Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Help and Woman's World

The holiday craziness is over! This weekend I had time to sit down and read for what feels like the first time in December. We had a great season here at the store, although I would've been fine with a few inches less of snow. I read two books set in the early sixties this weekend, but they could not have been more different.

Woman's World by Graham Rawle is a work of extreme creativeness and skill. Rawle built his book using 40,000 text fragments from early 1960s British women's magazines. The story itself centers around 29-year-old Roy Little who has a house-bound sister named Norma. The narrative alternates between Norma and Roy's point of view, but it soon becomes clear that the two may be not as they are first portrayed. When a murder occurs, Norma must decide if she is brave enough to survive the aftermath.

This book is very, very difficult to explain. I'm still reeling from all the twists and turns, but it is laugh-out-loud funny and Rawle does a marvelous job with the texts he culled. If you need something that has depth, but is still light and entertaining this is the book for you.

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett will be published February 10, 2009. I got my hands on an advanced copy and I devoured it in three long sittings. In The Help Stockett portrays the lives of three women, two black and one white, living in Mississippi in the early 1960s. Stockett's characters are so vividly drawn I felt like they were walking around my living room as I was reading the book.

Readers of this book will fall in love with Abilene, Minny and Skeeter and they will gain new persepective of the tensions that existed in Mississippi during the early 1960s. When Skeeter, a recent college graduate, and Abiliene and Minny, two maids, decide to work together on a dangerous, secret project they discover difficult truths about themselves, their friends and families.

I don't want to write too much about what happens because part of the joy of the book is the tension and suspense that lives on each and every page. This is one of the best novels by a first author I have read in a long time; I cannot recommend it enough.

- Angela

Monday, December 29, 2008

Just a quick note

As I am wrapping up holiday bills and trying to make sense of the mess in my office, I got a little distracted by this article in today's New York Times. Ok, now I realize that it was in Sunday's paper, but I don't think I got to the "Week in Review" section yesterday. This article talks about something that we all at the very least consider, and often actually do: bargain shop. I am all for a bargain, but I don't offer many. Books are expensive, for many even a luxury item. Running a bookstore takes many more people than running a dress shop, with many more "tools". Will my customers buy fewer books because of the slowing economy? This is a question that I am trying to answer every day. So far my thought is to be smart about what I choose to stock, and what I have to special order for people. But the crux of the article is about more than just getting a bargain. It is about a fundamental shift in the book world that is getting nearer and nearer.

When Amazon started in the early '90's, people were prematurely lamenting the death of the bricks and mortar bookstore. Yes, the internet has certainly put some stores out of business, but not all. Several years ago I made the decision NOT to sell online. I just don't see the logic in competing against the behemoth that is Amazon or even Powell's for that matter. Listing books online is labor intensive, and payroll is one business expense that I try to control tightly. I guess this article has made me realize that if I want my store to survive (and I do, don't you?) I may have to alter course slightly. Food for thought. More ranting to come, I'm sure.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snowpocolypse of 2008!

Seriously, this snow is incredible. Today I am hearing people say things like, "I have lived here all my life and haven't seen snow like this since 1965!". Luckily, it doesn't seem to be stopping people from shopping. The weather can make such an impact on people's shopping needs. Often, when we get the first really nice day of spring, the store is dead because everyone is drying out in their garden. Likewise with the first big rain. People forget that they are waterproof and don't leave their house. We commend the brave souls who are in the store right now, listening to music and browsing for books.

We are open however, and will continue to be open unless the power goes out. Sunday 10 - 6, Monday and Tuesday, 10 - 7 and Wednesday, we will open at 9 and close at 4 so that we can go have a nice evening with our families. See you then!


Thursday, December 4, 2008


I just finished geeking out over a book with a customer. The book, Citadel of the Spirit: A Literary Compendium Commemorating Oregon’s Sesquicentennial, edited by Matt Love, it a doozy. Weighing nearly two pounds, it really rounds out the plate of Oregon literature. Contributors from near and far (across the state I mean) have painted a loving portrait of our great state. I just have to say that I really admire Matt Love's passion for writing, literature, and Oregon. The man is nothing if not dedicated. This book would make a great gift for any Oregon lover out there (we have it in the store, $30 for the paperback edition).

Another GORGEOUS Oregon book that is available now, Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia River Gorge, 1867-1957 by Terry Toedtemeier and John Laursen. The publication of this book coincides with a fabulous exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. I suggest taking the audio tour. Seeing some of these prints in the flesh is such a unique opportunity. Anyway, I love this book. Since no one gives me books as a gift anymore (bummer for me) I am going to cough up the $75 and get one for myself. There are extras here at the store if you want one too...