Are you already formulating your plan of attack for hitting the sales this Black Friday? Just be sure to save some shopping energy for Small Business Saturday, too, because you'll be in for a treat when you shop at your local independent bookstore.
Chances are high that if you walk into an indie bookstore this Saturday (November 30), you'll find an author or two hanging out. Organized by Indies First, more than 1,000 authors will be working as guest booksellers at locally owned shops across the country. Here are just a few:
• Martin Cruz Smith & Ayelet Waldman—Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)
• Lynn Cullen & Joshilyn Jackson—Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA)
• Jill Lepore & Aaron Becker—Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA)
• Ridley Pearson & Curtis Sittenfeld—Left Bank Books (St. Louis, MO)
• Emma Straub & Susannah Cahalan—WORD (Brooklyn, NY)
• Ann Patchett & Victoria Schwab—Parnassus in (Nashville, TN)
Do you plan on stopping by your local indie bookstore on Saturday?
We love celebrating libraries every week at BookPage, but April 14-20 places national focus on one of our favorite times of year: National Library Week!
This year, the theme of National Library Week is "Communities matter @ your library." Libraries are more than just buildings filled with books; they offer programs and resources based on their community's interests.
Here are a few ways to celebrate the week:
Readers, I know what I'm doing today! I'll give you a hint:
Yep, today I am reading The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. If this week's Monday Contest is any indication, I'd bet that many of you are doing the same thing. So far, more than 25% of commenters on the contest have listed The Casual Vacancy on their own personal Top 10 lists for fall reading.
A few reviews have already come in for The Casual Vacancy, but I'm avoiding them so my own review for BookPage will be only my opinion, free of influence.
However, I did head to Parnassus Books in Nashville this morning to purchase a hardcover of the novel (even though I started reading in the middle of the night when the book was delivered on my Kindle!). I spent a few minutes chatting with store owner Ann Patchett, who confessed that she loved the book. Ann was one of the few people in the world who got to read the novel early (a copy was hand-delivered to her here in Nashville by a Little Brown representative). Ann will be interviewing Rowling on stage on October 16 at Lincoln Center—it's the only event Rowling will do in the United States. If you weren't able to get tickets, get in touch with your local bookstore; they may livestream the interview, as Parnassus is planning to do.
Though I don't want to post any spoilers of what I've read so far, I will say that we are very clearly not in Hogwarts. This is no surprise if you read this week's profile of Rowling in the New Yorker, which revealed the profanity and other adult content that readers can expect in this novel.
What I will say is that so far the book has made me chuckle. It's also made me whip out a pen and paper to keep track of names, as the early chapters are packed with introductions of characters.
Also present in the opening pages: crushes, a hint of domestic abuse, town gossip and the seed of political turmoil in a small English village.
Okay, enough chatting--time to get back to reading! Who else is diving into The Casual Vacancy today? What are your thoughts so far?
There was an illicit behind-the-scenes thrill to Ann Patchett's panel at the Southern Festival of Books. Billed as "A Conversation" between Patchett and her friend and fellow writer Edith Pearlman (whose short story collection is a finalist in this year's National Book Awards), watching two authors chat before a considerable crowd in the War Memorial Auditorium was a glimpse into the writer's world that stood out from the crowd of readings and panel discussions.
The talk focused on the differences between writing short stories and writing novels, although there were plenty of detours along the way. Both authors were comfortable on stage, and they managed to make their discussion (which they had planned out over dinner the night before) feel polished, but also lively and spontaneous. Patchett couldn't say enough good things about Pearlman's work, which she learned about while editing Best American Short Stories 2006. Pearlman was equally complimentary of Patchett's prowess, saying to the audience, when Patchett expressed doubt that she could make a love story seem fresh, "Oh, I think she could—don't you?"
Highlights included Pearlman's explanation of her desire to write short stories and only short stories, despite people asking her if she was "smart enough" or "man enough" to write a novel. "Writing short stories is the way I live; it is my main pleasure," she said. She writes about six stories a year and publishes about six stories a year "though they're not the same six stories!" She expressed appreciation for novels, saying that "so much can happen in a novel" and that she admires the form but can't work with it.
Patchett, on the other hand, said she wasn't "generous enough to be a short story writer," explaining that novelists only really needed one idea, whereas for a short story collection, you need as many ideas as you have stories. (A arguable but interesting claim.) Though Patchett, like other MFA grads, started out as a short story writer, once she started writing novels "it was as if I had stretched out," she said, explaining that going back to the format would be similar to moving from a small apartment into a house and then saying you had to move back to the apartment. Interestingly, Patchett doesn't feel the same way about essays. (She's currently working on a collection of them and writing them "feels like a vacation" because she doesn't have to make anything up.)
Like any good small business owner, Patchett couldn't pass up the chance to deliver an impassioned plea for supporting local stores (especially her soon-to-open bookstore, Parnassus Books). "Although I've never been on Facebook in my life, find us on Facebook, 'like' us on Facebook!" she laughed.
Last night, I should have been at home packing for the Romance Writers of America conference. Instead, I went straight from work to the main branch of the Nashville Public Library to see Ann Patchett read from State of Wonder and get my book signed. (I read a review copy to prep for my interview with Ann, yet I still bought a hardcover. Is that dedication, or what?)
When I got to the lobby of the library, the first thing I noticed was the sheer number of people milling around. I thought I was doing pretty good to get there at 6 o’clock when the reading started at 6:45 . . . but by the time I showed up, the library’s auditorium was packed and there weren’t any seats left in the overflow room.
In the end, the library generously set up three overflow rooms, so nobody had to sit on the floor or stand during the reading. I’m not good at judging crowd size, but I heard one estimate that there were 800 people at the event! It was completely heartening to see so many people come out to support a novel in a city without an independent bookstore. (Thanks to Ann, that’s about to change.)
Ann was both hilarious and moving during her talk. For this hometown audience, she spoke about how Nashville is a city that needs a bookstore, how she wanted to strangle Michael Feldman after he gave away the ending to State of Wonder on Whad'Ya Know and how she does not have a “secret author answer” to interpreting her books. She also recommended The All of It by Jeannette Haien, a slim book she discovered, loved then insisted HarperCollins re-print. (Ann wrote the introduction.)
All in all, it was a fun and exciting event (orchestrated beautifully by the library staff) filled with hundreds of booklovers and one very gracious author.
Have you been to any great author events lately?
Happy National Library Week!
This probably qualifies as "preaching to the choir," but who cares—it's always a good idea to praise libraries, especially as the American Library Association encourages us to "Create your own story @ your library" during this special week.
So please tell us: Why do you love libraries? What will you check out next from the library? Why are you grateful for librarians?
Here you can watch John Grisham, Honorary Chair of National Library Week, weigh in on why he loves libraries.
What do you have to add?
I've been a devoted library goer my entire life (thanks, Mom!), and now I try to pass on the passion. Just last week, the 10-year-old girl I mentor told me she wanted to do some science experiments. Not being very "science-y" myself, I went to the source I knew would give us a hand: the local library. We checked out books that gave us plenty of ideas and all the information we needed.