Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All I Want for the Holidays...

Faces have been stuffed, candles lit, carols sung, and all other manner of holiday traditions, whatever your winter holiday of choice, have been perpetrated. It is now time to take stock and think of those things you actually wanted for the holidays.

Here are the big ticket items on my wishlist for this year:

The Spice Kitchen: Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices
by Sara
Engra & Katie Luber, with Kimberly Toge
Andrews McMeel Pu
blishing (Simon & Schuster), 9780740779725, $29.99

New Year's Resolution: Learn how to cook more varied foods with more varied spices.

Here is a link to p
urchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to McMeel's website review.
Here is an in-dept
h review of the book on a cooking blog.
Here is a link to a great spice company on my way to work, for all of you who live in the area.

French General: Home Sewn: 30 Projects for Every Room in the House
by Kaari Meng, photographs by Jon Zabala
Chronicle Books,
9780811864039, $24.95

What's wonderful about this book - in addition to the stunning photographs of vintage French fabrics - is that almost all the projects are things you might actually need or use. There's no rule that because something has a utilitarian function, it can't also be beautifully designed.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Chronicle's website review.
Here is a wonderful review of this book on a great sewing blog.
Here is a link to Kaari Meng's French General store's website.

One Yard Wonders
by Rebecca Yaker & Patricia Hoskins, photographs by John Gruen & Raina Kattelson

Storey Publishing (Workman), 9781603424493, $20.95

With 101 projects in here, patterns, instructions, and bright photographs detailing everything, it's the perfect book for thinking ahead to presents for next year.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Storey's website review.
Here is a great review on a blog I'm going to have to check out again.

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life
by Todd Oldham, illustrated by Charley Harper
Ammo Book
s (IPS), 9781934429372, $49.95

This book fuels my obsession with Charley Harper to the point that it reaches almost a fever-pitch of adoration. His illustrations are so clean yet delicately detailed. The animals, bugs, and backdrops simultaneously pay homage to geometric considerations while producing child-friendly images. His attention to overall design is masterful, and this book shows you how and why.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is a link to Ammo's website review.
Here are one, two, three links to different websites with lots of Charley Harper information, as well as prints for sale.

Junk Beautiful: Outdoor Edition
by Sue Whitney, with Kimberly Melamed, photographs by Douglas E. Smith
Taunton Press (IPS),
9781600850578, $21.95

Last but not least, I can't help but look ahead to the summer, dreaming of scavenging through yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for backyard decor. Not only are the photographs a great inspiration for how I can use all my freecycle and other "junk", but there are even DIY projects with step-by-step descriptions, if anyone wants to get particularly crafty.

Here is a link to purchase it from the Odyssey.
Here is Taunton's website review.
Here is the JunkMarket Style website.

Now, after spending weeks shopping for everyone else, I can settle down and enjoy a couple of books just for me. I highly recommend all of you do the same.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things!

As 2009 winds down I am reminded of all the great books I read this past year! Here are a few of my favorite books to hit the shelf in 2009! In no particular order...

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman. The Magicians is truly one of the most engrossing reads I have picked up as of late. It is the story of Quentin Coldwater who is literally leaving childhood behind and all of his belief in magic he has so desperately tried to hold onto. As Quentin goes to visit an admission counselor to a University he encounters a strange woman who hands him the script to the final book of a series that Quentin enjoyed reading as a child. As the pages fly out of Quentin’s hands and into a community garden he is transported into a world where magic is real. But here the problems really begin because when one is able to do whatever one chooses does that mean you will necessarily make the right choice? I stayed up reading this book all night. It was that good!

CARVER Collected Stories by Raymond Carver. In this economy more than ever getting the best bang for your buck is on most people’s minds. So why am I recommending that you spend forty dollars on a book of older collected works of a dead writer? Because Carver was a master storyteller and writer. He belongs to the class of great writers like Tobias Wolf, Charles Bukowski and Richard Ford. But even among these and most writers Carver was the king of minimalist writing. He is a writer’s writer and a reader’s delight. Carver looked at detail, but made the experience he was writing about, universal. A rare find of a short fiction writer. This collection was put together by Carver’s widow Tess Gallagher who disagreed with some of the original editing made on Carver’s stories. This complete collection is most definitely the best bang for your buck! I hope you enjoy as much as I have reading Carver over the years.

Goat Song by Brad Kessler. This is probably one of the best surprise books I have picked up all year long. Goat Song is Brad Kessler’s memoir, after being fed up with city life; he sets up a goat farm with his wife in Vermont. What follows are the joys, struggles and surprises that come with a year of raising and being raised in a pastoral life. Kessler has a language that is poetic in telling his story as well as the story of how pastoralism still plays a big part in our everyday lives.

Sylvia and Bird, by Catherine Rayner. Sylvia a blue-green dragon, and bird, a little yellow duck-like creature, share few things in common. But their friendship, and love of flying are what make this pair. Rayner sensitively captures the story of an unlikely friendship and the desire of fulfilling one friend's wish at the sacrifice of another. While at first glance the pictures are simple watercolors, they are ones that belong in any child's permanent library!

That's it for now! I will blog about my other favorite books of 2009 later.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ode to Miroslav Sasek

One of the perks of my job is that I'm often introduced to new authors, illustrators, and their books through customer requests and recommendations. This holiday season in particular has been one scavenger hunt after another for new treasures. Today was no exception.

A customer came in requesting a book she thought was entitled This is London. A quick search revealed an entire series of This is... books, written and illustrated by Mr. Miroslav Sasek.

"M. Sasek was born
in Prague in 1916 and died in Switzerzerland in 1980. He worked as a painter and illustrator for most of his life. Starting with This is Paris published in 1958, the books he wrote painted a delightful and evocative picture of some of the world's great cities (and countries!). Having delighted children and adults for more than 50 years they are now being reissued." - according to his website, which has lots of other cool information you should check out.

Lucky for us who did not live through the 50's, almost all of his books in the This is... series are now back in print (other books of his can be found doing a rare and out-of-print book search - this is a good website for that). In addition to ordering 3 titles for the customer, I also ordered a complete set for the store - and am really hoping I have enough self-control to not buy them all myself!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tis the season to give Twilight... spoofs

Parodies, Spoofs, and Satires Oh my!

If like me (and most of the Odyssey Staff) your family and friends have been bitten by the Twilight series, but you don't have any idea what to get that Twilight fan for the holidays let me refer you to some perfect gift ideas!

Look no further for some hilarious books put out recently. I am referring to of course the Harvard Lampoon's Nightlight and Vlad Mezrich's The Vampire is Just Not that into You.

We have both at the Odyssey and might I say they make perfect gifts and laughs!

Paz ~Nieves

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Full of Holiday Cheer!

To the brim in fact! If you find yourself in search of a unique or special gift for that unique and special someone we have some signed stock from our holiday author book signing.

It was a very fun and successful event this year! And it included some of our best local authors, artists and artisans!

This year varied in that it was the first time we had adult authors in addition to children book authors.

The list of authors who attended were as follows:

Author Corrine Demas
Author Lawrence Dorfman
Illustrator Jane Dyer
Author Tracy Kidder
Author Janet Lawler
Artist/Illustrator Barry Moser
Author and Knitter Extraordinaire Kristin Nicholas
Author Jane Yolen

If you are looking for a signed copy of any of these author's books we may have it! Click here for more information. Or if you are looking for a signed copy of any of the authors books we have had recently feel free to give us a call!

Peace on Earth!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hanukkah 2009!

With Hanukkah only 10 days away
we have some fabulous Hanukkah
treats, gifts, books and stuff galore!

Gold coins, dreidels, and books oh my! Great gifts for tots both young and old!

And this year we are pleased to carry some beautiful menorahs and mezuzahs.

If you are looking for a good Hanukkah tale we also carry some classic literature that is sure to entertain guests and family at you holiday soiree!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Logicomix... the logical thing to read?

Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou is a great new read and gift for the logician/mathematician/philosopher/ graphic novel reader in your life. It follows Betrand Russell on his epic search for truth.
The story line starts with the creators of the book coming together to write the novel, silmultaneously during a lecture that Russell gives on the eve of WWII. Rather than being a cut and dry look at Russell's life work, a body of which very few people would understand, and even fewer would be willing to read, this work follows Russell throughout his life. Telling his personal history in such a way that is interesting for even those who might not necessarily be on any great search for truth themselves.
The book has a cool website that readers can link to here.
To order a copy from the Odyssey click here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hilarious new read!

I just finished reading a memoir of one man's time at Hampshire college in the late 1980's. I have to say that Richard Rushfield's Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost was pretty hysterical.

Less than two decades after Hampshire College, an alternative to collegiate education, where students are encouraged to learn at their own pace, build their own curriculum and create their own majors, Rushfield enrolls as fresh faced student.

The memoir chronicles Rushfield's time on a campus filled with the subculture of subcultures. During his first year, the bulk of the book, he has a slew of adventures involving himself and a group known on campus as the "Supreme Dicks."

While college is definitely a time in many young people's lives where the search for self begins, it is, as Rushfield's title would suggest, often a long and winding road to self discovery, and sometimes with no real clear cut answers.

This memoir evokes a time in the childhood of a new college from one man's perspective that is laugh out loud funny.

Click here to order from the Odyssey.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Return of the Classics

Some of my favorite gifts to give are classic novels. This year it would seem that several publishers have taken to reformating some of their classic books for today's reader.

One new set has been bound in beautiful hardcover by Penguin.
They have selected some great reprinting ranging from Charle's Dicken's Great Expectations to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. These books are 20.00 each. Click here to order from the Odyssey.

Harper Collins republished several older writer's collections of short stories. These paperbacks have a nice pop/graphic art appeal to them and run around 10.00 each.
The authors ranged from Willa Cather and Fydor Dostoevsky to Oscar Wilde and Stephen Crane.
Click here to order from the Odyssey.

Here are a few other reprintings of classics that just came out this past week. I think that in a lot of ways these new bindings capture the mystery and passion that reading the book convey's.

Click here to order from the Odyssey.

Hope you enjoy as much as I do!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Bookselling in Crisis

Hello loyal Odyssey Bookshop Customers,

I am not generally an alarmist. Yet there have been some happenings as of late that have given me great concern., Wal-Mart (online), Target (online), and Sears (online) have entered into a price war that could shake the very foundation of the book industry, and subsequently, our independent bookstore, The Odyssey Bookshop. These big, primarily non-book retailers have begun offering new hardcover books by popular authors such as John Grisham, Stephen King, Sarah Palin, Barbara Kingsolver and the like, at enormous discounts. It began a few weeks ago with the new Dan Brown book, offered at up to 60% off online.

Let me explain very briefly that a book sold at a 60% discount, especially a new hardcover, is actually being sold at a loss for whatever establishment is selling it as such. In other words, not only did they not make any money on the book, they lost money on the book. Now, as much as the Odyssey loves connecting people with great books, we would not be able to do so if we did not turn some sort of profit. As a result, the Odyssey sold the book at a 20% discount, to thank our loyal customers who bought it from us, but which also allowed us to stay in business.

Back to the big corporates - as if the 60% off nonsense wasn't enough, they have entered into a price war with each other to see who can sell these new hardcovers for less. While you may think a book priced at $25-$30 being sold for $8.98 is a great deal for you, let me tell you why it is NOT:

Remember last winter when the Odyssey, and subsequently you, had the pleasure of being the only store in the country to host Stephen King and Richard Russo for their new novels? Well, say you bought the Stephen King or Richard Russo online. Do you think the publishers would send us these great authors if we had no book sales? Think again. The answer is NO.

That is just ONE of the MANY examples I could give you in concrete terms about how buying a new hardcover book online could affect us.

Now let me explain a more dire possible result - if a new author has slaved away on a magnum opus for years, and it finally gets published as a paperback original for $15.99 - but you bought an established author's new hardcover book for $8.98 last month, so why would you spend $15.99 on a paperback for some new person you've never heard of - everyone's work is devalued AND you may never discover a great new author.

Books are set at a standard industry price. What goes into that price? Besides the years of work an author has put into it, the years of work an editor has put into it, are also the manufacturing costs, the art costs, the printing costs, the shipping costs, the publicity costs, and then of course, the small margin of profit (really not as much as you'd think) so we can all make this capitalist society we live in go 'round.

If major corporations, who, BTW, are not even directly involved in the book selling business - and by this I mean they have no author events, they don't agonize over the quantity and quality of the books on their shelves, they don't recommend books to their customers, they don't give money to local charities, they don't partner with local schools, etc. - if these corporations are allowed to devalue books in this way, then soon the Odyssey Bookshop and other local independent bookstores will cease to exist.

Here is what we (the independent bookselling industry) is trying to do about it:

The Board of Directors of the American Booksellers Association today sent the following letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting that it investigate practices by, Wal-Mart, and Target that it believes constitute illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers.


October 22, 2009
The Honorable Christine Varney
Assistant Attorney General
Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 3109
Washington, DC 20530

Molly Boast, Esquire
Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Matters
Antitrust Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 3210
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Ms. Varney and Ms. Boast,
We are writing on behalf of the American Booksellers Association, a 109-year-old trade organization representing the nation's locally owned, independent booksellers. A core part of our mission is devoted to making books as widely available to American consumers as possible. We ask that the Department of Justice investigate practices by, Wal-Mart, and Target that we believe constitute illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers. We are requesting a meeting with you to discuss this urgent issue at your earliest possible opportunity.

As reported in the consumer and trade press this past week,,, and have engaged in a price war in the pre-sale of new hardcover bestsellers, including books from John Grisham, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Sarah Palin, and James Patterson. These books typically retail for between $25 and $35. As of writing of this letter, all three competitors are selling these and other titles for between $8.98 and $9.00.

Publishers sell these books to retailers at 45% - 50% off the suggested list price. For example, a $35 book, such as Mr. King's Under the Dome, costs a retailer $17.50 or more. News reports suggest that publishers are not offering special terms to these big box retailers, and that the retailers are, in fact, taking orders for these books at prices far below cost. (In the case of Mr. King's book, these retailers are losing as much as $8.50 on each unit sold.) We believe that, Wal-Mart, and Target are using these predatory pricing practices to attempt to win control of the market for hardcover bestsellers.

It's important to note that the book industry is unlike other retail sectors. Clothing, jewelry, appliances, and other commercial goods are typically sold at a net price, leaving the seller free to determine the retail price and the margin these products will earn. Because publishers print list prices indelibly on jacket covers, and because books are sold at a discount off that retail price, there is a ceiling on the amount of margin a book retailer can earn.

The suggested list price set by the publisher reflects manufacturing costs -- acquisition, editing, marketing, printing, binding, shipping, etc. -- which vary significantly from book to book. By selling each of these titles below the cost these retailers pay to the publishers, and at the same price as each other, and at the same price as all other titles in these pricing schemes,, Wal-Mart, and Target are devaluing the very concept of the book. Authors and publishers, and ultimately consumers, stand to lose a great deal if this practice continues and/or grows.

What's so troubling in the current situation is that none of the companies involved are engaged primarily in the sale of books. They're using our most important products -- mega bestsellers, which, ironically, are the most expensive books for publishers to bring to market -- as a loss leader to attract customers to buy other, more profitable merchandise. The entire book industry is in danger of becoming collateral damage in this war.
It's also important to note that this episode was precipitated by below-cost pricing of digital editions of new hardcover books by, many of those titles retailing for $9.99, and released simultaneously with the much higher-priced print editions. We believe the loss-leader pricing of digital content also bears scrutiny.

While on the surface it may seem that these lower prices will encourage more reading and a greater sharing of ideas in the culture, the reality is quite the opposite. Consider this quote from Mr. Grisham's agent, David Gernert, that appeared in the New York Times:

"If readers come to believe that the value of a new book is $10, publishing as we know it is over. If you can buy Stephen King's new novel or John Grisham's 'Ford County' for $10, why would you buy a brilliant first novel for $25? I think we underestimate the effect to which extremely discounted best sellers take the consumer's attention away from emerging writers."

For our members -- locally owned, independent bookstores -- the effect will be devastating. There is simply no way for ABA members to compete. The net result will be the closing of many independent bookstores, and a concentration of power in the book industry in very few hands. Bill Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, an ABA member, was also quoted in the New York Times:

"You have a choke point where millions of writers are trying to reach millions of readers. But if it all has to go through a narrow funnel where there are only four or five buyers deciding what's going to get published, the business is in trouble."

We would find these practices questionable were they taking place in the market for widgets. That they are taking place in the market for books is catastrophic. If left unchecked, these predatory pricing policies will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to maintain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public, and will allow the few remaining mega booksellers to raise prices to consumers unchecked.
We urge that the DOJ investigate and request an opportunity to come to Washington to discuss this at your earliest convenience.

ABA Board of Directors:
Michael Tucker, President (Books Inc.--San Francisco, CA)
Becky Anderson, Vice President (Anderson's Bookshops--Naperville, IL)
Steve Bercu (BookPeople--Austin, TX)
Betsy Burton (The King's English Bookshop--Salt Lake City, UT)
Tom Campbell (The Regulator Bookshop--Durham, NC)
Dan Chartrand (Water Street Bookstore--Exeter, NH)
Cathy Langer (Tattered Cover Book Store--Denver, CO)
Beth Puffer (Bank Street Bookstore--New York, NY)
Ken White (SFSU Bookstore--San Francisco, CA)

CC: Oren Teicher, CEO, American Booksellers Association
Len Vlahos, COO, American Booksellers Association
Owen M. Kendler, Esquire, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice

If this price war outrages you as much as it does us, you have several options.

First, and foremost, please PLEASE PLEASE continue to support us and your other local independent bookstores by purchasing your books, hardcover, softcover, new and old, at our humble establishments.

Next, please be advocates for us and inform others in your life that buying their books at our businesses will help everyone.

For the holidays, please encourage everyone in your life that if they would like to honor you with a gift certificate, please do so from our store (or another local independent bookstore).

Politically, use this website to find out who your representative is in the House of Representatives and WRITE to THEM. Please tell this how you feel about this illegal and unjust price war conducted by these giants who do little to give back to their communities but do everything to take from them.

Read more about this by looking up related articles in the New York Times (US) and the Guardian (UK).

Thank you for your time, for your attention, and for shopping locally!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

A New(ish) Face

Hello readers!

Its been almost two months since I joined the honorable ranks of the Odyssey Bookshop Booksellers, and I thought it might finally be time for me make an introduction.

My name is Skye and I'm now the Associate Text Book Manager and First Edition Club Manager.

I’ve been working in bookstores ever since I scored the first job of my dreams at my hometown bookstore in Plymouth New Hampshire. I’m a fan of fantasy, horror, and dark fiction. If it makes you cringe, cry, or swoon I want to read it. I’m also an avid reader and collector of Japanese Manga and Graphic Novels.

I began wetting my toes in the Odyssey during the bustling days of textbook rush. Now that my crash-course I over, I’m grazing over the finer points of the store and learning more every day.

Hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Once again, she was right!

I picked up a copy of Gail Carriger's new book Soulless at work the other day, and thinking that I had discovered the new best thing I told my co-worker Rebecca; exclaiming that she had to read it. But, once again, she has "beat me to the punch" so to speak.
Rebecca blogged all about it a couple of months ago when it first walked into the store in Advanced Readers Copy form.
Read the original review below.

Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger
Paperback, 9780316056632, $7.99 - Published October 2009, order from the Odyssey today!
The subtitle says it all, really: A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves, and Parasols. I thought, No, not really, this can't possibly be as witty and engaging as I want it to be. But then I began reading, and to my great surprise and eternal delight, it was!
Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster and a lady, drinking tea and chaperoning balls in London during the time of Queen Victoria's reign. She also happens to be a preternatural, or soulless being, one of the very few lucky individuals who can take away the power of a supernatural being (such as a vampire or werewolf) simply by her touch. When she accidentally kills a vampire (well, he was trying to drink her blood at the time), she is forced to contend with Lord Maccon, the werewolf leader of both the local pack and the local national office of supernatural investigations. Alexia and Lord Maccon find each other argumentative, frustrating, irritating, and secretly appealing as they are forced to work together to uncover who has been making rove werewolves and vampires disappear. Fans of Jane Austen-ish writing and fantasy forces will love this wicked, and wickedly funny, romp through London, supernatural-style.


Simply read the first few pages and you'll be convinced it is one really awesome read. Or as one would say in the pioneer valley it's a book where the coffee tea is strong and so are the women is Alexia Tarabotti!


Now I Know My ABCs...

This really should be subtitled "ode to the ABC book". I've been into Odes lately. Please excuse me.

I'm probably not the ONLY person in the world who has a fascination with ABC books
, judging by the number of them a) available, and b) recently published, but I'm finding that the ones I find absolutely, stunningly, drop-dead, a full 10, gorgeous (!), are not ones that fly off my shelves. So, I keep ordering them in and sending them back out, and sighing over them, and spending too much money adding them to my collection, and now, I'm going to bombard you with them too. Enjoy!

The book that inspired today's blog post:

Bembo's Zoo by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich
(who I think also wins the coole
st name award)
The illustrations are comprised of the letters it takes to spell that animal. For instance: MONKEY.

To see them all, go here.

To continue on the "type is amazingly cool" theme, check out Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss. In this one, the animals are formed by the first letter of their name in different type fonts. Swoon.

Now, not to be too confusing, but after Alphabeasties comes Alphabeasts by Wallace Edwards, featuring
intricately drawn illustrations of an animal whose name begins with whatever letter s/he's posing for, which is not to be confused with Graeme Base's tongue-twister Animalia, the illustrations of which are possibly even more intricate than Edwards's, but with the caveat that there's more than one 'letter' thing in each illustration.

For something really different, look for really retro design by Charley Harper. In both a chunky and a skinny ABC book version.

nd last, but not least,
the most recently released
(so sorry that rhymed):

(but I've run out of time)
Ah, I can't stop!
I'm a poet and didn't know it!

Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman
(which, incidentally, also comes in a really vibrant floor puzzle version that I would have loved as a kid)

P.S. I get props for not mentioning a single B is for Baseball type of book in here. Cause you know I wanted to. But I'm in baseball mourning at the moment. I'm sure you understand. Next year in the holy land.

- Rebecca

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why I love bookselling...

Yesterday (Columbus Day) was the release of Jeff Kinney's latest in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the Dog Days.

Also the town of South Hadley had their annual Columbus Day Bazaar on the town commons, just outside the store, so as you can imagine it was a pretty exciting day in book selling.

It was also a day where I was reminded of why it is I love my job.

Every gasp of enthusiasm once a child/parent would walk in and see the Dog Days display and accompanying book was a welcome sound!

In fact the sound of a person gasping in delight when they spot a favorite book or just the title they were looking for has become one of the highlights of my day.

Or when someone is looking for a book, but they are not sure who wrote it or the exact title, but they heard the author interview on NPR maybe two weeks ago/ know it has a blue cover/ is about a horse farm in Montana/ will be made into a movie/... etc., etc., etc., I LOVE being that person who helps you find the book and solve that mystery.

Or when you need help finding that special something for that reluctant reader/ 8 year-old-tomboy/ expecting college roommate/ tween who loved Twilight/ suggestion for your book group/ yada yada yada, I love being the person who you come to.

I may not be able to find it for you but I work with such a great cast of characters that I know some one who will be able to recommend a perfect something for that special someone.

Yesterday was a great day in book selling!

Thanks for letting me be your bookseller!


Friday, October 9, 2009

Sequels, Prequels, Additions, & Companion books: If it ain't broke, don't fix it

As you might have guessed by the title of this blog post - Sequels, Prequels, Additions, & Companion books: If it ain't broke, don't fix it - I am not always such a fan of the oft-publisher-pushed addition to an established series, author, or beloved character.

The Toot & Puddle, Holly Hobbie, syndicated television show with accompanying merchandise? Awful. The originals - delightful!
Curious George
- same.
Fire, the "prequel/companion" book to Graceling by Kristen Cashore? Co
uld have stood on its own two feet (and does - who needs the extra bits about Leck?).
Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry? In my humble opinion, she's a Time Traveler's Wife one-hi

And now, wonder-of-wonders for some, horror-of-horrors for others, after 80 years of treasured reading, Winnie-the-Pooh, formerly only by A.A. Milne, has been upstaged by an OTTER! Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus is an authorized addition to the series that, before now, consisted of Winnie-the-Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six.

I confess that I am ranting without having actually picked up a copy of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood sitting on my shelves, but then, the fact that customers have been more excited about new editions of the original four than the newest fifth, make me believe we have similar feelings about this imposter in our midst.
The re-release of the hardcover original classics? Great!

The new audio editions of Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner read by Dame Judi Dench and Stephen Fry (among others)? Incredible!
This new otter? Who the heck is he, and what right does he ha
ve to inflitrate the Hundred Acre Wood?

It's not really the otter that I object to. I'm sure he's a very nice otter, and probably makes great friends with everyone in that "I've moved to a new high school in my junior year where everyone else has known each other since they played together in the bath as babies" sort-of-way. It's the principle of the thing - what was wrong with the original four? NOTHING! So, to repeat myself: if it ain't broke, why are we trying to fix it?

Now, to be fair, not all sequels, prequels, additions, and companions are terrible ideas, or even bad reads. My number one, desert island, top favorite, if I could only read one book for the rest of my life book is a *gasp* sequel, AND furthermore, it's *drumroll please* written by a different author than the original! I know! HUGE HYPOCRITE, you're probably thinking to yourself, and yes, I may be. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, is my absolute favoritest book.

There are others that fit this category that aren't so bad either. Peter Pan in Scarlet, for one, by Geraldine McCaughrean, is a great rompy Peter Pan addition. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was written in part by the original author, Betty MacDonald's, daughter Anne MacDonald Canham, who took half-written stories of her mother's and finished them after her mother's death; maybe that's what it holds up so well. Kenny and the Dragon, Tony DiTerlizzi's brilliant tribute to Wind in the Willows is one of my 2008 favorites. I'm also eagerly anticipating the release of Eoin Colfer's (author of the series Artemis Fowl) attempt at a sixth book, And Another Thing..., in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxey series by Douglas Adams.

So, hypocrite though I may be, I'm still just not thrilled over this otter situation. What do you think? Sequels, prequels, additions, and companion books, whether written by the original author or not, do you have favorites, or are there times you want to point out "when bad books happen to good authors/characters/series"?


(For more reading on this topic, check out the
NYTimes post on Winnie-the-Pooh's addition, and the AOL Living section.)