Friday, July 30, 2010
I have become a little tired and weary all the classic book/monster mashups. But Jane Austen's Fight Club takes it to a whole new level. This isn't a real book or movie, but if you want to read about Jane Austen heroines kicking butt you will just have to pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Have a great weekend!
Dog Days of Summer
Gift Card Special!
Sunday, August 1 -- Saturday, August 14
$125 gift cards available for just $100 -- that's 20% off!
Save big on summer reading and win free store bonuses!
(selected number of purchased gift certificates will include coupons for a variety of special prizes.)
- Give it to a friend
- Save it for the holidays
- Buy all your last minute beach reads now!
To purchase, call us at 413-534-7307, (800) 540-7307, order online at:
https://odysseybks.com/dogdays.html, or simply stop by!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
"I have never met a bookstore that I didn't love. And I've met a lot. I can't seem to help myself. It's a habit, an obsession, a life's work. Drop me anywhere and it's like a homing device starts blinking in my brain.... Every bookstore is different, just like the people who own them, and yet there are threads that tie them together. The books for one thing. All those covers. All those blurbs. The dim nooks and corners where shelves meet. The spines, lined up, row upon row, covers turned face out every so often, calling you to come a little closer. I always feel, if I could just stand quietly enough, I might actually hear the faint whispering of thousands of stories jostling together on the shelves, waiting to be chosen."
--Author Kate Morton, speaking at the Australian Booksellers Association's annual conference (via the Australian).
I most certainly agree with Ms. Morton's statement, although I was deprived of the independent bookstore experience until college. My sophomore year I went to Oxford, Mississippi for a speech and debate tournament and was introduced to Square books. The experience singularly changed my outlook on how a community and a bookstore can benefit and prosper from one another.
Yesterday the Huffington Post compiled a list of "the most amazing bookstores in the world." It was a very impressive list that made me all to aware that I haven't traveled nearly enough!
Every independent bookstore that I visit has an endearing quality, and usually after I visit has become a new favorite. What have been some of your favorite bookstores?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Together Joan and Emily talked about 10 books in under 20 minutes. (Less than two minutes per book). I'm not sure how they do it, but I will say some of the books whose virtues they extolled are listed below.
What is Left the Daughter
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
(Signed copies available for a limited time).
See our previous blog post about this gorgeous novel here .
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Elephant Keeper
Murder in the High Himalaya
(Signed copies available for a limited time).
Put 'Em Up!
Sherri Brooks Vinton
(We are doing an event on Friday, August 13 at 7 p.m.)
Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers
Sur La Table
Andrews McMeel Publishing
(Featuring a local farm in Granby, MA!)
See our previous blog post about this wonderful cookbook here.
The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food
(Signed copies available for a limited time).
To listen the the full interview, click here.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I discovered this fun website (www.iwl.me) short for "I write like." This site analyzes your writing (how closely I do not know) and then tells you whose writing style your own resembles.
Here is a run down of what happened when I posted blog posts from various staff members.
Emily Crowe writes like Jonathan Swift... quick witted, satirical, great hair... okay I see the connection!
Both Emily Russo-Murtaugh and Chrysler write like James Joyce. Hmmm... well great minds and all that.
Marika, according to a blog post it "analyzed" writes like Edgar Allan Poe.
There are younger writers that you can be matched up to but for some reason the Odyssey staff are all old, dead men writers. Rest assured, other than our desire to not have large birds flying around the store, we really have not much else in common.
Check it out and see for yourself who you might be matched up with!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
As I read through the piece, which revealed Wylie's frustration with the low royalty percentages the large publishers are offering authors these days, I found myself nodding along and saying, "Ok...sure, fair enough," UNTIL I came to the kicker. Wylie is selling these e-books exclusively to Amazon.com for the Kindle edition.
Hand, please meet forehead.
Are you kidding me?
My morning shower, which is usually peaceful, suddenly became fraught with hostility. "Really, Andrew Wylie, really?" I said as I rubbed my skin raw with the washcloth.
You see, it's not just the exclusivity part that bothers me. Generally speaking, at least in the book world, if a title is offered exclusively through an independent bookstore, a chain, or an online retailer, at least it's available to the general public. It may be less convenient or frustrating, but if a reader wants to obtain it, he or she can! That, despite my personal views on e-retailers and big discount stores, is the most important thing.
For example: as a bookseller, was I jealous that Dan Brown was only signing copies of The Lost Symbol for his hometown bookstore? Heck yes! Water Street Books must have made a killing, but at least readers who wanted a copy could obtain it. It also helped out a wonderful independent bookstore.
Also, self published authors often sell their books through only a select few bookstores. Again, not always convenient, but it's available to any reader that wants it.
What really gets my blood boiling here is that by Wylie choosing Amazon exclusively, he is excluding so many readers. Those who chose to buy the Sony E-Reader, or the Nook, or any other device can't obtain an e-version of any of his books without having to buy another over-priced gadget. One can argue that that reader could simply buy the print version (and I hope he would), but what if it's out-of-print? Are we headed toward a future where many backlist titles are only available as e-editions? I simply don't know.
This veers off the path a little bit, but I'm also curious to know how many of Wylie's clients are published by Macmillan. Macmillan had the guts to fight for their authors and demand that Amazon price e-books fairly. Amazon's juvenile response was to remove the buy buttons from all Macmillan titles.
So, I have to ask myself why Andrew Wylie, who I'm sure is a true lover of books and readers, would make such an unfair deal?
I know I probably haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what is sure a much more complex situation, so I welcome any comments, questions, or further discussion!
Emily Russo Murtagh
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Sadly, what is terrible is that most of our belongings are going to go into storage and I have to:
a) get rid of books I know I'll never read. (I've never given away a book before. This is all new to me. I'm scared.)
b) I can only take 25 books with me to Maine.
This is a terrifying prospect for me. What if I choose the wrong books? What if I bring Laurie Sheck's A Monster's Note, but what I really want to read that week is the 2007 edition of Best American Short Stories and I packed it away?! No, I really do want to read A Monster's Note, so that won't happen, but you know what I mean. This is really my version of "If I Was Stranded on a Desert Island." So, dear reader, if you were forced to chose only a few books out of at least a thousand you know you wanted to read, what would you bring? How would you decide? I'll take any advice.
Emily Russo Murtagh
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Tom Nicholson's The Elephant Keeper was a quiet debut in hardcover last year, published to critical acclaim both here and in the UK, and I’m hoping that in paperback it will find the wider audience it deserves. The novel opens in England in 1766, where a ship docks with a live cargo, including a pair of young elephants, that barely survived the voyage. When a wealthy estate owner purchases the elephants, a young stable hand named Tom Page gets the opportunity of a lifetime. He nurses both elephants back from the brink of death, and in doing so, he forms a lasting bond with them. Tom eventually is able to train and communicate with Jenny and Timothy, as the elephants are named. However, when the estate owner loses his fortune, the fate of Tom & the elephants becomes a harsh one, as the 18th century is not a particularly kind time for animals of any kind, much less exotic ones. Heartbreak follows heartbreak for Tom and the elephants, but the reader gets some heartwarming moments, too. This book is a lovingly imagined portrait of a man who discovers that lasting friendships are not defined by species, and it is full of tenderness, empathy, and compassion. It’s an absolutely engaging read, though I should warn that sensitive readers will discover within themselves an inclination towards violence for those characters who exact cruelties on these magnificent creatures.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. Despite my reluctance to admire yet another celebrity writer, Martin impressed me with his first novel, Shop Girl, and he continues to do so with this book. He introduces us to Lacey, a compelling but morally ambiguous young woman who becomes a mover & shaker in the Manhattan art world of the late 20th Century. The reader ends up getting a crash course in both contemporary art history and consumerism, with sneak peaks into the rarefied worlds of Sotheby’s, uptown art galleries, and the moneyed international clientele who can patronize both. I, for one, found this book very hard to put down.
Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. Bryson takes his own home, a mid-nineteenth century rectory in Norfolk, England, as the jumping-off point for investigating every possible angle of domestic history. We get the expected lessons in architecture, furniture and horticulture, as well as the more unusual, such as the brilliant teamwork skills of rats, or the strategic importance of nutmeg in empire-building, or even how “teeth” were mysteriously listed as a leading cause of death in London in 1758. Bryson’s trademark humor and wry social commentary are certainly present, but what stands out most here is his ability to trace intriguing connections between seemingly unrelated facts. In short, I found it endlessly fascinating.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Diane says she would want to be from a Harlan Ellison novel, because then she could be a science fiction character and do cool things.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Tinkers by Paul Harding. The quiet story of an old man’s deathbed reminiscences of youth and a time gone by is eclipsed by the enormous reach of its beautiful prose. I’ve rarely read a novel where each paragraph, each sentence, was so exquisitely crafted. Pick this book up and see exactly why Harding won this year's Pulitzer Prize.
Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. This quietly intimate book introduces us to two indelible characters: a brilliant mathematician whose short term memory lasts only 80 minutes and the perceptive young housekeeper who cares for him daily. While he might not remember her from day to day, or even from morning to afternoon, he finds succor in the unfailing order and beauty of numbers and mathematic proofs. I found this to be a thoroughly engaging book, poised at the rare intersection of mathematics and literature.
Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. Assassination attempts, self-righteous con men, and interfering mothers are no match for Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator and one of Delhi’s few unbribable men. This first book in a promising new series is so evocative of place that you’ll swear you can taste the paapri chaat, but the brutal descriptions of India’s poor raise this cozy mystery’s class consciousness a few notches above the norm. An absolutely vibrant read.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Author events start up again, beginning tonight with local author Kevin O'Hara, for his book Lucky Irish Lad!
July is a fairly exciting month. O'Hara is followed by five more powerhouses of authors that are sure to enthuse a range of literary die-hards to fans! Here is the way the rest of the month shapes up:
July 15, 7 p.m. (Thursday):
Jonathan Green, author of Murder in the High Himalaya.
This promises to be a punch in the gut event. Green tells the true story of a group of climbers who witness the murder of a Tibetan nun, but rather than report it they do nothing so that they can continue on their climb up Everest. Green, a trained journalist, pulls from research, and first person accounts to put together the story of her murder.
July 16, 7 p.m. (Friday):
Howard Norman, What is left the Daughter.
Speaking of punches to the gut, Howard Norman will be visiting us this Friday, and several people on staff are pretty excited about his latest book. For me personally, What is Left the Daughter, was one of the best books I have read in 2010. It is a quiet novel, written as a letter from a estranged father to his daughter, explaining his turbulent life in a straightforward, non-apologetic manner.
July 23, 7 p.m. (Friday):
Vendela Vida, The Lovers.
Vendela Vida of The Believer, and 826 Valencia fame will be coming the Odyssey for her latest novel The Lovers. This book is about a widow who moves to Turkey and the various experiences that she encounters there. Kirkus review said of it "An elegant consideration of how death and distance tightens human connections-- a big theme that Vida addresses with sure-footedness and charm."
July 28, 7 p.m. (Wednesday):
Dori Ostermiller, Outside the Ordinary World.
This novel is a story about the bonds of mothers and daughters, and explores the theme of infidelity. Slyvia, the heroine of this book always swore she would not become her mother, and yet one day she finds that she is going along the same path that her faithless mother Elaine, once chose. Outside the Ordinary World has been chosen as an Indie Next List Notable Book for August 2010.
July 29, 7 p.m. (Friday):
Jon Clinch, Kings of the Earth.
Jon Clinch is no stranger to the Odyssey, he has been her before for his first novel Finn, which was chosen for the first editions club. Publisher's Weekly calls Clinch's latest "a quiet storm of a novel... In Clinch™s multilayered, pastoral second novel (after Finn), a death among three elderly, illiterate brothers living together on an upstate New York farm raises suspicions and accusations in the surrounding community."
Don't be a stranger! Use the excuse to come here some great authors read to visit us and see the renovations!