Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10th: Henceforth known as a great day for books.

For a couple of us here at the Odyssey Bookshop, February 10th will go down in history as a great day for books.

This morning, Joan, Emily Crowe and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Abraham Verghese whose new novel, Cutting for Stone, was released early last week, and already a 2009 favorite for the three of us.  The novel was selected by the Odyssey for our Signed First Editions Club, so we had to wake up at 7:00 this morning to drive 1 1/2 hours to Boston to get over 300 books signed.   

At 10:00, along with two reps from Random House, we bombard this poor man's hotel room near Fenway Park with over 30 boxes of books, and he couldn't have been more gracious. Upon entering the room, he immediately asked if he could order us any room service, get us coffee, or soda, and we spent the next hour talking about the Odyssey, books, the author's work, and the release of the new Amazon Kindle (of which you can probably guess we're not "huge" fans of).

But, what I'm going to remember most is how genuinely appreciative he was that we selected the book for our club.  Now, I hope no one reads this the wrong way, as everyone we've picked has been gracious, wonderful, and thankful, but there are a select few who can you tell by the look in their eyes, they're still in awe of everything that's happening to them, and as independent booksellers, we hope that they'll remember us in future years as champions of their books.

He was simply nothing less than a delight.

Moving right along: since the signing went faster than anticipated and we were forced to leave Abraham's company to give him time to prepare for an interview, Joan, Emily and I took a small detour to visit the Wellesley Booksmith in Wellesley, MA.  None of us had been there before and we're always looking for new ideas to incorporate into the Odyssey by visiting other venues.  I succumbed to my book addiction and bought a couple of new books, Roads to Quoz and Julian Barnes' Nothing To Be Afraid Of.  I always try to buy a book at every independent bookstore I visit.  I often get made fun of for this since I get a major staff discount at the Odyssey, but I consider it an effort in solidarity and hope that they'll return the favor someday.

Finally, this evening, we had a lovely event with debut novelist Lewis Robinson, whose novel, Water Dogs, was published in early January with Random House.  

As I mentioned in my introduction of Lewis, I was a little bit behind on reading this one and didn't get a chance to pick it until about a month ago.  I was immediately swept away, back to my home state of Maine and into the cold March winters with his vibrant characters.  After turning the last page, I knew I wanted to select it for our Breakout Fiction Program.

I wrote the publicist a long e-mail, apologizing profusely for waiting so long to read it, explaining how embarrassed I was, but that I wanted to select it for this program.  

Her response:  "Please, PLEASE, don't apologize when you're giving me good news."  That same day, a glowing review was announced in the New York Times, which made the selection all the more special for me.  Nothing is better than taking a chance on a book and having your taste confirmed by a good review.

Lewis, too, was one of those dream authors who is so easy-going, appreciative, and let's not forget, an extremely talented writer.

I woke up this morning cursing my alarm, somewhat dreading the 14 hour day I had ahead of me, despite the treasures of the day awaiting us.  I can honestly say, however, that never again will I complain about having to get up early to meet wonderful writers and staying late to meet more (okay, well, almost never. :))

Emily Russo Murtagh

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