Friday, July 30, 2010

The Nth Defense of Physical Books

Dear Books,
I love you all. I do. But it has occured to me that the ones of you I'm fondest of, the ones that make me happiest when I think of you taking up space in my tiny apartment, are the ones that have called to me. I bought you for no other reason than that I absolutely could not live without you. I tried. I didn't buy you the first time I saw you. But I kept thinking about you. I hadn't heard good things about you (which is, by the way, bookseller parlance for "I have never seen that book before in my life, but I cannot bear to discredit my bookseller omniscience by admitting it."), hadn't read the ARC months earlier, hadn't seen you reviewed in the NYT. There was just something about you-- the stubbly texture of your cover, your smartly deckled edges, your elegant french flaps, the sharp relief of graphic color on color. By the time I had picked you up, it was all over. Something is out there by Richard Bausch, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt, Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca. You simply called to me. I had to answer.


Deborah Blumenthal answers our Top Five

Deborah Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and nutritionist who now divides her time between writing children's books and adult novels. She has been a regular contributor to The New York Times (including four years as the Sunday New York Times Magazine beauty columnist), and a home design columnist for Long Island Newsday. She'll be reading and signing her new picture book, The Blue House Dog, on Saturday, July 31st at 11am at the bookstore.

1. What's on your nightstand right now?

The Liars' Club by Mary Karr and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

2. How do you write?

Writing is my full-time job, but that doesn't mean I work a 40-hour week. When I'm in the middle of a project and it's going well, I can work from morning until night. If I'm not in the middle of a project or I'm working on something that isn't going well, I waste enormous amounts of time surfing websites like and Whether I'm productive or not, I always work in a quiet area.

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer.
I married a writer – a reporter for The New York Times - and after that I began to think of everything in life as potential copy. I’m a nutritionist and my very first published piece was a New York Times story that my husband and I wrote jointly, about my attempts to convert him to vegetarianism. I wasn’t successful, but at least he stopped eating grilled franks with melted cheese.

4. What are you working on now?
More picture books and a YA novel.

5. Favorite recent find?

Definitely the lobster roll I had at the Beach Plum in North Hampton. In terms of books, I loved Sweethearts, a YA novel by Sara Zarr.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Elizabeth Dembrowsky answers our Top Five

Elizabeth Dembrowsky has written and directed several plays, including one for the Samuel French Festival in New York City. A native of Stroughton, Massachusetts, she studied at Boston University and The Warwick Writing Programme in the UK. She'll be sharing from her new novel, My Monk: A Typographic Novel, on Monday, July 26th at 7pm at the bookstore.

1. What's on your nightstand right now?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

2. How do you write?

I write everywhere and anywhere. When I lived in England, I tended to keep a schedule but here in NYC I havent. I wrote about 1/2 of My Monk in offices around Manhattan while working as a temp. My new novel, I work on a lot at home but also when traveling- I am enjoying allowing the place to make its way into the story- an experiment I hope the readers will enjoy. I usually dont listen to music when I write (if I can help it), but for poetry I almost always do. My Confessions series were highly influenced by both R.E.M. and Madonna's album American Life.

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer.

When I would be careful as I wrote my diary entries- sure the world would read them one day. Fortunately, they havent; a good thing partly because they are sooooo boring.
4. What are you working on now?

My second novel To Save One. I love writing this story and cannot wait for readers to tell me what they think of it.

5. Favorite recent find?

Semi-recent but I found a husband. Pretty wild- never thought I would find one but am thrilled I have.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Big thanks to two Exeter independent shops

We had a reception here over the weekend with the American Booksellers Association, which was great fun. The board flew in from all over the country for their meeting, and we did the wine and cheese thing here Friday night. I just want to say a quick but enthusiastic thank you to two local Exeter shops for their help with the reception: La Cave a Vin and Hannah's. Laura at La Cave a Vin put together an amazing display of wine, cheese and fruit for a very reasonable price. She also carefully set up the table and made everything look lovely. And the wonderful people at Hannah's donated a big bag with hummus, tabbouleh and other treats if we put out their menus. Hannah's has both hot and cold items and a great dessert case. The people there are always incredibly friendly and accommodating. La Cave a Vin has wine and gourmet cheese, in a range of prices, as well as wine tastings and classes. La Cave is located at 103 Water Street and Hannah's is at 130 Water Street. Let's support our independent Exeter!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Random Shelf Talker

Day For Night by Frederick Reiken

After I finished reading this novel, I heard someone describe the 10 chapters in the book as 10 short stories. Thinking about it that way after I had finished added another layer to this already wonderfully layered, complex, dreamlike novel.

Each chapter brings the reader to a new place, with a new character, and it is the reader's job to decipher what is important, what must carry over, what symbols to hold on to, which characters to listen to. It's a more complex way to read a book, but ultimately, so much more satisfying than a normal read.

Great writing, full characters, and a story with emotional heft. This compelling and fascinating novel will keep you guessing until the last page.