Monday, December 31, 2012

Apparently, you guys like YA-adult crossovers. And Boston. And also other stuff.

Before Alie worked her computer magic to calculate the kids' bestsellers of 2012, I told Tess that I would figuratively eat my hat if the top 6 weren't the Hunger Games trilogy, Make Way for Ducklings in hardcover and paperback, and the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. And then we looked at the list.

1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
2.Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
3. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
4. Zolocolor: Doodling Between Black and White, by Byron Glaser
5. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (paperback)
6. The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!, by Mo Willems
7. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey (hardcover)
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, by Jeff Kinney
9. Good Night Boston, by Adam Gamble
10. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
11. Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen
12. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker
13. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
14. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
15. The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan
16. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
17. Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson
18. Divergent, by Veronica Roth
19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
20. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
21. 642 Things to Draw, by Chronicle Books
22. I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen
23. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
24. Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
25. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

I'm very glad I said "figuratively," because I'd want my hat back.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What your bookmark reveals about you

This post by the folks at the Strand brought me a little epiphany. The books we read often speak to our aspirations. They are small hand-held gurus or friends or vacations - temporary extensions in which we stretch our brains. But it's bookmarks that reveal our true selves; those meager scraps and pocket-scrapings tether us to reality like the string Theseus unwound on his way through the labyrinth. Our choice of anchor in a thousand-page sea says more about us than any astrological sign.

Post-it notes - You can't really remember your phone number or how old you are but you rule at pub trivia and have beautiful hand-writing.

French flap - you have a clean, tastefully appointed living room and a beagle named Darwin.

Coolidge Theater ticket stub - You're the rootless, aimless type. You've moved across country at least twice and harbor a little guilt at your lack of home-sickness but you feel nostalgic when you least expect it. You cried at this movie. You're a good person. Call your mother.

Ribbon - your cologne has top notes of pipe tobacco and sun-warmed leather and you own at least one steampunk accessory. In high school you were a borderline goth and your hair is enviably curly. You are literally the only person in the world who likes anchovy pizza.

Something with an inspirational quote - You own a juicer and went through a serious Joni Mitchell period.

Something with a picture of a unicorn - You've never tried karaoke but sweetheart, do it SOON because you don't know it yet but you have a voice worthy of the golden age of Radio - like a honey-soaked tiger purring an aria straight into the ear of God.

$20 bill - You know the power of a good incentive and aren't allowed to spend this until you finish Ulysses. 

JP Licks receipt - You consider yourself brutally practical but clearly know when to indulge. You either are or will be a great parent/pet-owner.

Smaller book - You're intense. Your muscles have muscles.

Polaroid - You're the poster-child for vintage ephemera but hate the words "vintage" and "ephemera" almost as much as the people that use them. You're not really a people person at all, in fact. Maybe that's why you're preternaturally good at craigslist, that midden heap of virtual iniquity and cast-off treasure. You can sniff out the flea market gems faster than a bloodhound but you relish the hunt and have a soft spot for well-curated kitsch. We're all jealous of your record collection.

Bonus: Dog-eared pages - you actually are brutally practical. You're bound to survive the zombie apocalypse and the rest of us will follow you loyally into the dystopian future. Less than wisely, as it turns out: when push comes to shove you resort to cannibalism with nary a shrug.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The store is alive with the sound of shoppers...

New-minted readers at round wooden tables.
Young browsers squealing at Anne of Green Gables.
Rhyme-reading parent who quietly sings.
These are a few of my favorite things.

Readers of ponies and dinos and kittens.
Scrooges and Grinches and warm woolen mittens.
Booksellers flying - caffeine gives you wings.
These are a few of my favorite things.

Folks with old favorites, and folks trying new books.
Stories outlandish, and eye-catching true books.
Crazypants winter, whence all this joy springs.
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the store's closed,
when you're cold-nosed,
home and filled with cheer,
we hope you're surrounded by favorite things
to bring you a glad new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

End Times Approacheth

It's madness, I tell you.
Forget 12/21. It's the Saturday before Christmas, folks, and the Retailpocalypse is upon us. I've stolen away to the deepest recesses of the Booksmith's labyrinthine bowels, but even here the walls throb under the booted feet of the shopping hordes. Only crumbs remain from my meager stash of gingerbread men and the battery icon on our store laptop flickers like a dying candle.

I will not last much longer. So I have some confessions to make.

- I judge books by their covers (SO PRETTY).

- When you buy my staff-pick, I secretly give you a discount. We're in this together.

- I don't get the Handerpants. We have a million novelty gifts (I counted) to make you the prince(ss) of any yankee swap. Probably no fewer than half are lewd variations on lingerie. You guys love them all and usually I'm on board with that. Squirrel underpants? Fine. Emergency underpants? Ok. Handerpants? No. I'm sorry.

They're here. I will sell them to you. But we will never see eye-to-eye.

- When I say "I've heard good things," what I mean is "this book you're asking me about just took on the symbolic weight of each and every book I've never read and it is now a beacon of my shame. Buy it. Read it. Go on without me."

- I haven't read Moby Dick. I haven't read War & Peace. I have read Game of Thrones and you know what? The HBO version is better.

Lots more dirty secrets where those came from but Xmas is almost here SO - once more unto the breach, Brookline! Been an honor and a pleasure. If we live through this, I'll see ya next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Breakaway Trousers

John Hodgman has told the world about our breakaway trousers on the Best Show with Tom Scharpling (around 38:00).    Naturally, everybody wants one. They are blue, have gold buttons, a glitter logo of “Brookline Booksmith” and are useful during dates and emergencies. 

  1. Be John Hodgman. 
  2. Find the Booksmith leprechaun.  Instead of giving away gold, he gives away one pair of Brookline Booksmith breakaway trousers.
  3. Win a dance-off against Ric, the reigning store break dance champion.  Many an attempt has been made to take away his crown, and the losers end up sitting by the dumpster wondering if 4Loko could have made a difference.
  4. Give four or five booksellers $500.  They will say thank you and ask you to wait outside near the dumpster with the dance-off losers.  They’ll be out in a bit, I swear.
  5. Wrangle an invitation to an ultra-exclusive Brookline Booksmith dance party.  At the door, we give you a pair of complimentary breakaway trousers. 
I swear these things are true, kind of. 


Not really.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Destination of the Month: Paris

I have only been to Paris in the summer. When the Champs Elysees is crowded with tourists looking for a bit of shade for relief from a relentless sun. When you decide to save yourself from the metro crowds by walking everywhere until your sandals smell so bad you throw them out rather than ruining everything in your suitcase. When you can spend long evenings watching the sky turn the stone white edifices rose from Montmartre Butte, the Sacre Couer at your back, a bottle of wine on hand, or dance the summer evenings away on the banks of the Seine.
I’ve never been to Paris in the winter, but I can imagine the lamp lit streets and bridges, the snowflakes melting softly into the Seine. And Paris is a city that is always in someways more imagined than experienced, half romance half real. This month, we’re celebrating the city of light with some lovely gift books–for the traveler who has been and wants to remember those fading summer nights, or for someone who is on their way to the sparkling snow-covered boulevards. And for the rest, there are narratives to help you imagine the trip you’ve never taken but someday will.
Flipping through Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart is almost as good as a ticket there. JanelleMcCullough takes the traveler through eacharrondissement by way of gorgeous photographs and alluring prose. This book is coffee table and guide book in one. Looking for something more compact and practical? We have two shelves of guidebooks devoted to helping you navigate the city. Secret Parisfor example, can unlock the city and show you un-looked for corners.
Paris is a city full of stories, imagined and real. Paula Mclain has taken the well-known classic story, A Moveable Feast, and turnedHemingway’s memoir of 1920s Paris into a novel. This time, however, the women speak. The Paris Wife is told from the point of view of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. She narrates the well-known story: from falling in love, to meeting other members of the “Lost Generation” to the final heartbreaking betrayal.Hungry for more stories set in Paris? The NYRB has collected Mavis Gallant’s Paris Stories into one brilliant edition. This would be the perfect read for your flight to France.
And finally, the slim The Night Before Christmas in Paris makes a sweet stocking stuffer for the francophile in your life. Santa Claus is frantic because Mrs. Claus has slipped off to see the sites of Paris. Santa’s sleigh visits the Montmartre, the Left Bank, the Notre Dame, the Ritz in search of his wife. In the end, “His memories were sweet of the City of Light,” as we hope everyone’s are this holiday season, and, of course, to all a good night!

Monday, December 17, 2012

We get a little cheesy this time of year, and not just because Kate brought pizza.

"Booksmith was my childhood," an adult customer told me this week as she checked out. She shared a few early memories of finding specific books, all of which have since flown out of my head, because the store is gloriously insane these days. But amid that insanity, it's bolstering to remember that that's what we're doing: we're helping people make memories. I'm reminded of this now as a group of customers ask me to take their picture from my post at Infosmith. I'm reminded of it every time a dog drags his or her owner from the street straight to the register. (Psssst - we have dog biscuits.) I'm reminded when a longtime customer calls us by our original name, "Paperback Booksmith," or tells me, "I've been coming here since before you were born."

Young repeat visitors clamour to see their old friend the bear, and yesterday, an even younger, newly talking visitor said "books" so clearly, I could've sworn she was about to give me a dissertation on her favorites. Everyone from preteens on up waxes nostalgic upon encountering childhood favorites; even the adults who think they don't remember anything about children's books melt at the mention of Beverly Cleary, Richard Scarry, or both.

I don't know whether they'll remember that Little Mermaid book from the spinner or whether they'll stump future booksellers by half-recalling the titles of the books they get this season. (Write 'em down now, kids. "Mysterious Benedict Society" is quite a mouthful to remember for a generation.) But everything I'm seeing these days - the crazy moments when everyone's being paged in twelve different directions, and the quieter moments of reflection on this special thing we've got here - makes me suspect that fifty-plus years from now, there will still be booksellers to stump.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's an ephemeral, circle of life type thing

You know you want one.

Guys. Look. Look at this little penguin ornament. I know. Those are earmuffs. It is just the cutest. Julia, one of our lovely Card and Gift saleswomen, introduced us the other day and within ninety seconds I had him stowed away in the back room atop my small but growing pile of holiday gifts for the family.

Here's the deal: my Mom is the worst person to shop for. She hates STUFF. I'm pretty sure she's missed me since I went off to be a grown-up, but most of the stories I get from home involve the gleeful expulsion of my accumulated detritus from the house. My old bedroom is now her sewing room. She's selling my car. It's an ongoing purge. What do you buy someone whose ultimate catharsis is hauling impractical space-wasters to the curb?

"Do not buy her anything," you might say. "Rise above the frenzy of Holiday consumerism. Eschew gifts. Self-actualize. Maybe sleep on a pallet on the floor of a cloister on a mountain somewhere." And oh man, if that sounds like something you'd say, you and my mom would get on like gangbusters.

The person that lives here is so much more zen than me.

Me, I'm a hoarder. I think all that STUFF that falls into our orbits as we move through life takes on a certain resonance. It's comforting, sometimes, but it's also the raw material by which we gauge the space we've carved out in the world. 

My mom and I seem like polar opposites, but we meet in the middle; we exchange Christmas ornaments. They're frivolous and impractical, sure, but once a year we haul a tree into the living room and mount a two-week monument of tchotchkes to the milestones of our lives. You know what? It's kind of magical. Then, just at the moment when the branches start to sag, over-burdened with sentimentality, the cats bring the whole shebang crashing to the ground and suddenly there's room on next year's tree for next year's ornaments. It's an elegant cycle.

(Hey Mom: please pretend to be surprised when you open your gift on Christmas).

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's the time of year when us booksellers are bustling about non-stop, answering the phone in the back, grabbing the book to put on hold, and helping about 15 customers along the way to the register and then jumping in to help at the register for a quick sec that turns into an hour, then going in the back to call a pile of special orders, running downstairs to shrink wrap a pile of books, run out front to wrap a pile of presents, lather, rinse, repeat. It's crazybusy, hectic and we're ravenously hungry for empty carbs and sugar at all points of the day. BRING IT ON, BROOKLINE! We're hand-selling machines; we've got awesome ideas for everything and we're running on way too much coffee!

But the crowds definitely mean one thing...all the great books we have are flyin' outta here. So come get 'em while they're hot.

First of all, if you are shopping for your boyfriend or any human being that loved legos as a kid, snatch up a copy of Building Stories by Chris Ware. This box is a deconstructed graphic novel that you can build into a neighborhood block; then peak into the building's windows like a voyeur and follow the story there, and in the myriad pamphlets included. The print run of this magic puzzle box is out, and because of it's unique structure the next print won't be out until January. One of our dynamo booksellers wheeled and dealed all over town to get us some extra copies, but they're flying off the shelves so nab one now while you can. Perfect gift for all kinds of interesting people; readers or no.

We just got a huge shipment of even more gift wrap; really great paper and bags made out of beautiful materials recycled and otherwise with adorable designs. Be the envy under the tree this year!

Hanukkah is winding down, so be sure to snatch up some awesome platters from the Card and Gift room and pile in those latkes while it's still socially acceptable to do so! Also, how many Hanukkah rubber duckies do you have? THAT IS NOT ENOUGH COME GET MORE RUN DON'T WALK.

Come say hi! Bring us donuts! We'll lead you to the perfect gifts for you and yours! Love you, Brookline!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fifty Cranes

Boston equals school for most people, and I’m no different.  Each semester, people I love drift off towards new jobs and new locales, packing up their lives and shifting them elsewhere.  I’m genuinely happy for them, but I can’t help that brief, gasping moment of sadness when they leave.     

Yesterday, my friend Gretchen left to return to the West Coast.  We started graduate school together, slogging through classes, discussing theories, and running into each other at random moments.  We skipped class in October to go to the Sherman Alexie event, where I did the introduction and she was part of the sold-out audience. When she got to the front of the signing line, she mentioned that he was worth skipping class for.  He looked up, and in his self-defacing style wrote, “You should have went to class.”  It still makes me laugh.

Having this job means I see a lot of people on a regular basis, and a lot of my friendships have been cemented because I’ve run into people browsing the shelves or sitting down to attend an event.  I can make an author timeline of my friendships—Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, Jack Gantos, Mo Willems, and more—each representing a person that has played a part in my Boston life. 

I wrote this blog post so I could show you what Gretchen left me: a string of fifty cranes, all in different colors.   I’ve hung it up in my office, lifting up the ceiling tiles to keep it there.

I hate it when people leave, but if I’m lucky, they leave something beautiful behind.  It might be a string of cranes, it might be a pile of used books that Carl and Natasha have deemed worthy for the UBC, or it might be something less material. 

Thanks for the cranes, Gretchen. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Captain Underpants, Elephant and Piggie, and why there are no wrong answers

Reportedly, there was a mini-baby boom in 2006. (Google it. It's a thing.) I believe it because I'm seeing the results: right now, a lot of customers are seeking gifts for kids who are new to reading.

Buying for this phase of childhood can cause anxiety with a lot of gift buyers, who are concerned they'll get it "wrong." What if they insult an emerging reader with a book that's too easy? What if they present an insurmountable challenge in the form of a book that's too hard?

Don't panic. 

The books in our Learning to Read and First Chapter Books sections are designed to be great introductions to reading independently, but they're also perfect to read aloud with a favorite adult (and after a few readings, a book that was once too hard may be less so). Concerned about a book being too easy? Think about it this way: is your own reading material - your professional reading, your pleasure reading, the bookstore blog you're currently perusing -  all at the same level of difficulty? As important as it is to learn the "when two vowels go walking" rule (I've always felt sorry for the second vowel, which doesn't get to do the talking), I think the most important thing you can teach a new reader about reading is that it's fun, that it can be about anything.  It can be about your interests; it can be hilarious; it can be about kids like you or kids who are kind of like you except that they live somewhere else or they're genius detectives. It can even be about potty humor, whether your parents like it or not.

So, gift buyers, stop worrying. (At least about this gift. We'll get to your Aunt Millie next.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Getting Used to the Holidays

Strapped for cash? Maxed out your holiday budget and realized you have three more people to shop for? NEVER FEAR! THE UBC IS HERE! If you want inexpensive gifts, we got ya covered. Throw off the shackles of the antiquated notion that a book has to be new to be a great gift. We have newer titles as well as vintage finds and out-of-print gems that make great gifts without breaking the bank.

A Dance with Dragons, Volume 5 of "A Song of Ice and Fire," by George R.R. Martin

Everyone wants this one! And we just got one in the UBC in time to woo your moon-and-stars! It's in great condition. I'll hold it for you no password required, just give us a call! Or stop by and it can be yours!

Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy box-set by Sigrid Undset

When this box set came in my heart stopped. It literally took my breath away for a spell. This would be a magnificent treasure to give the love of your life, or the weirdo in your life that is obsessed with Scandinavian literature. A beautiful vintage collection with a slipcase in great condition. Really cool type details on the title pages as well. *swooon*

The Unofficial Lego Builder's Guide by Allan Bedford

I read this crazy thread on Reddit the other day where a poster wrote to gripe about how expensive Legos are. "Why!" Why so expensive!? A particularly perceptive poster responded something along the lines of the fact that Lego pieces have to be made to fit within 1/1000th of an inch of each other and that's with all bricks made since 1958. ASTOUNDING. So for the Lego-lover in your life, here's an exhaustive guide to all the many ways you can precisely click those blocks in together. A springboard for creativity, a technical how-to to stretch the dollars spent on all those Legos, and a surefire way to get your budding engineer reading a little before playing.

The Nervous System by Olof Larsell

Carl says, "If you've got the guts, this would be a great gift." And I have to agree. I am firmly entrenched in the camp that everything that happens inside my body is wizards and gnomes making magical cogs whirr with pixie dust. YET. I couldn't stop pouring (poring?) over this book. Such a cool vintage find with great illustrations throughout, many of which are in color. A great one to give for a doctor (there's lotsa those in this neighborhood) as a pretty gift for a collection, or to give for an artist to hack up and use in a multimedia piece. Or, Carl suggests, "a perfect gift for that nervous Nelly."

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Another hot ticket that many are after these days, treat the fancy lady of affluence to a bit of guilt-pleasure reading! Tide over the Downton fan with some intrigue until January.

Ed Ruscha monograph

Whether you're new to Ruscha or an old fan - this is a great, unexpected gift for just about anyone. Ruscha's work is minimal, playful, clever and though provoking. I'd gift this bad boy to an art nut, a free spirit, a writer, a type nerd, anyone not crazy about reading, someone with too many books to read already, or keep it for yourself as a treat for all this exhausting thinking about to whom to give gifts. Get a taste of what Ruscha's all about here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

1st Annual Yankee Swap Gift Guide

Yankee Swap, White Elephant, whatever you call it, the time is upon us, friends. The time when we go to huge parties coporate or otherwise and exchange awkward gifts that we hope all will have the sense of humor to appreciate. Or give up entirely and buy a handle of booze. BUT THERE IS NO NEED TO GIVE UP because I'm here for you. I understand the modern person's need for a great, hilarious yankee swap gift that will be both coveted and inexpensive. Effortless yet perfect. I have rounded up several examples of such gifts from our fair dungeon's shelves. Stop in, spend only a few dollars for another year of laughs or at least appropriately humorous or interesting wares that we will happily wrap for you free of charge and send you on your way to a sure bet of holiday celebrationism.

First, for the party of smarties, The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell. A book written entirely in questions. Quick to explain to a party, a fascinating conversation starter, funny, weird. $7.50. Nailed it.

The Lone Ranger Pop-Up Book, in time for that wacky new Johnny Depp movie this one would be great at a party where the nostalgia factor might really convince your boomer boss to give you that 110% raise you've requested. Moving parts, awesome details, and not to mention all the 3D action without those cheap glasses. A bit of an investment but worth every penny at $25.

According to legend, Napoleon found an oracle in an Egyptian tomb, it later became one of his prized possessions and he frequently consulted it before his most "speculative and successful enterprises." For less than $20 ($14.50) you can give the gift of history AND prescience in one slim volume. In it are the keys to weather omens, palm reading, what your moles and dreams mean and much much much more.

For $5 you can give the gift of David Shrigley. An awesome collection of hilarious outsidery art in postcard format this will be highly coveted among The Young and Smart set. Your redneck brother might even love it.(Mine does).

The Big Book of Magic is a great pick for just about any sort of party, they're really easy to do and understand tricks, er, I mean illusions that you can do with coins or string or very few props. Accessible to all ages and chock full of super retro line illustrations. Snatch it up for $8 before it disappears in a secret compartment in the bottom of a hat!

The Riffology of AC/DC might be a great gift for your roommates who have terrible taste in music, karaoke enthusiasts, or a passive aggressive comment toward your coworker who wears shorts at inappropriate times of the year. Either way, this is a ROCKIN' gift that people will fight for and it's only $13.

And finally, saving the BEST FOR LAST is Where to Go and What to Do When You're Single and Living in and Around Boston for a mere $4.50. This book was printed in 1985, it's chock full of kitschy art deco illustrations and (mostly though not entirely) outdated suggestions for meeting people and dating in the Boston metro area. So awesome, it's a historical snapshot of our fair city and a cultural portrait of being single in the age of Bret Easton Ellis, Madonna and Miami Vice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brookline Booksmith: The Musical

Lately, I’ve been noticing a theme around e-mail signoffs.  The stereotypical “best” has been replaced by a cheery hope that I “stay sane through the holidays.”  This support warms my heart, and also brings me to an idea that has been brewing in my head for a while: Brookline Booksmith: The Musical.

Now, before Dana, our beautiful and delightful store manager questions me about this “creative” idea, hear me out. 


1. A few days ago, I saw one of my fellow booksellers dancing away from the register, full body movement and all.  It could have been interpreted as an enthusiastic walk, but… no.  I know what dancing looks like, and that was dancing. 

2. Booksellers sing, sometimes in the back, sometimes not.  Yesterday, another bookseller and I did a lovely duet of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” while clearing the hold shelf.  I choose to believe it was a delight to hear, and I will not accept evidence to the contrary.

3. The wooden floors upstairs are great for practicing amateur tap dancing.

4. When Susannah Cahalan was here, I made brief mention of Brookline Booksmith: The Musical.  She enthusiastically supported the idea (okay, okay, she said she thought it was cool), leading me to believe we could have a rotating lineup of author guest stars.

What does this have to do with anything?  Besides potentially being one of the greatest and most poorly sung musicals of all time, this kind of thing keeps us sane.  Brookline Booksmith: The Musical will remain in my head, but we’ll keep singing and dancing our way through the holidays with our sanity fully intact.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Associated Press: Travel Books as Gifts

Associated Press travel editor Beth Harpaz recently interviewed several travel experts, including Pauline Frommer and Don George, for holiday gift ideas for the traveler. Harpaz also checked in with the Globe Corner Travel Annex at Brookline Booksmith to see what we suggested. You can read the full article here, but what follows are a few of the titles culled for this season's travel gift books. For even more recommendations, check out the travel section of our Holiday Gift Guide here.

Popular actor and award-winning travel writer Andrew McCarthy writes the foreword to this lavish book, offering 400 awe-inspiring destinations chosen by National Geographic's family of globe-trotting contributors; dozens of fun, "Best of the World" themed lists; illuminating sidebars, several by travel and literary luminaries such as Anna Quindlen, Bill Bryson, Gore Vidal, and Pico Iyer; and hundreds of dazzling, oversized, full-color images to bring to life a wide variety of location categories--from entire countries to mountaintop villages to pristine lakes to ancient wonders. This broad, general interest travel title will appeal to active travelers looking for the next great trip as well as to the many readers who simply love dreaming of visiting far-flung, idyllic destinations, and for those who love to be "in the know" of the next travel trend.

The world is your oyster. Or hot dog. Or camembert. When we travel, it s often love at first bite." Food Lover s Guide to the World" presents a lifetime of eating experiences that will lead you from one end of the globe to the other. Take your taste buds on a tour around the world and cook up you next great culinary adventure. Includes celebrity food-lover contributions, best places to find local dishes in cities great and small, cultural tips and how-to-eat etiquette, introductions by Mark Bittman and James Oseland, and more than 50 recipes to cook back home.

 The Longest Way Home
by Andrew McCarthy
With an irrepressible taste for adventure, candor, and a vivid sense of place, award-winning travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy takes us on a deeply personal journey played out amid some of the world’s most evocative locales. Unable to commit to his fiancÉe of nearly four years—and with no clear understanding of what’s holding him back—Andrew McCarthy finds himself at a crossroads, plagued by doubts that have clung to him for a lifetime. Something in his character has kept him always at a distance, preventing him from giving himself wholeheartedly to the woman he loves and from becoming the father that he knows his children deserve. So before he loses everything he cares about, Andrew sets out to look for answers.

Among the Islands
by Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery is one of the world’s most influential scientists, credited with discovering more species than Darwin. In Among the Islands Flannery recounts a series of expeditions he made at the dawn of his career to the strange tropical islands of the South Pacific, a great arc stretching nearly 4,000 miles from the postcard perfection of Polynesia to some of the largest, highest, ancient, and most rugged islands on earth.

Better than Fiction
Don George, ed.
A collection of original travel stories told by some of the world s best novelists, including: Isabel Allende, Peter Matthiessen, Alexander McCall Smith, Joyce Carol Oates, Tea Obreht, and DBC Pierre.

The newest volume in Sterling Signature's successful Illustrated Edition series takes readers on a fascinating journey into a world once unknown. Marco Polo almost single-handedly introduced fourteenth-century Europe to the civilizations of Central Asia and China. Now this stunningly illustrated volume, edited by renowned historian Morris Rossabi, offers the complete text of Polo's travelogue (in the respected Yule-Cordier translation), enhanced with more than 200 images--including illuminated manuscripts, paintings, photographs, and maps. Sidebars and dozens of informative footnotes combine to present Polo and his travels in a captivating new light.

Crumpled City Maps
These maps will fit snugly in the toe of any stocking and you don’t have to worry about messing up the creases! Crumpled City maps are made with 100% water proof crump-able paper that you can stuff into your pocket and go! Read more here.

Pictures from Italy
by Charles Dickens
Pictures from Italy is one of Charles Dickens' earlier works, a fantastic and whimsical foray into the twin worlds of travel and the imagination. Inspired by his words, Italian artist Livia Signorini plays with Dickens' sense of place, memory, and politics. The result is a brilliant contemporary dialogue with his work — a reading of history, time, and change — that renews our sense of his enduring vision. An extraordinary work that is as much about travel writing as it is about Dickens’ journey to Italy itself, this handsome volume features 11 full-color gate folds and will appeal to fans of the Victorian novel, travel buffs, and art lovers alike.

Take a road trip through Gross America! Gross America is a coast-to-coast catalog of the most grandly gross science experiments, beautifully bizarre art, and delightfully disgusting historical sites that America has to offer. Part travel atlas, part trivia guide, Gross America presents these United States as you've never seen them before—weird, wonderful, strange, and totally, utterly gross.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I have got to lay off the Hanukkah gelt before bedtime.

I dream about holiday books these days. Visions of shiny covers dance in my head as my subconscious mulls over what's worthy of facing out, what should be shrink-wrapped, and how we can magically expand our overstock space. A few nights ago, my dreams turned darker. I dreamed that a friend (who would never do this in real life) reprimanded me for not knowing the Christmas books well enough.

Well, here at the Booksmith, we have a wise, experienced staff member known among the staff as Bacon. (This story would be better if my last name were Latke or something.) The next day, I told Bacon of my dream. Her response: "You do know the Christmas books. Something goes wrong, and it looks like Christmas is ruined, and then... Christmas miracle! Everything's okay! And then they all eat Christmas dinner."

I mulled this over and realized that actually, that sounded like a lot of my native Hanukkah books.

And then I realized something bigger than the books celebrating Caillou's and Dora's and Olivia's Yuletides and Curious George's Hanukkah. Our holidays come from different parts of our religious and cultural histories. but beyond the focuses of the holidays themselves, there's the spirit of holiday-time. Even if our towns are beset by Hanukkah goblins, even if a Grinch steals our roast beasts, there's a spirit within us that lets us turn our holidays into special times to share with the people we care about. The Jewish greeting for most holidays is "chag sameach," which literally means "happy holiday." The idea that a certain time in the calendar is different, that it feels different, is in some ways more important than the original reason for the holiday.

Happy holiday(s), and may you find the stories to make your celebrations meaningful. (Please. Before I start dreaming of collapsing shelves.)