Wednesday, April 20, 2011

C.S. Lambert answers our Top Five

C.S. Lambert is an expert on sea glass hunting and is the author of three books on sea glass: Sea Glass Chronicles, A Passion for Sea Glass, and the Sea Glass Hunter's Handbook. She will be sharing about her seaglunking adventures, giving tips on how to find great sea glass, and will be identifying your own treasures, this Saturday at the bookstore at 2pm.

1. What's on your nightstand right now?

All the Best Rubbish by Ivor Noel Hume.

2. How do you write?

I write full-time, and I need relative silence when I’m working. I can’t write when my husband is digging through his CD collection in the next room, or when he is vacuuming, or when he is watching a horror movie so loud that I can hear it on the 3rd floor. I write primarily in my office and edit the following morning at the kitchen table with coffee.

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

Several months after my first book came out, someone recognized me from my author photo. I was in a hardware store buying materials to build a fence.

4. What are you working on now?
A book on simple sea glass crafts; a murder mystery; a peculiar photo anthology.

5. Favorite recent find?
At an auction I bought a well-worn, well-loved rocking horse from the late 1800s.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What we learned from our listening session

A big huge thank you to all the customers who came out Tuesday night to our 20th Anniversary kick-off/listening session. It was a great success. We learned a lot about what you love about Water Street, what you didn't know that we already do (we give a 20% discount for book groups--just ask!), and what you want us to do moving forward. We got some great ideas (kids' birthday parties in the store! customers annotating books on our website! more books in translation!) and some fantastic energy and enthusiasm for new projects. A few ideas:

1. Volunteer effort through Water Street Bookstore into the local schools to encourage reading. After a customer asked about what we are doing to energize the schools to promote reading, Dan talked about the 10 years he spent reading to 2nd graders once a week at Kensington Elementary. Though he has since stopped doing it, to focus more of his time in the store, he agreed that the store is a natural facilitator for a literacy project like this. Promoting reading grows readers, who support the store with their families and help to create a more educated citizenry-- good things all around. Several people spoke up to say that they are retired and would love to volunteer. Stay tuned (though in the meantime, Rockingham Community Action has a great literacy volunteer program, too).

2. "Exeter Reads." Lesley Haslam, director of adult education at Exeter Adult Ed, shared about "Dover Reads," a town-wide initiative to encourage everyone to read the same book and discuss, like a giant book group. Many cities and towns across America have successfully run these programs and Exeter seems like a perfect fit.

3. Help Exeter residents become more engaged in town politics. When Jill Sweeney-Bosa asked if the changes to Swasey Parkway and Water Street (both are becoming one-way streets to protect damaged culverts) would affect downtown businesses, many people spoke up with frustration at the lack of resident participation in the recent town election (in which a warrant article to fix the culverts did not pass, among others). As a community center for Exeter residents, making Water Street a forum for discussion and education about issues discussed at deliberative sessions and articles on the ballot seems like a perfect fit. It wouldn't be a matter of pointing people in one direction or the other-- increasing resident participation would be the goal.

4. You want to hear what ideas we have percolating. Jane Bernhardt asked what new initiatives and ideas we're working on. Though we had run out of time, we agreed that pitching our ideas to our customers in a town-hall style forum like Tuesday night's is a great idea. We are already hard at work on a list of ideas and programs to pitch in the coming months. Stay tuned.

One last note: We meant to talk about a few little things that our customers can do to help us stick around for another 20 years, but we ran out of time. Here are a few:

1. Come to our events! The more people who come to the events, the more events we can do with authors you're interested in. Once we prove to the publishers that we can draw big audiences, they'll start sending us more and more great authors.

2. Forward on our newsletter. Help us spread the word!

3. Order your book group books through us. We'll get them in, set them aside, and give you a 20% discount. Good deal!

4. Tell your kids' educators and other parents that we offer a 15% discount on books for the classroom (15% off books for any public place--libraries, waiting rooms, churches, etc).

5. Bring a bag. We'll always offer bags, but this is one of those little things that you can do to help us keep operations costs down.

6. Support your downtown businesses. We've got it all in Exeter-- gift shops, toy stores, candy stores, wine shops, clothing boutiques, book stores, sports/hiking equipment shops, jewelry stores, florists, a copy & design shop, antique stores and great restaurants. A healthy vibrant downtown is good for everyone! Thanks again for coming out to support us on Tuesday night. And stay posted for more 20th Anniversary events throughout the year.

Jean-Paul's Picks for May 2011

  1. Last Men Out by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin (Non Fiction, May 3rd) Story of the very last days, hours, and minutes of the last Marines to leave Vietnam when Saigon was overrun by the North Vietnamese troops.

  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth (Fiction Young Adult, May 3rd) As promising as the Hunger Games series.

  3. These Dark Things by Jan Weiss (Mystery, May 10th) Meet Captain Natalia Monte of the Neapolitan Carabinieri, discover Naples above -and under the ground, but watch out for the Camorra.

  4. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (Non Fiction, May 10th) Amazing story about an American Ambassador and his family in the midst of rising Nazi Germany.

  5. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (Mystery, May 10th) Be glad that the snow is gone ... Another great Scandinavian author!

  6. The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry (Mystery, May 17th) One of the best in the "Cotton Malone Series."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Elizabeth Berg answers our Top Five

Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Berg is also the author of a nonfiction work, Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago and her latest book is Once Upon a Time, There Was You. She'll be reading at the bookstore Tuesday, April 19th at 7pm.

1. What's on your nightstand right now? On my nightstand? Get ready! Tea Obrecht's The Tiger's Wife, Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie, Alice Hoffman's The Red Garden, Cynthia Ozick's Foreign Bodies, Eula's Bliss's Notes from No Man's Land (essays), Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, Alex Munthe's The Story of San Michele. Needless to say, I like to read a lot of books at once. And I have a huge tower of books waiting to replace these. I'm a book pig; I just can't get enough.

2. How do you write? I've been writing full time since 1985. I like to write in silence, in my office. I jump up every now and then for this and that, but mostly it's pretty intensely focused. I usually write for about 4 hours straight.

3. Name the first time or moment you realized you were a writer. I wrote truly awful poetry as a kid. At nine, I submitted a poem to American Girl magazine, which promptly rejected it. And should have. But oh, the tears. I guess I've always understood that writing is my vehicle for expressing things, and for coming to understand things.

4. What are you working on now? A non-fiction book that's a kind of fractured memoir mixed with my views on various aspects of life. There's a lot in there about dealing with aging parents, there are travel pieces and recipes, there are many confessions.

5. Favorite recent find? Amos Lee, Blood, Bones and Butter, a recipe for macaroni and cheese I found that doesn't have a bazillion calories, and a puppy I found online that I really want to adopt.