

The Likeness Tana French

I was blessed two weekends ago, remember all that rain? I had Tana French's latest book right beside the bed. You might remember her first book - "In the Woods" is still on the Indie Best seller's Paperback List. Cassie is the narrator as she goes undercover again. Is she mixing with drug dealers again? No, just a group of graduate students in a old house. One of them has turned up murdered and the surprising thing is she could be Cassie's double. Plus she is using the identity Cassie created for her first undercover job. After some coaching Cassie assumes this woman's life while her boss tries to uncover the stranger's real identity. Cassie is still unsettled by her experiences in the first book and she's unhappy in the domestic violence unit. To belong to this close knit group of students gives her the support she could have used before. Will Cassie shift her alliegance and let this cozy world envelop her?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen lives in a harsh future. The state of Panem keeps its 12 districts under control by a) limiting the food available to the districts and b) requiring each district to send one boy and one girl, between ages 12 and 18, to the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death on live TV...imagine Survivor with death-fights instead of voting. The kids are chosen by lottery and Kat's baby sister is chosen in the first year she is eligible. Prim is NOT a survivalist: she would much rather heal creatures rather than shoot them. Even for food, even if she was starving. Now Kat was taught to poach by her dad and she has kept the family from starving in the wake of her dad's death. Kat volunteers to replace Prim in the Games, knowing it is probably a death sentence.

This is a powerful story that follows Kat through her selection and the Game itself. It is a profound demonstration of what one sixteen year old will do when she is hungry and is supporting her family. It is a 21st century "The Running Man," with overtones of "1984" and "Brave New World."

Suzanne Collins is known for her series on Gregor the Overlander and this new series promises to be just as striking. Because of the subject matter, this book is recommended for grades 7 and higher --- this is not for younger kids.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Space History on Saturday + Search & Rescue Ministry on Sunday

This weekend, we have two amazing events going on:

Saturday, September 27, 2008 3-5pm Tea with the Author
Bob Zimmerman will discuss his latest book on space history. The Universe in a Mirror details the controversial history of the Hubble Space Telescope and its mission to broaden our view of the universe.

Sunday, September 28, 2008 3-5pm Tea with the Author
Kate Braestrup discusses her bestselling memoir, Here if You Need Me. Kate became a minister following the sudden death of her husband. Later, she was called to become a chaplain to a search and rescue team in her home state. This is her profoundly moving story.

Fun October/Halloween reading

Tor Books is running a column every Friday from now until Halloween on Better Zombies Through Physics. What a great name, huh? It's all done in comic strip format.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

More titles on Alaska (in honor of Sarah Palin)

We have a couple of other interesting Alaska-related books.

The Entangling Net is an collection of biographies of women working in Alaska's commercial fishing industry. You may or may not know this, but Alaskan waters have some of the harshest conditions on the planet. The chapter titles tell a brutal but determined story: "And then I got a job on a boat;" "People don't work like this;" " "I can't work with this woman!;" "When I got my own boat...;" "I've seen people die;" "I'm still fishing..."

The Collected Poems of Robert Service include all kinds of tales about the Yukon Territory and Alaska. Robert Service was a Scot who came to Canada during the gold rush...albeit to work in a bank. His poems speak of wild characters, beautiful countryside and stories so strange they just have to be true.


What In the World Is Alaska?

To honor Sarah Palin's nomination to Team McCain I thought I should read about Alaska. Winterdance is Gary Paulsen's description of his first Iditarod and made me realize the lonely beauty of Alaska and the toughness of the people to even suggest such a race. Gary Paulsen is also in another league all together - superhuman?

Then I read Sarah by Kaylene Johnson, just to establish a baseline on the lady for myself. This is a friendly biography published in Alaska. I felt the warmth of community which is important in such a large harsh land. Her childhood was school, basketball, hiking hunting,camping with the Wasilla Assembly of God a focal point for the family. As she said the kids I saw in Sunday school were the kids I went to school with. This community later volunteered in her campaigns for mayor of Wasilla and governer of Alaska. She was gutsy enough to challenge the entrenched politicians and straight talking enough to win. FBI corruption investigations into federal and state leaders also helped.
Now she's on the national and international stages. Will she be quickfooted enough to survive a national election is the question. And whether those outsider Alaskan values continue to reverberate with 'mainland' America makes the viewing interesting.

Soho Press has two Alaskan authors. So for a little local color I've started Stan Jones' Shaman Pass. The setting is an Inupiat village with a State Trooper born but not raised there. Nathan Active is having a hard time being accepted, seems a childhood in Anchorage makes him 'soft'.

The Woman Who Married a Bear highlights the Tlingit Indians of southern Alaska. John Straley seems to be writing from personal experience as a private investigator.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Steig Larsson

This book is set in Sweden with some well drawn characters . Lisbeth Salander is the most fascinating, a very edgy fringe character whose abusive childhood makes her wary of others. We enter the world of magazine publishing and finance with a disappearence to bind them. Michael Blomkvist is a publisher/journalist whose career is brought to a halt by a lost libel case. A retired industrialist hires him to investigate the death of a neice 40 years ago. The plot thickens and Salanger's life converges with Blomkvist's. There enough twists to keep you reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Goodnight Goon - Michael Rex

Goodnight Goon, by Michael Rex

Cute, cute, SCARY cute.
The secondary title is "A Petrifying Parody" and yes, it does sorta kinda follow the classic Goodnight Moon - but with a Halloween twist. The illustrations are bright and humorous - and considering the werecub tells the monsters to go to sleep, it's not that frightening. A great find for fans of the movie, "Monsters, Inc."

It just arrived at the shop today,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thank you and blogs!

Heather Johnson of Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books blog fame just reviewed our shop for the She is too fond of books blog. Thanks, Heather - lovely review!!

In other blogs, have you discovered the Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog yet? Lots of interesting bits, reviews and literary-related news. I am fascinated by Eleanore Herman's debate with the another responder on the historical accuracy of her latest book. (under "Vandalism at the Pratt") I am also vastly entertained by the conflict: Poe: Northern Writer or Southern Writer? The latest salvo is this bid to move Poe's remains to Philly. HAH.

truecrime Jake Arnott

What can I say about this surprising book? Four voices, an unconventional plot and a moral at the end. Plus this quote from David Bowie right on the front cover - 'Pure gangland bliss.....Funny, fast and brutal.' This is cool Britannia with Tony Blair just assuming office. Britain has discovered its 'villians' and they're cool - at least the way truecrime publishing portrays them. We get to mix with real villains, the wanna-bes and those who make their living writing about them, plus the screenwriters a la' Pulp Fiction. What an interesting unpredictable book this is.

Tea with Cynthia Polansky this weekend

Join us for tea and cookies with Cynthia Polansky . Her latest book, "Remote Control," is about a ghost that attempts to help those she left behind.

Winner of the Indie Excellence Award in the category of New Age Fiction, Remote Control is the story of 30-something Judith McBride, a Jewish control freak with an unlikely last name. When she dies in a medical mishap, she calls upon her supernatural status to "rescue" her widowed husband from the sexy clutches of their gold-digging, thrill-seeking blonde accountant. But interference with earthly events is strictly verboten and the repercussions ripple outward, affecting not only Judith, but the lives of her husband and best friend. Judith's journey from the physical world to the spiritual is peppered with adjustments, choices, and self-discovery, ultimately leading her to the realization that loving sometimes means learning how to let go.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vote for the weirdest, oddest book title

Some of you may have heard about The Bookseller's Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. Well, in honor of its 30th anniversary, they're running a Best Of contest. The winner was
Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers.

Catchy, huh?

Wine & Song - Tonight!

Wine and Song, tonight, Friday, September 5, 2008 - 6-9pm
Join us! Wines will be provided by our friends at Vino 100. Vino 100’s motto is “100 great wines for $25 or less.” They use two barometers - Flavor (which runs from Fruity to Dry) and Body (which runs from Light to Full) – to make wine buying easier for the customer. We will have wines, along with munchies, available for tasting.

We will also have live music from folk musician Steve Haug. Steve tells me the rest of his weekend will be spent playing at the Enchantment Faire in Natural Bridge, VA...where they have a replica of Stonehenge made out of foam. Yes, indeed - a full-size-Foamhenge. I did ask if there was a special, druid-type, folk song he would plan to play. He replied that he was thinking about the song from "This is Spinal Tap."
You know which one.
I can see the smiles on your faces now.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

this night's foul work

This Night's Foul Work Fred Vargas

Dotty serendipity, quirky misfits, odd instinctiveness - Commissaire Adamsberg leads the Serious Crime Squad of Paris in some twisted adventures. In this, the third book of the series so far, Adamsberg's troops emerge as people .
There is Retancourt, earth Mother to the group and a force of nature, stupendous in her emotional strength. The way she conserves her energy and then expends it at the most crucial time leaves Adamsberg reeling. She is one character who confounds him, usually Adamsberg's encounters end with him confusing the other. Danglard is the second in charge. A cultured, knowledgeable widower with six children. He runs interference for his boss.
This Night's Foul Work is all about shades. Adamsberg can feel them settling around him - the past, ghosts and evil. This is definitely not a police procedural , maybe a police 'intuitional'? And Fred Vargas the author? She is an historian and archaelogist as well as one of France's best selling writers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Today's quote

I was trying to explain why I couldn't use the standard Halloween decorations for tonight's Breaking Dawn party.
"We don't do cobwebs or bats," I said.
Anne responded, "We do relationships."

Good one, huh?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wine & Song - followed by BREAKING DAWN

Friday, 1 August 2008 is jam packed!

6-9pm Wine & Song

New for summer - casual wine, munchies and music. Our wine is provided by Vino 100 though they cannot be with us tonight. Tea and hot drinks will be available for those who choose not to drink wine. Ken McDermott and his jazz/pop stylings will sing us inti the evening.

9pm - 1am BREAKING DAWN Release Party

Stephanie Meyer's Breaking Dawn will release at 1 minute past midnight Friday night. Join us for for activities, munchies and discussion! Prom dress suggested but optional. Character-based costumes an acceptable alternative.

NOTE: If you want to pre-order the book for pickup this night, call the shop or stop by. Otherwise, your online order will ship via post.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hip Hop Canterbury Tales

Thanks to the folks at the Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog, we heard about a Hip Hop/Rap version of the Canterbury Tales. There's video and audio links on the page. Incredible stuff!


Friday, July 25, 2008

FREE Book-related material on the internet

Taking them in the order they release:

Breaking Dawn fans: Did you know that Stephenie Meyers is working on a version of Twilight as seen by Edward? It's called Midnight Sun and you can read the first chapter for FREE here. Remember Breaking Dawn releases at one minute past Midnight Friday August 1st, 2008. Well, technically, August 2nd. We are having a party - starting at 9pm and going until 1am. Come on by - bring your prom outfits or a costume; bring your fan fiction; bring your opinions (Team Edward? Team Jacob? Team Switzerland?).

Fantasy fans! Some of you know from our website or from Library Thing that Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine are making a return visit on August 23rd. Well, their publisher is running a sweet deal involving FREE copies of their books in electronic format. Thanks Dragon Moon Press! NOTE - We will have copies of these books once they release 8/8/2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


1858 was one of the last stable years before the Civil War. Bruce Chadwick covers the major political and personal decisions of some of the major figures in American political life, hence the subtitle 'Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis,Robert E.Lee, Ulysses S.Grant and the War They Failed To See.'

A fair fraction of the book is taken up with James Buchanan's career - possibly the most incompetent President. He managed to weaken the Democrats by inserting himself into the battle for an Illinois Senate seat with the incumbent Douglas fighting Buchanan's animosity and Abe Lincoln.

Jefferson Davis survived a life threatening illness and spent the year recuperating in the North. Surprisingly he became more friendly and understanding of the North's position and looked like he could compromise but his southerness reasserted itself and 'the rest is history'. This book is a prequel to the Civil War if you like.

The Age of Shiva Manil Suri
Manil Suri's long awaited second book is a very personal story of a woman's life and relationship with her son. She miscalculates an infatuation with her sister's boyfriend which is then compounded by the impulses of the young man. They are caught in flagrante and society forces this marriage between social unequals. Mura has one son and a loveless marriage to a disillusioned drunkard. Suri describes her slow dissolution into an erotic, dependent love of her son. The Age of Shiva is distinctly different from his more spiritual Death of Vishnu. Vishnu dealt with life in an apartment block. Shiva is focused on one relationship. Suri's writing is always worth reading.

Gerhardt Meurer

Friday, July 18, 2008

Janwillem van de Wetering - RIP

One of our SOHO Press authors passed away on July 4th. Janwillem van de Wetering had a very interesting life - from joining a South African motorcycle gang to attempting to become a Buddhist monk in Kyoto, to being a policeman in Amsterdam, his life experiences informed his writing. His gentle Zen-like humor made his mysteries a quirky joy.

NPR's Fresh Air just re-ran his interview as a memoriam.

Book to Movie news!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi, and on a number of summer reading lists, is being directed by Danny DeVito! Saoirse Ronan (of Atonement and City of Ember fame), Pierce Brosnan and Morgan Freeman have all been cast and shooting starts in September.


Larry McMurtry - a minor mystery solved

I had noticed Larry's McMurtry's memoir, Books, just came out and I was reading up on it in BookPage. He was a bookseller! In 1970, Larry and a partner bought up the stock of a D.C. bookstore called Lowdermilks and used it to open their own Booked Up. Booked Up stayed in Georgetown for 32 years before moving to Archer City, Texas.

A bookseller!
No wonder!

You see, I vividly remember Larry McMurtry accepting his Oscar for the Brokeback Mountain screenplay. He gave a wonderful and unexpected shout out to the booksellers of the world and it really warmed my heart. If you want to read the exact quote, Bibliophile Bullpen kept track of it.

This memoir covers a lot of the details surrounding running a used bookstore so it may be a lot of fun for the used book fans.

You go, Larry!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tea with Louis Diggs + Folk Music this Saturday

This Saturday, July 19th, we have 2 events:

Tea with an Author, 3-5pm
Join Baltimore author Louis Diggs for tea and munchies and discussion. Louis is a noted historian specializing in African Americans living in Baltimore County.

"Holding onto Their Heritage" focuses on the communities of Bond Avenue in Reisterstown and Piney Grove in Boring. "Our Struggles" covers a variety of Baltimore County African American communities, notably including Belltown along Featherbed Lane in Owings Mills. "Surviving in America" documents the history of Randallstown, among other towns. Many of Louis' books will be available for purchase.
For more information, visit

Music at the Bookstore, 6-9pm
Celtic/Folk musician Steve Haug is back! Tea and cookies will also be available.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Collecting the books of LOST

This is a little bizarre, but hey, if it gets people reading, it can't be that bad:
The crew of LOST (the TV series) has collected all the books read by the cast in the episodes and then posted them on the Lost Book Club. There are some interesting choices - many of which we have in the shop.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wine Tasting for Adults + CSI for Kids this weekend

This weekend will be busy!

Friday the 11th, we have a Wine @ the Bookstore 6-9pm.
Our wine is provided by Vino 100 though they cannot be with us tonight. Tea and hot drinks will be available for those who choose not to drink wine.

Saturday the 12th, we'll have a CSI seminar for kids - 11am-1pm.
Join T.J. Perkins, author of several middle-school mystery novels for an exploration of Crime Scene Investigation tactics. It's science but it's FUN.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cozy Mysteries - new and old

We just received a selection of newly-published and old-favorite "cozy mysteries" and one of my regulars asked, "Just what IS a 'cozy mystery'?" There seems to be no OFFICIAL definition but many know a cozy when they read one - so I'll give you my personal definition:

1) Amateur detective - may or may not be partnered with a pro. For example, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple often consulted with the police on her cases but Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity doesn't.

2) Very little gory detail - either in crime scenes or sex.

3) Often has a theme such as catering (Diane Mott Davidson), crafting (Mary Ellen Hughes), and bookstores (Carolyn Hart and lately Lorna Barrett).

Make sense to you? Who are YOUR favorites?

Meanwhile - allow me to point out an old friend and a soon-to-be-new-friend.

Old: Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton is the start of a delightful, British-themed mystery series. We meet Lori Shepherd who is going through a tough time - divorced, temporarily-employed, and almost broke. She is contacted by a very traditional law firm who confirms her identity with a long list questions - then, out of the blue, asks her about a childhood story about 'Aunt Dimity.' Lori was under the impression that Aunt Dimity was a made-up character in her mother's stories. Now Lori finds out that Dimity was an old chum of her mother's from her days in London during World War II. Dimity's estate has a request/task for Lori - and amongst the papers, Lori uncovers a mystery. The writing is smooth, the plot is charming, and a wee bit sad...this is an altogether delightful mystery.

New: Lorna Barrett sets her Murder is Binding in a New Hampshire town that boasts a whole block of used bookstores. Tricia Miles is getting her used-and-collectible mystery bookstore up and running and trying to settle in with the local and fellow booksellers when two events rock her world. Her city-slicker-shopaholic sister drops in for a surprise visit and she finds the cookbook store owner dead of a knife in the back, literally. Now Tricia is the prime suspect and no one except her staff and her sister are willing to help. This story has a decent number of twists and turns and is quite satisfying.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Music at the Bookstore 6-9pm Saturday the 28th

Tomorrow, Saturday June 28, 2008, 6-9pm:

Celtic/Folk musician Steve Haug is back!
Tea and cookies will also be available.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Send your name to the Moon!

A Big Thank You to scifilaura for pointing this one out:
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team is collecting names to send to the Moon. You can add yours here - the deadline is June 27, 2008.

Cool stuff!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Food Trails

I've just finished a book on the history of trade. What do we have at the bookshop to further my knowledge? Mark Kurlansky's books 'Cod', 'Salt' and 'The Big Oyster' come to mind. I enjoy his style which is a mix of world history, personal accounts and receipes. I've learned of the international reach of cod as a foodstuff which ties in with my history of trade book.

next book I found was 'And a Bottle of Rum". How can you walk past that title. The author Wayne Curtis claims to tell 'A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails'. We start with the origin of rum and it's involvement with the slave trade. African slaves were needed for the sugar plantations, rum was traded to African chiefs. Planter's punch evolved around this time. The Daiquiri came in with Prohibition, and rum and Coca Cola? WWII. At the back of the book are recipes.

'Curry. A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors' is the last book I found on
the shelves during my first quick search. Lizzie Cunningham treats us to the origins of popular dishes such as biryani, jalfrezi and vindaloo. This is an exhaustively researched book. Each foreign invasion over India's long history contributed to its cooking styles and ingredients.And it was a two way street- think of Ian Rankin's character Rebus enjoying a curry after a long night's investigating in the pubs around Edinburgh.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tasha Tudor, beloved children's illustrator, RIP

Tasha Tudor's website reports -

"It is with great sadness that we must tell you Tasha Tudor, 92, passed away in her Vermont home on June 18, 2008 surrounded by family and friends. We have created an online memorial website and invite all who loved Tasha to share their feelings and memories in the Memory Book section. Memorial Website


We thank you for supporting Tasha Tudor's lifestyle and artwork during her long career. We hope that Tasha's message of 'taking joy' in all that one does will be remembered as we pass through this difficult time together."

We have several of her books here in the Children's section and they are the type of book to cherish for generations. She will be missed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Reading Lists + one of my old favorites

Wow, the titles they require kids to read today! I just started receiving the summer reading lists and am ordering the books as fast as I can. Two trends are noticeable: a) there are a lot more titles required of today's kids, and b) there are more 'modern' titles (as opposed to classics - but that may be my age-bias). Oh - three trends - those making the list don't always check availability! There are a number of titles that are in the reprinting stage, which means the scant few copies at the library are IT...the booksellers can't order in what isn't printed. Cold Sassy Tree, in particular, is a problem.

The charm and the curse of the Summer Reading List is some of these books will probably make the kids groan and wish they could rent the movie and some will change the readers' lives. It's hard for a reader to know until they're into the middle of the book. Here's to the gamble represented by a new book!

One of my required reading experiences was John Hersey's Hiroshima. It is a description of the actual events during and after the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It follows individuals as they deal with surviving the bomb and its aftermath. It is non-judgmental but bluntly and eloquently talks about consequences. It is short, but it is powerful and mind-altering and conscience-forming. I didn't really want to read this but it was required...and boy, it blew my mind.

Anyone else have a favorite out there?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Making Your Money Go Farther

Local Reisterstown author Joseph Ganem has put a number of handy calculators up on his website. Want to know whether it's better to drive further to a gas station that has cheaper gas? Are you a Mom trying to decide whether it's better to go back to work, despite the cost of daycare, gas, etc.? How much do you really save when you buy on sale? These questions and more are offered by the author of The Two Headed Quarter: How to See Through Deceptive Numbers and Save Money on Everything You Buy.

The Two Headed Quarter won a gold medal in the category "Finance/Investment/Economics" of the 2008 Independent Publisher Awards at Book Expo America this past May. Congrats to Joe and keep those tips coming!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wine & Wizards this Friday, Tea with the Author Saturday

Tomorrow, Friday June 6, 6-9pm Wine & Wizards

New for summer - casual wine, munchies and music. Our wine is provided by Vino 100 though they cannot be with us tonight. Tea and hot drinks will be available for those who choose not to drink wine.

Our MUSIC will be provided by ACCIO BODYGUARD , a fairly new Harry Potter-themed group put together by the members of The Moaning Myrtles and The Butterbeer Experience.

Saturday, June 7th, 3-5pm Tea with an Author

Join Mohamed Mughal, author of "Resolution 786," for tea and cookies.

Adam Hueghlomm, the product of a mixed marriage, was raised as both a Muslim and a Jew. Hueghlomm’s fate unfolds through his childhood in Africa, his life as an adult in America, and his experiences during the Iraq War. Using the twenty-first century’s first war as a backdrop, Hueghlomm simultaneously participates in the twenty-second century’s most celebrated trial, a thought-provoking courtroom confrontation which charges the Lord with crimes against humanity.

Thoughtful, challenging, and smart, Resolution 786 weaves the black humor of Vonnegut through a tapestry of Kafkaesque imagery to create a vision of one man’s troubled relationship with God.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, by Thomas E. Sniegoski, is an original blend of Private-Detective-Noir and Angel-Demon-Armaggedon genres. The characters are extremely well-developed, as are the scenery descriptions.

Remy is an angel that walked away from his job after the battle with Lucifer and his mates. When we meet him, he is living among humans on Earth, with a dog, a wife with a terminal illness, and a private investigator's license. One of his surveillance targets commits suicide but manages not to die. In the process of talking to his police friends about it, he finds out NO ONE is dying...and the hospitals are getting clogged. Then his former colleagues, the Seraphim, assign him to a missing persons case - the Angel of Death. Everything proceeds to go to Hell in a Handbasket.

Buffy and Angel fans will like this - but then so will Raymond Chandler, Simon Green, and Jim Butcher fans.

My absolute favorite scene was the dog trashing the living room, despite the fact that Remy told him not to. It just goes to show that you may be an angel - and able to talk to all creatures - but that doesn't mean the creatures will LISTEN.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Historic Moment - Water for Elephants falls off #1 on Book Sense Bestsellers List

After 59 weeks on the Book Sense Bestsellers List, Water for Elephants fell from #1 to #3. I should point out that it spent most of its 59 week tenure at #1. The replacement? Out Stealing Horses, combined with The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

The Book Sense Bestsellers list is also growing and changing. It was created by the American Booksellers Association as a way to track bestsellers at Independent Local Bookstores across the country. It still forms that purpose - but it is turning into part of a revolution. This revolution represents Buying Local, Buying Fresh, Buying Organic, Buying Independent. The name is now
IndieBound - and you can find more information at

Join the revolution!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bloomin' Art Fest this weekend!

Constellation Books plays host to the Buffalo Soldiers as they participate in this Saturday's Bloomin' ArtFest. Every spring, Reisterstown throws this fabulous festival - juried arts and crafts, food, live music, and children's activities. This year, the Buffalo Solider re-enactors will march in parade down Main St, left on Bond Ave (the bookstore porch is a great place to watch) to St. Luke's cemetery, where 20-something Buffalo Soldiers are buried. One of them - Augustus Walley - has a Congressional Medal of Honor! Who knew?

The festival is 10-5 on May 31st and promises to be a blast!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Day the Myth Died - Robert Asprin, RIP

As reported on, Robert Asprin passed away yesterday. Aside from the wonderful Myth, Inc. books, he was also author of the Phule's Company series, and a variety of stand-alone novels. He also collaborated with Jody Lynn Nye, Mel White and Linda Evans. He had a sick sense of humor (I mean that in the nicest possible way) and a knack for a well-told tale.

He will be sorely missed.

PS Follow-up - someone said he died peacefully on the sofa, reading one of Terry Pratchett's books. That's the way I want to go.

Sequel to "The Coldest Winter Ever"!

Publisher's Weekly reports -

The Sequel to ‘Coldest Winter Ever’ Slated for October
Atria Books has announced plans to publish Midnight, the long-awaited sequel to Sister Souljah’s bestselling 1999 novel The Coldest Winter Ever (ISBN 074327010X $15.00) , which is in its twentieth printing and has more than one million copies in print. Midnight (ISBN 1416545182 ) is slated for an October release and will have an announced first printing of 500,000 copies.
World rights for the sequel were acquired by Emily Bestler, v-p and executive editorial director of Atria Books. Bestler originally acquired The Coldest Winter Ever, which she describes as an “evergreen” for the company. “For everyone who has read it,” she said, “there’s a new crop who haven’t.”
The Coldest Winter Ever, a gritty tale about the tumultuous street-ridden life of the daughter of a nortorious drug dealer, is usually regarded as the predecessor of the urban lit genre. Bestler credits the book’s success to Souljah’s raw, yet message-driven storytelling and said that Midnight follows in this tradition. “People who love The Coldest Winter Ever,” she adds, “will devour the story.”
The sequel centers on Midnight, a secondary but intriguing character from The Coldest Winter Ever. For this book, Souljah conducted extensive research and traveled to three continents, a fact that Bestler said accounts for the long break between the two books.
Ernesto Martinez, buyer of African-American titles for Borders, said that customers have been asking about the sequel. “The Coldest Winter Ever is a perennial bestseller of the category for Borders,” he said. “We certainly have high hopes for Midnight, and have all the confidence that this book will be everything and more that fans of Sister Souljah have come to love.”
Although there isn’t an official embargo on Midnight, Atria is concerned about piracy and is being careful about how it rolls out the national marketing campaign. Judith Curr, S&S executive v-p and publisher, said “We’re going to make sure that everyone who bought and loved The Coldest Winter Ever will know that the sequel is arriving.” The company plans to use Internet marketing, strategic advertising in major urban areas and summer reading promotions with bookstores to spread the word.

Thanks to Bookazine ( for passing the good word.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What to do with 30,000 books

The New York Times has a lovely little essay written by Alberto Manguel (author of “The Library at Night"). His selection of books may be bigger than ours, and contain more non-English titles - but his stories speak to many of us. For example, how many of you have at least one title you used to read as a young child?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Tea with the Author this Sunday 3-5pm

Sunday, May 18, 2008 3-5pm

Join us for tea and cookies with our authors...this week it will be local author Skip Stover. His new novel is Dangerous Love, 2010.

Friday, May 9, 2008

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

The only reason To Say Nothing of the Dog is considered Science Fiction is because it deals with Time Travel. The rest of it reads like an homage to Victorian-era mysteries, comedies of manners, and Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog. Ned Henry is a historian at Oxford University, where they are trying to re-build Coventry Cathedral as it once stood. (Not WHERE it once stood - that's now a shopping mall.) In Ned's future, a researcher can go back in time to locate various items - but! cannot bring them forward. One of the last pieces to be located is this large ornate, ugly vase called "the bishop's bird stump." Ned and his colleagues keep going back to the time of the Nazi bombing that destroyed the original Coventry Cathedral, trying to watch who carries what out of the burning church.

It is not going well. Ned is exhausted. He gets ordered to bed rest by the Infirmary but the folks re-building the Cathedral are determined to find him and send him on more 'drops.' His boss decides the best place to recuperate is Victorian England, just up the river from Oxford and several decades before Coventry is bombed. In Victorian England, Ned meets quite a cast of characters: a retired Colonel who collects very expensive goldfish; his wife who is enraptured by spiritualists; her very silly daughter who owns this dainty kitten with a taste for expensive goldfish; an Oxofrd don who gets into fights with Darwin (THE Darwin); a hapless young undergrad named Terrence and his canine Cyril; plus assorted village folk and spiritualists. The reader starts out as confused as exhausted Ned, but we quickly come up to speed as he gets some sleep.

This is a beautifully written book, with a great climax.

Note that Connie Willis is visiting Baltimore at the end of May for Balticon. She will also be discussing and signing her work at the Southeast Anchor Branch on May 22 at 6:30pm.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Nebula Award Winners are out

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have posted the Nebula Awards winners here.


Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Note: Mur is actually coming to our Tea with the Author this Saturday, 3-5pm.

What defines a superhero? Is it just your powers, or does a conscience and compassion a must also? Keepsie lives in a world where you are not allowed to be a 'superhero' unless your genetically-modified powers are politically correct and, well, powerful enough. Otherwise, you are a source of condescension and suspicion. Irritating, yes?

Suddenly, one of the 'villians' gives Keepsie an item that both sides want - and Keepsie and her friends are thrust into a tug-of-war no one is comfortable in. Anyone who likes the X-men will like Playing for Keeps. However, it goes MUCH deeper - there are lots of layers to this book.

Mur Lafferty is an American podcaster and writer based in Durham, North Carolina. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in English. She was, until July, 2007, the host and co-editor of Pseudopod. She is also the host and creator of the podcasts Geek Fu Action Grip (on hiatus) and I Should be Writing.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Boomerangs in Space

No, really!

I was enjoying BoingBoing's blog and found this story on a Boomerang Test Flight on the International Space Station.


Friday, May 2, 2008

The Edgar Mystery Awards - blow by blow

The Mystery Writers of America have a blog with the Edgar Awards described, blow by blow.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to us!!

May 4th - Sunday - is our first Birthday.

Last year, it was the Friday we turned on the OPEN sign at 7pm and made 3 sales before closing at 9pm. It had been a crazy-busy period from moving the bookshelves in on Friday, April 13th, to unpacking/shelving 5 skids of books (~6000 titles) the next week, to sorting out a computer/register network, decorating and setting up a credit card processor.

This year, we celebrate noon- 5pm with cake and 10% off everything in the store. Thank you to all the customer-friends we met this year!
and Harry, Anne & Joel

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

First Friday Wine Tasting at the Bookstore

Friday, May 2, 2008 - 6-9pm
Join us and our friends Vino 100 us for a Wine Tasting.

Vino 100’s motto is “100 great wines for $25 or less.” They use two barometers - Flavor (which runs from Fruity to Dry) and Body (which runs from Light to Full) – to make wine buying easier for the customer. We will have wines, along with munchies, available for tasting.

Live music will be provided by Daniel Anderson and friends.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"E's for the evil that lures and entices..."

The Dangerous Alphabet, by Neil Gaiman, just arrived. At first, I thought this would be a book for the older kids and adults- but then I remembered how twisted Lemony Snicket's books were and how much the kids loved them. So - yeah - I think the younger set will dig this. The illustrations by Gris Grimly are wonderfully dark.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Irish/Folk Music at the Bookstore

Irish/Folk Music at the Bookstore
Saturday the 26th April - 6-9pm

Celtic/Folk musician Steve Haug is back - yay!
Tea and cookies will also be available.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cozy murder mystery with a hardcore twist

Thistle and Twigg, by Mary Saums, starts out like a typical Southern-style cozy mystery but ends with a satisfying hardcore twist worthy of Sue Grafton. We join Jane Thistle, recently widowed military wife and archeology enthusiast, as she settles in Alabama forest, which reminds her of her childhood in England. The Point of View goes back and forth between Jane and her new friend, Phoebe Twigg...who might have relatives amongst Janet Evanovich's characters. Yes, Phoebe has to be read to be enjoyed! I didn't laugh out out but the snickers went on and on.

Until I got to the twist and my eyes got really big. I can't tell you - you have to read it. REALLY. Find it at your local library or bookstore - really, really.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poem in your pocket today

Today I gave a talk to the Renaissance Institute at the College of Notre Dame, Maryland on Pluto and its Planethood. Therefore, the Poem in My Pocket today was

Pluto was a planet.
But now it doesn't pass.
Pluto was a planet.
They say it's lacking mass.
Pluto was a planet.
Pluto was admired.
Pluto was a planet.
Til one day it got fired.

This was from a children's book - I'll look up the author and title and post them tomorrow. Oops, found it! The wonders of the internet led me to Publishers Weekly, which had an article of the book and the Great Planet Debate. This is from Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars (Harcourt) by Douglas Florian.

What Poem are you carrying around today?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fresh and funny - jaw-droppingly so!

We received McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes and oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy! If you like books, you will love this. I ordered it after I read, in a review, that it includes Lady Macbeth on Ambien and I am twisted enogh to find that whole concept hilarious. Well, there's also Klingon Fairy Tales, Cormac McCarthy's Letter to the Editor and many, many more. When I read about Ikea Product or Lord of the Rings Character? I didn't realize it was a quiz!

Hmn, Jane Eyre Runs for President? Now there's an interesting idea! If Bill the Cat could run, why not Jane?

$12.95 in the US - don't read it where they look at you funny for laughing out loud.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This Poem Last Year

Last year at this time, I was waiting for my landlords to finish the 'build-out' so I could move everything in and open a bookstore. Since it was April, I was trying to write a poem a day.
The poem I wrote this day last year was an attempt at a haiku:

April 3, 2007
I got money!
I can pay for books!
Loans are great!

All rights reserved.

Yes, that was the day I closed on the business loan.
Lauretta Nagel

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month and boy, are we celebrating!
We have new poetry books.
You can sign up for a Poem a Day at they do ringtones too!
You can pick up a free poem to carry in your pocket on April 17th - Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Today's Poem:

The Charm
by Robert Creeley

My children are, to me,
what is uncommon: they are dumb
and speak with signs. Their hands

are nervous, and fit more for
hysteria, than goodwill or long
winterside conversation.

Where fire is, they are quieter
and sit, comforted. They were born
by their mother in hopelessness.

But in them I had been, at first,
tongue. If they speak,
I have myself, and love them.

April 2, 2008

Today's poem is from Selected Poems, 1945-2005, just published by University of California Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Wine Tasting at the Bookstore

Friday, April 4, 2008 6-9 p.m. - Wine Tasting at the Bookstore
Join us and our friends Vino 100 us for a Wine Tasting.

Our musicians this week include the jazz stylings Ken McDermott and Ronnie Defilippo.

Vino 100’s motto is “100 great wines for $25 or less.” They use two barometers - Flavor (which runs from Fruity to Dry) and Body (which runs from Light to Full) – to make wine buying easier for the customer. We will have wines, along with munchies, available for tasting.

"If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs"

This book (yes, that's the title) is winner of the Oddest Book Title competition run by Bookseller magazine. Results were achieved by online voting.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Calling all kids who read!

The folks at the Children's Book Council are looking for kids to vote on the finalists for the Children's Choice Book Awards. This is your chance to make your voice count! Click on
this website to vote.

The nominees are listed here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Hugo Award Nominees and Amusements

I was checking out the just-posted Hugo Nominees for 2007 - to make sure I ordered the paperback ones - and I find something completely amusing. You know how Amazon tracks these "statistically improbable phrases?"

Well, Charles Stross' Atrocity Archives generated the following-
basilisk gun, concrete cows, field ops, software audit, ...
at which point I spray my screen with coffee. Software audit? Since when does a software audit rank right up there in esoterica with basilisk guns? :) I guess I'm too much of a geek (reformed geek, now that I'm a bookseller).

Man, those Code Reviews I used to try not to sleep through must be more of a black art than I thought!! :)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Paul Coehlo movie in the works

from Variety
Gellar in talks for 'Veronika'. Actress in negotiations to star in indie drama. Sarah Michelle Gellar is in final negotiations to star in the indie drama "Veronika Decides to Die (ISBN 0061124265 $13.95)." Story centers on a severely depressed woman who rediscovers her will to live after learning that she has only days left due to the irreparable damage done to her heart as a result of her recent suicide attempt. Larry Gross and Roberta Hanley adapted the screenplay from Paulo Coelho's novel.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Memoir - A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants

We just received A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants by Jaed Coffin. This memoir follows Jaed as he leaves Middlebury College in order to become a Buddhist monk in his mother's native Thailand. This is not just a travelogue, this is also a growing-up story, and an enlightenment story.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rest in Peace - Arthur C. Clarke

I just got word that Arthur C. Clarke just passed away in his home in Sri Lanka. He was 90 years old. Of his many wonderful novels, the one that sticks in my memory is The Fountains of Paradise. This book balanced the preservation of a pristine environment where butterflies played against the construction of a space elevator.

We will miss your vision, Arthur,

PS What was your favorite Arthur C. Clarke book?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Events this weekend - The Knot Fairy and Celtic Music

This Saturday will be a lot of fun -

the Knot Fairy loves to tangle children's hair while they sleep! Come to the shop in pajamas and your bed-head hair to hear the story read by author Bobbie Hinman and enjoy a snack. 11-1!

6-9pm Steve Haug will be playing Celtic music at the bookstore and tea & cookies will be available.

Horton HEARD!

Taken from Shelf Awareness, today's issue:

"Huntsville, Ala., has won the Horton Hears a You--Hometown Challenge (Shelf Awareness, Feb.22, 2008) and will host a special VIP screening of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! today.

The Huntsville Times reported that the city emerged victorious "thanks to a very loud crowd that gathered Saturday night outside a Huntsville Havoc-Columbus Cottonmouths hockey game . . . Mayor Loretta Spencer, 300 Marines and soldiers, and a crowd of children and adults wearing 'Horton ears' banded together outside the Von Braun Center to yell 'We are here!'" Everyone who participated received a free pass to attend today's screening.

Huntsville's decibel level topped entries from a number of U.S. cities, including Blue Springs, Mo.; Fresno, Calif.; West Orange, N.J.; and New York City."

Lauretta, thanks to John Mutter and the staff of Shelf Awareness - you can look them up here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New book resource for parents

The Horn Book - a magazine and website for Children's & Teens' books - now has a monthly newsletter at


The Deportees and Other Stories Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle is fun - smart and fun. These short stories are from the New Ireland, modern, affluent and attractive to immigrants. What could happen when the Irish meet the rest of the world?
Jimmy Rabbitte from the Commitments is back again, still with his dream of managing a successful rock band. Except this time he finds immigrant musicians, names them The Deportees and gives them Woody Guthrie as their muse.
Roddy Doyle has such a quick, perceptive eye, he can make us feel the immigrants' struggles in an alien culture. A child's first day at school with the school bully. An adult's interaction with an IRA hardman. These stories will surprise you. There is always a laugh around the corner.
P.S. Do you know how to test for Irishness? How do you feel about Riverdance, Danny Boy and Robbie Keane's goal against Germany in the 2002 World Cup. I'll leave it up to you then. Grand.

Another Thing To Fall Laura Lippman

Tess is the unwilling babysitter for a starlet signed on for a TV drama set in Baltimore. Within the superheated, insanely manipulative world of Hollywood everyone scrambles for the glittering prizes. Enough to murder? Laura Lippman's experience with TV production in Baltimore through her husband David Simon really comes to the fore. And again her use of local color is so spot on, so evocative it is a pleasure for a fellow Baltimorian to read. It's a good yarn.


Friday, March 7, 2008

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

A really intriguing book just came in - The Final Solution by Michael Chabon. An elderly man, rumored to be a once-famous detective (perhaps Sherlock Holmes?), comes upon a 9 year old mute boy and his pet African gray parrot. It turns out the kid escaped Nazi Germany, and his parrot keeps spouting strings of German numbers. Are they a code? Are they Swiss bank accounts? The old man is curious - and so are we.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wine Tasting, Art Reception & Music this Friday

Friday, March 7th 6-9pm at Constellation Books:

Wine Tasting!
Music - Frank Sinatra!
Our first Art Reception!

Local Artist Monica Tojek has hung some lovely paintings, plus Ken McDermott and Ronnie Defillipo will be performing Sinatra tunes. Add all of that to Vino 100's tasty wine and our
tea/coffee and you have a wonderful evening!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Real Vegetarian Thai

In an earlier posting, I spoke highly of Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes by Nancie McDermott. I received a copy at Christmas and have been enjoying its recipes, not least of which has been curries with green curry paste I made myself.

Building on that success, we recently got a copy of her Real Vegetarian Thai for the bookstore, which I have had a quick look at. This is not really a comparable offering, since it more thorough in every way. The comparable book is her Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking, which I haven't had a chance to examine. In my family, I have vegetarians who care deeply about preparing food and knowing what goes into their bodies, and I have those that would gladly live on grilled cheese sandwiches every day. If you are in the first category, vegetarian or not, you want to look at Real Vegetarian Thai. (If you are in the second category, please start with Quick & Easy.) This book doesn't have the color photographs that make Quick & Easy so visually attractive, but there are more recipes.

Compared to Quick & Easy, there is more context provided for each section and recipe, enhancing your understanding of Thai cuisine. There are recipes for making each of the Thai style curry pastes, along with many other basic recipes. There is even a discussion of opening coconuts and making your own coconut milk (not the coconut water sloshing around in whole coconuts). And why have a grilled cheese sandwich when red curry with hard-boiled eggs and peas is quick to assemble from ingredients in your refrigerator right now, along with a few items easy to add to your pantry. Vegan alternatives are suggested for recipes with eggs or cheese.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Anthology to benefit American Diabetes Association

We recently received Voices for the Cure, a speculative fiction anthology edited by James Palmer. This 10 story collection was put together to benefit the American Diabetes Association. There are some famous authors (Mike Resnick, Cory Doctorow) and some not so famous. These are really well-crafted stories - a few would be right at home on the Twilight Zone, and many are quite funny. There's everything from superheroes to a futuristic security blanket to an antiques/junk dealer. (For the linux geeks, there's a particularly amusing take on Night of the Living Dead. No, you'll have to read it.)


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Coming Soon from Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri has already given us a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories, and a best selling novel. I've been reading an advanced copy of Unaccustomed Earth, due out this spring from Knopf. This new work is a collection of longer stories, exquisitely written, about Bengalis in America, living lives slightly out of their comfort zones. The stories are told in vignettes constructed of memory, dissonance between cultures, generations, and settings, and a beautifully described present. Vignettes are punctuated by sharply drawn moments where deep emotional truths are revealed, or realized, in lines that are astonishingly direct. The characterizations are powerful and complex, and the prose is simply stunning. As a reader with a weakness for strong, well-crafted prose (e.g., Cormac McCarthy), I was impressed by these stories. I'm guessing they will have broad appeal, like her earlier work, and look forward to having this book in the shop, perhaps in April.


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Cool idea in a book

I was looking at our origami books, preparing for the seminar coming up next week - and I just thought, ooh, what if they came alive? Wouldn't that be a cool, twilight-zone-like story - to have your origami critters become alive?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Memoirs in 6 words

Not Quite What I was Planning - Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine, is a charming, hilarious and poignant compilation. This is "This I Believe"-Lite. SMITH Magazine instigated the whole thing on based on the tale about Ernest Hemingway being challenged to write a full story in six words.

We read along, finding mostly unknown writers and both profound and humorous entires, then we hit someone famous. And find they are the same.

Lest you think this is easy, I challenge YOU to write your own memoir in 6 words.
Lauretta (Astronomer turned Bookseller, Soon Type B?)

And for the bookstore:
Before TV, radio, stars our stories