Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Love Guides: They Aren't What You're Thinking

I'm going to leave speculations about the Fifty Shades phenomenon and other alternatives to sexy reading to my fellow blogger and coworker, Natasha (stay tuned), but I can't resist pointing out that even the Globe Corner at Booksmith is getting hot. That's right: our travel section at Booksmith now stocks Love Guides.

No, they're not what they sound like, but these travel guides to India are intimate, elegant, romantic, and maybe even just a little seductive. Okay very seductive. Even if you've never dreamed of traveling to India before, these guides will make you want to book your tickets and go catch a flight.

Fiona Caulfield, creator of Love Travel guidebooks, describes her guides as "hand books for the luxury vagabond." They are that and so much more; buying one of these books is almost like purchasing a souvenir before you go. Each regional guide to India comes in a cloth bag and is enclosed in a beautifully designed cloth cover. Not only are the guides packed full of insider information aimed at giving you an authentic experience of the country, they are also gorgeously laid out with maps and illustrations, which are printed in India on eco-friendly handmade paper.

These guides beg to be browsed, so come on in to the Globe Corner Annex at Brookline Booksmith. To learn more about the India Love Guides, check out the Globe Corner's interview with Fiona Caulfield on the Globe Corner blog, where you can also read about the recent migration of Booksmith booksellers to the Pacfic Northwest.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

36 Hours in Seattle

Last week I had the opportunity to go to both my native hometown of Boise, Idaho and my adopted hometown of Seattle for a vacation. I had a lot of family to see, so I had to limit my time in Seattle to 36 hours, but there's a lot one can do in 36 hours in Seattle! Recently, the NYT edited a book of the best of their feature "36 Hours" which features the best of the best weekend jaunts from their travel magazine. And of course, if you've never been to Seattle before, then Pike Place Market and the Space Needle are probably musts. But if you've lived in the Emerald City, and it's been a while since you've been back, then your trip might look a little different.

Read my 36 Hours in Seattle itinerary on globecorner.com!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Back to Work!

I had a nice, calm week in the West but I am ready to get to work. And I have it cut out for me, too. People are moving out, there's a long weekend ahead and a lot of people are in selling books. It certainly makes the day move faster but it also means that we are seeing a lot of books, and we can't give them all homes. So to make sure that you don't waste a trip by bringing in books we might pass on, this is just a friendly suggestion for those wanting to sell back to call in or e-mail a list of the titles you have and we can help you whittle your pile down to stuff that we can use.

But a ton of new arrivals mean there are a lot of cool new books in the store. CAN YOU HANDLE IT? Just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the upcoming summer:

The novelization of The Cabin in the Woods, a graphic novel of Sherlock Holmes' stories, a copy of The Confederacy of Dunces (read it before the movie comes out), The Tiger's Wife, Longing for the Harmonies, a book on consciousness and physics, a complete book of Keats' poems, basically just a major haul of awesome for any sort of reader: casual to die-hard. Stop in for the one you're looking for or to get a recommendation from any one of us lovable weirdos.

And remember, we're real passionate about books around here, but remember to never drink or drive: read about this teenager in Illinois who got so mad when her boyfriend didn't take her to see the new Twilight movie that she crashed her car.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Destination: Seattle

In Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time, characters time travel by way of “tesser.” The shortest distance between two points is a line, Mrs Whatsit explains,  but what if that line could wrinkle? Imagine a length of yarn, and if you folded it in half, the two ends would meet.

This is how I thought of the distance between Seattle and Boston when I chose to move to the East Coast after three years in the Northwest. Fold a map and the cities kiss... 

Read this full post at our blog at globecorner.com!

We're spotlighting the Northwest as a destination for adventuresome and armchair travelers with a series of posts on globecorner.com. Join us there.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Destination: Globecorner.com

If you've enjoyed our weekly Destination and travel-related posts on Brookline Blogsmith, you can continue to read about the favorite destinations, travel escapades, and recent international reads of our Booksmith staff and Globe Corner alum at http://globecornerbookstore.com/blogs/.

In addition to expanding our travel section with over 2,000 new titles, including an impressive array of wall maps, Booksmith recently acquired globecorner.com, an online resource for guidebooks, maps, and travel literature. You can shop online for all your travel needs, or browse the blog, which we'll be updating with travel tips and advice, adventuresome anecdotes from home and abroad, and book reviews on our favorite armchair travel books and literature from around the world.

Join us at our most recent destination: globecorner.com. Happy travels.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Home on the Range

I'm taking vacation next week so that means you're not going to get one PEEP outta me next week. What should you do while you wait with baited breath for tales from the UBC? How about reading some of these books that evoke for me, a native Idahoan, the land of her birth to which she shall travel. Talking about myself in third person is weird.

The most recent book I read set in Idaho was Dennis Johnson's Train Dreams. A tiny little novella epic in scope, it is set in the untamed and the remote wilderness of northern Idaho as the railroads are built toward the coasts. It kinda made me a little homesick. I even craved huckleberries (they grow rampant throughout Idaho) though I never had a taste for them when I lived there.

Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping and Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose are both set in Idaho. Anthony Doerr spent some time there and there are a couple of short stories in The Shell Collector set in Boise, my hometown, that are really well done. Ezra Pound was born in Hailey and Hemingway went there to hunt and then die. We are a hardscrabble folk with a humble literary history, or something, but one book we acquired in the UBC last week really reminded me of home:

But what will I actually read on the plane? Dune by Frank Herbert. He was from Tacoma, and I'm also visiting my adopted hometown of Seattle. And Idaho is famous for its Bruneau Sand Dunes, so it totally makes sense. I'll have 20+ hours on a plane and my water bottle on me at all times just as I had an ice cream sammich on me at all times reading The Hunger Games.

So I'll catch you soon, Boise. I shall eat Flying Pie pizza and Idaho Spud candy and see my toddler niece who was a tiny newborn raisin when last I saw her but now walks, talks, and brushes her own long, glorious golden locks. And Brookline, take it easy on Carl next week while he flies solo. Bring him lotsa Coca-Colas and steak burritos.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

RIP Sendak

This week the children's lit community said goodbye to one of the most influential writers and illustrators of the 21st century: Maurice Sendak.  "And they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws" is one of the most famous lines in all of children's literature.  To some, Sendak's picturebooks were odd, too scary, and non-sensical.  To others they will always be a pure genius.

Did you know that Sendak never actually wrote for children?  He wrote what he wanted, and his work was always marked as "for children" by his publisher.  Regardless of whether you respected his work or not, what made Sendak stand out was his honesty.  In his own words, "from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things."  In other words, Sendak focused on the fact that childhood is full of dark and that the portrayal of innocence is a lie.  Surrounding children by illusions of life only builds a thick wall of buried emotion, but being open to what can happen creates a stronger person in the process.  Thank you Sendak for being a True author.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be Careful What You Blog For

Edgar Allan Poe

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog entitled, "What Will it Be Boston, Books or Burritos?" about our failure to adequately recognize certain literary sites around the city, including the former Old Corner Bookstore on Washington and School streets (now a Chipotle) and Poe's birthplace (near the Boloco on Boylston). I made a few suggestions, such as calling that particular Boloco, Poeloco, and implementing a "Tell Tale Taco." However, one of our Booksmith Blog readers kindly informed me that a far, far better solution was already in the works, and that a Poe statue was soon to be erected on the site.

Last week, at a lecture on Poe at the Boston Public Library, I learned more about Poe's rather torpid relationship to the city in which he was born. Poe liked to criticize the works of Boston's literary heroes, such as Longfellow and Lowell, as didactic and dull, and he commonly referred to Bostonians as a whole as "frogpondians." Despite his vehement dislike for the city, we are still going to remember him on Poe Corner, storming by the Boloco with a open suitcase in hand, books and papers trailing behind him, and a raven flapping magnificently at his side.

On Sunday, May 13 at 1pm you can show your support for such literary landmarks by attending "The Raven's Trail: A Walking Tour of Poe's Boston," presented by the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston, Inc. The walk will be led by Paul Lewis of Boston College, vice president of the Poe Studies Association. For only 15$ you get a 90 minute tour exploring the writer's relationship to Boston, beginning at Boloco in Poe Square. The money will go to the implementation of this fantastic Poe sculpture by Stefanie Rocknak. Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Literary Mix Tapes

Social media has opened up the book community in engaging new ways when we talk about new books or the old books we love. Before Haruki Murakami's latest epic released in the US, a Spotify playlist of essentially a soundtrack to the novel was released, and just today, the nerd blogosphere lit up with the release of the actual soundtrack to the new film adaptation of Kerouac's On the Road. 

Sometimes music spins in the background while I read creating an impromptu soundtrack; other times, I think of songs that fit certain characters or moods or settings, and it's fun AND NOT AT ALL NERDY to create a playlist that goes with the book I'm reading. I've talked on the blog before of my love for Patrick Süskind's novel Perfume, and reading the fireworks scene always makes me think of the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Fireworks." We are fireworks, guys.

I'm a huge metal-head and reading The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, the main character Katri makes me think of the Burzum song "A Lost, Forgotten Sad Spirit." Oh, Katri. So harsh and cold, like the crustiest Norwegian black metal. Similarly (in character, not genre), here's a link to a literary mixtape for Arya Stark, my favorite character in Game of Thrones.

Are there songs that make you think of scenes in your favorite books? Or characters? Share thoughts and playlists here!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Destination: Brazil

I was recently introduced to Clarice Lispector, “that rare person who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf,” as one translator described the Brazilian writer. I met her through The Hour of the Star, her last work of fiction, written shortly before she died in 1977 of a cancer she did not know she had. The narrator of this stunning novella hauntingly calls Death his favorite character, and does not fail to give that dark shade the lead by the end of the book.

The Hour of the Star is as much about life as it is about death, however, and as much about writing a story as it is a story itself, that creative process in which an author breathes life into their characters. "All the world began with a yes," Lispector begins, "One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born." Her narrator struggles throughout the book to bring his character, a poor northeastern girl named Macabea, to life, to an awareness of self. At first Macabea barely knows enough to realize how desperate her situation as a destitute typist in Rio de Janeiro is, but every once in awhile, amidst the squalor, she comes close to showing signs of a soul, moments that her narrator marks with a parenthetical (explosion), as brilliant against the stark back drop as the burst of a star being born.

Clarice Lispector
I was going to introduce you to Lispector, the mysterious author behind this narrator and his character, but the best way to encounter this elusive writer seems to be through her work itself. You can read Benjamin Moser's fascinating biography on her, Why This World, but even Moser admits his subject can be frustratingly hard to capture, quoting Helene Cixous's attempt to define Lispector: "if Rilke had been a Jewish Brazilian born in the Ukraine. If Rimbaud had been a mother, if he had reached the age of fifty. If Heidegger could have ceased being German."

You'll just have to track Lispector down in our Destination Literature section where she waits with a compelling air among other South American authors, from Jorge Luis Borges and Juan Jose Saer (Argentina) to Romulo Gallegos and Alberto Barrera Tyszka (Venezuela). Across the aisle you can find several different travel guides to Brazil and its major cities, including Rio de Janeiro--so you don't end up as lost as poor Macabea. And if you want more travel advice and anecdotes from the country, check out Moon.com's expert blogger Michael Sommers who writes weekly on "The Thrill of Brazil."