Monday, December 22, 2014

Alex Is Reading...EVERY BOOK IN THE SERIES

HELLO, BLOGSMITH READERS. If you're anything like us, then you have been REALLY REALLY BUSY THIS WEEK. So with two more days of Hanukkah and Christmas hurtling towards us, let me make one last-minute holiday kids' gift suggestion. The suggestion is one word. The word is:

OMNIBUS.

An omnibus, for those who do not know, is a single volume containing multiple full books. Often these are very good books (at, might I add, a relatively low price). So here in the days of desperate end-of-the-holidays shopping, let me bring you a few of my favorite omnibuses in the kids' department.

PICTURE BOOKS

Miss Nelson Collection by Harry Allard, illustrated by James Marshall -- A sweet schoolteacher tricks her bad students into being good through her witchy substitute alter-ego.

Madeline Treasury by Ludwig Bemelmen -- The classic adventures of the little French orphan, complete with appendicitis and Bat Hats. This is a gorgeous hardcover collection.

My Favorite Dr. Seuss Treasury by Dr. Seuss -- A newly published collection of Dr. Seuss classics. Like the Madeline, it's big, pretty, and it will be in the family for decades.

BEGINNING READERS

The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel -- The hapless, charming, best-friend adventures of Frog and Toad all in one book. It's a nice edition and it's also twelve dollars. (?!)

FIRST CHAPTER BOOKS

My Father's Dragon collection by Ruth Stiles Gannett -- The gentle, imaginative fantasy classics in a very pretty hardcover edition.

INTERMEDIATE FICTION

The Complete Oz Volume 1 by L. Frank Baum -- The first three books of the Oz series, which are funnier, weirder, and way better than you remember from your childhood. This is the first in a series of paperback collections.

The Wrinkle in Time Trilogy by Madeleine L'Engle -- Imagination-stretching, emotional, wonderful science fiction that you won't ever forget. The paperback collection is pretty and readable (and no one wants to stop after just one book...).

YOUNG ADULT

The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper -- Mythological villains, everyday heroes, Arthurian legend, dark powers, and the ultimate quest to preserve what's good, all set in a stark, fascinating England that will stick in your mind years after you've read them. This volume is the entire five-book series, which won two Newbery Honors and a Newbery Medal between them. 

ADULT FANTASY/SCIFI

Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervin Peake -- If you have any precocious teenage readers of weird stuff on your list this year, try Gormenghast, the peculiar classic about young Titus Groan, a prince protecting his crumbling kingdom from the evil intentions of a power-hungry kitchen boy.

So that's what you can find on our shelves as of this writing. And of course, we the children's booksellers will be here too. Happy shopping, happy holidays, happy reading!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Alex Is Reading...ABSOLUTELY TRULY


Oh, WINTER. We may only have been having the cold then kind of warm then cold again and almost snowing? but actually just RAINING FOREVER kind of winter so far, but in the glorious world of fiction, winter has real snow, new friends, book shops, birdwatching, and decades-old mysteries. In Heather Vogel Frederick's new book Absolutely Truly, Truly is struggling with some big changes. Her dad has changed since he lost an arm in Afghanistan, and her family has just packed up and moved from Texas to extremely tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire. But with a bookstore to save from going under, a mystery that starts with a first edition of Charlotte's Web, and a couple of classmates who would love to help her solve it, Truly might just be okay.

When you're done reading about Truly, check out...

Five Great Intermediate Mysteries

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet -- Art theft, two clever kids, and an air of the paranormal.


The Westing Game (A Puzzle Mystery) by Ellen Raskin -- A dead millionaire leaves behind a will that names the 16 residents of Sunset Towers Apartments his heirs...but one of them is the murderer, and only one will walk away with the money. (This one is a Newbery Medal winning classic, and one of my all-time favorites.)

All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket-- So far there are three books in this quirky sleuth series by the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. A little bit of comedy, a little bit of noir.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage -- Moses LeBeau may have washed ashore in a hurricane, but the family that found her is the family that matters most. But an unsolved murder puts that at risk, and Moses will have to solve that murder if she's going to protect the ones she loves...

So B. It  by Sarah Weeks -- Heidi's mentally disabled mother only speaks a handful of words, but one of them might hold a world of meaning: soof. Heidi is off across the country in search of the meaning of this one word--the what or the who--which might explain how her unusual, wonderful family came to be.



Five More if You Like Absolutely Truly

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer -- Foster and her mother may have trouble in their past, but they're determined to make it work in their new town. With Foster's baking and her mother's beautiful voice, they soon find a place. The question is, will they be ready when the past shows up to test them?

The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick -- For more of Heather Frederick, more about family, more about books, and more about smart, curious girl protagonists.

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson -- Ginny's fly-by-night aunt dies before Ginny even knows she's sick. But before she can even grieve, Ginny gets her inheritance: a little blue envelope that will start her on a journey across Europe, to find adventure, love, and strength in herself.

Savvy by Ingrid Law -- Everyone in Mibs's family has a savvy--a sort of magic power. Mibs's power is just waking up...and her father is in the hospital after a car crash. She needs to get to him, because she knows her power can save his life...but it's a long way, she can't drive, and the new preacher in town might be a little too interested in what her family is up to.

A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck -- For a dash of historical fiction, take a couple of city kids from the 1930s and throw them into the small-town countryside to stay with their grandmother for deliciously old-fashioned, funny adventures. 

And that's what I suggest for you this fortnight. Happy reading!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Being in A Book Would Really Be Like


I like to think I would be wonderful and cool in every situation but really, I wouldn't handle a lot of things as gracefully as book characters do. And Juliet put up with a lot from Romeo. Who has the patience for that?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

National Book Awards

So, this might be a little late. It's been a long week. Anyway...

A couple of years ago I didn't pay much attention to who was winning what awards (aside from the Chime/Shine debacle which caused a stir in the blogging world). I would take a minor note of the winners, probably months after they announced it and continue on with my life.

It was when a book I really loved, Where Things Come Back, won both the Printz and the Morris awards and Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races was also nominated for the Printz that I started to take note. It was also that year that I started working in a bookstore so as my enthusiasm about these awards grew so did the number people around me who were also excited.

Which is how I found myself obsessively following the @NationalBook twitter feed last Wednesday night as the winners were announced. WTCB's author John Corey Whaley was shortlisted for his new book Noggin and I needed to know if he won.

I do wish I could have live streamed it, but the twitter feed did a wonderful job of highlighting the important parts of each speech.

Now think what you want about Daniel Handler as a presenter, that wasn't what I took away from what I've seen and read from the awards. There will always be a controversy, as sad as that is.

What stuck with me the most from the awards was the amazing overall love for literature as an art. I feel like so many of the big stories that are published now highlight the publishing world as a business. I'm not saying it's not a business, or that some authors don't write to make money.

The thing is, no one chooses writing as a career unless it is something they love doing. It's not exactly a well paying, get rich quick job. It's something that you have to care about to do well and I think when people get all wrapped up in the business of it, when they do nothing but talk about how this book didn't sell as well as that book so it must not be as good, that they lose sight of the fact that writing is a labor of love.

Wednesday night's ceremony was such a reminder of the importance of story and not sales. That books are an art, no matter what genre they're in.

Plenty of people walked away talking about scandal but what I saw most commented on, and rightfully, was Ursula Le Guin's speech after she was presented with the medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Her speech was everything that I wanted and everything I feel whenever someone talks about the worth of a book being in the sales alone. If you haven't had the chance to watch it see it below.

But even Ursula Le Guin was introduced by Neil Gaiman who practically gushed on stage over her. He talked about starting to write how much her writing meant to him;
 "Other writers I would copy. I would copy their style. I loved C.S. Lewis. I loved G,K, Chesterton. I would look at how they did it and try to copy it. Ursula, I couldn't figure out how she did it because her style was so clean, her words so precise and well chosen."

And it came down to how her writing impacted him, not how well she sold. In his speech she is never called a bestseller. Instead she is a "giant of literature" because of how much her writing impacted other writers.

If you haven't already watched their speeches watch them now!

Neil Gaiman presents lifetime achievement award to Ursula K. Le Guin at 2014 National Book Awards from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.


Most of the books aren't these mega blockbuster books. If I didn't work in a bookstore I might not even have known some of the titles or the authors but it's not the sales that are driving the awards it's the writing and that's what I think we need.

Who cares what the bestsellers are! Look for the books with medals. Look for the books that a friend gushed about because it made them feel something really spectacular. Ask someone who works in the store what the last book that they read that really mattered to them was.

I am not saying buying books doesn't matter (please, please buy books) but also please please remember that there is so much more to a book than whether it was on the New York Times Bestseller list. If you love every book on the bestseller list great but step out of that comfort zone and that guide and try something else.

There is so much to read in the world and so many different things and what matters about all of them is the writing and how much blood, sweat, and tears went into them and whether they can find one person to make an impact on.

So check out one of the NBA winners (John Corey Whaley didn't win but Woodson's book is stunning) and, of course, congratulations to those who did win!

Young People's Literature: Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming
Poetry: Louise Glück for Faithful and Virtuous Night
Nonfiction: Evan Osnos for Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
Fiction: Phil Klay for Redeployment

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Alex Is Reading...BROWN GIRL DREAMING





Today I'm reading BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson, which just won the National Book Award and deserved it a dozen times over. Every perfectly chosen word carries its weight in this book. You feel like you are stepping right into how she sees her own life. It's poetic, it's inspired, you will cry. I promise.

And if after that you still want to feel strongly emotional, try these...

FIVE HEARTBREAKINGLY GOOD BOOKS FOR KIDS AND YOUNG ADULTS

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi -- A striking two volume graphic novel autobiography of a girl growing up in Iran amidst political unrest. 12+

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz -- Aristotle and Dante are best friends, but there's always a distance between them, coming from Ari's side. This is a novel about friendship, love, and fear of yourself. It's about secrets, heroism, identity, and opening up. It's wonderful. 13+

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan -- Precocious Willow Chance only feels at home with her loving parents and her impressive garden. But an accident takes those things away. Willow is left to learn in her achingly precise and perfect language how to find love and understanding among different people, and how to build a new life from what she's lost. 11+

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin -- Rose Howard has a hard time fitting in with people because of her Asperger's syndrome, but her dog Rain understands her perfectly. When she loses Rain in a hurricane, Rose searches everywhere for her. When Rain does come back, Rose learns something about her dog that she doesn't want to know. Suddenly the happy reunion is a hard choice. [Disclaimer: NO DOG DIES IN THIS BOOK.] 9+

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie -- Junior is a disabled kid from the reservation. He wants to be a cartoonist, but that probably won't ever happen as long as he stays put. So he does the worst thing a rez kid can do, and goes to the white school in the next town. Alexie knows about humor, anger, loss, and the impossibly choice between loyalty to the people you love and wanting something better. 13+

Enjoy the extremely fulfilling tears you will cry as you read these perfect books.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Jeff Kinney at Brookline Booksmith!

Last sunday, if you have been walking through Coolidge Corner, you no doubt would have noticed the gargantuan Enterprise truck that was parked outside of our store, and the large cardboard cutouts that sufficiently bundled gentlemen were hastening to unload from it.

This would have been for our event with Jeff Kinney, author of popular "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. This, however, was no usual event. This was a Jeff Kinney experience, complete with stations, games, photo ops, and finally, a signed copy of your favorite Wimpy Kid books and a handshake with Jeff Kinney himself. It was like nothing Booksmith has ever done before, and frankly, after seeing how sucessful it was, I think we should probably start holding such events for adult books, too!

Another day at the book store, complete with large fake pig

We were really worried you didn't have all the Wimpy Kid books....


In no time at all, folks started lining up and moving through the store. They visited all the booths, got to play 'Plinko', got a chance to guess the weight of a large paper mache pig. There was even a booth I didn't get to see in action, but consisted of a large table filled with old shoes. Curiosities were abundant! After interacting with, and having their picture taken by, numerous book store workers and event staff alike (some dressed up in top hats, coats and tails), event attendees found themselves outside Card and Gift, at the front of aisle 4. There, they got their books signed by Jeff Kinney, who was warm, welcoming, and engaging.

Clarissa and Zoe mug by one of the photo backdrops
This event was a great success! We are looking forward to what other crazy events the kids book world can send our way! Old shoes, fake pigs, and lake backdrops, oh my!!

You can follow our events series by checking out our events website,  which is kept painstakingly up to date. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on our upcoming events. Special thanks to Jeff Kinney and his team for making this incredible evening in our very own book store!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Alex Is Reading...THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM

Hi! I'm Alex. Nice to meet you. I've been working in the kids section for a couple months and now I am going to blog to you, with book lists, and approximate age recommendations that you can totally disregard.

Today I am reading THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy *Kylie Recommends*. This is a funny book. No, it is: it's about a bunch of hapless fairy tale Prince Charmings wandering around the countryside trying to accomplish things but mostly just getting in trouble. It is also about fairy tale princesses having strong opinions. I am a big fan of ALL these princesses, including the mean one. There are polite giants, punk kid Bandit Kings, genius little sisters, and dragons. This book is great. (It is also good for ages 9+ and as of this writing you can find it in our intermediate fiction section.)

In keeping with this awesome book I am reading and enjoying greatly, here are a few more books you might like if you like...

FAIRY TALE BOOKS

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch -- Was this the first book about a princess that does what she wants? It's definitely one of the best. Girl meets dragon, girl beats dragon, girl ignores a disappointed prince to run off into the sunset an independent hero. We usually have this as a board book and in our spinner rack. 2+

Beauty and the Beast and other fairy tale picture books by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb *Clarissa Recommends* -- Absolutely stunning illustrations over excellent, traditional fairy tale retellings. Check our folk lore/mythology section for these--they're often on display! 3+

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham *Alex Recommends* -- GO NOW AND READ THIS BOOK. Princess Magnolia is a dainty pink-wearing hostess with perfect manners...but she becomes the heroic PRINCESS IN BLACK to fight monsters and rescue sheep herders! You can find it in young chapterbooks--recommended ages 5+. Good for young independent readers.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede *Alex Recommends* -- Princess Cimorene doesn't want to embroider or get married to a boring prince. Or any other prince. So she runs away from home to work for dragon Kazul, fights a lot of wizards, and learns to make a mean cherries jubilee. 10+

Twice Upon A Time series by Wendy Mass -- Retold fairy tales by the author of The Candymakers. 8+

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine *Alex Recommends* -- Absolutely my favorite fairytale retelling ever. This Cinderella is "blessed" by a fairy as a baby...to obey every single direct order that's given to her for her entire life. Ella is brilliant. You will read this book over and over. 9+

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull *Alex Recommends* -- This is a weird, beautiful book. Two girls find their parents missing--their mother is the swan princess and their father took her feathered skin. They travel into a world of only birds, where a vicious, terrifying false queen is asserting her power--a queen Bird falls for like Edmund and the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 10+

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones *Amy Recommends* -- Everyone buys into the fairy tale stereotypes in Sophie's town, and it's clear she's going to be a docile hatmaking third sister forever. WAIT, NO SHE'S NOT. She's going to be cursed by a witch to look like an old woman and run off on an adventure in the moving magical house of the dread wizard Howl, who as it turns out is the most obnoxious wizard ever. Stop here for sentient scarecrows, fire demons, and wizards obsessed with their hair. 10+

Ever After High series by Shannon Hale -- Shannon Hale writes the best fairy tale retellings. This series is good for 10+.

Ash by Malinda Lo *Anna Recommends* -- A YA Cinderella story with POC main characters, beguiling fairies, personal strength, and a Cinderella who falls in love, not with a prince, but his Huntress. 13+

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge *Clarissa Recommends* -- A sharp, fierce, beguiling Beauty and the Beast story about a demon prince and one angry beauty. 14+

Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman *Alex Recommends* -- This poetry collection uses the language of fairy tales to take on the pressures and pains of being a teenage girl. Watch out--there's some dark and personal stuff in this little book--but its intensity is full of truth and Hepperman has a excellent grip on her language. 14+

Cinder by Marissa Meyer *Kylie Recommends* -- Welcome to cyborg Cinderella. This is a very cool scifi take on the story, and the first of a series. 13+

 Happy reading!





Monday, November 3, 2014

They're All Kind of a Blur, Aren't They?

On the bright side, it was snowing when I did this so it felt like winter. Also, I got to put out Llama Llama Holiday Drama and that is a great favorite of mine.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thank You Rick Riordan

Three brilliant books that arrived in the Kids section since last we spoke:

1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Oh man. Maggie Stiefvater is brilliant. We all know that already. Now she's given us the third book in her Raven Cycle. It's brilliant and now I might die before the last one comes out.

2. Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
It's Oliver Jeffers. He does a little story for each letter. V is my favorite. Hands down.

3. My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, is enough of a sell but with authors like Kelly Link and Holly Black this is the perfect winter anthology.

I spent most of my Saturday working the Booksmith table at the Boston Book Festival. This was the third year I worked it and we had, by far, the best weather and, by far, the biggest crowd.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Three other booksellers and I arrived down at Copley Square just after 8 AM. It was chilly and early. Coffee was much needed and I was barely functioning. We shuffled tiredly into the beautiful Trinity church and were welcomed by a most glorious sight.

1,000 Rick Riordan books sitting on tabled primed for signing.

I was not so tired anymore.

This wasn't a particularly thrilling sight to Peter and Clarissa who'd been there the day before to set them up but I was pretty excited about it. I've never been fortunate enough to be in the store when Rick Riordan has come in to sign stock so I was ready. Two things happened.

1. He signed 1,000 book in 30 minutes. He. Is. Magic.
2. I didn't say a word to him until he left and then it was a hurried "Thank you so much!"

Doesn't matter. I spent about 35 minutes in a room with Rick Riordan.

And that half an hour is what made the festival for me. Not just because I'm nothing if not a fangirl and I got to be there. It kept us busy most of the day. I got to stand at the end of the table and just keep refilling piles of his books. I got to talk to people about the books. I got to see the kids in Camp Halfblood/Jupiter tee shirts and camp necklaces and the one girl fully dressed as Annabeth. They were excited and that plus the adrenaline was way better than the coffee.

The kids book person in me was just so thrilled. We had a line for a solid two hours after Riordan's keynote and sold somewhere around 700 of his books and a lot of them were to people who already had them. It was amazing. And I loved that it was a kids author.

It's so easy to get discouraged when you're a kids book person. There are so many people who are determined to write it off and say that it doesn't count as "real literature" or that it's not worth anyone's time. When a book gets big then come all of the articles ripping it to shreds and explaining to us why it's not teaching kids anything. Sometimes that makes it hard.

To see people, most but not all kids, standing in line twice for Rick Riordan, the first to get into his talk (there was a line when we arrived at 8) and the second to buy tee books, was brilliant. It makes me a little more proud of what I do.

And I just really wanted a kids event to win this not-competition competition.

We totally did.

Thank you, Rick Riordan.

P.S. We still have signed copies of Blood of Olympus and Percy Jackson's Greek Gods come and get some!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Nonfiction Section is All Around You

Today is my last day working at Brookline Booksmith! Starting next week I will be working in a building in midtown Manhattan, at a new job about as far away from my Idaho origins as I could have ever imagined.

Furthermore, I will be not working at Brookline Booksmith for the first time in just shy of 4 years. That is just about the longest I have ever worked at one place (I'm young!) and has comprised the bulk of my life in Boston. I have met the most amazing people here, read the best books, shared them with you all, met lots of celebrities and learned the city inside and out while I was here!

This place is the craziest mix of unique staff, and we're incredibly lucky to be in a neighborhood full of die-hard buy-local bookworms that keep us around. It's also a place I've learned a lot about working hard, communicating with people, and being surprised daily by people you think you know. It's been a fertile training ground for my next endeavor, a place I've been nurtured in the book industry and will carry with me as I set off for the Big City!

Thanks so much for everything, take care of each other, and shut off your computer (after this sentence) and pick up a book :D

With Love,
Natasha

P. S. Read Arto Paasilinna! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Destination of the Month

From the amazing food beautifully melding sweet and savory, to the diverse natural landscape encompassing deserts and lush forests, mint tea and Berber music, beaches and arabesque arches, Morocco would be a perfect escape in October, as the weather cools but the vibrant artistic culture that has drawn expatriates for decades (notably Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs and Tennessee Williams) is alive and well. Time to come stock up on guide books, maps and books inspired by Morocco!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Books Just Make it Hard

Also, Noggin is a National Book Award finalist (because you needed another reason to read it). Congratulations John Corey Whaley!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Books for the Fall

Three really exciting, super thrilling new books!

1. Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
I mean...come on. It's the LAST BOOK! Then we have to wait for Magnus Chase (which is set IN BOSTON!). Did I mention that we have signed copies?

2. Red Knit Cap Girl and The Reading Tree by Naoko Stoop
We love the Red Knit Cap Girl in general. But we love her even more when there are books involved.

3. A Bean, A Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack by William Joyce
I love him. I love him. William Joyce's books are lovely and funny and just so brilliantly rendered. His newest, a take on Jack and the Beanstalk, is no exception.

A little while back I did a post on books that reminded me of summer. Now, it's fall and it's my favorite season and I haven't talked yet about books that feel like fall. This is a very important season.

So let's do that now. In no particular order I present Books That Remind Amy of Fall:

1. Doll Bones by Holly Black
Maybe it's the creepy factor. The potentially possessed doll, the late night bus ride, the cemetery. But this book makes me think of fall. Dead leaves and moonlit skies.

2. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson
My love for this book is no secret, neither are its ties to fall. When the leaves start falling Fletcher worries that is friend the tree is sick. It's sweet and lovely.

3. First Test by Tamora Pierce
Back to school books often have a fall-ish air to them, even though school starts in the summer. This isn't technically school and the books spans a year so it covers all of the seasons but there's still something so essentially autumnal about it.

4. 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
I could probably say that this reminds me of fall because it's sort of about the fall of humanity but that's not it...I don't think. It just has the same sort of Fall feel.

5. Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall
The fall colors, the dead leaves, the wind stealing a sibling. I mean that all just screams fall!

6. Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan
The start of school in the midwest mixed with a setting of graveyards and the discovery of magick. Tiernan's entire Sweep series is the perfect read for an autumn week.

7. Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
This one I find interesting because the first in the series, Lament feels like a spring book to me. But this is the darker side to the story. It has more of an edge and that is all fall.

8. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
This is all fall. Creepy woods and sorcerers and small towns.

9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Do I even need to say anything about this one?

10. The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
Creepy woods. Even creepier creatures. Beautiful and unique artwork. A boy finds an old fashioned recorder on which he hears the story of a boy years before who gets caught in a good versus evil battle that goes wrong.


I was sitting here trying to figure out what it is about these books that make me think of fall. I'm not really sure what it is to be honest. As I was thinking of titles I was very quickly dismissing titles with a brief "No, that's winter/spring/summer." I'm not sure if it's just setting, or an unsettling plot, or just a feeling but something about all of these titles reminds me of fall.

-Amy

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Travel as a Rabbit

Here's the latest and greatest happenins in the travel section!

Come scope our Destination of the Month display before it turns to October: SEATTLE


I am studying the Finnish language and just learned the sweetest idiom: "Matkustaa jäniksenä," or "to travel as a rabbit," meaning travelling for free, as a stowaway (like a bunny sneaking on a boat!). I prefer the first image the phrase brought to mind, a bunny too short to reach the Charlie Card machine so he just snuck under the turnstile and didn't pay his fare.

Anyway, everyone knows the best way to travel as a rabbit is to pack like and move fast, so do I have a grip of petite pocket guides for you! These adorable, fun-size guide books are full of off-the-beaten path trivia, must-sees and gorgeous design:


First up are the WildSam guides. Currently available for Nashville, Austin, San Francisco and Detroit, they have awesome almanacs full of local trivia, interviews with local movers and shakers, places to check out that are more funky and local haunts than tourist spots, and even a grip of pretty graph paper in the back for notetaking and scrapbooking on the fly! $18 each.


Citi x 60 guides are brand new, and available for all kinds of big-city locales: New York, Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona, Berlin and more. The idea here is that 60 local artists, business owners, writers, creatives and other influential and design-oriented share their favorite haunts, so you get a bunch of ideas for discovering a city from the people who love it the most, and seek out the most unique and vibrant offerings! Super inexpensive and pretty as well at $9.95 each.


The Hunt guides, representing cities from Austin to Singapore are beautifully designed with must-sees and local faves as well, an emphasis on shopping and amazing food make these guides a must for the urban adventurer. $16 each.


Happy travels! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

For the First Day of Actual Fall

I cheated on one of the releases.... shhhh!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Bestsellers: September 8-September 14

Weekly Bestsellers

Second week of September and our events series is kicking into gear. Topping the hardcover list we have two events books. We hosted Joyce Carol Oates, a woman who is prolific in both book form and on Twitter, and she joined us at the Coolidge Corner Theatre to read from her new collection of short stories. And on Saturday, Chris Guillabeau visited every country in the world and shared the lessons he learned with us at his event for The Happiness of Pursuit

In paperbacks, once-local author Dennis Lehane's novel The Drop, is adapted from the film which was originally adapted from Lehane's short story "Animal Rescue." Got that? And for those of us who can't get enough of the brilliant Roxane Gay (and there are a lot of us, customers and staff alike) we are thrilled her essay collection, Bad Feminist, is out as a paperback original. 

Here's the rest of the list. See you next Tuesday! - Shuchi

Hardcovers
1) Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates
2) The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau
3) The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
4) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
5) What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
6) The Secret Place by Tana French


Paperbacks
1) The Drop by Dennis Lehane
2) Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
3) The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz
4) The Boys In the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
5) The Trauma of Everyday Life by Mark Epstein
6) Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon - A staff favorite, Yoon's slim, breathtaking novel is about a young man starting life anew after the Korean War. Our Book Club will meet to discuss Snow Hunters on Monday, October 13th at 7:30PM.
7) Acceptance: Book Three of The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer - I'm about halfway through book two, Authority, and I can't get enough of the mysterious, terrifying world VanderMeer has created in this trilogy. The final book just received a rave review in The New York Times.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fall of Summer Reading

We got so many exciting books in this week but my top three are:

1. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
This book is awesome. It's Harry Potter meets Loki's Wolves with a dash of extra sinister forces. I was completely blindsided by the twist. The series is in great hands.

2. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Gregory Maguire writes a book based in Russian Folklore. Yes.

3. Animalium by Jenny Broom
The animal version of last year's Maps. This book is filled with stunning illustrations in a book that's equally as beautiful in its large format.




Do you see that? Do you realize what those are? Those are picture books on display. That is a beautiful sight. That many picture books on display means one thing. 

Summer reading is gone. 

Summer reading being gone is indicative of a number of things. One of these is that it's almost Fall and that delights me. Another is that we get to choose some of our favorite picture books and put them up on display for ease of browsing.

Perhaps most importantly, is that this means that some things in the kids section have moved. Why? Because if we're dismantling Summer Reading we might as well shift some things around. 

First, we had the privilege and pleasure of giving Fairy Tales, Mythology, and  Poetry actual space.


See that? It gets a whole case. We have so many beautiful books in these sections this is legitimately exciting. It was tough choosing which books deserved the honor of being displayed.


Our addition to this section is the selection of miniature books that has suddenly exploded. They're beautiful but so tiny that they got lost in the picture book shelves. Now they have their own, snuggled nicely between mythology and poetry.

Then we had the exciting, albeit a bit daunting, task of putting out a selection of our Halloween books.


Halloween is my favorite holiday so, I'm pretty psyched to see things for it and feel a little bit more legitimate in the fact that I'm already plotting our details for my costume. We have so many books we still haven't managed to fit everything out.



And, of course, the initial excitement of putting some of my favorite picture books on display. We have a Natasha favorite, Ungerer's Three Robbers. A few Amy favorites (Virginia Wolf, Little Elliot Big City, Numberlys). Some Clarissa favorites (Julia's Home for Lost Creatures, Any Questions). Some great new ones like Otoshi's beautiful new companion to One and Zero: Two. The surprisingly new Dr. Seuss Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. The beautiful biography Hello, I'm Johnny Cash by G Neri. Even a picture book that Peter likes, Dubuc's The Lion and the Bird.

Basically, all of the picture books you could ever want and that we love.

Another change that I couldn't manage to dive around people to get a picture of (you see what lengths I go to for this blog?) is an awesome shelf beside the Halloween display of some of the boxed sets we carry, it's a great place to check out some gifts.

Things are beginning to change in the Kids section. I mean, it is almost Fall. But this is when things start getting really crazy. When the new exciting new releases come out faster than we can display them or show the proper amount of enthusiasm. When the holidays start coming so quickly that the displays start changing almost weekly.

This is my favorite time of year. Sure, school has started. But that means Summer Reading has come down and that is a sign of all good things.

Well, almost all good things.
That used to be alphabetized.

-Amy

Friday, September 12, 2014

Latest & Greatest Hardcovers, also Finland

It's autumn time, and that means all the big major massive magical fall books, the heavy hitters, the long-awaiteds, the thrills the chills the anyway here are the ones that are the best:

Murakami and McEwan, shoulder to shoulder, ready to rock your mind meats:



In the new Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, (which I just finished finally please come and talk to me about it),  the main character goes to Finland. While you should always care about Finland, this factoid will become relevant later. Here's my favorite quote from it:



The new Tana French, Secret Place, just in time to housesit on a deserted New England coastal island and curl up with this in the dark, alone, on Halloween.



The new David Mitchell, Bone Clocks! Peter approves! I'm told a character from Cloud Atlas makes an appearance!


And finally, last but not least, the new volume by xkcd creator Randall Munroe What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions complete with a helpful diagram OF FINLAND on the back cover.



Stay tuned next week when I talk about some new travel guides and maps we carry that I road tested for you in FINLAND. And also I will tell you about salmiakki ice cream.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Booksmith Visits: Montague Bookmill (montage book milk)

As fate would have it I have been called upon to attend very few weddings at this particular time in my life. It should be mentioned that I am nearing (arguably, have arrived at) a wedding-appropriate age and my lack of weddings could change, very shortly, as my peers begin pairing up. It was pairhood itself that compelled me to attend a wedding in Western Massachusetts last Saturday; my girlfriend's cousin and his partner got hitched in a sweltering town hall while morose, bulbous clouds leaked overhead. I regrettably report, I did not perform admirably. The humidity and crowds coalesced into a sharp din inside my skull and I was abruptly excused from family obligation when I refused to re-enter community space and instead hid, perched on an outside stairwell, doing breathing exercises and suckling at a can of soda as if it contained some miraculous antidote. We left, shortly afterwards, for Amherst, to relay a back up cell phone to my sister who recently had need for one.

"we're on our way to you now", I texted to her, "we are just gonna drop the phone off and leave though, I want to go to montage book milk".

iPhone's autocorrect function had traded the name "Montague Bookmill" for the abstract "montage book milk". From here on, it shall be referred to as the same.

After winding our way through some stringent student acropolis, my sister stood, barefoot, by the running car as we retold the details of our brief wedding experience. She then told us, enthusiastically, that she loved the book milk, and that I would love it too. She told me they had beer there, too, a detail that should always accompany a description told to me about any venue, if it happens to be the truth. The things I will endure while drinking a beer are many, nevermind things I actually like, such as browsing a book store. The store's catchphrase happens to be, "Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find", something so tongue-in-cheek as to delight anyone, but as someone who relies on the supply and demand of the book industry to keep a business afloat and provide them their livelihood, I am downright tickled by this. Fused with the term "montage bookmilk" and a the prospect of a totally free afternoon, I'm one giddy idiot.  


As we pulled up to the Bookmilk, those turgid clouds were looking fully ominous. We moved through a heavy, wet air, into the book store. Inside, a labrynth of stairwells and sofa alcoves, antiques peppering unused corners, and books. Plenty of used books. Such a store could possibly only exist in the wilds of Western MA, where students keep a contemporary culture alive but industry is somewhat less than overbearing. There is still a certain earnest curiosity left out there, what with all that accumulated soul searching energy generated by mass quantities of 20-somethings all living, compact, in roughly the same town. In Brookline, Booksmith is known by its unique wooden floors - the creaking beauty mark of our otherwise actively current store - but we are in the Bookmilk now, and a wooden floor would be a paltry offering indeed to a behemoth of arcadia such as this. A musty smell of wood and paper lies down every narrow hallway, a leathered smell, what people believe academia will smell like when they are on the precipice of entering it. Everything creeks as you move around the store, and there are nooks and old seats to ferret out, not to mention errant curiosities closed in cabinets or left out as if arranged by some absent person, suddenly and swiftly called away. 

A flutter of typewriters 

VIP seating

Misc.

Outside the windows lining the back of the store runs the Sawmill River, a thin stream that once powered a grain mill in the same building in the early 20th century. As I was promised, there is a cafe connected, and if you are so inclined you can sit and have a beer and look out of the windows at the river hastening past. In this cafe they had a few things on tap, the most interesting of which was Oskar Blues G'night Amber Ale, which I had never tasted in draft form before. Brimming with a somewhat dewey contentment after purchasing our books, we sat outside and ate sandwiches with brie and apple, kielbasa and mustard. The beer was crisp and hoppy, the blade of its malt slicing through the thick fingertip of the air. Before long, employees came and brought the book carts and the outside displays indoors. They stood in the doorway of the book mill, side by side, wondering at the sky. Any minute now, any minute now.

The bathroom - wallpapered in worn, yellow missives.
Tell me about it.


The rain drove us out of the courtyard and, slowly, out of Montague. Through a veil of water we drove back, creeping back through route 2 towards the city, only headlights in the onslaught of rain. I would go back, willingly, eagerly. In case you, too, need an afternoon removed from reality, you should take a trip over to little Montague and take a long draft of the bookmilk. Here is where you can find it:


Montague Bookmill

440 Greenfield Rd, Montague, MA 01351

(413) 367-9206
http://www.montaguebookmill.com/

Books you don't need in a place you can't find. Get not-found for a bit and visit. 




Monday, September 1, 2014

School Stories

There are so many books that I'm excited about I'm just going to launch into them:

1. Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan (paperback)
If you've been waiting for the second in this amazing trilogy to come out in paperback your wait is over! And if you haven't read them yet what are you waiting for? Read them now! Especially since she's been added to the lineup of our awesome October 22nd event with Kelly Link, Gavin Grant, and M.T. Anderson.

2. Jackaby by William Ritter
Guys. Think Sherlock meets Doctor Who. Seriously.

3. Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (paperback)
The vampire book that's edgy and wonderful and like no other vampire book. If you thought you were done with vampires give them one last go.

4. Little Elliot Big City by Mike Curato
I raved about this one a few posts back. So cute! So wonderful! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! He just wants a cupcake and a friend!

Look how cute he is!


5. Quest by Aaron Becker
The sequel to the wonderful, wordless Journey. It's still beautiful. And who doesn't want a bandolier of chalk?

6. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan
Could there really a companion book better suited for this series than Percy retelling some of the myths? No. It's brilliant and Rocco's illustrations are beautiful.


School is starting back up this week. We have lots of books about it. Going back and starting for the first time. They're all made to soothe the anxieties or heighten the excitement of returning. I love that there's a market for that. That kids want books about going to school, where they will then read more books. Yes.

Though I'm not returning to school I was thinking about my favorite school books. Some are about going back and some are about starting and some are just great school stories. There's a little bit of everything.

Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
Because one book about a cute, goggle-wearing panda wasn't enough. Now he's worried about his first day of school.

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
A wonderful graphic novel about Maggie, whose starting high school after being home-schooled. Through it's ensemble of secondary characters this book faces all of the major high school fears and conquers all of them.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Harriet gets herself into all sorts of shenanigans but the base of this wonderful sleuth story is a school story.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Would any school story list be complete without this modern classic about being accepted at school for who you are? The wide-appeal of this book is really remarkable. If you haven't gotten to it yet you need to.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
I have always loved these books. They're just so ridiculous. So completely and utterly ridiculous but they still manage to show that weird sort of kinship kids in the same class have.

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid
I think I'm trying to set a record with how many lists I can put this book on... But really, THIS BOOK!

Looking For Alaska by John Green
This book really doesn't need any more endorsement, it's doing just fine on it's own. But behind the wonderful and tragic event on which it centers this is a great book about finding that group in which you belong and the sort of shenanigans you can get into when you do.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier
School. Theatre. The drama around being into drama. This one should be a little bit niche-y but Telgemeier makes theatre seem appealing to almost everyone.

The Humphrey series by Betty Birney
I can't really pick one in this series. They're all just so quintessentially school.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
(See the John Green entry about not needing the handselling push). Cath is starting her first year of college and she feels completely unprepared. It's a relatable feeling for starting any new kind of school and Rowell does a brilliant job showing her readers that it's not not-scary but it's totally manageable.

Honorable Mentions:
Harry Potter -J.K. Rowling
Anything by Andrew Clements
The Weird School series by Dan Gutman

School stories come in all forms and usually have so much more going on in them than just school.
And to anyone going back this week (or next week, or last week), don't worry about it. If you love it you're excited anyway. If you don't, it doesn't last forever and it could always be so much worse. Grab one of these books. Some of them are just great stories anyway.

-Amy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Five Business Days

In five business days, I will leave this store and cease to be an official Brookline Booksmith bookseller. It's such a strange thing to think about, and it hasn't fully settled in my mind, but it's official. I've given my two weeks notice, I've come up with my goodbye present to the store, and my congratulatory new job presents to myself arrived at my apartment a few hours ago. I'm getting my affairs in order and I'm leaving, I'm really leaving.

As much as I'm looking forward to my new job, I already miss this one. I walk into work every day and say hello to my coworkers, who have become some of my best friends in the world. Next week, I won't know if Paul is wearing a bandana that day, or if Shuchi has gotten her hair cut and nobody has noticed except for me, or if something ludicrous happened on the floor yesterday. I won't know if a shipment of event books is late or if a cool new promo poster came in, but I will find out when lentil soup is back in stock at Trader Joe's. I won't know if Anna found her perfect snack, if anyone convinced Amy to get a burrito today, or if Ric went kayaking with his wife. I won't know the myriad of little details that have been imprinted into my mind, ones that have taken me years to learn and predict. Slowly but surely I'll learn new things about new people, but for now? Honestly, is Paul wearing a bandana today? That's my favorite version of Paul.

Brookline Booksmith is hiring right now, and if you're interested you should apply. E-mail Dana Brigham (dana@brooklinebooksmith.com), she's a good judge of character. She's grouped together this staff of booksellers, and she needs a few more. Maybe you'll get to sit in the chair I'm sitting in, be the new person who shelves history, or work in the Giftsmith. Maybe you'll really like hosting events and join our events team. Maybe you'll really like heading to Anna's Taqueria and getting a quesadilla with your new coworkers. Maybe you'll be excellent at puns.

I'll go gently into this good night. Goodbye, Brookline Booksmith. It's been fun.
My entire personality whittled down into a gif.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Inevitable Movie Post

Book!
I'm only going to do the one because I'm legitimately that excited about it.

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
IT'S HERE! IT'S FINALLY HERE! You need it in your life! NEED it. You have no idea. I might need to go reread it now, or maybe the whole trilogy...


This is the time for YA books. Not only that, this is also the time for YA movie adaptations. It seems like every time a YA book gets a decent following some studio or another is grabbing the rights. It seems like a good bet, I mean these are films with built in fan bases. What could go wrong?

Oh, so much.

If you're adapting existing text with existing fans into a movie that you've put so much money into promoting how do you mess it up? Is it bad casting? Bad screenwriting? Really bad CGI? We all seem willing to forgive the writers of the books for a multitude of sins, why not the screenwriters? Is it because the characters aren't their creations? It's not their world to play with? Whatever the reason we are all over bad movies.

But what makes an adaptation good? I know it's pretty subjective but there's usually some form of semi-consensus about the quality of the movie. People like it and stand up for it for the sake of their favorite book but they know it's not really that good.

I'm going to talk about and sort of rate some of the more recent attempts to find the next big YA adaptation.

The Fault in Our Stars
For a story like this one casting was essential. There are no big action sequences or wild plot twists to drive this movie. The weight of the entire story rests on the shoulders of whoever is playing Hazel and Augustus. They drive the story. Just them. I was skeptical when the casting was announced but they really won me over. They were exactly what the adaptation needed to be successful.


The Hunger Games (both)
These have a lot more going on in them. This is a blessing and a curse. There's so much plot that it's easier to hide any casting missteps (I'm still not sold on Kravitz as Cinna). The downside to this is that there's more material to cut. There are plenty of things that I really wish had been kept, a lot of world building and examples of just how terrible the Capitol is but I see why they cut what they did. Aside from Kravitz I think the casting is pretty solid. Lawrence owned the first movie and Sutherland is delightfully sinister as Snow. The movies are definitely flawed but they're still some of the best adaptations to pop up.


Vampire Academy
I can almost feel the eyerolls. If you saw the trailer for this you know how ridiculous it looked. It's true. It is definitely ridiculous in parts but, funny story, so are the books. The books cover all sorts of ground without taking themselves too seriously and the movie manged to do that. Sure, there are a lot of high school politics but the characters are 17 and in school, there should be. I was surprised when I saw it how awesome of a choice Zoey Deutch was for Rose. She was perfect. The movie didn't do well as a whole but it's a great adaptation. Unfortunately the plot of the series really starts in the next couple.

Divergent
I love these books and the movie is decent. It's more than decent and the cast surprised me, again. But I had a major problem with how the end was handled and how much they softened Tris' character. If it weren't for that I would have loved this one much more (but seriously, she doesn't hesitate)! They took a major plot point for the series and blunted it to make it more palatable for audiences and I think that was a mistake.


City of Bones
Okay...so...this one wasn't the best and that really surprised me. The Mortal Instruments fanbase is pretty rabid (I mean that in a good way, I swear). They were all over this movie. All over it and they're not small in number. No one in the cast was what I imagined but they were all the same sort of off so they worked as a whole. But they changed too much in the story to make it outside audience friendly and I think that made them lose people that should have stuck with them. Also, the humor in the series is all in Clare's fast-paced snarky dialogue and they tossed in too much slapstick to make up for the lack of snark.


Beautiful CreaturesThe tricky thing about this movie seemed to be translating a book where there's a male protagonist into a movie that would appeal to it's primarily female fanbase. I don't know why this is tricky. Ethan is a great protagonist. He's, hands down, my favorite character in the series. But the movie somehow managed to become more about Lena, which would be okay, but I never felt like it was quite as much her story as it was Ethan's and then completely changing the end, pretty much doomed the last two books in the series. They managed to take this great story with this amazing setting and mangle it. And they had such a great cast! Jeremy Irons! Emma Thompson! How do you mess that up?


I used to be one of those hardcore "BUT HE DOES'T HAVE GREEN EYES!' 'THAT'S NOT WHO SAYS THAT' people. Admittedly, the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban ruined that for me. After that, nothing felt quite so bad (admittedly, I have a soft spot for Marauders and they were just gone). Now, I hope that they cast well and do the spirit of the book justice and try not to hope for too much.

And I think that's where adaptations sink and swim. Fault in Our Stars is such a good adaptation because the filmmakers knew who their audience was. They kept in the lines and the jokes that people wanted (I honestly think that helped Twilight too). They made the movie for fans of the book and the fans of the book (while already numerous) responded to that. They didn't try to make something that clearly already had wide appeal different to give it wider appeal (that rarely seems to work). They trusted their audience to take care of the project and the audience did.

So, here's to hoping that the filmmakers of If I Stay (friday!) and Maze Runner (September 19th) chose to trust the audience to take care of the film (I've already heard mixed things about The Giver).

-Amy

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jamie's Summer 2014

This summer has gone by in a flash. Maybe it was the reappearance of the polar vortex, reducing the nights I fell asleep with my face pressed against my a/c unit dramatically. Maybe it was because I started being excited about summer at the end of April. Maybe it was actually a short summer.

A lot of things squeezed themselves into this summer. I had a week-long vacation. My events team and I won Boston Magazine's Best of Boston 2014 Best Reading Series. I discovered the joy of having an undercut when it is humid outside. I lost my office key at least 20 times. I bought a bird from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum gift shop. Garrison Keillor rubbed my hair. I read at least 30, if not 40 books this summer. I discovered how wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert is. I went to the beach. I planned our fall event calendar. I had a good time.

I'll end this with my submission for the Booksmith Staff Talent Show. I wrote a sestina about spatial reasoning and filmed myself in my parents' backyard in the Southwest. It was 107 degrees outside, and I would have done more takes if I thought I could survive any longer. My siblings helped out by showing off their skills (my sister is especially brilliant at it but not when she's trying really hard not to laugh), and poetic magic was born. Enjoy.

video

Monday, August 11, 2014

Shut up and listen, and other bookselling tips from an almost-alum

Friends, you have no idea how much fun I've had blathering at you about kids' books every other week. But two weeks from now, I'll be settling into a new job at The Horn Book. Only a venue for even more blathering about kids' books would get me to leave the Booksmith, where I've learned so much and gotten to know so many people worth knowing. In my parting post, I thought I'd share some advice for current and future booksellers.

Shut up and listen. When I started, I thought "being helpful" meant "letting information pour from my mouth as fast as possible." Sorry, customers who encountered me in my first few months. If I had paused when you said, "I'm looking for a gift for an eight-year-old," you would probably have told me more, whether it was "she loves funny books" or "I don't really know him, but I remember loving poetry around that age, so maybe that would work." We would've arrived at a better gift, and probably faster.

Be ready to switch gears. You might find yourself discussing The Hunger Games and Moo, Baa, La La La! in the same breath. You also might find your day going from sleepy to crazy in the time it takes the door to swing open and the phone to ring (simultaneously, of course).

Language barriers aren't immovable. Most people will get the gist of, and appreciate, a friendly "Finding everything okay?" And here, at least, books are physical objects that you can show people. One thing I've noticed, very anecdotally: "How many years?" makes more sense than "How old is (s)he?" to speakers of a lot of languages.

When in doubt, handsell like Clarissa. This involves jumping up and down, hugging the book, and declaring, "GAAAAH! THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! SO GOOOOOOOOD!" It works.

Or literally handsell, like Amy. This involves getting a tattoo on your forearm of a quote from the book you'd like to recommend.  (In Amy's case, the book is Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley.) 

Twitter likes puns. The store's social media platform is a great place to mistweet the English language.


Know whom to ask.  You're probably surrounded by experts in every niche of the book industry. Getting to know people's tastes, including but not limited to the sections they run, gives you access to a wealth of information.

Know how to figure it out for yourself. That perfect person to ask won't always be available. Pay attention to what you're ringing up a lot. Pay attention at rep nights. Pay attention to back room conversations. Try to know what the bestsellers are, and know that everything can be Googled, including "If you liked [bestselling title]."

Do not get emotionally involved with the eight-by-eight spinner.  Pouring your heart and soul into the organization of the Barbie, Thomas, Spiderman, Spongebob, Caillou, Clifford, Dora, Disney, Pixar, Batman, Superman, Power Rangers, and Scooby-Doo books will only result in heartbreak.

Wear comfortable clothes on Tuesdays, especially in fall and spring.  There will be new releases. You may find yourself building cardboard displays, destroying old ones, and bringing huge quantities of overstock up and down ladders.

If you attend a store event, hang out until the end of the signing line. A bunch of us got to chat with Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan. We're totes besties now. No biggie.

Don't let fall stress you out. People may be a little on edge as they prepare for The Holiday Season. You may find yourself thinking, "If we're stressed now, what will The Actual Season be like?" But once The Season starts (November), bookselling gets a lot more fun. Oh, it's busy and exhausting. But for the most part, everyone's in a sugar-fueled good mood as they push their favorite books out the door. And if you're lucky, you might even have a boss who hires a masseuse for her aching employees!

Try to eat something besides sugar in November and December.

When award season nears, don't shrink-wrap anything eligible for a Caldecott. If it wins, you'll want to put it up on display, and customers will want to check inside to see if you have a first printing.

Pay attention to the larger book community. You might just get clued into something like the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement or its bookselling-specific baby, the Great Greene Challenge. 

Pay attention to your own community. Local schools play a major role in our kids' section, particularly when summer reading lists come out. If you suddenly get two or three requests for a title that's not normally a bestseller, ask if there's a school reading it or discussing it or putting on a play about it. If there is, get more copies as fast as you can.

Shop local. Dude, you get a discount. 

Always offer help, unless it's July and the customer is searching for Waldo.

Get to know your coworkers. They are awesome.

Stay in touch with departing coworkers. This is more a request than a tip.

Thank you, Booksmith, and thank you, Brookline.