Saturday, April 26, 2008


Hey there Crafters! The first-ever Odyssey Crafternoon was a big success! Thanks to all of you who came in on such a lovely day outside. We really had a grande ole tyme.

For those of you who may be wondering what a "Crafternoon" is, let me explain. One Saturday each month, the Odyssey will hold a Crafternoon, during which time people are welcome to bring whatever sort of craft project on which they are currently working. The months will alternate between an adult's Crafternoon and a Kids Crafternoon. The adult Crafternoon will always have a theme, featuring either an author or a particular craft, though crafters of all kinds are invited to bring their projects. Each adult Crafternoon will also feature a Bagshare Sewing Circle - the Odyssey has recently become a part
of the Pioneer Valley Bagshare Project, where we sew bags made from donated material, with the idea of eventually becoming paper and plastic bag-free. The Kids Krafternoon will always feature a new type of ATC or Artist Trading Card. ATCs are baseball card-sized cards that kids can decorate in all sorts of ways. The idea is children will become inspired by the world around them, using different mediums to decorate their cards, and then trade them with each other at different Krafternoons. Children are also welcome to bring whatever type of craft project they are working on themselves, but we will also provide some simple fun crafts for kids to do.

This first Crafternoon was for adults, but featured an author who read and discussed sharing crafts with kids. Amanda Blake Soule, author of The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nuture Family Connections (Paperback, 9781590304716, $14.95), read a chapter from her book that focused on crafting inspired by nature (to celebrate one of the first beautiful days of spring), signed books, and answered questions about all kinds of crafting with kids. She also has a blog in case you're interested in reading more about her; she also has a new book coming out next year with lots of craft projects in it!

We supplied three sewing machines (Thanks to Leni and Cathy of the Bagshare project for donating two machines to us, and to Darcy for bringing her's in that day), and got three bags sewn! Our Bagshare goal is 400, but we're making a good start with 12 bags sewn at the time of this posting.

Other crafts which people brought and/or discussed during the afternoon included knitting, crocheting, various types of felting, quilting, and scrapbooking. One woman brought in a beautiful book she was quilting/felting and then sewing together for her child. It was so great to see all that creative energy at work, sharing ideas, and discussing all the ins-and-outs as only another true Crafter could appreciate.

Next month, Saturday, May 3rd, is our first Kids Krafternoon! We will be decorating some of the Bagshare bags, making our first ATCs (featuring an Odyssey stamp!), and possibly making some sock puppets.

The tentative theme for June is Scrapbooking! We are hoping to feature a scrapbooking expert, ready to answer any and all questions about everything from how to get started to design concepts to best materials and everything in between. So start saving those pictures!

For more information on Bagshare or on the adult Crafternoons or Kids Krafternoons, contact Rebecca.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quick Review - The Resurrectionist

Hello Dear Readers,

Hope you're all well. Brian Hall is in the store tonight reading from his newest novel, Fall of Frost. I'm downstairs and the event is upstairs so I can't tell you anything more specific about it. I'm sure it is wonderful.

Last night I finished The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell. I finished the book, and I enjoyed it most of the time, but I can't give it a rousing recommendation. The novel is made up of two interwoven storylines which ultimately share space in some common reality. The gritty realist storyline is centered around Sweeney, a pharmacist whose 6-year-old son fell into a surprise coma. A couple of months after 'the incident' his wife kills herself, and our story begins as Sweeney brings his son, Danny, to a state-of-the-art (and yet creepily gloomy) extended-care facility which specializes in waking the coma-struck. Debates over the levels and types of consciousness experienced by coma patients continue throughout the book, making the simple term 'unconscious' somewhat inappropriate. Sweeney slogs through thick grief while beginning his new job at the clinic, moving into his down-trodden apartment, and trying to take care of his son in whatever capacity possible. Meanwhile in storyline number two a band of good-hearted circus freaks in a fictional Bohemian country are forced to leave their home-circus and strike out on their own to discover some hidden destiny. Check out a more complete and better written review here, I'm running out of time to explain everything (oh, and I have some issues with O'Connell's female characters, both were heavily sexualized and commanded tremendous power, but in subservient ways and with weirdly superficial personalities. Oh wait, I'm forgetting most of the nurses, who for the most part were not sexualized) so, to summarize, this novel is a surreal, grimy, dreamy journey with some exciting sections, some engaging ideas and enough strangeness to keep things moving, but something a smidge less than a satisfying union of strands. I look forward to hearing him speak (Here! At The Odyssey! On 4/16-08! Come ask him yourself about how the Abominations match up to the Limbo Freaks!), and you should all come too. It should be fun. Best,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mary Jo Salter - Tonight

Hello Dear Readers,

As you may know, the Odyssey Bookshop has a deep and ongoing friendship with Mount Holyoke College, which gives us a bit of an 'in' when faculty members publish something new. Tonight's event is another celebration of faculty work, this time in poetry.

Mary Jo Salter, author of numerous poetry collections, will read from her newest book tonight (4/10/08) at the Odyssey Bookshop at 7pm. The book, A Phone Call to the Future, has gotten some great reviews and it is always exciting to hold a faculty event. Did I mention that Salter (see interview here) is MHC faculty? ;) This is going to be a lot of fun, and y'all should all be here for it. To be honest I am not so good at keeping up with the poetry world, but I know a lot of you out there are and this post is for you guys.

My relationship with poetry is sort of ... rocky. I wrote some angsty stuff as a teen, studied it (as a genre? a style? a form of written art?) in college a bit, and think quite fondly of the poets I've known, but I find poetry to be quite an elusive art where much of what is published simply allows us to watch poets watching the art slip through their fingers, leaving us with words alone. It is strange, I enjoy poetry readings but rarely go to them, even for a dear friend whose work is wonderful. Something feels dangerous about such vulnerability in wordspace, I guess. But enough about me and poetry, what about you and poetry? What about you being brave and stepping out to the poetry event tonight? It will be good.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Pulitzer

Hello Dear Readers,

So that competition I posted about on Monday? Between The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Remainder? It has been rendered completely absolutely moot (although still entertaining). Junot Diaz won The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction on Tuesday for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, therefore he totally wins. This is a really excellent book, and you should all read it right now. It was our September '07 selection for the First Edition Club, so we went through a lot of copies of it last year, and I saved a damaged (destroy/donate for publisher credit sometimes means donate to me) copy for Diaz to sign while he was here. It was great to chat with him, great to hear him read, and sort-of-great to ask him to sign my damaged copy and awkwardly mumble about how it won't become a collector's edition or anything, only to say 'wait, I mean, because it's damaged, not because it's not great because it is totally great and I'm sure it'll become a collector's edition, just not my copy, see, 'cause...' Oy. I blogged about it here on the *old* blog, and I guess I raved about it a bit there, but now that Junot has won a big huge major prize, I'm ready to confess. That man smells fantastic. I think I had a smell-crush on him for weeks after that event, heck I guess I still do, and I still imagine writing him a letter to ask what his secret is. But people keep assuring me that that would cross one of those 'appropriate behavior' lines, so I'll just post about it in a public place. Junot, if you ever stumble across this post, I imagine you have forgotten me, but you smell unforgettable. Thanks for visiting the store.

That's all for now. Did I mention that it is spring out here? I've got tulip sprouts out front! We have sold out of signed firsts of Oscar Wao, but we do have copies of the book in stock, so come buy them. Best,

Sunday, April 6, 2008

And another thing...

Please please please check out this competition between two of my favorite books of 2007. Well, one was much more my favorite than the other, and one seemed somewhat self-indulgent in a slightly less-fun way to read, but you should read them both just to be a well-rounded individual. After checking out the fight, of course! Best,
(Thanks to Megan Sullivan's Bookdwarf blog for this. Ok, maybe she posted it a month ago and I forgot to mention it, but it is mentioned now, ok? ok.)

Sex and Science

Hello Dear Readers!

Are you enjoying the new blog format? This thing is really picking up, huh? I'm so proud (*wipes tear*). I haven't picked up many new books this week, but I did read a good one a little while ago. I've been waiting for its release date (April '08) to tell you about it.

Mary Roach, author of the gripping Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, has brought us another installation in what I like to think of as her 'super-popular popular science' series. Roach is so good at finding topics which are totally captivating yet somewhat taboo, and presenting a comprehensive and entertaining compendium of scientific research on the subject. In this newest book, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Roach takes us through a history of scientific research into sexual physiology. It is an educational, and sometimes racy, ride. Somehow Roach manages to avoid any sense of vulgarity, using an occasional splash of cheerful naughtiness to diffuse possibly uncomfortable discussions (artificial insemination of livestock, for example) and clear language to keep the narrative focus on the scientific research at hand. It is, however, completely about sex and thus not for the underage, anti-science, or anti-sex crowds. I don't think I'll lend it to my grandmother (although she might like it), but I think my aunts would get a kick out of it. Whether you would give this book to a parent definitely depends on the sort of relationship you have with them, but it is great fun to read and even more fun to pass around. I am waiting for my housemates to finish it so we can giggle about Danish pig farms together. Check out this review for a more complete explanation of why they are giggle-worthy, but you really *really* should read this book. It'll make you a better mammal.

Take care everyone! And yes, just like my previous posts this post is very specifically about spring (think about it), so Happy Spring! I dunno about your yard, but mine is full of crocus. brag brag brag. Be Well, and come visit the store! Best,

Friday, April 4, 2008

Meanwhile in another part of the wood...

Hey there--

As Darcy mentioned in an earlier post, I'm headed out to Germany soon. (Whoot! A humanities major actually doing something relevant to her major!) Oh! and an update on Caitlin-- she'll be moving to Japan in July to teach English for a year. This was at the top of her list for things to do after graduation, so we're all thrilled for her!

I thought I'd post a few highlights of working at the Odyssey over the past 2 years--

*The staff...Joan's Tailgate runs for chocolate (and occasionally fruit); Bob's encyclopedic knowledge; Darcy's humor; Jillian's stories... the list goes on...
*Spending all day in a room full of books. Lots and lots of interesting books.
*All of the interesting, intelligent & fun conversations that occur throughout the day with customers and among staff.
*The clientele-- seriously. Like all of Patrice's helpful advice in solving my sinus issues; Mrs. Parks' frequent visits; Guy's nose for good literature; Nancy's bulk mystery special orders...
*Management. At what other place is something unexpectedly coming up in some one's life NOT a complete crisis?!
*Dennis Lehane 'rescuing' me from the bar chart stand, after it'd toppled over on top of me.
*Eating dinner with Dr. Nick Trout...I will never EVER look at hedgehogs or puffer fish the same way again.
*The fact that everyone here actually *cares* about the world around them, whether it be environmental, political or social concerns.
*Mylaring 100+ books in an afternoon because somehow it got overlooked and the author showed up a couple hours early...
*All of the sleuthing work done in trying to place a precise book in a customer's hands and "Ah-ha!" moments produced along the way.

That's it for now...I'll try to add on as I remember them!



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Event tonight at the Odyssey Bookshop

Hi, everyone,

Just a reminder that that Odyssey Bookshop will be hosting author Lauren Groff (Amherst College Graduate) at the store this evening (4/3) at 7 p.m. for a reading and signing of her new novel, The Monsters of Templeton.

The book is amazing and after all the hype it's received (including an appearance on the BookSense Bestseller List and endorsements from Stephan King and novelist, Lorrie Moore), we are thrilled to have her stop by.

If you're unable to attend tonight, or simply read this too late, and you want a signed copy, please feel free to give us a ring. We can ship books anywhere in the nation or you can swing by and pick it up if you're local.

For those of you are interested in learning more about the author, visit Lauren's blog at

Music fans will be particularly interested in her post about the CD her younger sister made her - a "soundtrack" to the novel. Fans of "Belle and Sebastian", "The Stars", and other indie rock bands will love this compilation. All songs are available on ITunes.

Emily R.