The (Almost) Weekly WORD

December 6, 2010

The holiday season must be here — otherwise, we are listening to Run-D.M.C.’s Christmas in Hollis for no good reason. (Other than the hell of it.)

Last night’s event with Skippy Dies author Paul Murray was, in a word, epic. Murray is impressively entertaining and well-spoken, and kept the crowd nodding and laughing throughout his reading and interview with Ed Champion. We’ve got a limited number of signed copies of both editions, so get ’em while the getting’s good.

And then, of course, there’s this coming weekend’s Annual Holiday Open House to look forward to. The list of participating authors just keeps on growing, and we’re planning some fun goodies and surprises, so definitely stop by sometime Saturday and/or Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. (If you’re on the Facebook, you can RSVP!)

Let’s see, let’s see — oh, right, the gift guide! Let us make your shopping easier: just buy these books. And! We are now the exclusive source for signed and personalized books from local romance author and WORD favorite Sarah MacLean. You just try getting Stephanie and Jenn to shut up about her, go ahead. We dare ya.

As always, feel free to stop in and let us know your own gifty favorites, be it here in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, or (GASP) in person. Happy holidays!

If you haven’t already heard about it, the #fridayreads tag has taken over Fridays on Twitter. Folks from (literally) all over the world share what book (or sometimes books!) they’re reading this week, and THERE ARE PRIZES. Awesome, right?

But what about those of us not on The Twitter? Fear not! For it has expanded to include everyone who can click a link. You can participate thanks to a new partnership with Rebecca over at The Book Lady’s blog — full details here!

The WORD on: Tree of Codes

November 18, 2010

Jonathan Safran Foer‘s latest, Tree of Codes, immediately set off some heated discussions here at WORD and, we’re sure, at bookstores across the country. Here’s a round-up of our staff’s thoughts!

Jenn (events manager): At first glance, a customer and I agreed: it’s an amazingly cool concept, but we can’t imagine actually trying to READ it. Since then, however, several very smart people have talked me into the belief that if I gave it the time, it would probably be worth it.

Stephanie (manager): Is reading something from beginning to end really the only purpose of a book? And if it is now, should it always be? I would be sad if our industry only ever focused on either content or on what readers are asking for and never did anything else. That would get very, very boring.

Christine (owner): It’s so interesting to see where print is taking risks in the ominous ‘books are dying’ climate. I love that JSF takes those risks, it’s why I’m a huge fan of his to begin with. So I am very excited about it.

Dustin (bookseller): It’s an astounding sculptural argument for the joys of dead-tree tech, and JSF chose a truly interesting foundational text for it. But the real beauty of the book, to my mind, is that because its pages are literally transparent it makes more obvious the terrible dialectic between depth and opacity in any book.

What’s your take?

WORD is pleased to welcome Jo Karaplis, author of Fractured: Happily Never After?. In her book, she ponders the questions: What would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? Would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube? She agreed to answer a burning question of ours…

Leave a comment with your own thoughts for a chance to win a signed copy! Contest runs Monday, November 30, til 7 p.m.

WORD: Which fairytale characters would fare best in today’s world?

JO KARAPLIS: If the heroines from popular fairytales were suddenly dumped into today’s world, I think they’d have a pretty tough time. Cinderella would be called a gold-digger, and the prince would probably make her sign a pre-nup. (The odds that she’d end up with a prince in the first place are pretty slim, of course.) Beauty would be pressing assault charges against the Beast (and she’d probably be suing her father, too, for selling her!). And poor Sleeping Beauty: left in a coma, she’d probably end up in a nursing home somewhere. Snow White would be busy cleaning up after a house full of messy fraternity brothers, waiting for her prince to come yet dating jerks in the meantime.

However, I have a lot of faith in Rapunzel. She was locked up by a bitter old woman, but she managed to plan and execute a successful escape. In today’s world, she’d probably have been kidnapped as a child and kept in captivity for years, only to finally escape and then write a bestselling memoir about her experiences. After all that time spent growing out her hair, I’d also love to see what she’d end up doing with it: hack it all off into a funky bob? Keep it long and wear a different elaborate style every day? After the success of her memoir, I bet she’d go to university and become a criminal justice lawyer or a political activist or something. Or maybe she’d study fashion and become a designer. One thing’s for sure: she wouldn’t let her past hardships define her, and she’d achieve whatever goals she set for herself. She’d be a fun woman to hang out with: the kind that always has a good book to recommend, and will kick you in the butt if you need a little motivation. If she wrote a blog, it would be outspoken and hilarious.

Jo is on a blog tour! You can catch her at the following locations:

Nov. 15:
Steph Su Reads

Nov. 16:
Word of Mouse Book Reviews
Bella’s Bookshelves

Nov. 17
The Reading Girl
Between the Pages

Nov. 18
Page Turners
Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files

Nov. 19
YA Addict
YA Book Shelf

The Weekly WORD

November 14, 2010

Highlights from the past week:

  • The fabulous ladies of Passion (Rachel Kramer Bussel, Monica Day, Emerald, and George Storey) along with historical romance author Sarah MacLean, kept the crowd laughing (and rapt) during their reading this past Thursday. I also had the best cupcake of my life, in celebration of Rachel’s birthday, thanks to the Kumquat Cupcakery.
  • Local illustrator Lucy Ruth Cummins and author Shrill Travesty (The Taking Tree) proved to both be entertaining and talented. Mr. Travesty regaled us with some (unrepeatable) stories from the underbelly of the children’s book industry (NO SERIOUSLY), and Lucy did a speed drawing from crowd suggestions that is now proudly hanging on the wall of our basement.
  • Last night, Greenpoint rooftop farmer Annie Novak interviewed author Katherine Leiner (Growing Roots) on the new faces of food activism. It was a great discussion about where our food comes from, who grows it, what we should be thinking about when we buy it, what we can do to keep our food supply sustainable and healthy, and so on. We highly recommend stopping by Eagle Street Rooftop Farm to get great food (and/or get your hands dirty); if you see Annie, tell her we say hi!

We’ve got more event awesome coming up; check out our event calendar for the full details. See you there!

You like books, right?

November 7, 2010

In a few weeks we’ll be sending out our annual gift guide to try to make your holiday season a little easier (and a little more literate). And while we certainly have a (very, very, very, very) long list of ideas for this holiday season, we’d love to include some customer recommendations.

What books do you love to give? What books have you gotten and regifted? Have an idea that you think everyone should know about?  Email Stephanie (stephanie at wordbrooklyn dot com) with the books that you can’t wait to give this year, and let us know. You might make it into this year’s guide!

Lauren Grodstein’s second novel takes the family drama and turns it up a notch:

A skilled internist with a thriving practice in suburban New Jersey, Pete Dizinoff has a devoted wife, an impressive house, and a son, Alec, on whom he’s pinned all his hopes. But he never counted on the wild card: Laura, his best friend’s daughter—ten years older than Alec, irresistibly beautiful, with a past so shocking that it’s never spoken of…

Bouncing between the mundane and the creepifying, and blurring the lines between them, this novel is surprising and engaging, and we’re thrilled to offer you a behind-the-scenes look at A Friend of the Family.

Read the rest of this entry »

In the late 1880s, Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh, a renowned high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist, dreamed of cycling around the world. He finally got his chance by recasting himself as a champion of the downsized “safety-bicycle” with inflatable tires, the forerunner of the modern road bike that was about to become wildly popular. In the spring of 1892 he quit his accounting job and gamely set out west to cover twenty thousand miles over three continents as a correspondent for Outing magazine. Two years later, after having survived countless near disasters and unimaginable hardships, he approached Europe for the final leg.  He never made it. His mysterious disappearance in eastern Turkey sparked an international outcry and compelled Outing to send William Sachtleben, another larger-than-life cyclist, on Lenz’s trail.

David Herlihy, author of The Lost Cyclist and chronicler of Lenz and Sachtleben’s amazing story, dishes with us on the writing process, bicycling then and now, and more.

Read the rest of this entry »


April 8, 2010

If you’ve been reading our picks of the week at Largehearted Boy, you know that one of our favorite books of the last month has been debut novel Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes. This is just one of the best novels you’ll read this year. It’s long and grim (much like its setting, the Vietnam War) and absolutely worth reading to the end. It took thirty years of work and a bizarre set of coincidences for the book to reach publication, so think of it as the book equivalent of a finely-aged whiskey. We hope you’ll read it soon.

We also hope you’ll buy it from us so that you can help us join a campaign that our fellow booksellers (and lovers-of-Matterhorn) at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado, began. They’ve challenged bookstores across the country to donate a portion of the sale of each copy of Matterhorn to their local chapter of Disabled American Veterans, and we’re taking them up on that challenge. Whether you buy it in the store or online, we will donate $2 for each copy of Matterhorn we sell. Spread the word!


L to R: Libba Bray, Robin Wasserman, and Carolyn MacCullough

Last night we had our fourth installment of YA NOT?: a literary salon for not-so-young adults, and hosted not one, not two, but THREE fantastic YA authors. It was the sort of evening that started with the reveal that originally the authors had intended to name the evening “Hookers and Blow,” and ended with Robin recommending that everyone in the audience eat fruit.

Some highlights:

Robin, on being asked what, if anything, she takes into consideration about her readers when writing, and whether YA authors have an obligation to think about their stories having a moral: “What is writing a book, anyway, if it’s not trying to convince people that this is the way the world is and this is how you should feel about it? Authors who write for adults do the same thing. They just don’t call it a moral.”

Libba, after being asked if being a parent has changed her mind about whether there is any content truly unacceptable in YA fiction and if there’s anything she wouldn’t let her son read: “I mean, are you asking if I’m worried my kid is going to go off and read books that are too grown-up for him? Because no, no I’m not at all concerned about my kid sneaking away and secretly READING.”

On the responsibilities of YA authors, Carolyn said: “The only responsibility authors have is to their story.”

And Robin said: “I think the only obligation we have is to acknowledge that books change people’s lives. We can’t control reader reaction to our books, good or bad. But we need to remember that our words matter.”

In case you were wondering which superpowers each authors would go for: Libba wants to be fluent in all languages. Robin wants teleportation. And Carolyn wants to be able to rewind time.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening, however, was Carolyn’s introduction of the word “spoony” to the proceedings (and to most of the attendees). Though none of us had heard of it beforehand—and Robin adamantly protested against its very existence—it nonetheless came to dominate the evening and appear in the answer to almost every question.

Unfortunately for Robin, though, it is a very well-documented word. Here, for example, is the Merriam-Webster entry: “silly, foolish; especially : unduly sentimental.” It’s also in the Routledge Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, along with this delightful example of usage: “I felt rather spoony upon that vixen.” The final nail in the coffin, however, is its use in David Copperfield, and yet another fantastic sentence: “There is no doubt whatsoever that I was a lackadaisical young spoony.

Spoony! Please try to use it as many times as possible today, and keep last night’s YA NOT? alive.

I’ll end the post with this thought from Robin, who told us that she has not read many classic books:

“I do think it’s valuable to read them, though. I just don’t do it. Like fruit! I don’t eat it. But I advise that you do.”

YA NOT will be on hiatus next month, but stay tuned for more fantastic YA authors next year! To learn more about last night’s authors—all WORD favorites, all highly recommended—check out their websites: Libba, Robin, and Carolyn. Signed copies of their newest books available at WORD as long as supplies last!